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    [Bible in Hebrew]. Vetus Testamentum Hebraicum, cum variis lectionibus. Edidit Benjaminus Kennicott, S.T.P. Oxford: E Typographeo Clarendonaino, 1776-1780. [Together with:] Benjamin Kennicott. Dissertatio generalis in Vetus Testamentum Hebraicum; cum variis lectionibus, ex codicibus manuscriptis et impressis. Oxford: 1780.

    First editions. Two large folio volumes (16 x 10.5 inches). xxiii, [1, blank], VIII, 684, [1], [1, blank]; [4], 732; 129, [1, blank], [6] pages. Bible text in Hebrew and Latin, in double columns.

    Contemporary calf with covers decoratively bordered in gilt, board edges decoratively tooled in gilt, marbled endpapers. Bindings rubbed, and neatly rebacked, with spines decoratively tooled in gilt in compartments with two black leather gilt lettering labels. Title of Volume I lightly foxed, occasional additional light foxing. Volume I with tiny tear to lower blank margin of title, short tear to lower blank margin of B2 (pp. VI/VIII) of the "Præfatio," repaired on the recto. Volume II with small piece torn from outer blank margin of 6R2 (pp. 527/528). Bookplate of S. R. Maitland on front pastedown and ink ownership inscription, dated 1856, on verso of front free endpaper of each volume. Volume I with early ink annotation at head of first flyleaf and ink signature, dated 1786, on verso of front free endpaper. Neat early ink marginalia and corrections scattered throughout. Later pencil markings and annotations in the Dissertatio generalis. An excellent copy.

    "The earliest attempt to provide a critical edition on a large scale was prepared by Benjamin Kennicott (1718-1783), Radcliffe Librarian and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford. In 1753 and 1759 Kennicott had published two dissertations on the state of the Hebrew text, in which he showed the necessity for undertaking an extensive collation of the MSS. of the O.T. In response to his appeal, nearly £10,000 was subscribed, and in 1760 the work was begun. For ten years Kennicott was engaged in the laborious task of collating Hebrew MSS. in England, and in obtaining collations from co-workers on the continent...Several years elapsed before the vast materials, representing the complete collation, or at least the partial examination, of over 600 MSS., could be digested, and put in order; but at length in 1776 the first volume of the work appeared, followed four years by the second volume. The text follows Van der Hooght...and is printed without vowel-points or accents. Throughout the Pentateuch the variants of the Samaritan text are given in a parallel column; elsewhere the Hebrew text is printed in double columns. The critical apparatus, giving readings from the MSS. (which are distinguished by numbers), is printed below the text" (Darlow & Moule).

    Darlow and Moule 5160. ESTC T147508 and T185436.

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