The Van Kampen Collection documents the aspects of the sixteenth century most essential to scholars of the biblical text: the rekindling of interest in the original languages, textual criticism, and the resulting new vernacular translations. The Collection's array of sixteenth-century books ranks second in importance only to its holdings of fifteenth-century books. This area of the Collection may be considered under two classifications.

The first category for sixteenth-century books is comprised of first editions of vernacular Bibles printed in countries in which the Reformation triumphed. The holdings are particularly rich in English Bibles, representing every version from Tyndale's New Testament (second and fourth editions) and Pentateuch (first edition) to the King James Bible (both "He" and "She" issues), including Catholic editions. As an extension of the collection of sixteenth-century English Bibles, a number of sixteenth-century contraband pamphlets in English have been purchased, including the first editions of works by John Frith and Miles Coverdale, and several early editions of Tyndale's treatises. In all, the Collection contains some sixty-five English titles from the sixteenth century.

VK 760, The Pentateuch, in English by W. Tyndale, Antwerp, 1530

Similar publications in other Western European countries have become the focus of collecting. The holdings of Dutch sixteenth-century Bibles are swiftly becoming comparable to those in English, with the goal of tracing the Dutch versions of the Bible from the incunable era to the Staten Generaal edition of 1637. Sixteenth-century Bibles from France and Germany are represented as well. The first printing of the complete Bible in Spanish, printed in Basel by Samuel Apiarius for Thomas Guarinus in 1569, is part of the Collection. The first edition of the Luther Bible in Low German, printed by Hans Dietz in 1533 (which is also the first printing of Luther's version of both Testaments), is one of the more important sixteenth-century
German books in the Van Kampen Collection. It is complemented by the 1522 Halberstadt Bible, the eighteenth and last German Bible prior to Luther's translation, printed just months before the Septembertestament.

Another focus is first-printings of the Bible in the vernacular languages of the East, many of which were printed in Rome. The first publication in Ethiopic was the New Testament in 1513 and, similarly, the first Arabic New Testament was printed in Rome in 1590. The first Syriac New Testament was printed in Vienna in 1555. Many of the sixteenth-century holdings relate closely to manuscript versions in the Collection.

VK 399, The Complutensian Polyglot Bible, Alcalá, 1522

The second category of sixteenth-century books in the Collection is the publication of the first efforts toward critical editions of the biblical text in original or ancient languages. In addition to the holdings of the Eberhard Nestle Library in this area (see Secondary Holdings), the Van Kampen Collection has obtained a variety of sixteenth-century printed Bibles in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, which reflect the work of numerous editors and printers. Theories of textual criticism were only beginning to be standardized at this time, and these editions are pertinent to the Collection as a whole from the perspective of the manuscript texts they reproduced, as well as the early critical methods they demonstrate. Most prominent are the first three editions of Erasmus' Greek and Latin New Testament, the publication responsible for both subsequent vernacular versions and critical editions. The Collection holds two of the three major polyglots of the sixteenth century, the Complutensian (1522) and the Nuremberg (1599) Polyglots, as well as the first polyglot edition ever published, the Genoa Polyglot Psalter of 1516.

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