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Queens' College : Novum Testamentum omne

Queens' College

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This is the third edition of Erasmus’ ground-breaking New Testament, first published under the title <i>Novum Instrumentum</i> by Johann Froben in 1516. In addition to being the first published Greek edition of the New Testament, it also contained Erasmus’ translation of the Greek text into Latin. In re-translating the Bible from the original Greek, Erasmus’ aim had been to correct the version known as the ‘Vulgate’ which during the previous thousand years had assumed near universal acceptance as the foundation stone of philosophy, theology, and law. To achieve his objectives Erasmus took the then controversial step of consulting original sources to establish his new Greek edition from which to create his ‘purified’ Latin translation. Although Erasmus was widely applauded for having cleansed the sacred scriptures of error, conservatives saw in his project a presumptuous desacralisation of tradition that risked undermining Church and society as a whole. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Queens’ College and its library enjoy a very real link to Erasmus’ <i>Novum Instrumentum</i> on account of the fact that he worked on the edition during his stay at the College in 1511-14.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Acquired by Queens’ in the eighteenth century, this copy is of particular interest due to its former ownership by the Polish humanist and Erasmus associate Jan Łaski (also known as Johannes a Lasco).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The most significant aspect of this volume is the numerous marginal notes entered by Łaski in his very fine and neat humanistic hand. Mainly written in Latin, these record Łaski's thoughts on Erasmus' translation, and offer references to other authors deemed relevant by Łaski. The volume is also remarkable for its decorated Polish binding. On this we see Łaski's initials and his Polish coat of arms (known as a Korab coat of arms). Both the head and foot of the back cover also show Łaski's full name as does a handwritten inscription on the <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>title page</a>: ‘Ioannis à lasco Poloni & amocor[um]’. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The donor inscription on the <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>title page</a> indicates that this volume formed part of a book donation given to Queens' in 1743 by a former Queens' fellow and fellow of the Royal Society, Thomas Walker. It was also one of the highlights in the library’s exhibition, <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>'In Praise of Erasmus: An exhibition to mark 500 years since the publication of his New Testament'</a> (Sept-Dec 2016).</p>

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