fol. 1iir, Genesis
Biblia Hebraica. Venice: Daniel Bomberg, 1521.
Quarto. 528 (in Hebrew characters), [l] leaves, 8⅜ x 6 inches. Hebrew square letters, 29 lines + headline, Psalms in double column. Incipits of each book within woodcut ornamental panels, lightly colored by an early hand, some gilded and colored; numerous Latin marginal annotations in a neat hand. Contemporary vellum, panel design gilt, with crowns at the corners of the panels. Armorial bookplate of John Rogers. § DM 5084, note. § CD-ROM: 2.5, fol. 5iiiv; 2.5, fol. 19ir.
Daniel Bomberg (1483–1553) found his niche in the history of early printing by becoming the foremost publisher of Hebrew Bibles in the Renaissance. A native of Antwerp, he moved to the printing center of Venice around 1515 and established the first Hebrew press in that city. He was not the first to print a Hebrew Bible—that distinction was held by the Soncino press, also in Italy, as early as 1488. But Bomberg was the first printer to produce critical editions of the Hebrew Bible for Jews and Christians with the same philological standards that were being applied to the Greek Bible in the Renaissance. In all, Bomberg published nearly two hundred Hebrew books.
His first edition of the Rabbinic Bible (i.e., Hebrew Scripture with Targumim and commentaries) appeared in 1516/17 and was edited by Felix of Prato († 1519), a convert to Christianity. New to this Hebrew Bible was the insertion of chapter numbers in the margins. Within months, a reprint appeared in a smaller, quarto format, omitting the Targums and commentaries.
In 1524/25 Bomberg’s second Rabbinic Bible appeared, edited by Jacob ben Chayim (ca. 1470–ca. 1538). It is this text that became the standard form of the Massoretic text for all subsequent editions.
So where does the little quarto edition of 1521 on display fit in this history of the Hebrew Bible printing? Though sometimes described as a second edition of the 1517 quarto, it is not. The 1521 quarto is a new edition of the Hebrew Bible prepared for a Jewish audience by two orthodox Jews named Adelkind (Israel Cornelius and an unnamed brother). In the tradition of Hebrew scholarship, it is an undistinguished edition, but it is nonetheless interesting because it was this Bible that was read by many ordinary Jews in Renaissance Italy.
The Renaissance owner of the Ryrie copy obviously treasured the book. It has been preserved in excellent condition, with hand-colored initial letters for each of the books of the Bible. A formatting curiosity is the numbering of the leaves with Hebrew letters and the marking of signatures with Roman and Arabic numerals.
Literature: Amram 1909; Bloch  1976, 68–78; Goshen-Gottstein 1972; Hotchkiss and Price 1996, 106–108.