Censored Bible commentary

The Spanish rabbinical scholar Moses Nachmanides (1194-1270) became one of the chief suspects of cradling hostility against Christianity, especially after his involvement in the famous Barcelona Disputation of 1263. It is no wonder that papal censors checked many of the manuscripts containing his works, examining them for anti-Christian content.

This copy of Nachmanides' Commentary on the Pentateuch was censored in 1769. The Dominican monk Giovanni Antonio Costanzi, perhaps the last of the papal censors, deleted several passages throughout the volume and put his signature at the end.

Moses Nachmanides, Commentary on the Pentateuch, Italy (Florence?), around 1460-1470 (Hebrew MS 8)

Folio 254a: long censor’s note in Latin by the censor Giovanni Antonio Costanzi

Folio 254a: long censor’s note in Latin by the censor Giovanni Antonio Costanzi

"Revised and corrected by me the undersigned, this book of commentary on the Torah, or the explanation of the Law by R. Moses bar Nachman, aka Haramban, written on parchment in rabbinic characters –on this day, 16 August 1769 = Giovanni Antonio Costanzi" 

Rivisto et corretto da me sotto[scritto] questo libro d. Biur al-Htora, seu expositio Legis autore R. Mose Bar Nachman in compendio detto Haramban scritto in Membrana carattere Rabbinico – q[ues]to dì 16 Agosto 1769 = Gio. Ant[oni]o Costanzi  

Folio 200a from Hebrew MS 8 showing the censor's corrections.

Deletions of references to Rome as Edom by the censor in the last two lines.  

“The downfall of Edom will be by the hand of the Messiah, because our present exile under the hand of Rome is considered Edom’s [exile]…” 

(Nachmanides’ Commentary on Numbers 24:18

More deletions by the censor are found on folios 65b-66a, 67a, 92a, 173a, 198b, 200b-201a, 241b-242a.

Folio 1a from Hebrew MS 8 showing an illuminated page.

Folio 1a

Beginning of the commentary in illuminated full border. There is no consensus about the artist of the illuminations. Some attribute them to the Florentine miniaturist Francesco d’Antonio del Chierico. Other scholars have suggested another Italian miniaturist, Mariano del Buono.