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Paratexts of the English Bible, 1525-1611

By Debora Shuger

English bibles, from Tyndale’s 1525 New Testament to the 1611 King James, feature calendars, woodcuts, maps, chronologies, prayers, philological glosses, inset historical essays, elaborate multi-page diagrams, single-leaf summaries of scripture, prefaces by eminent churchmen, doctrinal notes by leading theologians, a dialogue on predestination, a twelfth-century genealogy of Christ, a ninth-century Jewish chronicle–most widely available, given the hundreds of editions printed between those dates. This book explores this archive, but it also tracks its changes, because while biblical translations remain relatively stable over time, the paratexts cocooning a bible’s first printing sometimes mutate or vanish in succeeding editions–and indeed sometimes they migrate to a competing bible. These paratexts, together with their revelatory print histories, disclose a picture of the English Reformation that differs in striking ways from the authorized version.

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