Who is Elias Levita?

Ok, this time we’ll show you the story of this guy. Pay attention to his deeds, he wrote a book we are interested in: “Massoret Ha Massoret.”

“Elia Levita (13 February 1469 – 28 January 1549), (Hebrew: אליהו בן אשר הלוי אשכנזי) also known as Elijah Levita, Elias Levita, Élie Lévita, Elia Levita Ashkenazi, Eliahu Bakhur (“Eliahu the Bachelor”) was a Renaissance Hebrew grammarian, scholar and poet. He was the author of the Bovo-Bukh (written in 1507–1508), the most popular chivalric romance written in Yiddish. Living for a decade in the house of Cardinal Egidio da Viterbo, he was also one of the foremost tutors of Christian notables in Hebrew and Jewish mysticism during the Renaissance.” Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elia_Levita

You can also check the French wikipedia:

It’s curious that in wikipedia in English  they don’t mention Elias Levita as the author of Massoret ha-Massoret (but in the french version they do). So we need to check the Jewish Encyclopedia to find out more about this issue.

“Massoret.” source: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/5590-elias-levita

“Two years after the completion of the “Sefer ha-Zikronot” Elijah published his Masoretic work “Massoret ha-Massoret” (Venice, 1538), divided into three parts, respectively denominated “First Tables,” “Second Tables,” and “Broken Tables,” each with an introduction. The “First Tables” is divided into ten sections, or commandments (“‘Aseret ha-Debarim”), dealing with the “full” and “defective” writing of syllables. The “Second Tables” treats of the “ḳere” and “ketib,” “ḳameẓ” and “pataḥ,” “dagesh,” “mappiḳ,” “rafe,” etc. The “Broken Tables” discusses the abbreviations used by the Masorites. In the third introduction Elijah produces an array of most powerful arguments to prove that the vowel-points in the Hebrew Bibles were invented by the Masorites in the fifth century of the common era. This theory, although suggested by some Jewish scholars as early as the ninth century, provoked a great outcry among the Orthodox Jews, who ascribed to the vowel-points the greatest antiquity. They were already dissatisfied with Elijah for giving instruction in Hebrew to Christians, since the latter openly confessed that they studied the Hebrew language with the hope of finding in the Hebrew texts, especially in the Cabala, arguments against Judaism. To this Elijah replied in the first introduction to the “Massoret ha-Massoret” that he taught only the elements of the language and did not teach Cabala at all. Moreover, he pointed out that Christian Hebraists generally defended the Jews against the attacks of the fanatical clergy. Elijah’s theory concerning the modernityof the vowel-points caused still greater excitement among Christians, and for three centuries it gave occasion for discussions among Catholic and Protestant scholars, such as Buxtorf, Walton, De Rossi, and others. The “Massoret ha-Massoret” was so favorably received that in less than twelve months after its appearance it was republished at Basel (1539). In this edition Sebastian Münster translated into Latin the three introductions, and gave a brief summary of the contents of the three parts. The third part, or the “Broken Tables,” was republished separately at Venice in 1566, under the title “Perush ha-Massoret we-Ḳara Shemo Sha’are Shibre Luḥot.” This part of the book was again republished, with additions, by Samuel ben Ḥayyim at Prague in 1610. The three introductions were also translated into Latin by Nagel (Altdorf, 1758-71). In 1772 the whole book was translated into German by Christian Gottlob Meyer, and in 1867 into English by Christian D. Ginsburg.”


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