[BIBLE]. Le Nouveau Testament de Nostre Seigneur Jesu Christ

Lyon, par Jean de Tournes, 1551.


8vo. pp. 831 [xlv]. a-z8, A-Z8, aa-gg8, hh6, *8 (hh4-5 blank, hh6 blank but for printers device). Roman letter, side notes and headings in Italic. Tournes woodcut printer’s device on title, woodcut historiated initials, metal-cut ornaments, contemporary manuscript side notes and underlinings in Greek and French in the first 50 pages referring to the translation, with alternatives, inscription at foot of t-p recording, in 1559, the gift of this copy by Justus Jonas to Paul Eber, bookplate with motto “Mente Libera” on pastedown, engraved bookplate of Aubry Vitel on fly, armorial label below. Light age yellowing, very minor spotting in places. A very good copy in stunning contemporary calf à la cire, covers gilt ruled to a panel design, outer panel with gilt ruled interlacing black and white painted scrolled border, inner panel of white and black strap-work with gilt fleurons, around central gilt stamped strap- work oval painted in white, in a border of fine gilt tooling, spine with raised bands, silver gilt in compartments, edges blind ruled, all edges gilt and richly gauffered. Head and tail of spine and extremities of boards very expertly restored, one small hole at joint, paint retouched in places.

A stunning copy of this beautifully printed, rare and important New Testament, in a very fine contemporary Lyon strap-work binding à la cire, containing the Olivétan translation of the New Testament into French, with exceptional and most appropriate contemporary humanist and Protestant provenance. A manuscript inscription on the title page records the gift of this bible by the Protestant humanist Justus Jonas (1493-1555) to the Protestant theologian Paul Eber (1511– 1569). “Justus Jonas (1493-1555), German Protestant reformer, was born at Nordhausen in Thuringia, on the 5th of June 1493. His real name was Jodokus (Jobst) Koch, which he changed according to the common custom of German scholars in the 16th century, when at the university of Erfurt. He entered that university in 1506, studied law and the humanities, and became Master of Arts in 1510. In 1511 he went to Wittenberg, where he took his bachelor’s degree in law. … His great admiration for Erasmus first led him to Greek and biblical studies, and his election in May 1519 as rector of the university was regarded as a triumph for the partisans of the New Learning. It was not, however, until after the Leipzig disputation with Eck that Luther won his allegiance. He accompanied Luther to Worms in 1521, and there was appointed by the elector of Saxony professor of canon law at Wittenberg. During Luther’s stay in the Wartburg Jonas was one of the most active of the Wittenberg reformers. Giving himself up to preaching and polemics, he aided the Reformation by his gift as a translator, turning Luther’s and Melanchthon’s works into German or Latin as the case might be, thus becoming a sort of double of both. He was busied in conferences and visitations during the next twenty years, and in diplomatic work with the princes. .. In 1546 he was present at Luther’s deathbed at Eisleben, and preached the funeral sermon; but in the same year was banished from the duchy by Maurice, duke (later elector) of Saxony. From that time until his death, Jonas was unable to secure a satisfactory living. He wandered from place to place preaching, and finally went to Eisfeld where he died.” Enc. Brit. (1911).

Paul Eber (1511– 1569) a German Lutheran theologian and poet. “a companion of Luther and Melancthon and an eminent Hebrew scholar and theologian, was born at Kissingen, November 8, 1511. In 1526 .. resumed his studies at Nuremberg, and in 1532 he entered the university at Wittenberg. Here he was employed as amanuensis to Melancthon, with whom he became so intimate that he consulted him on all important matters, and hence Eber received the name of Philip’s Repository (Repertorium Philippi). He was also a faithful disciple of Luther. In 1536 he began to lecture on grammar and philosophy, and in 1541 he accompanied Melancthon to the Diet at Worms. In 1544 he was appointed professor of Latin grammar, in 1550 dean of the philosophical faculty, and in 1551 rector of the university. After the death of Forster (1556) he was appointed professor of Hebrew and chaplain to the royal chapel at Wittenberg. These positions he soon changed for others, and in 1559 he was made general superintendent of the electorate and, as doctor of theology, a member of the theological faculty of the university. From this time to’ the day of his death, December 16, 1569, he devoted himself entirely to theology and to the faithful discharge of his duties as general superintendent of the electorate. After the death of Melancthon he was regarded as the head of the university.” The Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature. Eber and Justas Jonas are also closely linked as they were both enlisted by Martin Luther as the principal writers for the new hymn-books; several of their works were later used as cantatas by Bach.

The Olivétan Bible (also known as the Martyrs Bible) was first printed in 1535 and was the work of Pierre Robert, also known as Olivétan, assisted by such scholars as Lefevre D’Etaples. It was the first complete Bible published in French from the original Greek and Hebrew texts. The scholarly manuscript annotations in the first part of the work examine the translation, offering alternatives in French from the Greek. A remarkable copy, beautifully bound, of this important work, with truly exceptional early Protestant provenance.

USTC 5627. Cartier, Bibliographie des éditions des de Tournes no. 187. Chambers, Bibliography of French Bibles. no. 162. Pettegree 5402. Gültlingen, vol. 9, pp. 163, no. 192. Francis Higman, Piety and the people: Religious printing in French, 1511–1551. B 208. O. Douen. Coup d’Oeil sur L’Histoire du Texte de la Bible D’Olivetan 1535-1560. No. XIV, citing this copy. Not in Darlow & Moule.