Highlights index


I. Dutch translations

Until the Reformation, the Latin Vulgate text by Hieronymus was the church standard text, on which all bible translations were based. This included the first printed bible editions in the Netherlands, such as the Old Testament printed in Delft in 1477.

The edition of Matthew's gospel, published by the Amsterdam printer Doen Pietersoen in 1522, marked a turning point in the history of Dutch bible translations. The bible text offered a translation that was partly dependent on the Latin text of Erasmus' Novum Testamentum of 1519 and partly on the Vulgate. For the first time, a bible edition had appeared that did not reflect a Vulgate text, but was rather a text that relied directly upon the Hebrew and Greek source texts.

Besides Erasmus, other translators such as Luther, Lefèvre d'Étaples and Tyndale also worked on the biblical source texts. Their translations were very quickly adopted by Dutch printers. New Dutch translations of the Vulgate were also published.

Old Testament. Delft, Jacob Jacobsz. van der Meer & Mauricius Yemantsz., 1477. vol. 1: 1r

First printed bible in Dutch, containing only a large part of the Old Testament (Vulgate text)

Matthew. Amsterdam, Doen Pietersoen, 1522. A1r

First text in Dutch that was (partly) based on Erasmus' Novum Testamentum. Contains only Matthew.

New Testament. Amsterdam, Doen Pietersoen, 1523. vol. 1: A1r

First Dutch translation of Luther's New Testament

New Testament. Delft, Cornelis Lettersnijder, 1524. \pi1r

First complete Dutch translation of Erasmus' Novum Testamentum.

and f5v

The New Testament by Lettersnijder is a rather scientific edition, since it gives explanatory words between (…), variant readings in the Greek source text between […] and variations in the Vulgate indicated with the signs † and *.

Bible. Antwerp, Jacob van Liesvelt, 1526. vol. 1: a1r

First complete Dutch bible translated from various sources (Luther, Oecolampadius, Vulgate, etc.)

6. Bible. Louvain, Anthoni Marie Bergaigne and Bartholomaeus Gravius, 1553. +1r

Dutch bible translated from the Vulgate.

II. Printing for the international market

Bibles were not only being produced for Dutch readers, but also for the international market. In the first half of the sixteenth century, most of these bibles were printed in Antwerp, at that time the centre of typography in the Netherlands. This is illustrated by the fact that several early printed vernacular bibles were published in Antwerp, such as the French bible by Merten de Keyser from 1530, the English edition of Genesis by Joannes Hillen van Hoochstraten from 1530, the Danish New Testament by Willem Vorsterman from 1531, the Italian New Testament by Joannes Gravius from 1538, and the Spanisch New Testament by Steven Mierdmans from 1543. The Antwerp government had a relatively tolerant policy towards book production.

1. Bible. Antwerp, Merten de Keyser 1530. vol. 1: [a]1r

First complete bible in French (Lefèvre d'Étaples) printed in the Netherlands.

2. New Testament. Antwerp, Joannes Gravius 1538. vol. 1: A1r [foto UBA nog maken]

first Italian New Testament printed in the Netherlands.

3. New Testament. Antwerp, Steven Mierdmans 1543. #1r

First Spanish New Testament printed in the Netherlands.

III. Paratext

In the first half of the sixteenth century, edicts of the emperor Charles V and the various Indices Librorum Prohibitorum very quickly prohibited bibles in the vernacular. The prohibition was primarily directed at certain elements that accompanied the text: the prefaces and introductions; short summaries above the chapters; marginal notes; and indexes. The annotations in particular sometimes contained modern 'heretic' teachings and errors which could 'infect' the reader when reading the bible, as well as corrupt the bible text itself. For that reason several printers were condemned or even sentenced to death, such as Jacob van Liesvelt.

New Testament. Amsterdam, Doen Pietersoen 1523. vol. ?

Marginal notes could simply explain uncommon words, or summarise or comment on the biblical text. The following marginal note offers a controversial interpretation of the bible text.

ad Romans 4.4: Mer hier bewiset hi met twe exempelen dat verdienste niet is, maer gods genade alleen

This annotation is a reference to Luther's principles of sola gratia, sola fide and sola scriptura. Man is saved by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith in Christ alone (sola fide) and all teachings should ultimately be based upon the Scripture alone (sola scriptura).

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