Multi-Volume Bible. 1832-1834
The 19th century saw the dramatic expansion of book publishing, creating an explosive growth in available printed materials. Thus, competition among publishers created an ever-expanding array of Bibles, many the result of new translation work, many with illustrations, tables, maps, marginal commentaries, extended introductory material for each book of the Bible, and interpretive notes. In the vein of Matthew Henry's multiple volume commentary on the Bible, this led to the development of many large multi-volume study Bibles prepared for the support of the theological understanding of the various denominations. With inter-denominational and inter-faith controversies of the period, Unitarians, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Disciples of Christ, and the Catholic church among others began producing Bibles with interpretive materials amongst the text supporting their doctrinal positions and practices. Thus, the "meaning" of the text of the Bible began to be radically altered throughout the 19th century with these publishers' battles to promote a widening variety of Bible editions. As well, the Bible began to become a status "object", as extensive bindings and illustrations changed both why people bought Bibles and how they interpreted the Bibles they bought. The Bible as object led eventually to the production of large family Bibles, which became a physical focus of some homes and repositories of family records and history.
This Centennial Library copy of the King James Version of the Bible is volume 5 of a 6-volume edition, with extensive commentary and critical notes, printed in New York beginning in 1832. This edition was published for the Methodist Episcopal Church. The commentary and notes are by Adam Clarke, an Irish Methodist minister, who lived from 1762 to 1832.