Genealogy of Christ

The most significant English bible in terms of its influence on posterity, the Authorised Version or King James Version first published in 1611, was accompanied by an equally impressive apparatus of interpretive material, including this elaborate and curiously understudied genealogy of Christ. Produced by the cartographer John Speed in collaboration with the Hebraist and chronologer Hugh Broughton, the genealogy represents a stunning feat of both interpretation and design. Though it was printed separately from the rest of the book, Speed acquired and subsequently renewed a privilege to include it in every edition of the Authorised Version, producing versions of it for every scale in which that book was produced, so that it proliferates in copies of bibles and books of common prayer throughout the early seventeenth century. Its visual dimensions allow the reader to trace the whole history of the Hebrew Bible as an inevitable tendency toward the birth of Christ, but it also allows synchronic perception of typologically related events, as when the illustrations of Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel appear on opposite sides of an opening. BW

The Holy Bible, conteyning the Old Testament, and the New: newly translated (London: Robert Barker, 1611).

CUL: BSS.201.C11

By kind permission of Bible Society

Further Reading

Sarah Bendall, ‘Speed, John (1551/2–1629)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004; online edn. 2008),

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