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Early Printed Bibles - Polyglot Bibles

The term 'Polyglot Bible' usually refers to a series of multi-volume, multi-lingual editions of the complete Bible produced during the 16th and 17th centuries. These give the earliest versions of the biblical text, usually in Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic, alongside their traditional and/or literal Latin translations.

The great Polyglot Bibles were and remain important in the fields of Bible scholarship and the history of European printing. This is because in each case the printer had to work with a variety of different alphabets and typefaces side-by-side.

Title-page of Walton's Polyglot Bible

Title-page of Walton's Polyglot Bible (London, 1657). BL shelfmark: G.12233. Copyright © The British Library Board

Copies of each of the main Polyglot Bibles can be found at the British Library, including:

  • Complutensian Polyglot, produced under the auspices of Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros (Alcalá de Henares, 1514-17). Includes texts in Hebrew, Greek, Chaldean Aramaic, and Latin. [1.f.5-10; G.11951-56; Or.72.c.2; etc.].
  • Antwerp Polyglot, edited by Arias Montanus (Antwerp, 1569-1573). Printed by Christopher Plantin. Includes texts in Hebrew, Greek, Chaldean Aramaic, Syriac, and Latin. [6.h.4-11; C.17.d.1-13; Or.72.cc.1; etc.].
  • Paris Polyglot, edited by G.M,. Le Jay (Paris, 1629-45). Includes texts in Hebrew, Greek, Chaldean Aramaic, Syriac, Samaritan, Arabic and Latin. [1.h.1-8 & 2.h.1-2].
  • London Polyglot, edited by Brian Walton (London, 1655-57). Printed by Thomas Roycroft. Includes texts in Hebrew, Greek, Chaldean Aramaic, Syriac, Samaritan, Arabic, Ethiopic and Persian. [675.l.1-6; Or.72.d.1; G.12233-38; etc.].