EIGHT-VOLUME FOLIO LATIN TRANSLATION OF CALMET’S IMPRESSIVE BIBLICAL COMMENTARIES, 1734-35—"A VAST TREASURY OF SIGNIFICANT INFORMATION"—WITH 20 FULL-PAGE ENGRAVINGS AND FIVE FOLDING MAPS, IN CONTEMPORARY BLIND-TOOLED AND CLASPED BINDINGS
CALMET, Don Augustin. Commentarium Literale in Omnes ac Singulos tum Veteris cum Novi Testamenti Libros. [Augsburg]: Augustae Vindelicorum & Graecii, Sumptibus Philippi ac Martini Veith, et Joannis Fratris Haeredum, 1734-35. Eight volumes. Thick folio, contemporary full white alum-tawed leather over wooden boards, raised bands, red and white calf spine labels, elaborately blind-tooled paneled covers, beveled edges, original brass catch-pins and clasps. $3500.
Third Latin translation of the Commentaire of Dom Augustin Calmet—“usually recognized as the greatest Roman Catholic biblical scholar of the 18th century”—illustrated with 20 full-page engravings by Johann-Gottfried Kolb and A. Ehman as well as five folding maps by P. Starckman (after Pierre Moullart-Sanson), distinguished in contemporary clasped bindings.
A French Benedictine monk who is "usually recognized as the greatest Roman Catholic biblical scholar of the 18th century" (Baird, History of New Testament Research, 157), Calmet began gathering material for what would become his monumental commentary on the Bible in 1696. The first of an eventual 23 quarto volumes appeared in Paris in 1707, entitled Commentaire littéral sur tous les livres de l'Ancien et du Nouveau Testament; the last was published in 1716. "The work inaugurated a new method of Biblical exegesis… its author very sensibly departed from the general custom of giving an allegorical (mystical) and tropological (moral) interpretation besides the literal, and confined himself to the latter. The most valuable parts of the commentary were the introductory prefaces to the several books and 114 learned dissertations on special topics" (Catholic Encyclopedia), including Hebrew poetry, music, weights and measures, medicine, customs of marriage and burial, military organization, circumcision, the Sanhedrin and Jewish sects. Calmet's Commentaire earned widespread respect and praise, even among some Protestants. "Calmet's biblical research is encyclopedic in character and quantity. He was dedicated to historical interpretation but loyal to the principles of the Council of Trent. Consequently, Calmet revered the Vulgate and considered tradition to be crucial in the exegesis of Scripture… [His work is] a vast treasury of significant information" (Baird, 157, 159).
Latin translations were made by Mansi (Lucca, 1730-38) and Vecelli (Venice and Frankfort, 1730). This is the third Latin edition (Augsburg, 1734-35). It contains 20 full-page engravings by Johann Kolb, some of which can be traced to early editions of Josephus. They depict such subjects as the days of Creation (Genesis 1); the family trees of Adam and Eve, and Levi; the Tabernacle and its furnishings, including the Ark of the Covenant; plans of the Temple and Temple Mount; priestly vestments and equipment; and biblical flora. The edition also boasts five engraved folding maps: Europe and the Mediterranean world; Eden and its surroundings; the route of the Exodus; the tribal division of the Promised Land; and biblical Israel situated among neighboring nations. Hague-based cartographer P. Starckman, responsible for re-engraving most of these maps, copied the 17th-century maps made by the famous Sanson firm, whose impressive work was emulated well into the 18th century. See Brunet, 887-88; Graesse II:20. Early owner signature and embossed seal of ownership on title pages. Occasional marginalia.
Scattered light foxing, occasional light dampstaining, expert repairs to two folding maps. Light age-wear to contemporary bindings, tiny wormholes to some covers, without top catch-pin on Volume V. An exceptional and venerable set of a work seldom found complete and in contemporary bindings.