Chronological History of the Bible - 19th Century
1800 - 1850
1800 First Greek New Testament printed in America; President John Adams signs the Act establishing The Library of Congress.
1800 Macklin’s Embellished Bible. The Old Testament [and New Testament], Embellished with Engravings, From Pictures and Designs by the Most Eminent English Artists. Printed by Thomas Bensley, London, 1800. First edition in Six Volumes, Folio. 72 full-page illustrations by prominent artists of the day, including Henry Fuseli, Philippe Jacques de Louthenbourg, Joshua Reynolds, and American expatriate Benjamin West; engraving by Francesco Bartolozzi and others. Thomas Bensley letterpress and type design exclusive for this edition. Produced at a cost of £30,000, and subscribers included King George III; [Darlow and Moule 982]. Macklin died on October 25, 1800 and it is uncertain whether he lived to see the finished work.
1801 The Idle Shepherd Bible – “Woe to the idle shepherd that leaveth the flock.” – Zech. xi. 17. The word idle shepherd is used instead of idol shepherd in a very faulty 8vo Bible by Oxford University Press (OUP). The printers no doubt intended to correct what seemed to them a mistake, and which is no doubt an unfortunate rendering. The exact meaning is vain, empty, and therefore foolish. Jerome and Pusey consider this idol shepherd as an Antichrist of the future, and Bishop Wordsworth sees in him the Pope of Rome as adored in the church of St. Peter by the cardinals after his election.
1802 The Discharge Bible - “I discharge thee before God.” – I Tim. v. 21. From a King’s Printer’s 4to (Quarto) Bible published in London, a mistake not found repeated.
1804 British and Foreign Bible Society founded
1804 Gospel of Saint John translated into the Mohawk Indian language, and is the first Canadian native translation to the published by what would eventually become the Canadian Bible Society.
1805 First printing of the New Testament at Cambridge University by the newly perfected stereotype process from stereotype plates. Inventor was Stanhope.
1805 First Bible of Reading, Pennsylvania
1805 Brooklyn, NY New Testament
1806 Standing Fishes Bible – “and it shall come to pass that the fishes shall stand upon it,” etc. – Ezek. xivii. 10. The word fishes is used for fishers in a 4to Bible printed by the King’s printer in London, then reprinted in a 4to edition of 1813, and an 8vo edition of 1823.
1808 First Septuagint in English, the first in the world, and the first complete re-translation of the Bible by an American, Charles Thomson, was printed in Philadelphia. The work was done by Jane Aitken, daughter of Robert Aitken, and sold in four volumes, beautifully crafted. This was the culmination of Charles Thomson’s 19-year effort to produce an accurate Septuagint translation that would validate the genuineness of the bible.
1808 Philadelphia Bible Society founded – the first Bible society founded in the United States; William White, president.
1809 The first book printed in America in Hebrew, a duodecimo edition of the Psalms, 498pp.; Published by the Cambridge Press, printed by Hilliard & Metcalf, and edited by Professor Francis Hare.
1809 New York Bible Society (later renamed the International Bible Society) founded in New York City; to date, the IBS has translated scripture into more than 600 languages. (see also 1816, ABS)
1810 The Ears To Ear Bible – “Who hath ears to ear, let him hear.” – Matt. xiii. 43. This adaptation to Cockney usage is found in an 8vo Bible published by the Oxford Press. The same book contains a more serious blunder in Hebrews ix. 14: “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from good works to serve the living God.”
1810 The Wife-Hater Bible – “If any man come to me and hate not his father…yea, and his own wife also,” etc. - Luke xiv. 26. Found in an Octavo Bible printed by OUP.
1812 First Vermont Bible; KJV OT, Apocrypha, and NT; 4to; published in Windsor, VT by Merrifield and Cochran; crudely illustrated with Isaac Eddy’s copper engravings; Eddy was probably self-taught, and produced some of the most ghastly and amateurish Bible illustrations of early 19th century America.
1812 According to The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, Third Edition translation, Emperor Alexander I established the St. Petersburg Bible Society, which was reorganized in 1814 into the Russian Bible Society, with the objective of disseminating the Bible. The GSE goes on to say that “The propaganda of the Bible Society was linked to the reactionary external and domestic policies of tsarism,” and further states that 289 branches of the society were formed, but the society “came to a halt” in 1824, and was formally disbanded in 1826. No further explanation is given as to why or how this took place. (See Vol 3, p249 of the 1973 GSE Third Edition).
