Thursday, November 29, 2012

Beza’s New Testament editions online

When I wrote my dissertation, I had to go to university libraries in the Netherlands to consult Beza’s five maior New Testament editions. Nowadays, most of his editions can be found online, and some even in surprisingly good quality (though without OCR of the Latin texts, let alone the Greek). Especially the Swiss e-rara project is a rich source of 16th-century books.
1582 edition; title page (part)
In numbering the editiones maiores, I follow Beza’s own numbering, which includes as the first edition the New Testament part of Robertus Stephanus’ Latin Bible with annotations. There is no Greek text in this edition, only Beza’s “new translation” together with the Vulgate, and of course his annotations.

Major editions
11556/57: e-rara (Beza’s NT in Volume 2, from [541] onwards) (Bibliothèque de Genève, shelf mark Bb 2341); GB and GB (a better copy).
21565: e-rara (Bibliothèque de Genève, shelf mark Bb 794).
31582: e-rara (Bibliothèque de Genève, shelf mark Bb 2222).
41588/1589: e-rara (Lausanne : Bibliothèque, shelf mark 2015); CSNTM; IA; GB.
51598: e-rara (Bibliothèque de Genève, shelf mark X 2990).

Special cases
1559: unauthorised Basel edition: e-rara (Bibliothèque de Genève, shelf mark Bb 2347); ULB Sachsen-Anhalt.
1563: Beza’s Responsio against Castellio (referred to on the title page of the 1565 and 1582 editions): e-rara (Bibliothèque de Genève, shelf mark Bb 150).
1565: a special copy with Beza’s own handwritten notes in preparation of the third edition (MHR O4 cd (565) a): réro.
1569: Tremellius’ Syriac NT, with Beza’s Greek and Latin text included: e-rara (both volumes); GB (Matt-John).
1594: the Annotationes printed separately: e-rara.
1642: the Cambridge edition, with Camerarius’ commentary: EEBO (limited access).

Minor editions
11565: e-rara.
21567: e-rara.
31580: e-rara; GB.
41590: e-rara
51604: GB (vol. 1); GB (vol. 2).

1575: a Latin-only edition which introduces Chapter summaries: GB.

Suggestions for additions are welcome in the comments; this post will be updated when new sources are found.

20 May 2013: GB link to 41588 added; category “Other” and the 1575 edition added (HT: Emanuel Contac).
19 August 2013: second GB link to 11556 added.
18 September 2013: e-rara link to the 1569 Syriac edition added.
3 February 2016: e-rara links to 11556 and 41588 added.
2 February 2017: e-rara links changed to doi; added shelf marks.


donaldperry said...

Donald Perry
5 Davis Ave.
Kearny, NJ 07032

Dear Jan Krans,

I am having some big problems and I was hoping you or someone you know might be able to help me out.

Beza had 5 major editions.

11556/57: GB. There is no Greek in this version, only Beza's translation, the Vulgate, and his notes.
21565: e-rara.
31582: e-rara.
41588/1589: CSNTM; IA. This version is where he started using codex Beza and codex claromontanus.
51598: e-rara. This one is believed to have been used for the KJV.

1. I found Beza 1988 edition here and here Do you know where I can view the other four editions on-line? I need them to resolve problems I have having with the Beza text type and other questions.

2a. I cannot understand the Greek alphabet that Beza is using. Do you have a list of the letters he used or know where I can find one? For example I had read an article about Rev. 16:5 here but Beza's Epsilon "e" he makes like an "S" or sometimes something else strange seemingly indiscriminately. Here he also makes his Eta "n" look like a backward "J" seemingly indiscriminately.

2b. Beza's spelling is different than Elzevir. I cannot understand what he is doing or how interprets what he has into Greek letters the way they do concerning Rev. 16:5. Concerning Kai or Tou for example this spelling seems different.

3. Do you know where I can get a normal Greek type text Beza Bible; such as is now available for Stephonus 1550, Elzevir 1624, or Scrivener's backward translation of the KJV into Greek?

4. Can you suggest a Latin dictionary that would work for the Beza 1588 text you have?

Your truly,

Donald Perry

Jan Krans-Plaisier said...

One correction: Codex Bezae and Codex Claromontanus are already used for the 1582 edition.
As for the questions:
1. The blogpost was written to answer this one ... (so I surmise this comment was actually first written for another occasion)
2. The printers use a Greek type font that closely resembles, even imitates, the handwriting of a famous 16th-century Greek scribe. One needs to get used to Greek minuscule hands in order to read editions such as Beza’s correctly.
3. There is no electronic version of Beza’s Greek text (of whatever of his four major editions that carry a Greek text); a word of warning though: those electronic versions of Stephanus 1550 or Elzevir 1624 are not reliable at all. People should not cite them and pretend they have really given the readings of those editions (or understood what is going on in them).
4. Any good Latin dictionary would help a lot; nothing can replace the experience of reading large portions of 16th-century Latin, though.

donaldperry said...

Dear Jan Krans,

Thank you for your quick answer! I also just bought your book, it is very expensive, but I myself do not have the time, so I am glad you did it, it would have cost me much more that way.

