2 volumes, royal folio (415 x 285 mm). Collation: (Vol. 1:) [1-58 6-146 158 16-346 3510 366 37-388 39-676 6810]. (Vol. II:) [1-26 38 4-256 268 27-366 376(6+1) 386 (38/6 a cancel) 39-828 8310]. 430 leaves (of 432, without first and last blank leaves) and 506 leaves (of 507, without final blank). 71 lines and headline, double column. Types: 4:160G (headlines and headings), 5:82G (text). forty-three woodcut illustrations and diagrams, of which eight full-page and three half-page, colored throughout by a contemporary hand; 20-line initial space opening text, 3- to 7-line spaces elsewhere. opening page illuminated by a contemporary artist in blue, yellow and green wash, the initial (h) in gold, historiated with the figure of a hunter with crossbow and two animals (a deer and a wolf?), floral and foliate border on two sides; Maiblumen initials throughout in red or blue, the initials at section openings parti-colored red and blue with contrasting red or violet penwork infill, a few also with green, some in vol. 2 historiated with grotesque faces; opening initial in vol. 2 with scrolling filigree extender in red and green; paragraph marks, capital strokes, and underlining in red. A large copy, with deckle edges throughout, and contemporary manuscript quiring in lower center margin on versos of last leaf of each quire. First leaf of vol. 1 with slight marginal staining, vol. 2 first leaf a bit soiled, opening initial partially covered by a patch, fol. II:82/6 with two repaired tears. Modern blind-tooled morocco over wooden boards, by Gerhard Gerlach; index tabs (ends renewed with modern red morocco), vellum manuscript quire guards. Joints badly rubbed; red linen slipcases (rubbed). Provenance: Carthusians of Erfurt, inscriptions at beginning of both volumes (Liber Cartusiae Erphord; Ad Carthusiam Erfordiae pertinet liber iste); New York, General Theological Seminary, blindstamps in first and last pages, bookplates, sale, Christie’s New York, 1 October 1980, lot 35 (to Lathrop Harper). ***
first illustrated edition of possibly the greatest of all Biblical commentaries; fourth edition and the first of six Koberger editions (of which four included the Biblical text). It contains the first appearance of these influential illustrations, but is the only edition with the original woodblocks (see below). This large copy retains most of the deckle edges.
Nicolaus de Lyra’s commentary on the entire Bible was regarded as the definitive Biblical commentary in the Middle Ages. Surviving in at least 800 and probably closer to a thousand manuscripts (some including Postilla on single books or groups of books), it was the first Biblical commentary to be printed (in Rome in 1471-72, by Sweynheym and Pannartz), and remained highly regarded by Luther and throughout the Reformation. Born at Lyre, near Evreux in Normandy, Nicolaus entered the Franciscan convent at Verneuil at the age of 30, and was sent to study at the University of Paris, where he spent the rest of his life. In his Postilla litteralis in vetus et novum testamentum, he stressed the importance of the Scriptures’ literal meaning, which he considered the foundation of all mystical interpretation. Scholars have noted his “astonishingly solid” familiarity with Jewish commentaries on the Bible, notably that of Rashi (Verfasserlexikon). Possibly he studied with Jewish scholars in Evreux; it has also been recently suggested that he may have studied Hebrew in Paris (cf. Klepper).
The critical apparatus of the Koberger edition follows Mentelin’s edition: it contains the important critical Additiones, including approximately 1100 suggestions and corrections, of Paulus de Sancta Maria (Paul of Burgos), the source for the latter’s reputation as an exegete, as well as Matthias Döring’s Replicationes to Paul of Burgos in defense of Nicolaus de Lyra.
The illustrations show the system of the cosmos, the plan of the ark, the vision of Ezechiel, the seven-branched candle, the vestments of the priest Aaron, views of the temple and plans and a view of Jerusalem, a chronometer, a solar quadrant, a genealogical tree of the kings of Syria and Egypt, etc. The larger cuts incorporate xylographic text. Schreiber sniffed that most are only of interest to archeologists. Koberger used reduced copies of the woodblocks for subsequent editions, and they were copied by other printers, including Ulrich Zell in Cologne, and Froben and Amerbach in Basel. The coloring of the cuts in this copy is not the most painstaking, but it appears to be consistent throughout both volumes.
Hain misdescribed this edition as in 3 volumes, having misinterpreted the blank pages in vol. 2 at the end of quire 37 and beginning of quire 38 as a part break. They in fact seem to result from the erroneous imposition onto 38/6 of what should have been page 38/1r, which required that an extra leaf with the correct text on the recto (and verso blank) be inserted at the end of quire 37, and the cancellation of leaf 38/6.
This copy includes none of the variants described in Sajó-Soltész, Catalogus incunabulorum quae in bibliothecis publicis Hungariae asservantur, 2406. ISTC in00135000; GW M26513; Goff N-135; BMC II 419; BSB-Ink N-114; CIBN N-76; Schramm XVII p. 8; Schreiber 4843. Cf. Verfasserlexikon2 6:1117; Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 7:992-993; D. C. Klepper, “Nicholas of Lyra and Franciscan Interest in Hebrew Scholarship,” Krey and Smith, eds., Nicholas of Lyra: the Senses of Scripture (Leiden & Boston 2000), pp. 289-312. Item #3180