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Bibles, Polyglot


I. The Complutensian Polyglot.

II. The Antwerp Polyglot.

III. The Paris Polyglot.

IV. The London Polyglot (Walton's Polyglot).

V. Minor Polyglots.

Polyglot Bibles are editions of the Bible presenting the text in several languages side by side. The practical needs of the Jews after Hebrew ceased to be a living tongue led to the preparation of manuscripts giving, with the original Hebrew, translations or paraphrases in Aramaic, Greek, Arabic, Persian, and the languages of Europe. Like conditions in the Church were met in similar manner. Certain manuscripts of the New Testament in both Greek and Latin are mentioned in the article Bible-Text, II, 1, § 9. An edition in the original and in modern Greek was printed in 1638 at the instance of Cyril Lucar (see Bible Versions, B, VIII), and the needs of Syria, Egypt, and Armenia are met in like manner by editions still issued by Rome and by Protestant Bible Societies. The so-called glossaries (see Glosses, Biblical) and interlinear versions giving the Vulgate and the vernacular text of the Middle Ages may also be mentioned in this connection. And there are numerous modern copies of the Vulgate accompanied by an English, German, French, Spanish, or Italian translation.

The name Polyglot, however, can not strictly be given to editions presenting but two languages (Gk. polys = "many"), and, in common usage, is restricted to certain particular works, viz.:

I. The Complutensian Polyglot, one of the most noted and rarest of Biblical works, was undertaken under the supervision and at the expense of Cardinal Francisco Ximenez de Cisneros, archbishop of Toledo and chancellor of Castile (d. 1517), and was prepared by the most famous scholars of Spain, such as Demetrius Ducas of Crete, Antonio of Lebrija, Diego Lopez de Stunica, Ferdinand Nuñez de Guzman, and Alphonso of Zamora. After years of labor the work was printed at Alcala (Latin, Complutum) between 1513 and 1517, being finished only a few months before the death of the cardinal, and was published in 1520 with the sanction of Pope Leo X. It consists of six folio volumes, the first four including the Old Testament, the fifth the New Testament, and the sixth being a Hebrew-Chaldee lexicon with grammatical and other notes (printed separately as Alphonsi Zamorensis introductiones artis grammaticæ Hebraicæ, Alcala, 1526). The languages are (1) the Hebrew of the Old Testament; (2) the Targum of Onkelos; (3) the Septuagint (here printed for the first time and with remarkable alterations of the manuscripts to make the text fit the Hebrew or the Latin); (4) the Vulgate; (5) the Greek New Testament. Latin translations of the Targum and Septuagint are appended. The title-page and last page are given in reduced facsimile in Schaff's Companion to the Greek Testament (New York, 1885).

II. The Antwerp Polyglot (Biblia Regia) was printed at the expense of Philip II of Spain by the famous Antwerp printer Christophe Plantin (8 vols., folio, 1569–72). Benedictus Arias Montanus (see Arias, Benedictus) had charge of the work, with the help of Spanish, Belgian, and French scholars, among them André Maes, Guy le Fèvre de la Boderie, and François Rapheleng. Volumes i–iv contain the Old Testament, vol. v the New; besides the original texts, the Vulgate, and the Septuagint with Latin translation, Aramaic targums of the Old Testament (with the exception of Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles) are given, with Latin translation; also the old Syriac (Peshito) version of the New Testament, lacking 168II Peter, II and III John, Jude, and the Apocalypse; it is printed with both Syriac and Hebrew characters and has a Latin translation. Volumes vi–vii contain the Hebrew lexicon of Sanctes Pagninus, the Syriac-Chaldee lexicon of Le Fèvre de la Boderie, a Syriac grammar by Maes, a Greek dictionary and archeological treatises by Arias Montanus, and many brief philological and critical notes. The last volume repeats the Hebrew and Greek texts with interlinear Latin translations, by Sanctes Pagninus of the former, and the Vulgate for the latter; this part of the work, especially the New Testament, has often been reprinted. The critical preparation was defective and the manuscripts used were of secondary importance; in many places there is dependence on the Complutensian work.

III. The Paris Polyglot, the most magnificent but scientifically least important of all, was printed at the expense of Guy Michel le Jay in seven languages (10 vols., 1629–45). Volumes i–iv are merely reprints of the Antwerp Bible. Volumes v-vi contain the New Testament from the same edition, augmented by the Syriac Antilegomena and an Arabic version with Latin translation. The other volumes contain (1) the so-called Samaritan Pentateuch with its Samaritan translation (see Bible Versions, A, IV); (2) the Syriac; and (3) an Arabic version of the Old Testament, all with Latin translations. The Oratorian Jean Morin prepared the Samaritan texts and the Maronite Gabriel Sionita did most of the Syriac work.

