Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This prophecy brought to you by Hartmann Schedel, Andreas Osiander, Sebastian Franck, Christian Egenolff, Twelve Sibyls, and Will-Erick Peuckert

Substantial sections of Chapter One and Chapter Four of Printing and Prophecy are devoted to untangling the development and later history of the prophetic compilations that Christian Egenolff printed in Frankfurt. The original sibylline collections that Egenolff started printing in the early 1530s go back to material from Phillip de Barberiis, Jodocus Eichmann, and Jakob Köbel, to which Egenolff began adding other short pieces, including the Extract of Various Prophecies (compiled from from Lichtenberger’s Prognosticatio and Grünpeck’s Speculum), Johann Carion’s “Hidden Prophecy,” “36 Signs of the Last Day,” and others. The collections printed in 1548-1550 were made much more substantial by the addition of the Prognostication for 24 Years of Paracelsus and the complete Prognosticatio of Lichtenberger, as well as adding a few new shorter pieces. Egenolff’s collections led to a number of reprints well into the 17th century.

Late in the process of publishing Printing and Prophecy, I came across an article I hadn’t seen yet: Will-Erich Peuckert, “Zwölff Sybillen Weissagungen,” Mitteilungen der schlesischen Gesellschaft für Volkskunde 29 (1928): 217-57. Peuckert turns out to be approaching the same question, but from the opposite direction. He starts with a 1677 reprint and attempts to determine its sources, eventually noting the 1549 collection of Egenolff. Peuckert identifies a few sources of the minor works more exactly than I had (but not Grünpeck’s “Reformation of Christendom and the Churches,” whose source I had hoped to find along the way), but at that point it was too late to add more than a footnote to Peuckert.

Peuckert notes that the source for the “36 Signs of the Last Day” is Sebastian Francks Chronica, Zeitbuch und Geschichtsbibel, first published in 1531. Peuckert prints both versions in parallel columns, and the identity of the two is beyond doubt.

Thanks to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, I was recently able to check the digital facsimile of Franck’s Chronica. The “36 Signs of the Last Day” occurs at the end of the eighth and final section of Franck’s chronicle, and it’s preceded by several paraphrases of Lutheran polemic prophetic pamphlets:
  1. Andreas Osiander’s preface to his edition of the Vaticinia de summis pontificibus (1527)
  2. Martin Luther’s preface to the “Brother Claus” letter of Charles de Bouelles (1528)
  3. Martin Luther’s Mönchskalb and Bapstesel interpretation (1523)
  4. A tract on the Antichrist, borrowed (like much of Franck’s Chronica) from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493, itself a compilation of older sources)
  5. “36 Signs of the Last Day”
The interesting thing here is that Sebastian Franck is reading Osiander and other pro-Lutheran prophetic tracts, and that Egenolff drew on Franck for the Antichrist and “36 Signs” sections of his collection, added in 1532.* Franck is not likely to be the original source of the “36 signs,” however, and similar lists of signs were in circulation, including a list of 23 signs printed together with a work by Bullinger in 1541 (VD16 B 9753). Joerg Frell expanded the “36 Signs” with a preface and additional material in 1580 (VD16 ZV 21238).

*Also, while I still disagree that Egenolff’s collections were anti-Roman in tone, Egenolff’s use of Franck makes me 10% less right and Robin Barnes 10% more correct than we were before. Cf. Barnes, Prophecy and Gnosis, 145.
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The page proofs of Printing and Prophecy are about two thirds finished, and my semester is about two weeks from its conclusion. Posts will continue to be infrequent for a while yet.

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