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Bidding Information
Lot #    24577
Auction End Date    9/22/2009 10:19:00 AM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Ex variis libellis
Author    Johannes Van Campen
City    Paris
Publisher    Christianum Wechelmum
Publication Date    1539
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   57 pp. octavo 142:199 mm., nice margins, light age and damp staining. A good copy loose in contemporary vellum boards.
   Grammatical work on the Hebrew language in Latin with occasional Hebrew by the Christian-Hebraist Johannes Van Campen. Ex variis libellis is based on the works of the great Hebrew linguist R. Elias Levita.

Johannes Van Campen, (also Campensis, de Campo, Transislanus; 1490–1538), Dutch Hebraist and theologian. Van Campen, who may have begun to learn Hebrew during his school years, was a student of J. Reuchlin, and studied also at the new Trilingual College of the University of Louvain, which had been established at Erasmus' initiative. There he became professor of Hebrew, but later he traveled in Germany, Poland, Italy and Switzerland where he taught Hebrew. In 1528, while still in Louvain, he published his Hebrew grammar, and in the same year in Leyden, a treatise on masoretic Hebrew, based upon the work of Elijah Levita. His Latin paraphrase of the Hebrew text of Psalms (Nuremberg, 1532) attracted considerable attention and was translated into several languages, including English (1539). Van Campen also published a paraphrase of Ecclesiastes (Paris, 1532). . Campen was summoned to Cracow by the prince bishop, Peter Tomiki, on very favorable conditions.

Elijah ben Asher ha-Levi Levita Ashkenazi (Bahur, 1468 or 1469–1549) was a Hebrew philologist, grammarian, and lexicographer. Born in Neustadt, near Nuremberg, Germany, he spent most of his life in Italy (Padua, Venice, and Rome) where he taught Hebrew language and grammar. His pupils included Christian humanists, from whom he learned Greek and Latin. Some of the leading Christian Hebraists with whom Levita maintained contact at various times were: Paulus Fagius, Johannes de Kampen (Campensis), Andreas Maes, Guillaume Postel, and Johann Albrecht Widmanstetter (Widmanstadius). Postel in his Linguarum duodecim characteribus differentium alphabetum (Paris, 1538, fol. 3) wrote that he became a close friend of Levita in Venice-"Elias Germanus, quo usus sum Venetiis." Among his pupils he counted Sebastian Muenster, who translated Elijah's works into Latin, and Cardinal Egidius da Viterbo in whose home in Rome Elijah stayed for 13 years (1514–27). Before entering the house of Egidius da Viterbo, Elijah also wrote secular literary works in Yiddish. To this period belongs Bovo d’Antona (unicum: Isny, 1541, but believed to have first been published in 1507) which became known as the Bove-Bukh in later editions. It is an adaptation in verse of one of the Italian versions of an Anglo-French romance, Sir Bevis of Hampton. His Paris un Viene (apparently written in 1508/09; the unicum with the beginning missing preserved at Trinity College, Cambridge, was printed at Verona in 1594) is evidently based on a medieval ProvenLal romance. Elijah also adapted two love epics from Italian sources; the first is based on a courtly love legend, and the second is an abridged and free adaptation of an Italian-Provencal literary work, written in ottava rima (a stanza of eight iambic lines containing three rhymes) which Elijah introduced into Yiddish literature. Elijah instructed da Viterbo principally in the Kabbalah and translated some manuscripts for him (e.g., the commentary of R. Eliezer of Worms on Sefer Yezirah). Georges de Selve, another of his pupils, who later became the French ambassador to Venice invited him, in the name of King Francis I, to lecture in Hebrew at the CollIge royal in Paris. He declined the offer for two reasons: he neither wanted to be the only Jew allowed to live in France, nor did he feel that under such conditions he could observe the religious precepts.

In 1527, when Rome was sacked by the armies of Charles V, Elijah lost all his property (including some manuscripts). He returned to Venice, where he earned his livelihood as a proofreader in the publishing house of Daniel Bomberg (1529 to the late 1530s), and remained here, except for an absence of four years (1539/40–44). During that period, he supervised Fagius's press at Isny (in Wuerttemberg), and later accompanied him to Constance (1542–43). At Isny, Levita printed some of his most important works. The rabbis looked with disfavor on Elijah's teaching gentiles the Torah. Elijah rejoined with the claim that earlier Christian Hebraists had upheld Christian and Jewish Hebrew scholarship resulting in a tendency, on their part, to defend Jews and the Jewish community also from physical violence. Two of Elijah's grandchildren, however, converted to Christianity and helped those who calumniated the Talmud. One of them, baptized as Vittorio Eliano, became an ecclesiastical censor of Hebrew books and had some part in the Cremona (Christian) edition of the Zohar (1558–59). Elijah, despite false allegations brought against him to the contrary, remained an observant Jew.

Elijah wrote many Hebrew grammar works, Hebrew and Aramaic dictionaries, and did masoretic research. In Hebrew grammar, he followed the line of thought of the Kimhis: he published Moses Kimhi's Mahalakh, with his own commentary (Pesaro, 1508); and wrote notes and critiques, "Nimmukim" (unpublished), on David Kimhi's Mikhlol and on his Sefer ha-Shorashim. His own works, written and published in Rome between 1518–19, and translated into Latin by Sebastian Muenster, are: Sefer ha-Harkavah (1518); Ha-Bahur (1518; the title is after his own name "R. Elijah Bahur"); and Lu'ah be-Dikduk ha-Pe'alim ve-ha-Binyanim (unpublished). Ha-Harkavah deals with "the grammar of every foreign and compound word" in the Bible, listed in alphabetical order, and the grammar of the noun and the verb. His grammatical rule on the five classes of sheva-na is still accepted today. His Masoret ha-Masoret (Venice, 1538), on the technical terms and the signs of the masorah, is an important contribution to masoretic study. In Tuv Ta'am (Venice, 1538), Elijah attempted to explain the rules on the accents in the Bible: their grammatical value and their relationship to each other. His dictionary, compiled from the Aramaic translations of the Bible, Meturgeman (The Interpreter, with a Latin foreword by Paulus Fagius), and his lexicon of the Hebrew words in the Talmud and the Hebrew of the Middle Ages Tishbi, with a Latin translation by Fagius (Isny, 1541), are of major importance in the research of Hebrew grammar. Tishbi is a source on the pronunciation and the vocalization of Hebrew by the German and Italian Jewish communities.

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Listing Classification
16th Century:    Checked
France:    Checked
Other:    Grammar
Language:    Latin, Hebrew
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica