John Brown’s “Self-Interpreting Bible,” First American Edition

Collection ID



Bible - Printed Book




United States




Printed on Paper


16.3 × 10.6 × 3.5 in. (41.3 × 26.8 × 9.0 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on View

This is the first American edition of John Brown’s (1722–1787) popular Self-Interpreting Bible, noted for its famous frontispiece, its list of subscribers, and for being the first Bible printed in New York State. Brown, a Scottish Presbyterian minister, first published his Bible in Edinburgh in 1778, complete with study aids such as annotations and a concordance. The first American edition was published in 1792 with the financial support of more than a thousand subscribers, including President George Washington and Supreme Court Justice John Jay. Its famous frontispiece depicts America personified wearing an Indian headdress and holding the constitution. The personification of liberty stands beside her, while another figure, probably the personification of peace, hands America a Bible.

Printed in 1792 by Robert Hodge and Stephen Campbell, New York. Acquired by 2010 by Christian Heritage Museum, Hagerstown, Maryland; Privately purchased in 2010 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Donated in 2016 to National Christian Foundation (later The Signatry), under the curatorial care of Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

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