fol. ee1r (detail), Gospel of John
Biblii Cžeská. Prague: Johann Kamp, 1488.
Folio. 585 of 610 leaves, 12¼ x 8 inches. Gothic (105), double column, 47 lines. Initial spaces with guide letters; initials, headlines, signatures and chapter strokes in red added by a contemporary hand; one illuminated initial at the beginning of Matthew. Bound in brown calfskin over wooden boards; restored spine, gilt tooled in panels. Lacking 25 leaves, padded with 132 blank leaves. § BM III 808 (IB.51405); DM 2177; GW 4323; ISTC ib00620000. § CD-ROM: 6.1, fol. aa1v; 6.1, fol. aa3v (detail).
Complete translations of the Bible into Czech existed as early as the mid-fourteenth century, although there were partial translations even earlier. The Hussite movement attached great significance to the reading of scripture in the vernacular. Therefore, many Hussites, including Jan Hus himself, contributed to the revision of the Czech Bible. This, the first printed edition of the complete Bible in Czech, is based on Hus’s corrections of the Old Czech version and uses Hus’s system of diacritical marks, a system that is still used for the Czech language. It was edited by Utraquists in Prague.
The base text of the 1488 translation was, of course, the Vulgate. There were several subsequent attempts to improve the Czech Bible, beginning with a major revision in 1506. The greatest philological and literary accomplishment was attained by the translation made and printed in the tiny Moravian village of Kralice (1579–93). This translation, which was based on the original texts, is said to have had as profound an effect on the Czech language as Luther’s translation had on German.
Literature: Auty 1963, 129–32; Bohatcová 1992; Hotchkiss and Price 1996, 151–52; Malin 1881, 135–47; Spinka 1953, 187–95.