Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"A Bible with an Appendix": Christophe Plantin's 1573 Polyglot Bible

Over the past couple of weeks my wife and I have been watching the much loved Connections series, put together by James Burke for the BBC in the 1970s and 1990s. The whole series is now available for free online, and I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it. Burke reads historical events thematically, instead of chronologically, leading to some truly fascinating leaps and threads that start one place and, by the end of the program, pull together across cultures and centuries in surprising and very satisfying ways.

The episode we watched last night had this little section about the Belgian printer Christophe Plantin, who is famous for his ambitious work producing a "Polyglot Bible" - eight volumes that incorporated five languages (Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, and Syriac), with the last two volumes comprised entirely of grammars, lexicographic aids, charts, lists, and maps. It is an absolutely amazing piece of work, and garnered Plantin much praise (and a little bit of trouble) for his efforts.

Here is the video. Enjoy!

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