Cover image for The book : a history of the Bible
The book : a history of the Bible
De Hamel, Christopher, 1950-
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Phaidon, 2001.
Physical Description:
352 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), portraits (chiefly color) ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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BS445 .D44 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BS445 .D44 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
BS445 .D44 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BS445 .D44 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BS445 .D44 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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The Bible is the most successful book ever written. For well over 1,000 years it has been the most widely circulated of all written works, and it has affected the culture, language and art of more people than any other book has done. In turn, every age has adapted and used the Bible for its own purposes, influencing its shape, appearance and language. This is a narrative of the Bible as an artefact -- an account of how it has changed, evolved and survived during its extraordinary journey through history.

Author Notes

Christopher De Hamel is the Fellow Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. For 25 years he was responsible for all sales of medieval and illuminated manuscripts at Sotheby's in London. He has a doctorate from Oxford University and an honorary doctorate from St John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the "unadulterated wow" category is the dazzling offering The Book: A History of the Bible by paleographist Christopher de Hamel, who served for a quarter century as the head of the Western Manuscripts department at Sotheby's in London. Packed with full-color representations of illuminated manuscripts, ancient scrolls, stained glass windows and early published editions of the Bible, the art takes center stage here. (Even the back cover should win an award for the most imaginative, startling religion book jacket design in recent memory.) The narrative history of the Bible's many translations and editions is also captivating, particularly the closing chapter on 20th-century biblical discoveries such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library. ( Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this sumptuous feast for the eyes and mind, de Hamel, former manager of the Western Manuscripts department at Sotheby's, London, and author of A History of Illuminated Manuscripts, deals not with theological content but with the Bible as an artifact. Presented here in exquisite, full-color reproductions are the many forms in which the Bible has appeared over the centuries. Rather than opening with a discussion of the Hebrew and Greek texts (which he saves for Chapter 2), de Hamel relates a history of the texts and manuscripts of Latin Bibles. This organization makes sense, as Saint Jerome's seminal Latin translation, the Vulgate, became the blueprint for the modern Bible. The rest of the book covers the giant Bibles of the Middle Ages, commentaries on the Bible, portable Bibles of the 13th century, Bible picture books, English Wycliffite Bibles, the Gutenberg Bible, Bibles of the Protestant Reformation, the English and American Bible industry, and missionary Bibles. The final chapter, "The Modern Search for Origins," details modern discoveries such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Even the bibliography, though not arranged alphabetically but by chapter with the author's running commentary on the sources, is a treasure. By contrast, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible (LJ 10/15/01) offers short articles by biblical scholars and covers not only the preservation of the Bible but also interpretations and contemporary theology. Also, its illustrations are mostly black and white. De Hamel's wonderful presentation is highly recommended. David Bourquin, California State Univ., San Bernardino (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. vi
1 Latin Bibles from Jerome to Charlemagnep. 12
2 The Bible in Hebrew and Greekp. 40
3 Giant Bibles of the Early Middle Agesp. 64
4 Commentaries on the Biblep. 92
5 Portable Bibles of the Thirteenth Centuryp. 114
6 Bible Picture Booksp. 140
7 English Wycliffite Biblesp. 166
8 The Gutenberg Biblep. 190
9 Bibles of the Protestant Reformationp. 216
10 The English and American Bible Industryp. 246
11 Missionary Biblesp. 270
12 The Modern Search for Originsp. 298
Bibliographyp. 330
Index of Manuscriptsp. 341
General Indexp. 343
Photographic Acknowledgementsp. 352