Franciscus Junius' Edition of 1665

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Franciscus Junius the Younger (1591–1677) was a skilled scholar in many disciplines - theology, law, history, languages, and other fields - periodically working as an editor, a teacher, and a librarian. He was very interested in collecting and editing rare manuscripts, and also very interested in Germanic languages, not least Gothic.

Editio princeps

Junius made the first printed edition of the Codex Argenteus, the editio princeps, using specially made Gothic fonts. It was published in Dordrecht in 1665 and later in Amsterdam in 1684 with a new title page. In Junius’ edition the Gothic text is adapted to modern custom: the order of the Gospels is Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. The division is in chapters and verses, and there are no traces of the Eusebian system of sections and canon. The Gothic text is printed with resolved abbreviations. An English Bible text translated by Thomas Marshall is added as parallel reading. The edition includes a Gothic glossary.

The Gospel through barbarians

The Dordrecht edition 1665 as well as the Amsterdam edition 1684 has a frontispiece leaf with an engraving by A. Santvoort (»A Santvoort fe:«). The centre of the picture is a portal in a decorated renaissance wall. The four evangelists are placed in each corner of the image square. In the middle of the top God is shining like the sun, marked as Jahve in the Hebrew tetragrammaton. The portal encases the text »D.N. Iesu Christi S.S. EUANGELIA Gothicè & Anglo-Saxonicè.« Thereafter is a Greek quotation from Colossians III:11 saying something like: »Not Barbarian, Scythian – but Christ is all, and in all.« The entire passage is: »Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision, nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.« So even (or perhaps: not least) the barbarian Goths and other peculiar peoples could be the portal to the gospels.

Junius had great difficulties in finding the order of the Codex Argenteus. The order of the Gospels was not the one he was used to, and the leaves were bound together in disorder. This explains Junius’ many notations in the margins of the original manuscript, which we still can see today.

Junius – the suitable editor

Franciscus Junius had several reasons for his interest in the Codex Argenteus, and there were also certain circumstances that made him the suitable first editor of the manuscript. He had the learned librarian’s instinct to collect and edit old and rare manuscripts. As "The Father of Germanic Philology", he had a special interest in the Gothic language. And he also probably had a religious interest in Wulfila’s Bible as a first example of non-Catholic vernacular Bible translations into Germanic languages (a proto-reformatory Bible). Moreover, (but perhaps just a coincidence?) Junius had a special relation to Friesland where St. Liudger once worked as a missionary, Liudger who was supposed to have taken the Codex Argenteus from Italy to the Germanic countries. And last but not least: he was the uncle of Isaac Vossius who owned the manuscript.

After his education in Leyden (philology, theology, and science) Junius had moved to England in 1621. First he worked in the library of the Bishop of Norwich, Samuel Harsnet, and then in the library of Thomas Howard, the 2nd Earl of Arundel. The Arundel library, of which Junius later became the librarian, contained great and rare collections. Junius could spend part of his time on studies, copying and making excerpts from manuscripts. Later on, he could use  this material together with material from the rich library of his nephew Isaac Vossius for editions and lexicographical works. 

The Father of Germanic Philology

Back in the Netherlands in the early 1640s Junius became interested in the history of the Dutch language, and soon he was absorbed by Germanic philology in general: Old English, Frankish, Frisian, and other languages. His interest in the Gothic language is for the first time expressed in 1650 in a letter to a kinsman. He hopes that his nephew Isaac Vossius, librarian at the court of the Swedish Queen, would come to London and tell his uncle what he has learnt of the Gothic language. Junius obviously thinks that Gothic is still living in some (unclear) respect in Sweden. In 1654 he has borrowed the Codex Argenteus from Vossius, who has got the codex from Queen Kristina when the Queen abdicated and started her journey to Rome. Junius is very happy to plunge into this sea of Gothic words, and he starts to transfer them to his Old English-Latin dictionary. Later on, he discusses Gothic words and philology with learned colleagues, especially the German theologian Johan Clauberg.

Wulfila’s Protestant symbolic value

Junius’ possible religious interest in Wulfila’s Bible as a non-Catholic vernacular Bible translation into a Germanic language, a proto-reformatory Bible, is probable when looking upon his own background. He came from a Huguenot family. His father, Franciscus Junius or François de Jon, was a French Protestant, who once had translated the Bible into Latin for the Protestant world. Very many of Junius’ kinsmen and learned colleagues were Protestants, like many of the humanistic philologically interested scholars of the 16th and 17th centuries. One of them, James Ussher, Archbishop of Ireland with Calvinist sympathies, was one of Junius’ correspondents. In 1651 he writes to Junius about Vulcanius’ information about the Codex Argenteus, and among other things he comments the "doxology" at the end of the Lord’s Prayer in Wulfila’s translation ("For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever"). This is lacking in the Vulgate, but Wulfila has it from an old Greek source, and (understood) the Protestant Bibles have it.

Liudger and Friesland

And Friesland? Well, it is a vague connection or perhaps just a coincidence. The idea that the Codex Argenteus was taken from Italy to the northern parts of Europe by St. Liudger seems to be born in the 19th century. But of course this tradition might be older. It is not very likely that a connection between Liudger and the codex ever was in Junius’ mind, but you never know. Liudger founded the monastery Werden in 799. Before that he stayed in Italy from where he took many pieces of art. He was a pupil of Alkuin, Charlemagne's "minister of culture", and he visited Alkuin’s school in York in the 760s and 770s. Thereafter he worked as a missionary among the Frisians, and in 784 he went to Rome and Monte Cassino where he stayed for two and a half years. In 787 he returned to France, and after a new missionary period among the Frisians and in Westfalen, he founded his monastery Werden. Junius stayed in Friesland for about two years, perhaps 1646–1648, it is unclear, to study the language. The connection Codex Argenteus – Liudger – Friesland – Junius – Codex Argenteus may have philological and/or religious roots or be just a matter of chance.

