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The Holy Bible

A non-denominational, nonsectarian work-in-progress; a chronological history of the book that is the world’s most widely printed and published work; the focus here is historical, with no attempt to judge theological superiority of one version over another;

Topics covered include:

-unique & significant editions

-historical milestones

-Bible Societies




Pre-15th Century      15th Century        16th Century       17th Century


   18th Century       19th Century        20th Century       21st Century


The Holy Bible


·      comprised of sixty-six books, not counting the Apocrypha

·      The word bible was first applied to the Hebrew scripture in the 2nd Century A.D.

·      The word bible has been used for the combined Old and New Testaments since the fifth century A.D.

·      The word bible does not occur in the text of the Scriptures

·       A Codex is a leaf book invented and used first by the Romans, as distinguished from a roll or scroll

·      The Books of Moses are also known as the Pentatuech, or the Law, regarded as authoritative about 400 B.C.

·       By 200 A.D. The New Testament was generally accepted as scripture

·      In 367 A.D. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, listed the twenty-seven books which have been held as authoritative to this day

·      The Apocrypha's fourteen books have not been included in the Protestant Bible since the Nineteenth Century

·      The Old Testament was first written down in Hebrew and Aramaic; The New Testament in Greek

·       The Old Testament’s 39 books are divided into 929 chapters of 23,214 verses (Apocrypha not included)

·       The New Testament’s 27 books are divided into 260 chapters of 7,959 verses

·       The Bible was divided into chapters by Cardinal Hugo de Sancto-Caro about 1250

·       The Greek New Testament was divided into verses by Robert Stephens, a French printer, in 1551

·       Up to the end of 1961 the American Bible Society had distributed over 592,000,000 copies of the scriptures

·       Robert Aitken of Philadelphia printed the first English Bible in America in 1782 with the approval of the Congress

·       Christopher Sauer of Germantown, Pa., printed the first Bible in America in a European language (German) in 1743

·       Glossing or a gloss refers to a literal word-by-word rendering into a second language, preserving the order of the first.

·       The first Bible in America was printed in 1663 – a translation into the Massachusetts Indian language by John Eliot

 This website was originally conceived to celebrate the 550th anniversary of the printing of the 42-line Vulgate Bible by Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type. The November 18, 1950 edition of the Antiquarian Bookman Magazine reported that by the end of 1950 (the 500th anniversary of Gutenberg's invention), over two billion Bibles and parts of bibles will have been printed, with 25 million more being added each year. At this rate, the total number of bibles printed by the year 2008 will exceed four billion copies, in thousands of languages and editions. This makes the Bible the first and undisputed best-seller of all time and no other book is likely to take its place.

Learn more about the Gutenberg Bible census.



Adams, Randolph G. America's First Bibles; from The Colophon, New Series, Vol. 1, No.1, Summer, 1935.

Adomeit, Ruth Elizabeth.  Three Centuries of Thumb Bibles: A Checklist. (NY & London) Garland Pub. Co. 1980.

“All Scripture is Inspired of God and Beneficial” (Brooklyn) Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of NY. 1990.

American Book Prices Current (ABPC).

Antiquarian Bookman. Gutenberg Bible Census and Bible History. 1950.

Astruc, Jean. Conjectures sur les memoires originaux; (1753)

Athearn, Laura Armstrong. Your Bible. The Graded Press, 1949. Paperback, 112 p.

Auzou, Georges.  The Formation of the Bible: History of the Sacred Writings of the People of God. (St Louis) B Herder. 1963, Hardcover. 386p

Barnstone, Willis (ed.).  The Other Bible. (NY) Harper & Row, 1984, First Edition. 740 p., including bibliography.

Baughman, Roland; Schad, Robert O. Great Books In Great Editions. (San Marino) Huntington Library, 1973. 4th Prtg.

Belcher, Joseph.  The Religious Denominations in the United States. (Phila.) John E. Potter, 1864, Revised Edition.

Benet, William Rose. Benet's Readers Encyclopedia (NY) HarperCollins, 1996. Fourth Edition.

Bible Editions and Versions, The Journal of the International Society of Bible Collectors.

Blumenthal, Walter Hart. Bookmen's Bedlam: An Olio of Literary Oddities. (Freeport) Books For Libraries Press, 1969.

British Museum Guide .  Manuscripts and Printed Books Exhibited in Celebration of the Tercentenary of the Authorized Edition.  1911

Buck, Charles. A Theological Dictionary. (Philadelphia) Joseph J. Woodward. 1829.

Cahn, Walter. Romanesque Bible Illumination. (Ithaca) Cornell University Press, 1982, First Ed.  304p., incl. Index.

Cambridge History of the Bible. (Cambridge) University Press. 1970.

