The First English Catholic New Testament in English, printed at the seminarie at Rhemes

Printed 29 Years before the King James Bible

  226J    The Nevv Testament.

The Nevv Testament of Iesus Christ, translated faithfully into English, out of the authentical Latin, according to the best corrected copies of the same, diligently conferred vvith the Greeke and other editions in diuers languages; vvith 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.

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Printed at Rhemes : By Iohn Fogny, 1582.       $45,000

Quarto 218 x 165 mm    signatures:  a-c4, d2, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Zzz4, Aaaa-Zzzz4, Aaaaa-Ddddd4, Eeeeee2. Collated perfect.         The First English Catholic New Testament in English             This copy is bound in seventeenth-century calf, sympathetically rebacked, with an attractive gold-tooled floral motif to the board edges. Internally, this copy is in very good condition with clean leaves. There is a little foxing to the first two leaves and a few trivial marginal tears. The upper margin is cut a bit close but the text is never affected.

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The title page is set within a decorative border; the text is adorned with ornamental woodcut initials throughout. The text is beautifully printed in Roman with printed annotations, marginal notes, arguments and chapter summaries in italic.
     

PRINTED29 YEARS BEFORE THE KING JAMES Bible“The ‘editio princeps’ of the Roman Catholic version of the New Testament in English. Translated from the Vulgate by Gregory Martin, under the supervision of William Allen and Richard Bristow. According to the “Douai Diaries”, Martin began the translation in October1578 and completed it in March 1582.

“The translation adheres very closely to the Latin, though it shows traces of careful comparison with the Greek. But its groundwork was practically supplied by the existing English versions, from which Martin did not hesitate t borrow freely. In particular there are very many striking resemblances between Martin’s renderings and those in Coverdale’s diglot of 1538. Martin’s own style is often disfigured by Latinisms.

“This Rheims New Testament exerted a very considerable influence on the King James version of 1611, transmitting to it not only an extensive vocabulary, but also numerous distinctive phrases and turns of expression. (See J.G. Carleton’s exhaustive analysis, The Part of Rheims in the Making of the English Bible. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902.)

“Since the English Protestants used their vernacular translations not only as the IMG_2154foundation of their own faith but as siege artillery in the assault on Rome, a Catholic translation became more and more necessary in order that the faithful could answer, text for text, against the ‘intolerable ignorance and importunity of the heretics of this time.’ The chief translator was Gregory Martin… Technical words were transliterated rather than translated. Thus many new words came to birth… Not only was [Martin] steeped in the Vulgate, he was, every day, involved in the immortal liturgical Latin of his church. The resulting Latinisms added a majesty to his English prose, and many a dignified or felicitous phrase was silently lifted by the editors of the King James Version and thus passed into the language” (Great Books and Book Collectors, 108).

IMG_2151Not only did Douay-Rheims influence Catholics, but also it had a substantive influence on the later creation of the King James Bible. (see below) The Authorized Version is distinguished from previous English Protestant versions by a greater tendency to employ Latinate vocabulary, and the translators were able to find many such terms (for example: emulation Romans 11:14) in the Rheims New Testament. Consequently, a number of the latinisms of the Douay–Rheims, through their use in the King James Bible, have entered standard literary English. Douay-Rheims would go on through several reprintings on both sides of the continent.

The translators of the Rheims New Testament appended a list of neologisms in their work, including many latinate terms that have since become assimilated into standard English.

Examples include “acquisition”, “adulterate”, “advent”, “allegory”, “verity”, “calumniate”, “character”, “cooperate”, “prescience”, “resuscitate”, “victim”, and “evangelise”.

While such English may have been generated through independent creation, nevertheless the totality demonstrates a lasting influence on the development of English vocabulary. In addition the editors chose to transliterate rather than translate a number of technical Greek or Hebrew terms, such as “azymes” for unleavened bread, and “pasch” for Passover. Few of these have been assimilated into standard English. One that has is “holocaust” for burnt offering.

Pforzheimer, 68; Darlow & Moule 231; STC (2nd ed.), 2884; Herbert 177; Pierpont Morgan Library, The Bible 115; The Bible 100 Landmarks, 66; Bible in the Lilly Library 40.

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