[Epistle of Rabbi Samuel]; [Epistola Samuelis]; [Title from incipit:] Hic Incipit Prohemium Unius Libelli Translati De Arabico In Latinum De Inductione Ad Fidem Catholicam Iudeorum A Quodam iudeo Confecto. Alfonsus / Alfonso Bonihominis or Buenhombre.
[Epistle of Rabbi Samuel]; [Epistola Samuelis]; [Title from incipit:] Hic Incipit Prohemium Unius Libelli Translati De Arabico In Latinum De Inductione Ad Fidem Catholicam Iudeorum A Quodam iudeo Confecto.
15th Century Anti-Jewish Manuscript

[Epistle of Rabbi Samuel]; [Epistola Samuelis]; [Title from incipit:] Hic Incipit Prohemium Unius Libelli Translati De Arabico In Latinum De Inductione Ad Fidem Catholicam Iudeorum A Quodam iudeo Confecto.

Around the first half of the fifteen century. Manuscript in Latin. Large margins. Paper with unidentified watermark. Text in black ink, headings, initials and rubrications in red. With a note by later hand on title page, about Alfonsus: “Parisis per manum fratris Alfonciis”. In modern half vellum binding. 20 leaves. Insignificant wormholes to margin with no effect to text. Overall in fine condition.

Manuscript copy in Latin of the Epistle of Rabbi Samuel, one of the most influential anti-Jewish treatises of the middle ages. Allegedly translated from Arabic by the Spanish Dominican Hebraist and Arabist Alfonsus Bonihominis (d. 1353).

Alfonsus writes in his introduction to the manuscript, that the Epistle was written after the year 1000 by Rabbi Samuel, a Jew of Fez in Morocco, to share the reasons with Rabbi Isaac, chief of the synagogue at Sujulmeca (Subiulmeta?), which led him to be baptized and convert to Christianity.

According to Alfonsus it 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 Epistle itself, coming after this introduction. Most copies are divided into twenty-four, sometimes twenty-five sections. Other version of the work, like this copy, contains additional chapters.

Since the Arabic original of the text, from which Alfonsus allegedly translated the Epistle, has never been found, it is more likely that he imitated other works in the genre and composed a new text himself, which ended up being among the most widely copied and printed anti-Jewish tracts of the later middle ages.

Bibl.: Limor, O.: The Epistle of Rabbi Samuel of Morocco: A Best-Seller in the World of Polemics. In: Contra Iudaeos. Ancient and Medieval Polemics between Christians and Jews. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1996. pp. 177–194.

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Price: €40,000.00