Thursday, August 06, 2009

World Congress Day 5 – part 1

Session 703 – The European Genizah Project 1


Michael Krupp discussing a fragment of Sifre Deuteronomy in his collection (Krupp 3859, MSS-D 133). Latin inscription (1611-1615) on first page suggests that it is from Italy. It was not used for binding a book but simply as a folder. Fragment in Italian script, IMHM did not offer a date. Krupp thinks it is comparable to well-known 11th century Italian manuscripts of rabbinic texts, based on descriptions by Moshe Lutzki in introduction to Vatican 66. Justification of left-hand column. Krupp prepared an edition of this text, with variants from Mss Berlin and London, and to eds. princ. and Finkelstein. Then a synopsis including some Genizah fragments (from Kahana's edition). Krupp fragment resembles the Genizah fragments, but also includes a sentence that appears in Finkelstein's ed based on Midrash Hakhamim. Menahem Kahana thanks Krupp who gave him the fragment in the past, and comments that Midrash Hakhamim is a solidly Italian witness, so it is interesting that this fragment resembles it. Mauro Perani thinks it is from early 13th century. Edna Engel just walked out, but Perani thinks she will agree.

Mauro Perani (Andreas Lehnardt: "He is the Italian Genizah") on Girona Geniza. 'The wonderful city in which Nahmanides was born'. In Italy and Central Europe, the reused pages were always parchment, beginning in 16th century. 385 printed books in Modena were bound in the 1640s with Hebrew manuscripts, including fragment of Midrash Halakhah (so Menahem Kahana asked for them to be removed). In Girona, 90% of the fragments are paper, and the reuse began in 1331. Also, in Italy the finds are exclusively literary while Girona contains many documentary fragments. In both areas, Hebrew manuscripts were used alongside Christian and even Greek and Arabic works. In Girona the pages were pasted together to create hard bindings for books. Millas Vallicrosa published some fragments starting in 1928. There are several archives in Girona which all have fragments, but work started in Historical archive. In Perpignan, the registers are very well preserved and so it is not possible to see fragments peeking out (one fragment has been found), but in Girona they are in worse condition and so the bindings have started to open up and reveal the fragments inside. Restoring fragments from a register costs 1000 Euro. 60 registers have been opened so far, yielding up to 20 fragments per register. Based on the number of unopened registers, we can expect around 2000 fragments (a lower figure than Perani gave in 1998). In Hebrew registers, years are given by both Jewish and Christian calendars. Slide with deed from Girona, 1307 (not the translation that I prepared for Perani of this document, forthcoming in Hispania Judaica Bulletin). Ketubbah from 1377 reused in 1477. Malachi Beit Arie points out that recycling Hebrew manuscripts is only a small part of a larger European phenomenon. But the circumstances are different because Latin manuscripts were discarded with the advent of printing, while only certain Hebrew manuscripts come up in bindings. Vienna NB is now being checked, with fragments bound in mid-15th century following expulsion of Jews.


Engel on development of Hebrew script in Italy. From reed to quill. There are not enough dated Italian manuscripts, so the Italian Genizah is helpful. General explanation of script types. Engel's scheme of development of types, based on Oriental scripts, works for European as well. It is important to differentiate between different areas of Italy. First, 11th-12th centuries in Southern Italy. 13th century, Rome. 14th-15th centuries, Northern and Central Italy. For first period, a few manuscripts from 11th century Otranto and Genizah fragments (too little from Northern Italy, but probably also pre-square like in the South). Cramped letters, vertical lines descending with tilt to left, shin with sharp base – all similar to pre-square script from 9th century Israel. How is that? Didn't Italian script develop over the first few centuries? Zerah ben Yehudah, writing in 1105 without localization but probably Italian in real square script, shows more development in letters. Semi-square script from mid-12th century becomes the calligraphic script, with less squareness and thus easier to create. 13th century Rome has cursive script that still has links to square script. Letters continue to tilt leftwards and a harmonic flow, aleph like a K. Avraham ben Yom Tov ha-Kohen worked in Rome as a scribe in last quarter of 13th century – larger space between letters and more harmonic, more calligraphic that approaches square. Beginnings of development of benoni script in mid-13th century. Pola bat Avraham, professional scribe from the Anavim family. Her aleph resembles her father, but beyond that her script is unique, half-square, well proportioned between height and width, she added crowns and little flourishes at the bottom of letters like aleph and tav. Transition to writing with quill reflects growing similarity to Ashkenazic script, allowing sharper vertical lines. Can be seen in Avraham ben Yom Tov. Slowly, it affects the non-square scripts as well. Only in 15th century does quill become the main tool.


Judith Kogel. Systematic work on bindings in France began only 6 months ago. Dijon Marseilles Anjou. Some fragments from Alsace were studied by Paul Fenton and JP Rothschild 20 years ago. Focus on Colmar libraries. 96 bindings contain Hebrew fragments – the others are Latin fragments. Most of the volumes of incunabula come from the Dominican convent in Colmar. We don't know where the books were bound – possibly in the convent itself. 85 of the 96 have been examined, 212 fragments have been recovered. Some are only strips. 75 are prayers books, 12 are Halakhot and 21 Talmud. Some are copied in Italian script. The largest fragment is a bifolio of haftarot (other pages of the same manuscript have been found), copied by a scribe named Baruch who probably also provided the vocalization. Possibly the same scribe who copied a manuscript in Parma where Baruch is also marked in Ruth. Semag, 47 cm high and 32 cm wide, three columns, 44 lines per page. Decorated mahzor with picture of bird, in green and red, at the bottom of leaf, connected to a aleph-lamed ligature (which is itself decorated with dragons). The head of the bird provides the head of the lamed – a rare feature in Hebrew manuscripts. A fragment of Rashi's Talmud commentary including a diagram of the Land of Israel (mentions Therese Metzger , Betzalel Narkiss, Gabrielle Sed-Rajna, Mayer Gruber, Avraham Grossman, Yossi Ofer). Discusses which way the scribe turned the page in order to write the captions in the diagram. A catalogue is in preparation. Malachi Beit Arie says that shortly Sfardata will be available online.


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