(London: By Edwarde Whitchurche, 1551-52). Volume I: 330 x 210 mm. (13 x 8 1/4"); Volume II: 302 x 195 mm. (11 7/8 x 8"). Lacking 12-leaf index at end of volume II, otherwise complete. Two volumes. Second Edition of the first volume; FIRST EDITION, later printing(?) of the second volume.
Newly and skillfully restored and rebound (the first volume with original blind panelled covers and new matching spine, the second volume newly covered using sympathetic roll tooling), unadorned spines with thick raised bands. Housed together in an attractive new substantial morocco-backed, gilt-titled folding cloth box. Elaborate woodcut title frames, large and small historiated and decorative woodcut initials. Text in roman type, commentary in black letter. Bottom margin of second title page inscribed "Thomas Willoughby me jure tenet Divi Johannis alumnus. 1668"; a few marginal pen trials and flourishes to first couple of leaves of text. Berkowitz 202; Cf. Darlow & Moule 46 (note); STC 2866; ESTC S123046. Original boards slightly rubbed and marked, but the bindings now skillfully restored and generally quite pleasing. Title pages backed and rather soiled, early leaves in both volumes slightly frayed and soiled, table at back of first volume with minor marginal dampstaining (growing slightly darker at very end), second volume with browned edges, with a few quires at the back noticeably soiled, and with headlines in perhaps half the gatherings partly trimmed. Notwithstanding these obvious (and expected) flaws, the texts of both volumes generally agreeable, and the text of the first volume surprisingly fresh and clean.
This is a rarely seen, surprisingly well-preserved copy of an early English printing of Erasmus' paraphrases to the New Testament. After translating and editing the Testament, Erasmus wrote paraphrases in Latin between 1517 and 1524 for all books except the Apocalypse. The work was universally applauded, and in England a translation of them was ordered during the reign of Edward VI, with funds supplied by Catherine Parr, the sixth, last, and surviving wife of Henry VIII. Among the translators were Miles Coverdale, Leonard Coxe, Thomas Key, John Olde, Nicholas Udall, and the young Princess Mary (later to be queen), who translated most of the paraphrase on the Gospel of John. (A paraphrase of Revelation was added in Edmund Alen's translation from the work of Leo Juda.) An injunction was issued in Edward's name ordering that the English "Paraphrases" be placed beside the Bible in all churches. According to Berkowitz, "The Edwardian reformation was still in a moderate phase, and its doctrinal stance as well as literary judgment is reflected in [this] order, which functionally placed Erasmus' 'Paraphrases' on a par with the Great Bible." Our second volume seems to be a variant of the versions of Erasmus' "Paraphrases" described in Darlow & Moule; it is dated 1552, which matches the second printing, but it has its own foliation, as did the first printing of 1549 (in the second printing, the foliation is continuous between volumes). Given their difference in size, the two volumes offered here obviously comprise a married set, but finding any copy of Erasmus' "Paraphrases" in English that is even substantially complete is very difficult, let alone finding a set in decent condition. Just one complete copy is listed in ABPC since 1975, and that was sold "with all faults." RBH finds two complete or near-complete copies of the second volume by itself in the past 25 years, one of these moldy and also lacking the 12-leaf index wanting here, and one in wretched condition, sold "as is." (Lhi21085)
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PJP Catalog: CA22BF.012