Prince of the Press: How One Col­lec­tor Built His­to­ry’s Most Endur­ing and remark­able Jew­ish Library

Joshua Teplit­sky

  • From the Publisher
January 1, 2012

David Oppen­heim (1664 – 1736), chief rab­bi of Prague in the ear­ly eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry, built an unpar­al­leled col­lec­tion of Jew­ish books and man­u­scripts, all of which have sur­vived and are housed in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. His remark­able col­lec­tion tes­ti­fies to the myr­i­ad con­nec­tions Jews main­tained with each oth­er across polit­i­cal bor­ders, and the con­tacts between Chris­tians and Jews that books facil­i­tat­ed. From con­tact with the great courts of Euro­pean nobil­i­ty to the poor of Jerusalem, his fam­i­ly ties brought him into net­works of pow­er, pres­tige, and oppor­tu­ni­ty that extend­ed across Europe and the Mediter­ranean basin. Con­tain­ing works of law and lit­er­a­ture along­side prayer and poet­ry, his library served rab­binic schol­ars and com­mu­nal lead­ers, intro­duced old books to new read­ers, and func­tioned as a unique source of per­son­al author­i­ty that gained him fame through­out Jew­ish soci­ety and beyond. The sto­ry of his life and library brings togeth­er cul­ture, com­merce, and pol­i­tics, all fil­tered through this extra­or­di­nary col­lec­tion. Based on the care­ful recon­struc­tion of an archive that is still vis­it­ed by schol­ars today, Joshua Teplitsky’s book offers a win­dow into the social life of Jew­ish books in ear­ly mod­ern Europe.

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