16th Century Sermons, Bound in a 12th Century Bible Fragment

QUADRAGESIMALIUM CONCIONUM LIBER (QUI GENTILIS INSCRIBITUR) SUB INCUDE REVERENDI PATRIS, AC DOMINI AMBROSII EREMITAE, SACRAE THEOLOGIAE DOCTORIS EXIMII, EPISCOPISQUE LAMOCENSIS, ET SUFFRAGANEI MANTUANI EDITUS EX ETHNICORUM, CHRISTIANORUMQUE ERUDIMENTIS COLLECTUS.

(Venezia [Venice]: [heirs of] Octaviani Scoti, 1523). 165 x 115 mm. (6 1/2 x 4 1/2"). 12 p.l., 505, [1] (blank) leaves. FIRST EDITION.

Contemporary binding made from a fragment of a manuscript leaf from a very large Bible (Italy, first half of the 12th century) with text from Deuteronomy in a fine Carolingian minuscule, later ink lettering to front cover and flat spine, endpapers lifted, exposing pigskin laces and sewing guards made of early manuscript fragments; remnants of fore-edge ties. With decorative woodcut initials, printer's device in colophon. EDIT16 CNCE 19242; USTC 830015. Vellum with two tiny wormholes and just slightly soiled, but the inside of the covers clean and bright, with clear script. First six and final two leaves with neat restorations to margins (no text loss), a couple of quires a little browned, isolated trivial stains, otherwise a fine copy, clean, fresh, and very smooth. An attractive book.

Filled with references to classical philosophers as well as Fathers and Doctors of the Church, this collection of sermons from a celebrated preacher and religious controversialist printed by a famed Venetian workshop is bound in a manuscript leaf from the 12th century, in an early example of recycling and repurposing. An Augustinian friar who rose to become suffragan bishop of Mantua, Flandino (ca. 1467-1532) was "a rather important voice in several debates of the early sixteenth-century Italian intellectual world, engaging in philosophical and theological disputes with Erasmus, Pietro Pomponazzi, and Martin Luther," according to the Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy. In the present work, he cites not only scripture and theological works but Philostratus, Aristotle, Plato, Plotinus, and Pico della Mirandola. His other writings included a commentary on Aristotle.

Octavianus Scotus (Ottaviano Scoto) was the patriarch of a distinguished family of Venetian printers. Born in Monza to an aristocratic family, he moved to Venice at age 35 and established a press there in 1479, which he operated until 1484. At that time, he handed over printing activities to his brothers and nephews, continuing to work as an editor until his death in 1498. His heirs, including his namesake Ottaviano II, continued the press for nearly four more decades.

The vellum manuscript leaf used for the binding comes from an "Atlantic Bible," so-named for its immense size (like an Atlas, with both the ocean and the cartographical book deriving their names from Atlas, the Titan of Greek mythology who bore the world on his back). These Bibles were very costly and time consuming to produce, making them among the most prized possessions of the church or monastery in which they resided. The present example features a particularly pretty Caroline script with rounded, regular letterforms that are still quite legible.
(ST16379-044)