We are beginning again on our work of

scanning and cleaning up the pages of

Robert Aitken’s 1782 Old Testament.

We only have the first two signatures completed and ready to print, but we have a volunteer who plans to complete the rest of the 1782 Aitken Old Testament. Upon completion, we will combine the already complete Aitken 1781 New Testament and then be able to make replicas of Robert Aitken’s entire “Bible of the Revolution”. This Bible will be in high demand.
“Rev. Gentlemen, Our knowledge of your piety and public spirit leads us without apology to recommend to your particular attention the edition of the Holy Scriptures publishing by Mr. Aitken. He undertook this expensive work at a time, when from the circumstances of the war, an English edition of the Bible could not be imported, nor any opinion formed how long the obstruction might continue. On this account particularly he deserves applause and encouragement. We therefore wish you, reverend gentlemen, to examine the execution of the work, and if approved, to give it the sanction of your judgment and the weight of your recommendation. We are with very great respect, your most obedient humble servants.”
 
~ Letter dated Philadelphia, 1 September, 1782, on the Congress’ adoption of the Aitken Bible
Image from the Library of Congress

This is a photo of James Darlack working (scanning and cleaning up) his way through the book of Exodus that will become part of our 1782 Robert Aitken Bible, aka “The Bible of the Revolution”.

 

Aitken published his first complete Bible in 1782. This is the first Bible in English to be made in America. He added this 1782 Old Testament to his previously printed 1781 New Testaments. I believe that Aitken planned ahead and printed about ten thousand additional New Testaments in 1781 and had them waiting to be bound with the ten thousand Old Testaments that he printed in 1782. You will notice that the 1782 Bible’s New Testament title page is dated 1781, while the Old Testament is dated 1782. This was the only year that the Aitken Bible was made.

The war ended in September 1783 and America was once again flooded with inexpensive Bibles from England. Aitken was stuck with way too many Bibles because he could not get as many into the hands of the soldiers as he had planned. Aitken was near financial ruin, but the Presbyterian Synod stepped in and purchased Aitken’s remaining stock and gave them to the poor.

The original Aitken Bible is very rare. The last copy I saw at auction went for about $150,000

 

This is the title page of an Issac Watts Hymnal Printed by Robert Aitken: