[Amsterdam]: NP, . First edition. Hardcover. Small octavo (7 1/4 x 6"). , 322, pp. Contemporary full calf, with gold lettering and tooling to spine. Raised bands. Title within decorative border. Decorative head-, tailpieces, and initials.
Written in Italy by Immanuel Aboab (c. 1555-1628), a Portuguese-born converso Jewish scholar, great-grandson of Isaac Aboab of Castile*, this scarce first edition of "Nomologia o Discursos Legales" is a defence of the divine origin of the oral law and the Jewish tradition.
Aboab worked at this treatise for ten years, completed it in 1625, and the work was finally published posthumously by his heirs at Amsterdam, in 1629 (2d ed., ibid., 1727).
"Immanuel Aboab's work on the Principles of the Law was a direct intervention in the debate over the fundamental (dis)agreement of Talmud and Scripture. Aboab understood that two issues needed to be solved if he were to 'remedy the illness' of conversos like Uriel da Costa (c. 1585-1640), a Jewish philosopher and skeptic who questioned the Catholic and Rabbinic institutions of his time.
On the one hand, he had to prove the continuity of the rabbinic Chain of Tradition, on which da Costa had cast serious doubts. This was the easy part, as he knew he could draw from a rich library of texts that offered plausible reconstructions, most recently the "Book of Genealogies" by the astronomer Abraham Zacuto.
In Part II of the "Nomologia," Aboab elaborated upon Zacuto's survey and outlined, in thirty chapters, el principio, y progresso de la Lei Mental, y el Catalogo, y sucesion de los santos Profetas y Sabios. The result was a watertight scheduled that started with Moses and ended with Aboab's own contemporaries, the disciples of the great Joseph Karo (d. 1575).
The author supplemented his summa with two rather pertinent digressions: the famous dialogue between himself and a Christian magistrate on the veracity of biblical translations, and a lengthy aside on prophecy, based on Maimonides' exposition on the subject en su Directorio (i.e. book three of the "Guide").
The other challenge he faced was to reconcile the Jewish trust in the Oral Law with the integrity of Scripture - a possibility rejected by da Costa on logical grounds. Aboab's carefully formulated proof took up the entire Primera Parte of the "Nomologia" (pp. 1-121).
Like Jewish physician Samuel da Silva (c. 1570-1631), Aboab believed the solution lay in a combined argument from reason and authority; unlike da Silva, he chose not to over-emphasize the divine share in the Oral Law. Instead, he set out to reaffirm the perfection of its written counterpart, and to clarify the nature of biblical hermeneutics, which he presented as an interface between the two laws of Judaism." (For more information, see: Henk Nellen's "Scriptural Authority and Biblical Criticism in the Dutch Golden Age: God's Word Questioned," Oxford University Press, 2017).
The book is complete with its errata leaf at rear.
Binding rubbed, with some abrasion to covers. Contemporary previous owner's inscriptions in ink to front endpapers, title page, verso of title, the last page of the table of content, and at verso of the errata leaf. Some inscriptions are dated 1686, 1696, 1735, 1742, and 1758. The longest inscription, dated 1696, is from a certain Luis Mendez (at verso of title page). Title page darkened, partly detached, and partly chipped along fore-edge (not affecting lettering. Water-staining to the first 112 pages, light water-staining along upper inner margin of pages 217-233, and water-staining from pages 253 on. Sporadic foxing throughout. Minor worming along fore-edge of pages 143 to 162 (not affecting lettering). Text in Spanish. Binding in overall fair to good-, interior in fair to very good condition. f to vg. Item #43886
* Isaac Aboab of Castile (1433-1493), also known as Isaac Aboab II, was a Spanish-Jewish Rabbi, Posek and Torah commentator.