The Family Bible - 1890 A.D.

A Collection Exhibit

Progress in American Bible Publications:

“The Bible, the Best Book” 

      Many Family Bibles were published during the Gilded Age, whose content contained extra-biblical material from diverse academic sources and scholars.  All this textual information, illustrations, artwork, gilding, and sheer size characterized their work’s ornate designs and encyclopedic knowledge.  These Family Bibles flourished in the 1800s and are significant to American historical publications yet are not without religious and academic scrutiny.  They deserve their place and preservation in history as they increasingly become rare. 

The Pronouncing Edition of the Holy Bible, 1890, "Family Bible,"

A. J. Holman and Company of Philadelphia, PA.  Parallel Authorized Version, Revised version.

      The Family Bible took on a humanistic tone that projected a perspective of the natural and mechanical world.  It introduced the correlations of science and history to the biblical texts yet addressed the 1800s academic difficulties such as evolution, creation, and textual criticism; accordingly, it offered what reconciliation it may of these human concepts by harmonization. 

      As a result, Family Bibles published in the 19th-century includes academic information that reflected American society’s cultural identity of education and family; in addition, as a rare and historical book object, its grandeur production echoes the essence of book history, public history, and that a muse is of culture, wonder, and learning.

        The American economy shifted from agricultural to industrial, and this change impacted the family.  The 19th-century was also marked by many social reforms like slavery and abolition, prohibition and temperance, child labor, and corresponding reforms.  Concerning Bible publications, one such reform was that of the Family Bible, designed to be read in the home circle.  While personal family sir names were often gild labeled on the front cover, special family heritage pages were reserved for the owner to record family births, marriages, and deaths.

"and all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;

and great shall be the peace of thy children."

Isaiah 54:13

      Printed books had been the prevailing means of communication and information for centuries as the radio and TV had not yet been invented.  Thus, the Bible was read fireside in homes and was a primary textbook in schools.  Children were taught the Bible in the home and the emerging public schools.  A 19th-century children's school book titled The Bible the Best Book by Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna reflects the literature that encouraged Bible reading.  The era was characterized by the expanding horizons of education and literacy yet still mostly private and local.  The period’s curriculum included religion and the Bible but sought to understand the natural and mechanical world.  As public education (under government) rose, academia was integrated within the Bible by increased scientific content and textual criticism.  Thus, secular education was increasingly embedded in Christianity as vice versa had been the norm, which primarily worked in symbiosis until a challenge of human origins arose late in the century, ultimately pushing religion and the Bible out of compulsory education.  Decades later, this shift was increasingly imposed upon the curriculum and changed the basis of what education taught concerning human origins and the divine.  Knowledge of humanities is a double edge sword.  Natural humanities attest God created man, while the Edenic sin to "be like God" through acclaimed knowledge elevates man above God.  The Bible says that God will not share His glory.  The commonality of all protestant Family Bibles is that they included the Authorized King James Version (1611), which became a mainstay for the New World for over 100 years and continues after America's bicentennial.  For all its beauty, art, and humanities content, it might have been more beneficial for the publishers to have focused on the history of the Bible and Christian history; nonetheless, it reflected the Gilded age culture, family, and academics.

For more historical background and analysis, get a full-text version here Acrobat .pdf or Play a full audio version here...


Allow a moment for the art galleries to load then click through the pages.

Exploring a virtual reality 3D model of the exhibited Bible.


Its mass and characteristics:

  • Embossed and Gilded Leather Cover. 
  • Gilded images and pages, with metal clasps.
  • Stitched binding.
  • The total size is 13" H  x  11" W  x  5" D.
  • Weight: 15.5 Lb.
  • Two self-pronouncing dictionaries are contained within:  William Smith, LL.D. | Professor S. W. Williams


Download 3D Model (Right click, save link):


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How this 3D model makes one think a bit about science

Humans understand our physical world in 2D and 3D.  Man sees in 2D and can only feel 3D with touch.  With varying shades of light and movement, one can perceive matter (with depth perspectives) in time and space, illustrating 3D visually.  Three-dimensional objects reveal reality in two ways:

  1. First, it connects one to history (people and events).
  2. Understanding how 3D works can make one conscious of the existence of another world or spiritual realm/kingdom that is beyond.  Is there a fourth dimension?  Mathematics calculates that answer to, yes.  It also seems that Jesus Christ also alludes to such, like in John 3:3, and the Bible has references similar to Jesus's vanishing in Luke 24:31 in his "glorified" body.  


4D enigma:  One can imagine how 4D objects, e.g., tesseract or sphere, pass-through space by zooming infinitely in or out, or if passed through a dimensional barrier/plane, they appear to materialize and disappear.  While how such a 4D mechanism can occur in our 3D physical world may still be enigmatic, there are scientific and biblical suppositions.  At the same time, moving in the direction between 3D and 4D or vice versa may be explained as involving the supernatural or a miracle in terms of biblical theology, but together with science, one might explain the visible/invisible mechanism in the natural.  Additionally, the omnipresence of God may be revealed in understanding particle physics.  The discovery of the Higgs boson's subatomic ("God") particle and its relation to the quantum field says that "Only particles that interact with the Higgs field acquire mass," suggesting a mechanism.  Additionally, this "'means that the Higgs field is everywhere.' Its omnipresence is what allows the Higgs field to affect all known massive elementary particles in the entire universe."  


It is interesting to see what happens when the net of a tesseract/hypercube is depicted from the 4th dimension to the 3rd dimension, or vice versa, mathematically.  Watch this 5 min. video to see what happens:  Science reveals how vast, amazing, incredible, and infinite God is, which only looks at one aspect of science.  For another example, where does one begin to explore the science of the resurrection account?  One such object is the Shroud of Turin.  This is what the publishers of the Family Bible sought to accomplish, education of science and religion together, where one sheds light on the other and vice versa.  Here is the latest information on the dating of the Shroud: coupled with recent research: . Here are two videos on 3D Jesus: and .


Public history seeks to function with ethics that are congenial to America’s cultural history and demography.  The 1800s Family Bible is most representative of a “public history Bible” because of its 3D object presentation from its enormous size, embossing, as well as academic and artistic content.  In addition, its cultural impact played a significant role in the family.  This exhibit concludes that this 1890 American Family Bible medium reflects these virtues comparatively.  It includes a section on “Religious Denominations- Their History and Creeds” along with the following historical elements of influence that provide a connection and role to a diverse audience:

  • For secularism, it reflected 19th-century popular culture in family, science education, academics; ornate gilded design and art; literature, and literary textual criticism that included the Revised Version.
  • For Judaism, it gave attention to the Old Testament biblical textual knowledge and corresponding O.T. lithographic illustrations with two-dimensional artistic depictions of Judaism, its history, and information on synagogue and worship.
  • For Orthodox Christianity, it reflected iconism in its lithographic illustrations giving two-dimensional artistic depictions of classical and old-world people, religion, and life.
  • For Catholicism, it included apocryphal books for consideration as additional primary sources of textual knowledge and a photo gallery of statuary that enabled the two-dimensional representation of three-dimensional sculptures of classical and old-world people, religion, and life.
  • For Protestantism, this Bible prominently emphasized family and maintained Scripture as a holy writ and revelatory knowledge.

The above elemental factors coalesced in what became recognized as the “Family Bible” variety of sacred texts in the late 1800s.  While differing elements above began prominently in these many works during the middle of the 19th century, increasingly more informational content was added nearing the latter part of the 1800s.  Catholic varieties of Douay—Rheims Family Bible often were beautifully adorned with an embossed cross on the covers.  The Bible publication examined herein serves as a prime example of the kind of work that had a potential impact on more than a generation of approximately 63+ million people.

For searching text within the Bible viewer below, use the search option to its left (NOT top-right). Holman, the original 1890 publisher, did not print a sequential paging reference throughout the whole book.  The owner attests that the order of the Acrobat PDF paging is exactly according to the printed version of this Bible.  Hover the edge of the pages to view and jump to page numbers; the viewer has a conflicting page numbering sequence that can be ignored. 

Setting the stage: