Lot 170
  • 170

Bible in English. Tyndale's Pentateuch

300,000 - 500,000 USD
305,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • ink and paper
The Firste Boke of Moses called Genesis. Newly Corrected and Amended by W.T. [-Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy]. [Antwerp: Merten de Keyser, J. Hoochstraten], 1534 [1530]

8vo (5 7/8 x 3 3/4 in.; 150 x 95 mm). Eight section titles within woodcut borders, Roman type from Exodus to Leviticus and in Deuteronomy, black letter in Numbers, 11 full-page woodcuts in Exodus, one 8-line historiated woodcut initial, a few smaller initials, collation: [Genesis] A4, B-L8, [Exodus] []8, A-E8, F7, G-I8, K4, [Leviticus] A, A-F8, G4, [Numbers] A10, B-I8, K4, [Deuteronomy] A4, B-I8=[371 of 376] leaves; lacking leaves A1-2, 7-8 supplied in flawless facsimile as well as second F1, and the blank lower half of the last leaf, some marginal soiling and occasional tiny stains, small burn-mark in fore-edge of first H1, occasional light marginal dampstains, more extensive dampstain in upper portion of last few quires. Contemporary blindruled calf in a panel design, double-ruled border and central panel, goldstamped central medallion and fleurons at four corners, spine with gilt-stamped clover at center of each compartment, later gilt-stamped red leather title label on spine, edges plain; ties gone, extremities worn with a few small mends. In a red morocco drop-box, gilt-stamped Tonner monogram.


Harmsworth (sale, Sotheby's 8 July 1946, lot 2395) — George Goyder (bookplate, sale 23 June 1958, lot 5) — Florence Foerderer Tonner (bookplate)


Herbert 8; STC 2351; Nijhoff & Kronenberg 2488; Pettegree, Netherlandish Books, 3917; not in Darlow & Moule.

Catalogue Note

Extremely rare second edition of Tyndale's Pentateuch, the first portion of the Old Testament to be printed in English. The first edition appeared from the same press in 1530, and in this second edition only Genesis was reprinted, the other four books being reissued without alteration.

Between 1526 and 1534, Tyndale turned from his New Testament towards Hebrew scholarship, the first fruit of which was the appearance of the Pentateuch in 1530, the first translation from the original Hebrew into English. While there is considerable uncertainty about Tyndale's command of Hebrew, the humanist movement had produced significant aids to the study of the Hebrew Bible such as Reuchlin's grammar and lexicon (1506), and the works of Sebastian Münster. Tyndale may also have used the Santi Pagnini translation (1528) which translated from Hebrew into Latin preserving some of the Hebrew syntax. Internal evidence shows that Tyndale was capable of making independent decisions about the meanings of words and phrases in Hebrew.

Tyndale aimed at clarity and accessibility, with his choice of font, separate title pages for each book, and small format. Each book has a separate introduction. The edition expresses its anti-Catholic militancy in the side notes, including some twenty attacks on the papacy (e.g. Numbers 23).

The translation which forms the basis of all subsequent English versions. This is the only copy to appear at auction in the 20th century and since.