Leiden: Joannes Maire, 1624. First edition. Two parts, small quarto. (a)-(b)4 A-2T4 (= 176 leaves). , 332 [i.e. 330, pp. 145-146 omitted from pagination; p. 149 mis-numbered 145, 153 as 149], [5, elenchus], [1, blank]pp. “Oratio de... tetragrammato” with caption title. Contemporary vellum; manuscript title at spine; remains of old silk ties. Spine tail worn. Text lightly toned, with occasional oxidation spots. A good copy, with crisp text.
First edition of a famous and highly controversial work of seventeenth-century Hebraic scholarship, published anonymously with an introduction by the celebrated arabist Thomas Erpenius. “In the second and third quarter of the 17th century the attitude which an orientalist took towards the antiquity of the vocalisation signs was to become a touchstone of his attitude towards the more strictly dogmatic opinions” (Van Rooden). The clarity and force of this seminal piece of scholarship is perhaps best described by William Orme, in his 1824 Bibliotheca Biblica: “This celebrated work, which first attacked the authority of the Masoretic points, stated all the arguments against them so fully and clearly, that it exhausted the subject at the first onset.” Here published anonymously, the Arcanum was reprinted in Cappel’s 1689 Commentarii et notae criticae in Vetus Testamentum. Van Rooden states that in the 1625 edition of his Ius regium Hebraeorum the Hebraist Wilhelm Schickhard was the first to reveal (amid the minutiae of an errata note) Cappel’s identity as the author of the Arcanum. The work concludes with Cappel’s 1614 oration on the correct pronunciation of the tetragrammaton. J. L. Blau, The Christian Interpretion of the Cabala in the Renaissance, 108-09. Breugelmans, Maire, 1624:3. Orme, Bibl. Biblica, 81f. Smitskamp, Philologia Orientalis, 285. Detailed discussions of Cappel and the present work may be found in: S. Burnett, From Christian Hebraism to Jewish Studies; A. van der Heide (ed.), Hebraica Veritas (catalogue for the exhibition at the Plantin-Moretus Museum), p. 34 “Excursus 2: The Age of Masoretic Vocalization”; and P. T. Van Rooden, Theology, Biblical Scholarship, and Rabbinical Studies in the Seventeenth Century.
Provenance and Annotations: An old hand has noted “a Ludovico Cappello” at the title; an earlier title faintly appears along the spine; bookplate of the Library of the Protestant Episcopal Theological School of Massachusetts, noting the gift of Dr. George Perkins of Salem. Item #48829
Hebrew title: סוד הניקוד הניגלה.