Printing and Teaching Judaism
Menasseh ben Israel, rabbi, scholar, philosopher, diplomat and Hebrew printer, 1604-1657
The life of Menasseh ben Israel
In the midst of history – Menasseh ben Israel’s mission to England
Apology for the honorable nation of the Jews and all the sons of Israel
The Lost tribes of Israel, rediscovered in South America
Light for the Jews
Short demurrer to the Jewes long discontinued remitter into England
A Vindication of the Jews
A loving salutation to the seed of Abraham among the Jewes
Printing and Teaching Judaism
Menasseh ben Israel's Liturgical Bible: Pentateuch, Five Scrolls and the Prophetic Portions (1)
Menasseh ben Israel's Liturgical Bible: Pentateuch, Five Scrolls and the Prophetic Portions (2)
A mystical treatise on the fear of God
Menasseh’s complete Hebrew Bible
A Treasury of [religious] Laws which the people of Israel is obligated to know and keep
Fifty precious sermons by Amsterdam’s senior rabbi
The book of ten addresses
The Sceptre of Judah
"THEOLOGUS ET PHILOSOPHUS HEBRAEUS"
The first part of The Conciliador
The second part of The Conciliator
The third part of The Conciliator
The Final part of The Conciliator
The Latin translation of the Conciliator
Thirty problems concerning Creation
Three books on the resurrection of the dead (1)
Three books on the resurrection of the dead (2)
Three books on the resurrection of the dead (3)
Of the term of life
On the immortality of the soul
Portrait of the Tabernacle of Moses (1)
Portrait of the Tabernacle of Moses (2)
Portrait of the Tabernacle of Moses (3)
Bibliography: Menasseh ben Israel
This section brings imprints from Menasseh’s printing press and its Christian publishers – in Spanish, Portuguese and Hebrew (sometimes with Latin) – together with those of his Jewish competitors.
Menasseh ben Israel started printing in 1626/7. In the same year, Daniel de Fonseca opened a rival printing press in Amsterdam, which folded after printing only two Hebrew books. By contrast, Menasseh, with the support of the Christian publishing entrepreneurs Henricus Laurentius and Johannes Janssonius, and later with the assistance of his two sons, managed to keep his press going for almost three decades until his departure for England in 1655.
His success was due to his intellectual stature as the rising leader of the Sephardi communities in Amsterdam. The communities merged into a single congregation in 1639, during a period of rapid growth. This growth came from the ranks of Conversos who had fled the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, and who found religious tolerance in the Protestant Northern Netherlands.
These Converso refugees had, in many cases, lost their connections with the fundamentals of the Jewish religion and the ability to access texts in Hebrew. Menasseh catered for them by means of translations, transliterations, and teaching materials in a variety of languages. The remarkable revival of this nearly lost community is due, not least, to Menasseh’s vision as a teacher, author and printer.
Many of Menasseh’s early prints are lost, although a number have turned up since the first modern attempt at listing them was made in 1927. It is hoped that more may be found in the near future.
Menasseh or his heirs (his two sons predeceased him) appear to have sold his stock of typefaces, cut expressly to his specifications by the eminent typecutter Nicholas Briot, to the Hebraist Christianus Ravius. Ravius took them to Uppsala University; he mentions them in a letter in 1668 as lying unused. Their subsequent fate is unknown – if they have not been melted down, they may still be languishing in a Scandinavian storage room.