Page 189 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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HILL/HEBRAICA AND JUDAICA COLLECTIONS
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the first Hebrew book printed in Naples, an edition o f the Psalms
issued in 1487, as well as the first edition o f the entire Mishnah,
with the commentary o f Maimonides, published there in 1492.
The collection includes the first printed book o f secular Hebrew
literature, the poetical
Mahbarot
o f Immanuel o f Rome (Brescia,
1491), one o f the collection’s many incunabula published by the
Soncino family in their native town and elsewhere, and the first
scientific work ever published in the Hebrew language, the med­
ical
Canon
o f Avicenna (Naples, 1492). In addition to the Italian
Hebrew incunabula, the Lowy Collection also holds several
extremely rare Hebrew imprints from Spain, published before
the expulsion in 1492. Among these are a single leaf from an edi­
tion o f the
Tur Yoreh Decah
o f Jacob ben Asher, printed in
Guadalajara ca. 1482 and believed until recently to be a
unicum,
and a fragment from the unpointed Pentateuch, with Aramaic
Targum and Rashi’s commentary, published on vellum in Hijar
in 1490. The latter fragment is from the last dated Hebrew book
printed in Spain. Also held in the collection is the Lisbon edition
o f Nahmanides’ commentary on the Pentateuch (1489), the first
book ever published in the capital o f Portugal, where the art o f
printing was introduced by Jews, and the first edition o f
Abudarham’s commentary on the synagogue liturgy, which was
the second book published in Lisbon during the same year, one o f
the few complete copies extant. Also from Portugal is an
uncropped copy o f the Book o f Samuel, printed at Leiria in 1494,
one o f the last Hebrew books printed in the 15th century. The
Hebrew incunabula in the Lowy Collection have been entirely
restored and finely bound, many by English craftsmen, and some
by the expert restoration services on the premises o f the National
Library itself.
L A T IN INCUNABULA
The Lowy Collection in fact contains the oldest printed book in
the National Library, the illuminated
editio princeps
o f the works
o f Flavius Josephus in Latin, issued in Augsburg, Germany, in
1470. The collection also holds an early edition o f the first Chris­
tian Bible commentary ever printed, the
Postillae
o f Nicholas de
Lyra (Venice, 1481), finely illuminated in colors and gold leaf.
Among other Latin incunabula are several editions o f St. Thomas
Aquinas’ works, the
Summa Theologica
printed by Nicolas Jenson