Description[Bible in English]. The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, translated out of the Original Greek: and with the former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised. Appointed to be read in Churches. [Vignette of Great Seal of the United States] Boston: Printed...by Alexander Young and Thomas Minns, for J. Boyle, B. Larkin, J. White, Thomas and Andrews, D. West, E. Larkin, W. P. Blake, and. J. West. Sold by them at their respective Book Stores, 1794. Extremely rare edition of the New Testament printed in 1794 at Boston. Twelvemo in sixes (6.875 x 4 inches; 176 x 105 mm.). , [1, blank] pages. A-Z6 (Z6 verso blank). Engraved vignette of The Great Seal of the United States on title page. Printed in double columns. "The Order of the Books of the New Testament with their proper Names, and numbers of their Chapters" (verso of title page). "A Table of Kindred and Affinity, wherein whosoever are related are forbiddden in Scripture, and by our Laws, to marry together" (follows text).
A contemporary American scaleboard binding of sheep over thin wooden boards. The binding is considerably rubbed and worn, with some surface loss; loss of half inch at head of spine and three-eighths inch of the left half at the foot. Over-opened in the middle, with several leaves just hanging onto the cords. Front board is split across the lower portion of front cover, with a crease in the leather, and repaired with paper on the front pastedown; rear board with horizontal crack at lower portion, strengthened with tissue on the rear pastedown. Chip with loss to the top fore-edge corner of the rear pastedown endpaper.The text is quite browned, as is to be expected, with dampstaining in the upper and lower gutter and margins throughout. Faint illegible inscription on front free endpaper, chips to a few page edges and corners, short closed tear to the fore-edge margin of R5 touching an initial and four lines of text. Altogether, and despite these flaws, a very good copy of a rare book.
An American New Testament printed in Boston in 1794; a rare and unusual book in that it is the only occurrence where The Great Seal of the United States prominently adorned a manifestly religious book. The booksellers who sponsored the printing of the bible wanted an American version to replace imported British editions, and perhaps the Great Seal was seen as a way to distinguish the American Bible. There was not likely a clear understanding in those early American days as to a distinct separation of religious life and political affairs, and the phrase "separation of church and state" is generally believed to have been first uttered some eight years after the publication of this book in a January 1, 1802 letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut (and subsequently published in a Massachusetts newspaper): "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State." The title vignette of The Great Seal on this bible offers at least the appearance of a state sponsored or recognized religion, if not the impression to citizens that this book was authorized by the federal government of the United States. Whatever else the Seal might imply, it is patently evident that the Government did not censor it, and its appearance gives evidence of an accepted status of the religious and civil worlds existing at the time.
ESTC locates copies at the American Antiquarian Society (three copies) and Duke University. ESTC W4683; Evans 26664; Hills, English Bible in America, 48.
The third English New Testament printed in Boston (preceded by the Thomas and Fleet edition of 1780 and Edes & Son edition of 1788). This copy a variant of the one listed in ESTC, Evans, and Hills, published by Alexander Young and Thomas Minns for "B. Larkin, J. White, Thomas and Andrews, D. West, E. Larkin, W. P. Blake, and J. West" (omitting "J. Boyle").
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