Bibel das ist alle Bucher Alts und News Testaments ach alter in Christlicher kyrchen gehabter translation mit auslegung ettlicher dunckeler ort vn besserung vieler verruckter wort und spruche so bisher in andern vorhin ausgangen Teutschen Bibeln gespurt und gesehen.

Köln, Johann Quentel, 1550.


Folio. Two vols. in one. Ff. [xii] cccclxij cxxxviij. Gothic letter, double column. Both titles within elaborate woodcut borders depicting biblical scenes, many small column width woodcut illustrations, a larger more elaborate suite used in the Apocalypse, large gothic woodcut initials, “ad P.P. Franciscanos Ingolstadii.” with shelf mark at head of title, notes in an early nineteenth century hand with drawings in pencil loosely inserted in text, notes in the same hand with biblical drawings on both pastedowns. First two leaves restored at inner margin, light marginal water-staining in places, light age yellowing with a little browning and spotting, the occasional marginal mark or spot. A good copy in contemporary German pigskin over thick bevelled wooden boards, covers blind ruled to a panel design, outer panels filled with heads in medallion roll, central panel blind ruled to a lozenge form with foliated blind rolls, blind stamps to corners and centre, spine with blind ruled raised bands, covers worn and scratched, later brass clasps, early repairs to lower cover using blind-stamped pigskin from other bindings, spine with small tear restored. Curious designs to upper edges comprising 2 circles, one depicting the instruments of the passion and the other a face(?), partly erased initials or monogram in between.

Rare third edition of Dietenberger’s translation, based on the Vulgate, of the Bible into German, charmingly  illustrated; early editions of this important Catholic translation into German are rare. “Dietenberger’s Bible was printed by Peter Jordan at Mainz in 1534, appearing a few months before the first complete Wittenberg Bible. At first it could hardly hold its own against the genuine Lutheran version, and new editions of it were rare (1540 and1550 only). But in the period of the Counter-Reformation, when the purchase and possession of Lutheran Bibles were heavily punished, it served as a kind of substitute for the real thing – doubtless because of its close adherence to the text and style of the linguistically successful Lutheran version. In consequence it found a considerable market, then and in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the second half of the sixteenth century alone it was reprinted at Cologne no less than seventeen times.”. S. L. Greenslade “The Cambridge History of the Bible: Volume 3, The West from the Reformation”.

“This work, repeatedly corrected, especially by Caspar Ulenberg (Cologne, 1630) and the Jesuit theologians of Mainz (1661), was destined to become for the German people “Die Katholische Bibel”, a title bespeaking its excellence. Dietenberger has been frequently charged with having purloined Luther’s version. True, he used freely the New Testament of Emser (1527), of whom Luther was wont to say that “he had ploughed with his heifers”; he used likewise other translations compiled in pre-Reformation times, and so did Luther. These facts may account for many similarities; moreover, he was well acquainted with the versions of Luther and of Leo of Juda, and confessedly profited by them to improve his own.” Catholic Encyclopaedia.

The woodcuts in this edition are charming, especially those of the title borders. “Johann Quentel made a somewhat awkward adaptation of this (Woensam) border for the title page of the 1550 printing of Johann Dietenberger’s (1475-1537) German New Testament (third edition). Dietenberger’s translation was first issued in 1534 and went through fifty-eight editions to become the premiere Catholic Bible in the German language for two centuries. Quentel’s addition to the Woensam title border (here on the New Testament) was a new (and a bit too large) upper panel that depicted Jesus’ transfiguration. In the scene Moses and Elijah appear in the clouds above Jesus, and Peter, James, and John below. God reigns above all and bears the globus cruciger in his left hand, declaring in Latin, “This is my beloved son, listen to him.” Here, the transfiguration of Jesus (head) and the story of redemption through Christ (base) bracket those who wrote the New Testament books and interpreted them for the church through the centuries. This provides, therefore, the hermeneutical key for understanding the New Testament: Christ supersedes the authorities of the Old Testament and has redeemed humanity, as those who recorded his witness, interpreted it for the church, and confessed it through their devotion.” M. Patrick Graham. ‘Framing Books and Reading: An Exploration of Sixteenth Century Title Borders.’

BM STC Ger. C16th. USTC 616419. Darlow and Moule 4200. (1st edn. only)