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les Enluminures

JUDAH BEN MOSES ROMANO, Miscellany of Philosophical Works, including THOMAS AQUINAS, DOMENICUS GUNDISSALINUS, among others

In Hebrew, on paper and parchment
[Northern Italy, second quarter of the fifteenth century]

TM 122

i + 42 + i folios (collation: i14+2, ii8+1, iii16+1) on paper (ff. 1-33 and 36-42) and parchment (ff. 34-35), paper size 200 x 150 mm., parchment size 191 x 134 mm., watermark (Briquet 2641: Basilic: Reggio-Emilia, 1427; Venice, 1430; Reggio-Emilia, 1432), modern foliation in pencil, written Ashkenazic semi-cursive scripts in brown ink by two scribes, single column text 35-42 lines (ff. 1-25 justification 130 x 92 mm. and ff. 145 x 95 mm.), text framed by hard point ff. 1-35 and by plummet ff. 36-39r, ff. 1v, 5v, 14v, 26v, and 27v blank, marginalia in two distinct hands, modern paper repairs ff. 1, 6, 20, 21, paper tear on spine edge of f. 6 and tail of f. 26r does not affect text, slight tears to head and tail corners on f. 15, f. 1 soiled and water stained, browning in last quire does not affect text, minor water stains on fore edge of last quire. Bound in nineteenth-century modern leather marbled binding with morocco on spine and corners, basic tooled leather ornamentation on spine, head and tail of spine and corners of fore edge bumped and worn, modern bonded paper used as flyleaves and pastedowns. Dimensions 210 x 155 mm.

Attesting to the interest the works of Thomas Aquinas held for Jewish scholars, this collection of treatises by Christian and Jewish scholastics, including three works by Aquinas, was translated from the Latin or composed by an important Italian translator-philosopher, Judah ben Moses Romano. Judah Romano was the first to translate Aquinas. Except for a few fragments almost none of Judah’s translations or original works have been published.


1. The paper appears to be of northern Italian origin from the beginning of the second quarter of the fifteenth century, the script is Ashkenazic, and the manuscript was probably composed by German emigres northern Italy.

2. Solomon Hayyim Halberstam (1832-1900), his MS 409, stamped on spine and recto of front flyleaf. Polish scholar and bibliophile, Solomon Halberstam was a wealthy and avid collector and scholar of Hebrew manuscxripts, including codices from Luzzato’s estate and Zunz’s private library.

3. Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885), his MS 278, stamped on spine. Most famous English Jew of his time, Montefiore became a legend in his lifetime, fighting worldwide for the lives and rights of Jews. He founded after the death of his wife Judith Lady Montefiore a college in Ramsgate, which with the appointment of Haham Moses Gaster in 1887, acquired many manuscripts including the Halberstam Collection.

4. London, Jews’ College, on deposit since 1899, as part of the Montefiore Endowment.


ff. 2r-3v, Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle's Analytica Posteriora (the Hebrew translation is unpublished; for the Latin, see Thomas Aquinas. In Aristotelis libros Peri Hermeneias et Posteriorum Analyticorum Expositio cum textu et recensione leonina, cura et studio P. Fr. Raymundi M. Spiazzi O.P. Marietti, Turin, 1955);

ff. 3v-5r, Thomas Aquinas, Ma'amar ha-Hemshelim, a Hebrew translation on a treatise on ideas by Thomas Aquinas. (the Hebrew text is unpublished; see Steinschneider, p 483);

ff. 6r-12r. Thomas Aquinas, Ma'amar ha-Nimza ve-ha-Meziut, a Hebrew translation of Opusculum de ente et essentia by Aquinas. (edited by G. B. Sermoneta, in A. Z. Bar-On, ed., From Parmenides to Contemprary Thinkers; Readings in Ontology, Jereusalem, 1977, 2nd ed. 1995, pp. 184-214; for the Latin original, see Thomas Aquinas, Sancti Thomae de Aquino Opera ommnia jussu Leonis XIII P.M. edita. Tomus XLIII De principiis naturae [...] De ente et essentia [...], cura et studio fratrum praedicatorum, Roma, Editori di San Tommaso, 1976, pp. 319-381 [Leonine edition, vol. 43]) ;

