ANGELS AND THE COUNTER-REFORMATION

Trattato della natura de gl’angeli.

Florence, Bartolomeo I Sermartelli, 1576.

£1,650

FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. (xxiv) 221 (iii). Roman letter, little Italic. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. T-p and first somewhat dust-soiled, lower blank margin of former repaired, marginal ink (wine?) stain to a few ll., tiny worm trail to outer margins of a few gatherings, the odd marginal mark. A good copy in slightly later vellum over boards, gilt lettered label to spine, early purchase record to front pastedown, ex-libris Rebano Cughi (?) and Matthaeus Theobaldus, Vicenza 1809 and ms. shelfmark to t-p.

Good copy of an influential Renaissance treatises on ‘angelology’. Giovanni Maria Tarsia (fl. 1564-1607) was a Florentine priest and man of letters of whom little is known. His ‘Trattato’ contributed to Counter-Reformation debates on the nature and function of angels as spiritual beings, messengers and guardians. A wide-ranging study, ‘Trattato’ uses religious authorities to present a thorough examination of the theology of angels. It discusses the degree to which angels can be physiologically assimilated to humans—do they speak or eat?—their creation, intellect, heavenly hierarchies and communication with God, their function as ‘assistants’ or ‘envoys’, and their similarity to demons who were originally fallen angels. Whilst Protestants did not deny the existence and guarding function of angels—with Calvinists being a little less accommodating than Lutherans—nevertheless, they did not believe in their worship nor did they consider their nature a theological issue in need of extensive study—a view which ‘Trattato’ opposed masterfully. 

Only Folger, Illinois and UCLA copies recorded in the US.

BM STC It., p. 658; Graesse VII, 29. Not in Brunet or Adams.

L2855

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