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1561 French Bible
, Item # FR1561

1561 French Bible


A very rare French Edition of the Scriptures. Not listed in Darlow and Moule. Standing 15” tall and 11” wide and bound in contemporary calf. Collates complete with the book of Revelation provided in expert facsimile. More on that later. Few Bibles in the 16th century adopted the “A Picture is Worth a 1,000 Words” with such passion as this rare French edition did. Maximum effort was provided to give detail imagery with as many as 7 pictures on a page to explain to the reader the contents therein. Literacy in any country in Europe was low. What better way to explain God’s Word than with images?

The Scripture was protestant as it follows the famed Olivetan translation of 1535. This edition lacks the Geneva notes that were hostile to both Church of Rome and the Crowns of Europe.

This edition was highly sought by church officials who wished to burn or otherwise destroy it. To combat that – the publishers included a preface by Jerome and the entirety of the Apocrypha which followed the collation of the Vulgate. In short, this Bible follows the organization of books which differs greatly from that of the English Geneva, Bishops and the King James some 50 years later.

The French were passionate about the most up to date translations. In many cases a newer edition meant a more accurate translation of God’s Word. It can be argued that the newest translation didn’t change the temperature of hell one degree to the left or the right from its predecessors but the French still wanted precision in all aspects of their Scripture.

This edition was printed in the city of Lyon which was compassionate to reformers championed by John Calvin. A protestant Bible printed in Geneva was much more hostile towards the Church of Rome than editions printed in Lyon.

Dr. Craig H. Lampe, the world’s leading authority on the transmission and unique issues of the Bible believes this Bible was bound without the book of Revelation intentionally.

“It’s clear this Bible was intended to navigate into the hands of French protestant reformers where Roman authority was still powerful” says Dr. Lampe. “If you were caught with a complete edition of this Bible by a Roman Clergy official you were most likely facing persecution that no one would want to endure. This Bible lacking the Revelation but includes Jerome’s preface in the front, an order of books identical to the Vulgate and lacking the images portraying the Church of Rome in less than flattering circumstances in Revelation can’t be overlooked” continues Dr. Lampe. “John Calvin was an extraordinary mind. He was also very conscious of where to pick his fights and also where to protect his fellow reformers and this Bible present in its original parts with all of those qualities in mind was intended to evade church officials and protect followers of Christ” concluded Dr. Lampe.

A very rare edition protected by an elegant clam shell case.


Just The Facts

Item #FR1561
OT Title Page: 1561 FAC
NT Title Page: Yes - No Date
Size: 15 x 10.5 x 2.5
Font: Roman

Additional Features:
Full Calf
End Papers: Cotton
Filled with woodcuts

Appraisal Value: $25,000

Sale Price: $8,500