Library of Congress Bible Collection

Library of Congress Bible Collection

Library of Congress Bible Collection

Ongoing exhibition, opened April 11, 2008.
Great Hall East, Thomas Jefferson Building

In the Great Hall of the Library of Congress, two monumental Bibles face each other as if in dialogue: one, the Giant Bible of Mainz, signifies the end of the handwritten book—and the other, the Gutenberg Bible, marks the beginning of the printed book and the explosion of knowledge and creativity it would engender.  This exhibition explores the significance of the two Bibles, and, through an interactive presentation, the relationship between the Mainz Bible, the Gutenberg Bible, and sixteen selected Bibles from the Library’s collections.

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The Giant Bible of Mainz

The Giant Bible of Mainz is one of the last great handwritten giant Bibles in Europe. It represents the culmination of hundreds of years of transmission of text through the handwritten manuscript. The text of the Bible is embellished with finely crafted decoration and illumination.

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The Gutenberg Bible

The Gutenberg Bible is the first great book printed in Western Europe from movable metal type. It is therefore a monument that marks a turning point in the art of bookmaking and consequently in the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern world.

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Other Bibles

The Bible Collection at the Library of Congress offers an unparalleled opportunity to witness the Bible’s transformation over 800 years.  With 1,500 editions of the Bible in more than 150 languages, this splendid gathering helps to document the history of Western ideas, religion, art, printing, and illustration.  Whether to understand the history of the text, its production, or its reception over time, the Library’s Bible Collection offers a portal to the history of the book.  (These objects are included in an interactive presentation only.)

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Explore, compare, and contrast aspects of the Mainz and Gutenberg Bibles. Learn about the history and characteristics of each of the Bibles.

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