A Theology Informed by Aristotelian Physics - The First Edition - Bound in a Contemporary Saxon Binding

INCUNABULA. Jordanus de Quedlinburg (1300-1370/80)

Sermones Dan de sanctis

[Strasbourg: Heinrich Knoblochtzer?], not after 1479


Royal folio: 39.3 x 29.3 cm. 238 lvs. Collation: a8, b-f10, g6, h-k10, l6 m-r10, s8, t-z10, A-B10 (Complete with blank lvs. 1 and 188).


A copy in Munich BSB has a buyer's inscription dated 1479; P. Needham (Sotheby's NY, 17-18 June 1992, lot 24) dates the edition about 1476; and BMC and others date it to not after 1481. Proctor assigned the edition to the Printer of Henricus Ariminensis. Although printed in Knoblochtzer’s type 102, doubt is thrown on the ascription to him because the woodcut capitals, which are among the earliest used in Strasbourg, are unique to this book.

With blank first leaf and f.188, 6- and 9-line woodcut Maiblumen and other initials filled in or highlighted in red and silver (the silver now oxidized), other initials rubricated in red or red and silver, paragraph marks and capital strokes in red. Second column of f.125v is also blank, the preceding column ending ‘Hic nullus est defectus’. Occasional, neat contemporary annotations. Extremely fresh, printed on heavy paper, a few scattered wormholes, small (.5 - 1.5 cm.) wormtrail to 12 lvs. Initial on f.91r rubbed with partial loss of colouring, light marginal soiling particularly to final verso.

Bound in contemporary German blind-stamped pigskin over wooden boards, from Northeim in Lower Saxony [EBDB w000218]. Boards with cross-hatched compartments filled with multiple small stamps, metal corner-pieces and clasps, plain spine with raised bands (several wormholes, rubbed, front inner hinge slightly split, front pastedown renewed).

FIRST EDITION of Jordan of Quedlinburg's important "Sermons on the Saints", his last collection of sermons, composed between 1365 and 1380. For a thorough discussion of Jordan's synthesis of Aristotelian physics and Augustinian theology, see Saak, Luther and the Reformation of the Later Middle Ages, p. 50 ff., where the "Sermons on the Saints" are discussed in detail.

"Quedlinburg was a student of Henry of Friemar, Hermann of Halle (d. 1334), and Prosper of Reggio (c. 1318). He lectured in the Augustinian monasteries of Erfurt and Magdeburg and in other German houses of the order, including the provincial of Saxony from 1341 to 1351, where he was instrumental in the reorganization of the Augustinians and in their transformation into a mendicant order. His chief influence lies in his spirituality. He deplored the ascetic exaggerations that were typical of his times; his writings reflect the strong influence of German mysticism on his thought."(New Catholic Encyclopedia)

"In the mid-fourteenth-century, Jordan espoused a thoroughly Augustinian pastoral theology that he harmonized with Aristotelian physics in his attempt to describe the Christian life as one based on humility and God's predestination and grace within the context of a theology of holiness based on his theology of the cross developed in the battle between God and the devil."(Saak, Luther and the Reformation of the Later Middle Ages, p. 57 ff.)

ISTC ij00478000; HC *5919; BMC I 87; BSB-Ink I-611; CIBN J-305; Goff J-478