Description: NICOLAUS DE LYRA. Postilla super totam Bibliam.
1285 [of 1286] leaves; lacking final blank of volume IV (ZZZ4). Vol I: [1-407] ; Vol. II: [408-657]; Vol. III: [658-936]; Vol. IV (the New Testament): [937-1285] leaves. 2 columns (except for inserted leaf [VVV3] in Vol. IV, with only one column on inner half of each page); 62 lines.
Spaces for capitals, and starting in volume III, printed guide letters; several initial capitals supplied in red, ms chapter headings in red throughout, ms. catchwords throughout; and ms foliation (with a few errors) in a contemporary hand; a few pages rubricated; ms. Index on final blank of Vol. III (1 p., on recto) and Vol. IV (verso of ZZ2 and recto and verso of ZZZ3).
4 vols. Folio (412 x 290 mm.), [Strassburg: Johann Mentelin, not after 1472].
Sewn in 18th-century plain blue-gray wrappers, spines defective and sewing loosening. First few leaves of Vol. I with slight worming at inner margin; slight worming elsewhere; occasional mild stains; overall, a deeply impressive and entirely unsophisticated copy of a magnificent incunable. Custom half morocco slipcase and chemises. Hain 10366; Goff N133; BMC I 56; GW M26538; ISTC No. in00133000.
Location of Origin: Europe
Medium/Materials: Sewn in 18th-century plain blue-gray wrappers, Custom half morocco slipcase and chemises.
Dimensions: Folio (412 x 290 mm.)
Primary Classification: Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Maps : Manuscripts
Secondary Classification: Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Maps : Books : Bibles, Prayer books
Expertise: Nicholas de Lyra’s (c. 1270 - October 1349) monumental commentary on the Bible was one of the most influential texts of the Middle Ages, and in fact, his Postilla is the first printed commentary on the Bible (the edition of Rome, Sweynheym and Pannartz, 1471, precedes the Mentelin edition by only a year); indeed, the sheer magnitude of the task of setting this text in type would attest to the prestige which Nicolaus de Lyra enjoyed among Biblical scholars.
According to THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, Nicholas “after stating that the literal sense of Sacred Scripture is the foundation of all mystical expositions, and that it alone has demonstrative force … he deplores the state of Biblical studies in his time. The literal sense, he avers, is much obscured, owing partly to the carelessness of the copyists, partly to the unskillfulness of some of the correctors, and partly also to our own translation (the Vulgate), which not infrequently departs from the original Hebrew.” In this latter respect, Nicholas de Lyra anticipates Erasmus.
The pioneer Strassburg printer Johann Mentelin (ca. 1410 -1478) established his press at a time when the only other place where printing was performed was Mainz; and it has been suggested that Mentelin learned the art from Gutenberg. His first book was a 40-line Latin Bible; and to Mentelin belongs the honor of having printed the first German Bible in 1466.
ISTC’s report of copies in the U.S. gives a pretty clear picture of the rarity of the book in complete form. Only two others, besides this Cathedral Library copy, are complete:
Ann Arbor MI, Univ. of Michigan, Univ. Library (II); Detroit MI, Detroit Public Library (ff 408-562); New York NY, Pierpont Morgan Library (III); Rochester NY, Univ. of Rochester, Sibley Music Library, Eastman School of Music (Psalms, 149 ff.); San Francisco CA, Univ. of San Francisco, Gleeson Library; San Marino CA, The Huntington Library; Washington DC, Library of Congress, Rare Book Division (I, ff.1-359); Washington DC, Washington Cathedral Library (I-IV)