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Walton Polyglot Bible, 1654-1657


Walton Polyglot Bible

London, published by Thomas Roycroft

Samuel 1-31 and Samuel 2

The page on the left shows the end of Samuel 1, chapter 31 and beginning of Samuel 2. The parallel columns outlined in red contain from left to right- Hebrew with a linear Latin translation, the Latin Vulgate, and the Greek version with Latin translation. Right beneath are the Aramaic version in Hebrew characters (Targum Jonathan), and its Latin rendition. On the facing page are the Syriac and Arabic variants of the same texts, with their respective Latin translations.

Polyglots were used for studying the history of the biblical text and its interpretation. The earliest known biblical polyglot contained six variants and was compiled by Origen around the second century. Issued in six volumes between 1654 and 1657, the Walton Polyglot comprises nine languages, although no single biblical book was printed in all nine. These are- Hebrew, Greek, Samaritan, Aramaic, Latin, Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Persian. Brian Walton engaged a team of erudite contemporary scholars, such as Edmund Castell and Edward Pococke to aid him in his task.

Considered as the last and most scholarly ever printed, the Walton Polyglot was the second book in England to be published by subscription. The editor Brian Walton managed to raise ₤9000 for its production by asking for down-payments of ₤10 per set. The Polyglot was originally dedicated to Oliver Cromwell, but since he died during printing, it was subsequently dedicated to King Charles II. Copies including the “republican” and the “royal” prefaces survive.

John Reeve (ed.). Sacred. British Library. 2007.

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