BIBLE, in Icelandic -- Biblia Pad Er, Öll Heilög Ritning, vtlögd a Norraenu. Med formalum Doct. Martini Lutheri. Edited and partly translated by Bishop Gudbrandur Thorláksson. Holum: Jone Jons, 1584.
3 parts in one, 2° (357 x 229mm). Printed in gothic letter, the Psalter and Proverbs x-xxxi in double column; without verse division. Title in red and black with woodcut border, two sectional titles with woodcut borders, 29 woodcut illustrations, woodcut initials of between 3 and 18 lines, most to a strapwork design, woodcut strapwork tail-pieces. (Title with light worming in right hand border and lower corner torn away, some dampstaining at gutter, further light worming in early quires, mainly restricted to margins but occasionally touching text, Aaa1 of part one short and unevenly cut at lower margin, P1 of part two holed with slight loss, D6 in part three holed with loss to a word or part word on 4 lines of text, a few leaves with soil marks, without blank Aaa8 in part one and final blank, X6.) 17th-century Scandinavian panelled calf over bevelled oak boards, blind-tooled borders and parrot cornerpieces, brass clasps and leather thongs, gilt spine lettered "Biblia" in one compartment, the remaining compartments with repeated motif of an orb and crown among flowers, blue marbled edges (scattered worming and light scuffing to covers, head of spine with several repaired tears, front inner hinges split but cords holding). Provenance: Gudbrandur Thorláksson, Bishop of Hólar (1571-1627, signed inscription in Icelandic dated 1588, possibly stating that the printing of the book began in 1582 at Hollum, below an earlier inscription, deleted [?] by Thorláksson, mentioning the date 1585) -- R. Raske of Copenhagen (editor of Haldorson's Islandic Lexicon, his gift inscription to:) -- John Jamieson (1759-1838, 13-line signed bibliographical note in his hand on front free endpaper and further note confirming Raske's gift).
FIRST EDITION OF THE BIBLE IN ICELANDIC, INSCRIBED BY THE EDITOR, translated from Luther's version. 'For beauty of language and faithful simplicity of style the finer parts of this version, especially the New Testament, have never been surpassed in any tongue: they stand worthily beside the work of Tyndale, Luther and Ulfila, foremost monuments of the Teutonic tongues' (F.Y. Powell). Thorláksson made use of portions already published, and employed a version of the Prophets and 1 and 2 Maccabees, prepared in 1574-75 by Gisli Jónsson, Bishop of Skálholt (1558-1587), but his careful revision and completion of the work led to it becoming known as 'Gudbrands Biblia.' Luther's prefaces were added. The illustrations are attributed to Gudbrandur himself; the title border contains his initials, and the cut before Romans his monogram. One thousand copies were printed, and King Frederick II ordered that every church in Iceland should purchase one, the price varying slightly according to the means of the purchaser, and the very poor obtaining copies free.
Darlow and Moule note that this edition 'possesses a peculiar feature which renders it apparently unique in the history of printing. Independently of the list of errata supplied at the end of Revelation, the editor caused a number of corrections to be made in the text itself, after the sheets had been printed ... They include one cancellation and many substitutions and additions. The words substituted or added are stamped by hand on the page -- generally in the margin, but sometimes above or below the line -- by means of type gathered up and, presumably, tied together.' In his bibliographical note, the antiquary and philologist John Jamieson, a member of the Copenhagen Society of Northern Literature, speculates as to whether 1584 was the true date of first publication since the privilege leaf is dated 1579; although 1584 remains the accepted date, Thorláksson's inscription seems to indicate that printing took place over an unexpectedly long period. Brunet I, 905; Darlow and Moule p. 781; Hermannsson, Icelandic Books of the 16th Century, p. 28ff.