McGill holds a good 1200 Bibles in English, French and various languages, along with an impressive group of polyglot Bibles in Hebrew, Latin, Greek and more. Ever since the invention of printing in the 15th century, Bibles were the most frequently printed text over the centuries. Encompassing the Old and New Testaments, or representing abridgements, selections, or readings, each edition is quite unique. Bibles can be large or small; for young or old; and possibly embellished by some of the most famous illustrators of books ever to live, including the Bible by French designer Gustave Doré (1832-1883), now on display. Also in the case is the tiniest palm-sized illustrated bible, published in London.
One of the earliest Bibles on display is an edition of the Martin Luther Bible in German, printed by Hans Lufft in Wittemburg in 1557. The impressive volume is illustrated with wood engravings by Hans Brosamer, Lucas Cranach, and others. An ebony bible box gifted by Casey Wood to McGill and several religious prints from other donors contribute to the display, such as the wild seventeenth-century Dutch engraving after Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), depicting the Archangel Michael expelling Satan.
We invite one and all to appreciate these amazing works in the quiet surroundings of the beautiful Birks Reading Room.
This collaboration between the Humanities and Social Sciences Library (HSSL) and Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) was curated by Liaison Librarians Sandy Hervieux and Ann Marie Holland, updated with new selections in 2022 by Octavian Sopt and Jacquelyn Sundberg.