[French Bible]. La saincte Bible en Francoys, translatee selon la pure et entiere traduction de sainct Hierome.
Antwerp: Martin Lempereur [de Keyser], 1530.
Colored by hand throughout, this is one of the loveliest sixteenth-century Bibles in Bridwell Library’s extensive collection. The first of three woodcuts exhibited here illustrates Revelation 11, in which an angel commands St. John to measure the dimensions of God’s temple and its altar. Set in front of a sixteenth-century church interior, the scene includes two heavenly witnesses in contemporary attire who will punish the world with plagues.
The second woodcut depicts Revelation 12, which describes “a woman clothed in the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” While this apocalyptic woman confronts the earth-bound dragon called Satan, her newborn son is flown to heaven by angels, and she receives miraculous wings of her own. Medieval theologians equated this righteous mother with the Virgin Mary, who often was depicted with attributes of the apocalyptic woman.
The third woodcut depicts Revelation 13, which describes two evil creatures that follow the dragon: a seven-headed beast who must be worshipped, and another beast with two horns. Early interpretations of this unholy trinity cast the dragon as Satan, the seven-headed beast as the Antichrist, and the two-horned beast as heresy or the corrupt church.