Framing Biblical Reading Practices: The Impact of the Paratext of Jacob van Liesvelt's Bibles (1522-1545)

Renske Hoff*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    30 Downloads (Pure)


    The production and reception of early modern vernacular Bibles was not a uniform enterprise: printed scripture appeared in different sizes, translations, confessional colours, layout, and content. Through the analysis of the paratextual material in several Dutch Bible editions, this paper aims to determine whether different editions stimulated and framed different biblical reading practices, with a focus on complete Bibles and New Testaments published between 1522 and 1544 by the Antwerp printer Jacob van Liesvelt. The comparison of the paratextual features of Van Liesvelt’s complete Bibles and his other, smaller editions, shows that both types animated non-canonical, discontinuous and essentially active reading. However, whereas Van Liesvelt’s New Testaments seemed to encourage the reader to approach the book as a practical tool in his or her daily life, shaped by the rhythm of the zodiac and liturgy, the paratextual features of the complete Bibles facilitate a studious, almost encyclopaedic reading of the book.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)223-250
    Number of pages28
    JournalJournal of Early Modern Christianity
    Issue number2
    Early online date12-Jul-2019
    Publication statusPublished - Nov-2019


    • vernacular Bibles
    • Dutch Bibles
    • New Testament
    • History of Reading
    • paratext
    • discontinuous reading
    • liturgical reading
    • Jacob van Liesvelt

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