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.
In the mid-1970s, when I was beginning my studies in German and Latin, I was
Main Title Page of the
To view more pages follow the link at the far left to "Loci Communes
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
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 Book entitled "Vom Teuffel
und seinem Reich" (Of the Devil and his Kingdom).
dollars for my
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
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:
New Advent Catholic
. So far I have learned the
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.
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) :
New Haven, Connecticut
Martin Luther College, New Ulm, MN
Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz,
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
Sample page from the Neo-Latin notes found in the
Loci Communes. "De Ecclesia" is Latin for "Of the Church".