Paupers' Bible


This Biblia pauperum (Paupers' Bible) consists of a series of woodcuts depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments, which are combined with short explanatory texts printed with metal type. Central scenes from the life of Christ are juxtaposed with two corresponding scenes from the Old Testament accompanied by four prophets, thus dramatizing fulfillment of the Old Testament in the New. With its memorable images, the work might have served as an aid for the instruction of laymen or members of the lower clergy financially unable to purchase a complete Bible. The first edition of the Biblia pauperum to combine woodcuts with text printed with moveable type was produced in Bamberg in the printing workshop of Albrecht Pfister (circa 1420–circa 1470), one of the earliest printers to publish books illustrated with woodcuts. The integration of pictures into printed text was initially a very difficult task. Pfister’s edition of the Biblia pauperum combined text and illustration in one printing form, thus making the printing process faster and easier. As a consequence, woodcuts came to replace pen drawings in illustrated books intended for religious edification or for practical purposes. Such illustrations previously had been copied by hand.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Bamberg, Germany


Title in Original Language

Biblia pauperum



Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

18 sheets : color illustrations


  • BSB shelfmark: Rar. 4

Last updated: April 29, 2015