1545 Greek


  • Version: Non-English Bibles
  • Age Range: 1501 to 1559
  • Size Range: Lectern Folios (11”-15” Tall)
  • Appraisal Value: $30,000
  • OT Title Page: 1545
  • NT Title Page: No Date
  • Colophon: 1545
  • Actual Size: 13.5 x 8.5 x 3.5
  • Font: Roman
  • Other Features: End Papers: Cotton, Fourth Complete Bible in Greek, Full Calf Binding, New Testament of Erasmus, Septuagint based on the Aldine edition


Fourth Complete Bible in Greek:

Septuagint based on the Aldine edition and

New Testament of Erasmus

[BIBLE IN GREEK] Της θειας Γραφης, παλαιας δηλαδη και νεας Διαθηκης, ̔απαντα / Divinae Scripturae, Veteris ac Novi Testamenti, omnia innumeris locis nunc demum, & optimorum librorum collatione, & doctorum virorum opera, multo quàm unquam antea emendatiora, in lucem edita. Basileae: Per Ioan. Hervagium, 1545.

Fourth Edition of the Complete Bible in Greek. Basel: John Hervagius, 1545.

Copy at hand is textually complete, lacking the Melanchthon preface as is most often the case. (That work was prohibited by the Holy See and ordered to be removed from the book.)

Folio. 969, [7]. Signature collation: * 1-4 (here lacking 2-4), a-z, A-Z, Aa-Ss in 6s, Tt 1-4, Vu-Zz, AA-MM in 6s, NN 1-4 (Tt4 blank). – The text is mainly printed in a single column, but in 2 columns p. 349 -376, 395-446, 662-670, and the index [1-7, back matter].

Title-page cut down and mounted.

Woodcut initials and headpieces. Woodcut printer’s device on title-page and verso of last leaf.New Testament has half title on page [777]: Nea Diathēkē / Novum testamentum.

The fourth edition of the [complete] Greek Bible … In the Old Testament the text follows the Aldine Bible of 1518, edited by Torresanus and Asulanus, with variant readings, and restoration of the usual order in Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus. The Apocrypha are grouped together. The New Testament text appears to agree with the quarto edition printed at Basel in 1545, edited by Erasmus. Sometimes known as Melanchthon’s Bible.

While Erasmus was creating quite a stir with the first, second, third, and fourth editions of his Greek New Testament, others were busy working at producing complete Bibles in Greek. The accepted sequence of complete Bibles in Greek is: First, the Aldine Bible of 1518, second, the Greek Bible contained in the Complutensian Polyglot (finished by 1517 but not published until 1520), and third, that printed in Strassburg in 1524–26. At hand, then, is the fourth. As with all save the Strassburg Bible, it is folio in format (here small folio in stature).

Melanchthon (1497–1560), the great Humanist and Luther’s friend and supporter, wrote the preface to this edition. The three leaves bearing that essay are missing from this copy and this may be due to a Catholic or Inquisitorial censor’s having removed them so that the text of the Bible proper could be used by Catholic readers. All of Melanchthon’s writings, including introductions, were outlawed on the notorious Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

The typography is exquisite — and Hervagius has enhanced the presentation on the page with some attractive decorative headpieces.

Binding: 16th-century calf over wood boards, covers elaborately tooled to produce an interesting embossed binding of concentric panels: Used are a single fillet (repeatedly, usually in triplets) and a roll featuring urns, flowers, and putti. Rebacked and edges and corners renewed, with remains of brass clasps. Endpaper reattached.

There are a very few instances of old marginalia.

Overall a superb copy of a very important book. Luxuriously well margined. Wonderfully clean and fresh.

Provenance: Late-17th- / early-18th-century ownership signature of “Pet. Wedderburn; 18th-century bookplate of Lord Eliock; later penciled signature of one “J.T. Coleridge” (Justice John Coleridge) [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Taylor_Coleridge ]

At back, “Ex dono D. Al: Brown, M.D.” and another ownership inscription entirely in Greek.

Darlow & Moule 4614; Dibdin (4th ed.), An Introduction to…Greek and Latin Classics, 86; Rumball-Petre, Rare Bibles, 224; VD16 B2576; Adams B978.

Rare: an incomplete census on OCLC records copies at: British Library: King Library at Oxford: Berkeley: BYU: University of Wisconsin at Madison: United Library in Evanston, IL: and Pitts Theological Library in Atlanta. Complete census not known.