Red Letter Bible - 1899, 1901 A.D.

A Collection Exhibit

The First Bible that Emphasized Jesus Christ with Rubrication 

      Rubrication emphasizes text, headings, or lines in a book with red ink.  While the concept was not new and was used throughout the Middle Ages in both manuscripts and print, this was the first time it was explicitly applied for enhanced comprehension of the person of Jesus Christ.  As a result, the printer, Louis Klopsch, made it simpler to distinguish and understand who Jesus was, what he said, and what he did.  Klopsch's first printing was of the New Testament in 1899, and he completed the Old Testament in 1901.  In the New Testament, words spoken by Jesus were highlighted or accentuated in red print.  It begs to question, if the addition of rubrication applied to Jesus, why even print the Old Testament?  Klopsch revealed Jesus in the Old Testament just the same, with red ink, transforming the way Americans read their Bibles.  This OT enhancement made this Bible unique among red print editions, unlike any other.  In the Old Testament, "passages and incidents quoted or referred" to Jesus were printed in red, and "prophecy" references of Jesus are marked with a red star *.  As a result, the rubrication feature became extensively adopted in Bible publishing throughout the 20th century. 

The Holy Bible: Red Letter Edition, 1899 [NT], 1901 [OT], "Teachers' Edition,"

New York: The Christian Herald Press (M.N. Cormack, Supt.), New York City.  Louis Klopsch, Proprietor, Bible House.

(Shown below is the first printing of the complete Bible with Red Letter Edition; Price in 1903 $3.00.)

      Louis Klopsch was born in Lubben, Prussia, on March 7, 1852. He emigrated to America with his Father after his mother’s death in 1853, settling in New York City. Klopsch was a German-American journalist and publisher by trade who married May E. Merritt, daughter of Reverend Stephen Merritt, in 1886. 

      His decisive moment came when he traveled to Europe and the Holy Land with Thomas De Witt Talmage (not his Morman brother, James E. Talmage).  While in England, Klopsch positioned to become the proprietor of Rev. Michael Baxter’s American edition of the religious newspaper, The Christian Herald.  Klopsch experienced tremendous success with this endeavor when he, with consultation from Talmage, published the Red Letter Edition of the Bible after contriving the concept from reading the communion passage, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” having associated the color red with his blood (Luke 22:20).  Klopsch also had close relations with D. L. Moody.

 

For an in-depth look at this Bible, read my essay titled:

Red, More than Meets the Eye

 

"This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you"

Luke 22:20

Insights

      Previously, translators debated whether dominical words should be italicized or encapsulated with quotation marks, and both have been done. However, neither techniques are in the original texts.  Consequently, Klopsch, for the first time, used rubrication to emphasize dominical words that would make it visually stand out.  Klopsch was passionate about Bible distribution, and “he wanted people to read the Bible and understand it- particularly what it says about Jesus Christ.”  He writes, "Modern Christianity is striving zealously to draw nearer to the great Founder of the Faith.  Setting aside mere human doctrines and theories regarding Him, it presses close to the Divine Presence, to gather from His own lips the definition of His mission to the world and His own revelation of the Father.... The Red Letter Bible has been prepared and issued in the full conviction that it will meet the needs of the student, the worker, and the searchers after truth everywhere."  Klopsch further explained, writing...

"Here the actual words, quotations, references and allusions of Christ, not separated from their context, nor in a fragmentary or disconnected form, but in their own proper place, as an integral part of the Sacred Record, stand out vividly conspicuous in the distinction of color. …showing how frequently and how extensively, on the Authority of Christ himself, the authenticity of the Old Testament is confirmed, thus greatly facilitating comparison and verification, and enabling the student to trace the connection between the Old and the New, link by link, passage by passage.

 

…the central figure upon which all lines of law, history, poetry and prophecy converge is Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. He expounded in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself and the Divine plan for man’s redemption… emphasizes this Divine exposition [of Messiah] and personal revelation… making them so clear that even the simplest may understand.  It sheds a new radiance… by which the reader is enabled to trace unerringly the scarlet thread of prophecy."

      Unlike many other self-pronouncing Bibles published, this Bible has extensive pronunciation marks (diacritics, e.g., ˌdaɪəˈkrɪtɪk) right in the text contributing to its proper linguistic enunciation, which is especially useful for applying proper English or teaching use.  What does all this, seemingly gibberish, mean?  Let's learn a bit about pronunciation; it will help us understand why this can be helpful.

PROJECT NOTE: Check back soon; you will be able to access, search, and read this Red-Letter Bible right here once I complete the digital scanning of it. This project will provide accessability and preservation of this Bible. This online digital copy will be the first time this Bible will be available anywhare online and for free, which will also be available on archive.org. It is allot of work and the book is fragile (expected completion about beginning of April 2023) so any contributions would go a long way to helping accomplish this. Please help support the ongoing work here using your credit/debit card through secure sites at: Square or via: Patreon.