We zeroed in on a book binder. We then tested the binder’s workmanship with a hard covered high end facsimile edition of the 1611 King James Bible produced by The Bible Museum, Inc.
Our specifications were for a period binding in black Moroccan leather with raised bands. We were so pleased with the workmanship and the transformative end result that we decided to broaden the scope of Reproduction Bibles to include Renaissance and Reformation period Bibles in facsimile where we step in as a Value Added Reseller by providing select offerings in hand crafted period bindings in real leather.
This facsimile reproduction of the 1611 King James Bible, first edition, measures approximately 11 inches tall by 8.75 inches wide by 3.5 inches thick, and weighs about 10 pounds. It is big. It is heavy. And, it is beautiful.
This King James Bible has crisp and sharp details. Each page was computer-scanned from the original, and printed on heavy cream colored paper. The period binding we have produced finishes this Bible into a master piece. A collector’s item.
The black letter typeface of the original King James Bible builds on the earlier Authorized Versions for the Church of England. We believe that the punch cutter for the blackletter typeface was Dutch. That same typeface was used in the Great Bible of Henry VIII, the Bishop's Bible under Queen Elizabeth, and also the King James Bible.
This edition contains the full prefatory content: The Dedication to King James, the translator's To The Reader Preface, the Calendar, the Holy Land Map, the Genealogy, and of course the entire Old Testament, Intertestamental Books (as specifically mandated by King James), and New Testament. This bible is exactly as it was published in 1611. It's the real thing as authorized by King James and appointed to be read in the churches.
Some curiosities: The word “Easter” is not in any Hebrew, Greek, or Latin Bible, yet it appears in the King James Bible. Also, the name “Lucifer” is not in any Hebrew or Greek Bible, yet it appears in the King James Bible. That word is Latin and comes out of the Vulgate, which the translator’s claimed they distanced themselves from.The fact is this: the King James Bible translators looked to the Douai-Rheims translation of the Latin Vulgate into English. The New Testament translation was relied upon more so than the Bishop’s Bible to inform its eventual direction, and the Old Testament was looked at to convey the key concept of God’s arch rival for the hearts and minds of men.
Bibles like this, pulpit Bibles, sell for about $700 and up. We have priced ours at $525. That is about ten times the cost of a typical Bible that too often ends up in a used bookstore, but this one is a hundred times nicer and destined to become a treasured family heirloom. We will dedicate a portion of the sale of this Bible to Hurricane Harvey relief.
We have zeroed in on a binder for our 36 line Gutenberg Bible in English. The bidding process for binding the works proved to be interesting. There are not that many binders in the country, and not all binders are ready or willing to sew and bind. Also, not all binders are willing or capable of producing a period binding. Our concern is that as the decades pass, book binding may become a dying art due to the advent of digital books.
We ran into a speed bump months back due to one of the prologues in the medieval Bible, which had not yet been translated into English. Interesting that only one had never been translated from Latin into English.
We conducted a relentless search for text based documents in a digital format with the prologue, and found them. We then produced side by side renderings of the prologue with the screen shots from the Gutenberg Bible, the text in Latin in modern spelling, and our own translation efforts using Google translate, which performed fairly well in helping us to produce a pretty good draft.
We then had our work reviewed by Francesca Colaianni, a neighbor and multi-lingual educator; and then Dr. Robert Brewer, a teacher of classical languages at Georgetown Preparatory School.
As serendipity played out, we stumbled upon a moralized Bible with prefaces in the Spanish language produced between 1301 and 1400 at the National Library of Spain. We extracted the prologue in question, which was then reviewed by Mabel Ramirez for the purpose of producing an English translation and then carefully comparing it with our prior efforts.
The prologue in question is the long introduction to Paul’s epistle to the Romans. The unknown writer of this prologue sets up a back and forth argument between the Jews and the Gentiles concerning God, the Law of Moses, God’s divine favor, idols, and Christ. The purpose of the prologue is to set up the reader for the text of Paul’s arguments laid out in the epistle.
