Bibles in the 19th Century
Throughout the 19th Century, large Bibles with elaborate covers, a commentary to accompany the text and maps, and extensive reference materials and illustrations were popular. Improvements in printing greatly improved the quality of maps and illustrations. In this exhibition there is one Bible, which received an award for the quality of its production. This is an indication of the importance of the Bible in the 19th Century.
Many of these Bibles contained pages for family records and family Bible readings were customary before the evening meal. Of particular interest is the New Testament replica of the Hexapla of 1841, which shows in parallel columns the versions of Wycliffe 1385, Tyndale 1534, The Great Bible 1539, Geneva Bible, Douai-Rheims and King James of 1611.
During the last half of the 19th Century there was a surge of interest in the many ancient scriptural manuscripts available. This wave of public and scholarly interest seems to have been sparked by the discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus. the combination of wide public interest and detailed study of manuscripts enabled the publication and general acceptance of numerous translations, the greatest of which was the Revised Version, first published in 1885. After 1885 and the publication of the Revised version, Bibles were printed with the 1611 version and the 1885 version in parallel columns. In contrast, many smaller pocket sized Bibles were also printed.
In addition to the wide variety of Bibles, many aids to Bible study were also published. Concordances, Bible dictionaries, lexicons and Bible atlases became readily available. Archaeology began to uncover the cities mentioned in the Bible, many of which had been long forgotten.