The biblia polyglotta

The Biblia Polyglotta or multilingual Bible is a monumental masterpiece of Plantin. It consists of eight volumes: four for the Old Testament, one for the New Testament and three volumes of apparatus or commentary. The Biblical text itself is printed in five languages: Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldean (Aramaic) and Syriac.

Support from Philip II

Plantin went to considerable trouble to gain this contract. Firstly, he wanted to achieve something on an impressive scale. Secondly, he wanted to use this publication to win the confidence of Philip II. This was necessary, because three of his partners had been found to be Calvinists associated with the Iconoclasm. Moreover, in late 1566 Plantin had helped launch an anti-Spanish printing works in Utrecht, an act of high treason.
Fortunately for Plantin, his project aroused the interest of Philip II. Plantin planned a new, scholarly edition of the Bible texts. Philip II sent money and his domestic chaplain, the Spanish theologian Benedictus Arias Montanus, to Antwerp. For four years, Plantin and Arias Montanus worked together as friends.

A regal Bible

Eight hefty folio volumes, five years of work by a team of eminent philologists and theologians, five languages... Plantin’s Biblia Polyglotta or multilingual Bible, also known as the Biblia Regia (‘Royal Bible’), was the greatest typographical enterprise of his time. This masterpiece provided a new scholarly edition of the text of the Bible in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac and Aramaic. Plantin worked on it from 1568 to 1573.

Close relations with Philip II laid the foundation for the two centuries of prosperity that the business was to enjoy. The contacts with Catholic Spain led to the Moretus family gaining the monopoly for liturgical works in Spanish-speaking regions, a huge market...

Museum Plantin-Moretus
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