Collection ID



Bible - Printed Book




United States




Printed on Paper


6.1 × 3.8 × 1.2 in. (15.6 × 9.7 × 3 cm)

Exhibit Location

On View in The Impact of the Bible, Bible in America

Robert Aitken (1735–1802) published this New Testament in 1777, only a few years after the American Revolution began. Born in Scotland, Aitken immigrated to Philadelphia in 1769, where he worked as a bookseller and publisher. The British government had long regulated the publication of English Bibles, forcing colonists to import them from Britain or Europe. The outbreak of war subsequently created a shortage. Aitken broke the crown’s monopoly by printing his New Testament in 1777. He would go on to publish the Aitken Bible in 1782, known by many today as “the Bible of the Revolution.”

Printed in 1782 by Robert Aitken, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Acquired by 1973 by Philadelphia Divinity School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1] Acquired after 1973 by an unknown owner. Purchased at auction in 2011 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;[2] Donated in 2015 to National Christian Foundation (later The Signatry) under the curatorial care of Museum of the Bible.

Notes: [1] Philadelphia Divinity School closed in 1973, merging with Episcopal Theological School to form Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge Massachusetts. At the time of its closing, PDS’s Yarnell Library of Theology contained some 20,000 books. Most of these books were transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, while some rare books were deaccessioned and sold to raise funds. Bloomsbury, now under the umbrella of Dreweatts, could provide no further information. [2] See Bloomsbury, Important Books, Manuscripts & Works on Paper (London), November 29, 2011, Lot 469.

Select References:

Daniel L. Dreisbach, Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).

John Wright, Early Bibles of America (London: Gay & Bird, 1893).

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