Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sauer Bible

The First Saur Bible - 1743 from

In 1724 Christopher Sauer, Sr. sailed to America with his wife and young son and by 1740 had established a printing business.

When Christopher Saur, Sr. was ready to print the first Bible he sent out a notice to determine the amount of interest in it: "Whereas Numbers of the Dutch people in this province, especially of the Newcomers, are thro' mere poverty unable to furnish themselves with Bibles in their own language, at the advanced price those which are brought from Germany are usually sold at here; Therefore Christopher Sauer of Germantown, proposes to print a High Dutch Bible in large Quarto, and in a Charter that may be easily read even by old Eyes."

Just before his Bible was finished, he stated, "The price of our now nearly finished Bible in plain binding with a clasp will be eighteen shillings, but to the poor and needy we have no price."

In 1743 Saur offered the first Bible printed in America in German or any other European language. It was a very major undertaking since it was a 1267-page volume. Twelve hundred copies were produced, and though the sales were slow, they were all eventually sold.

After the death of the elder Saur in 1758, Christopher Saur, Jr. took over and expanded the business. He printed the second edition of the Bible in 1763 and a third in 1776.

Selling the first printing of the Bible was not without its problems. Some of those who sold imported Bibles reduced their prices drastically to undercut this new venture. Then there were printing errors and the need to reprint the title page which left some folks uneasy about the accuracy of the new Bible. And then some groups were very vocal against its being available at all. Sauer's Bible project attracted controversy even before its completion. Lutheran and Reformed clergy refused to support the Sauer Bible because they feared not only numerous typographical errors but, more seriously, a non-orthodox bias in the translation. Various religious sects objected because they did not like the translation Saur had chosen. Saur also used passages from another translation (Berleberg) in parts of the Apocrypha and offered two translations for some verses in Job. Preachers of various traditions warned their constituents to avoid the "heretical" publication. Anyone who wanted to complain could find something they did not like. But Saur persevered and in 1743 a masterpiece was produced