The University of Michigan Library is privileged to count within its
collections a number of distinguished documents marking significant
milestones in the history of the Biblical text. These documents, spread
across nations, peoples, and languages, trace the development of the
Bible from ancient Egyptian manuscripts to the modern, printed book.
The English-language Bible came late in the long history of the preservation
and transmission of the Biblical text. The Wycliffe English Bibles,
the earliest complete Biblical manuscripts in English, appear in the
late 1380s and 1390s, or less than a century before the invention of
the printing press in the mid-fiftheenth century. However, the roots
of these translations are long and venerable, extending back some twelve
centuries to the earliest New Testament documents and even further back
to oral tradition and pre-history for the New Testament.
This exhibit traces the roots of the King James Bible, showing both
its direct ancestors and other, related religious works from A.D. 150
to A.D. 1611. Attention is also given to the materials upon which the
Blibical text was preserved, from papyrus to parchment to paper.
As this exhibit opens during the Christmas holiday season, portions
of the Bible relating to the Nativity are shown in several instances.
New Testament texts are open to Luke's narrative of the Christmas story
while the wall cases display facsimiles of the beginning of Luke from
the Gutenberg Bible as well as works by Albrecht Dürer and illustrations
from richly illuminated manuscripts.
This exhibit is a revised version of the an earlier exhibition, Highlights
in the Transmission of the English Bible: The Christmas Story, prepared
by Helen S. Butz. Since that time, Daniel Williams-Capone, Kathleen
Dow, Kathryn Beam, and Traianos Gagos have contributed to this annual
Browse the Display Cases