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Loci Communes Intro
Loci Communes Text
Loci Communes Notes
The Notes Vocabulary

 

 

 

 

The Mystery of the Origin of the Loci Communes and

Accompanying Notes in Neo-Latin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photocopy of a Biographical entry (in German) on Theodosius Fabricius from the Allgemeines Gelehrten Lexikon Volume 2 by Christian Gottlieb Jöcher, 1750.  The modern handwritten notes are on the photocopy.
Fabricius bio entry
In the mid-1970s, when I was beginning my studies in German and Latin, I was
Title page of Loci Communes
Main Title Page of the
Loci Communes

To view more pages follow the link at the far left to "Loci Communes Text".
 attending an open-air market in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, with my parents, aunt, and uncle, when I came across a box of old books among the hundreds of boxes of old books being sold at that fair.  Being somewhat of a bibliophile, I was searching through it for anything of interest when I came upon a thick book with a homemade cover of wallpaper and pages of apparently very old paper.  The text was in German and in very old script.  Even with the minimal knowledge I had of the German language at the time, I could tell that it was a religious text of some type concerning Martin Luther and that the book had been printed by Paul Donat in Magdeburg, Germany in 1595.  In addition, on another type of paper, possibly vellum, bound with short strips of the same material, was a hand-written, cursive script in what was apparently Latin.  

I knew this book was potentially valuable and I asked the man working the stall how much he wanted for it.  He said he would take fifty dollars.  I borrowed the money from my father and as we walked off with the book, another man from that stall ran up to us asking to see the book.  I let him see it and he said we might have something very valuable.

Since then the book has mostly sat in a bank vault in my home town in Kentucky, but from time to time my mother and I have made the effort to find an appraiser or to research it.   In 2007, I found a professor at the University of Texas-Austin, that informed me that it is a kind of Lutheran text known as a Loci Communes.   There are several of these in museums across Germany and, the professor stated, that she guessed any book dealer in Germany would probably give six hundred
Title page of the Fifth part

Title Page of the Fifth Book entitled "Vom Teuffel und seinem Reich" (Of the Devil and his Kingdom).
 dollars for my copy. 

In addition to the information the professor at Austin provided, I have, using the Internet, come across other interesting tidbits.  As I learn more, I shall periodically post here what I learn.  If you have something you would like to contribute, please let me know.  For now, this is what I know:

Martin Luther did not leave any organized writings concerning his beliefs.  As a result, over the next several decades, several of his followers, who were clergymen, organized his teachings into books called "Loci Communes", which is Latin for common points, because the teachings gathered into a volume were the common points of his teachings.  

Philip Melanchton produced the first Loci Communes in 1521 and a second in 1543.  Others followed.  My copy was produced by Theodosius Fabricius (the Latin version of the German name Theodor Faber) in 1597.  At the time of publication, Fabricius/Faber was pastor of the Sankt Johannes (St. John) church in Göttingen.  Fabricius/Faber died, age 37, of the plague in the same year the book was published.  The publisher was Paul Donat of Magdeburg.   If you can read German in the old script, a much more detailed biography can be found below in the scanned page from the Allgemeines Gelehten Lexikon, Volume 2, by Christian Gottlieb Jöcher.

I  intend to research my copy further and determine if there are any unique features to it.  More information on other Loci Communes can be found via this link:  World Cat; New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia.  So far I have learned the
First page of Loci Communes

Preface to the Loci Communes.  Except for the title pages of the two major parts, all of the pages of the Loci Communes are in black and white.
 following:

January 11, 2009 --There are at least ten copies of the Fabricius Loci Communes in libraries in the U.S. and Europe. The libraries are (one copy per library unless otherwise noted) :

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

Martin Luther College, New Ulm, MN

Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, Germany

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Bibliothek, Hannover, Germany

Otto-von-Guericke-Universität, Magdeburg, Germany

Herzog August Bibliothek (3 copies: first part, second part, and entire book), Wolfenbüttel, Germany

Royal Library of Denmark


However, what interests me most are the pages of hand-written, cursive script that were inserted between the book and the home-made wallpaper cover.  I have learned that pages like this were often notes made by someone studying the text and were later converted to a makeshift cover when the original was destroyed.   With my limited knowledge of Latin and from I can make out of the text, I can tell that it seems to be notes about the church and probably about material in or concerning the text, but no more.  Since beginning my research into these pages, I have found out that they are in Neo-Latin, which was used (primarily) circa 1500-1700.  To see these pages, follow the link in the link-bar at upper left to Loci Communes Notes.
De Ecclesia

Sample page from the Neo-Latin notes found in the Loci Communes.  "De Ecclesia" is Latin for "Of the Church".