Oriental manuscripts, mainly Hebrew, collected by Matteo Luigi Canonici

Scope and Content

The majority of Canonici's manuscripts are in western languages; the oriental manuscripts are section 'H' in a series A-H. Most of the oriental manuscripts are in Hebrew (over 110, chiefly on vellum), and include prayers, Hebrew grammar, philosophy (particularly Aristotle in translation), and Kabbalah. There is also material in Arabic, Turkish, Tamil, Syriac, and Armenian. Canonici's oriental manuscripts date from the beginning of the 14th century, with many being from the 15th and 16th centuries.

Administrative / Biographical History

Matteo Luigi Canonici (1727-1805) became a Jesuit in 1743. His natural bent was towards history and antiquities, and when Accademico of the College of St. Catherine at Parma he formed a first collection of medals and books, but in 1768, when the Jesuit Order was suppressed in the kingdom of Naples and Duchy of Parma, it was confiscated. Next he collected pictures, but this scandalized his superiors, and he was forced to get rid of them, obtaining in exchange a museum of medals. In 1773 a further suppression of the Order took place, and Canonici retired to Venice, where he set himself to study history, and collected coins, statuary, printed books and manuscripts, chiefly during autumn journeys to Rome, Naples, Florence or elsewhere.

Access Information

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk).

Acquisition Information

The Library purchased the greater part of the manuscripts in 1817.


Collection level description created by Susan Thomas, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

Brief descriptions are in Falconer Madan, et al., A summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the Quarto series, with references to the oriental and other manuscripts (7 vols. in 8 [vol. II in 2 parts], Oxford, 1895-1953; reprinted, with corrections in vols. I and VII, Munich, 1980), vol. IV, nos. 20354-496.

The manuscripts are also summarily described in the card catalogue, arranged by language, located in the Oriental Reading Room.

A. Neubauer and A.E. Cowley Catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts in the Bodleian library, and in the College Libraries of Oxford, 2 vols., Catalogi Codd. MSS. Bibliothecae Bodleianae pars xii, (Oxford, 1886-1906), vol. 1. More recently, a 'Supplement of Addenda and Corrigenda', which has to be used in conjunction with Neubauer's Catalogue, was published (Oxford 1994).

A. Nicoll Catalogi codicum manuscriptorum Orientalium Bibliothecae Bodleianae pars secunda, Arabicos complectens (Oxford, 1835).

Robert Payne Smith Catalogi codicum manuscriptorum Bibliothecae Bodleianae, pars vi: codices Syriacos, Carshunicos, Mendaeos, complectens (Oxford, 1864).

E. Sachau, H. Eth and A.F.L. Beeston Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindstn, and Pusht manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, 3 vols. (Oxford, 1889-1953), vol. 2.

Sukias Baronian and F.C. Conybeare Catalogue of the Armenian manuscripts in the Bodleian Library (Oxford, 1918).

There is an unpublished catalogue of Dravidian language manuscripts by Rev. Dr. George Uglow Pope available in the Oriental Reading Room which includes Canonici's Tamil manuscripts.

Alternative Form Available

The Hebrew manuscripts have been microfilmed by the Institute for Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts in Jerusalem. They are also available at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York.

Custodial History

Canonici's collections passed to his brother Giuseppe, and on his death in 1807 to Giovanni Perissinotti and Girolamo Cardina, who divided them. To the former fell the manuscripts.

Related Material

The Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts holds Canonici's western manuscripts (MSS. Canon. Bibl. Lat. 1-93; Canon. Class. Lat. 1-311; Canon. Gr. 1-128; Canon. Ital. 1-301; Canon. Liturg. 1-3, 5, 8-13, 15-18, 20-5, 28, 30-7, 41, 43, 49, 55, 63, 72, 75-6, 91-3, 99, 105, 108, 114, 116, 118, 123-6, 128-9, 131, 134-43, 146-8, 150-1, 155-9, 161-72, 175, 178, 183, 188, 190-2, 197, 199-227, 229, 231, 233, 237, 239-49, 251-2, 254-5, 257-79, 281, 283-7, 289-94, 296-7, 301, 305-6, 308, 311-34, 336, 339-56, 358-64, 366-71, 373-80, 382-9, 391-3, 395, 410, 411-14; Canon. Misc. 1-576; Canon. Pat. Lat. 1-232).