London: Richard Jugge, 1568
Queen Elizabeth did not formally authorize the Bishops’ Bible but her chief adviser William Cecil (1520-1598) acted as a distant supervisor of the entire project and its printer cum publisher Richard Jugge (d. 1577) was granted a royal privilege that gave him exclusive rights to issue the text. Surviving documents indicate that Cecil was informed of the plan to revise the Great Bible in January 1561 and received detailed progress reports later on. In 1566, as the revisers’ work was reaching its final stage, Archbishop Parker invited Cecil to join the team and work on one of the Epistles of the New Testament so that he “may be one of the builders of this good work in Christ’s church.” Cecil did not become a Bible translator and the Archbishop found a different way to memorialize his patronage of the project. A portrait of Cecil was included in the initial B that opens the Book of Psalms. “Blessed is the man,” reads the text. Cecil is represented standing in front of a niche with an open Hebrew book in his left hand. His Latin motto Cor unum, via una (“One heart, one way”) is engraved above the niche’s two columns. The facing page includes an English translation of the Prologue to Psalms written by St. Basil the Great (c. 329-379). The text begins with David’s name and Cecil’s coat of arms is depicted inside its initial D. The message is abundantly clear: William Cecil is the new David.
In addition to the new David, the Bishops’ Bible also has a new Joshua. The title page of its second part, including the books from Joshua to Job, is illustrated by an engraved portrait of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (1532-1588), one of Elizabeth’s most influential courtiers and her close friend and disappointed suitor. Prior to 1688 Leicester’s military career had not been particularly distinguished. He had fought against the French in 1557 and had been appointed Master of the Horse by Elizabeth in 1558, but was not actively engaged in war for most of his adult life. Nevertheless, the Bishops’ Bible depicts him in armor, as appropriate for a modern Joshua. His French motto, Droit et loyal (“Just and loyal”) is clearly visible at the bottom of the engraving.