Hebrew Psalms. Naples, 1487

SEFER TEHILIM
[Book of Psalms in Hebrew].
Commentary by David ben Joseph Kimhi, corrected by Jacob Baruch ben Judah Landau.
Naples: Joseph ben Jacob Ashkenazi Gunzenhauser, 4 Nisan 5247
(28 March 1487). (07017)

Printing in Hebrew began c. 1469, when three Jewish printers established a press in Rome. During the relatively tolerant papacy of Sixtus IV (1471–1484), other Hebrew presses were set up in Mantua, Ferrara, Bologna, and Soncino. After 1485, however, ecclesiastical and civic intolerance throughout most of Italy made printing in Hebrew impossible. Similarly, all Hebrew-language printers were expelled from Spain in 1492 and Portugal in 1497. Although Jewish refugees from Spain set up a short-lived press in Constantinople in 1493, the only safe haven for Hebrew printing during the last decades of the fifteenth century was Naples. In 1487, Joseph ben Jacob Ashkenazi Gunzenhauser introduced Hebrew printing in Naples with the Sefer Tehilim (Book of Psalms), a copy of which is exhibited here.  

The text of the Hebrew Psalms, printed in large letters, is surrounded by David Kimhi’s commentary in smaller type. Several words in the commentary for Psalms 21 and 22 were inked out by a Christian censor who added his “correct” readings in the margins. On several other leaves, the censor pasted small sheets of paper over whole passages. This censorship most likely occurred at the order of Pope Paul IV, whose apostolic commissioner, Jacob Geraldino, censored several surviving copies of this edition at Ferrara in 1556.

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Printing in Italy
Hebrew Psalms. Naples, 1487