328 Leaves (5 5/8 x 3 7/8 in.; 143 x 98 mm). foliation : , 41-328. Some soiling and occasional marginal staining; losses at corners of first two and final two folios, affecting only a few individual letters, expertly reconstituted in facsimile. A few leaves remargined or extended. Occasional Hebrew marginalia. Modern blind tooled calf, gilt stamped titles on spine.
Solomon Halberstamm–Mayer Sulzberger–Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary–Valmadonna Trust Library–Chimen Abramsky
Vinograd, Sabbionetta 12; Habermann, Adelkind 117; Yerushalmi, Zakhor, pp. 53–63
first hebrew book to use the name America to describe the new world
The era of wholesale expulsions of Jews from Western Europe culminated with the Spanish and Portuguese Expulsions of 1492 and 1497. Among the many repercussions of these cataclysmic events was the generation of a new type of Jewish historical writing. This new literary genre of Jewish history is nowhere better exemplified than in the writings of Joseph ha-Kohen. His reliance on traditional Jewish material is augmented by the use of non-Jewish sources. Showing a broad geographical sweep, ha-Kohen suceeeds in connecting Jewish historical events with general history. In order to appeal to an audience not yet broadly familiar with secular historical works, Joseph's writing is evocative of biblical narrative style.
Although its title would seem to indicate that the present volume was strictly a chronicle of French and Ottoman royalty, the work is certainly not restricted to the subject matter of the title. Rather, it gives a broad account of European history alongside occasional digressions on Jewish history, all in chronological form, albeit with a strong emphasis on the events of the 15th–16th centuries. The work's extreme popularity helped to give Jewish readers a broader perspective of Jewish history that few had encountered before. The scarcity of this first edition is due in no small part to its having been so frequently read and re-read that most copies have been literally thumbed out of existence. This sixteenth century masterpiece of Jewish historical writing by Joseph ha-Kohen caused contemporary scholars to refer to him as a "Second Josephus."
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