With these aforementioned updates made, we will be conducting a careful review of our finished work in order to make any necessary adjustments prior to printing. Once the final review is done, then we print, sew the signatures, and then turn the text blocks over to the printer for cutting and binding.
Reproduction Bibles is pleased to announce that our first to print publication in the que will be a 36 line baby Gutenberg in a hand held format. This edition will be approximately 7 1/2” wide x 11” tall. This is larger than your typical bible, which tends to measure in at a smaller size and with smaller text sizes as well. Our edition will be 15” wide x 11” tall when opened. This edition is similar to what is properly known as the Bamberg Bible.
The mathematics behind our design format seeks to be as close as possible to the golden ratio, or the 2:1 ratio, which is why a well designed book such as the Gutenberg Bible is pleasant to look at when opened. Simply put, the width of a page is two-thirds its height. The same formula applies to the text block. That is the secret embedded in the medieval manuscript bibles as well as the Gutenberg, which sought to come as close as possible in order replicate the look and feel of a manuscript bible.
Since the established purpose of Reproduction Bibles is to reproduce medieval bibles, as they appeared, but in the English language, our edition will be true to period. There will be no doctrinal or denominationally oriented foot notes. There will be no cross references. And, there will be no verse numbers. Instead, the authentic gothic textura text font, designed in Germany based on the actual Gutenberg Bible, will be punctuated by period Roman numeral chapter breaks, book opening letters, and chapter opening display letters, which were hand painted and then digitized for placement. (See photo below). We used the Gutenberg held by the Library of Congress as our model for developing our hand painted letters. There will not be any gold leaf illumination in this edition.
Every single epistle, prologue, preface, and argument that appeared in the Gutenberg in the Latin has been translated into English* and are part of our edition. *We are still working on translating about 200 words of Latin into English in one of the two prologues of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. One of the delightful finds in our research is that not all of the prologues from the Latin Vulgate, the text of the medieval bible, were written by Jerome. Scholars believe that several were written by some, who fell out of favor with the church due to non orthodox views. These other writers are believed to have been Pelagius and Marcion.
Our edition features sixteen page gatherings that will be smyth sewn - the proper way to produce a book so that it lasts and so that the book lays flat when opened. Our paper, not shown here, will be a high quality, acid free archival paper designed for high end digital printers that has some grit to the texture as well as subtle patterns similar to what is seen in the paper used by Gutenberg. Yes, the cost of the paper is higher than your typical book. But, this is not your typical book or your typical bible, which is cluttered with far too much text on a single page.
Our color matching has been done, and we will be ready to go to print when completed since there remains the final stage of formatting, which is the placement of the headers, book opening letters, and display letters for chapters. When we zero in on the binding, we will issue another update.
The harvest moon in the middle ages ensured a longer working day to pick the fields clean. What followed was the harvest celebration from village to village across Europe and England. And rightfully so. It was hard work.
You see, in the medieval world there were three classes. Maybe four. Warriors learned the art of warfare, and when they weren’t plundering, they defended the realm from the likes of Viking raiders, Islamic jihadists, and marauding Magyars. Priests prayed. They studied the teachings of the church and taught them to the community. And, farmers tilled, planted, and harvested the fields. And, of course, there was the merchant class that developed more gradually.
In the churches, the reading portion of the liturgical year focused on the thanksgiving offerings to the Lord found in Leviticus. In their synagogues, the Jews also worshipped in thanksgiving with similar reading portions praising the Almighty for His bounty of the earth, the bread from the grain and the wine from the grape.
In the middle ages, a feast might start with a suckling pig with an apple in its mouth roasted on a spit finished off with lemon cakes. Music, of course, filled the great halls to those invited to celebrate.
