Auction 78 Rare and Important Items
May 25, 2021
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LOT 20:

Parchment Manuscript – Milchamot Hashem, by Rabbi Yaakov (Tam) Son of Reuven – Disputation Against Christianity – ...

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Parchment Manuscript – Milchamot Hashem, by Rabbi Yaakov (Tam) Son of Reuven – Disputation Against Christianity – 16th Century
Parchment manuscript, Milchamot Hashem, by R. Yaakov (Tam) son of Reuven – disputation against Christianity. [Aegean Sea, ca. 16 century].
Byzantine script.
Polemic work against Christianity, written in the form of a disputation between a Jew and a Christian. The author of the book, R. Yaakov (Tam) son of Reuven, was a contemporary of the Rambam. Not many details are known about him. According to one source, he was born in 1150, and according to another, in 1136. He authored this work in 1170. In his preface he mentions that he fled from his hometown to Gascony (South France).
As R. Yaakov relates in his preface, the impetus for writing this work was a dispute he had with a learned Christian priest he befriended in Gascony. The purpose of the book, as he states in the preface, is to refute the claims of the Christians and the proofs they bring from the Bible.
Decorated title at the beginning of the manuscript: "This book Milchamot Hashem as a response to heretics…".
Ornamented catchwords at the end of several gatherings.
The composition begins with a double-acrostic poem spelling out the name of the author.
Addition at the foot of p. 32a: "In response to heretics…". The word "heretics" was deleted by another writer, who wrote: "to Christians who say that until Yeshu (Jesus) came…". Another addition at the foot of p. 34a.
Milchamot Hashem was published, based on several manuscripts, by Dr. Yehuda Rosenthal, Mosad HaRav Kook, Jerusalem, 1963. This manuscript was however not available to the editor, and it contains many textual variations compared to the printed edition.
Milchamot Hashem is an early work of Jewish-Christian disputation. Chapter 11 criticizes the New Testament. Rosenthal writes in his foreword (p. XV): "The 11th chapter of Milchamot Hashem by Yaakov son of Reuven presumably contains the first systematic criticism of the New Testament written by a Jew in Christian Europe".
[78] leaves. Lacking approx. 8 leaves throughout manuscript and several leaves at end. 21 cm. Overall good condition. Stains and creases. Several leaves originally smaller or with natural holes (text was inscribed accordingly). Pieces cut out of several leaves (for reuse of the parchment), slightly affecting text. New leather binding.

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