Carson, D.A.  The King James Version Debate: A Plea For Realism. (Grand Rapids) Baker Book House, 1979. pb, 123p.

Chamberlain, William J. Catalog of English Bible Translations. (Westport) Greenwood Press, 1991.

Comfort, Philip W.  The Complete Guide To Bible Versions. (Wheaton) Living Books, 1991. pb, 145p., plus ads.

Copinger, Walter A. Incunabula Biblica. (London) Bernard Quaritch, 1892.

Copinger, Walter A. Supplement to Hain’s Repertorium Bibliographicum . London, 1985-1902. 3  Vols.

Corns, A.R. & Sparke, A.  A Bibliography of Unfinished Books in the English Language. (NY) Burt Franklin. Reprint of 1969.

Crane, Frank. The Lost Books of the Bible. (NY) Alpha House, 1926; 293p.

Darlow, T.H. and Moule, H.E.   Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scripture in the Library of the British and Foreign Bible Society. (London) 1903-11, BFBS.  Reprinted in four-volume set by Maurizio Martino.

Dearden, Robert R. Jr. The Guiding Light On The Great Highway. (Philadelphia) John C. Winston, 1929. First Edition.

De Hamel, Christopher. The Book. A History of the Bible. (London) Phaidon Press. 2001. First Edition.

De Hamel, Christopher (intro.) Hidden Friends: The Comites Latentes Collection... (London) Sotheby's, 1985. Exhibition Catalog

Dewey, David. A User's Guide To Bible Translations. (Downers Grove) InterVarsity Press. 2004 4th Prtg.

Dominick, Mabel A. The Bible and The Historical Design. (Norwood) Plimpton Press. 1936. First Ed.

Dore, J.R. Old Bibles: An Account of the Early Versions of the English Bible. (London) E&S. 1888. 2nd Ed.

Ehrlich, J.W. The Holy Bible and The Law. (NY) Oceana Publications, Inc., 1962. First Edition

Ehrman, Bart D. Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It Into the New Testament. 2003 (NY) Oxford University Press, 8vo, First Edition. 342p.

Encyclopaedia Britannica. (London) 1910. Eleventh Edition.

Finegan, Jack. Handbook of Biblical Chronology. (Princeton) Princeton University Press, 1964. First Edition, 338p., w/index.

Fingernagel, A.; Gastberger, C.  In The Beginning Was The Word: The Power and Glory of Illuminated Bibles (Köln) Taschen. 2003.

Foster, Lewis. Selecting a  Translation of the Bible. (Cincinnati) Standard Publishing, 1978; Stapled wraps, 8vo, 76p.

Friedman, Richard Elliott. Who Wrote The Bible? (NY) Summit Books, 1987. Paperback Edition. 299p.

Froude, James A. (ed.) A Bibliographic Description of the Editions of the New Testament Tyndale's Version in English. (London) Sotheran, 1878, First Edition.

Gaebelein, Frank E.  Down Through The Ages: The Story of the King James Bible. (NY) MacMillan, 1925. 12mo, 106p., including index.

Gameson, Richard (ed.) The Early Medieval Bible: Its Production, Decoration and Use. Cambridge University Press, 1994

Geck, Elisabeth. Johannes Gutenberg; Vom Bleibuchstaben zum Computer. (Bad Godesberg) Inter Nationes, 1968; wraps.

Goodspeed, Edgar J. How To Read The Bible. (Philadelphia) John C. Winston, 1946. First Edition. 244 p.

Great Soviet Encyclopedia (Bol’shaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia) Third Edition English translation, 1973. (NY) MacMillan.

Greenhood, David and Gentry, Helen. Chronology of Books & Printing. (NY) MacMillan, 1936. Revised Ed.

Grierson, Sir Herbert.  The English Bible. (London) Collins, 1947.  Third Impression

Gutjahr, Paul C. An American Bible. (Stanford) Stanford Univ. Press. 1999. First Edition

Haight, Anne Lyon.  Banned Books. (NY & London) R.R. Bowker, 1970. Third Edition.

Hain, L. Repertorium Bibliographicum. Stuttgart, 1826-38.  4 Vols.

Hamilton-Hoare, Henry W.  The Evolution of the English Bible…Cornell University Library, 2009. a reprint.

Handover, P.M. Printing In London: From Caxton to Modern Times (Cambridge) Harvard University Press, 1960. 1st Ed.

Handy, Robert T. A History of the Churches in the United States and Canada. (NY) Oxford Univ. 1977.

Herbert, A.S.  Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible, 1525-1961.  (London) BFBS. 1968.

Hertz, Dr. J.H. (ed.). The Pentateuch and Haftorahs (London) Soncino Press. 5718-1958. One-Vol. Ed. 17th Imp.

Hervey, G. Winfred. The Story of Baptist Missions in Foreign Lands. (St Louis) Chancy R. Barns, 1886.

