The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Bible Collection
The "Poor Man's Bible"
Biblia latina. Basel: Johann Froben, 27 October 1495.
Johann Froben printed
the first pocket-sized octavo Latin Bible at Basel in 1491, the
so-called “Poor man’s Bible.” He completed the second edition in this
small format (paper folded three times) in 1495. Convenient to carry and
easily affordable, this edition combined several user-friendly features
that Froben advertised on his title page: marginal chapter divisions and
references, a subject index, and tabular summary of the books and their
contents. This was also the earliest printed Latin Bible to include a
illustration. Based on a woodcut by young Albrecht Dürer, the frontispiece
faces the opening of St. Jerome’s introductory letter to St. Paulinus,
Bishop of Antioch. Here, the translator of the Vulgate turns from his
work to pull a thorn from the paw of his fabled companion, the lion. On
his desk are the texts of his Prologue to the Pentateuch and Latin and
Greek (Septuagint) versions of Genesis 1:1.
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