Photo Credit: Jewish Press

This week I acquired an attractive, unusual edition of Tehillim. Printed in Paris in 1632, it includes the Hebrew text alongside a Latin linear translation by Santes Pagnini.

While reciting Psalms is generally viewed as a Jewish custom, this edition was marketed to gentiles, showing that interest in saying Tehillim existed in non-Jewish circles as well. The linear translation throughout allows the reader to understand the text as he recites it.

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Publishing a linear translation in early printing was a remarkable achievement considering the primitive printing process available at the time.

At the beginning of the book there’s a dedication to Cardinal Richelieu (died 1642) as well as a preface to Tehillim by an unknown author, both in Latin.

The translator of this volume, Santes Pagnini, was an Italian Dominican friar, and his interest in biblical languages and the Bible led him to become an expert in Hebrew. His translations are known for being accurate and literal, and his Bible editions were among the very first to include verse and chapter numbers.

The top half of two pages from the Latin linear translation Tehillim.
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Israel Mizrahi is the owner of Mizrahi Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY, and JudaicaUsed.com. He can be reached at JudaicaUsed@gmail.com.