Wednesday, January 11, 2006

New Mishne Torah

Students of Rabbi Eliyahu Zeini have published a one-volume edition of Maimonides' Code, the Mishne Torah. They advertise that their edition incorporates varia lectiones culled from other editions of the book published in recent years - those of R Joseph Kafih, Shabse Frankel, Nahum Rabinovitch and Yitzhak Shilat. They boast that they have corrected changes made by censors. But the really interesting changes in the Code are the more subtle ones, the ones made by scribes, or by the author himself.

Here's the rub. Kafih's edition is based exclusively on Yemenite manuscripts. Frankel's represents primarily European manuscripts and printed editions. Rabinovitch's version, with his commentary Yad Peshutah, follows the Oxford manuscript. As far as I am aware, only Shilat made use of Genizah fragments.

The Maimonidean presence in the Genizah is very strong. Thanks to the Fustat synagogue, we have many fragments in the Rambam's handwriting, and many other pages written by his close acquaintances. For examples, see here and here and here (by the way, the Arabic original of the Guide is here).

Avi Lifshitz, a student of Shilat, recently completed a Master's thesis at Bar Ilan University studying the significance of these fragments in the study of Mishne Torah. This is an important step, that must be followed by an appraisal of the relative worth of individual scribes and copies.

One small example, in shorthand. Isure Biah 21:9 - "U-bilvad...". Frankel's edition testifies that this phrase is missing from most manuscripts. It is also not to be found in a genizah fragment, BL Or. 10832/1, from the Gaster collection.


Blogger shmuel said...

What is the complete issurei biah phrase that is missing?

6:13 PM  
Blogger Yitzhak Grossman said...

>> Frankel's represents primarily European manuscripts and printed editions <<

What is the basis for this assertion? The Frankel editors begin the Shinuyei Nushaos section of each volume with a list of Yemenite MSS followed by a list of European MSS and then a list of printed editions, all of which they claim to have utilized in ascertaining the correct text. There are often more Yemenite than European MSS listed, and the editors reiterate in each volume that "The Yemenite MSS are the most reliable of all". True, they go on to state that they have generally not made any significant modifications in the primary text that do not appear in any printed edition, and the printed editions obviously represent European MSS, but in light of the above, I think that it is misleading to assert that their edition "represents primarily European manuscripts".
In any event, the Shinuyei Nushaos section gives ALL (AFAIK) significant (in the eyes of the editors - they admit that they were concerned primarily with variants important to those who learn Rambam rather than with those important mainly to scholars) textual variants found in any MSS or printed edition among their sources (as listed above).

>> As far as I am aware, only Shilat made use of Genizah fragments. <<

The Frankel edition utilizes at least one Genizah fragment; see the introduction to the Shinuyei Nushaos - Ishus where the editors mention "Genizah Fragments: (Kaufman?) 463"

4:41 PM  
Blogger manuscriptboy said...

Yitzhak - I stand corrected. Thank you. But I stand by my point, that the Frankel edition does not reflect the text of Mishne Torah as found in the Genizah.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Yitzhak Grossman said...

Acknowledged. BTW, I'm sorry I forgot to wish you Mazal Tov yesterday. Mazal Tov! Tizku Livnos Bayis Ne'eman Biyisrael Lishem Ulitiferes.

6:07 PM  

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