ʻE Kainè Diathéke Novum Testamentum
ʻE Kainè Diathéke Novum Testamentum... Oxford: John Baskerville, 1763.
(SPL) BS 1965 1763
At one time a servant in a clergyman's house, Baskerville became a skilled writing master, stonecutter, successful manufacturer of japanned ware, and finally was able to fulfill his lifelong calling by opening his own printshop at the late age of 50. One of his major accomplishments was a 1763 Bible printed for Cambridge University. Like most of his works, the Cambridge Bible was printed at a loss due to his insistence on original craftsmanship and exceptionally high‑quality materials.
The Oxford University Bible shown here, with separate Old and New Testament volumes, appeared in 1763 to a mixed reception. One critic complained, “the Greek cut by him or HIS for the University of Oxford is execrable.” Although neat and clean, his type deviated from the accepted aesthetic models and scale of the day, and it was said to have a cramped quality. The work was perhaps judged unfairly, as Baskerville had intended his Greek Bible to be a scholarly work, rather than a “distinguished book” on the level of his Cambridge Bible.