Abraham Zacuto (1452-1514), probably of the first Jewish sages who embraced modernity while keeping the unbroken chain of tradition from Abraham to the Talmud scholars to Moses Maimonides. He was a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci, a leading astronomer who stood at the cradle of great geographical discoveries of 16th century, advised Columbus and guided Vasco da Gama, was a luminary at the Court of Kings of Spain and Portugal, merged science and Kabbala, taught at Salamanca University and lived in the Templar-built mysterious Castle of Tomar, travelled through the Orient from Tunis to Constantinople, to find his eternal rest in Jerusalem. While meeting with kings and princes, he considered himself first of all a Jewish sage in the long line of Jewish sages. The Book of Lineage, or Sefer Yohassin, his Opus Magnum, was completed five hundred years ago after a decade-spanning work. This is the first historical chronicle covering the entire history of mankind from the Jewish perspective, integrating the records of Jewish chronographers. This book provides a unique insight into the world of the Talmud populated by sages, their wives and their disciples, human beings of flesh and blood, the world he learned from his teacher, the great Jewish mystic Aboab, the author of Menorath Ha-Maor, and he knew it exceedingly well. It is also a primary source dealing with appearance of the Zohar in Spain. Thus this book allows to appreciate wonders of the world of Talmud and tradition, as well as those of pre-exilic Spain and Portugal. The editor of this translation, the Israeli writer Israel Shamir, whose previous projects include the Odyssey of Homer, Joyce’s Ulysses and the Hebrew Nobel winner S. Y. Agnon, keeps to the spirit of this time, and moves forward our understanding of tradition and history of Jews in its interaction with their neighbours.
Abraham b. Samuel Zacuto (1452-1514)
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