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Royal Family Collection Hebrew Torah

Royal Family Collection
Hebrew Torah

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Hebrew Torah

BIBLE, Pentateuch, in Hebrew - Hamishah humshe Torah, with Aramaic paraphrase (Targum Onkelos) and commentary by Rashi (Solomon ben Isaac). Edited by Joseph Hayim ben Aaron Strasbourg Zarfati. Bologna: 25th January 1482.

Median 2° (320 x 230mm). PRINTED ON VELLUM. 219 leaves: COMPLETE (but without final blank). VERY FINE CONDITION, WITH LARGE MARGINS. 18th-century binding of brown sheep over pasteboard (front cover and spine gone, back cover preserved but worn and detached, original sewing somewhat defective, first quire detached from the book block).

Provenance: inscribed, signed and dated by three Italian censors. Luigi da Bologna, Dominican friar, March 1599 -- Camillo Jaghel 1613 -- Fra Renato da Modena 1626. Individual words or short phrases censored, scored through in ink on 1/2r, 1/6r, 2/3v, 5/2v and 22/4r and several words erased on 10/6v and 11/3v, all in Rashi's commentary. -- There is no evidence of more recent provenance, except for the modest 18th-century binding, which is probably French. -- French Private Collection, by descent to the present owner.

EDITIO PRINCEPS OF THE TORAH, the most important book in the history of Hebrew printing and publishing. This first edition of the Pentateuch in its original language is the FIRST HEBREW BOOK WITH PRINTED VOWELS AND CANTILLATION SIGNS.

Liturgical readings of the Torah in synagogue, then as now, must be done from manuscript scrolls. The Bologna editio princeps, combining the text with the Aramaic targum and Rashi's commentary, was aimed at an educational market, the codex form being most efficient for study. Rashi's text was first printed in Rome c. 1470 as a separate edition, by three Jewish contemporaries of the Christian prototypographers, Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz. The second separate edition -- the first dated Hebrew printed book -- appeared on 18th February 1475 from the press of Abraham ben Garton at Reggio di Calabria (a single copy known), while the third edition of 1476 is the first Hebrew book printed in Spain. Another edition of the Pentateuch with Targum Onkelos, Haftarot and Megillot, also vocalized and with cantillation accents, was printed somewhere in Italy by Isaac ben Aron d'Este and Moses ben Eliezer Raphael (3 copies extant and 7 single leaves); its date has in the past been assigned to c. 1480 (Goff Heb-13; Offenberg 25), based on research on by A. Spanier (Soncino Blätter I, 77), but it is now more accurately dated to c. 1489 from paper and watermark evidence in the Vatican Library copy (Piccard, Wasserzeichen Lilie II, 945).

This is a NEWLY DISCOVERED, COMPLETE AND LARGE COPY of the Bologna Torah. The collation given by Offenberg for the British Library's vellum and paper copies and for the ex-JTSL paper copy is the traditional one, found or tacitly accepted in other catalogues and bibliographies. (Only the Bibliothèque nationale de France copy, in an unsigned Derome or Bradel binding commissioned by Van Praet, appears to show an additional cancellation: 5/5.) In order to correct faulty imposition in the paper copy now in the British Library, bifolium 10/3.4 was glued together and 10/5 cancelled, which has been interpreted as an indication that the paper sheets were worked off at the press before the vellum sheets.


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