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    16th century Hebrew imprints at the Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon

    Along with humanism and the renewed interest for the classical texts, the Renaissance favored the study of ancient languages, particularly Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.

    French ; German

    Bible hébraïque. Hamishah Humshe Torah, 1525 (1528), BmL (327636)

    The knowledge of Hebrew was indeed essential for humanists who wanted to return to the origins of the Holy Scriptures and explore the mysteries of Kabbalah. While trilingual colleges were flourishing in Europe, including the newly opened Collège royal in Paris, the consulate of Lyon was founding the Collège de la Trinité where Hebrew was going to be taught from 1540 on. Many Hebrew books were then being printed in Europe, in Italy in particular, to fill the needs of the Jewish communities but also to allow the many humanists in search for ""Hebraica veritas", the “Hebraic truth”, to learn the sacred language. This interest also encompassed Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ’s contemporaries, through different studies and publications.

    The editions containing Hebrew published in Lyon in the 16th century have been recently analyzed. At the same moment, through the study of the marks left in its Hebrew books by their former owners, the library reconstructed two collections brought or assembled in Lyon during the sixteenth century: the libraries of Sante Pagnini (Lucca 1470-Lyon 1536) and of Pierre Bullioud (Lyon 1548-Paris 1597), a royal attorney. The two scholars’s personalities mirror two important time periods in sixteenth century Lyon as observed in their personal libraries.

    Sante Pagnini

    Sante Pagnini, Hebraicas institutiones, 1526, BmL (Rés 104639)

    Sante Pagnini, a Dominican from Tuscany, studied Oriental languages at the convent of San Marco in Florence as a disciple of Savonarola. Later, he taught Greek and Hebrew in Rome, where he was acquainted with reknowned Renaissance artists, like Michelangelo. He also met there leading scholars and erudites, Christians or Jews, such as the eminent grammarian Elias Levita, whose works were going to widely influence Hebrew studies in the sixteenth century. At the death of Pope Leo X, his sponsor and protector, Sante Pagnini spent a few years in Avignon and settled in Lyon in 1526. Praised as an eloquent preacher by the social elites in Lyon, he published in 1528 an important Latin translation of the Bible, his lifetime work, and other pedagogical books for the learning of Hebrew and Greek languages. He also actively contributed to the foundation of the Hôpital de la Charité and Aumône générale in 1534 with other humanists in the city. As a major precursor in the study of Hebrew, he opened the way to Oriental studies in Lyon.

    Johannes Reuchlin, De rudimentis Hebraicis, 1506, BmL (Rés 105462)

    Pagnini’s translation of the Old Testament kept close to the original Hebrew text and was used later mostly in the Protestant world. His Hebrew and Greek library was reconstructed from the evidence provided by his annotations which had been identified fifty years after his death by the jurist Pierre Bullioud (1548-1597). Most of Pagnini’s books remained in the Dominican convent of Notre-Dame de Confort in Lyon until the French Revolution. From exchanges with the Dominicans, Pierre Bullioud owned another part of Pagnini’s library. His son François Bullioud gave these latter volumes to the Jesuits of the Collège de la Trinité in 1608-1610 with dozens of other books in Hebrew, Greek and Latin which had once belonged to his father. Hence, all volumes annotated by Sante Pagnini came together later in the city's library through the confiscations of the convents’s collections which took place at the time of the Revolution.The twenty volumes of his library which he brought with him from Italy include a manuscript Concordance of the Hebrew Bible (Sefer ha-Zikhronot) corrected by the hand of Elias Levita, and a copy of the Johannes Reuchlin’s De rudimentis Hebraicis annotated throughout by Pagnini. Both works can be used to reconstruct the genesis of his own works :

