AUCTION 35 | Tuesday, November 21st, 2006 at 1:00
Books, Manuscripts, Graphic & Ceremonial Art

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Lot 53


Polyglot. PSALMS) Psalterium, Hebreum, Grecum, Arabicum & Chaldeum, cum tribus latinis interpretationibus & glossis. Edited and with Latin commentary by Agostino Giustiniani. Text printed in eight columns across double-page: Hebrew, literal Latin translation from the Hebrew, Latin Vulgate, Greek Septuagint, Arabic, Chaldee or Aramaic Targum, literal Latin translation from the Chaldee ff. 200. sig. G, vii missing bottom outer corner. Waterstained. Marbled endpapers. a.e.g. 18th-entury red morocco, spine in compartments with florets, gilt extra. Covers slightly indented. Lg.4to Vinograd, Genoa 1; Adams B-1370; Darlow & Moule 1411

Genoa: Petrus Paulus Porrus for Nicolo Giustiniani Paulo 1516

Est: $20,000 - $25,000
First Polyglot Bible Edition. The Second Book Printed in Arabic. The Only Book Printed at Genoa in the First Quater of the Sixteenth Century. An Early Reference to Christopher Columbus’ Discovery of America. For another copy sold at auction, see Christie’s New York, The Helmut N. Friedlaender Library, 23rd April, 2001, Lot 133. The learned Dominican Agostino Giustiniani, Bishop of Nebbio in Corsica, and later Professor of Hebrew at the College de France, devoted himself to the study of Oriental languages. He spared no expense in the preparation of this first polyglot edition of the Book of Psalms which was popular with Churchmen of the age who sought Christological references in its lyrical, prophetic poetry. He summoned the Milanese printer Pietro Paulo Porro, a master-printer at Turin, to Genoa to undertake the printing of this work. In addition to this edition of 2,000 copies, Giustinianni printed 50 copies on vellum for presentation to royalty. His “Scholia” commentary reveals his considerable scholarship. Of particular interest are his comments on Psalm 19, verse 4; “Their line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world.” On this verse the bishop says; “In our own times, by his wonderful daring, Christopher Columbus, the Genoese, has discovered almost another world and a new congregation of Christians. In truth, as Columbus often maintained that God had chosen him as the instrument for the fulfillment of this prophecy, I deem it not improper here to refer to his life…” The lengthly note contains previously unpublished information on Columbus’ life and second voyage. Columbus died in 1506, a mere ten years before the publication of the Psalter. See D. Amram, The Makers of Hebrew Books in Italy pp.225-9. For add. The text of the Aramaic Targum of Psalms contains several variants from the standard printed edition in current usage; in several instances the readings of the Polyglot Psalter’s version are superior. For example, in Ps. I, 5 we have: “lo yizkun rashi’ei be-yoma rabba” [the wicked shall not merit on the great day]. The Polyglot version reads: “lo kaymin rashi’ei be-yom dina rabba” [the wicked shall not stand on the great day of judgment]. This reflects more accurately the sense of the verse “lo yakumu resha’im ba-mishpat” [the wicked shall not stand in the judgment]. While many of the scholia are citations from Midrash Tehillim (first edition Constantinople 1512), others refer to works which remain to be published, and are thus of immense interest to scholars. For instance, on sig. A,v (verso) we have a lengthy citation from the Zohar, which was as yet in manuscript and would not be published until 1558. The scholion on sig. S,iiii (recto) is a lengthy quotation from the commentary of “R. Abraham Pici” on the significance of the “tagin” (crownlets on the letters) and their relation to the “Shem ha-Mephorash” (the ineffable Divine name). This is an otherwise unknown book by an unknown author. (On sig. T,i [recto] there is another citation from Pici’s commentary alluding to the theory of reincarnation; in that the soul will not incarnate more than three times). On sigs. V,i (recto) and V,iiii (recto) are two lengthy citations of a kabbalistic nature from the Commentary of “R. Isaac ben Schola.” This is clearly a typographical error; the commentary to Psalms being that by the Spanish kabbalist and fabulist Isaac ben Sahola, more commonly known as R. Isaac ben Sahula. (Steinschneider already noted in another context the erroneous transcription of the name - Isaac ben “Schola.”) A native of Guadalajara (b. 1244), Ibn Sahula was the companion and townsman of R. Moses de Leon, to whom some attribute composition of the Zohar. In fact, Sahula’s famous work, the fable Meshal ha-Kadmoni, contains the earliest quotation from the Zohar. In addition, Sahula penned kabbalistic commentaries to the Song of Songs and Job. Henry Mauroy (“Apologia pro Judaeis Christianis,” i. 222) attributes to Sahulah a commentary on the Psalms. Steinschneider too alludes to a manuscript Commentary on Psalms. See JE, Vol. X, pp. 636-7; EJ, Vol. XIV, cols. 656-7; Steinschneider, Vol. II, col. 2263; Vol. I, col. 1150-1. PROVENANCE: Jean Ballesdens (1595-1675), lawyer and bibliophile. A member of the Académie Française from 1648 to 1675. He authored several works. After his death, his immense library was dispersed. Most of the volumes were finally destined for the Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève, Paris.