Sive idonea disputatio inter christianos et judeos.

[Cologne], [Heinrich Quentell], [c.1495]


4to. 12 unnumbered ll, a-b6, 32 lines per page. Gothic letter. Small repair to t-p margin, reinforced in gutter, a few ms underlinings, one marginal pointer. A fine copy, first 2 ll. probably washed, in crimson crushed morocco by Rivière, gilt title to spine.

Second edition of this rare tract ‘ A quiver for the Catholic Faith’ (first published in 1494 in Leipzig in several variants), setting out more than 60 articles of Jewish doctrine, followed by their corresponding Christian understanding, in an attempt to show the Jews the errors of their ways for their proselytization. Comparing the Christian-Jewish relationship to that between the hunter’s bow and the fox, the text begins with advice to Christians in dealing with their Jewish neighbours, first learn where Jewish doctrine is erroneous, second understand that violence against Jews is not permitted except as self-defence, and when to seek a peaceful solution must be sought with all haste, third remember when many Jews are gathered together, a Christian among them should be silent except to answer questions, and should not seek confrontation, nor listen to many voices at once lest he be the one confused by false doctrine. The differing attitudes of Jews and Christians to each others’ beliefs are touched upon, with Christians freely accepting the common ground.

The Pharetra also deals with many specific points of theological difference. I.a., it questions the Jewish interpretation of the Trinity as being polytheistic and therefore directly contradictory to the teachings of the Old Testament; the face-to-face meeting of the prophet Jacob and God; that angels are not incarnate, not are they sent for the redemption of the world; that Jesus is not God; that Mary was not holy as she was not baptized; and the nature of the Messiah.

This very interesting work is attributed to Theobaldus de Saxonia or to Theobaldus, a Dominican subprior in Paris. It evidences an honest medieval attempt at a modus Vivendi, neither papering over differences nor failing in enthusiasm for Jewish conversion.

BMC I:296. Hain 12912. Vouillième: Köln, 939. Goff P576. Polain(B) 3680.


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COLUMNA, Petrus Galatinus


De arcanis catholicae veritatis, contra obstinatissimam Judeorum nostrem tempestatis perfidiam: ex Talmud, aliisque hebraicis libris nuper excerptum. Epigramma hebraicum.

Orthona, per Hieronymum Soncinum, 1518.


FIRST EDITION fol. ff. 311 (i). Roman, Hebrew and Greek letter. 13 ll. within striking white on black woodcut borders of foliage and urns, white on black initials with strapwork background. Intermittent contemporary scholarly marginalia, occasionally extensive and some clearly cabalistic in content. Light marginal foxing, last leaf holed with loss of two letters, a good, clean, thick paper copy in vellum over bds. Circa 1600, speckled blue edges.

A very rare and curious Cabalistic work from Gerson Soncino’s short lived Orthona press, which produced four books, one of them in Hebrew. “Most interesting of all of these is the work of Petrus Galatinus, the Franciscan, ‘On the Mystery of the Catholic Truth’ (…) we find among [Gerson’s] publications the ancient classics as well as Catholic publications (…) and most remarkable of all the book of Galatinus, which was not only Catholic but distinctly anti-Jewish in purpose, introduced to the public in Hebrew verses by the author or some apostate editor as a book filled with loveliness, expounding the secrets of the Talmud in which may be found the very foundation of Christian Messianism the unity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The desire to find support in the Hebrew books for the doctrine of the Trinity arose out of the spread of Cabalism, a so-called science, through which Jewish mystics attempted to explain the mysteries of heaven and earth, and which had many Christian devotees, among them the famous Cardinal Egidio of Viterbo, who in this very year 1518 had assisted in the establishment of a Hebrew press in the city of Rome”. (Amram cit. infr.)

Galatinus (al. Columna) was a converted Jew from Apulia who in the present work, dedicated to the Emperor Maximilian no less, undertook the defence of Reuchlin for his interest in the Cabala and Jewish books. He explains that in times past the Cabala had been secretly and orally transmitted, though recent Jews such as the Rabbi Simeon had written about it lest it be lost entirely, albeit in veiled terms. Galatinus holds that the Talmudic tradition enables one to piece out gaps or corrupt passages in scripture. He also deals at length with the Tetragrammaton and the divine names, the rest of the book being concerned chiefly with the Messiah and the time of His coming. A remarkable and substantial work of Judeo-Christian mysticism of the esoteric kind which fascinated many of the Renaissance’s most considerable minds.