    Pagnini's Hebraica

    • Bible. A.T. (hébreu-araméen). Nevi'im a'haronim 'im targum ve-'im perush Radak-. Venise : Daniel Bomberg, 1517
    • Bible. A.T. Prophètes (hébreu). Nevi'im a'haronim im perush. Pesaro : Gershom Soncino, 1520
    • Bible (polyglotte). Alcalá. Biblia Complutensis : Vol. I. Alcalá : A. G. de Brocario, 1514
    • De rudimentis Hebraicis / Johannes Reuchlin . Pforzheim : Thomas Anshelm, 1506
    • Midrash Megillot. Pesaro : Gershom Soncino, 1519
    • Midrash Rabba. Constantinople : [s.n.], 1512
    • Perush ha-Torah / Moshe ben Nahman. - Pesaro : Gershom Soncino, 1514
    • Sefer ha-Zikhronot : Concordance de la Bible hébraïque / Elie Levita. [Rome, avant 1522]. 2 vols ms.

    The royal attorney Pierre Bullioud

    Pierre Bullioud's armorial binding, BmL (108897)

    Moïse Maimonide, Mishne Torah, 1551, BmL (Rés 21417)

    Pierre Bullioud belonged to one of the leading families in Lyon. A Humanist, he had studied oriental languages in Paris and assembled the Hebrew editions given to the Collège de la Trinité by his son François in 1608-1610 with other works in Greek and Latin. The inscriptions in Pierre Bullioud’s hand encountered in two of these works, identify their previous owner and user as Sante Pagnini. These inscriptions have been the links which allowed the reconstruction of the Dominican scholar’s library as well as Bullioud’s in the rare book collections of the Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon. During the Religious Wars which ruined Lyon and its area, Pierre Bullioud, a fervent Catholic, used his linguistic knowledge and his scholarly prestige against the Protestants.

    His collection of more than 200 books included at least sixty Hebrew editions, all remarkable, some nowadays quite rare. They are religious texts like the Babylonian Talmud [note] or Hebraic Bibles printed inVenice by the Christian printer Daniel Bomberg, books of Kabbalah and other works for the study of Hebrew or Aramaic (grammars, dictionaries, etc.). Pierre Bullioud published a commentary on the Gospels in Lyon in 1596 and it is known, thanks to his son Pierre’s manuscript, that he was working on the translation of the "100 blessings of the Talmud" at the time of his death. Elected consul in 1596, he died in Paris the following year, at age 49, during a mission as deputy of the city of Lyon to king Henri IV.

