Hieroglyphic Bible, 1796

A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible; or, Select Passages in the Old and New Testaments, Represented with Emblematical Figures, for the Amusement of Youth:  Designed Chiefly To familiarize tender Age, in a pleasing and diverting Manner, with early Ideas of the Holy Scriptures.To which are subjoint a short Account of the Lives of the Evangelists, and other Pieces, illustrated with cuts.

Thus reads the title page of the Hieroglyphic Bible featured as the “Item of the Month.”The most popular version of this was by T. Hodgson, first appearing in 1783.The Bible pictured is the thirteenth edition, which appeared in 1796.

A commitment to the “pious and early instruction of Children” was considered to be every parent’s duty.The Hieroglyphic Bible was to engage young minds and give them an early taste for the Holy Scriptures that would follow them into adult life. The featured edition has select passages from the Old and the New Testaments, represented with “Emblematical Figures.”  The bible is printed as a duodecimo which is approximately the size of a modern paperback book (5 inches by 7 ¾ inches).

Hieroglyphic Bibles gave representations of the full texts of both Testaments.They would begin with Creation and continue through the Redemption of Mankind.Interspersed within the text would be Psalms and “moral Doctrines.” Nouns would be replaced with images, hoping to appeal to the inquisitive nature of children in seeking the Holy Scriptures and encouraging them to read.At the bottom of each page, the verse would be printed with the emblematic representation put into words, printed in italics.

The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection in McCain Library has several editions of Hieroglyphic Bibles.

A Curious Hieroglyphic Bible.London:Bassam, 1796.McCain Library BS560 .B47 1796. 

A New Hieroglyphical Bible... London: G. Thompson, 1794. McCain Library BS560 .B47 1794

A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible... Dublin: B. Dugdale, 1789. McCain Library BS560 .B47 1789

If you are interested in viewing these items, visit the 3rd floor of McCain Library or contact Ellen Ruffin at or 601.266.4349. To see more Items of the Month, click here.

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Text by Ellen Ruffin, Curator, de Grummond Children's Literature Collection