MAIMONIDES (1138-1204). Moreh Nevuchim [The Guide of the Perplexed], in Hebrew. Translated from Arabic into Hebrew by Samuel ben Judah Ibn Tibbon. [Italy: Printer of the Moreh Hanevukhim, c. 1473-75].
Royal half-sheet 4° (leaves window-mounted to 245 x 194mm). Collation and contents as BMC XIII pp.9-10. 144 leaves (of 156, lacking 1, 2, 31, 32, 77, 150-54 and 2 blank leaves). 36 lines. Hebrew types: 1:140H, 2:101H.(Archivally conserved: all leaves window-mounted and most strengthened, about 15 leaves with loss of some text, stain in a few leaves.) Modern burgundy diapered calf. Provenance: Elkan N. Adler (1861-1946).
FIRST EDITION AND ONE OF THE EARLIEST PRINTED BOOKS IN HEBREW. Maimonides is one of the greatest figures in Judaism and the Guide of the Perplexed is considered the most important contribution to philosophy by a Jew of the Middle Ages. Shortly after its composition, the Guide was translated twice from Arabic into Hebrew; Tibbon's translation was made with Maimonides' advice, and completed in the year of his death, 1204. 'In its Hebrew translations the Guide determined the course of Jewish philosophy from the early 13th century on' (Jewish Encyclopedia, p.769). It strongly influenced Christian scholastic thought, and informed the writings and philosophy of Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Meister Eckhart and others, who often cite passages from the Guide. Its incorporation of neoplatonic philosophy played a role in the transmission of neoplatonism to the Renaissance, and its introduction of the spirit of rationalism into philosophical discourse further influenced the Enlightenment; the Guide continued to shape the thought of modern philosophers such as Spinoza and Leibnitz.
In the Guide, Maimonides treats of the spiritual and philosophic as well as the literal meaning of Scripture. He investigates the divine attributes and incorporeality of God, creation, prophecy, the nature of evil, divine providence and man and morality.
Long regarded as printed at Rome at the first Hebrew press, recent bibliographical analysis assigns it to an unlocalised eponymous press. All Hebrew incunabula are rare. Only two other copies of the Guide have appeared at auction in over 30 years, both imperfect, and numerous copies held in institutions are also imperfect. Of Maimonides' own text, 3 leaves are missing from the present copy, the other missing leaves contain parts of the introduction and index. H 10521; CIBN Heb-26; BSB-Ink M-29; Bod-Inc. Heb 61; BMC XIII, 9 (C.50.d.13); De Rossi (p.121); Offenberg 86; Goldstein 8; Goff Heb-80.