Luther & The Reformation

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A Serious Indictment of Theologians and Churchmen. A Fine Copy of Erasmus’ “Praise of Folly”, Printed by Froben

Erasmus, Desiderius (ca. 1466-1536)
Moriae Encomium nunc postremum ab ipso autore religiose recognitu[m] una cum alijs aliquot libellis, no[n] minus eruditis quam amoenis, quorum omniu[m] titulos proxima pagella loquetur.

Basel: Apud Io[hannem] Frob[enium], 1522

Octavo: 17 x 11.5 cm. 408, [16] pp. Collation: a-z8, A-B8, C4, D8


“The Praise of Folly has long been famous as the best-known work of the greatest of the Renaissance humanists, Erasmus of Rotterdam. It is a fantasy that starts off as a learned frivolity but turns into a full-scale ironic encomium after the manner of the Greek satirist Lucian, the first and in its way the finest example of a new form of Renaissance satire. It ends with a straightforward and touching statement of the Christian ideals that Erasmus shared notably with his English friends John Colet and Thomas More.


Van der Haeghen, Bibliotheca Erasmiana, ser. 1, p. 123; Bezzel, Erasmus, 1313; Adams E396

The longest and most detailed of Erasmus’ anti-Lutheran writings. The Rare First Edition

Erasmus, Desiderius (ca. 1466-1536)
Hyperaspistae liber secundus, adversus librum Martini Lutheri, cui titulum fecit, Servum arbitrium.

Basel: Joannes Froben, 1527

Octavo: 17 x 11.6 cm. 575 pp. Collation: A-Z8, a-n8


This is the extremely rare first edition of Erasmus’ second response to Luther’s “De Servo Arbitrio” (On the Enslaved Will):

In December 1525 Erasmus had published “De Libero Arbitrio” (On Free Will), setting of a debate with Martin Luther, who responded to Erasmus with his own “De Servo Arbitrio” (On the Enslaved Will). Erasmus responded in turn with his “Hyperaspistes I” and, a year later, the present work, “Hyperaspistes II.


VD 16, E 3033; Bezzel 1122; Vander Haeghen I, 110

“On Disdaining the World”. Erasmus’ First Work, Contemplating Monastic Life

Erasmus, Desiderius (ca.1466-1536)
De contemptu mundi epistola.

Cologne: Johann Soter, 1523

Octavo: 15 x 9.8 cm. [64] p. Collation: A-D8


This is an early edition of Erasmus’ first work written somewhere between 1486 and 1489, when Erasmus, as he himself tells us, “was scarcely twenty years old” (olim vix annos natus viginti) and shortly after he had become a member of the Augustinian Canons Regular at Steyn. Despite its early date, the book was not printed until 1521, when Erasmus was already well established as an international man of letters.


Erasmus Online 5529; Mynors 1137; Bezzel, Erasmusdrucke 686; VD16 E 2598; Not in De Reuck

“My yoke is sweet and my burden light.” A Vernacular Translation of Erasmus’ Annotation on Mathew 11:29-30

Erasmus, Desiderius (ca.1466-1536)
Herr Erasmus von Ro||terdam/ verteutschte außlegung/|| über das/ go[e]ttlich tro[e]stlich wort || vnsers lieben Herrñ vnnd selig=||machers Christi/ Nement auff || euch mein Joch/ vnd ler=||nent von mir.

[Mainz: Johann Schöffer], 1521

Quarto: [8] pp. Collation: AA4


A German translation of Erasmus’ annotation on Mathew 11:29 (taken from his “In Novum Testamentum annotationes”) in which Erasmus differentiates between the divine order and human positive law. He laments that people ignore the commands of God and follow human law instead: ‘Christ’s law is inviting and easy, but it becomes onerous and difficult through the addition of human prescriptions and dogmas.


Bezzel 1228; VD16 E 3106

“Prostitutes and Pimps Shall Read Him!” The Need for a Vernacular Bible

Erasmus, Desiderius (ca.1466-1536)
Ein scho[e]n Epistel || Erasmi von Ro/||terdam/ das die Euangelisch || ler von yederman sol ge=||lesen vnd verstanden || werden.

Basel: Adam Petri, 1522

Quarto: [30] pp. Collation: A-D4 (lacking final blank D4)


In his "Exhortation to the Reading of the Gospel," Erasmus emphasized that Scripture was intended not only for theologians but also for the laity, and by this Erasmus meant not just lay scholars but all people, including the illiterate. In light of this, Erasmus argued, the Bible needed to be translated into the vernacular.

