Item #68768 [Biblia Latina] Numbers 21-23. BIBLE IN LATIN.
[Biblia Latina] Numbers 21-23.

[Biblia Latina] Numbers 21-23.

Mainz: Johann Gutenberg, 1455.

A Leaf from the Gutenberg Bible- Numbers 21-23.

The Story of Balaam, a Donkey and an Angel

[BIBLE IN LATIN]. [GUTENBERG, Johann]. Leaf of the Gutenberg Bible, 1450-1455. [Biblia Latina] [Leaf 76, Numbers 21-23.] [Mainz: Johann Gutenberg, Johann Fust, and Peter Schoeffer, 1455].

Original large paper leaf from the Gutenberg Bible. Folio, (15 7/16 x 11 1/4 inches, 392 x 286 mm). [1] leaf of text, printed on both sides. Black gothic letter, forty-two lines, double columns. Two, two-line capitals, one printed in red, and one in blue. With page headings and chapter numbers in red and blue ink. Capital strokes in red. Leaf 76, containing one column and six lines of the end of Chapter 21, all of Chapter 22, and four lines of the beginning of Chapter 23.

Edges stained red. A bit of light toning around edges and some residue from removal along one edges. Leaf in a mylar sleeve, viewable on both sides, housed in a custom quarter morocco clamshell. About fine.

This "greatest of all printed books," the Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed from movable type in the Western hemisphere (PMM). Only forty-eight copies of it are known, most of which are incomplete.

Every copy, leaf, or fragment of this Bible represents a rare tangible piece of cultural history, and an immense achievement in the art and craft of printing. "Its printers were competing in the market hitherto supplied by the producers of high-class manuscripts. The design of the book and the layout of the book were therefore based on the book-hand and manuscript design of the day, and a very high standard of press-work was required–and obtained–to enable the new mechanical product to compete successfully with its hand-produced rivals. Standards were set in quality of paper and blackness of ink, in design and professional skill, which the printers of later generations have found difficult to maintain" (PMM).

The text of the leaf is the Vulgate Latin text of Saint Jerome, and the leaf presented here is Leaf 76, Numbers 21-23. "At this chapter [22] begins the famous story of Balak and Balaam, their attempt to curse Israel, and the baffling of that attempt.

After leaving Egypt, Moses in his wanderings must pass through Moab and Balak, king of Moab was afraid of the Israelites and sent a message to Balaam to curse the Israelites. When Balaam spoke to God about this, God replied "You shall not curse these people, they are blessed." Balaam then refused to come back with the princes of Moab to help Balak, so they asked him again. When Balaam defied God on his way to help Balak, God's guidance came from the mouth of Balaam's donkey who tells him to speak to the King of Moab, only tell the King what God tells him to say. The King of Moab continues to try and get Balaam to curse Israel, but Balaam replies that the Lord declares Israel blessed and dissuades him from attacking Israel and saves him from destruction at the hands of the Lord.

This is a riveting story from the Old Testament that contains three mystical characters- a taking donkey, an angel armed with a sword and a soothsayer- and two extremely rare interactions. This is the only instance in the Bible in which God opens the mouth of an animal in order to allow her to decry the beating inflicted on her by her owner. "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?... Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day?" Allowing the donkey to express his despair shows God's love and respect for animals. In addition to a taking donkey, God communicates directly to a Gentile- Balaam the son of Beor, a pagan soothsayer, and confirms his covenant with Abraham and Issac where he informs Balaam that Israel is a blessed nation and is to be protected.

Printing and the Mind of Man 1. Goff B-526B.

HBS 68768.


Price: $115,000.00

Item #68768

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