Page 90 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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and a few fragmentary lists of biblical names or verses on specific
topics which were of little practical value. Concordances to the
Bible became now the almost exclusive domain of Christian
The original reason for the compilation of concordances to the
Bible, whether in Latin or in Hebrew, gradually ceased to exist
during the 16th century, when interest in theological disputa­
tions between clerics and rabbis on the respective merits of the
Christian and Jewish faiths abated, probably because both the ini­
tiators and the audiences of these public spectacles tired of them
since the outcome was in any case a foregone conclusion. But the
original text of the Bible as the source of God’s word became at
that time the focus of serious studies north of the Alps in the
wake of the Reformation. The Hebrew language, firmly believed
by all Protestants to have been the language in which God had
spoken to Adam, and in which He had given the Pentateuch to
Moses, was eagerly being studied by theologians as well as by sec­
ular scholars, most of whom relied on Jews (sometime converts to
Christianity) as their teachers and guides.
As to Catholics, interest in Oriental languages in general and in
Hebrew as the Holy Tongue had roots going back to Roger Ba­
con and Dante, but it became the object of scholarly studies in
Catholic universities as well as in seminaries and monasteries
mainly during the Counter-reformation. The first polyglot edi­
tion of the Bible, including the Hebrew text of the Bible, was pub­
lished in 1522 under the auspices of archbishop Ximenes in
Alcala de Henares; Pope Leo X (Giovanni de’ Medici) encour­
aged the study of Hebrew and was an avid collector of Hebrew
manuscripts for the Vatican library; and the Congregatio de
Propaganda Fide, established in 1585 for the spread of the Gos­
pel among the heathen, trained its missionaries in the languages
of Asia and Africa, and printed grammars and translations.
Thus, both the study of Oriental languages and the need to meet
the challenge of Protestant Bible scholarship led to renewed at­
[1768] n"3p>n /vnmsniK tmspams. 1have not seen this work, a copy of which is in
the British Library.