Theodor Dunkelgrün, “Never Printed Like This Before”. Johannes Leusden, Joseph Athias and the Hebrew Bible (1659-1667)
Menasseh ben Israel Instituut Studies x (ISBN 978-90-806570-0-7, 144 pp., ill., Amsterdam 2014)
In 1667, at the height of the Dutch Golden Age, a groundbreaking Hebrew Bible was published in Amsterdam. It was edited by a Dutch Calvinist professor in collaboration with Jewish scholars and printed by a Sephardi exile shortly after his father was burned in an auto-da-fé in Spain. This Biblia Hebraica Accuratissima epitomized the kind of encounter across the frontiers of faith for which Early Modern Amsterdam has long been famous. For the first time, a Bible carried the approbations of both Jewish and Christian religious authorities, a remarkable accomplishment for an age of fierce confessional polemic centered on the proper interpretation of Scripture. Its success is in part due to the remarkable confluence of Christian and Jewish anxieties about the accuracy of the sacred text in the decade between the excommunication of Spinoza and the apostasy of the Messiah Sabbatai Zevi.