1812 Philadelphia Bible Society acquires stereotyped plates from England for a KJV of the Holy Bible, and prints the first stereotyped book in America. The British and Foreign Bible Society contributed £500 towards the cost of the plates, from which William Fry produced 1050 copies of the complete bible, and 750 copies of the New Testament for the PBS; By the 1820s, 50 percent of American-made Bibles were stereotyped.
1813 First Bible (German Lutheran) printed west of Alleghenies in Somerset, Pa.
1814 First Hebrew Bible printed in U.S. (Philadelphia)
1815 First New Hampshire Bible (Walpole)
1816 American Bible Society founded, and produces its first Bible, a stereotyped edition, and the first book to bear its imprint; Elias Boudinot, first president of the Continental Congress, becomes the Society’s first president; the ABS became a pioneer of American publishing with innovations such as centralized production, national distribution, steam-powered printing, machine-made paper, and in-house binding. The stated goal of the ABS was “a bible to every household.” By 1820 the Society had ten different sets of stereotype plates able to produce five different types of bibles and New Testaments. By 1830, 300,000 copies of the scripture were being produced yearly. The ABS was also one of the earliest American publishers to sell books already bound, and in keeping with its practice of providing bibles “without note or comment” this practice kept out editorial commentary, ads, the apocrypha, etc., and kept the product simple, and affordable to produce. By the 1860’s ABS book production was one million volumes a year. Note: The New York Bible Society becomes an auxiliary of the American Bible Society in 1816, but declares its independence from the ABS in 1913.
1818 The three epistles of the Apostle John are published for the first time by the American Bible Society into the Delaware Indian language. Translated by Christian Frederick Dencke, a Moravian missionary, this is the first time any portion of the Bible is translated into the Delaware dialect.
1819 The first New Testament in Spanish produced in the United States, published in duodecimo by the American Bible Society.
1819 The First Book of Moses Called Genesis [translated into Tamil by the Wesleyan missionaries]. In English and Tamil. (Colombo), 12mo; “Containing only Genesis I-IX. 17.” (British Museum Catalog of Printed Books, 1881-1905)
1821 First Rhode Island Testament (Providence)
1823 Rebekah’s Camels Bible - “And Rebekah arose, and her camels.” – Gen. xxiv. 61. The word camels instead of damsels occurs in an 8vo Bible by the King’s Printers.
1823 Abner Kneeland, a Universalist minister, publishes The New Testament in Greek and English.
1825 The American Tract Society is founded in New York City; From the address of the Executive Committee: "Next to the bible and the living ministry, one of these means of light and salvation will be found to be short, plain striking, entertaining, and instructive Tracts, exhibiting in writing some of the great and glorious truths of the gospel." among the society’s first publications - A Friendly Visit to the House of Mourning, by Rev. Richard Cecil; Dialogue Between a Traveller and Yourself; and The Happy Negro.
1830 American Bible Society publishes its first complete Holy Bible in Spanish.
1831 The English Version of the Polyglot Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments, published in London by Samuel Bagster.
1833 American Bible Society publishes its first edition of the Testament in modern Greek.
1833 Published at Oxford, UK, an exact reprint, page for page of the first issue, 1611 King James Version. A large quarto, with the spelling, punctuation, italics, capitals, and distribution into lines and pages followed with the most scrupulous care; the type is Roman instead of Black Letter, and the ornamental initials at the beginning of the chapters are mere fancy work.
1833 Noah Webster's Revised Bible
1837 From Boston, MA., comes the first American copy of the New Testament, in raised letters for the blind. The American and the Massachusetts Bible Societies raised the funds for the project, done at the New England Asylum For the Blind, later becoming the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind in South Boston. This edition was in four quarto volumes, and the entire Bible was produced shortly thereafter. (Tebbel, , v-1, p511)
1837 Swedenborg Bible
1837-1838. The New Testament …In Raised Letters For the Use of the Blind. Parts 1-3 [Matt., Mark, Luke]. Glasgow. 4to. Another edition contained Vols 1-3, containing Matthew to Colossians only. No more published. (British Museum Catalog of Printed Books, 1881-1905)
1839-1845 The mission at Waiilatpu, Oregon , run by Dr. Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, is the site of the first printing press in the Pacific Northwest. From 1839-45, nine books were printed, with the most elaborate being the Gospel of St. Matthew in the Nez Perce language by Henry and Eliza Spalding.
