Oldest Middle Dutch rhymed bible on display in Brussels


The world’s oldest Dutch-language illustrated Bible will be on show for everyone to admire at the museum of the Royal Library (KBR) in Brussels.

The artefact is a so-called Rhymed Bible and is the very first adaptation of the Bible into the language that eventually evolved into the Dutch that is spoken today. This rhymed bible is a translation and adaptation of the Historia scholastica of Petrus Comestor.

This Bible was penned by Jacob van Maerlant, a Flemish poet who lived in the 13th century AD. He was one of the most famous and prolific Middle Dutch authors ever, according to the Royal Library.

Not only who penned this work makes it so special, according to the KBR, but also the “extremely luxurious character” of the handwriting and the “high artistic level” of the illustrations that van Maerlant added to the work make it a true masterpiece.

The bible underwent extensive conservation treatment starting in 2014.

Did you know that Jacob van Maerlant’s initial specialty was chivalric romances but that he later moved away from works of fiction?

Your interest in reading about this historical piece of work speaks volumes, so from 23 May, head on over to the Mont des Arts in Brussels and take a look at van Maerlant’s masterpiece for yourself.