A plaine discouery of the whole Reuelation of Saint Iohn: set downe in two treatises .. Whereunto are annexed certaine oracles of Sibylla.
Edinburgh, Printed by Robert Walde-graue, printer to the Kings Majestie, 1593.
FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. [xvi], 269, [xi]. A-S⁸, T⁴. Without first, blank except for “A”, variant with first setting; B1r line 4 has “euidentlie”. Roman letter, some Italic. Title within multi-part woodcut border, figures of Peace and Love at sides, full page arms on verso of King James VI and his wife Anne of Denmark with their crests, floriated woodcut initials, woodcut and typographical head-pieces,. Title slightly dusty with small stain at head, minor marginal thumbing on a few leaves at beginning and end, the odd mostly marginal small waterstain, very minor spotting in places. A very good copy in handsome morocco, circa 1900, covers double gilt and single blind ruled to a panel design fleurons to outer corners, spine with gilt ruled raised bands double gilt ruled in compartments, edges gilt ruled, inner dentelles gilt, a.e.g. extremities fractionally rubbed.
Rare first edition of John Napier’s major theological treatise, the work he considered his most important: “The Plaine Discovery is an important text for anyone with an interest in Napier and his works because it explains the faith that governed his intellectual, public, and private lives. His hopes and fears, and those of his audiences, were reflected in the book, and the first shoots of his interest in mathematics that blossomed two decades later in the logarithms may be seen” Alexander Corrigan, ‘The Life and Works of John Napier.’ It was his writing on a non mathematical subject that first brought Napier to public notice in this book criticising Catholicism. In 16th Century terms, and in post Reformation Scotland, the book proved to be a best seller and was translated into a number of other languages. Although the title-page is dated 1593, Napier’s “Episle Dedicatorie” is dated “the 29. Daye of Ianuar. 1593” i.e. 1594, as Scotland adopted 1 January as New Years Day in 1600.
“Napier’s life, personality, worldview and mathematical achievements cannot be understood fully unless one understands something of this, his first published work. In the early modern period, Christianity provided people in Europe and the British Isles with a framework for understanding oneself, the rest of humanity, the universe, and everything in it. The Plaine Discovery is an important text for anyone with an interest in Napier and his works because it explains the faith that governed his intellectual, public and private lives. His hopes and fears, and those of his audiences, were reflected in the book, and the first shoots of his interest in mathematics that blossomed two decades later in the logarithms may be seen. .. John Napier is best known today for his invention of logarithms. He was better known in his own time for this work of biblical criticism. Later in his life Napier himself regarded this work (his first) as more important to the world than his invention of logarithms. The work had many editions and was translated into several foreign languages. All Napier’s scientific works were written in Latin, but to make this book more accessible to the common man, it was published in English. … The first half of this work consists of 36 propositions and his proofs (the second half deals with each verse of the book in order). Most of these propositions are simply his interpretations of various Biblical statements. The first, for example, indicates that where the Bible indicates a period of time, it often means something else (day really means year in some contexts, weeke of years means seven years, yeare of yeares means 360 years, etc.). … Napier appends his interpretation of certain Oracles of Sibylla to bolster his earlier conclusions from the Book of the Revelation of St. John.” Erwin Tomash.
A very good copy of this rare work.
ESTC S113080. STC 18354. Tomash & Williams N6. Aldis 242. Macdonald, Napier, p.109.