ESTIENNE, Robert. Ad censuras theologorum Parisiensium.

[Geneva], Robert Estienne, 1552.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. 255, [1]. Italic letter, little Roman. Woodcut printer’s device to title, early ms ownership erased below, marginal small ink splashes to first ll., light age yellowing. A good copy in modern calf, C17 ms ‘Ex libris Theodori Jansoni Almeloveen’ and shelfmark ‘o.2.2.’ to title.

A good copy of the first edition of this important treatise on theology, biblical interpretation, and the printing of the Scriptures. Robert Estienne (1503-59) took over the family press after the death of his father, Henri, with the same attention for detail and philological accuracy. Robert turned Protestant later in life, and printed the bible several times, with additional commentaries, harshly criticised by Catholic theologians. In 1552, he fled to Geneva to escape their censorship and print more freely, with the assistance and support of other Protestant refugees. ‘Ad censuras’ – ‘Against the censorship of Parisian theologians’ – was published as an apologia of his printing of the Scriptures during the previous decades. The work begins with a summary of the discord with the Sorbonne theologians, who became especially keen to censure his work only in the 1540s, e.g., with a ban on his 1546 bible. The theologians’ main concerns were that ‘the annotations, summaries and indexes contained a high proportion of heretical propositions and that the text of the Vulgate as commonly received had at some points been modified’ (Armstrong, p.200). ‘Ad censuras’ proceeds to answer the theologians’ criticism of 1547, point by point, passage by passage, providing the printed version, the ‘censura’ (e.g., ‘heretical annotation, clearly Lutheran’) and his own defense, in a tour-de-force of theology and philology. He also argues against later censorship connected with the Index of Prohibited Books, refuting that his publications should be considered ‘first’ or ‘second class’, hence censored. No other earlier eds were printed, except the French translation. An important document for the history and methods of ecclesiastical censorship, and a snapshot of scriptural exegesis, Catholic and Protestant, in the mid-C16.

Theodorus Janssonius van Almeloveen (1657-1712) was professor at Harderwijk and the author of the first bio-biography of the Estiennes, ‘De vitis Stephanorum’ (1683).

Harvard, Columbia, UNC, Newberry, Illinois, Bancroft, Kansas, SMU and other copies recorded in the US. USTC 450398; Gilmont 1896; Renouard 81:5. E. Armstrong, Robert Estienne (1552).
Stock Number: L1799 Categories: , , ,