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St John's College L.19 (James 373)

Leone da Modena, 'Vita, Riti, e Costumi de gl' Hebrei'. Italian, 1638


'Vita, Riti, e Costumi de gl' Hebrei / In brevissimo compendio ma amplamente raccolti & descritti / Da Leon Modena Hebreo da Venetia / Ex dono Authoris [?] Sept. 1628 / Venet[...] (fo. 2v, the year has been corrected to 1638, apparently by the same hand). In 56 chapters. A version of this text was published by da Modena (1574-1648) as Historia degli Riti Hebraeici, dove si ha breve et total relatione di tutta la vita, costumi, et riti, et osservanze degl' Hebrei di questi tempi, di Leone Modena Rabi Hebreo di Venetia (Paris, 1637), with a letter from Jacques Gaffarel to Leon Modena. Modena dedicated his book 'all' Illustrissimo ed Excellentissimo Signore mio Padrone colendissimo il signore Presidente Claudio Malliero, consigliero del Re Christianissimo, e suo ambasciatore alla serenissima Republica di Venetia'. There is a copy in the College Library (F.12.25) of the English translation (1650, Wing L1099/1099A), which is derived from the second edition (Venice, 1638). Chapter one of the MS corresponds to the second chapter of the printed version, which is a much more substantial work throughout. The MS carries no preface.

203x150 mm. 2+48+2 fos, foliated 1-52. College bookplate (eighteenth century) inside front cover. Cowie conjectures, without any evidence or particular conviction, that the MS might have come to the College with the books of Dr Dominico Antonio Ferrari (incorp. LLD, 1710). On fo. 2v, in the same hand as the title, is the name 'Boswell'. This is Leone da Modena's friend and correspondent Sir William Boswell (d. 1649), Fellow of Jesus College and ambassador at The Hague. See Cecil Roth, 'Leone da Modena and England', Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 11 (1929), 206-27; Roth, 'Léon de Modène, ses Riti Ebraici et le Saint-Office à Venise' (Paris: La Sociéte des Etudes Juives, 1929), pp. 83-8); and Mark R. Cohen, 'Leone da Modena's Riti: a seventeenth century plea for social toleration of the Jews', Jewish Social Studies 34 (1972), 287-319.

The text in two hands, the first concluding at fo. 12v. Very few corrections. Paper. Original binding: gold tooled leather on card, the leather now very brittle.