Psalterium in quatuor linguis Hebraea, Graeca, Chaldaea, Latina.
Cologne, [Johann Soter for Johann Potken], 1518.
Small fol., 144 leaves, a-y6, ç6, &6. Roman, Hebrew, Greek and Ethiopic letters; title within elaborate border with interlacing floral decoration; occasional dust-soiling and marginal foxing, couple of tiny wormholes at foot and, in the first gathering, also to outer margin, old marginal repair to first five leaves, light dampstain at foot of final gathering. A good copy in late seventeenth-century English calf with gilt border; rebacked and restored, a little scuffed; on title, shelfmark and ink stamp of the Royal Society ‘ex dono’ of Henry Howard (1628-1684).
The second book to be printed in liturgical Ethiopic (Ge’ez) and the first polyglot psalter including that language. The editor, Johann Potken (c.1470-c.1525), was also responsible for the previous and earliest appearance of Ge’ez in print with his Alphabetum seu potius Syllabarium chaldaearum, published in Rome with Marcellus Silber in 1513. A Hebraist and clergyman from Cologne, Potken was at the time in the Papal city to serve Leo X. There, he got in touch with the Ethiopic community flourishing around the Church of St Peter of the Abyssinians, learnt Ge’ez from the pilgrim monk Thomas Walda Samuel and cut (or commissioned) an Ethiopic type for Silber, which he later brought back to Cologne and used for this Psalter. Curiously, Potken, the pioneer of Ethiopic printing, incorrectly called this language ‘Chaldea’, an ambiguous term which was commonly used in relation to Aramaic. An earlier polyglot Psalter featuring Arabic and Aramaic in addition to the Hebrew, Greek and Latin text was edited and published by Agostino Giustiniani in Genoa in 1516.
This copy was presented by Henry Howard, 6th Duke of Norfolk, to the Royal Society. The gift probably took taken place in 1667 along with donation of large part of the Arundel-Howard family library, including the beautiful manuscript copy of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanniae, later acquired by the British Museum and now BL, MS Arundel 10.
BM STC Ger., 95; Adams, B1371; Brunet, IV, 920; Graesse, V, 469; Darlow & Moule, 1413; Fumagalli, 1243.
LATIN, GREEK, HEBREW AND GE’EZ