6 volumes, folio (361 x 252mm.), woodcut arms of Cardinal Jiménez printed in red on title-pages (that in vol.5 printed in black), titles within woodcut border, woodcut initials, woodcut printer's devices at end of vols 4-6, an additional variant title-page in facsimile bound at the start of vol.1, uniform early nineteenth-century French red straight-grained morocco gilt, borders composed of interlocking drawer-handle tools, spines gilt in compartments, gilt edges, occasional slight browning, a few marginal paper repairs, vol.1: title-leaf (supplied from another copy) torn and repaired (without loss), lacking initial blank leaf, y6 torn without loss, vol.5: lacking final blank leaf, vol.6: lacking blank leaves [*]2 and C4, title-leaf perhaps supplied from another copy; bindings slightly faded, rubbed and scraped
"Ex dono... Anthonii Demorhare doctoris...", early inscription on title-page of volume 1; Franciscans of Paris, inscription on title-page of volume 6 dated 1717; Adam Clarke, long bibliographical note dated 26 September 1814 on one of the flyleaves; Bequeathed to the Bishopric of Cornwall by the Rev. Franke Parker, M.A., Rector of Luffincott, Devon, 1883, bookplate; Truro Cathedral, bookplate
Adam Clarke (1762-1832) was a Wesleyan minister and fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He owned two copies of the Complutensian Polyglot, having bought this copy in 1814, and he wrote a lengthy description of variants between copies which was presented to the Duke of Sussex and included by Pettigrew in his Bibliotheca Sussexiana (1827-1839), vol.2 part 1, pp.12-21.
a complete set of the complutensian polyglot, the first polyglot bible and one of the finest monuments of the art of printing. Although printed from 1514 to 1517, its papal privilege is dated 1520 and it only appeared for sale in 1522, four years after the Aldine Septuagint (see lot 32) and six years after Erasmus's Greek New Testament (see lot 31).
The concept of a polyglot Bible was taken from Origen's Hexapla which had six columns of text, one in Hebrew and the rest in various translations into Greek. The Old Testament layout in the Complutensian takes the Vulgate text as the central part of each page, surrounded by the Hebrew and Greek Septuagint. In the Pentateuch is also given the Aramaic Targum Onkelos or translation (here entitled Chaldean) at the foot of the page. Both the Greek and the Aramaic versions are accompanied by literal Latin translations. The New Testament layout is much simpler, with parallel column Greek and Latin texts.
The project was initiated in about 1502 by Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, who had founded in 1498-1500 a university at Alcalà dedicated to the three biblical languages of Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The editing was coordinated by the great scholar Antonio de Nebrija, who in fact only joined the project around 1513, with the help of Alfonso de Zamora, a converted Jew, and others. Six hundred paper copies and six on vellum were produced, of which over 150 are still attested in various libraries. It was well-received by the scholarly community and used for many later printings of the Bible, including the Plantin Polyglot of 1569-1572 (see lot 34).
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