IV. The London Polyglot (Walton's Polyglot), the most scholarly and the commonest of all, was undertaken by Brian Walton, afterward bishop of Chester, and completed in 1657 (6 vols., London). Walton had the help of nearly all contemporary English scholars, particularly the Orientalists Edmund Castell, Edward Pococke, Thomas Hyde, Dudley Loftus, Abraham Weelocke, Thomas Greaves, and Samuel Clarke. The excellence of this Polyglot over others consists in the greater number of old Oriental versions and the much greater and more intelligent work of the editor. The first four volumes contain the Old Testament in the Hebrew with the Antwerp interlinear version, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint from the Vatican edition of 1587 with the variants of the Alexandrine codex, the fragments of the Itala collected by Flaminius Nobilius, the Vulgate from the Vatican edition with the corrections of Lucas of Brügge, the Peshito augmented by the translation of certain apocrypha, a better edition of the Arabic version, the Targums from Buxtorf, the Samaritan translation of the Pentateuch, and the Ethiopic version of the Psalms and Song of Songs. These texts (nine in all), with Latin translations of the Greek and the Oriental, are arranged side by side or one under the other. Two additional Targums, that of Pseudo-Jonathan and that of Jerusalem, with a Persian translation are given in vol. iv. The New Testament appears in vol. v, the text with few changes from Robert Stephens's folio edition of 1550; then are given Arias's version and the variants of the Alexandrine codex, Syriac, Latin, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions, and the Gospels in Persian, with literal Latin translations. Walton's Apparatus, a critical-historical introduction in vol. i, was not superseded for more than a century, and was several times republished. Volume vi contains critical collections to all the texts published. Finally Edmund Castell's Lexicon Heptaglottum (2 parts, Cambridge, 1669) is usually counted as an integral part of this Polyglot.

V. Minor Polyglots: Less important are (1) the Heidelberg Polyglot (Polyglotta Sanctandreana; Old Testament, 1586; New Testament added, 1599), probably edited by Bonaventure Corneille Bertram, professor of Hebrew at Geneva 1566–84, afterward preacher at Frankenthal. It contains the original texts and Septuagint, with Latin translations, and the Vulgate, all from the Antwerp Polyglot. (2) The Hamburg Polyglot (1596) consists of six volumes by David Wolder, giving in four columns the Greek texts, the Vulgate, Pagninus's Latin translation of the Old Testament and Beza's of the New, with Luther's German version, to which Elias Hutter's Hebrew Bible of 1587 was added with new titlepage bearing the date 1596. (3) The Nuremberg Polyglot, the work of Elias Hutter, comprises (a) an Old Testament in six languages (1599), carried only to the Book of Ruth; (b) a Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and German Psalter (1602); (c) a New Testament in twelve languages (2 parts, 1599)—Syriac, Italian, Hebrew, Spanish, Greek, French, Vulgate, English, German, Danish, Bohemian, and Polish; (d) a New Testament in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and German, taken from the preceding (1602). (4) The Leipsic Polyglot of Christianus Reineccius, rector at Weiesenfels, has the New Testament in five languages (1713) and the Old Testament in four (2 vols., 1750–51). (5) The Bielefeld Polyglot, ed. R. Stier and C. G. W. Theile (4 vols., ii and iii in two parts, 1846–55), contains the Old Testament in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and German, the New Testament in the last three languages, with variants of different German versions in the fourth column; there are also copies with the English version in place of the German. Lastly, mention may be made of the Biblia Hexaglotta of E. R. de Levante (6 vols., London, 1874–1876), and Bagster's Biblia sacra polyglotta, with prolegomena by S. Lee (London, 1831). Other works including only portions of the Bible do not fall within the scope of this article.

E. Nestle.

Bibliography: J. Le Long, Bibliotheca Sacra, emendata . . . ab A. G. Masch, part i, chap. 4, pp. 331–408, Halle, 1778; idem, Discours historique sur les principales éditions des Bibles polyglottes, pp. 554 sqq., Paris, 1713; B. Pick, History of Printed Editions . . . and Polyglot Bibles, in Hebraica, ix (1892–93), 47–116.

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