[NEW TESTAMENT] Novum […] Testamentum Syriace. Cum versione Latina.

Köthen, [Fürstliche Druckerei], 1621


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. pp. (viii) 843 (i). Large Syriac letter, with Roman, little Italic, Greek or Hebrew. Printer’s woodcut device to t-p, woodcut headpieces. T-p a little dusty, general toning, ink burn affecting a letter to Q1 , another to lower blank margin of 4Z 1 . A good, clean copy in C19 half calf over marbled boards, spine gilt and tooled in blind, repaired at foot, gilt-lettered, all edges blue, corners repaired. Early annotations in Greek, Latin or Syriac to pastedowns and occasionally to text, C19 autograph ‘Henry D.A. Major’ to rear pastedown,ex-libris in Greek letters dated 27 Oct 1844 and bookplate ‘ex bibliotheca Aulae Hrypensis Oxonii’ (Ripon Hall) to front pastedown.

A good, clean copy, in large Syriac typeface, of the first edition of the New Testament prepared by the major orientalist Martin Trost. This is also one of the earliest works produced by Prince Ludwig of Anhalt’s printing press in Köthen. These were part of a series of textbooks for the study of languages produced for a project led by Wolfgang Rietke, a Lutheran education reformer, with the Prince’s support (Ball, ‘Alles’, 391). Rietke also established a school in Köthen, where he resided until 1622. It was whilst working there after a theology degree at Wittenberg, that Trost (1588-1636) published his Syriac New Testament, with the Gospels and Pauline letters. His sources were mainly the editio princeps of the Syriac text (or ‘peshitta’), first published by Alfred Widmanstadt in Vienna in 1555, followed by Tremelli’s 1569 edition, the Antwerp Polyglot (1569-72), Plantin’s 1574 edition and Boderianus’s 1584 polyglot (Darlow & Moule 8958). On each page is a Syriac section with, below, its Latin translation based on Tremelli’s. Trost’s was ‘the first to set the useful example, followed by many […], of giving a complete table of the variations of text, which by this time had become somewhat numerous’ (‘Printed Editions’, 283-84). The early student annotators of this copy, also learned in Hebrew and Greek, often glossed Syriac words with their Latin counterparts—e.g., ‘transgressors’ of the divine law—and even corrected the Latin, e.g., substituting ‘concupiscat illam’ for the more literal ‘adulterium committat cum ea’. This copy was in the library of Henry Dewsbury Alves Major (1871-1961), an Anglican clergyman, born in England, who lived most of his life in New Zealand. As a student at Oxford, he focused on the Synoptic Gospels and their authorship. He was rector of Ripon Hall school for the clergy.

Darlow & Moule 8958; Bircher, Kat. der Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft, 64. Not in BL STC Ger. C17. ‘The Printed Editions of the Syriac New Testament’, Church Quarterly Review 52 (1888), 257-94; G. Ball, ‘Alles zu Nutzen’, in The Reach of the Republic of Letters, ed. A. van Dixhoorn et al. (Leiden, 2008), I, 389-422.
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