Own a piece of medieval history, for yourself, or as a gift. Our large format gold leaf illuminated opening to Exodus celebrates freedom from bondage. Their names were engraved into the book of life. They had every reason to celebrate. They had been set free. Ideal as a gift for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
In 1118, Stephen Harding, the abbot of Citeaux Abbey south of Dijon, mentors and befriends Bernard of Clairvaux, and expresses an interest in translating books from the Old Testament since they describe treasures buried beneath the Temple Mount where Solomon’s Temple stood. Harding's convictions about the veracity of specific passages of the Old Testament change the course of western history.
Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the most influential men of the period, then taps his nephew Hughe de Payens to establish the Order of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.
The following year, Count Hugh of Champagne, the patron of the Cistercians, goes to Jerusalem and nominates his vassal Hughe de Payens to become the Grand Master of a proposed new order to be named the Order of the Temple of Solomon (Knights Templar) under the Rule written by Bernard of Clairvaux with their express mission being to protect pilgrims on their journey to visit the Holy Places.
King Baldwin II of Jerusalem and Warmund of Picquigny, the Patriarch of Jerusalem at the Council of Nablus, grant approval for the order of the Knights Templar in 1120 and also grant the Temple Mount as their headquarters.
In keeping with the convictions of Harding, the Knights Templar excavate under the Temple mount for nine years between 1120 and 1128 . They, no doubt were in search of the treasures of the Temple, which would have dropped below the Temple Mount for safe keeping when Jerusalem came under siege, which happened in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed the city and the Temple.
The order of the Knights Templar is recognized by Pope Honorius II in 1129, and he grants the order unlimited power and freedoms. Relics and treasures, no doubt, made their way to Rome and to Europe after the knights unearthed the buried hoard.
Own a piece of this remarkable period by acquiring a gold leaf illuminated poster.
It was the best of times. And, it was the worst of times. Great, lavish and monumental Bibles were being produced across Europe in the Eleventh Century. And, a 50 year civil war took place over the tug of war of political and ecclesiastical power. At issue was a simple question: Who determines who becomes a bishop or a pope? The state? Or the church? While this might sound like a question buried in the obscurities of medieval history, the fundamental issues that come out of the answer to that question resonate to this day.
In the year 1075, King Henry IV, king of Germany, gave a Great Bible to the Benedictine monks at the Hirsau Abbey. The public gesture was one of good will and an act of piety that demonstrated the alleged subservience of the state to the church in moral and spiritual matters. King Henry IV went on to become Emperor Henry IV of the Holy Roman Empire and King of the Romans.
In spite of the act of good will, the Investiture Controversy began as a power struggle between Pope Gregory VII (1072–1085) and this same Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1056–1106).
In 1083, Emperor Henry IV besieged Pope Gregory VII in Rome. The pope called on the Norman duke of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily, Guiscard, who at the time is warring against the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus. Guiscard with 36,000 men escort the pope to safety to the Lateran Palace. The people of Rome rioted in protest to the Norman presence of paid mercanaries. The Normans then sacked and burned the city over a three day period.
Like the past, the present is no different. It is the best of times. And, it is the worst of times. The person - or political party if that was possible, who determines the leadership of the church dictates the direction of the church. Consider the issues raised by Wikileaks.
See this Great Bible at Bavarian State Library, BSB Clm 13001.
In the middle ages, switching careers happened. The monastery was an option, and those with resources gave generously as an act of piety. Sometimes motivating factors were an act of penance or circumstances beyond their control like a civil war. Consider the case of Ludwig III, the last count of Arnstein in Germany.
Lothair III of Supplinburg was the Holy Roman Emperor from 1133 until his death in 1137. He had been King of Germany and King of the Romans from 1125 to 1137.
Civil instability followed the transition of power not due to a lack of viable candidates as successors to the throne, but due to the determination to eliminate all competitive threats to the throne.
