BRENZ, Johannes

Catechismus, pia et utili explicatione illustratus

[Frankfurt, Peter Braubach], 1555.

£1000

8vo, pp. [16] 778 [22], aa8 a-z8 A-Z8 Aa-Dd8. Italic letter, some Roman, sporadic Greek. Historiated initials, lacking title-page in black and red with woodcut border. Occasional early marginalia, ms. date “1789” next to colophon (Cc5v). Wormhole to lower gutter throughout, not affecting text. Light soiling and dampstaining to margins. Bookplate of Hungarian lawyer Joannes Sza’sz on aa2v and of notary public Carolus Susich on verso of last leaf. Bound in contemporary blind-tooled pigskin over boards with rolls of personified virtues (faith, hope and justice) framing central panels on covers: on front, Christ on the cross, Moses, John the Baptist and a verse from John’s Gospel underneath (1:29): “Ecce agnus dei qui tollit peccata mundi” (compare with EBDB p002865 on Einbandatenbank), plus owner’s initials “P. A. B.” and date “1560” stamped in black. On the back, Christ resurrected and triumphant defeats Satan represented as a snake, or a dragon symbolising Evil, and a biblical verse (Hosea, 13:14): “ero mors tua o mors” (see EBDB p001637). Re-hinged using remains of a German Gothic bible as pastedowns, paper repairs to upper corner of first two initial leaves, last leaf laid on endpaper. A beautiful binding.

Johannes Brenz (1499-1570) was a “leading church administrator in the first generation of the Protestant Reformation who was responsible for the start of reform in numerous German lands. He became a leading defender of Lutheran Eucharistic doctrine against the Swiss, especially through 11 his articulation of the doctrine of the ubiquity of Christ, an advocate for religious toleration, and a supporter of secular authority over religious matters. His most lasting contribution was a church order that would influence church polity in Germany until the twentieth century […] he also wrote one of the first Lutheran catechisms, which he published in 1527 and saw reprinted in over 500 edition” (see https://reformation500.csl.edu/bio/johannes-brenz/).

One copy in the British Library. Adams (only 1551 edition in 4to format – B2751). Not in Brunet and Graesse. USTC 620390; VD16 B 7566.