1841 The American Bible Society publishes the complete Holy Bible, in raised letters for the blind; Eight-quarto volumes. (Tebbel, p511).
1842 Champlain Bible Burning: Several Protestant copies of the scriptures are burned by a Catholic missionary priest in Carbeau, New York on October 27th. Apparently he was angered that Protestant Bible Societies were distributing copies of the Bible to his parishioners. The incident caused a national firestorm of Protestant indignation and fueled the No-Popery crusade
1843 The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament. This First Edition contained both Hebrew-English and English-Hebrew indexes. The work was financed by George V. Wigram, but he was neither the author or compiler. A major 20th Century revision retains Wigram’s name. (see 1984)
1844 Fourth Century parchment manuscript (the Codex Sinaiticus) discovered by scholar-editor Constantine Tischendorf at the Convent of St. Catherine on the Sinai Peninsula; Tischendorf obtained forty-three leaves, but it was not until 1859 that he recovered the entire remaining document from a convent house steward, what he considered “the most precious Biblical treasure in existence.”
1845 The Phonotypic Bible…According to the Authorized Version. (Bath). Printed in “Phonotypic characters”. Never completed, the British Museum copy contains Genesis I – Exodus XX. 21.; author unknown. (British Museum Catalog of Printed Books, 1881-1905)
1846 Harper Illuminated Bible
1847 First Gutenberg Bible brought to the North American continent by the American book collector and philanthropist James Lenox; cost: $2,500.00, and now in the New York Public Library.
1850 Oxford, At The University Press publishes the first complete Wycliffe (Wyclif) Bible in the original translation, in four folio volumes; This 22-year effort is the first moveable type printing of the complete Wycliffe Bible, published nearly five centuries after John Wycliffe (1328-1384) and his followers completed the manuscript (1380); A great landmark in the history of the Bible and of the English Language, being the first and literal translation of St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Bible. Edited by The Rev. Josiah Forshall, F.R.S., Etc., Late Fellow of Exeter College, and Sir Frederic Madden, F.R.S., Etc., Keeper of the Mss. In the British Museum. The title page from Volume I reads: “The Holy Bible, Containing The Old and New Testaments, With the Apocryphal Books, In The Earliest English Versions Made From the Latin Vulgate by John Wycliffe and His Followers”.
1851-1900 |Top |
1852 The Hexaglot Pentateuch: or, The Five Books of Moses in the original Hebrew, with the Corresponding Samaritan, Chaldee, Syriac and Arabic. Edited by R. Young. Part I. Edinburgh. 8vo. No more published. (British Museum Catalog of Printed Books, 1881-1905)
1853 Rabbi Leeser translation of Hebrew scripture into English
1858 The American Bible Society’s 25th , 29th and other editions are used to produce 300, 12mo, unique leather-bound Bibles, gilt-stamped on the front cover, “Presented by Russell, Majors & Waddell – 1858”, operators of the Pony Express Mail Route from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California; Each Pony Express rider was given their own Bible to carry with them, making The Pony Express Bible a part of Western American lore. The firm built 190 relay stations, and it’s likely that station operators had copies as well. A small number of copies survive in libraries and state historical societies throughout the Western U.S.
1860 The Complete New Testament in Cherokee. Originally translated by Samuel Austin Worcester, Elias Boudinot & Stephen Foreman. This edition was revised by Charles C. Torrey, and published by The American Bible Society as a cloth-bound 12mo of 408p. D&M 2448.
1860-63 Bonaparte Dialect Books of the Bible
1861 American President-Elect Abraham Lincoln is sworn into office by Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert B. Taney; For the ceremony, William Thomas Carroll, the Clerk of the Supreme Court, provided the Holy Bible - an 1853 Oxford University Press edition (presumably a King James Version); a 12mo, bound in now-faded red velvet, with the boards edged in gold-washed metal. Secretary Carroll then recorded the event on the back page of the book and presented it to the Lincoln family. Robert Todd Lincoln’s widow donated the Bible to the Library of Congress in 1928. (see my 2009 entry on the Inauguration of Barack Obama)
1862 Catholic Bible revised by Archbishop Kenrick from Rheims-Douai version
1862 The Confederate States Bible Society is organized, and successfully supplies Bibles from England through the blockade; It is believed a few New Testaments were printed on Southern presses. (Tebbel, v-1, p511)
1862 New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (Atlanta, GA) Wood, Hanleiter, Rice. 16mo, wraps. Known as the first Confederate New Testament, probably printed in London.
