Opera: LACTANTIUS, Lucius Caecilius Firmianus (c.240-c.320 AD)


LACTANTIUS, Lucius Caecilius Firmianus (c.240-c.320 AD)

Published by Theodorus de Ragazonibus 21 April 1390 [i. e., 1490], Venice, 1390
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
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Folio (285 x 202mm). [148] leaves, including initial blank. Collation: a(8) + 4 leave ms. index, b-r (8), s (6), t (4). Roman and Greek types. 18th-century half calf, morocco label in gilt; (spine ends chipped, cover corners worn through, light dampstain in upper inner corner of front cover; some headlines shaved, light marginal dampstaining at beginning and end, front free endpaper lacking.) Ownership inscription "Liber henria bockholt legu(m) doctoris prepositi ac canonici lubiceii" in the hand of Heinrich Bockholt (1463-1535), Bishop of Lübeck, with cropped early marginalia throughout and a four leaf manuscript index likely in the same hand bound after a8. Armorial bookplate of George Dawson Coleman (1825-1878). Formerly in the collection of Kenneth Rapoport. Extensively annotated incunable copy of Lacantius’ complete works by the last Catholic Bishop, Heinrich Bockholt, of Lübeck before the diocese adopted Lutheranism in 1531, a rare glimpse into his rich studies during the period of the Reformation. Lactantius was an early Christian author and advisor to Constantine I. His Opera contains the seven books of the Divinarum Institutionum (Divine Institutes), which were the first to attempt a systematic exposition of Christian theology in Latin, planned to silence pagan critics. It also includes the books the De Ira Dei (The Wrath of God), De Opficio Dei (The Works of God), and De Phoenice (poem of the Phoenix). Heinrich Bockholt, also Bokholt, Buchholtz, was the last Catholic Prince-Bishop of Lübeck until the city adopted Lutheranism in 1531. This move inhibited Catholic pastoring in the Lübeck diocese and marks a radical change in leadership; Bockholt’s successor was the first Protestant Bishop. Bockholt’s annotations make summaries of Lactantius’ theological content by the adding manicules and succinct memory jogs. Towards the end, in the last part of the Phoenix poem, Bockholt lifts out a quote entirely, perhaps just to highlight is importance, "Utque hominem eriperes es quoque factus homo / Christ, that you might save man, were also made man." This lift may have been meant as a challenge to Lutheran belief, which states within the Trinity, God and the human Christ were one and the same and not separate entities. In the spirit of Lactantius, Bockholt also opposed the "futility of pagan beliefs" in the mounting Lutheran movement, which he saw as a threat to the one true Church. Throughout, Bockholt mentions important philosophers including Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Plato, Pythagoras and Cato in his inscriptions. His annotations are plentiful and were likely executed at the height of his bishopric, at an extremely tense time for the city of Lübeck. Even though it is unfortunate that some marginalia was cropped, the essence of Bockholt’s commentary and thought process is retained. The four-page alphabetical index labeled "Repertorium henrici fagensis in Lactantius" generously cites within the books of the Divine Institutes on some wide-ranging topics of interest, from Academia to Zacharias, to mythological figures, natural science and more. The 19th century owner, George Dawson Coleman (1825-1878), was a Pennsylvania ironmaster and industrialist noted for his patriotism, philanthropy, and wealth. He took a deep interest in the religious welfare of all in his employ and he is remembered for building churches and supporting mission work. Overall a very good incunable copy, well preserved, and with remarkable associations. Bookseller Inventory # D7060

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Opera

Publisher: Theodorus de Ragazonibus 21 April 1390 [i. e., 1490], Venice

Publication Date: 1390

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

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