Hebrew Bible

G.II.8 - Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)

Alternate Titles:

Biblia Hebrea

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Biblia Hebrea

Type
Extent / Format

772 pages / 27.5 x 20.0 cm

Origin
Date
16th century
Genre
Language
Former owners

Alfonso de Zamora

Short description

The famous Hebrew Bible from the collection of the El Escorial is a significant manuscript for the history of biblical editions. The precious bible contains the 24 books of the Jewish canon and is embellished with marvelous floral and geometric ornamentation. It served the Spanish Rabbi Alfonso de Zamora, inter alia, as a resources during his collaboration on the Compultensian Polyglot Bible. This is considered to be the first printed multilingual Bible. The manuscript was presumably used later by Benedictus Aria Montanus while he was directing the production of an edition of a polyglot bible in Antwerp at the behest Philip II. El Escorial’s Hebrew Bible is an extremely interesting object of historical study and a testimonial to the origins of 16th century Spanish polyglot bibles!

Facsimile editions available

Description

Hebrew Bible

The famous Hebrew Bible from the collection of the El Escorial is a significant manuscript for the history of biblical editions. The precious bible contains the 24 books of the Jewish canon and is embellished with marvelous floral and geometric ornamentation. It served the Spanish Rabbi Alfonso de Zamora, inter alia, as a resources during his collaboration on the Compultensian Polyglot Bible. This is considered to be the first printed multilingual Bible. The manuscript was presumably used later by Benedictus Aria Montanus while he was directing the production of an edition of a polyglot bible in Antwerp at the behest Philip II. El Escorial’s Hebrew Bible is an extremely interesting object of historical study and a testimonial to the origins of 16th century Spanish polyglot bibles!

The Great Hebraist

Afonso de Zamora (ca. 1477-1544) was a Spanish Rabbi who converted to Catholicism in 1506. He is considered to be the most important Hebraist of his time. As such, he participated in the creation of the Compultensian Polyglot Bible. This was the first printed polyglot bible in the world and was made at the behest of Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, Archbishop of Toledo, Queen Isabella of Castile’s confessor, and founder of the famous Universidad de Alcalá de Henares in the year 1500. The Polyglot appeared in six volumes from 1514 to 1517. Alfonso de Zamora devised the sixth volume, a dictionary for Hebrew, Chaldean, and Latin, which was essential for biblical study.

The Hebrew Bible of El Escorial

While working on this edition, Alfonso de Zamora depended upon one manuscript above all else: the famous Hebrew Bible G-II-8 from the El Escorial library. This 16th century bible encompasses 772 pages measuring 28.8 x 22.3 cm. It contains, as already betrayed by the title, the text of the Hebrew Bible. In accordance with the Talmud, this text is written on calfskin vellum in two columns in marvelous Spanish square script. Rich embellishments with ornaments in red, blue, and gold in the form of geometric and floral motives are found both in the biblical text as well as in the Masora magna. The manuscript contains the 24 books of the Jewish canon as well as the Masora parva and magna (small and large Masora) of the Pentateuch. A noble brown leather binding with bronze fittings and gorgeous embossing in the Mudéjar style rounds out the work of art.

Cornerstone of the Polyglot Bible

Seven specimens of the Bible were consulted for the formulation of the Polyglot Bible. The Hebrew Bible from the El Escorial is one of the most important among them. The manuscript was probably used once again for preparation of an edition of the Bible. The Spanish theologian Benedictus Arias Montanus took the Hebrew Bible with him to Flanders as he worked on the commission of King Philip II for the publication of a multi-lingual bible in Antwerp. The Hebrew Bible G-II-8 is the only complete Jewish Bible at El Escorial. With the interesting irregularities in the text, which deviates from the norm, and the comments and marginal notations by Alfonso de Zamora, the manuscript is a very interesting object of study and a significant testimonial to the origins of the greatest biblical editions of the 16th century!

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