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JOHN, Saint, DIEU, Lodewijk, ed

FROM YALE’S FIRST GRADUATE

Gelyānā dhe-Yūḥannān Ḳaddīshā. Id est, Apocalypsis Sancti Johannis.

Leiden, ex typographia Elzeviriana, 1627.

£4,500

Small 4to. pp. (xx) 211 (i). Syriac, Hebrew, Greek and Roman letter, quadruple columns. Woodcut architectural t-p, title in red and black, printer’s device to verso of last, woodcut initials. T-p and fore-edge a bit dusty, slight browning or light marginal spotting, light water stain to upper outer blank corner, heavier to last five gatherings, fore-edge of last two ll. slightly frayed. A perfectly acceptable copy in contemporary English sprinkled calf, double blind ruled, crude reback c1900, modern eps, a bit rubbed. C18 ownership inscriptions of Nathaniel Chauncey and E[lizur] Goodrich to t-p, occasional C18 marginalia (probably in the same hand) in English, Latin and Hebrew.

A fascinating witness to the theological and academic culture of C17 New England. Printed in Leiden in 1627, this copy was brought to England and bound there, not long afterwards. It was in the rich theological library of Rev. Nathaniel Chauncey, graduate of Harvard in 1661, and pastor at Hatfield, CT. It is present in the ms. inventory of his library (Beinecke, GEN MSS 488, fol. 2r), dating c.1679-81, as ‘Scaliger’s Apocalypsis’, with its purchase price of 1s. After his death in 1685, Nathaniel’s namesake son was raised by his uncle, Israel Chauncey, who received access to his late brother’s library as a reward. Israel educated the young Nathaniel and helped establish Yale College (Mathews, ‘Descendants’, 436). This copy passed to Nathaniel, who, in 1702, became the first graduate at Yale College, before becoming the first pastor of Durham’s Congregational church in 1718. He died there in 1756, and was succeeded (probably including his library) in 1755 or 1756, by Rev. Elizur Goodrich (Rubin, ‘Perishing Heathens’, x), himself a Yale graduate, whose name appears on the t-p (though we have not been able to ascertain the hand), just below Nathaniel’s.

Remarkable copy of the editio princeps of the Apocalypse in Syriac—a ‘very careful, conscientious and scholarly’ edition, still in use (Hall, ‘Syriac Apocalypse’, 134). It was edited by the Dutch minister and important orientalist Lodewijk (or Louis) de Dieu (1590-1642) from a ms. bequeathed by Joseph Scaliger to the library of the University of Leiden. The ‘Apocalypse’ did not form part of the Syriac New Testament in any of its versions (Peshitto, Harklensian, Jerusalem or Curetonian). This edition features, in four columns, the Syriac text, the text transliterated into Hebrew (with vocalization), a Latin translation of the Syriac and the customary Greek text (Hall, ‘Syriac Apocalypse’, 134-35). The learned, early English-speaking annotator of this copy—Nathaniel Chauncey Sr?—was familiar with Syriac and Hebrew and underlined the editor’s identification of the copyist in Scaliger’s ms. He also added a note on the Emperor Nero, mentioned on p. 1, and remarked on the Hebrew translation of the letters to the Seven Congregations.

Willems 289; Copingen 1310. B.J. Mathews, Descendants of Gov. Thomas Welles of Connecticut (Wethersfield, 2013), I, 436; J.H. Rubin, Perishing Heathens (Lincoln, 2017); I.H. Hall, ‘The Syriac Apocalypse’, Journal of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis 2 (1882), 134-51.

L3463