For Erasmus, it was clear that Christ intended the gospel to be heard by everyone, regardless of his or her status, sex, or age:

“Let us reflect on what sort of hearers Christ himself had.


Erasmus Online 1881; VD16 E 2921; Weller 2050; B. Er. 1., p. 88 (ep. ad car. caes.); Allen V, 66, note 38 • RM 665

“We Demand that the Doctrine we Confess be properly Heard and Tested against Holy Scripture.” Henry VIII Defies Pope Paul III

Henry VIII, King of England (1491-1547)
Schrifft, an Keiserliche Maiestat, an alle andere Christliche K'nige und Potentaten, inn welcher der k'nig ursach anzeigt, warumb er gen Vincentz zum Concilio (welchs mit falschen titel, general genent) nich komen sey, Und wie fehrlich auch den andern allen sey, welche das Evangelium Christi angenomen, de zu erscheinen, Aus dem Latin verdeudtscht durch Justum Jonam.

Wittenberg: Joseph Klug, 1539

Quarto: 19 x 14.5 cm. 10 leaves. A4, B2, C4 (with the final blank leaf present)


This is Justus Jonas' (1493-1555) German translation of Henry VIII's account of why he did not attend the Council of Vicenza. The first edition, " Ad Carolum Cesarem Augustum epistola" was published at London in 1538. An English translation followed soon after. This is an extremely rare work in any edition. Only a single copy of the English edition is held in the United States (Folger).


Schrodt & Vogelstein 95; Kuczynski 1000; Pegg 1353; Schaaber 160

"Nobody" dares to criticize the luxury of the priests and the idle life of the Pope.

Hutten, Ulrich von (1488-1523); Weiditz, Hans (1495- ca. 1536), artist.
Outis. Nemo

Augsburg: Johann Miller, 9 September, 1518

Quarto: 20 x 15.5 cm. [24] pp. Collation: A-C4


First printing of Hutten's second "Nemo", a substantially re-worked and enlarged version of the 1516 original. This edition has been augmented by 60 verses, mainly on political subjects, an introduction dedicated to Johannes Crotus Rubianus (1480-1545) and a letter to Julius von Pflug (1499-1564). It also marks the first appearance of the celebrated woodcut title page (described in detail below.


Benzing, Hutten 62; Fairfax-Murray 211; Musper, "Petrarka Master" L7; Roettinger 7; Adams H 1237; BM STC German, p. 427; VD 16; H 6384; Worst Brock, German humanism 1480-1520 (2009), p 1200 f., No. 10.2; Röttinger, Weiditz, 7; Fairfax Murray 211; Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection I, 114

Selling your Scholarly Soul for the Vices of Court Life

Hutten, Ulrich von (1488-1523)
Aula. Dialogus.

Augsburg: S. Grimm and M. Wirsung, 26 March 1519

Quarto: 20 x 15.5 cm. [23] ff. A-E4, F4 (lacking final blank leaf F4)


Hutten’s famous satire on courtly life. It is dedicated to Heinrich Stromer von Auerbach, court physician of the Mainz Elector. At the end is a verse “Prognosticon ad annum. M.D.XVI. ad Leonem .X. Pont. Max.” (Hutten’s warning that if Leo X engaged in war with the Emperor Maximilian, Italy would be destroyed) and a publisher’s advertisement of Hutten’s “Ebrietatis laus” (in praise of drunkenness.


VD-16 H-6299. Benzing (Hutten) 75. STC German (BL) 426. Not in Adams

The Immaculate Virgin

Luther, Martin (1483-1546)
Ayn Sermon am tag unser Frawen Liechtmeß gethon zuo Witemberg durch Doctor Marthin Luther. Im Jar MDXXIII.

Augsburg: Melchior Ramminger, 1523

Quarto: 20 x 15 cm. [8] pp. Collation A4


A sermon for Lichtmeß (Candlemas), the feast of the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple and the purification of Mary (February 2). Jesus takes as his text Luke 2:22-39.

For the complexities of Luther’s evolving Mariology, see Thomas O'Meara, Mary in Protestant and Catholic Theology (1966). “Luther's attitude toward the theology of Mary and toward the devotion which a Christian should have to the Mother of God is a small-scale representation of his entire religious accomplishment.


Benzing 1746; VD16 L-6084

The Antichrist Usurps the Name of the Church

Luther, Martin (1483-1546)
Ad Librum Eximii Magistri Nostri Ambrosii Catharini Defensoris Silvestri Prieratis Acerrimi Responsio Martini Lutheri. Wittembergae, Mense Aprili. Cum exposita Visione Danielis, viii. De Antichristo.

