Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

He Kaine Diatheke: Novum Testamentum Graecum [with the EDITIO PRINCEPS of the SYRIAC PSEUDO-CLEMENTINE EPISTLES]

Amsterdam: Officina Dommeriana, 1751. First edition. Two volumes, folio, published between 1751 and 1752. [8], 966, [6], with a half-title, 1 plate; 920, [4], 27, [10]pp. Both volumes with titles in red and black, engraved title vignettes. Syriac Pseudo-Clementine Epistles with separate title page, opening at the rear of the second volume, and reading from right to left, with text in two columns (Syriac facing Latin translation). Full contemporary Dutch vellum, stamped in blind; contemporary manuscript titling at spine. Covers lightly soiled (spines more heavily so); upper joint of the first volume cracked, but cords holding strong. A touch of dust soiling at the top margins, occasional light foxing, else text clean and crisp throughout. Overall a very good set, sturdily bound.

First edition of a celebrated work of early modern biblical scholarship which, until the twentieth century, was regarded as "the most elaborate and valuable of all the critical editions of the New Testament" (Orme). Edited by the scholar, Johann Jakob Wetstein (1693-1754), a scion of the Amsterdam printing family who produced Gerhard von Maestricht's New Testament of 1711, it includes the editio princeps of two pseudepigraphic works ascribed to Saint Clement of Rome, which survive in Syriac. At his native city of Basel in 1713, Wetstein defended a thesis on the various readings of the New Testament. "After collating MSS. in various libraries, he at length obtained in 1733 a professorship in the Remonstrants’ college at Amsterdam, in succession to Le Clerc. In 1730 the Wettstein press published his Prolegomena anonymously, and in 1735 he edited for the same firm a revision of G. v. Maestricht’s Testament. At length in 1751-2 he produced the critical edition at which he had been labouring for many years. Perhaps in deference to the opinions of his friends, Wettstein did not print in his edition the text of Codex A (as he seems at first to have intended), or a recension of his own, but merely reproduced the Elzevir text with very few variations. Immediately below, however, he indicated the changes which he considered absolutely necessary, from which it is easy to construct ‘Wettsteins’s text.’ Nearly all these proposed changed -- which, according to Reuss, number 159 -- had appeared in previous editions, and are generally accepted do-day. [...] Below this matter stands the critical apparatus, the most elaborate which had yet been published, giving innumerable variants, and citing as authorities for and against these a vast body of witnesses -- MSS., versions, early fathers, and printed editions. Wettstein introduced the practice of indicating uncial MSS. by roman letters and cursive MSS. by arabic numerals... In the revised and enlarged Prolegomena preceding the text, which give some account of his labours and controversies, Wettstein displays a marked antipathy to all the earliest MSS., which he suspected of having been corrupted by the Latin versions. The Animadversiones at the end of vol. 2 are more temperate, and possess higher value. A distinctive feature of the book is the commentary printed at the foot of the page. This forms a curious treasury of notes, illustrating both the matter and the language of the inspired writers by copious extracts from all kinds of authors -- classical, patristic, and rabbinic” (D&M). Item #49151

References: Dibdin (4th ed.) 1:156. Le Long/ Masch 1 (1778): 243-46. Orme, Bibliotheca Biblica, 465: “Wetsteins’s merits as a critic,’ says Dr. Marsh, “undoubtedly surpass the merits of his predecessors: he alone contributed more to advance the criticism of the Greek Testament than all who had gone before him: and this task he performed, not only without support, either public or private, but during a series of severe trials, under which a mind of less energy than Wetstein’s would infallibly have sunk.”

Provenance: bookplate of Bishop Philpotts' Library, Truro

Full title and imprint: [He Kaine Diatheke] Novum Testamentum Graecum editionis receptae cum lectionibus variantibus codicum mss., editionum aliarum, versionum et patrum nec non commentario pleniore ex scriptoribus veteribus Hebraeis, Graecis et Latinis historiam et vim verborum illustrante Joannis Jacobi Wetstenii. Tomus I [-II]. Continens quatuor Evengelia. [... Epistolas Pauli, Acta Apostolorum, Epistolas canonicas et Apocalypsin]. Amstelaedami, ex officinia Dommeriana. MDCCLI.

Price: $1,250.00