Judah Messer Leon's The Book of the Honeycomb's Flow, written in the second half of the fifteenth century, is a treatise on the art of rhetoric in which the classical rehtorical doctrine of the Greeks and Romas is applied to the Hebrew Bible. It is the earliest such work by a competent Hebrew scholar. Duscussing or alluding to a wide variety of theological, philosophical, political, legal, and psychological subjects, it is one of the most important books of early Renaissance humanism.
As the indispensable basis of his annotated English translation, Isaac Rabinowitx has provided the first critical edition of the Hebrew text, drawing on an early manuscript, the first print edition of 1475/6, and other pertinent sources. Besides supplying paragraphing and punctuation, his Hebrew text includes references to all passages of Scripture cited for exposition or for illustration of rhetorical doctrine, apparatuses of the variant readings and of the book's implicit scriptural allusions and reminiscences, and other textual notes. The annotated translation—the first in any modern European language—includes full referneces to all Messer Leon's classical sources. The introduction to the entire work contains a detailed reconstruction of Messer Leon's life and a full discussion of the nature and intended purposes of The Book of the Honeycomb's Flow.
The publication of the The Book of the Honeycomb's Flow will help scholars to appreciate more fully the importance of the vital Italian Jewish culture of the Renaissance.