Only edition. Historian of French grammar and lexicography Odile Leclercq states unequivocally: Le premier dictionnaire, à notre connaissance, monolingue [est], le Dictionnaire en théologie, rédigé par un anonyme en 1560. Bilingual dictionaries preceded monolingual throughout Europe, as the former served a more essential and immediate function as aids to translation for students and tradespeople. The earliest bilingual dictionaries usually offered translations of vernacular entries into Latin, or vice-versa; in France it was Estienne's 1539 Dictionnaire françois-latin; in English it was Thomas Elyot's Dictionary, a comprehensive Latin-English lexicographic work first printed in 1538; and in Spain it was Antonio de Nebrija's 1492 Diccionario latino-español. Our anonymous dictionary was conceived (according to the publisher, Jean Crespin, in his foreword) as a companion volume to the 1554 concordance to the two momentous French translations of the Bible by Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples (1530) and Pierre-Robert Olivetan (1535). Crespin states that his dictionary comprises three parts in a single lexicographic sequence: words commonly used in scripture; certain Hebraisms; and explanations of people and places. He adds a note about contradictions and inconsistencies:
"…la conciliation de certains passages qui semblent contraires l'unà l'autre, comme on pourra voir au mot de Conciliation, non pas pour entreprendre d'accorder tous lieux qui semblent repugner, mais pour donner le goust aux lecteurs chrestiens de pouvoir jour quelque jour d'un traite ample et riche qui sera dispose par lieux communs de la saincte Escriture rapportez l'un à l'autre."
Crespin reveals little regarding authorship, but states that the work was a concerted effort by a pious and well-qualified group scholars. Gilmont, in his bibliography of Crespin's output, notes that the Geneva-based printer does not refer to his own contributions to the 1554 concordance. Nearly a century and a quarter would pass before the next monolingual dictionary of the French language would appear, Antoine Furetière's Essais d'un Dictionaire universel, in 1684. Our copy of Crespin's work bears the ms. ex-libris of the great Perugian scholar-bibliophile Prospero Podiani (d. 1615), whose collection later formed the core of the Biblioteca Augusta. No copies of the Dictionaire en theologie located in American libraries.
Octavo, 171 x 112 x 25 mm (binding), 171 x 111 x 23 mm (text block). *4, a-z8, A4, B2 = ff. Contemporary limp vellum titled on spine in manuscript. Covers cockled, soiled, and stained; endpapers recently renewed with old stock; one original free end with contemporary and later ms. notes. Interior: Title and following two leaves with old marginal mends, not affecting text; some soiling and staining; small pale damp to head margin throughout, expanding on last 20 ff; small stain to fore-edge of text block; scattered underlinings and one or two contemporary marginal notes; book has a slightly musty odor.
Provenance: Ex libris Podiani (ms. custodial note to first free end); a contemporary ms. prayer on same page; on verso a later anonymous ms. motto in French on honors conferred on the dead. Scattered modern booksellers' penciled notations to endpapers.
Gilmont (Crespin) 60/7; Dufour/Moeckli p. 43; Leclercq, Odile, Construction d’un savoir et d’un savoir-faire dans le traitement du lexique français aux 16e et 17e siècles, Paris: Université Paris-Diderot, 2006. Matoré, Georges, Histoire des dictionnaires français, Paris: Larousse, 1967; Quemada, Bernard, Les dictionnaires du français moderne, 1539-1863, Paris: Didier, 1967.
Geneva: Jean Crespin, 1560.