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Nola, Elijah ben Menahem da

NOLA, ELIJAH BEN MENAHEM DA (baptismal name, Giovanni Paolo Eustachio; c. 1530–c. 1602), Italian Hebraist and apostate. One of the leading rabbis in Rome during the late 16th century, Da Nola was also a renowned physician and philosopher. When Moses *Alatino was commissioned to translate Hebrew texts into Latin, he received valuable assistance from Da Nola. While acting as a Hebrew tutor to Tommaso Aldobrandini, brother of Pope Clement VIII, Da Nola was induced to convert to Catholicism in 1568, and eventually became a scrittore at the Vatican library. He copied Hebrew manuscripts for Cardinal Federigo Borromeo, archbishop of Milan, many such works in his hand being preserved in the Vatican.

Da Nola later published Sacro Settenario raccolto dalle sacre Scritture… (Naples, 1579), on the symbolism of the figure 7 in the Old and New Testaments. A collection of sermons, Salutari discorsi… aggiuntavi un modo utilissimo de la vita che denno tenere i Neophiti (Naples, 1582), dedicated to Pope Gregory XII, contained an apologia for his apostasy which, the author claimed, had been based on knowledge and conviction, rather than on fear or greed. Like many others who converted during the Renaissance era, Da Nola endeavored to prove the superiority of Christianity over Judaism by judicious manipulation of kabbalistic books, particularly in regard to the significance of the Trinity and the numerical value of selected Hebrew terms.


C. Roth, Jews in the Renaissance (1959), 84, 149–50, 154; F. Secret, Les Kabbalistes Chrétiens de la Renaissance (1964), 247–8; U. Cassuto, I Manoscritti Palatini Ebraici della Biblioteca Vaticana (1935), index.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.