BIBLE, in Hebrew -- PENTATEUCH (Humash, or Torah) with Aramaic paraphrase (Targum Onkelos) and commentary by Rashi (Solomon ben Isaac). Edited by Joseph Hayyim ben Aaron Strasbourg Zarfati for Joseph ben Abraham Caravita. Bologna: Abraham ben Hayyim 'the Dyer' of Pesaro, 5 Adar I, 242. [= 25 January, 1482.]
Chancery 2°. COLLATION: [110 28 310 4-58 610 7-88 96 1010 114 12-136 1410 158 166 178 1810 198 2010 218 224 238 246 2510 26-278 286]. 212 leaves (of 220, lacking 1/1-4 (Genesis 1:1 - 4:26), 10/5-9 [fols. 82-85] (Exodus 25:12 - 28:5), 14/1 [f. 103] (beginning of Leviticus) and 28/4-6 [ff. 218-220] (including the colophon and the final blank). Leaf 8/7 [f. 69] bound after leaf 9/2 [f. 72]. The biblical text of fols 1-4 and f. 103 has been supplied on unwatermarked paper in an early Hebrew hand, imitating more or less the printed Italian square types of the book and providing no clue as to its derivation.
CONTENTS: 1/1r: beginning of Genesis with commentary by Rashi and with Targum Onkelos (4 leaves lacking); 6/10v: beginning of Exodus; 14/1r: beginning of Leviticus (1 leaf lacking); 18/1v: beginning of Numbers; 23/5v: beginning of Deuteronomy; 28/5v: line 3,conclusion of commentary; col. 1, line 13, conclusion of paraphrase; col. 2, line 10, conclusion of Deuteronomy, the colophon follows in long lines (2 leaves lacking); 28/6: blank (lacking).
Two columns. Vocalised biblical text with cantilation signs in one column, surrounded by Rashi's commentary (in long lines) at upper and lower part of the page and by the paraphrase (in a narrow column) at the outer side next to the biblical text. No foliation, signatures or catchwords. Headlines. To reach even lines in the biblical text, one or sometimes two anticipating letters were used at the end of the lines, in the commentary and paraphrase the same design (up to three letters) and abbreviated words were made use of. Printed in formes.
TYPES 1:180 H. (square) [=Haebler 16, 3: '163 quadr.'], vocalised with accents, and unvocalised, for the biblical text, the headlines and the initial words of the paraphrase; 2:90 H. (semi-cursive) [=Haebler 16, 1: '93 kurs.'], for the paraphrase, the commentary and the colophon. Both the square and the semi-cursive types are departing from the contemporary north-Italian ductus in manuscripts, the square types, of the kind as the forms we meet in the fourteenth-century Italian manuscripts (Birnbaum 302), are without litterae dilatabiles (expanded types), the semi-cursive as used from about 1400 to about 1525 (Marx 7) with aleph-lamed ligature and showing a peculiar ligature for the Divine Name.
CONDITION: somewhat cropped copy with loss of some text in the outer margins. Leaves 2/1 [f. 11], 3/1 [f. 19]. 14/2 [f. 104], 14/5 [f. 107], 28/2, 3 [ff. 216, 217] mutilated. Inner margins of leaves 26/6-27/8 [ff. 204-214] damaged with some loss of text (partly supplied in an early hand). No traces of expurgation.
PAPER: chancery paper, the leaf size varying between 297 x 180mm and 275 x 180mm. Paperstocks: watermark crown, close to Briquet, Les Filigranes, 4618, and close to Piccard, Die Kronenwasserzeichen, I: 101, and watermark crowned fleur-de-lys, Briquet 7224, Piccard, Wasserzeichen Lilie: 655-656.
EDITIO PRINCEPS OF THE TORAH, AND INDISPUTABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT HEBREW PRINTED BOOK. On the earliest editions of the Hebrew Bible Lazarus Goldschmidt, the well-known scholar and bibliophile, made the following remark in 1946: 'The educated man knows, indeed, from his knowledge of history that the art of Gutenberg saw its inception with a Latin Bible in the middle of the XVth century. Yet what layman knows when the original text appeared for the first time? Not even the bibliophile knows; although a non-Jewish expert, Count Giacomo Manzoni, asserts in his enthusiasm for the book that the first edition of the Hebrew Bible is the most precious book on earth.'
