In luculentum et sacrosanctum Evangeliu domini nostri Iesu Christi secundum Lucam, Commentariorum lib. IX. (with) In divinum Iesu Christi nostri Evangelium secundum Ioannem, Commentariorum libri X.


Zurich, Christoph Froschouer, 1546 and 1543.



FIRST EDITIONS. Folio. 1) ff. (x), 147, (i); 2) ff. (xviii), 223. Two works in one, separate t-p to each. Roman and Italic letter. Titlepages with Froschouer’s charming printer’s device, one 1/8 page attractive woodcut with supernatural celestial signs, woodcut initials throughout. Light intermittent age yellowing, water stains to upper margin, ink mark to fore-edge of first few leaves, the odd marginal thumb mark, handwritten C16 slip note, extensive marginalia and inscriptions by Friedrich von Salis-Samedan and Lucius Papa on first t-p and throughout, casemark ‘A. n° 25’ on first t-p. Very good, well-margined copies in C16 Swiss blindstamped pigskin over wooden boards, blind-tooled triple border and fleurons, metal clasps, a bit soiled, ‘Bul:In:Luc:et:Ian’ and ‘25’ painted on fore-edge, minor joint cracks, small hole to bottom, von Salis-Samedan’s ms. ex libris on front pastedown and first t-p.

Rare, finely printed first editions of these important Reformed theological commentaries on the Gospels of Luke and John. Heinrich Bullinger (1507-1575) was an influential Swiss theologian, follower of Martin Luther and the successor of Zwingli as head of the Zurich church. A prolific writer, Bullinger published on theology, history, and biblical chronology. He also contributed to the First and Second Helvetic Confessions, which established the foundational principles of the Reformed churches of Switzerland. Beautifully written in the best Protestant Humanist scholarship, Bullinger’s commentaries to Luke and John feature learned explanations to passages from the Gospels, assisted by printed marginalia. An attractive woodcut in the commentary to John illustrates the apocalyptic celestial signs witnessed in Neustria in 1527. It shows a hand holding a sword, a three-pointed comet, spears, daggers, flames, and bearded heads surrounded by clouds. The woodcut is a much finer copy of the influential original in Peter Creuzer’s ‘Auslegung Peter Creutzers, […] über den erschrecklichen Cometen’, the most famous account of the event, which Bullinger quotes as a source.

 The remarkable provenance of these copies is traceable to the Swiss canton of Graubünden. The first owner was Friedrich von Salis-Samedan (1512-1570), a scholar, diplomat, defender of the Reformation, and a friend of Bullinger. On the first titlepage, he recorded purchasing the book in 1547, for one crown and ten kreutzer, at the market on St Paul’s day (February 10) in Chur. He also noted the dates in which he read specific parts, some verse by Francesco Filelfo, and a German prayer. In 1612, the copy was in the library of the Swiss reformer and pastor Lucius Papa (1566-1632). He wrote on a margin that on September 13 he began preaching the Gospel of John in his church in the city of Samedan, not far from Chur. Papa was in touch with Johannes, son of Friedrich von Salis-Samedan, who probably gave him his father’s volume. As Reformed readers, both had a special interest in sections illuminating the theology of the sacraments (Christ’s baptism and last supper), the interpretation of the divine word (his preaching in Galilee), and the figure of Christ as man and son of God (his trial in front of Pilate).

Their rich marginalia include observations on the culture and history of Graubünden. Von Salis-Samedan annotated Bullinger’s rejection of the superstitious Catholic practice of burying the dead in consecrated ground with the words ‘wie zu Chur ietzt an der Scaletta’ (‘as [it is] now in Chur in the Scaletta’). In 1529, Chur had been among the first cities in Switzerland to follow the reformed rites and move its cemetery from the parish church to an area outside the city gates called Scaletta. Bullinger sometimes used German phrases for greater emphasis. In the commentary to Luke, he mentioned the proverb ‘über ein ding ston / und über ein ding kommen’ (‘To stand over something [is] to overcome it’), to which Lucius Papa added ‘Et nos Rheti et stosünque’ (‘And we Rhaetic peoples also [say] stosün’). Papa was deeply interested in Romansch, the native language of Graubünden originally derived from Celto-Rhaetic dialects. Although the city of Chur had abandoned Romansch for German by the end of the C15, poems, plays, and translations of the Bible into regional varieties of Romansch began to appear in the surrounding areas in the early C16. By the early C17, most Romansch texts, including some written by Lucius Papa, focused on biblical translations and religious controversies of the Counter-Reformation. Papa is now considered an important representative of early Romansch literature.  


The attractive binding was probably made in Graubünden.


1)Princeton Theological Seminary and Harvard copies recorded in the US. None in the UK.
Adams B3225. Not in BM STC German, Brunet, or Graesse.
2) Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Concordia Seminary, and Harvard copies recorded in the US. Cambridge in the UK.
Adams B3228. Not in BM STC German, Brunet, or Graesse.



Print This Item Print This Item