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Neither the Bible, nor the Talmud, nor the mediaeval Jewish 
literature knows of Approbations. No prophet ever asked for the 
consent of any authority to his promulgations, nor any doctor of the 
Talmud, to his opinion, nor any philosopher, to his system. Even in 
the Middle Ages, when influenced by its surroundings, the Jewish 
religion assumed more than ever the character of an authoritative 
religion, it did not, as far as I know, occur that any author had the 
excellence of his Halachic work "approved" by a recognized authority. 
Every literary product was to find the recognition which it merited 
from its own intrinsic worth. There was no previous approbation, 
just as little as there was a previous censure. Censure and approba- 
tion are twin sisters, children of the same kind of protective spirit. 

The approbation is, like the censure, a product of the art of 
printing. Literature, after the new invention, had become a democratic 
institution. The representatives of power and authority were there- 
fore sensible of the necessity of some means to arrest the spread 
of disaffected and— as they thought — dangerous productions of the 
press. On the other hand, useful books should be assured a quicker 
and greater circulation by previous approbation. The publisher, 
whose expenses were in jeopardy, was obliged, much more than the 
author, to desire an approbation. It may, however, have taken some 
time before an adequate form, satisfactory to the publisher, was 

I think, that the first approbation, attesting the worth of the 
work, and, at the same time, meeting the wishes of the publisher, 
is contained in the ordinance of Clement VIII of the year 1592. In 
this edict, printed in every Catholic Bible, by which the Vulgate was 
introduced, the Pope ordains : — 

" Cum sacrorum Bibliorum vulgatae editionis Textus summis labori- 
bus, ac vigiliis restitutus, et quam accuratissime mendis expurgatus, 
benedicente Domino, ex nostra Typographia Vaticana in lucem 

prodeat : Nos inhibemus, ne intra decern annos a data prae- 

sentium numerandos, tarn citra, quam ultra montes alibi quam in 
nostra Vaticana Typographia a quoquam imprimatur .... Si quis 
vero Typographus in quibuscumque Regnis .... hanc eandem 


sacraram Scripturarum editionem intra Decennium praedictum quo- 
quo modo .... imprimere, vendere, venalem habere, aut alias edere 
vel evulgare .... praesumserit, ultra amissionem omnium librorum, 
et alias arbitrio nostro infligendas poenas temporales, etiam maioris 
excommunicationis sententiam eo ipso incurrat, &c." 

Then follows the express recommendation of the new edition to 
the patriarchs, archbishops, &c. 

One might think one was reading a n»3Dit. The work is praised, 
a reprint prohibited within ten years, unless provided by the printing- 
office of the Vatican. In the Jewish approbations this would be 
expressed thus, that the printer could permit a reprint. Contraven- 
tion of the ordinance would be followed by punishment, eventually 
by excommunication l . All these are points which we meet again in 
the Eabbinical edicts ; inter alia the express recommendation to buy 
the book. 

I do not know who gave the first approbation, or who took it, and 
to which work, &c. An index of the approbations, the want of which 
has been pronounced for a long time from many parts, has not yet been 
supplied. I found no reference to such in J. B. de Rossi's Annates 
Hebraeo-Typographici, in which work the incunabula are registered, 
although the printer found it necessary to defend his new art against 
opponents (v. Berliner, Veber den Einfluss des ersten hebrSischen 
Buchdruchs aufden Cultus und die Cultur der Juden, p. 6 sqq.), which 
means, that he needed a " Haskama." Even if there were Jewish 
approbations before 1592, the year that the official Vulgate was 
printed, yet the characteristic points of the latter approbations were 
undoubtedly taken from Clement's ordinance. My remarks are only 
meant to be suggestive. 

Ludwig Blatt. 

* On the history of the origin of the official Vulgate, see Nestle, Ein 
JuUUum der lateinischen Bibel sum 9. November, 1892; MarginaMen und 
Materialien, Tubingen, 1893, last part.