It is also a beautifully produced and very handsome volume.

BM STC It. p.192. Manzoni 108. Amram pp. 124-6. Brunet II 1447 “Elle renferme plusieurs pièces qu’on n’a pas réimpr.” Thorndike VI pp. 445. (who had not seen a copy). Caillet II 4304. Not in Mortimer, Harvard C16 It., Sander or Essling.


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Curiositez inouyes, sur la sculpture talismanique des persans. Horoscope des patriarches. Et lecture des estoilles.

(Paris), n.p., 1637.


8vo. pp. (xvi), 315, (i) and two folding plates. a8, A-T8 V6. Roman letter, some Italic and Hebrew. Woodcut initials, typographical headpieces, grotesque woodcut tail-pieces, small woodcut diagrams and tables in text, two large folding woodcut star charts inserted at end, autograph of “Carl Aurivillius, Upsala, 1762”, his shelf mark above. Light age yellowing, marginal wine stain to lower outer corner of quires D and E, small tear restored in S2. A very good, well margined copy, lower margins untrimmed in contemporary limp vellum, old stain to edge of lower cover.

A rare clandestine edition of an important and influential work on Oriental Talismans, Hebrew, Egyptian and Arabic Astrology, the Kabbalah and star reading, including two beautiful folding celestial charts depicting the constellations. One of the theories argues that the stars are arranged in the form of Hebrew letters, which can be read by those with the right knowledge. Gaffarel was a follower of Pico de Mirandola and one of the chief exponents of Christian Kabbalism, and as such came into conflict with Sorbonne and particularly with Mersenne, who unambiguously rejected his work as impious and published ‘De Gaffarello Judicio’ attacking him, though he recognized Gaffarel’s profound knowledge of Kabbalah.

“Jaques Gaffarel was born in Provence in 1601, educated at the Universities of Valence and Paris where he received the degree of Doctor of canon law, became a priest and chaplain of Richelieu, and had a wide knowledge of Oriental languages: Hebrew, Arabic, Syrian and Persian. (This) is Gaffarel’s main work, the first appearance was in Paris 1629 and then it was repeatedly reprinted into the early 18th century and translated into Latin and English. It is divided into three parts, of which the first defends orientals, especially Hebrews, from Christian charges, and the third deals with ancient Hebrew and oriental astrology. The second part, on the talismanic sculpture of the Persians, especially interests us for its close connection with natural magic. He further contends that the astrology of the ancients was neither idolatry nor the cause of idolatry, and accuses Scaliger and others of having misrepresented the astrology of the ancient Hebrews, Egyptians and Arabs. On August 1, 1629, the faculty of theology at Paris condemned Gaffarel’s book as “entirely to be disapproved”, and called its doctrine false, erroneous, scandalous, opposed to Holy Writ, contumelious towards the Church Fathers, and superstitious.” Thorndike.

Gaffarel duly signed a retraction, but couched it in vague and general terms, stating that he was merely recording the opinions collected from the writings of the Arabs and Hebrews. The book enjoyed great success, Descartes read it with interest and Pierre Gassendi defended it. Richelieu made Gaffarel his librarian and he travelled extensively, first to Italy, where he met Campanella, then to Greece and Asia in search of rare books.

A most appropriate provenance: Carl Aurivillius was professor of oriental languages at Uppsala, Swedish linguist, translator and orientalist (1717-1786). He wrote several dissertations of profound scholarship on subjects connected with biblical and oriental literature, of which thirty were published by J. D. Michaelis. Aurivillius studied at Uppsala, then at Paris, Leiden and Halle, where he became friends with great contemporary Orientalists, such as Michaelis, Fourmont and Albert Schulten. He was part of Gustav III’s Biblical Commission, and helped translate almost the entire Old Testament into Swedish. A very good copy of this work, with the two folding plates in excellent condition.

BM STC Fr. C17 p. 214, no. 59. Cantamessa, vol, I, 1671, Thorndike, History of Magic & Experimental Science vol. VII, pp. 304-6. Caillet 4293 (first edition). Houzeau & Lancaster vol. I, 5127. Duveen p. 235 (1650 edition only).


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