H KAINH DIAQHKH. Novum Testamentum Græcum, cum lectionibus variantibus MSS. Exemplarium, Versionum, Editionum, SS. Patrum et Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum, & in easdem Notis. Accedunt Loca Scripturae Parallela, aliaque […] & Appendix ad Variantes Lectiones. [The Greek New Testament, with the various readings of Manuscript Copies, Versions, Editions, Holy Fathers and Writers of the Church, and in the notes of same]. Studio et labore Joannis Millii, S.T.P.
First Edition. Oxonii, E Theatro Sheldoniano, 1707. Folio (27 cm x 39.5 cm). Lacking the engraved Frontispiece but otherwise the collation is complete: Halftitle, Titlepage with Titlevignette of Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre, 4 unnumbered pages (Epistola), CLXVIII pages (Prolegomena), 14 unnumbered pages (Index), 809 pages of text, (1), 64 pages (Appendix Ad Notas Superiores). Several, beautifully engraved headpieces and initials throughout the text, signed in the plate by dutch artist, illustrator and engraver Michael Burghers – [MBurg. delin et sculp.]. Modern Hardcover / Stunning, recent half – leather with gilt lettering on spine and cloth-covered boards in a stunning cardinal-purple fabric. From the library of Daniel Conner, with his bookplate to the pastedown and name on the titlepage. This extremely scarce publication is of great scholarly importance but it is also a typographical masterpiece. All vignettes in wonderful condition. Minor abrasion to halftitle. Otherwise in unusually excellent condition. The stunningly clean interior makes up for the lack of the frontispiece.
“Edited by John Mill (1645 – 1707), who became principal of St.Edmund Hall, Oxford, in 1685. He spent about thirty years over his task, which was begun partly at the suggestion of Edward Bernard, Savilian Professor, and with the countenance of Bishop Fell […] John Mill died a fortnight after its publication”. [Darlow / Moule 4725 – Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scripture: Volume II, pages 620 and 621].
Ian Gadd writes about the early developmental circumstances of John Mill’s New Testament in “The History of Oxford University Press” (Volume I: Beginnings to 1780): “The Licensing Act was allowed to lapse in 1695, but the University and the Company continued to share economic reasons for working together. War interrupted supply of paper from the continent, forcing all printers to be more dependable upon English manufacturers. Both parties continued to argue for the regulation of printing, leading members of the University (including Aldrich, Charlett, Halton and William Delaune..) petitioning its Chancellor, the duke of Ormond, to promote ‘a due Regulation of the Press; for the prevention of wicked, scandalous & other Dangerous Books & Papers, such as are dayly spread abroad’ in 1699. With the Delegates output curtailed, the way forward for the press was to rely on those who could fund their own works. John Mill had pointed the way as early as Fell’s death in 1686, when he effectively bought his Greek New Testament back from the University by paying them for the fifteen sheets already printed by Fell, suggesting that he (Mill) trusted his own business skills better than any arrangement likely to emerge for the future management of Fell’s press.” (Vol.I. pages 120 and 121) /
The struggles, concentration and costs scholars had who were cooperating with the University Press were immense. Ian Gadd sheds some light on these struggles and continues in his important monograph about one contemporary of Mill, Ernst Grabe, who had been “awarded a pension by Queen Anne to edit the Codex Alexandrinus, a task that had broken many previous scholars”.
″The work was attractively printed, with engravings by Vandergucht and Cole placed before each book, and approriately historiated initials. The venture almost broke Grabe: among his papers a draft letter speaks of his ‘vast Labour & Trouble, greater Expenses then any one can easily imagine’. His complains commenced with ‘the high Rate of printing at the Theater in Oxford, where I must pay for every sheet 2 # & 4 shill’, to which was added ‘the Dearness of ye Paper together with the cost of Drawing, Engraving & printing the Cutts before every Book of the Bible’. This was after Grabe had printed two of his projected volumes, and he lamented that he had been forced to pay off the university and recoup his losses himself. Grabe’s Septuagint text, although reprinted in later generations, was a failure in its immediate context because of two reasons, practical and scholarly: it came out in instalments and its basis on a single manuscript conflicted with the contemporary preference for synoptic texts.”
If Grabe’s Septuagint was only a mixed success, John Mill’s 1707 variorum Greek Testament was a landmark of textual criticism, the culmination of labours commenced three decades earlier. Mill had initially been prompted to the task by Bernard and Fell in the light of Fell’s own 1675 edition, and of course a work based on extensive manuscript collation was very much in line with Fell’s programme.
We learn about the typography and printing-process of the edition: “New Greek ligatures were cut specially for the edition. Mill, however, bore the entire cost of the edition, and he sold it by subscription. The printing took just over two decades, and the appearance of Richard Simon’s ‘Histoire critique du texte du Nouveau Testament’ (Rotterdam 1689-93) in the middle of Mill’s labour, opened his eyes to the importance of patristic citations of the New Testament. Although the text of the published testament was conservative, being largely a reprint of the Stephanus text of 1550, it was now accompanied by a textual apparatus on an unprecendented scale, with over 21000 notes and prefaced by Mill’s prolegomena discussing the canon and transmission of the New Testament, and the rationale of his Edition. Yet an examination of several copies has revealed that not only were the first 88 pages of the text reset at some point with corrections, as were some pages beyond these, but that both states were used indifferently in making up the complete book: ‘We cannot say that there are earlier copies and corrected copies’. Although this may be bibliographically commonplace, it is obviously theologically problematic”. (Ian Gadd – “The History of Oxford University Press” (Volume I: Beginnings to 1780 – pages 363 and 364).
″Mill spent thirty years on this tome, seeing it through to publication just two weeks before his death. Using the third edition (1550) of Stephanus’s Greek New Testament (in the tradition of Erasmus, which text, through many editions and minor changes, would become known as the Textus Receptus) as his base text, he produced an apparatus that gave the readings of 100 Greek manuscripts as well as those of several church fathers and versions. This apparatus revealed 30,000 variants among the witnesses, causing Roman Catholic scholars to decry the Textus Receptus as a ‘paper pope’ which was contradicted by the MSS of the New Testament. Some Protestants, too, attacked Mill’s work because they saw it as a threat to the Reformation principle of sola scriptura.”
(Source: The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts”)