Amazing articles on just about every subject...



Bibles, Prayer Books, Devotional Books

( Originally Published Late 1800's )

The Complutensian Polyglott.

J R. S. inquires in what public or private library in this country the Complutensian Edition of the Polyglott Bible is deposited. The information which Mr. Horne gives in his " Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures " is rather meagre. He says (see vol. ii., p. [22), "the impression was limited to 600 copies ; three were struck off in vellum. One of these was deposited in the Royal Library at Madrid, and another in the Royal Library at Turin. The third (which is supposed to have been reserved for Cardinal Ximenes), after passing through various hands, was purchased at the Pinelli sale in 1789, for the late Count M'Carthy of Thoulouse, for £483. On the sale of this gentleman's library at Paris, in 1817, it was bought by George Hibbert, Esq., for 16,100 francs, or £676 3S. 4d.-Our correspondent will find some account of the sale of Mr. Hibbert's library in our volume for 1829, vol. xcix., ii., 64. [See Note 66.] The Complutensian Polyglott was sold to Mr. Payne the bookseller for £525. Is it now in the Grenville Library at the British Museum ?

The Complutensian Polyglott, purchased by my old friend Count M'Carthy, is in the Parisian National Library, forming part of the valuable donation made to the ex.-King, Louis Philippe, by the late F. Hall Standish, of his books and paintings, in consequence, it is said, of our government's refusal to make him a Baronet. In my article of this magazine for April, 1841, I underrated Mr. Hall Standish's unpatriotic legacy at £50,000. [See Note 67.]

So early as 1502 Cardinal Ximenes made preparations for publishing this magnificent work, exhibiting the first Christian edition of the Old Testament in Hebrew (printed in 1488 by the Jews), with the Chaldee paraphrase of the Pentateuch, and the first impressions of the Septuagint and New Testament in Greek. The Old Testament was finished on the loth of July, 1517, having been preceded by the New on the loth of January, 1514. " In hac pręclarissima Complutensi Civitate." On receiving from the printer the concluding volume the cardinal exclaimed, " Grates tibi ago, summe Christe, quod rem magnopere a, me curatam ad optatum finem perduxeris," and, addressing those around him, added, "Nihil est, amici, de quo magis gratulari mihi debeatis, quam de hac editione bibliorum, quę una sacros religionis nostre fontes, tempore perquam necessario, aperit." In attributing the precedence of date to this publication, I do not forget that the Septuagint was printed at the Aldine press in 1518, and the New Testament at Basil, under the supervision of Erasmus, in 1516, while this polyglott did not appear until after the death of Ximenes, in 1520. The Polyglott and the New Testament were severally inscribed to Leo X. by the cardinal and by Erasmus. " I conclude," says Dr. Adam Clarke, "that the Hebrew, Septuagint, Vulgate, Chaldean, as far as it goes, and the original of the New Testament, are as they stand in the Complutensian Polyglott, equal in critical value to manuscripts of these texts and versions of the tenth or twelfth centuries, or even higher. Lelong (Biblioth. Sacra, p. 1i) makes them even coeval with the seventh or eighth centuries." To a Roman Catholic university, therefore, and to a Spanish city, the Christian world is indebted for these supereminent services.

"Prima via salutis,

Quocl minime reris, Graia pandetur ab urbe."

The work of Gabriel Diosdado Raym, " De prima Typographie Hispanicę zetate," Rome, 1793, 4t0., and the "Typographia Espanola," by F. Mendez, Madrid, 1796, 4to., are worth consulting on this subject. The manuscript of the Complutensian New Testament is supposed to be in the Dublin University Library. It contains the long-controverted passage in St. John's first epistle, chap. v., verse 7, on the three heavenly witnesses. Various further particulars relating to the Polyglott, and the donation to the French ex-King, will be found under my signature in the Gentleman's Magazine for April, 1841, p. 368, etc., and may not appear undeserving of recurrence to them. A special and enlarged narrative 0f the valuable publication by Sebastian Seemilerius appeared at Ingoldstadt in 1785, 4to., under the title of " De Bibliis Complutensibus Polyglottis." One of the ablest coadjutors of the cardinal was Stunica (Jacobus Lopez), a doctor of the university, whom Ximenes despatched to Rome in search of manu-scripts, for seven of which in Hebrew Ximenes paid four thousand crowns, equivalent to so many pounds sterling of present currency. Stunica has left a rare volume, " Itinerarium, dum Compluto (Alcala de Henares), Romani proficisceretur," in small quarto. His altercations with Erasmus exposed him to the shafts of ridicule not only of Erasmus but of Ulrick van Hutten, who assigned him a prominent place in the celebrated " Litter x Obscurorum Virorum." He died at Naples in 1530. The edifice of the university, commenced, at the expense of the cardinal, in 1500, was completed in 1508, and then organized for its destined purpose.

The Polyglott, this noble undertaking of Ximenes, is supposed to have cost altogether not less than £40,000, so numerous were the learned co-operators engaged in the work, and all liberally remunerated, independently of the high prices paid for the manuscripts, though the successive Popes, Alexander VI., Julius II., and more especially Leo X., placed those of the Vatican at the cardinal's free disposal. The cost to the public of each copy, of 'which the number was limited to six hundred, was six golden crowns and a half, or about £6 ios. of present value. Of the three on vellum, two having been locked up in state or royal libraries, one solely could ever come to the hammer, as that originally reserved for the cardinal, and now; as above mentioned, in the National Repository of Paris eventually did. At Venice, in the possession of the Pinelli family, no dust could touch the volumes. That several paper copies are to be found in the private collections of London your correspondent may well be assured. Formerly one was in my own library, and the precious vellum copy, of which we must regret the loss to England, was placed for some time, in 1793 and 1794, during the reign of terror, for safe keeping, and many more rare articles, with me, Count McCarthy's quality of noble, and the renown of his library, being likely to expose him to special danger. No private gentleman ever possessed an equal number of works printed on vellum, amounting to above five hundred, while the royal library did not contain more than fifteen hundred, and no other national collection exceeded one thousand, if so many were anywhere to be found assembled. He was a native of Tipperary, but removed to Toulouse about the middle of the last century, for the freer enjoyment of his religion, when Louis XV. conferred on him the title of Count. He was considered one of the first amateur performers on the violin in Europe, and, indeed, was altogether a most amiable gentleman. One of his sons, an ecclesiastic, particularly distinguished himself in the pulpit, and his published sermons are highly valued. My recollections of him in early youth are most favourable to his character. He died after entering, late in life, into the order of Jesuits.

The second great polyglott publication of the Bible was also the fruit of Spanish munificence, being at the cost of Philip II., and printed at Antwerp, from 1569 to 1572, by Plantin, whose establishment continues to this day in the hands of his posterity, through the female line—an unexampled instance, I believe, of so long a duration of family succession in the same industrial pursuit. Most of the Catholic missals proceeded from this press, as did that vast collection the " Acta Sanctorum," now in process of publication for two centuries. After a suspension of some years the compilation has been resumed.

Concerning the Hebrew sources of the Complutensian Polyglott in manuscript, as well as the earlier Jewish editions, in various cities of Italy (Soncino, Ferrara, Brescia, Cremona, Naples, and Venice), I would refer to the numerous works of John Bernard de Rossi, more especially to his " Annales Hebraeo-typographici, seculi xv.," Parma, 1795-1799, two parts 4to., and to the catalogue of his library," Libri stampati di Litteratura Ebraica," etc., Parma, 1812, in 8vo. The first Hebrew Bible published by a Protestant was that of Sebastian Munster in 1534-5.



Home | More Articles | Email: info@oldandsold.com