Basel, [Froben], 1521


EDITIO PRINCEPS. Folio. pp. (xxviii) 615 (lxix). Roman letter, occasional Italic. T-p by Ambrosius Holbein with woodcut borders of virtues, vices, classical deities and grotesques, repeated on dedication leaf by Hans Franck, and on first text page by Hans Holbein the Younger; large woodcut printer’s device to last leaf of text and index, decorated initials and ornaments. Slight yellowing, t-p a bit dusty, some worming to first and last few gatherings, a couple of ll. slightly browned or foxed. A good, well-margined copy in contemporary German quarter pigskin over wooden boards, scattered worming, one of two clasps, triple blind ruled, rolls with floral decorations in blind, raised bands, old paper labels (worn) to spine, title inked to fore-edge, loss to one corner of lower cover and foot of spine. Ms. ‘Erasmj Schaiblinj U.D. Canonici Hauge[n]sis Emptus Herbip[olis] v non. Julij 1596’ and early C20 bookdealer’s stamp to front pastedown, early ms. casemark to ffep, late C16 ms. ‘Erasmij Schaiblinj Stembachensis ad Caesare[m] SS. Th:[eologiae] Doctoris Herbipolis in Haugis Canonicj’, ‘NB Vide Indicem CC.PP.’, ‘Petrus(?) (?) Clavius anno 84 (?)’, ‘Ex donatione R[everen]di D[omi]ni Erasmi Schaiblini Collegij Soc[ietat]is Jesu Herb[ipolis] A. 1623’, ‘Societ[at]is Jesu Bremae 1654’ and ‘Societatis Jesu Mindae 1668’ to t-p.

A good, clean, well-margined copy of this handsome editio princeps—‘the first impression of the entire works of Tertullian’ (Schoenman, 15), edited by the humanist reformer Beatus Rhenanus (1485-1547). ‘The typographical execution of the volume is worthy of the press from which it issued. It is a book of uncommon occurrence; and, as an editio princeps, it should have a place in all libraries of any critical pretension’ (Dibdin). The handsome woodcut borders were produced by Ambrosius Holbein, Hans Franck and Hans Holbein the Younger, whom Froben had hired especially for his ambitious editions of the Church Fathers. Based on two mss from the monasteries of Peterlingen and Hirschau, edited by Beatus Rhenanus (1485-1547), this edition was revised using a third. (Graesse VI, 69). Tertullian (155-240AD), of whom little is known, was born in Carthage and was probably a lawyer and priest. He became one of the earliest defenders of Christianity against pagan cults like Gnosticism; he was also the first Latin writer to use the word ‘trinity’. This edition includes his sermons on patience, Christ’s flesh, its resurrection, martyrs, penitence, wives and monogamy. It also features his ‘adversus’ against the Jews and the Valentinians, as well as his most famous ‘Apologeticus’, which discusses key theological questions like the nature of Christ and the devil, the kingdom of God, the Roman religion, and why pagan deities should not be considered ‘gods’. One early annotator of this copy was especially interested in ‘Adversus Marcionem’, against the errors of the Marcionites, a middle eastern cult often identified with a strand of the Gnostics. The annotator also glossed Beatus Rhenanus’s commentary on ‘De Poenitentia’, in relation to Protestant criticism of the traditional sacrament, and its theological and scriptural foundations, with observations on confession and penance. He also annotated the sermon on ‘the character of women’, especially their being ‘the gate of the devil, the first to contravene divine law’. In 1596, this copy was purchased in Würzburg, Bavaria, by Erasmus Schaiblin. He was a doctor in theology from Steinbach am Wald, and canon at St Johannes in Haugis, in Wüzburg. He left it to the Jesuit College of Würzburg in 1613, whence it moved to the colleges of Bremen in 1654 and Minden in 1668.

Graesse VI, 69; Dibdin I, 207-8. Not in BM STC Ger.
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