Hill, Christopher.  The English Bible and the Seventeenth Century Revolution. (London) Allen Lane, 1993.

Hills, Margaret T. (ed.) The English Bible in America: A Bibliography…(1777-1957). (Mansfield Centre) Martino Fine Books.

Hindman, S.; Farquhar, J. D. Pen To Press: Illuminated Manuscripts and Printed Books... (College Park) Univ. of Md. 1977

Holman. Holy Bible, 1878. Holman Edition.

Hunt, C.C. (compiler).  Masonic Concordance: A Comprehensive Concordance to the Holy Scriptures, Showing Especially the Relation of the Bible to the History, Symbolism and Teachings of Freemasonry. World Publishing, 1948.

Il Libro Della Bibbia: Esposizione di Manoscritti... (Vatican) Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MCMLXXII.

Ing, Janet.  Johann Gutenberg and his bible: A Historical Study. (NY) The Typophiles.  1988, First Edition.

Keller, Werner.  The Bible As History: A Confirmation of the Book of Books. (NY) William Morrow, 1956.

Kubo, Sakae; Specht, Walter. So Many Versions? (Grand Rapids) Zondervan. 1979, Fifth Printing.

Kugel, James L.  The Bible As It Was  (Cambridge, MA) Harvard University Press, 1997. First Edition.

Larson, Charles M. By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus: (Grand Rapids) Institute For Religious Research, 1992, Rev. Ed.

Leary, Lewis. The Book-Peddling Parson. (Chapel Hill) Algonquin Books. 1984. First Edition.

Lehmann-Haupt, Hellmut.  The Book in America. (NY) R.R. Bowker. 1952. Second Edition.

Levi, Peter. The English Bible From Wycliff to William Barnes, 1534-1859.  (London) Constable, 1974. First Edition.

Lewis, Frank Grant. How The Bible Grew. (Chicago) Univ. of Chicago Press, 1919. Second Impression.

Lewy, Immanuel. The Growth of the Pentateuch: A Literary, Sociological and Biographical Approach. (NY) Bookman Associate, 1955; 288p.

MacGregor, Geddes. The Bible in the Making. (London) John Murray. 1961, First UK Edition.

Manschreck, Clyde L.  A History of Christianity In The World. (Englewood Cliffs) Prentice-Hall, 1985, 2nd Edition.

Mansoor, Menahem (ed.) The Book and the Spade: A Guide to Biblical Archaeology. (Madison) 1975. Third Revision.

Matthews, Robert J. Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible. BYU, 1975.

McClure, A. Translators Revived: A Biog. Memoir of the Authors of the KJV. (Worthington) Maranatha. Reprint.

McMurtrie, Douglas C. The Golden Book. (NY) Covici-Friede, 1927.

Merrill, Eugene H. An Historical Survey of the Old Testament. (Grand Rapids) Baker Book House, 1998. Second Ed.

Metzger, Bruce M. The Text of the New Testament (NY/London) Oxford University Press, 1964.

Moody, Paul D.  A Brief History of Our English Bible.  Privately Printed for use in Northfield Seminary. 1908.

Nettleton, Joseph. John Hunt, Pioneer Missionary and Saint. (London) Charles H. Kelly, 1904.

Newgass, Edgar.  An Outline of Anglo-American Bible History. (London) B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1958, First Edition

Nersessian, Vrej.  The Bible in The Armenian Tradition. (London) The British Library. 2001.

Nicolson, Adam. God’s Secretaries: The Making of The King James Bible. (NY) HarperCollins, 2003. First Ed.

Norlie, O.M. The Translated Bible 1534-1934. (Philadelphia) United Lutheran Pub. House. 1934.

Norman, Don Cleveland. The 500th Anniversary Pictorial Census of the Gutenberg Bible.  (Chicago) Coverdale Press, 1961.

North, Eric M.  The Book of A Thousand Tongues.  (NY) American Bible Society. 1939. 4to; 386p.

Ohlhausen, Sidney K.  The American Catholic Bible in the Nineteenth Century. McFarland & Co. 2006.  isbn 0786424915.

Orcutt, William Dana. The Kingdom of Books. (Boston) Little, Brown & Co., 1927. Second Impression, Trade Edition.

Orlinsky, Harry M. (ed.) The Biblical Antiquities of Philo. (NY) KTAV Pub. House, 1971.

Pelikan, Jaroslav Jan. Whose Bible Is It?: A History of the Scriptures Through The Ages. (NY) Viking, 2005. First Edition.

Pelikan, Jaroslav Jan.  The Reformation of the Bible: The Bible of the Reformation. (New Haven) Yale. 1996.

Pellechet, M.  Catalogue Gėnėral des incunables des Bibliothèques Publiques de France.  Paris, 1897-1905. Two Vols.

