Venice: Johannis dicti magni: Herbort de Selgenstat alemani (Johannes Herbort de Seligenstadt), Maji 1484 (April 30, 1484). Second Herbort edition. Hardcover. Quarto (9 3/4 x 7"). a2-b8 c12 d-g8 (h-i)12 k-t8 v12 x-y8 z2 A-N8 O6 P-Z8 ZZ12 aa-dd8.  leaves (out of 408). Blind-stamped calf over wood, dated 1557. Five raised bands. One plate of original clasp remaining (riveted to back board).
Italian incunable produced in 1484 with moveable type in gothic font. Richly decorated with hundreds of red and blue hand-painted initials, some intensely modern, others late medieval. Capital spaces with printed guide letters. Marginalia from the time. Inscriptions and list of owners beginning in 1585.
Jerome’s Vulgate, Fontibus ex Graecis edition. Contains all 24 books of the Tanach (the Old Testament: Torah, Nev’im and Ketuvim) with prologues, the Apocrypha, New Testament and two addenda: Registrum; Interpretationes hebraicorum nominu.
Herbort’s incunable, printed just 29 years after the first book ever printed with moveable type (the Gutenberg Bible), belongs to the second group of printed Latin bibles, known as Fontibus ex Graecis editions, the first of which may be dated to 1478 or may be the 1479 edition attributed to Johannes de Amerbach. The Vulgate Fontibus ex Graecis is a revolutionary translation into Latin made directly from now-lost ancient Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts (and some Greek sources) in the years between 382 and 405 by the scholar priest known as Jerome (Eusebius Hieronymus).
Two long inscriptions by previous owners: on front free endpaper dated 1585, and fly leaf (binder’s blank) dated 1637. Handwritten list of other owners below the colophon, with dates ranging from 1614 to 1913.
Contemporary marginalia throughout. Two handwritten corrections to book-heading errors: two pages in Ezekiel were erroneously printed as Jeremiah. Binder’s notation signed in mixed arabic and roman numerals. Printed in double columns, paragraph form, without verse numbers. 56 lines to a column and head-line. Title centered at top of page. Chapters numbered in Roman numerals. Interpretationes Hebraicorum nominu[m] printed in 3 columns.
Binding heavily rubbed along edges. Head of spine partly chipped. Some worming to covers and spine. Front free endpaper partly detached and chipped along edges. Fore-edge of fly leaf repaired. Lacking first leaf (a-1). First initial partly washed. Worming to lower corner of leaves numbered a2-a8 (not affecting lettering). Water staining to upper half of the pages numbered a2 to [g4]. Light water staining to inner gutter of the leaves numbered [g5] to k. Leaf numbered [o5] cut at center, thus affecting lettering. Moderate water staining along inner margin of leaves numbered A to ZZ12. Water staining and some minor and sporadic worming to pages aa-dd8. Last leaf cut at lower margin (not affecting lettering). Sporadic foxing throughout.
Text in Latin. Binding in overall fair, interior in fair (very first and very last leaves) to good and very good (central part) condition. f to vg. Hardcover. f to vg. Item #40841
Goff B58. BMC V 304 (IA. 21573). Bod-inc B-288; GW 4255.
Biblia Sacra Iuxta Vulgatam Versionem. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Encyclopaedia Biblica. Encyclopedia Judaica. Darlow & Moule: Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scripture. Copinger: Incunabula Biblica or the First Half Century of the Latin Bible Being a Biblical Account of the Various Editions of the Latin Bible Between 1450 and 1500. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. The New Catholic Encyclopedia.
began his printing career in Padua in 1475 and moved to Venice in 1481 where he engaged in printing through funds provided by Johannes de Colonia and Nicolaus Jenson et Socii. Later he pursued printing independently. In total he printed about 50 incunables. Our copy was published one year before his death. Herbort’s first edition of the “Biblia Latina” was published as a folio in 1483 and was often bound in two volumes.
Fontibus ex grecis edition:
In the first century the scriptures (Old Testament) were translated into Latin primarily from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew bible. Many Latin translations were made and although they were word-for-word translations, they varied quite a bit. One circulated widely and became known as Vetus Itala, Old Italic or Old Latin.
The Old Latin version became canon but it was confusing (almost unintelligible at points) because it was two languages removed from the original Hebrew and was not translated for meaning. For this reason, around the year 383 Pope Damasus commissioned a scholar priest named Jerome (Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus) to undertake a whole new Latin translation of the Old and New Testaments utilizing his knowledge of Hebrew, Greek and Latin.
First, Jerome translated the four gospels from Greek sources. Next he tackled Psalms, which he struggled with several times over the years. A few books were left in their original Old-Latin. Later, he spent 15 years in Bethlehem translating most of the Old Testament primarily from original ancient Hebrew and (with help) Aramaic manuscripts that are now lost. His transcriptions of Hebrew words, made while studying with Jewish teachers* (whom he paid), remain to this day a primary source for pronunciation of the period and some of his writings preserve Midrashim that were later lost. *(Bar-[H]anina, Nicodemus, Lyddaeus, Chaldaeus).
Jerome’s translation came to be known as the Vulgate or the Fontibus ex Graecis edition. (Vulgate, meaning either “widely known” or “written in vernacular” and Fontibus ex grecis hebreos, meaning sourced from Greek and Hebrew.) His translation, especially of the OT, remains a significant contribution to the Christian bible. Although he received much criticism for his work, by the sixth century it had become the accepted version of the bible (except in Africa, where the Old-Latin was preferred). It eventually became the standard bible of the western church.
“The Latin of the Vulgate ‘has both the dignity of a scholarly translation and the simple force of popular language’…[Jerome’s] version became the Bible of Western Christendom for a thousand years.” Darlow and Moule v. II, p904.