Cologne: Johann Gymnich, 1536.
Octavo: 8 lvs., 395 (1) pp., 2 lvs. Collation: A-Z8, Aa-Bb8 (Bb8 blank and present).
FIRST EDITION of this extremely rare antisemitic text and a fine sammelband.
Bound in contemporary alum-tawed pigskin over wooden boards (moderate surface wear, 1 catch and both catch-plates preserved). Fine copies internally. Historiated woodcut initials.
With 65 known manuscripts, the “Dialogue Against the Jews” was one of the most widespread anti-Jewish texts in the Late Middle Ages. The author, the originally Jewish doctor Moses Sephardi, was baptized in 1106 and took the name Petrus Alphonus (also Alfonsi, Alfunzi etc.). The interlocutors in this schizophrenic dialogue are the author’s Jewish and Christian identities. This first edition also includes (p. 319-395) the anti-Semitic “Epistola contra Judaeorum errores”(Letter against the Errors of the Jews).
“Petrus Alfonsi's ‘Dialogue Against the Jews’ (ca. 1109) breaks new ground in the history of Christian anti-Jewish polemics. As a recent convert from Judaism, Alfonsi introduced an intimate knowledge of Jewish literature and contemporary practice absent from earlier Christian sources. This knowledge enabled him to attack for the first time the Talmud (or, more broadly, post-biblical Jewish literature) as a source of Jewish error, with arguments drawn from philosophy and theology, astronomy, medicine, and physics. Equally important, Alfonsi's Dialogue contains an extensive anti-Muslim polemic to explain not only why he abandoned Judaism but also why he rejected Islam and chose the Christian faith.
“For these reasons the Dialogue has been described as the most important anti-Jewish text of the Latin Middle Ages. This assessment is based not only on its innovative argumentation but also on the fact that it was one of the most popular medieval anti-Jewish polemics written. It was cited, often verbatim, by later Christian polemicists like Peter of Blois and used by Peter the Venerable. Alfonsi's Dialogue was known to Joachim of Fiore, who adapted its illustration of the mystery of the Trinity contained in the tetragrammaton; summarized by Vincent of Beauvais, who included a long extract from the Dialogue in his popular Speculum historiale; exploited by Raymund Martini in his monumental Pugio Fidei; and utilized by Abner de Burgos in his Mostrador de Justicia. It was also likely employed by Pablo Christiani to prepare for the public disputation at Barcelona (1263 C.E.) and later by Jerome de Santa Fe for the disputation at Tortosa (1413-1414 C.E.).”(Resnick, “Petrus Alfonsus, Dialogue against the Jews” in Fathers of the Church Medieval Continuations (Series))
II. Samuel of Morocco’s “Letter against the Errors of the Jews”
The anti-Semitic “Epistola contra Judaeorum errores”(Letter against the Errors of the Jews) was purportedly written in Arabic at the beginning of the eleventh century by Samuel of Morocco, an apostate Jew. The main source is in fact the Arabic treatise Ifham al-Yahud [Confutation of the Jews] by the convert Samuel Abu Nasr ibn Abbas, son of Judah ibn Abbas of Fez. In his original version, Samuel claimed to prove the prophetic character of Jesus and Mohammed and argued that too many laws were added to the Torah by the Mishnah and Gemara.
The book was translated into Latin in the 14th c. by the Spanish Dominican Alphonsus Bonihominis (Buenhombre) and widely disseminated. Buenhombre adapted the tract to present it as a Christian rather than Muslim polemic; he may well have drawn on other Arabic texts as well. In Buenhombre’s rendering, Rabbi Samuel addresses himself to a Rabbi Isaac, head of a rabbinical school and synagogue in Morocco. Ingeniously, the author argues that agreement between Muslims and Christians on numerous matters prove that Jews are “in the minority position.” “We are enemies of all people and the testimony of the majority -that is, of the Saracens and the Christians, of the Qur’an and the Gospels, [neither] of which we want to believe- is always against us.” Persuaded by Samuel’s arguments against the “errors” of Judaism, Isaac converts to Christianity.
According to Buenhombre, the book was originally written in Arabic because only a few Jews and even fewer Christians knew that language, thus the text could remain concealed for hundreds of years, and the Christians were not able to use it against Jews, until he found and translated it while he was the Bishop of Marrakech in 1338 or 1339. The book was first printed in 1474.
It is worthy of note that the book experienced a resurgence in Germany during the Reformation, when it was printed in response to Luther’s “Das Jhesus Christus ain geborner Jude sey” (that Jesus Christ was born a Jew) of 1523, in which the Reformer stated his opinion that Jews resisted conversion because Christians treated them like dogs.”
VD16, P 1934 u. S 1562; Adams A 741; Fürst I, 36; Palau 7203; Panzer VI, 436, 812; BM STC, German Books 20.
Giovio, Paolo (1483-1552)
Tvrcicarvm rervm commentarivs Pavli Iovii Episcopi Nucerini… Origo Turcici Imperii, Vitae omnium Turcicorum Imperatorum, Ordo ac disciplina Turcicae militiae exactissime conscripta, Eodem Paul. Iouio autore
Strasbourg: Wendelin Rihel, 1537
Octavo: 52 lvs. Collation: A-E8, F4, G8 (the last leaf blank and present.)
FIRST LATIN EDITION (originally published in Italian) of these works by Paolo Giovio on the Ottoman Empire, including “Commentario delle cose de' Turchi”.
VD16, G 2053; Göllner 596; Muller III, 396, 22; Ritter, Cat. 1309; Not in Adams, Atabey, Blackmer, Ritter.
Brunfels, Otto; Sadoleto, Jacopo; Vives, Juan Luis; Fontaine (Fonteyn), Jacob; Nannius, Petrus (1496-1557).
De bello Turcis inferendo, oratio. Eiusdem argumenti, Othonis Brunfelsii ad Christianos principes oratio. Iacobi Fontani de Rhodi expugnatione epistola. Petri Nannii Alcmariani declamatio. Lodovici Vivis de vita Christianorum sub Turco opusculum.
Basel, Thomas Platter, 1538
Octavo: 247 pp. A-O8, P4, Q8
A collection of early writings on the Turkish threat. Included is Jacques Fontaine's eyewitness account of the 1522 siege and fall of Rhodes, originally published in 1524; Juan Luis Vives’ “Life of the Christians under Turkish Rule”, and Jacopo Sadoleto’s oration, addressed to King Louis XII of France, urging the king to marshal his forces against the Ottomans. This is the first printing of Otto Brunfels’ “Oratio.”
VD16, S 1248; Göllner 626; BM STC, German Books 772; Not in Adams, Atabey and Blackmer.