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Daniel's Dream

Der vierde Teil aller Bücher vnd Schrifften des thewren seligen Mans D.M.L. : vom XXVIII. jar an, bis auffs XXX. ausgenomen etlich wenig Stück, so zu ende des dritten Teils gesetzt sind…
LUTHER, Martin
Durch Christian Rödinger,
Publication place
Gedruckt zu Jhena,
Publication date
  • Description

    Large 4to (315 by 195mm), woodcut and letterpress title printed in red and black depicting Luther and Elector Johann Friedrich I, Duke of Saxony, large woodcut map on leaf 489, numerous woodcut initials, title, initials and map with fine original hand-colour heightened in gold, small hole to title, scattered minor worming at front and rear, woodcut ex libris of the Gundlach coat of arms engraved by Virgil Solis pasted to lower paste-down, gauffered edges, calf-backed oak boards with later clasps.

    Collation: 579 leaves, [9p.].

  • Notes

    A fine example of the first state of the first version of the "Wittenberg World Map" or "Daniel's Dream Map" in original colour heightened in gold, here within a fine example of Luther's works from the library of a German nobleman.

    Ostensibly an interpretation of the prophet Daniel's apocalyptic dream of the four kingdoms, the map also served as propaganda to legitimize Protestant antipathy towards Islam.

    In October 1529 the Ottoman Empire, having conquered large areas of the Middle East and the Levant, were outside the gates of Vienna. Europe's Christian rulers, especially Charles V and the Pope, planned a crusade to reconquer the occupied territory and march on the Holy Land. In this period of political uncertainty, large sections of the Christian world sought guidance from their faith. The Protestant clerics Philipp Melancthon, Justus Jonas and Martin Luther, sharing a common enemy with the Ottomans in Charles V and the Catholic Church, argued for a rejection of Islam, and drew on the Old Testament for support. In doing so they interpreted the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel as an "end of days" prophecy of a victory of Christianity over the Turks, who were viewed as the embodiment of the Antichrist.

    The map was created by the illustrator "A.W." as a visionary map of the old world. He chose to opt - presumably as a hint towards contemporary relevance - for a Ptolemaic world map as his model. The map is curious in that it draws heavily on the modern world map in the 1513 Ptolemy, and the 1530 world map by Apianus, including a number of recent Spanish and Portuguese discoveries, such as the Cape of Good Hope, the Indian Ocean, and two peninsulas in Southeast Asia.

    The original and most common historical interpretation of Daniel's Dream dates the creation of the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel to the year 548 BC, when Daniel, a Jew held in captivity in Babylon under King Belshazzar, has a dream of divine revelation. The vision predicts major world empires and events from the time of Daniel to the second coming of Christ. In his dream, he sees four winds sent by God, which are directly connected with the Creation and at the same time represent the four directions of the heaven and the earth.

    The sea is the symbol for the sea of nations i.e., the whole of mankind, from which the four beasts arise in sequence, symbolising great kingdoms or empires.

    The first beast, like a lion with eagle's wings, refers to the Medo-Persians, successors of Babylon. Medo-Persia is followed by the Greek empire of Alexander the Great symbolised by the second animal, a bear with three ribs between its teeth that tears the wings off the lion. The Romano-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus records that on entering Jerusalem, Alexander was shown the prophecy of the four beasts by Jewish scholars; he interpreted this as referring to himself and acknowledged himself as king of Greece.

    The empire of Alexander is followed by the Roman Empire, symbolised by the third beast, a four-headed leopard with four wings. The fourth beast is described in the prophecy as being totally different from the others. It is powerful and terrible and destroys everything that is cultivated, holy and human until God himself passes judgement on it, kills it and gives Christianity dominion for all time. This fourth beast, depicted as a goat, represents King Antiochus IV of Syria, and so, by extension, an Ottoman, who symbolises the Antichrist.

    Within only a short time after its publication, the map of Daniel's Dream and its anti-Islamic message gained great popularity, with the result that it was reproduced in some fourteen different versions utilizing 20 different wooden printing block until the middle of the eighteenth century.

  • Provenance

    Ex libris of the Nuremberg tradesman Johann Gunlach (d.1590).

  • Bibliography

    Shirley 61(A).