Item History and Pricing
Year Printed: 1481Subject: Religion & Spirituality
Modified Item: NoOriginal/Facsimile: Original
Country/Region of Manufacture: ItalyLanguage: Latin
Topic: Christianity, BiblesPublisher: Johannes Herbort for Nicolaus Jensen & Co.
Binding: Fine BindingPlace of Publication: Venice
Region: EuropeSpecial Attributes: FOLIO, Gothic Binding / calf & wooden boards, RUBRICATED throughout w/ NUMEROUS PAINTED INITIALS, 4th edition, Complete
Author: Thomas Aquinas; Petrus Lombardus
Original Description:
[Early Printing - Incunabula - Venice - Nicolaus Jenson] 
[Christianity - Roman Catholic Church - Theology] [Philosophy - Scholasticism, Thomism]

Printed in Venice (by Johannes Herbort) for Johannes de Colonia, Nicolaus Jenson & associates, 24 June 1481.
Text in Latin.
FOURTH EDITION. COMPLETE. Printed in Jenson's handsome gothic type, and attractively rubricated throughout in contemporary hand with hundreds of lombard initials and paragraph marks in red. With ...the woodcut device of the publishers, the firm of N. Jenson, J. de Colonia & Co., printed in red. Bound in an attractive contemporary Gothic blind-stamped quarter-calf over wooden boards.Please note that in the 15th century Aquinas' commentaries on each of the four books of Sentences were always printed separately, and this scarce 4th edition of the commentary on the 4th book is absolutely complete, as issues (Aquinas' commentaries on the other books were never issued by these publishers!).Aquinas' commentary on the 4th book was the earliest of the four to be printed with movable type: the 1st edition was printed in Mainz by Peter Schoeffer, 13 June 1469.The printer of this fine incunabulum, Johannes Herbort began printing in 1475 in Padua, where he continued working till the end of 1480, at which time he moved to Venice: his first Venetian book appeared in 28 January 1481, marking the beginning of a productive but short-lived association with de Colonia and Jenson. Herbort's establishment was one of the largest in Europe at the time, with all of his work for the recently constituted publishing firm of Johannes de Colonia & Nicolaus Jensen et Socii executed with Jensonian types, which had become their property upon Jenson's death. Herbort's connection with the Company evidently ceased with the completion of the Duns Scotus of November 1481, after which the types reverted to the Company.Peter Lombard's Four Books of Sentences, THE STANDARD TEXTBOOK OF THEOLOGY AT MEDIEVAL UNIVERSITIES, was the most commented upon work of Christian literature apart from the Bible itself, NO COMMENTARY BEING MORE IMPORTANT THAN THAT OF THOMAS AQUINAS. This is the fourth edition of his commentary on Lombard's fourth book, dealing comprehensively with the Holy Sacraments which mediate God's grace. Thomas begins by defining what a sacrament is, then he moves to a study of each individual sacrament. Thomas's treatment of the sacrament of Matrimony, is particularly important: he explores all aspect of marriage in great detail, and explains that Matrimony is unique among the sacraments because it builds upon a natural union. At the end of the volume Aquinas discusses the four last stages of the soul in life and the afterlife, also known as the "Four Last Things" (quattuor novissima), i.e. Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. Here Aquinas offers his profound insights into the resurrection of the body, God's justice, the final judgment, and what constitutes blessedness.Aquinas' commentary on the 4th book of Sentences is of particular importance as the basis and source for the conclusion (or supplement) to his celebrated Summa Theologiae, considered his greatest work, and the fullest presentation of his views, on which his worked from ca. 1265 until the end of his life. Upon his death in 1274, Aquinas' monumental Summa unfortunately remained unfinished (when Aquinas died, he had reached Question 90 of Part III on the subject of penance). So, a supplement (Supplementum Tertiae Partis) was compiled posthumously by Aquinas's companion and friend, Rainaldo da Piperno (ca. 1230 - 1290), a Dominican monk and theologian, whom Thomas chose as his confessor.The supplement (dealing with the Sacraments and Eschatology) is based on material gathered from St. Thomas's commentary on the Fourth Book of the Sentences of Peter Lombard (the text presented here).Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274), an Italian Dominican friar, was an immensely influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism, within which he is also known as the Doctor Angelicus. He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology and the father of Thomism. His influence on Western thought has been vast, and much of modern philosophy developed or opposed his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory. Unlike many currents in the Church of the time, Thomas embraced several ideas put forward by Aristotle, and attempted to synthesize Aristotelian philosophy with the principles of Christianity.The Catholic Church honors Thomas Aquinas as a saint and Doctor of the Church, and regards him as the model teacher for those studying for the priesthood, and, indeed, the highest expression of both natural reason and speculative theology.Peter Lombard, or Petrus Lombardus (c. 1100 - 1160) was Bishop of Paris and an influential scholastic theologian, famous for his Four Books of Sentences, the which earned him the title of Magister Sententiarum. Peter was born in Lumellogno, now Piedmont, to a poor family on the dole. His education began in Italy at the cathedral schools of Novara and Lucca. The patronage of Otto, bishop of Lucca, who recommended him to Bernard of Clairvaux, allowed him to leave Italy and further his studies at Reims and Paris. Peter arrived in Paris about 1134, where Bernard recommended him to the canons of the church of St. Victor. In Paris, where he spent the next decade teaching at the cathedral school of Notre Dame, he came into contact with Peter Abelard and Hugh of St. Victor, the leading theologians of the time. Around 1145 Peter became recognized as writer and teacher and was appointed a "magister", or professor, at the cathedral school of Notre Dame. He died July 20, 1160 in Paris.The "Four Books