Uncle of the Queen’s Librarian

But the connection Junius – Vossius was not by chance. Junius was the uncle of Vossius, his mother’s brother. The two gentlemen seem to have been very close related, not only by family ties, but also, and not least, by joint scholarly interests. For some periods they even lived together. Isaac Vossius had been one of Queen Kristina’s librarians. When Kristina moves to Rome in 1654, Vossius’ time at Her Majesties Service is over. But he has not got his salary, and his own manuscript collection is partly mixed up with the Queen’s, they have borrowed books from each other. On her way to Rome Kristina makes a stop in Antwerpen where she tries to settle up with her librarians. She gives them books for money and books for books. And among the books (or manuscripts) that Vossius gets is the Codex Argenteus. It is not fortune, of course, but we cannot prove it. Vossius was very aware of his uncle’s great interest in the Gothic language and of his knowledge of this codex. He knew that Junius wanted it, wanted to see it, to use it, to have it, at least to borrow it. And borrow it he finally could.

Pica Gothica

Junius used specially made Gothic fonts for his edition of the Codex Argenteus. At the bottom of the title page we can read: »DORDRECHTI.// Typis & sumptibus JUNIANIS. Excudebant Henricus & Joannes Essæi,// Urbis Typographi Ordinarii. CI)I)CLXV.« This means that the edition is printed in Dordrecht in 1665 with Junius’ types and money, and that the printing work was done by Hendrik and Johann van Esch, printers with burgership in the town. The title page text also says: »Accessit& GLOSSARIUM Gothicum: cui præmittitur ALPHABETUM// Gothicum, Runicum, &c. operâ ejusdem FRANCISCI JUNII.« That is to say that the publication also includes a Gothic glossary and has views of Gothic, Runic, and other alphabets, and that these also are works by Franciscus Junius.

As a scholar of Germanic languages, and as an editor of Germanic texts, Junius had special types made of those characters that could not be represented by the Latin ones. He treated these "printing utensils" as treasures, and when he died, he bequeathed this equipment together with his books and manuscripts to Oxford University where they are still kept and exhibited as a part of Oxford University Press archive. Junius had Gothic, Runic, Anglo-Saxon, ancient German, and other types cut, matriculated, and cast. He had contact with several printing houses in Amsterdam, Dordrecht, London, and Middelburg, and it is not easy to know whom he chose as his punchcutter. The Dublin scholar Peter J. Lucas has seriously penetrated the question. His suggestion is after a complicated reasoning (although he cannot prove it) that Junius’ punchcutter was Christoffel van Dijk, one of two very competent punchcutters in Amsterdam in the middle of the 17th century. Van Dijk thus could be the cutter of Junius Gothic font, his "Pica Gothica".

Junius and De la Gardie

Before Junius’ edition was published in 1665, the original Codex Argenteus was back in Sweden. Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie had bought the codex from Vossius in 1662 together with a copy of the text made by an (to us) unknown person called Derrer. Junius had used Derrer’s copy for his edition work, but he had also made his own copy of the manuscript, still extant and kept in the Bodleian Library in Oxford (MS Junius 55). The Derrer copy, on the other hand, was destroyed in the Uppsala fire in 1702. De la Gardie had paid 500 Swedish dollars, "riksdaler", for the original codex and the copy. He may also in some way have supported the printing of Junius’ edition. However, the edition is grandiosely dedicated to De la Gardie: »Illustrissimo et Exellentissimo Domino, D. Magno Gabrieli De la Gardie, Comiti de Leckou et Arensburg, Domino in Habsal, Magnushoff, et Hoyendorp, S. Regiæ Majestatis Regnique Sueciæ Senatori et Cancellario, Wester-Gothiæ ac Daliæ Judici Provinciali, nec non Academiæ Upsaliensis Cancellario.«(To the most Brilliant and Excellent Gentleman, Sir Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie, Count of Leckö and Arensburg, Lord of Habsal, Magnushoff, and Hoyendorp, and Senator and Chancellor of His Royal Majesty and the Kingdom of Sweden, Chief judge in Västergötland and Dal, also the Chancellor of Uppsala University.)

That is the beginning. The dedication takes eleven pages, and it constitutes at the same time an introduction to the edition. Junius’ Gothic glossary had already been published in the year before, but now it was reprinted together with the edition. The glossary had its own dedication to De la Gardie. The beginning is similar to the dedication of the edition, but the continuation consists of a fourteen pages long Latin poem in elegiac distich, written by the philologist Jan van Vliet (1620–66). The poem is about De la Gardie, the Gothic history, Junius and the Codex Argenteus. It is undersigned: »devotissimus JANUS VLITIUS J.C. Civitatis Ditionisque Bredanæ Syndicus & Archigrammateus

Apart from any possible financial aid relation between De la Gardie and Junius, there may have been another, more sentimental or symbolic relation: they were both coming from old Huguenot families, and as we have seen, the Protestant tradition was very important for many of those who were interested in the Codex Argenteus.