The Great Bible, so called on account of its size, was the first authorised Bible in English. On Henry VIII’s orders, each church was to have a copy so that all parishioners could hear or read the Bible in their first language.
Several former owners have annotated this small personal edition. One of them, most likely Richard Bryan, Vice-President of Queens’ (1662–75), has painstakingly realised the contents of the Book of Lamentations in the form of a ‘tree of knowledge’ diagram. Like his marginal notes, its purpose is to summarise and clarify the text. Creases and tiny traces of ink reveal that Bryan kept the diagram folded inside a book for some time before having it bound into this Bible. Cobbled together from at least two different copies, Bryan’s Bible has been much altered, its many signs of use reflecting the reverence in which it was held.
Title:The Byble in Englyshe (London, 1540), bound with The Bible in Englishe (London, 1562)
Shelfmark: B.2.18 (catalogue record)