18 December 2003
BIBLE, Complutensian Polyglot. Novum testamentum grece & latine in academia complutensi nouiter impressum. Edited by Diego Lopez Suñiga, and others. Alcalá de Henares: Arnald Guillén de Brocar, for Cardinal Francisco Ximenes de Cisneros, 10 January 1514 [published not before March 1520 (date of papal privilege)].
Volume 5 (of 6) only, royal 2o (350 x 255 mm). Greek, Roman and Gothic types. Woodcut arms of Cardinal Ximenes on title-page, within woodcut borders, woodcut initials, printer's device. (MM3 and 4 with small ink hole to text, corner of title reinforced on blank verso, lacks blank g4, some light browning and staining.) 18th-century vellum (wear to edges and corners). Provenance: Anson Phelps Stokes (bookplate, see also lot 1).
THE FIRST PRINTING OF THE NEW TESTAMENT IN GREEK. Cardinal Ximenes, founder of the University at Alcalá, initiated this Complutensian Polyglot Bible in 1502 in honor of the birth of the future Charles V. A team of editors turned to the original texts in order to reconcile the many variations in the Latin Vulgate. Ximenes purchased Greek and Hebrew manuscripts specifically for this purpose. Other manuscripts were lent by Leo X, on one of which Guillén de Brocar modelled his Greek type, cited by Proctor as "the finest Greek fount ever cut."
The New Testament, was the first volume printed, in 1514, and thus predates Erasmus's Greek New Testament of 1516 (see lot 4). The Polyglot Bible was not published until 1520, the year in which Erasmus's papal privilege for his Greek New Testament expired; a vellum copy was presented to the Pope in December 1521. The papal privilege granted for the Complutensian Polyglot Bible in March 1520 specifies that as many as 600 copies were printed. Adams B-968; Brunet I:849; Darlow & Moule 1412; PMM 52.
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