Basel: Adam Petri, 1521.
Quarto: 20.8 x 15.4 cm.  ff., Collation: A-I4, K6
FIRST BASEL EDITION (1st ed. Wittenberg 1521).
A fine, wide-margined copy with contemporary annotations scattered throughout. Two pinprick wormholes in blank margin, gutter strengthened at leaf G4, title a little dusty and with old shelf number in blank margin. Imprint from STC German.
Annotated throughout by a contemporary reader, who has made 38 marginal remarks on 28 pages.
Melanchthon’s “Oration of Didymus Faventinus for the Theologian Martin Luther against Thomas Placentinus” was written in reply to “In Martinum Lutherum ... oratio” by Father Tommaso Radini Tedeschi, O.P. (1488-1527), of Piacenza, published at Rome and at Cologne, 1520. Radini published under the pseudonym Thomas Placentinus. Both Luther and Melanchthon, however, thought that the author of the "Oratio" was Luther's nemesis Hieronymus Emser. In this work, Melanchthon maintained that Scripture was the sole source of Christian doctrine and lambasted the scholastic tradition. It is especially notable for Melanchthon's criticism of the universities (See Richard, Philip Melanchthon, p. 70-71).
Styling himself “Didymus” (twin brother) Melanchthon defended Luther. He writes “Judge for yourselves whether those, who cast accusations at Luther (who has delivered our Fatherland from Romish frauds; who has ventured all alone to root out the errors which existed for centuries; who has again brought to light Christian doctrines which were almost buried by the wicked laws of the Popes, and the foolish subtleties of the schools) are seeking the welfare and glory of the Fatherland.” Melanchthon declared that everything which opposed the Gospel must fall, no matter how ancient it may be. After explaining the manner in which the Pope had gained supremacy in Germany, he called upon the princes to defend the Church against the power of Antichrist. (See Ledderhose, Life of Philip Melanchthon, p. 40)
Melanchthon also condemned aspects of higher education in this work, namely, the jurisprudence and scholastic philosophy taught in the schools. “Universities, he asserted, quoting a speech of Wycliff's, originated not from the popes, but from the devil. Princes, be maintained, should pay attention to changing and bettering the universities, since spiritual and worldly officials were trained there.
Melanchthon charged that scholastic philosophy, canon law, and theology (as taught in the universities) stood in full contradiction to Christian teachings. “The Jurisprudence courses, he maintained, produced only babblers and wind-makers. What was called canonical law was but the tyranny of Rome. The theology taught at the universities was nothing but the glorification of nonsense, sewed together out of the philosophy of Aristotle and the silly laws which one called canonical. The sentences the theologians taught were a forest of countless opinions, which had really nothing to do with Christ. The universities were a swamp of vice and depravity, which through its sensuality causes the youth to sink to the bottom.
“Faculty members also came under Melanchthon's censure. Speaking in generalities, he claimed one is driven to jurisprudence without polish or ambition and the other through hunger in theology. Covetousness, pride, and arrogance were cultivated more at a university than anywhere else. The Turks (Melanchthon's and Luther's, as well as the Emperor's enemy) would not allow such schools, Melanchthon adds, but we do because they are the creation of the Popes, that is, the devil's.
“Condemnation of the existing universities were but one phase of Luther's battles with Rome. He saw in the Church associated universities the Roman spirit in Germany. Melanchthon, however, remained convinced of the need for reform on the university level in both form and content. Scholastic theology prevalent at his time was unsuitable building material for Evangelical theology. Through Biblical theology, classical lectures, and Aristotelian philosophy created from translations of original texts, Melanchthon hoped to better the methodology of theology.”(Denys, Philip Melanchthon's Unique Contribution to Education, pp. 227-229).
Beuttenmüller 89; VD16 M 2437; BM STC German, 1455-1600, p. 241