JOSEPHUS, Flavius (ca. 37-ca. 100). De antiquitate Judaica. Translated from Greek into Latin under the supervision of Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus (ca. 480-ca. 583). -De bello Judaico. Translated from Greek into Latin by ?Rufinus Aquileiensis (ca. 345-410). Augsburg: Johann Schüssler, 28 June-23 August 1470.
Royal 2o (398 x 294 mm). Collation: [110(9+1) 2-312 4-1610 178 18-1910 208; 21-2710 28-298] De antiquitate judaico, prologue, 1/2r text, 20/8r a count of verses in the text, 7 lines of Latin verse on Josephus, inc. Iosephus hic scribit, and commendation of Josephus by Eusebius, 20/8v De septem mirabilibus mundi, first colophon; De bello judaico, prologue, 21/2r text, 28/8v second colophon). 287 leaves. 50 lines, double column. Type: Zainer 1:117G. 2- to 12-line spaces for initials. Opening initial illuminated in blue with white modeling on a gold ground gauffered with small flowers within green and red faceted square frame, border extension of a leafy tendril in green, blue, magenta and brown with gold bezants; remaining book initials in red with green Maiblumen infill and flourishes, seven with brown and one with red penwork, three in green with red penwork; chapter initials, paragraph marks and underlines in red, running titles of book numbers and headings to each work supplied by the rubricator. Traces of contemporary manuscript quiring, letters and arabic numerals, in lower inner or outer margins of rectos. (Some worming, mainly in first and last few quires, marginal tear in upper margin of 19/9, a very few other short marginal tears.)
Binding: contemporary Augsburg binding (Kyriss shop 90, "Wundervogel" = Schwenke-Sammlung Fuchsvogel-Meister I) of alum-tawed pigskin over half-bevelled wooden boards, sides panelled with fillets, the central compartment with intersecting fillets forming a saltire pattern, stamped with Schwenke-Sammlung tools Palmette 45, Rosette 264, Schrift (maria hilf) 361, and Ranke 215; original chased brass center- and corner-pieces, two brass and leather fore-edge clasps (the leather renewed), corner and center-pieces each with central yhs medallion dated 1464, the corner-pieces with cast inscription maria hilf uns aus not ma, and the date repeated, clasps and catchpieces with cast inscription aue maria gracia; author's name lettered on lower edge (worming to lower cover), vellum quire liners, quires 7 and 16 lined with strips from an Augsburg document, addressed to Magistris Cristiano Linck decano et Johanni Stabenhalter from the archdeacon of the cathedral; many deckle edges preserved; folding cloth case.
Provenance: Augsburg(?), Canons Regular: deleted inscription on front pastedown apparently recording the gift of the book to the canons in 1481, by Johannes Stabenhalter, whose name appears in the binding waste (see above) -- a few contemporary marginalia -- [Emil Hirsch, cat. 54 no. 81 (ca. 1925)] -- Frank J. Hogan: bookplate; his gift to -- Countess Estelle Doheny: bookplate; sale, Christie's New York, 22 October 1987, lot 39 (to Lathrop Harper).
FIRST EDITION of a classic of historiography and the most important post-Biblical source for early Jewish history. Josephus' earliest extant work, probably written in Aramaic between 75 and 79, the Jewish War relates the history of the Roman conquest of Judea in the first century of the Christian era, the greater part being an account of the Jewish revolt of 66-70, largely based on Josephus' personal experience as military commander of Galilee. Although Josephus wrote his history with the dual aim of winning Roman sympathy for the Jews and discouraging Diasporan Jews from further armed resistance, and thus minimizes the role of the nationalist sects while perhaps exaggerating the military invincibility of the Romans, the work is of fundamental importance as the only surviving source of the history of Judaism in the first century A.D.. It also provides valuable first-hand information on Roman military tactics. No manuscript in the original Aramaic survives, but Josephus himself prepared the Greek version with the assistance of competent scholars. Completed in 93, the Jewish Antiquities covers in 20 books the rest of Jewish history, from Creation to the outbreak of the war against Rome. In it Josephus pursued his mission of presenting Judaism to the Hellenistic world in a favorable light by emphasizing the rationality of Judaic laws and institutions. Recapitulating Biblical history for the period preceding the fourth century B.C., Josephus drew on a wide range of sources for the later periods, including Domitius of Halicarnassus, Nicolaus of Damascus, Polybius, Strabo, and apocryphal books. The Greek editio princeps of the histories was not published until 1544 (see lot 164). The Latin translation of the Bellum Judaicum was undertaken at Cassiodorus' request, presumably from a manuscript in his library. The translator, a skilled Latinist, took certain liberties with the Greek text that may have been due to a corrupt text; the same is true to an even greater extent of the Latin version of the Antiquitates Judaicae, traditionally attributed to Rufus of Aquilea (for a summary of the questions raised by the translations, cf. H. Schreckenberg, Die Flavius-Josephus-Tradition in Antike und Mittelalter, Leiden 1972).
This was the first book printed by Johann Schüssler, Augsburg's second printer, who had worked as a bookbinder and scribe before learning the typographic arts with Johann Mentelin at Strassburg. His sole type fount was acquired from Günther Zainer. After printing less than a dozen editions, Schüssler sold his five presses in 1473 to the monastic shop of SS. Ulrich and Afra, and returned to full-time bookselling and binding. Kyriss shop 90, where the present copy was bound, is probably to be identified with Schüssler's bindery. A large proportion of recorded bindings from the shop are on Schüssler editions, at least one with Schüssler printed waste (cf. Paul Needham, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 9, 1986, p. 73, note 13). The Augsburg Stadt- und Staatsbibliothek copy of the Josephus was also bound in this shop (Hubay, Augsburg, 1261). The brass center- and corner-pieces appear on another book from the same bindery, the Cambridge University Library copy of a Strassburg Vulgate Bible (not after 1470; Goff B-533, Oates 110).
The collation given by BMC, calling for an initial quire of 12 leaves, with the first leaf blank, is incorrect. The illuminated initial of this copy is in the same hand as that of the Pierpont Morgan Library copy. A broadside offprint or proof copy of the De septem mirabilibus mundi, printed on 20/8v of this edition, is known from a single copy preserved at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB-Ink. D-66).
A SPLENDIDLY LARGE AND FRESH COPY, mostly untrimmed by the binder. HC 9451*; BMC II, 327 (IC. 5612-13); BSB-Ink. I-615; CIBN J-306; Harvard/Walsh 527; Goff J-481.