Graduate Student Finds Rare 1611 Bible in University Library
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Graduate Student Finds Rare 1611 Bible in University Library

Graduate Student Finds Rare 1611 Bible in University Library

A graduate student from Drew University, New Jersey, says he found a rare first edition of the King James Bible while looking through the library’s rare-book shelves.

The Bible, which was discovered in late October, is also known as a “He Bible,” named for a typographical error in the Book of Ruth that was corrected in the middle of the first printing. Of the fewer than 200 King James first editions known to survive, most are “She” copies.

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Queens’ College Old Library’s copy of the 1611 King James Bible. Via QueensLib.

Brian Shetler, a Doctoral candidate in book history who works in the library, told The New York Times that he stumbled upon the Bible while searching through the library’s rare-book shelves, selecting a sample of 17th-century books printed in England to present to a history class.

“I just thought, ‘Oh, that’s interesting,” Mr Shetler told The New York Times, describing how the item was found in a box labelled “Bible,” “1611” and “R.Barker,“ which he assumed was reference to London printer, Robert Barker.

“I knew Barker had published the King James Bible,” he added, “but I thought there was no way we would have one and not know about it.”

The Book’s title page was nowhere to be found, but luckily the binding included an undated seller’s note identifying it as a “He Bible”, and pricing it at two pounds, twelve shillings and six pence.

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The King James Bible. Via 19thShop.

“I was just shocked,” Shetler said. “A bunch of people gathered around, trying to look at the book and figure it out. But then we all had to get back to work.”

The Bible will be added to the library’s current exhibition which will be running until February, and for which Mr Shetler has also found a late 16th-century Plantin Polyglot Bible, and eight-volume set of scripture in Hebrew, Greek, Syriac and Aramaic that was printed in Antwerp.

“It’s not nearly as ‘wow’ of an item,” Shetler said, “but it’s another thing we didn’t know we had.”

Additional reporting by The New York Times.

Image via AP Images.

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