Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Biblia Sacra Hebraica & Chaldaica cum Masora (The Holy Bible in Hebrew and Aramaic, with the Masorah) [BOUND WITH:] Tiberias [COPIES of the ACCLAIMED OLD TESTAMENT SCHOLAR, BREVARD CHILDS, previously held at THE GREAT SYNAGOGUE OF MINSK]

Basel: Ludwig König, 1619. First editions. Hardcover. Seven parts in two volumes, folio (biblical texts and commentary in four parts, continuously foliated; two supplemental sections, each with separate foliation; Tiberias (1620), with separate pagination, here bound after the second part) - Vol. 1: [6, title and prelims], 1-228, [1, sect. title], 234-441, [1, blank]ff.; [6, sect. title and prelims], [2, blank], 114, [2, blank]pp. Vol. 2: 442-946; 8 (Targum Yerushalmi; last leaf unfoliated); 67 (Masora), [1, blank]ff. Largely arranged in two columns of biblical texts in square font, surrounded by commentaries in rabbinic (Rashi) font; text reads from right to left. This copy with collective Latin title surrounded by biblical quotations in Hebrew, set within elaborate woodcut architectural borders. Hebrew sectional titles, set within the same woodcut borders, for the second and fourth parts, with a plain letterpress half-title for the Five Megillot. The third sectional title for the Latter Prophets is lacking, as are the Ashkenazi Haftarot readings (not found in all copies). Apart from these lacks the Rabbinic Bible collates complete, despite numerous errors in foliation throughout, as per the detailed notes in Prijs (Die Basler hebräischen Drucke). Opening word of each biblical book set in large (one-third to one-half page) cartouche vignettes with elaborate woodcut borders and surrounding letterpress Hebrew text. Main Latin title dated 1619, with the editor's Latin preface to the reader appearing at the verso. Jewish date chronogram for the second section (Former Prophets) dated [5]378 (1618/1619). Early twentieth-century black cloth boards (worn at extremities), gilt-lettered spine. Title moderately soiled, re-inforced at gutter; neat old repairs to corners and fore-edge of title and next three leaves; old Russian stamp at bottom margin title, manuscript entry in Russian along fore-edge, dated 1837[?]; intermittent mild to moderate marginal dampstains (largely confined to corners) and embrowning throughout both volumes (somewhat more heavily in the first, especially throughout Tiberias); top right corner of the opening leaf in vol. 2 repaired with loss of about 12 words surrounding title cartouche recto, and some text in 9 lines of the commentary at the verso. Overall a good set, with a notable chain of provenance.

Sixth Rabbinic Bible (in Hebrew: Mikra'ot Gedolot), edited by Johann Buxtorf I (1565-1629), professor of Hebrew at the University of Basel, and the foremost Christian Hebraist of his era, with the assistance of the Jewish scholars, Abraham Braunschweig, who served as the principal corrector, and Mordechai Gumplin of Posen. This was "a truly audacious undertaking for his time" (Burnett, From Christian Hebraism to Jewish Studies), as no Christian scholar had yet attempted to edit the entire biblical corpus, including the Aramaic versions (Targumim) and masoretic notes. Based mainly on the third Rabbinic Bible published by Daniel Bomberg at Venice in 1546-1548, the editor has carefully incorporated elements from two other Venetian editions. At the verso of the Latin title Buxtorf provides a detailed bibliographical excursus on the earlier Venetian editions and offers a tribute to Bomberg's industry by reprinting the colophon of the second Venetian Rabbinic Bible (1524-1525) at the conclusion of the masoretic appendix, with text by the Hebrew grammarian and lexicographer, Elijah Levita (1468 or 1469-1549) and a new introduction by Abraham Braunschweig. The design of the sectional titles and separate book title vignettes closely model those of the Venetian editions. "Buxtorf did not plan simply to reprint one of the existing Venice editions, but rather to assemble the best features of them all into one work" and "to provide theologians with what he considered the most important tools for interpreting the Old Testament" (Burnett). Buxtorf served in an official capacity as Basel's Hebrew censor, charged with the oversight of all Jewish printing in the city, and insuring that "no 'blasphemies' or slurs against Christians or Christianity appear in any book printed in Basel" (Burnett). He carefully edited the Jewish commentaries in the Rabbinic Bible in accordance with this mandate, "and removed many words and phrases which had escaped the attention of earlier censors" (Burnett).

