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Queen's University Library

Bible Through the Ages

Library Exhibit, 6 December 2002 - 26 January 2003

[Latin Vulgate Bible, 1491]

An early Latin Vulgate edition, published in 1491 and bound in hand-tooled pigskin with metal clasps.

An exhibit to honour Dr. Daniel Fraikin,
Queen's University Theological College

Dr. Fraikin created an electronic database of the Jordan Library's Bible Collection for loading into QCAT, the Queen's Library online catalogue. For over three years he generously contributed his knowledge and expertise to this task, working from and expanding upon a checklist compiled in 1974 by Donald Redmond, a former Queen's Chief Librarian.

In conjunction with this exhibit, Dr. Fraikin presented a talk about the Bible Collection on Thursday, 9 January 2003 in the Jordan Library.

[illustrated page from the Book of Kells]

An Illustrated page from the Book of Kells

On display are selected items from the Jordan Library's collection of about 1200 Bibles, representing many historically significant versions. Included are facsimiles of early illuminated manuscripts and printed editions from 1491 to 2001 in various translations and versions in some sixty languages, with and without illustration, in formats large and small.

About sixty Bibles (or parts of Bibles) are exhibited in seven cases arranged in the following categories by chronology, language, version or other feature:

  • Early manuscript reproductions
    Manuscripts in Hebrew and Latin, including the Book of Kells (Trinity College Dublin) and the Biblia Pauperum.

  • Early printed editions
    Editions in Hebrew, Latin and Greek, including a reproduction of the Gutenberg Bible. 17th and 18th century editions with engraved title-pages also are featured, as shown in the following illustrations.
  • [Illustration from a 1652 Latin and Greek New Testament]

    Illustration from a 1652 Latin and Greek New Testament

    [Frontispiece and title-page from a 1735 Greek New Testament]

    Frontispiece and title-page from a 1735 Greek New Testament

  • Notable English translations
    Included: Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops', Geneva, Douai, and the role of King James whose authorized version of 1611 continues to be used today. Various anomalies of translation also are represented -- the so-called "She", "He", and "Breeches" Bibles.
  • [Bible with fine 'peanut-brittle' leather binding]

    Bible with fine 'peanut-brittle' leather binding


  • Around the world in many languages
    Included: Luther's German text and the French Louis Segond version. The role of the British and Foreign Bible Society in disseminating the Bible is described.

  • Canadian Bibles - early imprints
    The role of the Canadian Bible Society and others in fostering the translation of the Bible into many native North American languages are acknowledged.

  • Miniatures and interesting bindings and illustrations
    Included: a "finger" Bible and the beautifully illustrated editions by Salvador Dali and Gustave DoréAlso featured is a rare 1635 metrical psalm book, where some tunes are printed upside down on facing pages, so that one book could be used by singers on either side of the choir.
  • [Pages from 1635 metrical psalm book]

    Pages from 1635 metrical psalm book

    ['Finger' Bible]

    'Finger' Bible

  • Modern editions
    Included is the famous Doves Press edition.

Recent acquisitions on display

The Authorized English Version with illustrations by Barry Moser, published in 1999, was the first newly-illustrated full-Bible edition by a single artist since the 1865 version by Gustave DoréSample pages from the Moser Bible can be viewed at The Pennyroyal Caxton Bible website. The Jordan Library's copy was a generous gift from the illustrator himself, who presented a public lecture at Queen's in 2001.

In facsimile, the beauty of the old illuminated manuscripts continues to be valued. The Bury Bible, a magnificent medieval manuscript originally created in the Abby of Bury St. Edmunds ca. 1135, was published in full-colour facsimile in 2001 by the Boydell Press and recently added to the Library's collection.


The exhibit was curated by the W.D. Jordan Library staff with the support of Dr. Fraikin.

Last Updated: 14 March 2012

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