Collecting Articles and Features

The Great She Bible Examining Its Significance and Collector’s Value

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The Great She Bible, also known simply as the “She” Bible, is a remarkable and historically significant artifact that holds a unique place in the history of printing, religion, and gender studies. Published in 1611, this rare edition of the King James Bible is distinctive not only for its content but also for its typographical error that has garnered attention and sparked discussions for centuries. In this feature, we will explore the origins, significance, and enduring impact of the Great She Bible. We also include some bible that have sold at auction.

Origins and Printing

It was published in 1611 by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the official printers to King James I of England. It is a first edition of the King James Bible, which is often considered one of the most important and influential English translations of the Bible. The translation project, initiated in 1604 and completed in 1611, aimed to provide a more accurate and accessible version of the Bible for English-speaking Christians.

Holy Bible Robert Barker 1613 1611 Second folio edition of the King James Bible commonly known as the Great She Bible
Holy Bible, Robert Barker, 1613/1611. Second folio edition of the King James Bible, commonly known as the Great She Bible. Black letter with large typeface, printed in double columns with 59 lines to a full column. Complete with general title, New Testament title and double-page map of Canaan by More & Speed. Includes Apocrypha. With the reading ‘she’ in Ruth 3 v.15, and with a tipped-in slip correcting the ‘Judas’ for ‘Jesus’ error in Matthew 26 v.36. Worn mid-nineteenth century blind-stamped calf, red edges Sold for £17,000 at Halls Fine Art Auctioneers, March 2022.

One of the distinctive features of the bible is its use of the term “she” instead of “he” in Ruth 3:15, which reads: “And he [she] went into the city.” This typographical error, although unintentional, has made this edition particularly noteworthy. It has been suggested that this error was the result of a printer’s mistake, as “he” and “she” were printed in very similar fonts during that era. While it was likely unintentional, this error has sparked considerable debate and interest over the years.

This fine edition sold for £65,000 at Forum Auctions in September 2021. Second folio edition of the King James Bible, also known as the “Great She Bible” for the more correct reading “she went into the citie” in Ruth 3:15. Also in Matthew 26:36 a corrected overslip of “Jesus” has been laid down over the error of “Judas” to lead the Apostles into the Garden of Gethsemane.

Significance and Impact

  1. Cultural and Historical Significance: The Great She Bible holds a special place in the history of the English Bible. It was printed just a few years after the King James Bible was first published, and it reflects the early stages of its dissemination. As a historical artifact, it provides insights into the printing practices of the early 17th century and the challenges involved in producing such a monumental work.
  2. Gender and Linguistic Analysis: The typographical error in Ruth 3:15 has sparked discussions about the role of gender in religion and language. Scholars and feminists have examined how this error may reflect the historical subordination of women and the influence of gendered language in religious texts. It raises questions about the representation of women in biblical narratives and the impact of language on perceptions of gender.
  3. Collector’s Item: Due to its rarity and historical significance, the Great She Bible has become a valuable collector’s item. Copies of this edition are highly sought after by collectors and bibliophiles. Some of these copies have been sold at auction for significant sums, further emphasizing its cultural and historical worth.

How much is the Great She Bible She Bible worth?

There are certain items where it is very difficult to give a definitive value. The market us small and new editions that have not been to market occasionally appear. Condition can change the price from thousands to tens of thousands. The fine bible selling for £65,000, and the lesser examples selling for £10,000 and £17,000 are example of this.

The Great She Bible, with its typographical error and historical context, serves as a fascinating intersection of religion, language, and printing history. Beyond its status as a collector’s item, it has inspired academic discussions about gender and language, offering insights into the evolving understanding of gender roles and representation in religious texts.

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