Wittenberg: [Melchoir Lotter], 1521

Quarto: 21 x 15.5 cm. a-r4 (lacking final blank leaf r4) 115 pp.


Luther's response to Ambrosius Catharinus Politus' (1487-1552) "Defense of the True Catholic and Apostolic Faith and Doctrine against the Disease-spreading Dogma of Martin Luther" (Florence, 1520). In his defense of papal supremacy, Catharinus also defends the opinions of Sylvester Mazolinus de Prierio (Prierius, d. 1523), Pope Leo X's theologian and the first man to censor Luther's works.


Benzing 880; Adams L 1841; Kessler # 271; BM STC German p. 540; Pegg, Bibliotheca 911; VD 16, l 3706; Schrodt & Vogelstein 163; Kuczynski 1417

A Church and Society without Monarchy

Luther, Martin (1483-1546)
Von dem Bapstum zu Rome: widder den hochberumpten Romanisten zu Leiptzck D. Martinus Luther August.

Wittenberg: Melchior Lotter, 1520

Quarto: [64] pp. A-H4. Last leaf blank.


Luther wrote his “On the Papacy in Rome” in response to the Franciscan monk Augustine Alveld’s “A Useful Booklet about the Papal See and About St. Peter.” Alveld wrote his work after the Leipzig debate to counter Luther’s thesis that the pope had no authority in the church. He sought to prove “on the holy basis of the holy canon of the Bible... that the Apostolic See is a divine institution.


Benzing, Luther 655; VD16 L-7131; Kuczynski 1407; WA 6, 285-324

Against the Radical Preacher Thomas Münzer. Luther warns of Open Rebellion on the Eve of the Peasants’ War

Luther, Martin (1483-1546)
Eyn Brieff an die Fürsten zu Sachsen von dem auffrurischen Geyst. Wittenberg

Wittenberg: Cranach and Döring, 1524

Quarto: 21 x 15 cm. [20] pp. A4, B2, C4


First edition of Luther’s response to the growing danger posed by the radical preacher Thomas Münzer, who was ultimately executed the following year for leading the violent, open revolt that came to be known as the Peasants’ War.

In 1523, Thomas Münzer, formerly the leader of the radical “Zwickau Prophets” began to radicalize the area of Allstedt, where he was then pastor, preaching that the ungodly were to be eliminated and the elect would establish a kingdom of Christ on earth and threatening the political rulers of the area with rebellion.


Benzing 1927; Kessler 553; Title border: Luther, “Titeleinfassungen der Reformationszeit”, 43c

Whether Those Who Die Without Faith Can Be Saved

Luther, Martin (1483-1546)
Eyn Sendbriff uber die Frage. Ob auch vermant on glauben verstorben selig werden muge. An Er Hanssen von Rechenberg zur Freystadt.

[Erfurt: Stürmer], 1523

Quarto: 20 x 14.5 cm. [8] pp. A4


Luther wrote this letter in August 1522 to Hans von Rechenberg, a strong supporter of the Reformation and a man who distinguished himself in battle against the Turks. There is no evidence that Luther knew von Rechenberg personally but the question that Luther addresses in the letter, whether a person who dies without faith may be saved, seems to have been one of personal concern to the addressee.


Benzing 1270

“To the Goat at Leipzig”

Luther, Martin (1483-1546)
An den Bock zu Leyptzck.

Wittenberg: [Melchior Lotter the younger], 1521

Quarto: 20.5 x 14.5 cm. [8] pp. A4


“In December 1520 Jerome Emser renewed his attack on Luther with a lengthy treatise written against Luther’s famous address ‘To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation’(August 1520) entitled ‘Against the Un-Christian Book of the Augustinian Martin Luther.’ It prompted an immediate reply from Luther.

“Luther’s ‘To the Goat in Leipzig’ is the first of a series of four treatises that Luther wrote against Emser.


Benzing 827; See Concordia, Luther’s Works, Vol 39. “To the Goat at Leipzig”; WA 7, 262-265

The Magnificat: Luther’s Evolving Vision of the Virgin Mary

Luther, Martin (1483-1546)
Das Magnificat Vorteutscht und außgelegt durch D. Martinum Luther Aug. Vuittenberg.

