Auctioneers of Rare Books, Collectibles and Fine Art

Auction 57: January 31st, 2013


Lot: 159 MENASSEH BEN ISRAEL. Nishmath Chaim [on the immortality of the Soul]. With Latin dedication by the author to the German Emperor Ferdinand III, and abstract. FIRST EDITION. With Engraved Frontispiece Portrait of Menasseh ben Israel by Shalom d'Italia. ff. (8), 174, (2), (4), (4). Some staining, previous owner's signature and slight tear on title not affecting text, portrait mounted. Contemporary half calf marbled boards with six tooled gilt compartments on spine. 4to. Vinograd, Amsterdam 202; Mehlman 1211; Fuks, Amsterdam 190; Silva Rosa 59; Rubens 1814.

Samuel Soeiro (author's son), Amsterdam: 1652. Est: $15,000 - $20,000
Price Realized: $22,000

- The fine engraved portrait of Menasseh ben Israel is of exceptional rarity.
     "The work is a sustained attempt to argue for the eternality of the soul against those who contended that such a belief could not be maintained for philosophical and Scriptural reasons. To confute the skeptics, Menasseh marshaled evidence from a wide range of sources to prove that the soul endures after bodily death. Biblical passages, classical rabbinic literature, Gentile scholarship, and kabbalistic texts are all adduced to make this case. Moreover, Menasseh adds what he considered to be the the best empirical evidence of the existence of a spirit world: contemporary ethnographic accounts (often travelers' reports from the New World) and stories of spirit possession." (Prof. Y. Chajes).
     Menasseh's Nishmath Chaim is of fundamental importance to Jewish theology and is the great rabbis' magnum opus.

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