FIRST HEBREW BOOK WITH PRINTED VOWELS AND CANTILATION SIGNS. Abraham ben Hayyim probably started as a textile printer and bookbinder at Pesaro. In 1477 he printed two Hebrew books at Ferrara, succeeding (or co-operating with) Abraham Conat at Mantua, whose unfinished Tur Yore Deah by Jacob Ben Asher he completed. In Bologna, working for Joseph Caravita, he shows remarkable skill, being the first printer to find a solution for the difficult technical problem of adding vowels and cantilation signs to the unvocalised biblical text. An earlier attempt, in a folio edition of the Hebrew Psalms, printed by a consortium of printers in 1477, somewhere in northern Italy, was aborted after a few pages. In 1488 Abraham ben Hayyim reappears as master printer for the firm of the famous Soncino family at Soncino, still living himself at Bologna. Since Gershom Soncino, some twenty years later, worked with Hebrew fonts designed for him by the famous punchcutter Francesco Griffo da Bologna (c. 1450-1518), who cut all the characters used by Aldus Manutius at Venice, it seems probable that Abraham ben Hayyim knew Griffo as well, and he may even have introduced him to the Soncinos. For Aldus Manutius Francesco solved the problem of adding accents to Greek fonts in the 1490s. It seems reasonable to speculate that it was also Francesco Griffo who solved the problem of the addition of vowels and cantilation signs to the Hebrew Pentateuch of Abraham ben Hayyim in 1481-82 at Bologna.
FIRST HEBREW EDITION, IN WHICH THE BIBLICAL TEXT HAS BEEN COMBINED WITH THE COMMENTARY OF RASHI. Rashi's commentary on the Pentateuch was printed separately for the first time at Rome ca. 1470 by Obadiah, Menasseh and Benjamin, but the book mentions no place, no printer, and no date. The second separate edition - and the first dated Hebrew printed book - appeared on 18 February 1475 from the press of Abraham ben Garton at Reggio di Calabria in southern Italy (there is only one copy known). A third edition is the first Hebrew book printed in Spain, which appeared on 5 September 1476 from the press of Solomon ben Moses ben Alkabiz Halevi (also known in one single copy). Two more separate editions appeared in the fifteenth century (Soncino 1483 and Zamora, probably 1491-92, one copy known). Herbert C. Zafren has stated that after the first few years of Hebrew printing, when commentaries were printed separately, some printers realized that it was easier to combine texts and commentaries on one page through the medium of composing type, than it was for a scribe, producing a manuscript, and that this flexibility of the printing press answered the educational need for texts and commentaries in one volume. Apparently, Abraham ben Hayyim at Bologna was the first among them. Not until 1490 did another combined edition appear in Hijar, Spain, and in 1491 in Lisbon and Naples. (See H.C. Zafren, 'Bible editions, Bible study and the early history of Hebrew printing', Eretz-Israel. Archaeological, historical and geographical studies, 16, H.M. Orlinsky volume. Jerusalem: 1982, pp.240-51.) Isaiah Sonne has analysed the early editions of Rashi's commentary and shown that there are two different traditions to be distinguished, a Sephardic one in, for instance the Hijar and Lisbon editions, and a Franco-Ashkenazic one, in editions such as those of Rome, Bologna and Naples. He published Rashi's commentary on the story of Jacob and Isaac synoptically according to the Bologna (and Rome, Naples, Rimini) version and the Hijar (and Lisbon, Constantinople, Salonica) version ('A contribution to the text-criticism of Rashi's Commentary on the Pentateuch', Hebrew Union College Annual, 15, 1940, pp.37-56). In his description of the Bologna Pentateuch Perets Tishbi drew attention to a colophon by the famous printer Gershom Soncino in a Rimini edition of ca. 1525, in which the aged printer states that people had begged him to print Rashi's commentary since all those printed or written by hand hitherto are faulty but that the one printed at Bologna is the best ('Hebrew incunables', Ohev Sefer, vol. I, A. Italy, 3. Bologna, 1987, pp.23-50).
Another edition of the Pentateuch (Goff Heb-13) with Targum Onkelos, Haftaroth and Five Scrolls with vowels and cantilation signs, printed in Italy by Isaac ben Aaron d'Este and Moses ben Eliezer Raphael, has previously been dated to about 1480 (Goff) or 1482 (Diez Macho), which places it before or concurrent with the present Pentateuch. These early dates, however, were based on A. Spanier's identification of a watermark in the Freiburg-im-Breisgau copy with Briquet 7312, dated 1479-82. Since Spanier's work in 1930, modern paper research has advanced (and another paper copy has come to light in the Vatican); the watermark is actually Piccard, Wasserzeichen Lilie (1983) II, 945, dated 1489.
