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Bidding Information
Lot #    34864
Auction End Date    7/17/2012 11:22:30 AM (mm/dd/yyyy)
          
Title Information
Title (English)    A Defence of the Old Testament ... Thomas Paine
Author    [First Ed.] David Levi
City    London
Publisher    Author
Publication Date    1797
          
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
          
Description Information
Physical
Description
   First edition. 208 pp., 8°, 215:130 mm., wide margins, light age and damp staining. A very good copy bound in modern half leather and marbled paper over boards.
          
Detailed
Description
   David Levi responds to Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason, which ridiculed the bible, and religion in general. For instance, Paine wrote that “it would be more consistent that we called [the Old Testament] the word of a demon, than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”

David Levi (1742–1801) was an English-Jewish writer, Hebraist, Jewish apologist, translator, and poet. Levi was born to poor immigrant parents who could not afford to educate him. He worked as a shoemaker, then as a hatter, then as a printer. He read voraciously in Jewish literature from ancient times to the present, as well as in Christian writings about Judaism and about the Bible. Self-educated, he realised how little both Jews and Christians in England knew about Judaism and resolved to explain and defend his faith.

His first published work, A Succinct Account of the Rites and Ceremonies of the Jews (1782), tried to explain Judaism to Jews and to correct Christian misconceptions about Judaism. Next, he translating the prayer books of both the Ashkenazi and Spanish and Portuguese Jews. He supervised a translation of the Old Testament into English and published a Hebrew grammar and dictionary, and a guide to the Hebrew language.

In 1786, Joseph Priestly published his Letter to the Jews (1786), urging them to convert. Levi published a lengthy answer, which led to many arguments with Christian divines. This led to his three-volume Dissertation on the Prophecies of the Old Testament (1793–1800), which he printed and published himself. It was republished in London in 1817 in two volumes. Levi's work was well known in Christian circles; his Dissertation on the Prophecies was accepted as authoritative by many scholars, both Jewish and Christian, well into the nineteenth century.

His six-volume English translation of the liturgy served as the foundation for later editions published both in England and in the United States. His Protestant friend Henry Lemoine published an obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine (October 1801), "He's Gone! the Pride of Israel's Busy Tribe". It praised him as a great explainer and defender of Judaism against both Christians and skeptics. Levi was also poet in ordinary to the synagogue, and furnished odes when required on several public celebrations, as, for instance, on the king's escape from assassination in 1795.

          
Reference
Description
   Wikipedia
        
Associated Images
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Listing Classification
Period
  
18th Century:    Checked
  
Location
England:    Checked
  
Subject
Other:    Religion
  
Characteristic
Language:    English
  
Manuscript Type
  
Kind of Judaica