The first Elzevier book

Drusius, Johannes (1550-1616).

Ebraicarum Quaestionum, sive, Quaestionum ac Responsionum libri duo, videlicet secundus ac tertius. Leiden, Lodewijk Elzevier [and Jan Paets Jacobszoon], 1583. (bound with:) Idem. Quaestionum ac responsionum liber. In quo varia scripturae loca explicantur aut emendantur. Indices tres. Leiden, [Jan Paets Jacobszoon], 1583.

Drusius, Johannes (1550-1616) Ebraicarum Quaestionum, sive, Quaestionum ac Responsionum libri duo, videlicet secundus ac tertius. Leiden, Lodewijk Elzevier [and Jan Paets Jacobszoon], 1583. (bound with:) Idem. Quaestionum ac responsionum liber. In quo varia scripturae loca explicantur aut emendantur. Indices tres. [Jan Paets Jacobszoon], 1583.

Two works in one volume, 8° (158x102 mm). I. Collation: A-H8. 126, [2] pages. Roman, Greek, and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page and coat of arms of the city of Leiden on fol. A8v. II. Collation: A-D8, E4. 72 pages. Roman, Greek, and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. Contemporary vellum, traces of ties. Smooth spine with inked title. A very good, unsophisticated copy. Wormhole in the outer margin, partially restored, and occasionally slightly affecting the text; some light browning.

The first book published by the leading printer and bookseller Lodewijk Elzevier: the first edition of the Ebraicarum quaestiones by the Flemish Hebraist Johannes van den Driesche, better known as Johannes Drusius, professor of Oriental languages at Oxford, Louvain, and later active as a professor of Hebrew at the universities of Leiden and Franeker. The volume also contains a copy of another edition by Drusius, printed contemporaneously. Both works are usually found bound together in the recorded copies.

Lodewijk or Louis was the founder of the famous Elzevier dynasty of publishers, printers and booksellers; throughout the seventeenth century, the Elzevier house represented the most important publishing house in Europe, and it remained active until 1791. Lodewijk began his career as a bookbinder at the workshop of Christophe Plantin in Antwerp. In 1580 he settled in his hometown of Leiden to serve as bookbinder and bookseller at the new university. Three years later he published his first book using the presses of Jan Paets Jacobszoon, in Academia Lugdunensi.

The copy presented here is complete with the often lacking errata and colophon leaf, which, according to Pieters was added much later, probably after 1 May 1587, as attested by the mention in the colophon of the New School (“e regione Scholae novae”), the place which Elzevier started building within the Academy after that date. Pieters' suggestion was however contested by Willems, who states that “le feuillet d'errata fait corps avec le feuiller signé Hij; le papier est de même qualité et a les mêmes pontuseaux que le reste du volume” (Willems 22).

Drusius's career in the Dutch Republic was however affected by “the pressure to maintan orthodoxy in the church [...] In Franeker, Johannes Drusius was repeatedly forced to answer the accusations and insinuations of colleagues on the theological faculty [...] concerning his own theological soundness” (S. G. Burnett, Christian Hebraism in the Reformation Era, p. 63), whereas in Rome the works of the Reformed Drusius were condemned by the Congregation of the Index, and included in the Index of Prohibited Books issued in 1596, “a powerful tool in forbidding the spread of heresy in general and of heretical books of Christian Hebraists in particular” (ivi, p. 231).

Adams D-936; Pettegree-Walsby, Netherlandish Books 10350, 10351; Copinger, The Elzevier Press, 1461; Pieters 1; Rahir 14; Willems 22; S. G. Burnett, Christian Hebraism in the Reformation Era (1500–1660). Authors, Books, and the Transmission of Jewish Learning, Leiden 2012, passim; J. L. North, “Johannes van den Driessche, 1550-1616 and the Study of the Old Testament in the New”, B. Koet et al. (eds.), The Scriptures of Israel in Jewish and Christian Tradition, Leiden 2013, pp. 409-423. II. Adams D-935; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 160.

$ 3.500
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