Wittenberg: [Georg Rhau], 1540.
Luther, Martin (1483-1546); Spangenberg, Johann (1484-1550)
Der Gros Catechismus und Kinder Lere. Fur die jungen Christen, jnn Fragestücke verfasset, Durch Iohan. Spangenberg. [edited by Johann Spangenberg]
Wittenberg, G. Rhau, 1541
Octavo: I. Octavo: , CLXXXVIII lvs. Collation: A-Z8, a-b4; II. , 259,  lvs. Final leaf blank. Collation: A8, *4, B-Z8; a-k8, l4 (with blank leaf l4)
Two illustrated editions of Luther’s Large Catechism bound together in a contemporary pigskin binding, clasps renewed, with original hole for a chain staple on the rear board. The first is illustrated with 24 woodcuts; the title page, with a woodcut border, is printed in red and black. The second is illustrated with 37 woodcut illustrations and an armorial woodcut title vignette.
Fine copies. The first with occ. blemishes, very light browning to gathering Z, small tear to blank outer margin (not affecting the text) of leaf 163. The last gathering of the second work with small rust marks (from the original chain staple) in upper margin. Contemp. inscription on first title page. "M. Iustus Iseman (n) us Frisij".
Both editions are printed by Georg Rhau, who printed the first edition. The second book is the first edited by Johann Spangenberg. The full-page woodcuts for the Articles of Faith and Sacraments, three of which have the monogram "AW", are sometimes ascribed to Anton Woensam (von Worms). Merlo (Sp. 1013, 327b) believes an unknown Wittenberg artist to be the author.
The Large Catechism:
“It is not for trivial reasons that we constantly treat the catechism and exhort and implore others to do the same, for we see that unfortunately many preachers and pastors are very negligent in doing so and thus despise both their office and this teaching. Some do it out of their great learnedness, while others do so out of pure laziness and concern for their bellies. They approach the task as if they were pastors and preachers for their stomachs’ sake and had nothing to do but live off the fat of the land, as they were used to doing under the papacy.”- Luther, Preface to the Large Catechism
In 1529, Martin Luther published two catechisms. The “Small” Catechism was intended for students and others beginning their religious education. The “Large” Catechism was intended for pastors and preachers. Both were published in both Latin and German-language versions.
“Publication of the Large Catechism or, as the printers titled the early editions, the German Catechism, arose out of the need for instruction of the simple, often poorly trained clergy in the basics of the faith. Luther began writing the Large Catechism shortly after completing the second series of catechetical sermons in September 1528. In December, after completing his third series of sermons, he revised what he had written about the second and third commandments based on these later sermons. Because the material on the first commandment and the ―conclusion of the commandments had already been printed, he added new comments on these texts at the end of the section on the commandments. By January, work on the Large Catechism had progressed through the Lord’s Prayer. At that point, Luther became ill, and he stopped working until the end of March. The resumption of his work on the Large Catechism coincided with his preaching for Holy Week, 1529 (21–27 March). His sermons on Confession and the Lord‘s Supper during that week strongly influenced the material in the Large Catechism on those themes.
“Luther‘s German Catechism appeared by mid-April 1529. He immediately set about revising his work, adding the section on confession (based upon the aforementioned Holy Week sermons) and expanding the introductory material on the Lord‘s Prayer. The printer, George Rhau, added a series of woodcuts from the workshop of Lucas Cranach Sr. The 1530 edition contained for the first time Luther’s longer preface, which he probably prepared while at the Coburg Castle during the Diet of Augsburg. The edition of 1538 was the last to be published during Luther’s lifetime that contained minor corrections by him.
“Conceived as an important tool for teaching, learning, and understanding Christian doctrine (The Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, baptism, and the Sacrament of the Eucharist), Luther perceived catechisms as texts for youth and adults to read and consult on a continuing basis. In the introduction to the Large Catechism, he described his personal experience: “I am also a doctor and preacher, as learned and experienced as all those may be who have such presumption and security. Yet I do as a child who is being taught the Catechism, and every morning, and whenever I have time, I read and say, word for word, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, etc. And I must still read and study daily, and yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the Catechism, and am glad so to remain.”
Luther exhorted his readers “that they should daily exercise themselves in the catechism, which is a short summary and epitome of the entire Holy Scriptures, and that they may always teach the same. . . . That they daily exercise themselves well in these studies and constantly treat them; moreover, that they . . . steadily keep on reading, teaching, learning, pondering, and meditating, and do not cease until they have made a test and are sure that they have taught the devil to death, and have become more learned than God Himself and all His saints.”(SMU, Martin Luther in the Age of Print)
The second book in this sammelband is the first edition of Luther’s Large Catechism augmented by Luther’s friend Johann Spangenberg (1484-1550). Spangenberg added clarifying materials, intended not only for pastors, but also for the edification of the young. His intent is clearly reflected in the work’s title “The Large Catechism and Children's Instruction of D.M. Luther”.
I. Benzing 2566; VD 16, L 4353. II. Benzing 2583; VD 16, L 4354