You wrote: "..those electronic versions of Stephanus 1550 or Elzevir 1624 are not reliable at all. People should not cite them and pretend they have really given the readings of those editions (or understood what is going on in them)."

Someone, like yourself, should make the corrections. I would gladly pay you in advance for such a work. I do not like Scrivener, because he resorted to the Latin texts when (or so I hear) the KJV only used Greek. How is it that there are so many mistakes in these electronic versions? It is increasable that no one has come up with a worthy 1589 Beza text yet!, and that no one seems to care.

BTW, your links did not work before, they went to empty pages, which is why I asked the first question in my previous letter. When I tried to do a search on my own in that library I could not find those 5.

Yours truly,

Donald Perry

donaldperry said...

"The third edition of Stephanus (1550) became the standard form of the Greek NT text in England and that of the Elzevirs (1633) on the continent.^[4]^ The Stephanus 1550 text as given in Beza’s edition of 1598 was the main source for translators of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible."

I was able to print up my own Elzevir NT on, however all I could find is 1624.

Someone should also make a reliable Elzevir version. I do not know what year would be best though, or why there is no 1633 that I can find.

Presently I am using the 1624.


donaldperry said...

Jan, Do you have links for Erasmus' NT's that we could use?



Jan Krans-Plaisier said...

Yes, I have a post on the Erasmus editions as well.

visitor said...

Thanks for the links, Jan.
Q: what about the 1575(Latin) Edition? its title is I have it on my PC, it's Google-ized.

visitor said...

I can't see the title, sorry, here is it:
IESV CHRISTI D. N. NOUUM TESTAMENTVM, Theodoro Beza interprete.

Anonymous said...

I suggest that you add in the category "special editions" this 1575 (only Latin) edition, which is the first (to my knowledge), to contain the chapter summaries published in the later minor diglots. I have checked the 1580 and the 1590 minor editions and these summaries are there. The 1575 latin translation with glosses and chapter summaries has been digitized twice by Google.



Emanuel Contac, Romania

Anonymous said...

Dear Jan Krans,

Do you know if there is an online scanned text available of the Greek edition of the NT of Robertus Stephanus 1551 (the first edition with verse numbering, Geneva). However the Stephanus 1550 edition is the most famous one (Paris), also the Stephanus 1551 had a large influence, not only by verse numbering, but also by some readings that were adopted in the editions of Beza en Elzevir.

Kees Valk

Jan Krans-Plaisier said...

Dear Kees,
Ghent University had its copy scanned by Google Books. The quality is not very good, but at least you can find the volumes here.

Kees Valk (editor said...

Dear Jan, thank you very much for the link to Stephanus 1551 (this would be otherwise hardly to find). I'm also looking for online scans of Elzevir 1624 (I found already in google books Elzevir 1633). Thank you very much.

Jan Krans-Plaisier said...

If you do a GB search on "Novum Testamentum" and limit the custom time range to 1624, you will find one or two full-view copies (bad quality, still, one even with the pages inverted, but still).

Ariel Lavanchy said...

Dear Jan,
I´m really excited that I found this site. Some time ago I managed to download Stephanus 1551, I don´t remember where I got it from. The matter is that its the first volume, that is, from Matthew to Acts. I´d love to have the second volume. I went into the site you suggested to Kees but had no luck. I will be very grateful for any info on how or where to download that second volume. Thank you very much in advance.

Jan Krans-Plaisier said...

The link I suggested to Kees Valk takes you to the catalogue site of Ghent University, where you can choose both the first and the second volume.

Ariel Lavanchy said...

Thank you very much, Jan. It´s wonderful to have so close such great treasures, and to think that in the past it was virtually impossible to set our eyes upon them.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jans Krans & Co.,

I am currently doing a study on 2 Thessalonians 2:3. I am aware that Theodore Beza "in 1565 issued an edition of the Greek New Testament, accompanied in parallel columns by the text of the Vulgate and a translation of his own (already published as early as 1556)."

I happened to find your blog online when I was looking for this edition. I clicked your "Major editions 1. 1556/57: e-rara (Beza’s NT in Volume 2, from [541] onwards) (Bibliothèque de Genève, shelf mark Bb 2341); GB and GB (a better copy)," and eventually arrived at the following link -

I know nothing about Latin, as the expression goes "it's Greek to me!" But, what I want to know, is this Beza's own translation with his added annotations "greatly enriched and enlarged."

If so, is there an English translation of the 1556 Edition with his Commentary and Annotations that I could get a link to? Or, any other commentary by him on this scripture verse?

If not, is it possible for someone to translate 2 Thessalonians 2:3 from the 1556 Edition into English, along with his own Commentary & Annotations, so that I know exactly what he has to say in English, in reference to this scripture?

I would be so grateful for anyone's assistance in this matter.

You guys are the best! Thank you all!


Steve Arviso

San Fernando Valley, CA. U.S.A

Jan Krans-Plaisier said...

There are no English translations of Beza’s work on the New Testament, only some scattered citations in scholarly books and articles. The 1560 Geneva stays very close to Beza's text and opinions, but not slavishly.
In my view, anyone who wants to do in-depth study of 16th-century biblical scholarship (or pontificate on it) should be able to handle the Latin independently.