quinta-feira, fevereiro 25, 2010

Psalterium - Museu-Mário Barbeito de Vasconcelos

O Psalterium constituia o ex-libris do Museu-Mário Barbeito de Vasconcelos, merecendo um local de destaque na sala de exposição, não só pelo seu valor histórico, cultural e extrema raridade, mas por o mesmo conter a primeira biografia impressa sobre Cristóvão Colombo. Para além de ser uma das primeiras bíblias poliglotas impressas no mundo.
Procurei na internet uma informação mais rigorosa sobre esta obra, a sua história e importância, tendo encontrado o texto que abaixo transcrevo quase na íntegra, da autoria de Hugh Cahill da Universidade de Londres.
Espero que esta seja uma das obras possíveis de recuperar de entre a torrente de água que submergiu o Museu-Biblioteca.

Psalterium, Hebreum, Grecum, Arabicum, & Chaldeum : cum tribus Latinus interpretationibus & glossis. Genuæ: Petrus Paulus Porrus, 1516. [Marsden Collection R2/7]

by Hugh Cahill, Senior Information Assistant, Special Collections.

Title page of:Psalterium, Hebreum, Grecum, Arabicum, & Chaldeum : cum tribus Latinus interpretationibus & glossis. Genuæ: Petrus Paulus Porrus, 1516. [Marsden Collection R2/7]

The Genoa Psalter or the Psalterium Octaplum, as it is also known, is a masterpiece of typography and scholarship. The editor of this beautiful book, Agostino Giustiniani (1470-1536) was from a patrician Genovese family. He joined the Dominicans in 1487 and eventually became bishop of Nebbio in Corsica. Giustiniani was an acquaintance of Erasmus and Thomas More and throughout his life he was a dedicated student of Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic and Arabic. Giustiniani intended this Psalter to be a forerunner to an entire polyglot Bible.

According to Darlowe and Moule the Genoa Psalter was the first polyglot Bible or part of the Bible to be published, but not the first to be printed. That honour belongs to the Complutensian Bible of Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros (1436-1517). Although the New Testament of the Complutensian Bible was printed in 1514, the Old Testament was not printed until 1517, and it did not receive permission to be published until 1520 and even then was not widely distributed before 1522. The claim that the Genoa Psalter was the first published polyglot has often been repeated; however, Jaroslav Pelikan has pointed out that Erasmus's edition of Jerome contains a polyglot version of the Psalms, which predates Giustiniani's edition by several months. The colophon of the Genoa Psalter states that is was produced in November 1516 but the preface to the section of Erasmus's edition of Jerome where the Psalms appear is dated 25 August .
The Psalter is laid out in eight columns: Psalterium, Hebreum, Grecum, Arabicum, & Chaldeum : cum tribus Latinus interpretationibus & glossis. Genuæ: Petrus Paulus Porrus, 1516. [Marsden Collection R2/7]

Yet the importance of the Genoa Psalter does not rest on its novelty but on its beauty and its scholarship. The main text is attractively laid out in eight parallel columns across facing pages. The first seven columns contain the Psalms in Hebrew, a literal Latin translation of the Hebrew text, the Vulgate version of the Psalms, the Greek Septuagint version, an Arabic version, an Aramaic version, and a Latin translation of the Aramaic text. Giustiniani was helped in the preparation of the Greek text by Jacobus Furnius. The Arabic version was prepared from two manuscripts owned by Giustiniani (one Egyptian and one Syrian) with the help of Baptista Cigala and is one of the earliest examples of Arabic printing using moveable type. Only one earlier extant example is known, the Kitab salat al-sawa'i, a Christian prayerbook printed in Fano, Italy in 1514 for export to the Christian community in Syria. The title of the Psalter is printed in red and black in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic and is contained within a magnificent woodcut arabesque border. The dedication (to Pope Leo X) and the colophon are also printed in these languages.

The final column contains Giustiniani's scholia. These notes not only contain references to Christian and classical authors but also contain extensive references to rabbinic literature and to the Midrash. Some of his notes are surprising - in Psalm 28 he glosses the word "unicornuum" by giving a description of the rhinoceros. However, it is another one of Giustiniani's notes for which the Genoa Psalter is best known today. His gloss on the phrase "et in fines mundi verba eorum" (and their words unto the ends of the world) in Psalm 19, where the Psalmist predicts that the glory of God would be proclaimed to the ends of the earth, contains the earliest known printed biography of Christoper Columbus. This extensive note spreads across four pages and in it Giustiniani explains that the ends of the earth have been discovered by the daring deeds of his fellow Genoan Christopher Columbus. This biographical note is important as it gives us an almost contemporaneous account of Columbus's achievements, as it was produced only ten years after his death in 1506.

Portrait of Christopher Columbus, from:Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas. The general history of the vast continent and islands of America ... Translated into English by Capt. John Stevens. London : Printed for Jer. Batley, 1725-1726. [Rare Collection E18 H43]

Giustiniani's pride in the acheivments of his compatriot is evident from the text but his account Columbus's life proved to be a controversial one. Columbus's son Ferdinand, Duke of Veragua, who himself wrote a biography of his father, took exception to some of the details contained in Giustiniani's account of his father's life and voyages, particularly the claim that Columbus had humble origins, or "uilibus ortus parentibus" as Giustiniani puts it. During the bitter dispute that followed Ferdinand took his complaints to the Genoan Senate, which ordered that all copies of Giustiniani's Psalter be burned. However, historians now think that Columbus did indeed have humble origins and that his family were originally wool weavers.

Giustiniani had 2,050 copies of the Psalter printed at his own expense. Of these, 2,000 were printed on paper and the other fifty were printed on vellum, as presentation copies. Unfortunately the publication of the Psalter was a financial failure. Although highly thought of by scholars, sales were poor and Giustiniani was discouraged in proceeding further with the planned polyglot Bible even though it is thought that he had already translated the New Testament.


Printer's device of Porrus. It is a visual pun on his name which means 'leek' in Italian. Psalterium, Hebreum, Grecum, Arabicum, & Chaldeum : cum tribus Latinus interpretationibus & glossis. Genuæ: Petrus Paulus Porrus, 1516. [Marsden Collection R2/7].

Giustiniani's reputation as a scholar was such that he was invited to Paris by François I in 1517 to teach Hebrew and Arabic at the university. He remained there for five years before returning to his diocese. Giustiniani continued to publish scholarly works, including an edition of the Book of Job, containing the original text, the Vulgate, and a new translation. He also published a history of Corsica and edited a Latin translation of Moses Maimonides's, Guide to the perplexed, published in Paris in 1520. Giustiniani died in 1536 when his ship sank in a storm while he was returning to his diocese from a visit to Genoa. His history of Genoa, Castigatissimi Annali di Genova, was published posthumously the following year.

The copy of the Genoa Psalter at the Foyle Special Collections is from the collection of the oriental scholar and linguist, William Marsden (1754-1836), who gave his extensive collection of books to King's College London in 1835. Among the collection are number of polyglot Bibles and other important Biblical translations.

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adaptado de: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/depsta/iss/library/speccoll/bomarch/bomsept06.html

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