    Pierre Bullioud’s Hebrew imprints

    • Arukh, Dictionarium Chaldaicum / Sebastian Münster. Bâle : J. Froben, 1527
    • Bet Israel ; En Ya‘akov / Jacob ben Salomon ibn Habib. Venise : G. Cavalli, 1566
    • Bible (polyglotte). Alcalá. Biblia Complutensis : Vol. I. Alcalá : A. G. de Brocario, 1514
    • Candelabri typici in Mosis Tabernaculo iussu diuino expressi breuis ac dilucida interpretatio / Guillaume Postel. Venise : [s. n.], 1548
    • De accentibus, et orthographia, linguae Hebraicae / Johannes Reuchlin. Haguenau : T. Anshelm, 1518
    • De paradiso commentarius scriptus ... / Moses Bar-Kepha ... trad. Du syriaque par Andreas Masius.. Anvers : C. Plantin, 1569
    • De rudimentis Hebraicis / Johannes Reuchlin. Pforzheim, T. Anshelm, 1506
    • Dictionarium Hebraicum nouum / Johann Forster. Bâle : H. Froben et N. Episcopius, 1557
    • de-lishon 'arami / Sebastian Münster. Bâle : J. Froben, 1527
    • Diqduqim eleh hem arbaah hiburim ... / ed. Elie Levita . Venise : D. Bomberg, 1546
    • Enchiridion expositionis vocabulorum : Haruch, Targhum, Midrascim, Berescith, Scemoth, Vaicra, Midbar Rabba … / Sante Pagnini. Rome, 1523
    • Fini Hadriani Fini Ferrariensis In Iudaeos flagellum ex Sacris Scripturis excerptum. Venise : Niccolini de Sabio, 1536
    • Gal’ed, Comparatio grammaticae Hebraicae et Aramicae / Corneille Bonaventure Bertram. Genève : E. Vignon, 1574
    • Grammatica Chaldaea et Syra / Immanuel Tremellius. Genève : H. Estienne, 1569
    • Hamishah Humshe Torah Pentateuque Megillot Haftarot, Venise : D. Bomberg, 1527
    • Hamishah Humshe Torah. Pentateuque Megillot Haftarot, Venise : D. Bomberg, 1547-1548 , 2 tomes
    • Hamishah Humshe Torah Pentateuque Megillot Haftarot = Hebraicus Pentateuchus Latinus / trad. Sebastian Münster. Venise : M.A. Giustiniani, 1551
    • Hamishah Humshe Torah Pentateuque Megillot Haftarot. Venise : C. Zanetti, 1566
    • Hebraicum alphabetum / Jehan Boulaese. Paris : M. Le Jeune, 1576
    • Institutiones in linguam Hebraicam / Jean Cinquarbres. Paris : M. Le Jeune, 1559
    • Institutiones in linguam sanctam / Martin Martinez. Paris : J. Bogard, 1548
    • Institutionum grammaticarum de lingua Hebraea / Theodor Bibliander. Zurich : C. Froschauer, 1535
    • Qitsur, sive Compendium / Jehan Boulaese. Paris : M. Le Jeune, 1566.
    • Luah ha-Diqduq = Tabula in grammaticen Hebraeam / Nicolas Clénard. Paris : M. Le Jeune, 1564
    • Marpe Lashon / Moise ben Shem Tov ibn Habib. Venise : D. Bomberg, 1546
    • Melekhet ha-Diqduq / Sebastian Munster. Bâle : H. Petri, 1542
    • Meturgeman = Lexicon Chaldaicum / Elie Lévita. Isny : P. Fagius, 1541
    • Midrash Megillot. Pesaro : G. Soncino, 1519
    • Midrash Rabba. Constantinople : [s. n.], 1512
    • Mikdash esrim we-arba sifre = Hebraica Biblia / trad. Sebastian Munster. Bâle : M. Isengrin et H. Petri, 1546
    • Mikneh Abram = Peculium Abrae grammatica / Abraham de Balmes. Venise : D. Bomberg, 1523
    • Mirkebet ha-mishneh / Isaac Abravanel. Sabbioneta : T. ben Eliezer Foà, 1551
    • Mishne Torah / Moïse Maïmonide. Venise : M. A. Giustiniani, 1551