ONE OF THE VERY FEW COPIES PRINTED ON PAPER. In his Annales, p. 27, the great eighteenth-century Hebrew bibliographer G.B. de Rossi stated that he knew of the existence of eleven copies on vellum, but of only one complete copy on paper (now in the Bibl. Palatina, Parma). In 1829 de Rossi sold a fragment of the Bologna Pentateuch on paper to the divine John Rogers of Penrose (which fragment is now in the British Library). The proud Rogers inscribed that copy: 'Purchased AD 1829 of Professor de Rossi, aged 88. It is the only copy in paper known to exist, except that in the library at Parma, which is perfect.' The great twentieth-century Hebrew bibliographer Alexander Marx in New York made the same observation about the rarity of copies of the Bologna Pentateuch printed on paper, in a review article of 1920 in the Jewish Quarterly Review (N.S., vol. XI, p. 107).
CENSUS: While 27 copies on vellum are known in public collecions (making it the most common Hebrew incunable on vellum), only 10 (including the present one) on paper have been recorded. Of the paper copies, only the Parma and the Cincinnati copies are complete. The present copy is the fifth most complete copy recorded.
CENSUS OF COPIES ON PAPER
1. Parma Biblioteca Palatina. Complete
2. Cincinnati Hebrew Union College Library. Complete
3. Novara, Bibl. del Seminario teologico. Lacking the first leaf
4. Vatican, Bibliotheca Apostolica Vatican. Lacking 6 leaves
5. The present copy. Lacking 8 leaves
6. Jerusalem, Jewish National and University Library. Lacking 36 leaves
7. Frankfurt-am-Main, Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek. Lacking 37 leaves
8. London, British Library. 96 leaves only
9. Florence, National Library. 77 leaves only
10. New Haven, Yale University Library. 14 leaves only
Research on the fragment on paper in the British Library revealed that working off the paper sheets preceded the vellum ones, evident in the corrections made at press that distinguish the two issues. The survival ratio of paper to vellum copies indicates that the main part (perhaps seventy percent) of this important edition was printed on vellum and that only a small portion of the copies was printed on paper. As Brad S. Hill correctly observed: 'In most instances, of course, copies on vellum are exceptional within an edition of a book, most of whose run is on paper. In a few instances, however the very opposite is the case.[...]' ('Hebrew printing on vellum', Books printed on vellum in the collections of the British Library, comp. R.C.Alston, 1996, pages 180-212). This phenomenon, exceptional in the history of the early printed Hebrew book, perhaps reflects its publishers' desire to honour the text, believing the chumash was too holy to be printed on paper as sifrei-Torah are.
PROVENANCE: Sason ben Mordecai and Ezekiel ben Sason (names in early Hebrew script on the recto of the first [supplied] leaf); Judge Mayer Sulzberger (1843-1923, presented with his other books in 1904 to:); New York, Jewish Theological Seminary of America library.
LITERATURE: Hain 12568; CIBN Heb-4; Goff Heb-18; IBE 999; IDL 2440; IGI E 12 (olim 7394); Oates 2482; Ohly-Sack 2224; Proctor 6557; Voullième (Berlin) 2739; De-Rossi I, 7; Freimann 7; Ginsburg 2; Goldstein 20; Marx 7, 7a; Offenberg 13; Steinschneider 2; Thesaurus A 15; Tishby 26; Van Straalen p. 29; Zedner p. 106.
Appendix A: CENSUS OF COPIES ON VELLUM
1. Amsterdam, Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana
2. Cambridge, Trinity College Library
3. Cambridge, University Library
4. Cincinnati, Hebrew Union College Library
5. Florence, Biblioteca Mediceo-Laurenziana (A.M. d'Elci copy)
6. Florence, Biblioteca Marucelliana
7. London, Bible Society
8. London, British Library
9. Madrid, Biblioteca National
10. Manchester, John Rylands Library
11. Modena, Biblioteca Estense
12. New York, Jewish Theological Seminary of America
13. New York, New York Public Library
14. New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
15/16. Oxford, Bodleian Library (2: Crevenna copy, Kennicott copy)
17. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale
18. Parma, Biblioteca Palatina (G.B. de Rossi copy)
20. Philadelphia, Rosenbach Foundation
21. Piacenza, Biblioteca Communale Passerini Landi (G.B. de Rossi copy) 22. Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
23. Roma, Biblioteca Casanatense
24. Rostock, Universitätsbibliothek (Tychsen copy)
25. Strasbourg, Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire
26. Turin, Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria
27. Washington, Library of Congress
Christie's is grateful to Dr. Adri Offenberg of the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana for his expert cataloguing of this Pentateuch.