German Bible. Strasbourg, c. 1466

[Strasbourg: Johann Mentelin,
before 27 June 1466]. (06164)

Mentelin’s German Bible was the first edition of the Bible in a language other than Latin, and the first of seventeen German editions of the Bible published prior to Martin Luther’s translation. It preceded the first Italian Bible by five years, the first French and Spanish editions by a decade, and the first English edition by 69 years.

Originally owned by the Augustinian Canons of Königsberg, Bavaria, Bridwell Library’s copy contains three fine pen-and-ink miniatures: King David appears in the initial at the beginning of III Kings; King Solomon is shown at the outset of Proverbs; and Moses introduces the book of Deuteronomy. As a result of a mistranslation by St. Jerome, who mistook the Hebrew “karan” (“radiance”) for “keren” (“horns”) in Genesis 34:29, most images of Moses from this period depicted him with two horns growing from his forehead. Despite the fact that the “horns” are mentioned in this German translation, the artist has shown the patriarch correctly, with rays of light emanating from his head.

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Printing in Germany
German Bible. Strasbourg, c. 1466