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Rare Bibles: The Phonetic N.T. Bible (1848)

The Styberg Library has a special collection of rare Bibles. This guide features some of the ones that are within the collection.


In 1848, Dr. Andrew Comstock, M.D., a physician and professor of elocution, created his “Fonetik” New Testament. His phonetic alphabet was meant to help his students speak better, particularly those with speech impediments. In Comstock’s words, his translation of the Bible was “translated out of the original Greek, and with the form translations diligently compared and revised.” Comstock claimed that his phonetic alphabet was the best of the seven known to exist at that time, and his hope was that his translation would also aid in the evangelism of those for whom English was not their native tongue, particularly “the heathen.” According to Dr. Paul Keen, this is a very rare first edition. Within the text, there is a table that explains the alphabet and the sounds that the characters are meant to make.