Oxford and the Printing of Judeo-Arabic in Mid 17th C

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Brad Sabin Hill, former Fellow in Hebrew Bibliography, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, gave a lecture in 2017 at the Centre, in conjunction with the exhibition 500 Years of Treasures from Oxford. He discusses how Edward Pococke, Regius Professor of Hebrew and later Professor of Arabic at Oxford University produced the first Judeo-Arabic book ever printed.     (Judeo-Arabic is the name given to varieties of Arabic written in Hebrew script with borrowings from Hebrew and Aramaic). Remarkably, Pococke’s edition of Maimonides Bab Musa / Porta Mosis (extracts from Maimonides’ Arabic commentary on the Mishnah) was produced in Oxford in the mid-17th Century, just prior to the re-admission of the Jews into England under Oliver Cromwell.   Quite how the book was type-set and printed accurately remains ‘a riddle’ according to Sabin Hill. He comments that what was significant about Pococke and highly unusual, apart from his exceptional linguistic abilities as a Hebraist and Orientalist, was that he was the first non-Jewish scholar to actually take an interest in Jewish literature and languages (other than Hebrew or Aramaic) for their own sake and not in order to convert Jews. Pococke spent time in Aleppo and Constantinople and also wrote a pamphlet on coffee :  Was he perhaps linked to the Turkish Jew, Jacob, who set up the first Coffee Shop in England on Oxford High Street in 1655? Click on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ea3PMqDv050  to watch the lecture,  (The lecture is 1 hour 17 mins long).

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