Page 10 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
many Hebrew books. The Appendix reproduces the Papal Bull
o f Clement V III (Rome, 1593), which established the censorship
o f the Talmud and related works.
Hill indicates that the purpose o f exhibition was to portray
the history o f the Hebrew book from the Middle Ages to the
end o f the 16th century. To this end several early manuscripts
and Italian and Iberian incunabules were included. T h e items
that were chosen covered a wide spectrum, from the Bible and
its commentaries to rabbinic treatises and secular, scientific lit­
erature.
In a number o f cases, the stories o f how these works were
preserved are known. Thus, one o f two extant copies on vellum
o f the first Prague Haggadah o f 1526 had been in the possession
o f an old Charleston, South Carolina Jewish family for gener­
ations and was eventually donated to K.K. Beth Elohim o f that
city. It was acquired by the Valmadonna T ru s t when it was
placed on sale by Sotheby’s. Another example o f a rare work
is the perfect copy o f the Babylonian Talmud p rinted in Venice
by the Christian humanist Daniel Bomberg and held since the
16th century in the library o f Westminster Abbey. When it was
acquired by the Valmadonna Library speculation was rife that
it had some connection with Henry V III for whom the Talmud
could have been o rdered on account o f its tractate on divorce.
Th a t assumption was soon disproved and it was established that
the set o f the Talmud came from the library o f a professor
o f Hebrew at Oxford.
The effort invested in the Morgan Exhibition was widely ac­
claimed. It gave prom inence to the significance o f early Hebrew
printing, in which Christians as well as Jews were involved, and
highlighted in an exemplary m anner its unique contributions
to human knowledge and understanding .
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In vol. 40 (1982-83) o f the Annual we had occasion to com­
ment on the completion o f the Jewish Publication Society Bible
translation. We indicated that it marked the coming o f age o f
American Jewish biblical scholarship.
A fu r th e r example o f the m aturing o f American Jewish bib­
lical scholarship is the launching o f the new JPS T o rah com­
mentary. By the time this volume o f the Annual is published,