Historic Bible Collection

History of the Bible collection at The Mary Baker Eddy Library

The First Church of Christ, Scientist originally opened its Bible collection to the public during the 1991 celebration of National Bible Week. We now share a selection of volumes from the Library’s Historic Bible Collection, as well as other historic books in our archive, through this online catalogue. The unique attributes, craftsmanship, and artistry of each volume are exhibited in high-quality scans of the covers, title pages, and selected text pages.

More history

The Historic Bible Collection began to take form in the 1930s when William Pitfield, a Christian Scientist in England, donated a number of rare Bibles to the Church. In a letter offering a reprint of Wyclif’s Bible Pitfield wrote of “the need of awakening the minds of young people particularly to the value of the Scriptures.” He felt it “imperative at this time … when tireless efforts are being made in some quarters to turn thought away from the inspired Word.” [Pitfield to the Christian Science Board of Directors, 6 January 1936, organizational archives of the Board of Directors]

Pitfield soon brought to the attention of the Christian Science Board of Directors other volumes that they could acquire, which he thought would be of value to the growing collection. A letter from the Directors to Pitfield gives their original criteria for adding to the Bible collection: “… our interest lies in editions which indicate steps in the history of mankind or which have been of great benefit or value to a large number of people—volumes which, perhaps, represent turning points in history—rather than unusual or rare versions of the Bible.” [Board of Directors to Pitfield, 25 June 1936, organizational archives]

Several Bibles in the collection do mark “firsts” in the thousand-year evolution of the modern Bible, including a first edition King James Bible from 1611.  It was donated by Edgar Isaac Newgass, another Christian Scientist in England, who was also a poet and Bible collector.  He gave Bibles including first editions of the Coverdale and Matthew’s, in addition to the King James Version.

Donations of other important volumes have been made to the Church by students of Christian Science. The collection has grown to more than 460 volumes, including other important historic Bibles, and historic Bible reference, devotional, and related books.

Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, loved and studied the Bible throughout her life. She quotes the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures hundreds of times in her writings. And she ordained the Bible, along with her work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, as Pastor of the Church of Christ, Scientist. The First Tenet of Christian Science states: “As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life” (Science and Health, 497).

View Bibles in our collection

The Bible. Translated according to the Ebrew and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in diuers languages. With most profitable annotations vpon all the hard places, and other thinges of great importance, as may appeare in the epistle to the reader. Whereunto is added the Psalter of the common translation agreeing with the booke of Common prayer.

The Bible. Translated according to the Ebrew and Greeke, and...

The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments

The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments

The New Testament, translated from the Latin, in the year 1380, by John Wiclif; D.D to which are prefixed, memoirs of the life, opinions, and writings of Dr. Wiclif: and an historical account of the Saxon and English versions of the Scriptures, previous to the opening of the fifteenth century. By The Rev. Henry Hervey Baber, M.A.

The New Testament, translated from the Latin, in the year 1380,...

Biblia, das ist die ganze Gottliche Heilige Schrift Alten und Neuen Testaments, nach der Deutschen Uebersetzung D. Martin Luthers; mit jedes Capitels furzen summarien, auch beygefügten vielen und richtigen Parallelen: nebst einem Anhang des dritten und vierten Buchs Esra, und des dritten Buchs der Maccabaer

Biblia, das ist die ganze Gottliche Heilige Schrift Alten und...

The Famous and Memorable Works of Josephus, a Man of Much Honor and Learning Among the Jews. Faithfully Translated out of the Latin, and French, By Tho. Lodge, Doctor in Physick. Whereunto are Newly Added the References of the Scriptures Throughout the History and Afterwards Collected into a table.

The Famous and Memorable Works of Josephus, a Man of Much Honor...

The Holie Bible, Bishop’s Version

The Famous and Memorable Works of Josephus, a Man of Much Honor...

The Holy Bible Containing the Bookes of the Old & New Testament. Part II Psalms – Macabees.

The Holy Bible Containing the Bookes of the Old & New...

An original leaf from the Bible of the Revolution, and an essay concerning it

An original leaf from the Bible of the Revolution, and an essay...

Divine Songs Attempted in Easy Language, for the Use of Children

Divine Songs Attempted in Easy Language, for the Use of Children

William Tyndale’s Five Books of Moses, Called the Pentateuch, Being a Verbatim Reprint of the Edition of 1530: compared with Tyndale’s Genesis of 1534, and the Pentateuch in the Vulgate, Luther, and Matthew’s Bible, with Various Collations and Prolegomena by the Rev. J. I. Mombert, DD.

William Tyndale’s Five Books of Moses, Called the Pentateuch, Being a...

The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, with the apocryphal books, in the earliest English versions made from the Latin Vulgate by John Wycliffe and his followers; edited by the Rev. Josiah Forshall, F.R.S.,etc. late fellow of Exeter College and Sir Frederic Madden. Vol. III Proverbs to Maccabees.

The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, with the...

The New Testament, translated from the Latin, in the year of 1380, by John Wiclif, D.D. to which are prefixed, memoirs of the life, opinions, and writings of Dr. Wiclif; and an historical account of the Saron and English versions of the scriptures, previous to the opening of the fifteenth century by the Rev. Henry Hervey Baber, MA.

The New Testament, translated from the Latin, in the year of...

The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ newly translated out of the original Greek compared and revised by His Majesty’s Special Command. Appointed to be read in churches. Holy Bible Vol. II Isaiah to Revelation.

The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ newly translated...

The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Translated out of the Latin Vulgat by John Wiclif, S. T. P. Prebendary of Aust in the Collegiate Church of Westbury, and Rector of Lutterworth, about 1378 to which is praefixt a History of the Several Translation of the H. Bible and N. Testament, &c. into English, both in MS and Print, and of the most remarkable Editions of them since the Invention of Printing. By John Lewis, A.M. Chaplain to the Right Honourable Thomas Lord Malton, and Minister of Mergate

The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Translated out...

Tēs tou huiou Theou kainēs diathēkēs apanta = Nouum Testamentum Iesu Christi filii Dei, ex versione Erasmi : innumeris in locis ad Graecum veritatem, genuinumque sensum emendata : glossa compendiaria

Tēs tou huiou Theou kainēs diathēkēs apanta = Nouum Testamentum Iesu Christi filii Dei,...

The Bible: That is The Holy Scriptures conteined in the Old and New Testament. Translated According to the Hebrew and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in divers languages….

The Bible: That is The Holy Scriptures conteined in the Old and...

Flavii Josephi Des Hochberuempten Histori Beschreibers alle Buecher, Nemlich zwentzig van den alten Geschichten der Juden

Flavii Josephi Des Hochberuempten Histori Beschreibers alle Buecher,...

A New and Literal Translation Of All The Books Of The Old and New Testament; With Notes, Critical and Explanatory. By Anthony Purver. In Two Volumes. Vol. II: Proverbs to Revelation

A New and Literal Translation Of All The Books Of The Old and...

A New and Literal Translation of All the Books of the Old and New Testament: With Notes, Critical and Explanatory: Volume I

A New and Literal Translation of All the Books of the Old and...

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