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    Early Printing of an Important Work of
    Mystical Theology

    Gerardus [Gerhard] Zerbold [Zerbolt] de Zutphania. Tractatus de spiritualibus ascentionibus. [Paris:] Gilles de Gourmont, [1507]. Small Octavo. [aaa]-hhh8. 64 leaves. Large de Gourmont woodcut on title page [Renouard, 380]. Modern antique style calf, blind-tooled with banded spine and gilt title, all edges gilt; contemporary ink annotations about Gerardus on verso of last leaf, with bleed-through, minor lower margin stain, text block has small margins and was most likely trimmed, else very good. Renouard/Moreau I, page 232:76 [three locations only none in US. BM STC (French) 201. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
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    Gerard (1367-98), a member of the Devotio Moderna and librarian of the Brethren of Common Life at Deventer, teacher of Thomas à Kempis. In this work Gerardus outlines the states of the soul towards redemption in this important work of mystical theology. Its method of meditative exercises culminated in Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises.

    The Devotio Moderna was a religious movement of the Late Middle Ages. It came into advocation at the same time that the concept of Humanism meshed with Christianity to form Christian Humanism. Christian Humanism advocated studying the fundamental texts of Christianity to come to one's own relationship with God. The fifteenth century laity were able to study the scriptures by the advent of the printing press. With the ideals of Christian Humanism, Devotio Moderna recommended a more individual attitude towards belief and religion and was especially prominent in Dutch cities during the 14th and 15th centuries. It is regarded sometimes as a contribution to Lutheranism and Calvinism. It was also a major influence upon Erasmus, who was brought up in this tradition.

    The treatise De spiritualibus ascensionibus was a very popular devotional work, the most important Gerard's works, and printed many times until well into the sixteenth century. It describes in seventy chapters the various steps one has to go to rise from this vale of tears to a mental state of paradisical innocence.            

    Renouard/Moreau I, page 232:76 [three locations only none in US. BM STC (French) 201.

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