Page 10 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

Basic HTML Version

4
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
the words paralle l columns. He must use a prescribed type of
ink and avoid the gaudiness of illum ination in gold. He must
refra in from making the slightest emendation in the text, reta in ­
ing the traditional spelling, spacing and size of letter. W here
usage decrees an outsize letter, larger or smaller or dangling
above the line, he must follow it w ithout alteration. Proper
spacing between columns and ample margins at top and bottom
assure clarity and beauty.
Thus the Book of Books has been preserved unchanged
through centuries of toil and tribu lation , of wandering and
weariness, bloodshed and massacre. When the art of printing
was introduced, the tradition of perfection in the w riting of the
Torah scrolls was perpetuated in the beautiful editions of the
Bible which sparkled like gems in the diadem of Hebrew in­
cunabula.
Debut of the Jewish Printed Book
The first Jewish use of the epoch-making art of printing was
in Italy. As early as February 1475, Abraham ben Garton ben
Isaac printed Rashi’s commentary on the Pentateuch at his
press in Reggio di Calabria. Less than five months later Meshul-
lam Kozi issued Jacob ben Asher’s code of Jewish law in the
town of Pieve di Sacco. The following year saw another edition
of this book in Mantua by Abraham Conath. A t about the same
time the art spread to Germany, Belgium, France, Portugal,
Switzerland and Turkey. Jewish printing was in the cradle only
a short time after the first printed books had made their
appearance.
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Colophon of Rashi’s Commentary on the Pentateuch, printed by Abraham
ben Garton ben Isaac in Reggio di Calabria, February, 1475.