Two King James Versions of the Bible
Two of the Lanier Theological Library’s most interesting artifacts are two King James Versions of the Bible, just inside the front door and to your left as you enter. One is the “First Edition, First Issue,” printed in 1611 and known as “The Great He Bible,” shown partially in the photos above. The other is the “Second Folio Edition,” known as “The Great She Bible.” Its Old Testament was printed in 1613, but its New Testament was printed in 1611.
Less than 200 of “The Great He Bibles” are known to exist in the world today. They can be identified by these authenticating attributes:
- Both the Old and New Testament title pages are dated 1611.
- A typographical error in Ruth 3:15 reads, “he [referring to Boaz] measured sixe measures of barley and laide it on her; and he went into the citie.” The second pronoun “he” actually refers to Ruth, so it should read “and she went into the citie.” Because of this error, this first edition is often referred to as “The Great He Bible.” Because “he” was changed to “she” in the 1613 printing, the Second Folio Edition is referred to as “The Great She Bible.”
You can read many more details about the KJV in David Norton’s book, A Textual History of the King James Bible (BS186 .N67 2005). Norton lists 351 printer’s errors in the first edition “He” Bible, e.g., Gen. 10:16 where “Emorite” should be “Amorite.”
If you would like to look inside “The Great He Bible” and see its pages, you are welcome to view the replica in our West Wing (to your left if facing the Bible). On the coffee table in front of the first fireplace, you’ll find the replica made by The Bible Museum of Litchfield Park, Arizona. Please handle it very carefully.