The Rabbinic Bible contains the vocalized Masoretic text of the Hebrew Scriptures, with accents, and a vocalized Targum, an Aramaic paraphrase of the biblical text: Onkelos for the Pentateuch; Jonathan b. Uzziel for the Prophets; and Targum Hagiographa for the Writings. The Hebrew and Aramaic versions are printed in square characters and presented in facing columns at the center of each page. (The Jerusalem Targum of the Pentateuch appears as an appendix.) In addition to the Aramaic paraphrases, the Rabbinic Bible includes a massive scholarly apparatus of biblical commentaries by Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Baal ha-Turim (Jacob b. Asher), R. David Kimchi (Radak), R. Levi b. Gershon (Ralbag), Saadia Gaon, and R. Isaiah, along with the Masora, a corpus of critical notes on the external form of the Biblical text, compiled by Jewish scholars from late antiquity through the medieval era. As frequently occurs, a copy of Buxtorf's work on the textual history of the Hebrew Bible, Tiberias (the 1620 first edition), is bound-in. This work was made possible by the publication in 1538 of Elijah Levita's Masoret ha-Masoret, a commentary on the Masora, which Buxtorf translated into Latin for his own private use in 1593. "Buxtorf was concerned with the integrity of the consonantal text and the origin and integrity of the vowel points and accents of the Hebrew Bible from the very beginning of his scholarly career," and while he had earlier published a long excursus on the age of the vowel points and accents in his 1609 Thesaurus Grammaticus, "Tiberias is Buxtorf's fullest and most impressive work on the history of the biblical text" (Burnett). Intended as a reference work for Christian students and scholars interested in studying the Masora, Buxtorf was also keen to refute the view advanced by Levita that the Hebrew vowel points were early medieval innovations. Our folio version of Tiberias was intended to accompany the Rabbinic Bible, and has the same architectural borders at the title. König also published a quarto edition in the same year, but only the folio version includes a critical commentary on the Masora, in which Buxtorf proposes various corrections to the Masoretic notes.

As noted at the title, Buxtorf's faithful study and tireless labor (studio fido et labore indefesso) yielded notably long-lasting results: "The Basel rabbinical Bible became a standard tool for research among Christian scholars and would remain so... until the end of the nineteenth century" (Burnett). A vast array of early modern scholars, including Protestants like Johannes Drusius and John Selden, as well as Roman Catholics like Robert Bellarmine and Andreas Masius owned a copy (or two) of the Rabbinic Bible. "Johannes Buxtorf's thoroughly censored "Christian" version of the Rabbinic Bible (Basel, 1618-19) only made it easier for Hebraists to own copies of their own" (Burnett, Christian Hebraism in the Reformation Era, p.163).

A note on the date of publication: "The actual printing began between the mid-August and mid-September of 1618. According to the colophon, production ended on the 24 of Ab, [5]379 (= August 4, 1619), but since this date also appeared on the colophon of the Bomberg Biblia rabbinica edition of 1524-25 (reprinted unchanged in the 1546-48 and 1568 editions) it is suspect. Prijs suggested that the probable completion date was sometime during Ab of [5]379, between July 12 and August 10 of 1619" (Burnett).

Provenance: from the library of acclaimed theologian and biblical scholar Brevard Childs, with his entry at the free endpaper in the second volume. The earlier bookplate of judge Samuel Heller with his motto in Hebrew: Mi-kol melamdai hiskalti (from all my teachers I have learned) appears at the front paste-down. An old blue ink-stamp in Hebrew characters makes occasional appearances the text: Bet ha-Midrash ha-Gadol Minsk (The Great Synagogue of Minsk). A Russian entry dated [1837 ?] appears at the fore-margin of the main title, along with an old ink stamp in Russian at the bottom margin, the last word of which reads "Rabbina" Good. Item #48847

References: Biblia Sacra: Burnett 7. Cowley 87. Darlow & Moule 5120, bound with the 1665 second edition of Tiberias (cf. 5093). Davidson, Otsar ha-shirah, vol.1, p.406, no.8954. Prijs 219. Steinschneider 423, 423b. VD17 23:675325G. S. Burnett, Christian Hebraism in the Reformation Era (Leiden: Brill, 2012), p.163. Tiberias: Burnett 111. Prijs 222a. For detailed analyses of both works see: S. Burnett, From Christian Hebraism to Jewish Studies (Leiden: Brill, 1996), pp.169-239 (chaps. 6 & 7).

Full (Latin) title: Biblia Sacra Hebraica & Chaldaica cum Masora, quae critica Hebraeorum sacra est, Magna & Parva, ac selectissimis Hebraeorum interpretum co[m]mentariis, Rabbi Salomonis Jarchi, R. Abrahami Aben Esrae, R. Davidis Kimchi, R. Levi Gerson, R. Saadie Gaon, R. Jeschajae, & Notis ex authore, quem Baal Turim vocant, collectis, quibus textus grammaticè & historicè illustratur. In his nunc primum post quatuor editiones Venetas, textus Chaldaicus, qui Targum dicitur, à deformitate punctationis, & pravitate vocum innumeratu[m], vindicatus; loca in Masora transposita, deficientia, pugnantia, numeris depravata, subsidio diversorum exemplarium & Concorda[n]tiarum Hebraicaru[m], quantum fieri potuit, reposita, restituta & conciliata sunt, ut in praefatione amplius declarabitur. Studio fido & labore indefesso Johannis BuxtofI, linguae sanctae in Academia Basileensi Professoris Ord. Basileae: Sumptibus & typis Ludovici König, 1619.

Collation vol. 1 Rabbinic Bible: [ital.]a6, a-z8, A-E8, F4, G-Z8, Aa-Hh8, Ii9, [Ii10 blank]; [1 blank], ):(3, [1 blank], A-N4, O5.

Collation vol. 2 Rabbinic Bible: Kk-Rr8 [Kk1 lacks], Ss6, Tt10, Vv-Zz8, AA-PP8, QQ-TT6, VV9 [VV10 blank], XX-ZZ8, Aaa-Nnn8, Ooo3 [Ooo4 blank], Ppp,Ttt8, Vuu3 [Vuu4 blank], Xxx-Zzz8, AAaa-EEee8, *8, A-G8, H6, I5 [I6 blank].

Price: $3,500.00

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