    • Moreh Nevukhim / Moise Maimonide. Venise : A. Bragadin, 1551
    • Perush ha-milot ... id est, Exegesis sive Expositio dictionum Hebraicarum. Isny : P. Fagius, 1542
    • Perush ha-Torah / Moïse ben Nahman. Pesaro : G. Soncino, 1514
    • Perush ha-Torah / Moïse ben Nahman. Venise : M. A. Giustiniani, 1545
    • Perush ha-Torah / Bahya ben Asher ben Halava. Riva di Trento : J. Marcaria, 1558/1559
    • Perush ha-Torah / Lévi ben Gershom, dit Ralbag. Venise : D. Bomberg, 1547
    • Petah ohel moed / Rudimenta Hebraicae linguae … / Antoine Chevalier. Wittenberg : J. Krafft, 1574
    • Proverbiorum classes duae / Johannes Drusius. Franeker : G. van der Rade, 1590
    • Psalterium Hebraeum, Graecum, Arabicum et Chaldaeum, cum tribus latinis interpretationibus et glossis... Gêne : P.P. Porro, 1516
    • Qotser otsar leshon ha-qodesh / Epitome Thesauri linguae sanctae… / Sante Pagnini. Anvers : C. Plantin, 1578
    • efer: Commentarium Hebraicum rabbi David Kimhi in decem primos Psalmos Davidicos / Paul Fagius. Constance, 1544
    • Sefer darke leshon ha-qodesh / Liber viarum linguae sanctae Rabi Mosse Qimahi / Moïse Kimhi. Paris : G. de Gourmont, ca. 1520
    • Sefer ha-shorashim ... Dawid Qimhi linguae sanctae siue Dictionarium hebreum / Elie Levita. Venise : M. A.Giustiniani, 1546
    • Sefer ha-Tishbi / Elie Levita. Bâle [i.e. Isny] : P. Fagius, 1557
    • Sefer ha-Zohar / Crémone : V. Conti, 1559-1560
    • Sefer he-Arukh … / Nathan ben Yehiel. Venise: A. Bragadin, 1552 / 1553
    • Sefer ha-Harkavah / Elie Bahur Levita. Venise : D. Bomberg, 1546
    • Sefer hovot ha-Levavot / Bahya ben Josef. Venise : D. Bomberg, 1548. relié avec:
    • Sefer Imre noam / Ya'akov Dilyeskas. Crémone : V. Conti, 326 [1566]
    • Sefer Masoret ha-Masoret / Elie Levita. Bâle : H. Petri, 1539
    • Sefer Me'ir Nativ / Mordecai Nathan. Bâle : A. Froben, 1581
    • Sefer Meqor Hayim / Samuel Ibn Zarza. Mantoue : M. ben Ephraim de Padoue et J. ben Naftali Cohen ,1559
    • Sefer Mikhlol et Sefer ha-Shorashim / David Kimhi, ed. Par Elie Levita. Venise : D. Bomberg, 1546
    • Sefer Mitzwot Gadol / Moïse ben Jacob de Coucy. Venise : D. Bomberg, 1547
    • Sefer Ruth / Libellus Rut. Libellus Lamentationum Hieremiae. Libellus De Numeris Hebraica omnia. Paris : G. de Gourmont, ca. 1520
    • Sefer Shaare orah / Josef Gikatilla. Riva di Trento, [J. Marcaria], 1561 relié avec
    • Sefer Shaare tsedeq / Josef Gikatilla. Riva di Trento : [J. Marcaria], 1561
    • Sefer Tehilim im perush Rabi David Kimhi. Isny : P. Fagius, 1542
    • Sententiae uere elegantes, piae, miraeque, cum ad linguam discendam, tum animum pietate excolendum utiles, ueterum sapientum Hebraeorum, … / Paul Fagius. Isny : P. Fagius, 1541
    • Shiboley ha-lekhet / Zedekiah ben Abraham Anav. Venise : D. Bomberg, 1546
    • Siddur : Temunot Tehinot. Venise : G. di Gara, 1581.
    • Talmud bavli. Venise : D. Bomberg, 1520-1549. 9 vols. 41 traités
    • Tanya, sefer minhag abot. Mantoue : Samuel Latif, 1514
    • Tevat Noah, Grammatica linguae sanctae / Marco Marini. Bâle : Froben, 1580
    • Tsemah David / David ben Isaac de Pomis. Venise : G. di Gara, 1587.

