LUTHER, Martin

LUTHER, Martin. In Esaiam prophetam scholia ex Doctori Martini Lutheri praelectionibus collecta [WITH] Id., Ecclesiastes Solomonis, cum annotationibus Doctori Martini Lutheri

Wittenberg, Excudebat Iohannes Lufft, 1532.

£4500

FIRST EDITIONS. 8vo, two works in one volume: 1) ff. (viii) 264, Aa8 a-z8 A-K8; ff. 2) (iv) 126, (no signature)4 A-Q8. Italic and Roman letter. Title page of first commentary within elaborate border; at foot page, coat of arms of the house of Frederick III, called the Wise, Elector of Saxony and protector of Luther. Early autograph on t-p (perhaps a certain “Christoph. Dimberg” from Wiehe in Thuringia); ms. ex libris on front pastedown, unclear, with shelf mark and other notes. Second title within a classical border decorated with head profiles: a laureate imperial portrait to the top and figures in armour to the foot of the page; verso with full-page annotation in German. Handwritten chapter reference number on top outer corner of pages. Marginal browning and dampstaining, occasional thumb marks and ink spotting, and marginalia throughout. Final leaf with outer corners torn, no text loss. In contemporary German blind-stamped and tooled pigskin over boards with figures and floral motives, catches and remains of clasps.

Two rare first editions of Luther in a contemporary anthology. Luther treats Isaiah and his message as one still relevant for modern times, in fact for all time. The lesson is that God in Jesus Christ comes to the rescue of God’s people in God’s own good time, just as God did to the nation and government of the Jews in Isaiah’s time. Meanwhile, God’s people are to await God’s help in complete confidence and not rely on self-help and on alliances with other men. The great danger then and now, however, lies in humankind’s rebellion against God’s way, for humankind is naturally impatient about waiting for God to do all things well. To God’s invitation that humankind finds strength “in quietness and in trust,” humankind is always under temptation to respond: “No, we will speed upon horses!” Luther bids us learn from Isaiah that we are helped and protected by God as the people of Israel were and that we are also chastened like them when this is necessary. In discoursing on the second half of Isaiah, Luther seems especially concerned about students preparing for the ministry. His central theme, from chapter 40, “The Word of our God will stand forever,” reappears again and again in his commentary, like a bell tolling its purpose. Luther probably felt the need to repeat this message first of all for his own comfort. He admits: “If I had known that the world was so puzzlingly evil, I would never have begun the task of preaching and writing.” Concerning Isaiah’s message he says, “These are words of consolation. Just hold tight, even if you are oppressed and persecuted and your thoughts and conscience trouble you.” As his faith strengthens and solidifies, so Luther encourages his students to hold fast to the same by taking up the work of Christ and warning: “Beware that you do not neglect the Word. It indeed stands firm, but it moves and will be given to others…. Therefore let us prayerfully keep busy with the Word.” In the second volume, the commentary on the Ecclesiastes, Luther offers interpretations of three Old Testament texts that are often poorly translated and often misinterpreted. He gives fresh interpretations of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, calling upon readers to view them as “Solomon’s Economics” and “Solomon’s Politics.” He then offers the reader a line- by-line commentary on 1 Samuel 23:1-7 as an example of simple, clear interpretation that keeps as its goal “to recognise our dear Lord and Saviour clearly and distinctly in Scripture.”

1) Benzing 2985; VD 16, B 4985; Not in Knaake and Jackson; 2) Benzing 2980; VD 16, B 3648; Knaake 671; Not in Jackson.