The Fürstenberg Copy


(Treviso: Michael Manzolus, 12 January 1480). 293 x 194 mm. (11 1/2 x 7 1/2"). [106] (of 108) leaves (lacking first and last blank). Single column, 45 lines plus headline in roman type. Translated by Georgius Trapezuntius; edited by Hieronymus Bononius. First Bononius Edition.

19th century green-painted stiff vellum, smooth spine. Rubricated in red throughout, three- to 10-line initials painted in red. Front pastedown with morocco bookplate of Hans Fürstenberg. Goff E-121; BMC VI, 888; ISTC ie00121000. Extremities lightly rubbed, first leaf a little soiled and frayed, isolated minor marginal stains or foxing, short marginal tears, other trivial imperfections, but A FINE, FRESH COPY, the text clean, smooth, and bright, and the binding entirely solid and rather pleasing.

Described by the Catholic Encyclopedia as "a gigantic feat of erudition," Eusebius' "Preparation for the Gospels" is valued as a repository of information on paganism, preserving many extracts from classical authors that would otherwise be lost to us. Often called the "Father of Church History," the famous bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 260 - ca. 340) was a friend and adviser of the emperor Constantine and a prolific writer of history and scriptural commentary. He is best known for three works: his epitome of universal history (covering the period from apostolic times to 324), his "Historia Ecclesiastica" (the first history of the Christian church), and the present item, a collection of knowledge and quotations from classical writers intended to prepare the mind to receive the evidences of Christianity. Composed by Eusebius during the period of the Great Persecution just prior to the legalization of Christianity, the "Historia" addresses an audience of learned and pious readers hesitating to embrace Christianity, and it assures them that the truth is manifest in Scripture, while the pagan schools incessantly contradict one another. The first half of the work systematizes pagan religion and mythology as well as the doctrines of the philosophical schools and goes on to recognize the similarities of Platonic and Christian beliefs, arguing that Plato's view of the Demiurge was derivative and based on a knowledge of the Hebrew Pentateuch. First printed in 1470 by Nicolas Jenson, the present work was edited by Girolamo Bologni (Latinized Hieronymus Bononius) (1454-1517), a well-known jurist, poet, and humanist. According to BMC, our printer, Michael Mazolus, was active in Treviso between 1476-81, after which time he was mainly engaged as a publisher in Venice. Our copy comes from the collection of Hans (or Jean) Fürstenberg (1890-1982), a bibliophile of refined discrimination who assembled one of the great collections of the 20th century and whose books were noted for their outstanding condition.

Keywords: Philosophy

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PJP Catalog: 79.045