    The Hebrew book censored : the collections of the Lyon convents

    A third remarkable collection of Hebrew books is taking shape in the library of Lyon. They are the volumes which belonged to the city’s convents before their confiscation at the time of the French Revolution, later to be bestowed to the city library. Along with the books which were still in use for the teaching of Hebrew in Lyon in the seventeenth century, a few volumes bear the marks of the papal censorship which was applied to the Jewish books from 1550 on in several Italian cities such as Venice, Rome, or Mantua where the Talmud was publicly burnt in 1553. Although these volumes rarely bear any former owners’ identification marks, they belonged to Jewish families who, in the Italian peninsula, were obliged to submit their books to the censors of the Inquisition in order to have them examined and expurgated. Several of these books went directly from the hands of the censors into some of the Lyon convents like the Augustinians or the Capuchins.

    Isaac Abravanel, Perush ha-Torah, 1579, BmL (100094)

    This Commentary on the Pentateuque belonged to the Augustinian Convent of Lyon. it bears marks of censorship of the censor Domenico Gerosolimitano, dated 1615, in Latin and Hebrew, and of the censor "Petrus de Trevio expurg. deputatus, 1623".

    David ben Joseph Abudarham, Abudarham be-'zrat 'elohe kedem aokhen me-'oneh (...) ,1546, BmL (SJ E 669/113)

    Commentary of the liturgy. Signature of the roman censor Giovanni Domenico Vistorini: "Revisto per mi Gio. Domenico Vistorini, 1609" at the end of the text, above an other censor's signature, Hippolitus Ferrariensis "Fr. Hipp[olitu]s purgauit, 1601"

    Comparison of Giovanni Domenico Vistorini's signatures on the two books

    Waves of censorship took place repeatedly as shown by the dates and signatures of the successive censors. Most of these censors were converts who knew Hebrew perfectly. They were paid for this work by the Jewish communities themselves. Some amongst them were famous for their zeal, like Domenico Gerosolimitano known, before his conversion, as the Rabbi Samuel Vivas of Jerusalem.

    Another censor, Giovanni Domenico Vistorini has "reviewed" in 1609 this commentary on the liturgy of Abudarham, which like many others, was subjected to censorship and expurgation. The same year, Vistorini left his signature on the famous Haggada of Sarajevo, a magnificent manuscript illustrated in Spain during the 14th century describing the ritual of Passover. After surviving centuries of other such perils, this Haggada has become for many a symbol of multicultural tolerance.


    • Les Eglises et le Talmud : ce que les Chrétiens savaient du judaïsme (XVIe-XIXe siècles), Daniel Tollet dir., Paris, P.U. P. Sorbonne, 2006
    • F. Secret, Les Kabbalistes chrétiens de la Renaissance, Paris, Dunod, 1964
    • L’Hébreu au temps de la Renaissance, Ilana Zinger éd., Leiden, New York, Köln, Brill, 1992
    • S. Baruchson Arbib, La culture livresque des Juifs d’Italie à la fin de la Renaissance, Paris, CNRS, 2001
    • Savoirs livresques et culture hébraïque : exposition 19 juin-30 septembre 2007. Nîmes : Carré d’Art Bibliothèque, 2007
    • Hebraica veritas : Christopher Plantin and the Christian Hebraists : catalogue to the exhibition "Hebraica veritas. Did God speak Hebrew?”: 16 May -17 August 2008. Albert van der Heide, ed., Antwerp, Plantin-Moretus Museum, 2007
    • Lyse Schwarzfuchs. L’hébreu dans le livre lyonnais au XVIe siècle : Inventaire chronologique. Lyon : ENS , Institut d’Histoire du Livre, 2008
    • D. Travier, "Un rare Talmud du XVIe siècle", Vincentiana, le Bulletin des Amis de l’Abbaye Saint-Vincent, n° 4 / octobre 2008, p. 3-10
    • Fausto Parente. Les Juifs et l'Eglise romaine à l'époque moderne (XVe-XVIIIe siècle). Paris m H. Champion, 2007
    • M. Hulvey, Les bibliothèques retrouvées de Sante Pagnini, dominicain de Lucques et de Pierre Bullioud, « gentil-homme » lyonnais : en hébreu et en grec …, Bulletin du bibliophile, 1, 2009, p. 79-106

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    Monique Hulvey, 16th century Hebrew imprints at the Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, numelyo [en ligne], mis en ligne le 2015-09-17T09:24:40.294Z, consulté le 2023-09-28 09:28:31. URL : https://numelyo.bm-lyon.fr/BML:BML_00GOO01001THM0001_hebraica_eng

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