62 unnumbered leaves (the final leaf, a blank, is present). Small folio, cont. blind-stamped pigskin-backed wooden boards, orig. clasps & catches. Tübingen: T. Anshelm, 1514.
—. De Arte Cabalistica Libri Tres Leoni X. dicati. Large woodcut coat-of-arms of Reuchlin on title. Much printing in Hebrew. 4 p.l., LXXIX leaves, one leaf. Small folio. Hagenau: T. Anshelm, 1517.
Fine and fresh copies of the second and first editions respectively of the Christian humanist Reuchlin’s great expositions of the Cabbalistic art, present here together in a handsome binding of contemporary blind-stamped pigskin-backed wooden boards with the original catches and clasps.
Reuchlin (1455-1522), was the first German humanist to rank as a great Hebrew scholar. His studies of the Hebrew language and of the Cabbala have earned him considerable historical significance. Reuchlin used his extensive travels to establish contact with Jewish scholars and humanists, and to acquire manuscripts and printed works for his library, which was one of the largest private book collections of his time.
In 1494, Reuchlin published his first cabbalistic text, the De Verbo Mirifico which greatly enhanced his scholarly reputation. Written in the form of a dialogue, there are three participants, the Greek philosopher Sidonius, the Jew Baruchias, and Reuchlin himself, appearing under the pseudonym Capnio. These three meet accidentally at Pforzheim where they discuss the occult meaning of the Hebrew pentagrammaton “YHSVH,” the letters of the Hebrew form of the name Jesus.
The De Arte Cabalistica is Reuchlin’s magisterial summation of his cabbalistic studies. Like the De Verbo Mirifico, the De Arte Cabalistica is a three-way dialogue, in this case between a Pythagorean called Philolaus, a Jew called Simon, and Mauranus, a Moslem. Gathered together at Simon’s Frankfurt house, they come to the realization that by means of the Cabbalah and the mystical power invested in Hebrew letters, the help of angelic beings can be obtained, and a way opened to God. At the moment of revelation the mind of the Cabbalist, “in a state of unutterable delight, rejoicing in the spirit, in the depths of inner silence, driving away from itself humdrum earthly matters, is carried to the heavenly and the invisible that lies beyond all human sense.”
These two works made Reuchlin the best-known Christian exponent of the Cabbala, and they were hugely influential, among others upon Agrippa of Nettesheim, Paracelsus, and, later, the Englishman, Robert Fludd. Reuchlin exercised an almost magical influence upon the greatest thinkers of his time. Pope Leo X and the Reformers were alike captivated by the charms of the Cabbala as propounded by Reuchlin and not only divines, but statesmen and warriors began to study the oriental languages in order to fathom the mysteries of Jewish Theosophy.
Fine copies in very fresh condition. Contemporary signature on front paste-down of Joannis Schubert (or Schuboret) of Poppendorf. He has made a series of marginal annotations and neat underlinings throughout each work and on the rear endleaves. While these annotations have remained unstudied, they reveal a close and knowledgeable reading of the texts.
❧ Caillet 9333.
Item ID: 5388