Usque, Abrahaim

Usque, Abrahaim whose Christian name was Duarte Pinel, belonged to those unhappy Jewish exiles who were driven from the Spanish peninsula in 1492. He sought refuge at Ferrara, in Italy, where he established, under the name .of Abraham Usque, a great printing establishment, in order to supply the Marranos with Hebrew books. He not only edited various Rabbinical works, but also published the celebrated Spanish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures entitled Biblia en Lengua Espanola, traduzida Palabra por Palabra de la Verdadera Hebraica, por muy excelentes letrados. Vista y examinada por el Oficio de la Inquisicion, which he dedicated to Hercules II and Donna Gracia Nasi (Ferrara, 5313 =1553). There is a great deal of dispute about this Bible, since two editions of it were simultaneously printed-the one edited by Duarte Pinel, at the expense of Geronimo de Varjas, and the other edited by Abraham Usque, at the expense of Jom Tob Athias. But the difficulty is easily removed by identifying Usque with Pinel, De Vargas with Athias; Duarte Pinel being the Portuguese name and Abraham Usque the Jewish, and so Geronimo de Varjas being the Spanish and Jom Tob Athias the Jewish name. There is no doubt that both were Marranos, and used their Christiani name in the edition which was printed for the Spanish-speaking Christians; while in the edition for their Jewish brethren they used their Jewish name, under which they have become known. Usque, or Pinel, began this version in 1543 and completed it in 1553, after ten years of diligent labor. And though the names of the translators are not given, it being simply remarked "made by very excellent scholars" ("por muy excelentes letrados"), yet there can' be but little doubt that-he was the principal author of it. He adopted the literal translation of the Pentateuch published in the Constantinople Pentateuch Polyglot (1547), which was commonly in use by the Jews in Spain in the middle of the 16th century, and which is most probably the early Spanish translation of the Middle Ages falsely attributed to David Kimchi (see Steinschneider, Jewish Literature, p. 132). There were two editions, published simultaneously, as has already been intimated one was intended for the Jews., and the other was designed to acquaint Spanish speaking Christians with the Old Test. New editions of the former appeared at Ferrara, 1630; Amsterdam, 1611; Venice, 1617; and with corrections, improvements, and an introduction by Manasseh ben Israel, Amsterdam, 1630; with tables of the Haphtaroth, indices of chapters, judges, kings, and prophets of Israel according to the סֵדֶר עוֹלָם, as well as with an elaborate introduction by Gillis Joost (ibid. 1646), and with a new preface and corrections by Samuel de Cazeres (ibid. 1661). See Fürst, Bibl. Jud. 3, 463 sq. De' Rossi, Dizionario Storico, p. 324 (Germ. transl.); id. De Typographia p Iebrceo- Ferrasensi, p. 28-46; Steinschneider, Catalog. Libr. Hebr. 1. Bibl. Bodl. col. 195; Etheridge, Introduction to Hebrew Literature; p. 453; Ticknor, History of Spanish Literature, 1, 41, note (Amer. ed.); Finn, Sephardin, p. 468 sq.; Lindo, History of the Jews in Spain, p. 361; Da Costa, Israel and the Gentiles, p. 394 sq.; Kitto, Cyclop. s.v.; Kayserling, Gesch. d. Juden in Portugal, p. 268; Gratz, Gesch. d. Juden, 9:344 sq.; Rosenmüller, Handbuch fir die Literatur der bibl. Kritik und Exegese, 4:268 sq.; Simon, Histoire (Crit. du V. T. p. 311. (B. P.)

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