"THE KEYS TO THE LONG LOST PRISCA THEOLOGIA": FIRST EDITION OF NEWTON'S OBSERVATIONS, 1733
NEWTON, Isaac. Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel, And the Apocalypse of St. John. In Two Parts. London: J. Darby and T. Browne, 1733. Quarto, contemporary full tan calf rebacked and recornered with original spine and red morocco spine labels neatly laid down, raised bands. $7800.
First edition of Newton's only "major work on the subject" of prophecy and symbolic writings, published six years after his death.
Newton's lifelong interest in prophecy produced his only "major work on the subject… Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel" (DSB). Newton "wrestled with this subject until the day he died… continually revising Observations. Like many of his contemporaries, Newton believed that prophecy concealed direct revelations of hidden truths that would reveal to men—very special men—the future course of history as set forth by the Creator from the beginning of time. He was especially drawn to Daniel of the Old Testament and John of the New because 'the language of prophetic writings was symbolic and hieroglyphical and their comprehension required a radically different method of interpretation.' To be even more explicit, the Book of Daniel and the Revelation of Saint John the Divine were for Newton the keys to the long lost prisca theologia" (Christianson, 259). Like many of his time, Newton "found it no abrupt transition to pass from the study of the material universe to an investigation of the profoundest truths and the most obscure predictions of Holy Writ" (Brewster), and many scholars conclude that "Newton was an apocalyptic thinker" (Snobelen, Canadian Journal of History), who "arrived at his theory of gravity partly through his exploration of alchemy and early biblical theology" (White, 358). "All subsequent commentators are largely indebted to the labours of Sir Isaac Newton" in his Observations (Allibone, 1420). Published six years after Newton's death, preceding an edition in Latin by one year. With engraved headpiece. Gray 328. Wallis 328. Webber 224. ESTC T41883. Lowndes, 1675.
Minor soiling to title page, interior generally clean, contemporary calf boards expertly restored.