of Sentences" is a systematic compilation of medieval Christian theology. Written between 1146 and 1158 AD the "Sentences" became one of the most important books of the Middle Ages. The importance of the Sentences to medieval theology and philosophy lies in the overall framework that they provide to theological and philosophical discussion.Peter Lombard's monumental work "owed its success chiefly to its lucid arrangement [and] its comprehensiveness [...] was commented upon by nearly all theologians of repute" (ODCC).All the great scholastic philosophers - Aquinas, Ockham, Bonaventura, Scotus - wrote commentaries on the Sentences. These works, however, were not merely commentaries, for the Sentences were really a collection of glosses, and Lombard left many questions open, giving later scholars an opportunity to provide their own answers. The Fourth Book of Sentences deals with the doctrine of "Signs" (Doctrina Signorum) and Sacraments of the Christian (Catholic) Church in general, the seven sacraments in particular (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick), and the "four last things" (quattuor novissima): death, judgment, hell, and heaven. Peter slightly modifies the four requirements of a sacrament formulated by Hugh of St. Victor: Sign of an invisible grace of God (removed requirement for "physical or material," thus allowing inclusion of Penance as a sacrament); A resemblance to the reality pointed to (e.g. wine resembles blood); An efficacy. Sacrament must be able to bestow a benefit or grace (sanctify the believer); Authorized for a dual purpose:  to signify a sacred reality, and to sanctify the believer.Peter then demonstrates that only seven sacraments meet these requirements: baptism; confirmation; the eucharist; penance; marriage; ordination; extreme unction. The book deals extensively with various aspects of the institute of marriage including the matters of marital sex, infidelity, impotence, etc.; in particular, Distinction xxxi, chap. 2-4 contains a very interesting discussion on contraception and abortion.For instance, "Peter the Lombard [...] explores 'lack of good offspring' among those who are married not for the sake of offspring but for lust. [...][Lombard] provides general category of couples joint only for lust, to be regarded as married so long as they do not avoid [conception]. [He then] spells out the subcategory of those who procure poisons of sterility, or those who extinguish the foetus [...] [He considers] those who extinguish the foetus [to be] murderers when abortion is late but not when it is early. [...] So, he writes, 'they are called "married", who unite only for sex, so long as they do not avoid the generation of offspring through some evil artifice' (Ecce coniuges dicuntur, qui solius concubitus causa conveniunt, si tamen prolis generationem aliquo malo dolo non vitent). [...] He proceeds in the remaining chapters of the distinction to further theological analysis of the sexual act in marriage, which has attracted much attention of modern Christian, feminist and gender scholarship." (Peter Biller, The Measure of Multitude: Population in Medieval Thought, pp. 168-9)Bibliographic references:Bod-inc T-157; Goff T-171; Hain-Copinger 1484; BMC V, 301; Proctor 4680; GW M46390; BSB-Ink T 266; IGI 9629; Polain (B) 3735. Physical description:Super-chancery folio; textblock measures 29.5 cm x 21 cm; wide margins. Bound in contemporary quarter brown calf over wooden boards (repacked in modern leather); leather covering part of front board with blindstamped design comprising four triangular panels filled with foliate and floral motifs including round rose stamps; leather on rear board with blind-ruled geometric (crosshatch) design. Titled in manuscript on front board (mostly rubbed off), and on top edge of the textblock in contemporary hand. Original single clasp now perished.310 (unnumbered) leaves (forming 620 pages).
Collation: a-z10 A-H10 (a1 blank).
Collated and COMPLETE, including the front blank a1).Text in double columns, 56 lines per column, plus head-line. Printed in Jenson's Gothic types: 5:150 (head-lines), 6:74 (text), 9:140 (headings). Contemporary rubrication throughout: numerous painted Lombard initials of various sizes (some with marginal extensions; one with pen-work decorations) and paragraph marks supplied in red. Colophon on leaf H2v with publisher's device [Kristeller 237] printed in red, followed by Index (Tabula humus libri) on leaves H3r-9v. Large capital space at opening of text (a2r) left blank for illumination: not filled, but with a Christogram 'IHS' and a simple capital 'M' supplied in ink in a 16th-century (?) hand.Final leaf H10 with quire register on recto and blank verso (laid down).Provenance:Several early ownership inscriptions to front blank recto, including one (in 17th-century hand?) of Antonio Fernandez de Monte; one possession note from Köln, other undeciphered.Manuscript Christogram 'IHS' in ink on leaf a2r in a 16th-century (?) hand most likely indicative of Jesuit ownership.Several leaves with interesting scholarly marginal notes in an early (15th- or 16th-century) monastic (?) hand.Condition:Very Good antiquarian condition. Complete, including the front blank. Binding slightly rubbed, rebacked, and lacking the original clasp and catch-plate. Without endpapers at front and rear: inner side of front wooden board exposed; front hinge reinforced. Final leaf H10 with register on recto and blank verso laid down onto rear board (with couple of abrasions affecting headline word 'registrum', otherwise without loss) thus now forming rear pastedown. Front blank a1 with some discoloration, early inscriptions and a repaired torn hole. Internally quite clean, with occasional light soiling mostly marginal; a few leaves with some light browning; a few quires with minor marginal worming (within bottom margin): text not affected. Several leaves with some neat marginal manuscript notes, 'pointing hands' and occasional light underlining in an early hand. In all, an attractive, solid, wide-margined example in an early binding, with bright strong impression of the fine Jenson's Gothic typography, and with a pleasing contemporary rubrication throughout.
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