[Strasbourg]: Johann Grüninger, 23. February, 1523.
Quarto: 20 x 15 cm. 152 lvs. Collation: A-Z4, a-p4
Bound in 20th c. three-quarter vellum and marbled boards. A very good, wide-margined copy with minor blemishes as follows: Title lightly soiled, gathering S damp-stained, a few gatherings lightly foxed, light dampstain to lower blank corner of final two gatherings. Blank verso of final leaf soiled. With woodcut historiated initials throughout. The excellent title border (Johnson 10; Pflugk-Harttung 74), which Grüninger used from 1512 on, could possibly be the work of Erhard Schlitzor (see Seebass/Tamann, cat. Coll. Stickelberger, fig. no. 211 ).
“Johannes Cochlaeus stands among the prominent members of the Catholic reaction to the Reformation during its first three decades. Two qualities give him a special place among the early Catholic respondents to Protestantism: the volume of his work and the rhetorical ferocity of his reaction to the beginnings of Protestantism. He was the most prolific and most acerbic of the Catholic polemicists, and both of these qualities in tandem give him a historical importance that is only now being recognized.”(Keen, Luther’s Lives)
This is the first edition of one of Cochlaeus' earliest and most extensive Counter-Reformation writings, in which he refutes Luther's “Ein sermon von dem Neuen Testament, das ist von der heiligen Messe” (“A Sermon on the New Testamant, that is, on the Holy Mass”) in 154 articles. In the foreword, he describes the Reformation movement as a “Bundschuh”(a peasant rebellion), pointing to the Erfurt Pfaffensturme (a riot against the clergy in June 1521) as proof, and Luther as a “new Hussite”, likening him to the martyred Bohemian reformer Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in 1452.
“The Church's teachings on transubstantiation and the sacrificial nature of the Mass had come under fire from Luther as human inventions and an attack on the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice in the Crucifixion. Cochlaeus therefore sought to connect Luther's positions on these issues with previous heretics' attacks on the Mass in order to discredit Luther's critique. Not surprisingly, then, references to Luther as a ‘new Hussite’ were legion in the ‘Gloss and Commentary’; Cochlaeus repeatedly trumpeted Luther's preference for Hussite eucharistic teachings over those espoused by the Church and consequently argued that Luther sought to raise the banner of the Hussite heresy in the guise of promoting ‘evangelical freedom.’ Again using an informal mode of direct address, Cochlaeus assailed Luther directly for his desire ‘to create a Hussite chaos and slop out of the Christian order’ by breaking down the notions of religious law, true penance, or the authority of any institution to dictate proper religious belief and practice. Cochlaeus further attacked Luther for preaching that the bread and wine were not transformed into the flesh and blood of Christ during the act of consecration, a belief that Cochlaeus attributed to Hus as well. This assertion of Luther's belief in remanence (the doctrine that the substance of the bread and wine coexists with the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, ‘consubstantiation’) lined him up with condemned heretics such as Wyclif and Hus, and it allowed Cochlaeus to invoke the authority of the church councils against Luther alongside his biblical and patristic proof texts.
“Ultimately, Cochlaeus juxtaposed Luther's preference for ‘your bread of Hus’ to the Church's ‘body of Christ,’ a contrast that echoed Cochlaeus' earlier accusations of Luther's idolatrous veneration for Jan Hus and further showed Luther to be resistant to all forms of legitimate ecclesiastical authority.”(Haberkern, Patron Saint and Prophet, p. 228-9).
VD16, C-4319; USTC 659795; Benzing, Strasbourg 399; Spahn, Cochläus 4a.