The Julia Smith Bible
The First Bible Translated by a Woman
[Bible in English.] The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testament; Translated Literally from the Original Tongues. Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Company, 1876.
First edition. Stout octavo. 892; 276.
Original publisher’s cloth, pebble-grained buckram with blind rules and gilt lettering on spine and top board. Fine interior and near fine binding: solid, clean. A Fine Copy.
The preface is signed Julia E[velina] Smith, Glastonbury [Connecticut], March 23rd, 1876. The Books of the Old Testament follow the Jewish arrangement.
Smith was the first woman to translate the whole Bible. Her parents belonged to the small Sandemanian sect founded in Scotland in 1730 (see note below). A member of a picturesque family, Smith was an outspoken worker for women’s suffrage, even refusing to pay taxes (without representation). She married for the first time at the age of 87.
From the Preface: “Over twenty years ago, when I had four sisters, a friend met with us weekly to search the Scriptures, we being desirous to learn the exact meaning of every Greek and Hebrew word… It was the literal meaning we were seeking.”
Note: The Glasites (later Sandemanians) were a small Scottish sect originally named after John Glas (1695-1773), then his son-in-law Robert Sandeman (1718-1771). John Glas, the son of a Presbyterian minister at Auchtermuchty, Fife, was himself ordained in 1719 as minister of Tealing near Dundee. Having come to doubt the Scriptural basis of the Presbyterian civil polity and holding that secular and political weapons were unlawful instruments of reformation and that a National Church was unscriptural, John Glas gave public expression to his views in The Testimony of the King of Martyrs concerning His Kingdom (1727). He was accordingly suspended from his ministerial work in 1728 and deposed in 1730. His followers (“Glasites”) organized communities on a Congregational basis at Dundee, Edinburgh, and elsewhere. Gradually the leadership of the movement passed to his son-in-law, then minister at Perth.