Pilling, James Constance. Bibliography of the Algonquian Languages, BAE Bulletin 13. (Washington, DC) Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Ethnology, 1891.

Price, Ira Maurice. The Ancestry of Our English Bible. (Philadelphia) Sunday School Times Co. 1923. Eighth Ed.

Price, Warwick, James. The One Book. (Chicago) John C. Winston. 1928.

Proctor, R. An Index to the Early Printed Books in The British Museum. London, 1898-99. 2 Vols.

Proctor, R. The Printing of Greek in the XVth Century.  Oxford, 1900.

Rumball-Petre, Edwin A.R. America’s First Bibles: With a Census of 555 Extant Bibles (Mansfield Centre) Martino Pub.

Russell, D.M. Between the Testaments. (Philadelphia) Muhlenberg Press, 1960. First Edition. Hardcover, 176p. Apocalyptic literature between the old and new test testaments.

Rumball-Petre, Edwin A.R. Rare Bibles: An Introduction for Collectors and a Descriptive Checklist. (NY) 1954.

Sewell, William. History of  The People Called Quakers. (Phila.) Uriah Hunt, 1832; New Edition.  Two Vols.

Shailor, Barbara A. The Medieval the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. (New Haven) Yale Univ. 1988

Sharpe, John; Van Kampen, Kimberly.  The Bible As Book: The Manuscript Tradition. (London) The British Library. 1998.

Sheppard, L.A. The Printers of the Coverdale Bible, 1535. Bibliographical Soc., Vol XVI, No. 3. Dec. 1935.

Silver, Rollo G. The Beginning of Electrotyping in America, from Journal of Printing Historical Soc., No. 10 1974/75 (London)

Simms, P. Marion.  The Bible In America: Versions That Have Played Their Part… (NY) Wilson-Erickson, 1936.

Spurgeon, C.H.  Commenting and Commentaries: A Reference Guide to Book Buying. (Grand Rapids) Kregel, 1954. Revised Ed.

Stacey, John. John Wyclif and Reform. (Philadelphia) Westminster Press. 1964, First Edition. 169p., including index.

Stevens, Henry. The Bibles in the Caxton Exhibition  MDCCCLXXVII.  (London) Henry Stevens, 1878.

Strand, Kenneth A. Early Low-German Bibles. (Grand Rapids) William B. Eerdmans, 1967. First Edition.

Targ, William. The Making of the Bruce Rogers Bible. (Cleveland and NY) World Publishing, 1949, First Edition.

Tebbel, John. A History of Book Publishing in the United States 3-Vols. (NY) R.R. Bowker. 1972.

Thompson, Erwin N.  Whitman Mission National Historic Site. (Washington, D.C.) National Park Service, 1964.

Thompson, Thomas L.  Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel. (NY) MJF Books, 1999. 1st Edition.

Thomson, John. Hither and Thither: A Collection of Comments on ... Bookish Matters. (Phila) George W. Jacobs & Co., 1905.

Thorpe, James. The Gutenberg Bible. (San Marino) Huntington Library. 1999, Second Edition.

Thuesen, P.J. In Discordance With The Scriptures: American Protestant Battles Over Translating the Bible. (NY) OUP, 2002.

Todd, William B. The Gutenberg Bible. New Evidence of the Original Printing. Hanes Foundation, 1982.

Washburn, J.N. The Contents, Structure and Authorship of the Book of Mormon. (Salt Lake City) Bookcraft, 1954. 1st Ed.

Wemyss, Stanley. The General Guide to Rare Americana. (Philadelphia Stanley Wemyss. 1950. 8vo. 323p.

Wild, Laura. Romance of the English Bible. (NY) Doubleday, Doran & Co. 1929.

Winship, George Parker. John Gutenberg: A Lecture. (Chicago) The Lakeside Press, 1940. 8vo, flexible hardcover. One of 100 copies. 38p.

Winterich, John T. Early American Books & Printing. (NY) Dover, 1981. Reprint of 1935 Houghton-Mifflin Edition.

Wolff, Edwin II (compiler)  Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach (introduction)  A Descriptive Catalogue of the John Frederick Lewis Collection of European Manuscripts in the Free Library of Philadelphia.  (Philadelphia) The Free Library of Philadelphia, 1937, Limited Edition.

Wood, H.T.W. Changes in the English Language: Between the Publication of Wiclif’s Bible and that of the Authorized Version. (London) Macmillan, 1870. First Ed.

Wosh, Peter J. Spreading The Word: The Bible Business in Nineteenth Century America. (Ithaca) Cornell Univ. Press, 1994.

Wright, John. Early Bibles of America. Martino Pub. 1894. Third Edition.

Wright, W. Curious Bibles. Leisure Hour periodical. Mid 1890’s.

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