ff. 12v-14r, Dominicus Gundissalinus, Ma'amar ha-Ehad ve-ha-Ahdut, a Hebrew translation of De unitate et uno, falsely attributed to Boethius. (the Hebrew text is unpublished; see Steinschneider, p. 467; for the Latin original, see Correns, P. "Die dem Boethius fälschlich zugeschriebene Abhanglung des Dominicus Gundisalvo De unitate," in Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters, Band I, Heft 1, Münster, 1891; and Alonso, M., "El Liber de unitate et uno," in Pensamiento 12 (1956), pp. 65-78, 179-202, 431-472);

ff. 15r-26r, Shearim, chapters on prophecy in the Bible by Judah Romano (see G.B. Sermoneta, "Prophecy in the writings of R. Yeduda Romano," in Studies in Medieval Jewish History and Literature, 2 [1984], pp. 337-374; previously published in Hebrew in Da'at, 8, 1982);

ff. 22r-42v, Selections from the writings by Christian scholastics translated from the Latin by Judah Romano. Includes writings by Thomas Aquinas, Giles of Rome (famed logician, 1243-47), Alexander of Alexandria (bishop, early 4th century), Angelo of Camerino and Albertus Magnus (German Dominican who was a prolific author, including on magic and chemistry, died c. 1280). On f. 36r is a short text by Judah Romano.

This manuscript presents a collection of works by Christian and Jewish scholastics translated from the Latin or composed by Judah ben Moses Romano, a fourteenth-century Italian philosopher and translator, who lived from c. 1292 to after 1330. Judah ben Moses Romano was active in Rome in the 1320’s and 1330’s and also attended the court of the king Robert of Anjou in Naples where he met other intellectuals. Romano was eager to spread the knowledge of philosophy among the Jews and to acquaint them in particular with the works of Christian scholars. He translated many Latin works (some of which were in fact translation of Arabic originals) into Hebrew, for the purpose of making them know to the Jews. Judah often added his own obseravtions and comments to his translations. Except for a few fragments, almost none of Judah's translations or original works have been published.

Philosophical works or works of general theology not overtly Christian by at least fifteen medieval Christian writers, many of them scholastics, were translated into Hebrew during the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. Adelard of Bath, Aegidius Romanus, Albertus Magnus and Petrus Hispanus (later Pope John XXI) are just a few of the names. A favorite of Jewish scholars was Thomas Aquinas (1225-74). Over twenty extant Hebrew manuscripts include one or more works by Aquinas. These manuscripts were copied mostly in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, mainly in Italy and Spain, reflecting an interest in scholastic philosophy. Steinschneider devoted an entire chapter to these translations (pp. 461-500). Judah Romano, was the first to translate several treatises by Aquinas. He was followed by Eli Habillo who translated several other of Aquinas’s works in Spain in the 1470’s, including his “Quæstiones Disputatæ,” “Quæstio de Anima,” “De Animæ Facultatibus,” and “De Universalibus.” Abraham Nehemiah ben Joseph (c. 1490) translated Thomas’s Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Isaac Abravanel states his desire to translate the “Quæstio de Spiritualibus Creaturis,” and he mentions Aquinas in his work Mifalot Elohim. The physician Jacob Zahalen (d. 1693) translated some extracts from the "Summa Theologiæ Contra Gentiles."


Hirschfeld, H. Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew Manuscripts of the Montefiore Library, London, MacMillan, 1904 (reprint from JQR, 1902 and 1903), no. 278;

Rigo, Caterina. “Yehudah ben Mosheh Romano traduttore degli Scolastici latini,” in Henoch 17 (1995), pp. 141-170;

Sermoneta, G. B. in Hommage à Georges Vajda: études d'histoire et de pensée juives, Louvain, 1980, pp. 235-362.

Steinschneider, M. Hebraeische Uebersetzungen des Mittelalters und die Juden als. Dometscher, Berlin, Kommisionsverlag, 1893.