(London: Printed by Evan Tyler for Humphrey Robinson, and for G. Sawbridge, [1654-55]). 155 x 98 mm. (6 1/8 x/ 3 3/4"). 9 p.l., 131,  pp.;  blank leaves; 13 p.l., 551 pp. FIRST EDITION, Second Issue of the first title (with undated title page and with three additional preliminary leaves inserted between A1 and A2); FIRST EDITION of the second title.
Attractive burgundy crushed morocco, gilt, by Lewis & Harris of Bath for Brent Gration-Maxfield (stamp-signed on verso of front flyleaf; owner's ex-libris stamped in gilt at head of front turn-in), covers with gilt-ruled frame, scrolling cornerpieces, centerpiece of fleuron and small tools; raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with central calligraphic flourish surrounded by small tools, floral cornerpieces, turn-ins with elaborate cresting roll, all edges gilt. Front free endleaf with extensive neatly pencilled bibliographic notations of Gration-Maxfield; verso of last leaf with his pencilled instructions to the binder; title page with early ink ownership inscription of Robert Brooks; blank verso of fourth leaf inscribed in ink "Hannah Colborne / was b[ought]/ Sept 23 : 1721." Wing R-1611 and R-1618. Fore margin of fourth leaf renewed by present binder, one leaf with small burn hole between text lines, occasional short closed marginal tears, rust spots, or minor stains, leaves a bit browned (due to poor paper quality), but a very good copy, generally clean and crisp, and in an unworn decorative binding.
This is a 17th century English-Hebrew dictionary and grammar intended to make the ancient and holy language of the Old Testament accessible to every Christian. Robertson (fl. 1651-85) is described by DNB as "a pedagogical revolutionary with an egalitarian message and a passionate and parenthetical style" who stressed "the importance of reducing Hebrew words to their roots, and teaching the language by alphabetical principles rather than by scriptural texts." He was a dedicated teacher who believed that Hebrew was not an arcane and difficult language to master and that almost anyone could learn it without assistance, even females(!). As evidence of this radical belief, he dedicated these works to his student and patroness, Katherine, Lady Ranelagh, sister of the great Robert Boyle. The first work here begins with the Hebrew alphabet, some rules of grammar, and lists of root words. We then jump straight into translation, with Hebrew passages from the Old Testament followed by "Resolutions" (i.e., step-by-step translations) into English. The second work contains a Hebrew-English dictionary with an appendix of root words and derivative nouns, followed by more Hebrew passages and translations. The work concludes with an explanation of more esoteric points, including servile letters and suffixes. The three leaves inserted at the beginning of the work contain testimonials and praise from clergymen, who stress the importance of learning the "original" language of God and man, which will surely be that spoken in heaven for all eternity. The Gration-Maxfield provenance is important in that this collector was fastidious and scholarly beyond all expectation, and anything from his carefully selected and annotated library is guaranteed to be in the very best condition possible. (ST12744)
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PJP Catalog: 75.148