Title: Opus eruditissimum, in quinq[ue] libros ...
Publisher: Eusebius Episcopius & heirs of his brother Nicolaus, Basel
Publication Date: 1571
Book Condition: Very Good+
8vo (165 x 104mm). , 621,  pages, including final leaf with printer’s device of the word ‘EPISCOP.’ (Episcopus) separated by stork surmounting bishop’s crozier on verso. Edited by Desiderius Erasmus; revised by Johann Jacob Grynaeus. Contemporary calf over wooden boards with blind-stamped arabesque centerpiece on covers, brass catches, lacking clasps, rebacked, spine gilt labeled "IRENAEI HAERESES 1571"; (front joint cracked but cords intact; dark stain on opening leaves, paper cracks and small holes in title not affecting text, some light dampstaining in hinge toward end). 17th-century signature of ‘Ro[bert] Baillie’ to title, ("the famous Covenanter" according to pencil note on front endpaper). 19th-century ‘Chiesa Libera’ stamp on title; and pictorial bookplate of Douglas and Mildred Horton (dated 1962) to front pastedown. Reverend Dr. Douglas Horton married Mildred (née McAfee) in 1945 who was a prominent female captain in the United States Naval Reserve and later the president of Wellesley College. Irenaeus’ theological treatise, written c. 180, attacked contemporary Christian heresies, particularly Gnosticism and the system devised by Valentinus (c. 100-c. 160). Irenaeus’ treatise also supported the idea that bishop’s maintained apostolic ties to the era of Christ and that a bishop was the best guide to understanding scripture. Given the very bishop-centric message of this work, perhaps it is not curious at all that the Episcopius press expressed interest in printing it (In Latin, Episcopus is bishop). It was not until the 16th century that Irenaeus’ Opus eruditissimum was widely disseminated, first published in Latin by Froben of Basel in 1526 and in the original Greek in 1570. Erasmus famously edited this Latin edition, which appeared a year after the first Greek. In it, he removed two annotations, which referred to baptism and purgatory and also corrected a passage concerning the fault of Adam. The text itself is a new translation of the first book with an extensive dedication to the Basel Mayor Bernhard Brand and the founder of the Basel Reformed Orthodoxy Church, Johann Jacob Grynaeus. Irenaeus’ Opus appears in 10 editions before this one, published in both Basel (1528, 1534, 1548, 1554, 1560) and Paris (1541, 1545, 1563, 1567, 1570). This volume once belonged to Robert Baillie (1602-1662), a Glaswegian and Presbyterian minister and writer, known for his Letters which faithfully recorded public events and his participation via correspondence. Baillie was a leader in the 17th century movement that rejected the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer. From a reformative point of view, Baillie would have found interest in Irenaeus’ work, which recognized the canonical character of the gospels. For a work against the Gnostics it is said to contain, "valuable historical information and a great many New Testament quotations which are a witness to the New Testament text long prior to any extant manuscript; it is the first systematic exposition of Christian theology"--Sarton I, 294. Hoffmann II, 466. Bookseller Inventory # D10980
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