fol. Hh7v-Hh8r, Welsh New Testament
Testament Newydd ein Arglwydd Jesu Christ. London: Henry Denham for Humfrey Toy, 1567.
Quarto. 418 of 426 leaves (8 leaves in facsimile), 7¼ x 5½ inches. Black letter, some roman, italic notes, 31 lines. Woodcut initials, tailpieces. "Bb" gathering incorrectly bound before "X1." Bound in dark red calfskin; edges gilt. § DM 9580; STC (2nd ed.) 2960.
In 1562, the Bishops of the Welsh Dioceses petitioned the English Parliament "to wyll and require and commaund the learned men to traducte the Boke of the Lordes Testament into the vulgare walsh tong" (Ballinger and Jones 1906, 16). The next year, Queen Elizabeth I granted to William Salesbury and his colleagues the seven-year patent for the sole right to print the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer in Welsh. Although Salesburys Welsh Lectionary (including Gospel readings) had been printed in London in 1551, the present book is the first printed edition of the whole New Testament in that language. This book is all the more remarkable because the varieties of the Welsh spoken in the respective regions of North and South Wales during the sixteenth century differed greatly, and although Salesbury had published a Welsh-English dictionary in 1547, the fact that no standard literary Welsh language existed meant that the translators had to make complicated philological decisions and, in some cases, even coin new words. Three translators contributed to the Welsh New Testament: Salesbury, Bishop Richard Davies, and Thomas Huet of St. Davids in Wales. Their work, which relied on the Greek of the Calvinist scholar Theodore de Bèze (15191605) and the Latin of Erasmus, was overseen and edited by Salesbury, who also composed the books English dedication to the Queen.
Marginal notes occasionally identify the translator. On page 317, for instance, the initials "W. S." indicate Salesburys work. This opening, featuring Pauls Second Epistle to Timothy, begins in small type with the prefatory "argument" translated from the English Geneva Bible. A large and elaborate woodcut initial introduces the biblical text in larger type. The margins bear explanatory notes and alternative readings. Verse numbers are lacking in most of the books preceding Pauls Second Epistle (the exception is Acts), but from this point to the end of the Book of Revelation verse numbers appear.
In his Dedication to the Queen, Salesbury wrote "And would to God that your Graces subiectes of Wales might also have the whole booke of Gods woord . . ." (a2). This indicates that Salesbury and Davies also wished to produce a Welsh Old Testament during their seven-year patent. However, the translators are said to have had a difference of opinion about the etymology and meaning of a single (unrecorded) word, and their collaboration ended along with their friendship. The first edition of the complete Welsh Bible was achieved in London in 1588 by the Vicar William Morgan and the printer Christopher Barker. Only about fifty copies of this Welsh New Testament are known.
Literature: Ballinger and Jones 1906, 1519; Greenslade 1969, 17072.