The New Testament of Jesus Christ
The New Testament of Jesus Christ translated faithfully into English, out of the authentical Latin, according to the best corrected copies of the same, diligently conferred with the Greeke and other editions in diuers languages; with ARGUMENTS of bookes and chapters, ANNOTATIONS, and other necessarie helpes, for the better vnderstanding of the text, and specially for the discouerie of the CORRUPTIONS of diuers late translations, and for cleering the CONTROVERSIES in religion, of these daies: IN THE ENGLISH COLLEGE OF RHEMES
Rhemes: John Fogny. 1582.
The Holie Bible faithfully translated into English, out of the authentical Latin. Diligently conferred with the Hebrew, Greeke, and other editions in diuers languages. With arguments of the Bookes, and Chapters: ANNOTATIONS. TABLES: and other helpes, for better understanding of the text: and for discouerie of the CORRUPTIONS in some late translations: and for clearing CONTROVERSIES in Religion. BY THE ENGLISH COLLEGE OF DOWAY.
Doway. Laurence Kellam. 1609-10
The editio princeps of the translation of the New Testament made in accordance with Roman Catholic doctrine. Quarto. 227x165mm. pp. , 745, . Handsome modern panelled speckled calf, decorated in blind, spine with raised bands, brown morocco label in second compartment, lettered and decorated in gilt. Title page has been remargined and the next two preliminary and the final three leaves repaired. Very small marginal worm track at the gutter between Yiii and Ddii, otherwise internally very good. Woodcut vignettes and historiated initials throughout. Some (illegible) contemporary manuscript annotations on the final two leaves. p378 has a hand-drawn Patriarchal Cross (Cross of Lorraine) in the margin next to the paragraph defining the doctrine of the Catholic Church concerning good works. An excellent copy of a theologically important translation with combative doctrinal notes and commentaries marking a significant English contribution to the Counter-Reformation.
Editio princeps of the Roman Catholic version of the Old Testament in English. Two volumes. Quarto. 205x155mm. pp. Vol.1: , 1115, [1bl]; Vol. 2: 1004, , 1002-1124, , [1bl]. Handsome modern panelled speckled calf, decorated in blind, spine with raised bands, brown morocco label in second compartment, lettered and decorated in gilt. Volume one: repair to bottom corner of title page, slight mottling to first four gatherings, light staining to 3K 2 and 3. Volume two: repairs to fore-edge of A3 and A4. Marginal dampstaining to 6B and C and from 6G to the end. Lacking final blank leaf. Otherwise both volumes internally very good.
In 1568, William Allen, a fellow of Oriel College, Oxford founded the English College at the University of Douai, in what was then Flanders. Douai was a centre for English Catholics fleeing persecution at home but there were recusants in other countries on the continent and Allen aimed to offer them an Oxford education according to Catholic principles so that, on England’s restoration to the Church of Rome, there would be a group of young men ready to cross the Channel and preach the true Faith. Douai’s most celebrated member and student was the Jesuit martyr Edmund Campion. Between 1578-93, the College was temporarily expelled from Douai and moved to Rheims where the plans for a new translation of the Bible came to fruition. The project was supervised by Allen with the assistance of Richard Bristow, regarded, with Campion, as the finest rhetorician in Oxford. The translation was done by Gregory Martin, described in Athenae Oxoniensis as “a most excellent linguist, exactly read and vers’d in the Sacred Scriptures”.
The New Testament appeared in 1582 and although the Old Testament was translated at the same time it was not published until 1609 and 1610. The Preface to the Old Testament addressed “To the right welbeloved English Reader” explains that “As for the impediments which hitherto have hindered this worke, they al proceded of one general cause, our poore estate in banishment”. Despite the two Testaments being printed in different places and despite the near thirty year gap between them, they are, essentially contemporaneous works forming a single, unified project, the Doway-Rhemes Version (DRV).
The extensive theological commentaries accompanying the New Testament, a masterpiece of sustained Catholic apologetics, were by Bristow. The shorter and more restrained notes and commentaries in the Old Testament were written by Thomas Worthington who became the head of the English College in 1599. It is this additional material that gives the Doway-Rhemes Version its specifically Catholic tone. The translation, while carried out in accordance with the doctrines of the Council of Trent, in particular in taking St Jerome’s Vulgate as its starting point, did make extensive use of other sixteenth-century English translations of the Bible which were, of course, all done by Protestants. Martin’s linguistic brilliance and high Latinate style is evident throughout and many of his verbal and stylistic innovations found their way into the 1611 King James Version (also translated by a scholarly elite) so there is clear interplay of influences to-ing and fro-ing between the biblical translations of Protestants, Catholics and via media Anglicans. The idea that the Biblical text of the DRV is an obviously Catholic one is attractive to romantic Doway-Rhemes “Onlyists” but, as John Henry Newman pointed out in an article for the Rambler in 1859, “it never has had any episcopal imprimatur, much less has it received any formal Approbation from the Holy See”. That may, of course, make it all the more attractive. English Catholicism is often seen by the rest of Catholic world as eccentric, insular, difficult, anti-authoritarian and reactionary. Which may be the best way to describe this remarkable Bible.
Provenance: The title page of both volumes of the Old Testament is inscribed with the name “Blount”. Although we cannot be certain, it seems highly probable that the Blount in question was a member of the recusant family from Mapledurham House in Oxfordshire. This was a renowned safe house with several priest holes and an attic where Mass was celebrated. The first Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in England was Richard Blount (a Leicestershire relative of the Mapledurham Blounts) who had spent time at the English College at Rheims in 1583 before studying in Rome and then smuggling himself back into England. Richard Blount died in 1638 and, as the handwriting on these volumes suggests a slightly later date, this may not have been his copy of the Old Testament but we are confident in attributing ownership to a member of his distinguished Catholic family. Also on the title page of both volumes of the Old Testament is the library stamp of Stonyhurst College, the school in Lancashire founded by the Jesuits in 1583.
The front pastedown of all three volumes has the ownership label of Charles Caldwell Ryrie, the theologian and collector of bibles. On his death in 2016, his collection of Bibles was sold at Sotheby’s whose label is on the rear pastedown of volume one of the Old Testament.