An Exceptional, Illustrated Luther New Testament - Otto Schäfer's Copy

BIBLE. NEW TESTAMENT IN GERMAN. Luther, Martin (1483-1546), translator

Das neuw Testament recht grüntlich teutscht [BOUND WITH] Concordantz des Newen Testaments zu teütsch. Aller Evangelischer Sprüch usszugk nach ordnung des Abc.

Strasbourg: J. Knobloch, 1524 and J. Schott, 1524


Folio. Two volumes bound as one: 29.5 x 20.5 cm. I. [24], CXCVI lvs. Collation: a4, b-c6, d-e4, A-Z6, Aa-Ii6, Kk4. II. [107] lvs. A-E6, F4, G-R6, S8 (S8 is blank and present.)

ONE OF TWO EDITIONS PRINTED BY SCHOTT in 1524, distinguished by the words "anno 1524" on the title page.

An EXCEPTIONAL copy of Luther's German New Testament bound with a Bible concordance (in German) in contemporary blind-tooled calfskin over wooden boards. The text is in excellent condition with insignificant light toning. The New Testament is illustrated with a full-page woodcut title border and thirty-three woodcut illustrations. The Concordance has a historiated woodcut title border. The magnificent binding retains its ornate metal corner pieces, central bosses, and clasps. In additional to the decorative rolls that adorn the binding, the words VERBUM DOMINI MANET IN AETERNUM are tooled in gold on the upper board. Provenance: Hartung & Karl, Munich, Auction 28, 1979, Lot 71. - Helmuth Domizlaff, Munich - acquired there by Otto Schäfer in 1980.

Although Martin Luther was not the first to translate the Bible into German, he was the first to translate the text from the original biblical languages. First printed at Wittenberg in September 1522 by Melchior Lotter, the Younger, for Luther's publishers Lucas Cranach and Christian Döring. This Strasbourg edition was printed while Luther was in the process of translating the Old Testament.

The illustrations:

The "New Testament" opens with a beautiful woodcut border depicting scenes from the lives of the apostles. In keeping with Luther's request to avoid scenes from the life of Jesus, the Gospels are only illustrated with historiated initials and simple portraits of the Evangelists. The Book of Acts is accompanied by a picture of Pentecost, while the conversion of Saint Paul introduces his first letter. Paul's other letters show a portrait of the apostle standing in a Renaissance style aedicule. St. Peter's letters open with a picture of his vision of a leaf full of animals. The Book of Revelation is the only fully illustrated book in the New Testament. This is partly due to Luther's conviction that the content of the Apocalypse was too complex to be understood without illustration. In addition, illustrating the Apocalypse provided a welcome opportunity to vigorously criticize the papacy with visual allusions, especially in the images of the Antichrist and the Whore of Babylon. An anonymous artist produced twenty copies of Holbein's woodcuts from 1523 for this edition. The copies mimic their models, but the fifth woodcut of Holbein's series is missing (the opening of the sixth seal, where a major earthquake took place and the stars fell to the earth). The illustrated title border of the concordance contains scenes from the Old Testament: the Fall of Man, Moses with the Ten Commandments and the Bronze Serpent, Abraham and Isaac, and Cain slaying Abel.

I: Benzing 1524.29 or .30; VD16 B 4345 of 4346; USTC 627803. II: VD16 S 3995 - USTC 624332.