A RARE SAMMELBAND IN FINE BINDING

Leitourgiai tōn hagiōn paterōn [Λειτουργίαι τῶν ἁγίων πατέρων] (with) Litvrgiae sive Missae Sanctorum Patrum.

Paris, apud Guil. Morelium, 1560.

£4,750

FIRST EDITIONS (some texts in EDITIONES PRINCIPES). Folio. pp. (iv), 179, (i); pp. (x), 212. Two works in one, separate t-p to each. First Greek letter; second, Roman and Italic. Ruled in red throughout. First t-p with Robert Estienne’s caduceus device, second with Guillaume Morel’s (Greek letter ‘theta’ entwined by two serpents, cupid holding a flaming torch sitting on the crossbar), first with C19 marginal stamp of a seminary library, variable age browning throughout. Good, generally uncut copies in contemporary natural morocco, richly gilt central arabesques and corner pieces to cover, edges triple ruled in gilt, brass bosses to covers (two lacking). Spine in seven compartments, gilt ornaments, casemark on paper labels at foot, all edges richly gilt, ‘Missae. SS. Patrum. Iacobi AR Basil. et Chris.’ inked or ink-stamped on fore-edge, almost the same gilt stamped to lower cover. Upper, English style clasp, lower missing. C19 shelfmark on pastedown.

Two rare Greek and Latin editions of the most influential writings of the Church Fathers on Divine Liturgy, which address fundamental theological questions concerning the Eucharist and the rites of the Mass in the Eastern Churches. These editions engaged, through philology and a Humanist return ad fontes, with contemporary debates on orthodox liturgy against the attacks of the Reformation. The principles of transubstantiation and the rites of the Catholic mass, among others, had been questioned by Protestants and recently reaffirmed by the Council of Trent.

 The collection, which contains some editiones principes in Greek, opens with the Antiochene and Byzantine liturgies of St James, Basil the Great, and John Chrysostom. These are accompanied by commentaries on the mystery of the Eucharist (Dionysius the Areopagite), transubstantiation (Justin the Martyr, Gregory of Nyssa, and John of Damascus), the function of the priest’s blessing in the communion (Marcus of Ephesus), and mystical contemplation (Germanus of Constantinople), as well as by responses to early detractors (Nikolaos of Methone and Samon de Gaza). The Latin edition contains additional texts: a preface on the meanings of ‘leitourgia’ and ‘missa’, an interpretation of Nicholas Kabasilas’s writings on liturgy by the Catholic Humanist Gentian Hervetus, translations of Maximus the Confessor’s commentary on the signs of the communion and of Cardinal Bessarion’s observations on the Eucharist, and John Chrysostom’s examination of the rites of the mass, annotated by the theologian Claudius De Sainctes.

 The beautiful text in ‘Grecs du rois’ style is based on the typeface designed by Claude Garamond for Robert Estienne, ‘the King’s printer in Greek’. Although Estienne’s device is present on the title page of the Greek edition, both volumes were printed in the same year by Guillaume Morel, royal typographer since 1555, who had been entrusted with Estienne’s blocks, decorative initials and headers. As stated on the Greek title page, Morel’s editions were originally intended as stand-alone works. This finely printed volume in an elegant binding is an uncommon example of composite copies of these rare texts.

1) USTC 152948; STC French 6. f. 12; 692. f. 6 (2) (impf.). Not in Brunet, Dibdin, Legrand, or Graesse.

2) USTC 404341; Graesse IV, 224; STC French 3395 g. I. Not in Brunet, Dibdin, or Legrand.

L2173

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