Some Rare Letis Collection Books

Over the winter months I had a few magazines to be bound and with that went a few of the rarer books from the Dr.Ted Letis collection that also needed rebinding. They have now been added to the Seminary library holdings, and that made me think that it might be worthwhile to call attention to a couple of these books. Both of the titles I highlight today were published in the early 19th century (1818 and 1819) and relate to the English translation of the Bible.

You may recall that this area is one of the strengths of the Letis collection. We have had many valuable titles added to our library in this field of study, and we are grateful to be able to have such resources available for our professors, students, members, and visitors.

The first book carries this lengthy title: A Vindication of Our Authorized Translation and Translators of the Bible; and of the Preceding English Versions Authoritatively Commended to the Notice of Those Translators: Occasioned by certain objections made by Mr. John Bellamy in his late translation of the book of Genesis, and by Sir James Bland Burges, in his reasons in favour of a new translation of the Holy Scriptures.

The author is Rev.Henry John Todd (a librarian and editor of John Milton among other things!), “chaplain in ordinary to his Majesty, and keeper of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s records”. It was “printed for F.C. & J.Rivington” in London in 1819, which makes it a first edition (the second being printed in 1834).

Vindication of AV-HJTodd_Page_1

As you can judge, this book is a defense of the King James Version of the Bible and of the work of its translators (And, by the way, Dr.Letis was in no way a “KJV only” radical when it came to English translations of the Bible, though he did speak and write in defense of the AV as an excellent English translation). The book is also referred to here in this interesting article on the KJV translators.

The second book also has a somewhat lengthy title: A Complete History of the Several Translations of The Holy Bible and New Testament into English, Both in Ms. and in Print: and of the most remarkable editions of them since the invention of printing. This work is by John Lewis, “Chaplain to the Right Honourable Thomas Earl of Malton, and Minister of Margate in Kent”, and is the third edition, published in London “for W.Baynes” in 1818.

And, as you will see, the page opposite the title page contains a very striking fold out depicting the king handing out the Word of God (Because of its fragile nature, I could not scan the entire fold out.).

History of English Bibles-JLewis-1818-1_Page_1


You will notice that the link I provided here on Google Books contains a free ebook version. But if you visit this Hathi Trust link, you will also find the second edition (1739) in digital form, and a reference to the first edition (1731), which was prefixed to the author’s edition of Wycliffe’s version of the NT.

History of English Bibles-JLewis-2_Page_1

In addition, this third edition which we have contains an appendix with “A List of Various Editions of the Bible, and Parts Thereof, in English, from the year 1526 to the present time, extracted from Bishop Newcome’s Historical View of the English Biblical Translators; with a continuation by another hand.” I have scanned the title page for this (see above) and the first page of this section too (see below) – rather interesting, because it not only reveals what English versions of the Bible were printed when and by whom, but also who owned them and where they could be found!

History of English Bibles-JLewis-3_Page_1