Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Ktaba da-Bnat Qale Suryayata... Nomenclator Syriacus (Lexicon of Syriac Nouns) [THE COPY of NICOLAS MALEBRANCHE with his INSCRIPTION and WAX SEAL]

Rome: Stefano Paolini, 1622. First edition. Hardcover. Quarto. Signed: a-b4, A-4I4 (= 320 leaves; 3E1-2 signed 3F1-2). [16]pp., 944 cols., [152, index]pp. Title in Syriac and Latin, with woodcut ecclesiastical device. Pagination and register read from right to left. Text in two columns, with double ruled borders throughout. Contemporary mottled calf (heavily worn; joints cracked, but cords holding), spine with raised bands, elaborately tooled in gilt; old library label with manuscript shelf mark at spine tail. Text clean and fresh throughout.

First and only edition of this uncommon Syriac-Latin lexicon of Classical and New Testament Syriac, by Giovanni Battista Ferrari (ca. 1584-1655), professor of Hebrew at Collegium Romanum. Dedicated to Alexander, Cardinal of Ursino, the Nomenclator was the author's first book, and only the second printed Syriac lexicon, preceded by Andreas Masius’ Syrorum Peculium (Plantin Press, 1571). In the preface to the work Ferrari claims to have been helped by Isaac Sciadrensis, a Maronite, who had been his student at the Roman College and was a professor of Syriac, and by his ancient teacher and then teaching colleague Pietro Metroscita; he then adds that for the translated words he drew on manuscripts from the Maronite College in Rome, from the Vatican Library and the Medici Library of Florence. Though not copious, and limited to nouns, the work is both clearly printed and beautifully arranged.

Born to an affluent Sienese family, Ferrari entered the Jesuit order in 1602. "In addition to following the normal courses, he studied Syriac at the Maronite college with Pietro Metoscita in the years 1615-16. From 1612 to 1616 he taught grammar to the first year students of the Maronite college, where he was prefect of studies from 1616 to 1619. In 1618 he became a Hebrew teacher at the Roman College, a position he held for twenty-eight years, until 1647; meanwhile, between 1615 and 1622, he continued to teach grammar and letters in the same institute... His knowledge of oriental languages, especially Arabic, was given due consideration, so much so that he was called to join the congregation of cardinals appointed by Urban VIII for the translation of the Bible into Arabic. But soon Ferrari's true interest, horticulture and botany, took over, and he made this passion, which he assiduously cultivated, the center of his interests, fueled by a profound knowledge of all botanical literature from antiquity in his day." (Dizionario Biografico). Among his better known works are: De Florum Cultura (Rome, 1633) and Hesperides, De Malorum Aureorum Cultura et Usu, the latter on the cultivation and use of citrus fruits. He served as horticultural advisor to the papal family, and became a close associate of the scholar Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-1657) who was an advisor to the Barberini family. Through this connection, Ferrari joined an important circle of men of science in Rome, and was appointed to manage the new garden at the Barberini Palace which was unique as a showplace for the newest and rarest plants from the distant regions of Asia, Africa, and America.

Laudatory poems by Franciscus Donatus are printed in Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Greek, and Latin, along with a Syriac poem by Isaac Sciadrensis (Ishaq as-Shidrawi), a Maronite scholar and former pupil of Ferrari's who served Prince Facardin II of Lebanon as ambassador to the French court, and would later author the first substantial grammar of Syriac to be printed in Syriac characters, Grammatica linguae Syriacae (Rome, 1636). Another Syriac poem follows, the “Carmina Ephraemitica,” by Petrus Metoscita (al-Matushi, 1569-1625) a Maronite from Cyprus, and Ferrari's former teacher. The author of an Arabic grammar, Metoschita was one of the first pupils of the Maronite College in Rome and joined the Society of Jesus in 1597.

With a notable chain of provenance: The manuscript entry at the title locates this volume in the library of the Oratorian order at Paris; on the rear paste-down appears the autograph ex-libris and red wax seal of Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715), French cartesian philosopher and theologian: “Malebranche prestre de l’Oratoire.” This copy later belonged to Sylvestre de Sacy (1758-1838), the French philologist and Arabic language professor at the Ecoles des langues orientales. and appears as item 2702 in the second volume of the catalogue of his library: Bibliothèque de M. Le Baron Silvestre de Sacy (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1846). The entry reads: "Jo. Baptistae Ferrarii Senensis e soc. Jesu. Romae, Steph. Paulinus, 1622; in-4, v. br. Ex. portant la signature du P. Malebranche avec son chachet." With an old bookseller's ticket at the front paste-down: "Maisonneuve et Cie. 15 Quai Voltaire Paris" Good. Item #48870

Full title (beginning in Syriac) and imprint: Ktaba da-Bnat Qale Suryayata da-Ktab ’Abba Qasisa Yuhannan Ma‘mdana Perra’rios Yesuaya d’Men Mdinat Si’ena: Nomenclator Syriacus Io. Baptistae Ferrarii Senensis e Societate Iesu. Romae, apud Stephanum Paulinum. MDCXXII.

References: De Backer/Sommervogel 3.677: On trouve une épigramme sur cet ouvrage, dans: Guinisii S.J. Poesis epigrammatica. [Antwerp: B. Moretus, 1637]. De Sacy 2702. Ebert 7483. Le Long (1723) 2:1193. Nestle 28. Smitskamp, PO, 189. Treccani Dizionario Biographico degli Italiani: "Ferrari, Giovanni Battista." Zaunmuller 372. Zenker 1450.

Price: $3,000.00

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