Johann Buxtorf (1564-1629) was one of the most important Christian Hebraists of his day and was largely responsible for transforming Hebrew studies from an amateur hobby into an established academic discipline in the early seventeenth century. His book, Synagoga Judaica; Das ist, Juden-Schul was a critique of Judaism, combining a theological study of the religion with an ethnographic portrait of the Jews. Juden Schul presented a recognizable if unsympathetic portrayal of the life of Jews in contemporary Germany. Buxtorf's work had far-reaching and long-lasting influence, appearing in a wide variety of editions and languages over the next century.
|1. Johann Buxtorf (1564-1629). Synagoga Judaica. Basel: Johan. Jacobum Deckerum, 1661. Tertia hac editione, de novo restaurata, & innumeris accessionibus in ampliorem & augustiorem formam redacta.
The frontispiece of this edition is the only illustration in the book. The top scene shows the interior of a school, while the bottom is a circumcision. The frequent inclusion of circumcision scenes in early works on Judaism suggests an interest among Christian readers in those rituals which most distinguished adherents of the two faiths.
|2a. Johann Buxtorf (1564-1629). Schoole der Juden. Leiden: Daniel van den Dalen en Hendrik van Damme, 1702. Page 240.
The Dutch edition of Buxtorf's work included four prints by Jan Luyken, who also illustrated Leone Modena's work shown in the previous case. The print below, "Feest Houdinge der Joden" represents the Passover seder and the one above shows the "Ceremonien van't Lesen der Wet" or "Raising the Law." The Sondheim collection also includes several versions of Bernard Picard's print of this latter ritual, which are on display in the Bernard Picart section.
2b. Johann Buxtorf (1564-1629). Schoole der Juden. Leiden: Daniel van den Dalen en Hendrik van Damme, 1702. Page 324.