Friday, June 16, 2017

The Library In Alcalá De Henares And Manuscripts For The Polyglot

TWH: The subject of my second doctorate was the Complutensian New Testament and its Greek text. The question I addressed was whether manuscripts were actually sent from Rome, from the Vatican Library, to Cisneros' team in Spain. My conclusion, based on the evidence, was no. There is a book that rarely gets mentioned, now six years old. The title is La casa de Protesilao. Reconstrucción arqueológica del fondo cisneriano de la Biblioteca Histórica “Marqués de Valdecilla” (1496-1509) Manuscrito 20056/47 de la Biblioteca Nacional de España by Elisa Ruiz García and Helena Carvajal González. It was published by my university––Universidad Complutense de Madrid––in 2011. There is a very interesting section covering the acquisitions of manuscripts in relationship to the production of Spain's Complutensian Polyglot Bible. I thought you might be interested in reading it in English, so below is my translation of the relevant section. Enjoy. *Pages 78–82.

Cisneros always wanted to know the texts of the Holy Scriptures firsthand. His connection with a Jewish rabbi to learn Hebrew during his stay in Siguenza as a member of the cathedral chapter is proof. This intellectual curiosity increased and even became a matter of concern because of the numerous variations that existed in some of the numerous publications of biblical texts that had come off the presses and started to circulate. Altering source texts in many cases had been manifested through the application of the method devised and disseminated by the Italian humanists and then used by scholars in general. It is in this environment that we must place the birth of a group of specialists in ancient languages––Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Syriac––fomented by Cisneros in order to advise on the biblical texts. The results of this exploratory and informal work may have contributed to the project of producing a purified version of the sacred sources of the Apocalypse (i.e., the last book of the New Testament).

The dates of the purchase of copies may offer some indication in this regard. In 1503 a copy containing the Apocalypse is commissioned as already noted:
[139] XI folios, from four sheets of script, on which were written the Apocalypse to C mrs. Each folio, IUC mrs. They were written and purchased in the year of IUDIII [i.e. 1503].
A few months later a Psalter in Greek was purchased. This one was included in two inventories. Though a reference appears twice, it was probably a case of double entry:
[73] § [E] n XVIII of January [of 1504?] By payroll of [S] u. Your Lordship was bought and paid a Psalter in Greek, which Your Lordship ordered to purchase for the chamber. Cost CCIIII. Received Diego Lopez de Ayala. CH 120/121 / VA 23. Inv. B 44.
[82] § A XVIII of January of the said year [1504] was purchased from Juan Martín, bookseller, a Psalter in Greek. Cost CCIIII. I myself gave to Diego López de Ayala, clerk. CH 120/121 / VA 23. Inv. B 44.
A few weeks later a large economic operation is carried out in Medina del Campo, the commercial center of the book trade par excellence. Two Bibles are mentioned that reach the highest price of the entire Inv. A and also appear to be twice entered:
[799] Two Bibles that cost LXVI ducats [24,750 mrs.]. VA 31 and 32. Inv. B 6 and 7.
[78] Two Bibles that Alonso de Salinas purchased by order of His Lordship. Retrieved in Medina del Campo on XI of February of the said year [1504] for LXVI ducats [24.750 mrs.]. VA 31 and 32. Inv. B 6 and 7.
The entries are dated in the same month and with a mention of the ambiguous annuity. Perhaps they could be the two Visigothic Bibles that interested Cisneros so much due to their antiquity and the quality. This issue will be dealt with in chapter 3.

In 1508, there was an intensification of the acquisition of sources and instruments so a review of the sacred texts could begin.
[494] Biblical text in one volume, bound, "de pligo común."
[516] The Gospels in Greek.
[526] The Gospels in Arabic, on parchment, by hand, brought to Burgos don A[lejo] Vanegas on November of 1507.
[527] The Letters of Saint Paul in Greek.
[528] Greek lexicon.
[529] Hebrew lexicon.
[530] Hebrew Bible.
[531] Portion of a Bible in Hebrew and Chaldee script, on parchment, by hand, which was brought from Talavera to Burgos on November of 1507.
[532] Salterium sancti Jeronimi.
[533] Duples Salterium.
One last contribution is due to Hernán Núñez de Toledo, who donated a manuscript of great value on those same dates:
[675] La Brivia, of hand, majuscule, on parchment, in two bodies, of old letter, bound in boards covered with black leather. VA 33 and 34. Inv. B 8 and 9. 
The dating of purchases confirmed that in 1508 the process of making a new version of the Bible was in progress and that the necessary material was being collected. Of course, the specimens that appear in Inv. A represent only a small part of the books that were to be handled in that work of purifying and establishing the texts, operation, commonly known as "correctorio." The members of the work team probably contributed their own sources, which were not part of the university library. There are also reports of loans. It would suffice to just mention the efforts of the Bishop of Málaga, Diego Ramírez de Villaescusa, with the College of St. Bartholomew in Salamanca, the intervention of Pope Leo X himself and the Vatican Library in order to temporarily yield some codices or, in the same way, the availability of the Venetian Senate.

Here is not the place to talk about the people of the Polyglot, their method and the philological differences among them. The teacher Marcel Bataillon gives us a clear and valid synopsis regarding that question.

The typographer Arnao Guillén de Brocar was called from Logroño to Alcalá to take on this great effort. On January 10, 1514, the New Testament was finished, although it did not come to light. Two years later Erasmus published his Novum Instrumentum. In 1516, the abbot of Husillos, Garcia de Bobadilla, wrote a letter to Cisneros in which he praised the author of Rotterdam and recommended that he request his collaboration in the great enterprise of the Polyglot Bible. The recipient of the letter, perhaps taking into account the opinion of a select minority of Spanish scholars, invited Erasmus to come to our soil. He declined the offer, despite the fact that after a few months the petition was renewed. The prestigious humanist in a letter addressed to Thomas More in the month of July, 1517, affirmed that "Non placet Hispania." On another occasion he stated that he did not want ἱσπανίζειν. We ignore the reasons why Erasmus was not seduced by the idea of ​​moving to Castile. From his perspective, as a northern man, he felt a certain dislike for the southern regions and, in particular, for ours, inhabited by a population that had a high degree of semitization, in his opinion.

Despite this refusal, Cisneros' team continued to work on the correction and printing of the Old Testament until the completion of the set (July 10, 1517). That date marked the completion of a monument to typographic art and, to some extent, to biblical science was a tangible reality. In spite of the enormous effort that went into making it a reality, the work had very little impact on its day due to several misfortunes. A few months after the edition came to light, the Cardinal died, without having requested the pontifical authorization. The ambitions of one and the other were solved with a requisition of the volumes ordered by Charles V. The civil war of the Communities had a tremendous effect on the College of San Ildefonso. Therefore, the copies could not be put on sale until 1522. By then other works had already been published, among them the three editions of the New Testament of Erasmus whose influence spread across Europe. The Polyglot Bible consisted of six volumes. Brocar's edition consisted of six hundred copies that sold for six ducats and half of gold. This bibliographic jewel did not get the welcome it deserved, so it was not a commercial success.

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