Wittenberg: Melchior Lotter, 1521

Quarto: [88] pp. a-l4


Luther wrote his “The Magnificat Translated into German and Explained” in two parts, the first composed before his appearance at the Diet of Worms and the second part while he was in hiding in the Wartburg in May and June 1521. Given that Luther’s vision of the church and of Mary’s nature and place within Christianity were evolving (and were to evolve much further over time), and the fact that Luther left the Diet a changed man living in changed circumstances, it is no wonder that Luther’s exposition of the Magnificat has been the subject of numerous conflicting interpretations.


VD16 L-5453; Benzing Luther 855; Kuczynski 1431

Luther on Celibacy & Marriage

Luther, Martin (1483-1546)
Das siebe(n)d Capitel S. Pauli zu den Chorinthern Ausgelegt.

Wittenberg: [Cranach and Döring], 1523

Quarto: 19.8 x 14.7 cm. [38] pp. A-K4 (lacks final blank)


But if they do not have self-control, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with desire.”-1 Corinthians 7:9

First edition of Luther’s important sermon on the problem of celibacy. Luther argued that sexual desire was inescapable for all but a handful, so it should be channeled into marriage. Vows of celibacy should be rendered void, and monasteries and convents should be closed or much reduced in size.


Benzing 1674; Title page border: Luther, TE 58. Zimmerman attributes the border to Lucas Cranach, Dodgson to Hans Cranach.

Luther Recounts his Youthful Pilgrimage to Rome

Luther, Martin (1483-1546)
Der Hundert vnd Siebenzehend Psalm.

Wittenberg: Georg Rhau, 1530

Quarto: 19 x 13.4 cm. [34] lvs. Collation: A-G4, H2, I4 (lacks blank I4)


“Luther’s commentary on Psalm 117, printed by George Rhau in October 1530, is a revision of an earlier version printed at the Coburg earlier in 1530. It is dedicated to Hans von Sternberg, who had taken a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and had told Luther about it. The German text includes Luther's German translation of Psalm 117 from the Hebrew O.T.

“This commentary is Luther’s critique of medieval spirituality, and includes an account of his own pilgrimage to Rome.


Benzing 2892

The Second of Luther’s Most Virulent Anti-Semitic Works

Luther, Martin (1483-1546)
Vom Schem Hamphoras: Und vom Geschlecht Christi. Matthei am j. Capitel.

Wittenberg: Georg Rhau, 1543

Quarto: 19.6 x 14.8 cm. [64] lvs. A-Q4


“As he had announced in On the Jews and Their Lies, Luther immediately set to work on a follow-up treatise, On the Ineffable Name and On the Lineage of Christ, making clear that he was not interested in debating with or trying to convert Jews, rather he writes to warn those in danger of becoming Jews. The treatise is saturated, with fecal imagery and references to the Devil (a common association in Christian art and writing from the twelfth-thirteenth centuries onward), all of which is linked to the Jews: the Jews are the Devil’s children, they worship the Devil, the Devil is their god, Jewish biblical interpretation is “Judas-piss,” and so on.


Benzing 3439

Written While in Hiding at the Wartburg

Luther, Martin (1483-1546)
Deütsche außlegung des siebenundsechtzigsten Psalmen: von dem Ostertag: Himelfart und Pfingsten.

Augsburg: Sylvan Otmar, 1521

Quarto: 19.8 x 15.6 cm. [36] pp. A-C4, D6


“The first task Luther undertook at the Wartburg (his “Patmos”), after only a few days, was to write ‘Psalm 67 (68): About Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost.” This psalm had its special place in the Augustinians’ mass liturgy and at Matins between Ascension and Pentecost, again an indication of how Luther was still living in the accustomed liturgy. The exposition gave a contemporary interpretation of the struggle between God and his enemies.


Benzing 940

One of the Greatest Woodcut Books of the Reformation

Luther, Martin (1483-1546); Sachs, Hans (1494-1576), attributed author; Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550), artist
Das Babstum mit seynen gliedern gemalet und beschryben gebessert und gemehrt.

Nuremberg: Hans Guldenmund, 1526

Quarto: 20.5 x 16 cm. [44] pp. A-E4, F2


One of the greatest –and scarcest- illustrated books of the German Protestant Reformation, illustrated with 74 fine woodcuts by the famed painter and engraver Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550). Beham executed these woodcuts a short time before he was banished from Nuremberg, having been accused of heresy, blasphemy, and refusing to recognize the authority of the City council. The religious orders represented include the Dominicans (Predigers), Franciscans (Barfussers), Augustinians, the Brothers of Our Lady, etc.


Benzing 2236; VD 16, P 363; Kuczinski 173; Pauli, Beham 1124-1180

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