ROMAN, JACOB BEN ISAAC IBN BAKODA:
Bibliographer and writer, of Spanish descent; born at Constantinople about 1570; died at Jerusalem in 1650. He was possessed of great knowledge; according to Conforte he knew the whole of the Mishnah by heart, and he was well acquainted with the rest of Jewish literature; he furthermore could speak Arabic, and understood Turkish and Latin. The anonymous author of "Ḥorbot Yerushalayim" (Venice, 1636) reports (p. 5b) that Roman when on his way to Jerusalem in1625 was made prisoner, together with other Jews, by Mohammed ibn Farukh and was subsequently ransomed; but it is not certain that he was on his way to Jerusalem at that date.
Through his friend the physician Leon Aryeh Judah Siaa, Roman became acquainted with Anton Leger (who was born in Piedmont, and was for some time chaplain of the Dutch embassy at Constantinople, and afterward professor of Oriental languages at Geneva) and by him was recommended to Johannes Buxtorf the younger in Basel. Buxtorf made use of Roman's bibliographical knowledge and owed to him the whole appendix to his father's "Bibliotheca Rabbinica," which he edited. He entered into correspondence with Roman, which, however, soon came to an end; the two letters of Roman which have been preserved were published in full in the "Revue des Etudes Juives" (viii. 87-94).
For several decades the need of a Hebrew printingpress had been felt in the Orient. At Constantinople, in the last years of the sixteenth century, there was no Jewish press; nor was there one in Salonica in the first half of the seventeenth century. Roman, as he wrote to Buxtorf on June 20, 1634, conceived the plan of reestablishing a Hebrew press in Constantinople. He wished then to print Maimonides' "Moreh Nebukim" in three languages, the Arabic text with Hebrew letters—the Turks would not allow Arabic type to be used—and the Hebrew and Latin translations, all arranged in three columns. He intended also to publish the "Cuzari" and Baḥya's "Ḥobot ha-Lebabot," with a Latin translation by his friend Leon Siaa. The project of the Hebrew printing-press was never realized, nor did Roman publish any of the mentioned works; even the translation of Buxtorf's "Tiberias," which he began, and of which he had already sent a specimen to Buxtorf, was not printed, if, indeed, it was ever finished.
Roman composed a Hebrew prosody, entitled "Mozene Mishḳal," in which he tried to give examples of 1,348 meters; also an Arabic-Turkish and an Arabic-Hebrew dictionary, the latter of which was finished Oct. 11, 1629 (the autograph copy is in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris). He translated various works of Jonah ibn Janaḥ from Arabic into Hebrew. None of his works appeared in print. Roman owned many manuscripts which were bought by Buxtorf for the agent of Cardinal Richelieu. Most of the manuscripts which Roman mentioned in his letters to the professor at Basel are now in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. On several of them it is expressly stated that they were in the possession of Jacob Roman.
- Conforte, Ḳore ha-Dorot p. 49a;
- Carmoly, Revue Orientale, ii. 347;
- Zunz, Z. G. pp. 233 et seq.;
- Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. p. 1254, No. 5008;
- idem, Z. D. M. G. ix. 840;
- idem. Hebr. Uebers. p. 377, where 1634 should be read instead of 1643;
- R. E. J. viii. 85 et seq.;
- Cat. Paris, Nos. 749, 893, 910 et seq., 1277 et seq.