Format: 33 x 35 centimeters Pages: 272 Paper: 220 grams, specifically created at the Cartiere Miliani Fabriano with a particular composition enriched with vegetable fibers that reproduces the characteristics of antique paper. This process guarantees that the work will last for centuries. Binding: entirely sewn by hand and bound in leather with embossments and gold leaf insignias. Case: solid wood. Iconography: more than 100 small illustrations and 3 full-page lithographs.
At the beginning of the 1500’s Jean Mareschal began his own company for editing and printing in Lyons; over the years Mareschal’s work expanded and developed to the point where it was considered second only to that of Parisian printing. A true cultural entrepreneur influenced by the spirit of his time, Mareschal did something unprecedented: in hopes of restoring the original pureness of the ancient version of the Bible, he prepared a Bible using a collection of antique sacred texts. Mareschal’s Bible compiles texts, comments, preambles, explanations, and comparisons from various sources. Because of his meticulous resolution to complete the material, the Lyonais publisher included the “Third Book of the Maccabees”, translated by himself, in the volume for the first time. This text was probably composed in Greek by a Jew from Alessandria in the centuries between BC and AD who wanted to encourage his own community to endure the persecutions, just as the Jews under Tolomeo IV Filopatore (221-203 BC) who then received help from the Omnipotent. In addition to being an exemplary item edited in that epoch, the 1541 Bible of Lyons represents a unicum in the history of this sacred text. The courageous publisher surely sensed the impending Counter -Reformation and the risks of his decision not to put the publisher’s name on the volume. In fact only five years later the Council of Trent declared the “Third Book of the Maccabees” apocrypha and put this edition of the Bible on their list. To escape from the Inquisition, Mareschal was forced to seek asylum in Switzerland and then definitively in Heidelberg, Germany. All of the remaining copies of the Bible were confiscated and destroyed. Today only a few copies of the Bible of Lyons are still in existence: five in France, two in Germany, one (incomplete copy) in Spain, and two in Italy, in addition to the Bible used for this facsimile. The success of this editorial undertaking was made possible by the sensibility of a collector of rare volumes who put his volume at our disposition and allowed the editors to unsew the binding and provide a meticulous restoration in order to reproduce the Bible page by page in an accurate manner without adulterating its original characteristics. The restoration, photography, the choice of paper, the printing and the packaging were punctiliously studied to recreate the characteristics of this rare book that survived the book-burnings of the Inquisition. All of the 632 pages have been perfectly reproduced: in these pages, in addition to the excellent typographic care, three full-page lithographs and more than one hundred small illustrations captivate the reader. These, in particular, constitute jewels in themselves. They are equal in care and originality to the most beautiful illuminated manuscripts of their time by skilled scribes and by Guillaume Leroy, one of the greatest European engravers of his time. Having chosen to reproduce this exceptional document unaltered in its original version, it is nevertheless desirable to furnish the reader with the instruments necessary to interpret the work. Along with the Bible there are two interesting essays written by two major Italian experts: Giancarlo Gaeta and Marcello Brusegan. Gaeta explains the significance and value of the book, recognizing the most salient contents and placing them in their cultural context. Brusegan conducted research that led to the identification of the publisher (who remains anonymous in the text) and has also reconstructed the biography together with the events surrounding Mareschal’s work. Hans Holbein’s Icons Alongside the reproduction of this extremely rare Bible is a portfolio which contains sixteen engravings contemporary to the Lyonais Bible. The engravings (“Icones” is the Latin title) are by Hans Holbein Junior, one of the greatest artists of the 1500’s. These reproductions depicting biblical episodes are borrowed from a unique exemplary conserved at the Marciana National Library of Venice. Monica Centanni has prepared a presentation which accompanies the sixteen engravings by Hans Holbein. AUTHORS Giancarlo Gaeta, professor of History of Ancient Christianity at the University of Florence, is an authority on the study of New Testament texts and an astute exegete of patristic theology; Marcello Brusegan is a medievalist and director for the Fondo Antico for the Marciana National Library of Venice; Monica Centanni teaches in the department of Conservation of Cultural Heritage at the University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, and is a Hellenist who deals with Greek tragedies in particular and history of classic translation.
This volume was published with the support of the Marciana National Library of Venice and its director, Marino Zorzi, who has also written the forward.