The 1582 Rheims New Testament: The First English Roman Catholic Scriptures


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A leaf from the 1582 First Edition of the Rheims New Testament. These leaves are over 430 years old. So… the Anglicans are printing their Great, Bishops, and King James versions… and the Protestants are printing their Tyndale and Geneva versions… finally in 1582 the Roman Catholics throw in the towel, retracting their official policy of “kill anyone who prints the Bible in English” which they held to for over 1,000 years. Hey, if you can’t beat them , join them, right? This landmark turning point in church history makes a great gift for your Catholic friends.

Translated exclusively from the Latin Vulgate (the only source text accepted by the Roman Catholic Church, in spite of the fact that the original scriptures were in Hebrew and Greek) this work was done at the College of Rheims. This first press run of the scriptures to ever be authorized as “acceptable” by the Roman Catholic Church was published in 1582. Strangely enough, the Roman Catholic Church did not complete its authorized translation of the Old Testament until 28 years later in 1610, with the Douay Old Testament. (Sometimes we also have leaves from the 1610 Douay available… CONTACT US to inquire about this). Often, one will hear of the two printings referred to collectively as “The Douay-Rheims.”

When the Rheims translation was published, there was an outcry from both the Anglican and the Protestant Churches, concerning how grossly inaccurate it was. The problem was, that while the Anglicans and Protestants were using the original Hebrew and Greek to do their translations, the Catholics were using only the corrupt “Latin Vulgate” to do their English translations, and even then, they were altering the translation to reflect more kindly upon Roman Catholic teachings. Sometimes these examples were so glaringly obvious as to almost be laughable.

For example, the passage in the Lord’s Prayer in which Jesus says “Give us this day, our daily bread” is rendered “Give us this day, our super-substantiated bread” (!) This was done to emphasize the supposed scriptural legitimacy of the elements of the Lord’s Supper (the Eucharist) literally becoming the flesh of Jesus (transubstantiation); a belief that the Catholic Church has always held to, but that all non-catholic Christians consider to be cannibalism and heresy. It doesn’t take a translation expert to tell that the same word cannot possibly be translated both “daily” and “super-substantiated”! In fact, in 1589, Dr. William Fulke published his now famous “Fulke’s Refutation” in which he printed the entire text of the New Testament in parallel columns showing both the Bishops translation side-by-side with the Rheims translation, in an effort to make plain the corruptness of the Rheims version.

Regardless of what you think about all this, the Rheims remains one of the most historically important printings of the scriptures. These leaves measure approximately 8 inches tall by 6 inches wide. They were printed on 100% rag cotton linen sheet, not wood-pulp paper like books today, so they remain in excellent condition… even after over 400 years. Each leaf is a unique piece of ancient artwork, carefully produced, one-at-a-time using a movable-type press, and later bound together. Each leaf comes with a beautiful Certificate of Authenticity. Imagine… having a rare leaf from the first time the English language scriptures were ever authorized by the Roman Catholic Church: The 1582 Rheims New Testament.


ITEM # RNT-1$195 – A leaf from the 1582 Rheims New Testament