In 1138 Henry the Proud, the duke of Bavaria (1126–1138) and of Saxony (1137–1138) was a candidate for King of the Romans. Conrad III, however, defeated him in the election by nobles and ecclesiastics with the papal legate Theodwin as witness. Conrad III then seized the territories held by Henry the Proud and gave the Duchy of Saxony to Albert the Bear and Bavaria to Leopold IV of Austria
Civil war broke out and Conrad III was never crowned by the pope as emperor.
In 1139, no doubt amidst the civil turmoil, Ludwig III von Arnstein transformed his castle on the Lahn River into the Arnstein Abbey. He then joined the order. The circumstances that led to that more than likely was the civil war following the election of the new king.
In 1146, Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second Crusade at Speyer. Conrad III heard the call and went on the Second Crusade. The Seljuk Turks, however, defeated him in the second Battle of Dorylaeum in 1147.
In 1172 a monk named Lunandus participated in creating the Arnstein Bible, which is now in two volumes in the British Library. See Harley MS 2798 and Harley MS 2799. This two volume great bible is one of the superb lasting legacies from the period.
In 1040, the Song of Roland appears as a ballad to commemorate the Battle of Roncevaux in 778 against the Muslims, during the reign of Charlemagne. This tragic tale of war and the death of its fearless hero Roland is probably chanted in the royal courts of Europe as well as sung to pass the time as pilgrims journeyed to a shrine of a patron saint.
One of the destination points for pilgrims was along the Camino de Santiago. Camino means road, and Santiago is a corrupted form from the Gaelic of the Latin words Sancti Yacob. This is the famed road of Saint Jacob the apostle. Today we know him as James, due to the Latin influence on the emergence of early English as jamon, a leg of ham, became the linguistic equivalent to Jacob, the heel grabber.
You can experience a reenactment of the Song of Roland performed by Norwegians here.
Jerusalem was at the center of the world in the Twelfth Century. And, the world was flat. The maps from the period were called Mappa Mundi, which is the Latin for “world map” or “map of the world” and beautifully evidenced the world as it was understood. The journeys to Jerusalem from England and France for both pilgrimages and crusades followed treks from the ends of the earth across both land and sea to the earth’s navel.
English Heritage historian Dr Steven Brindle tell us, “Medieval maps are laden with meanings and convey a world view typified by a fear of God and the end of time, but also in awe of the scale and wonder of Creation.”
William of Trye, the Archbishop of Tyre, wrote a two volumed work titled A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea. The archbishop lived between 1130 and 1190 and chronicled the tales surrounding the crusades. The reference to the sea in the title is the Mediterranean, which in the medieval world, was near the center of the world.
The recreation on vellum of one of the the Mappa Mundi is at King's Hall at Dover Castle. Henry II built the castle in the 1180s as one of the many fortifications for his empire. A detailed map of this nature would have enabled the king to understand his place in the world.
The Mappa Mundi pictured above is a reproduction and was drawn and painted by hand on vellum. The image was found on the website of William Cowley, makers of parchment and vellum in the United Kingdom.
NOTE: While many Mappa Mundi features Jerusalem at the center of the world, the image above that hangs in Dover Castle features the island of Delos in the Cyclades at the center of the world thus continuing the Greco-Roman vision of the world as they knew it.
To learn more about the world contained within Mappa Mundi from the period, see the video from Hereford Cathedral.
This installment is tied to the backbone of our research - digitized manuscripts. We turn our attention to a remarkable medieval city in England called Durham.
Situated in northeastern England, Durham was once ruled by lord bishops. They exercised both temporal and ecclesiastical powers. They had to. Viking raiders from across the seas came often. And, the Scots were not too far to the north.
Within the walls of the university library is a treasure trove of rarely seen manuscripts. Some are from the Celtic, or Irish, Christian tradition. And, much is from the generations just after the arrival of William the Conqueror.
Durham Collections Digitization and Research is a brief video about this rare and largely intact collection of manuscripts, which over time will be digitized and go online. In our research, we heavily rely on accessing and carefully examining manuscripts in order to reproduce them.