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Iakerson Sh. Hebrew Incunabula collection in the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York // Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 6, No 4, December 2000. P. 14-23.


Hebrew incunabula form a comparatively small group of books, approximately 125—130 editions, which were printed in four countries — Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Turkey (Constantinople, one edition) — over the last 30 years of the fifteenth century. The history of European Jewry in the second half of the fifteenth century has been relatively well documented, the Hebrew manuscript book in the regions under discussion already had a firm tradition of colophons (with bibliographic information) by that time, and Hebrew incunabula themselves have received study for more than two hundred years. Nevertheless, to this day a large number of questions remain about the emergence and genesis of Hebrew book-printing. At present, we still do not know where and when it arose, and in which of the countries enumerated above, not to mention who was the first Hebrew book-printer and which book was the Hebrew editio princeps. Also, we do not possess a single serious monograph on Hebrew incunabula, a composite catalogue of Hebrew incunabula that meets contemporary scholarly standards, or even print catalogues of the largest collections. Besides, the study of Hebrew incunabula has its myths and legendary figures. For example, we have documentary evidence of book-printers and publishers that has not been confirmed by information from books themselves, and books of anonymous production the origins of which cannot be clarified. Many methodological problems still remain unsolved: how is one to distinguish incunabula from early paleotypes, how to identify individual bibliographic units in editions that have been preserved only in fragments, etc…

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Keywords


Hebrew incunabula
the Jewish Theological Seminary of America
Manuscripta Orientalia, selected papers

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