Halle: Waysen-Hause, 1711. Hardcover. Octavo. , 124, pp. Two folding tables. Contemporary half calf over marbled boards. Light wear at extremities, contemporary inscription at front endleaf, printed name plate at front pastedown, manuscript library entry and faint stamp at title. Text evenly toned, light dampstain at lower margin. A good, complete copy.
Third edition of author’s first substantial work. Gründlicher Unterricht von den Accentibus was first published in 1700, and reissued six more times by 1755. It describes the complete system of prosaic and metrical diacriticals (tropes or cantillation marks; Hebrew: ta‘amim) developed by Jewish scholars in the early middle ages to supplement the consonantal biblical text and record the phrasing and chanting of the Hebrew scriptures as part of the traditional liturgy. Johann Heinrich Michaelis (1668-1738) studied Semitic philology and literature at Frankfurt-on-the-Oder and Leipzig, after which he settled in Halle where he was appointed university librarian, professor of Oriental languages, and eventually of divinity, as well. The celebrated dynasty of orientalists and theologians to which he belongs is noted for “a seriousness of disposition throughout their critical pursuits” (Orme).
“Upon the whole, the most accurately learned of all the accomplished members of his family” (McClintock & Strong 6:26), Michaelis was the first Christian scholar to prepare a critical edition of the Hebrew bible (Halle, 1720) with a substantial apparatus of various readings. In 1694 he participated in a public examination presided over by August Hermann Franke in which he defended a brief introduction to the tropes as applied to the prose sections of the Hebrew scriptures. In 1696 Michaelis himself presided over the examination of one Philippus Michaelis on the subject of a brief handbook on the metrical tropes. It would appear that these two opuscules, in which Michaelis figured first as respondent and then as praeses, where subsequently expanded into the present work. Discussions of the mechanics and application of the Jewish cantillation system appear in European scholarly literature as early as Reuchlin’s De Accentibus (Hagenau, 1518); Kircher’s Musurgia universalis (Rome, 1650), of course, includes a section “De musica moderna Hebraeorum” (pp.64-67). In the 17th century polemical discourses on the (divine) authority of the vowel points and musical accents had begun to appear in the vernacular tongues. The present work, however, is likely the earliest substantial technical discussion of the Jewish cantillation system to be published in a modern European language (rather than Latin). All editions of Michaelis’ Thorough Instruction in the Hebrew Tropes have now become quite scarce. Diestel, Geschichte, 418n.
Provenance: Inscription at front endleaf “... Biermanni Ao. 1714” and printed name plate of “Johann Caspar Cruciger” at front pastedown. Good+. Item #49265
References: Fürst II.377. Steinschneider, BH, no. 1318. Cf. VD17 23:286928M (ed. 1700).