Multiple Biblical Languages

Biblia Polyglotta.
Alcalá de Henares: Arnaldo Guillén de Brocar, printed 1514–1517, published 1521–1522. (24780)

Compiled at the Complutensian University at Alcalá de Henares under the supervision of Cardinal Francisco Ximénez de Cisneros (1452–1517), the “Complutensian Polyglot” Bible was an unprecedented scholarly and typographic achievement. The monumental six-volume work was the first printed edition of the Bible to facilitate side-by-side comparison of the Latin scriptures and their Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic sources.

The first volume lies open to the end of the Book of Exodus and the beginning of Leviticus. Throughout the Old Testament the printers arranged each page so that the Latin text appears in the central column between the Hebrew text near the outer margin, and the Greek text (with interlinear Latin translation) near the inner margin. An Aramaic paraphrase of the same passages appears at the foot of the page, accompanied by a Latin transcription. Cardinal Ximénez provided an allegorical explanation for this layout, comparing the placement of the Latin text between the Greek and Hebrew to that of Christ on the Cross between the good and bad thieves, a visual expression of the belief that the Latin Scriptures truly were central to Christian salvation.

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The Text Takes Shape
Multiple Biblical Languages