1862 Facsimile reprint of The First New Testament in English, translated from the Greek by William Tyndale. Produced and Edited by the English Bible scholar Francis Fry; 177 copies were produced, with twenty-six printed on vellum and signed by Fry. Darlow & Moule 1212.
1863 The Bible shortage in the Confederate States of America is so severe that Union prisoners in Richmond, Va. were selling their copies for up to $15.00 each in order to buy food. (Tebbel, v-1, p511)
1865 The Bible Printed in Phonetic Shorthand. pp. 1-176. [London: Bath printed]. 8vo. “Contains Gen. I – Joshua XXI. 41. [never finished] No more published. Reprinted from the supplement to the Phonetic Journal.” (British Museum Catalog of Printed Books, 1881-1905)
1867 The Holy Scriptures, translated and Corrected by The Spirit of Revelation, by Joseph Smith (also known as the Inspired Version or IV); Published by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; issued in eleven different bindings; as of 1927, 23 reprints have been made from the same stereotype plates as the First Edition; 1,212 pages, double columns; (see Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible by Robert J. Matthews. BYU, 1975)
1872 Child’s Commentator on the Bible, by Irvin Cobbin; Published in NY by Henry S. Goodspeed.
1876 Julia E. Smith Bible; (Hartford) American Publishing Company; Smith was the first American woman to translate and publish The Holy Bible, word-for-word from the original Greek; not commercially successful, only one edition of 1,000 copies was produced; view portions of the Andover-Harvard Library copy on line. Ms. Smith’s name does not appear on the title page.
1877 Caxton Exhibition "12-hour" Bible
1878 Rotherham Emphasized Bible
1881-85 Revised version of King James Bible
1884 The New Testament, The Old and New Versions on Opposite Pages. (Chicago) David C. Cook. Includes a 22-page Preface, 483 facing pages (966-page total) and 11 pages of readings and renderings preferred by the American Committee, recorded at their desire.
1884 The New Testament With Brief Notes, published by the American Baptist Publication Society. The Gospel notes were written by George W. Clark, D.D. and those on the Acts, Epistles and Revelation by J. M. Pendleton, D.D. In preparing this volume of commentary and Bible study help, the scholars made careful use of the Greek text, avoiding in their notes the use of words from foreign languages, so that the profound truths of the Scriptures would be available in brief, simple and forceful English. A popular publication, mine is the 1959 reprint.
1889 First Edition of the Oxford Greek-English Lexicon by H. G. Liddell and Scott. Published by OUP.
1892 New Testament and Book of Mormon published by the RLDS together, and called The Two Records; the text of the New Testament is the same as the Inspired Version of 1867.
1894 Anecdota Oxoniensia. The earliest translation of the Old Testament into the Basque Language (A Fragment); by Pierre D’Urte of St. Jean de Luz, circ. 1700. Edited from a MS. in the library of Shirburn Castle, Oxfordshire, by Llewelyn Thomas. Published for the first time by Oxford at the Clarendon Press.
1895 The Woman’s Bible. (NY) European Publishing Co.; a collection of essays and commentaries on the Bible compiled by a committee headed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a founder of the National Woman Suffrage Association; portions of the work are based on the Julia E. Smith translation of 1876.
1896 Oldest fragment of New Testament (Third Century) found at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt; preserved at University of Pennsylvania.
1896 Hechal Hakodesh (“The Holy Sanctuary”) Hebrew and Aramaic Concordance on The Bible by Dr. Solomon Mandelkern is published in Leipzig by Veit & Co. “The whole based on the Masoretic text of the Bible and following the accepted sequence of the books of the Bible.”
1898 Pope Leo XIII issued his Encyclical Letter on the study of the Holy Scriptures. In the letter he announced a grant of three hundred days’ indulgence to all who devoutly read the Gospels for at least fifteen minutes, and a plenary indulgence for doing so every day for a month besides fulfilling the usual conditions of such an indulgence.
1899 Gideons [Gideon Bible Society] founded in Boscobel, Wisconsin. Taking their name from the Old Testament hero who had been divinely guided to devise a screening test for the selection of soldiers fit for a commando operation against the Midianites (see Judges, vii). Gideon Bibles were first placed in hotel rooms in 1908. They continue to be distributed to the armed forces, hospitals, ships, railroads, prisons, schools and airlines, to mention just a few.