SAMUEL, Rabbi (fl. 12th century). Epistola contra Judaeorum errores. Based on the translation from the Arabic by Alphonsus Boni Hominis (d. 1353). - PONTIUS PILATUS (pseudo-). Epistola ad Tiberium. [Rome: Eucharius Silber, ca. 1480].
Chancery half-sheet 4o (200 x 140 mm). Collation: a8 b6 c8 (a1 blank, a2r Samuel, c7v Pontius Pilatus, c8 blank). 22 leaves. 35 lines. Type: 2:88R. 3- and 4-line initial spaces, most with printed guide-letters. Unrubricated. (Minor marginal soiling and light dampstaining, c8 torn slightly along gutter.) Modern boards.
Provenance: sixteenth-century list of Latin-Spanish vocabulary on first blank -- [Gilhofer & Ranschburg, Luzern, cat. 86 no. 152] -- [Lathrop Harper]
Rare edition of one of the most widely disseminated medieval antisemitic tracts. The text of the printed editions is based on the 14th-century Latin version by the Spanish Dominican Alfonso Buenhombre of a 12th-century Arabic treatise, Ifham al-Yahud (Confutation of the Jews), whose author, Samuel Abu Nasr ibn Abbas, son of Judah ibn Abbas of Fez, was a convert from Judaism to Islam. In the original work Samuel claimed to prove the prophetic character of Jesus and Mohammed, and argued that too many laws were added to the Torah by the Mishnah and Gemara. Buenhombre adapted the tract to present it as a Christian rather than Muslim polemic, and may have drawn on another Arabic tract as well. The work was first printed in 1474, and 20 incunable editions survive, including translations into German, Italian and Spanish. It maintained its popularity throughout the following two centuries, and was translated into most European languages, including Russian. Several of the earliest editions contain, like this one, the spurious letter of Pontius Pilate to Emperor Tiberius on Christ's resurrection.
This edition was formerly assigned to the printer Andreas Freitag of Rome, active 1482-96, who employed a closely similar Roman typeface. R 722; IGI 8580; M. Steinschneider, Polemische und apologetische Literatur in arabischer Sprache zwischen Muslimen, Christen und Juden (Leipzig 1877), no. 120, pp. 137-8; Goff S-106.