BARCLAY, Robert (1648-1690)
Theologiæ verè Christianæ Apologia
Amsterdam: Jacob Claus, 1676. Small quarto. (7 3/4 x 6 1/8 inches). , , 374,  pp.
Expertly bound to style in 17th-century calf, spine in six compartments with raised bands, spine ruled in gilt.
Very rare first edition of a Quaker masterwork: the primary explanation of their principles.
Publication of this work had an immediate affect on the development of Quakerism and the treatment of its followers. The Apology , writes Dean Inge, "became for a whole century a second Bible for the Society [of Friends]." Written when Barclay was still in his twenties during a period of voluntary exile from Great Britain, the work "is remarkable as the standard exposition of the principles of his sect, and is not only the first defence of those principles by a man of trained intelligence, but in many respects one of the most impressive theological writings of the [17th] century" (Sir Leslie Stephens). Following the publication in 1676 of the present first edition, Barclay would produce his own English translation. The work's importance may be judged from the fact it has been reprinted over 60 times and translated into numerous other languages. Robert Barclay, a close friend and associate of William Penn, became proprietor of the American Quaker province of East Jersey in 1683. Although he was the provinces's nominal governor, he never set foot in the Americas. The publisher of this work, Jacob Claus, would go on to publish and distribute many of William Penn's promotional tracts. Only one other copy of this very rare first edition is listed as having sold at auction in the last 30 years (Christie's New York, 10 December 1999).
Evans 10950; Smith I:182; Wing B736.