London: Printed by Richard Field [and Gabriel Simson], for William Young, 1596. First edition. Softcover. Small quarto. [asterisk]4, A-K4, (2nd) H4, L-P4, 68 leaves. pp., 3 (of 4) engraved plates. Woodcut anchor device at title; printed marginalia; woodcut lettrines. English text in black letter, italic, and roman type, some Hebrew and Greek passages, including a Hebrew poem (K3-4) printed in double columns with alternating red and black stanzas. A few early manuscript annotations. Recent wrappers (housed in professionally fitted clear mylar covers). Occasional mild (mostly marginal) dampstains, bottom corner A3 lacks 1-inch section (with no loss of text). A very good, amply margined copy, lacking one of the four engraved plates.
First Edition of this translation and commentary on the biblical book of Daniel by the English puritan divine and Hebraist, Hugh Broughton (1549-1612), including the Hebrew text of Saadiah Gaon's Shir shel ha-Otiyyot. Tutored in Hebrew by the renowned French Hughenot scholar, Antoine Rodolphe Chevalier (1507-1572), “Broughton graduated at Magdalene College, Cambridge in 1570, became a Fellow of St. John’s, and then moved to Christ’s College. A disagreement with John Whitgift, archbishop of Canterbury, over the interpretation of scripture, persuaded Broughton to go to Germany in 1589, and apart from brief periodic visits to England he appears to have stayed on the continent until the last year of his life. While Broughton was abroad he engaged in religious discussions with Jews in Hebrew and made the acquaintance of several eminent Christian scholars including Joseph Justus Scaliger. He conducted a debate in the Frankfurt synagogue with a Rabbi Elias. He also records a dispute with Rabbi David Farrar. The close association which he developed with Jews and Christian Hebraists was a significant factor in his linguistic attainments, especially in a grasp of rabbinics unusual for an Elizabethan scholar... For the last twenty years of his life Broughton sought in vain to gain the support of the authorities for a new English translation of the Bible... Broughton’s writings demonstrate that he was an accomplished Hebrew scholar, who may justifiably be regarded as the most proficient English Hebraist of his day. Not only was he able to read the Old Testament in the original, he was familiar at first hand with a wide range of post-biblical Jewish authors... In addition to Targum and Talmud, he insisted that other Jewish writings must be regarded as indispensable to anyone engaged in translating the Bible. In a footnote to his Treatise of Melchisedek (1591) he listed no fewer than twenty-two Jewish sources which the serious student of the Hebrew scritptures might consult to his advantage” (ODNB). While Broughton’s contentious nature and controversial style alienated many of his contemporaries -- Scaliger described him as “furiosus et maledicus” (Van Rooden) -- his scholarship could not be doubted. In his 1824 Bibliotheca Biblica, William Orme notes that the celebrated Hebraist, “with a considerable portion of quackery, and a large portion of ill-nature, had certainly a respectable acquaintance with biblical literature... and it is alleged, was much displeased because he was not employed as one of the translators of our present English version of the Bible.”
As a typographical monument the present work is highly notable, containing “the first protracted Hebrew text printed in London” (Roth). Hebrew printing had only just made its debut at the Cambridge press three years earlier in Andrew Downes’ 1593 edition of Lysias. As “[a] keen defender of the Hebrew verity” (Orme), Broughton here makes a remarkable selection of text as evidence for “The certaintie of the Ebrew,” deploying an acrostic poem by Saadiah Gaon (882-942), the greatest scholar and author of the geonic period, and an important leader of Babylonian Jewry. The poem, Shir shel ha-Otiyyot (Poem of the Letters) is printed in alternating couplets of red and black, and gives by means of words and biblical allusions the number of times that each particular letter of the alphabet occurs in the Hebrew scriptures. The engraver of the Hebrew fonts is quite possibly Jodocus Hondius the Elder, whom Broughton first met in 1583 after Hondius had fled to London from his native Ghent in the wake of Spanish persecution of protestants in the Low Countries. The engraved plates in the present work are attributed to Hondius, and appeared earlier in Broughton’s first book, A Concent of Scripture (ca. 1587-1591). As it happens, the first printed Hebrew texts to appear in Amsterdam occur in several books by Broughton, printed in 1605 and 1606, whose fonts were certainly engraved by Hondius (Fuks/Fuks-Mansfeld). While the type used in the present work, with its distinctively angled lamed, does not match those of the Amsterdam publications, it bears some similarity to Fuks Br. Squ. 2.
Annotations: At the conclusion of the imprint, following “... where the other workes of the same author are to be sold” appears a contemporary manuscript notation “at ye Rose”. Very good. Item #48834
References: Herbert 230. Luborsky & Ingram, English Illustrated Books, 1536-1603, 2785. Orme, Bibliotheca Biblica, 60. Roth B14.5. STC (2nd ed.) 2785. Vinograd (London) 1. For Saadiah’s Shir shel ha-Otiyyot, see EJ 14:552-553. For the Amsterdam Broughtoniana see Fuks/Fuks-Mansfeld 1:94ff. For Broughton’s reception in the Netherlands, see Van Rooden, Theology, Biblical Scholarship and Rabbinical Studies in the Seventeenth Century, 62f.