Anti-Jewish Book by the Hebraist Pietro Galatino – Printed by Gershom Soncino in Attempt to Gain Support for Printing the Talmud – Ortona (Italy), 1518 – Fine Copy in Early Parchment Binding

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Opus toti christiane reipublice maxime utile, de arcanis catholice ueritatis, contra obstinatissimam iudeoru[m] nostre tempestatis p[er]fidiam: ex Talmud, aliisq[ue] hebraicis libris nuper excerptum [A Work Most Useful for the Christian Republic on the Secrets of the Catholic Truth, against the Hard-Hearted Wickedness of Our Jews, Newly Excerpted from the Talmud and Other Hebrew Books…], by Pietro Galatino. Ortona (Italy): Gershom Soncino, 1518. Latin and some Hebrew.
Between 1507 and 1509, the Jewish apostate Johannes Pfefferkorn published a number of anti-Jewish tracts; considering Jewish books, and especially the Talmud, to be "the source of all evil", he called to have them seized and destroyed. Due to his efforts, in 1509, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I ordered the confiscation of Jewish books by authorized agents. Pfefferkorn, in his capacity as the Frankfurt agent, immediately began carrying out the order. The confiscation of Jewish books aroused the opposition of several German scholars, who claimed that Christian truth was hidden in Jewish sources. The debate that developed eventually led the emperor to rescind the order.
This book is unique in being an anti-Jewish work printed by one of the leading Hebrew printers in Italy, Gershom Soncino. The book, authored by the Franciscan Hebraist and scholar Pietro Colonna Galatino, shows that Jewish texts contain hints to the Christian doctrine. Although the work was anti-Jewish, printing this book was a clever act on the part of Soncino who was trying to gain support for printing the Talmud from the more liberal movement within the Catholic church, to which Galatino belonged (see: Angelo Piattelli, New Documents Concerning Bomberg’s Printing of the Talmud, in: Mehevah le-Menahem: Studies in Honor of Menahem Hayyim Schmelzer, Jerusalem, The Schocken Institute for Jewish Research, 2019, pp. 171*-199*).
The book contains many Biblical and Talmudic quotes in Hebrew. The first page of each chapter is set within a woodcut border (this border was used in title pages of various Hebrew books printed by Gershom Soncino, such as Kol Bo, Rimini 1525-1526).
Gershom Soncino, one of the leading Hebrew printers, traveled with his printing equipment through various Italian cities. He printed three books in Ortona, including one in Hebrew. This is the first book he printed in Ortona.

Fine copy. CCCXI, [1] leaves. 30 cm. Good condition. Stains. Worming to title page and several other leaves, affecting title page border and text, repaired in part with paper. Tears to title page, affecting border, and minor open tear to one leaf, affecting text. Early parchment binding. Blemishes to binding.

Early Printed books
Early Printed books