Within the Archives
Within the Main Library
Within the Archives
How do you define monstrosity?
Christophe Plantin or Christoffel Plantijn (1520–1589) was the founder of one of the most important publishers of the 16th Century. His main residence was in Antwerp where his printing house has been preserved to this day in the Plantin-Moretus Museum. In 1568 he started a masterpiece of Renaissance book production: The Biblia Regia or Antwerp Polyglot Bible.
Plantin acquired types from the best type-cutters and designers of the day as well as proofreaders for the Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, Latin and Chaldean (Aramaic) texts for his Polyglot Bible. Philip II, King of Spain and at that time still Lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands, commissioned 13 copies printed on vellum. Another 1200 copies were printed on paper. Two volumes, six and eight, were only printed on paper due to a shortage of vellum during various uprisings against the rule of Philip II. With Hebrew, Greek and Syriac in the Polyglot, all of the Abrahamic religions were purposely represented: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. The Polyglot was meant to assist all men to become fellow-citizens of the world. The text arrangements in the Polyglot are complex and show a remarkable skill on the part of the typesetters.
The first four volumes contain the Old Testament with most pages featuring two columns. The left page commonly shows vocalized Hebrew on the far left with Jerome’s Vulgate Latin translation on the right. The facing page has the Greek Septuagint on the right with an italicized Latin translation on its left. Underneath the columns is a vocalized Chaldean (Aramaic) text of the Targum on the left page with its Latin translation on the right. The arrangement changes, for instance, the book of Judith does not include the Hebrew and the Greek Septuagint has an interlinear Latin transliteration next to the Vulgate Latin translation.
Volume Five has the New Testament in Syriac on the far left with its Latin translation in the next column and on the facing page the Vulgate Latin text on the left with the Greek Septuagint on the right. Volume Six has grammars and dictionaries of Hebrew, Greek, Syriac and Chaldean (Aramaic). Volume Seven has the complete Old Testament in Hebrew with a Latin translation between the lines and a Greek New Testament also with an interlinear Latin translation as well as a list of common and familiar Hebrew idioms. Volume Eight is a treatise by Benito Arias Montano, who was overseeing the bible production on behalf of King Philip II. He presents the origin and evolution of the world and its people from creation to the time of Christ together with an ethnography of the ancient Hebrews.
Merrill Brekka, Pamela 2012. The Antwerp Polyglot Bible (1572): Visual Coprus, New World ‘Hebrew-Indian’ Map, and the Religious Crosscurrents of Imperial Spain. Dissertation, University of Florida.
Langereis, Sandra 2014. De Woordenaar: Christoffel Plantijn ‘s Werelds Grootste Drukker en Uitgever (1520–1589). Balans Uitgeverij: Amsterdam.
What makes a book deadly?
The text? The ink? The pigments? The binding?
Historically, all of the above.
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