Rhemes: John Fogny, 1582. 4to. [xxviii], 745,  pp. FIRST EDITION. Complete with errata and tables. Decorative and historiated woodcut initials, head- and tailpieces throughout. Contemporary calf, rebacked, red morocco spine label; corners worn, insignificant worming, some minor intermittent discoloration, but generally in excellent condition. Contemporary annotations in English and Latin. Item #15904
FIRST EDITION OF THE DOUAY-RHEIMS NEW TESTAMENT. First edition, complete, of the first Roman Catholic New Testament in English. A lengthy prologue addresses moral and practical concerns a reader might have in regards to a translation of holy scripture. The authors claim to have produced the most authentic interpretation of the Vulgate Latin with close attention paid to the Greek text. The impetus behind translating the Bible into a vernacular tongue was not to simply claim a scholarly triumph, but to make the word of God accessible to lay-people and combat heretical and “impious translation put forth by sundry sectes” (ie., Lutherans and Protestants).
This translation is the work of several English priests, including Thomas Worthington (1549-1627), Richard Bristowe (1538-1581), John Reynolds (or Rainolds (1549-1607), and William Allen (1532-1594), and lead principally by Gregory Martin (c. 1542-1582). A brilliant young scholar, Martin studied at Oxford and taught in Dublin before taking the post as tutor to the sons of Thomas Howard, fourth duke of Norfolk. After Norfolk’s imprisonment, Martin left for France where he could practice his Catholicism freely. Before his confirmation to the priesthood in 1573, Martin studied with Dr. (later, Cardinal) William Allen, founder of the English Roman Catholic College at the University of Douai. It was Allen who prompted a New Testament translation to combat the threat of Protestantism. Plans were made to produce an Old Testament, but due to a shortage of funds that text was not published until 1609-10.