From Papyri to King James:
The Transmission of the English Bible

Case 3

Towards the eighth and ninth centuries the use of papyrus for manuscripts began to decline. Instead, documents and books were written on parchment, or vellum, which is a skin (generally kid or calf) that has been soaked, dried, scraped, and rubbed until thin and smooth.

Mich. Ms. 22, Gospel Book, 11th-12th century A.D.

A manuscript on vellum containing the four Gospels in Greek, this book is a Byzantine monastic product from the eleventh or twelfth century. The writing is minuscule and the words are separated. The colorful miniatures, in a somewhat flat style, reflect their Byzantine origins. A miniature depicting the Evangelist Luke is shown.


Case 4

Towards the close of the Middle Ages the use of parchment for manuscripts slowly gave way to paper. But the truly significant revoltuion took place in the mid-fifteenth century with the invention of moveable type for the production of books and documents. The impact of the printed book on education, science, politics, commerce, international relations — virtually every phase of civilization — is beyond calculation.

Tyndale New Testament, Antwerp, A.D. 1536

The first printed edition of the New Testament in English was the translation by William Tyndale, probably printed by Peter Schoeffer, the Younger, at Worms, in 1525 or 1526. Only one complete copy of that first printing still exists. for the translation had been officially condemned by the English bishops, and all copies that could be found were burned. Tyndale himself was condemned for heresy and burned at the stake in 1536, the year in which the edition shown here was printed. Tyndale's translation was influenced by a number of the earlier versions of the New Testament including the Vulgate, Luther's German translation, and Erasmus's translation (3rd edition) as well as earlier Greek and Hebrew texts. The result of Tyndale's labors was a particularly felicitous English translation which more heavily influenced the King James Version than all the others combined.

Next: Cases 5, 6 & 7

From Papyri to King James:
Review | Introduction | Cases 1-2 | Cases 3-4 | Cases 5-7

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