Spanish Marano of the sixteenth century; Hebraist and polemical writer; born in Zamora about 1474, and baptized in the Catholic faith in 1506. His father's name was Juan de Zamora, and he likewise seems to have become a Christian. Alfonso was professor of Oriental languages for several years at the University of Salamanca. His pure Hebrew style leads Neubauer to suppose that he attended a Jewish school before going to the university. Owing to this proficiency, Cardinal Ximenes employed him for over fifteen years in the preparation of the Complutensian Polyglot, to which he contributed largely. He wrote a number of grammatical and lexicographical works, and composed in Hebrew and Latin, interlined, an epistle to the Jews in Rome, wherein he seeks to admonish them and convert them to the Christian faith. The letter entitled "A Letter from the Kingdom of Spain to the Jews in the Roman Community" (Alcalà de Henares, 1526) does not seem to have disturbed the Roman Jews; in fact, Rieger questions whether they ever received it ("Gesch. d. Juden in Rom," ii. 47, Berlin, 1895).

Among his writings, enumerated in the subjoined references, may be mentioned two Hebrew vocabularies, published in 1515; an introduction to Hebrew Grammar ("Introductiones Artis Grammaticæ Hebraicæ," 1526), now very rare (second ed., Alcalà de Henares); translations of and commentaries on portions of the Bible (Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc.); an introduction to the Targum, 1532; a polemic entitled "Libro de la Sabiduria de Dios" (manuscript in Escurial, see Kayserling, "Bibl. Esp.-Port. Jud." p. 118); and letters and miscellaneous correspondence preserved in manuscript at Leyden (Codex Warner, 65). In a letter, dated March 30, 1544, he states that he was seventy years old and still professor of Hebrew at the University of Salamanca (Steinschneider, "Leyden Cat." p. 281). In one place he also calls himself teacher of Hebrew at the University of Alcalà de Henares.

  • De Castro, Biblioteca Rabbinica Hispaniensis, i. 399;
  • De Rossi, Annales Hebrœo-Typographici, 1501-40, p. 30;
  • Franz Delitzsch, Wissenschaft, Kunst, Judenthum, pp. 289 et seq.;
  • Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 733;
  • idem, Leyden Cat. pp. 279-281;
  • idem, Bibliographisches Handbuch, p. 4;
  • Neubauer, in Jew. Quart. Rev. 1895, vii. 398-417;
  • Blau, ibid. ix. 476.
G. A. K.
Images of pages