Research Note: Three Sixteenth-Century Manuscripts of Writings of David Joris

Article excerpt

Non-specialists normally should not interfere in discussions on matters as complicated as the transmission history of the writings of David Joris (1501/02-1556), but a "research note" may allow even outsiders to bring small, hitherto unrecorded mosaic-stones to the attention of scholars who are fully initiated into the complexity of a certain field. Research on the life and teaching of Joris has made significant progress since a bibliographical foundation for such studies was laid by A. van der Linde in 1867) The twentieth century saw the publication of two monographs, one by Roland H. Bainton in 1937 and another by Gary K. Waite in 1990. The former marked the beginning of modern critical research on Joris; the latter represents its culmination thus far. (2)

The remarkably versatile, multi-talented Joris was a very prolific writer. Although a selection of his writings has been published recently in English translation, (3) critical editions of the original Dutch texts remain to be done. In a 1991 article on the clandestine printers of the numerous works by Joris between 1537 and the early seventeenth century, Paul Valkema Blouw summarized the bibliographical treatment of Joris before and after van der Linde and provided an extremely helpful contribution toward a revised bibliography by analyzing the printing history of Joris' entire corpus, including the items listed by van der Linde as well as a number of printings that were reported only after 1867. (4)

A future bibliography of Joris' works should certainly also include three manuscripts that came to my attention during a stay at the Staats- und Universitatsbibliothek Carl von Ossietzky, Hamburg, Germany. They were not included in van der Linde's bibliography because he listed only prints, the largest collection of which had also been found in Hamburg. (5) Although this collection of old prints was destroyed in World War II, most of the manuscripts were stored outside the city during the war and thus survived the fire storm. Due to the wide-ranging and sometimes obscure interests of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century scholars living in that once orthodox Lutheran city, the Hamburg manuscript collection is a treasury of early modern "heretic" texts. (6) Its holdings have been described in a number of excellent catalogues, from which, after comparison with the originals, most of the following information is taken. Researchers interested in the materials should consult the printed catalogues noted in the footnotes, which contain more detailed descriptions of these volumes and texts.

The first of these volumes (theol. 1110) is in folio and has [3 empty] + 82 + [3 empty] leaves. It contains 64 letters, treatises and shorter texts, some of them in fragmentary state. The volume, written in tiny script in two columns per page and c. 50 lines per column, was dated into the sixteenth century ("after 1544") by Peter Jorg Becker. (7) The paper type suggests that it originated in the Netherlands. Several hands left correctional notes based on comparisons of the texts with other copies, which suggests that the volume was thoroughly studied in the sixteenth and seventeeth centuries. In the beginning of the seventeenth century, the volume was bound in parchment (the watermarks in the blank paper leaves added at the beginning and the end of the manuscript point to a date roughly at the end of the first decade of the 16th century).

This re-binding seems to be connected with the origin of a little known edition of Joris' letters. Most of the contents of the codex appeared in print at about that time among the 170 letters published in the fourth part of the third book of the Sendtbrieven. This rare print, a copy of which Becker located in the Wurttembegische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany), was listed neither by van der Linde (8) nor by Valkema Blouw:

   Her Vierde deel van het | Derde Boeck | DER | Christelijcker
   Sendbrie= | ven: Jnhoudende vele verscheyden schoone | Godtlijcke
   Leeringhen ende Vermaninghen | met | onderrichtinghe op menigherley
   Vraghen ende Aenvech= | tinghen. …