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, Item #EC1533

Erasmus's First Great Work, Explaining his Views on How a Christian Should Lead his Life,
In the First English Translation by William Tyndale,
Printed by Wynkyn de Worde, Who Printed with Caxton and Took Over his Printing Establishment

[ERASMUS, Desiderius]. A booke called in latyn Enchiridion militis christiani, and in englysshe the manuell of the christen knight, replenysshed with moste holsome precepts, made by the famous clerke Erasmus of Roterdame, to which is added a newe and meruaylous profitable preface. [Imprinted at London: by Wynkyn de Worde, for Iohan Byddell, otherwise Salisbury, the xv. daye of Nouembre, And be for to sell at the sygne of our Lady of pytie nexts to Flete bridge, 1533].

          Octavo. a-c8, A-R8, S10. [340] pp. Title within a woodcut border. Leaf G3 is in excellent, lithographic facsimile, probably from the late nineteenth century.

         Engraved bookplate L.C. Berger, second bookplate removed from front free endpaper, resulting in wear to the marbled paper. Some minor browning. A very good copy, aside from the one facsimile leaf, which is remarkably well executed.

First edition in English of Erasmus's first major work, first published in Latin in Antwerp in 1503 (in Lucubratiunculae aliquot Erasmi Canonici ordinis diui Augustini perq[uam] vtiles adolescentibus). The English translation is by a young William Tyndale (1494-1536). The printer is by Wynkyn de Worde (d. 1534/5), who printed with William Caxton and took over Caxton's printing business upon his death in 1492.

          Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), the Dutch theologian and scholar started teaching Latin to the Cambridge-educated William Blount, Lord Mountjoy in 1498. His pupil told him much about the English humanists of the day and shortly thereafter, Erasmus traveled to England, where he met the acquaintance of Thomas More, John Colet and Hugh Latimer, who became his lifelong friends, as well as important influences on his thought. Colet lent him manuscripts which he used in his monumental edition of the New Testament in Greek and Latin (1516, Printing and the Mind of Man 46).

          An importantpredecessor of the Greek New Testament is his earlier work, Enchridion or Handbook of the Christian Soldier. In it, he outlines his views on how a Christian should lead his life, a topic on which he spent the rest of his own life elaborating. He felt that the chief evil of his day was formalism, going through the motions of tradition without understanding the basic teachings of Jesus. He goes on to discuss monasticism, the worship of saints, war, the spirit of class and the foibles of society. He felt that the clergy should be teachers who shared their knowledge with the common man. He emphasized personal spiritual discipline and the personal reading and understanding of the scripture. The Enchiridion is was very influential, and was often reprinted, from the sixteenth century to the current day.

          Tyndale studied at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, where he was exposed often to the teachings of Erasmus. (Erasmus' Oxford home some years before had in fact been Magdalen College.) The Oxford DNB notes: "Although Tyndale was brought up in God's Gloucestershire, a county historically known for biblical preaching, the source of his vocation to the cause of reform is most likely to have been the arrival of this [Erasmus's] printing of the original Greek New Testament. It is very probable that it was from this influential volume that Tyndale led those private studies." Tyndale of course published his celebrated translation of the New Testament into English in 1525/6 (Printing and the Mind of Man, 58).

          This is quite a rare book: ESTC notes six copies in the U.K. and seven in the U.S. (Cornell, Yale, and two copies each at the Folger and Huntington). No copy is noted as having come up at auction since at least 1975 in American Book Prices Current, though a second edition (1534) did come up at Sotheby's in 1977.

          STC (2nd edition), 10479.




Please Note:  This is a low-resolution photo, which shows the format, but makes reading the text nearly impossible.  In reality, the text of these Bibles is large enough and clear enough to read very easily. 

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Just The Facts

Item #EC1533
Colophon: 1533
Size: 5.75x4.5x1.5
Font: Gothic

Additional Features:

Full Calf
End Papers: Marble

Appraisal Value: $125,000

Sale Price: $30,000

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