POLISH PROTESTANT IMPRINTS UNRECORDED IN US OR UK
Catechesis Ecclesiarum. (with) Warhafftige Erklerung aus grundt der Heiligen schrifft von des Herren Jesu Christi Gottheit. (and) Examen, Welche die sint die da verleucknen Jesum…Raków, [S. Sternacki], 1609; [Raków, S. Sternacki, c.1612]; [Raków, S. Sternacki, c.1610]
FIRST EDITION thus of first, FIRST EDITION of third. 12mo. 3 works in 1. I: pp. (xii) 317 (vii), last blank; II: 48 unnumbered ll., A-D12; III: ff. 66 unnumbered ll., A-E12 F6 I: Roman letter, with Italic. II and III: large Gothic letter. Decorated initials and ornaments, I: title within charming woodcut border with grotesques, saints and small arms (of Sachsen-Lauenburg?). Light age yellowing, early divide mark inked to fore-edge, I: ffep slightly adhering at gutter of title, with minor loss to lower border, L10-11 fore-edge expertly restored, just touching chapter heading at upper outer corner, III: very lightly browned, rear fep slightly adhering at gutter on last verso. Excellent, clean copies covered with a Germanic rubricated vellum breviary leaf c.1400 over pasteboards, lacking ties, yapp edges, later eps, early shelfmark inked to spine, a little soiled and scuffed. Ms. ‘Racov. 1593’ [but incorrect] and ‘2’ inked at foot of second title in an early hand, occasional early marginalia and underlining to first work.
Excellent, clean copies of these important Latin and German works on Socinianism, printed by Sebastian Sternacki in Raków, Poland. A major theological centre, Raków hosted a community of Polish Brethren, the Arian (anti-trinitarian) minority of the Reformed Churches in Poland, who, in 1562-5, had abandoned Calvinistic doctrines to follow those of Lelio (1525-62) and Fausto (1539-1604) Sozzini. Fausto spent 30 years in Poland; his preaching led to the Brethren embracing Socinian unitarianism. The son-in-law of the Krakow printer Rodecki, Sternacki moved the press to Raków c.1600; there he continued to focus on the printing of theological works, read and sponsored by the Polish Brethren’s renowned Racovian Academy. ‘The Raków press published works of the leading Arian theologians […]. They found their way in large numbers to western Europe. Textbooks for the Raków school were also printed and used so well that little remains’ (Swiderska, p.208). Vernacular editions are similarly scarce.
Sozzini’s influential and posthumous ‘Racovian Catechism’ is here found in its first Latin edition. First published in Polish (1608) and German (1609), ‘Catechesis Ecclesiarum’ became ‘the flag-bearer of Socinian doctrines’ (Kawecka-Gryczowa, p.102). It focused, in the form of questions and answers, on major controversial points such as Christ’s divine nature and the interpretation of John 1. The scandalous dedication to James I of England led Lord Cecil to order his agents in Poland to seize copies before they left the press (Kawecka-Gryczowa, p.103). Nevertheless, the work enjoyed great popularity in England, where it was even published with a false Raków imprint in the 1620s.
The second (‘Warhafftige’) and third (‘Examen’) works have no imprint. ‘Warhafftige’ appears in Estreicher’s ‘Bibliografia Staropolska’ and VD17 attributes it to Sternacki, c.1612. ‘Warhafftige’ and ‘Examen’ share the same type, which appears to match some of the Gothic used by Sternacki in the 1600s-10s. Indeed, nearly half the works printed by Sternacki also bear no imprint (Kawecka-Gryczowa, p.102). Both were intended as pocket-size introductions to the Socinian creed for a German-speaking readership. Attributed to Valentinus Smalcius (1572-1622), who became leader of the Socinian church c.1610, ‘Warhafftige’, here in the second edition, first appeared in Raków in 1593. Part I explains basic Socinian doctrines; Part II connects them to the Scriptures; and Part III counteracts 6 theological objections. ‘Examen’ is falsely attributed to the German theologian Joachim Stegmann (1595-1633), rector at the Racovian Academy. It discusses the doctrines of the Polish Brethren, with painstaking reliance on scriptural passages, and opposes those of the ‘false teachers’ and of Christians, both Catholics and Protestants, who do not follow the true faith.I: KU, Newberry and Columbia copies recorded in the US. Estreicher XIV, pp.92-3; Kawecka-Gryczowa, Ariańskie oficyny, n.90. II: No copies recorded in the US or UK. Estreicher XXVIII, pp.285-6; VD17 23:650182K (as Raków imprint); Kawecka-Gryczowa, Ariańskie oficyny, n.61 (1593 Raków ed., but this ed. said to be not from Raków). III: No copies recorded in the US or UK. VD17 7:719423X. Not in Estreicher or Kawecka-Gryczowa. A. Kawecka-Gryczowa, Ariańskie oficyny wydawnicze Rodeckiego i Sternackiego (1974); H. Swiderska, ‘Socinian Books with the Raków Imprint in the British Library’, British Library Bulletin, 8 (1982), pp.206-17.