Wednesday, July 20, 2011

BWB colloquium day 3

Dr Saverio Campanini

On the awareness of the Hebrew content of binding fragments in 15th-18th century Europe. Konrad Pellikan described his attempts as a young man to learn Hebrew from fragments of Hebrew manuscripts he saw as bindings. From end of 15th century, widespread desire to learn Hebrew but little access to texts. Awareness of the fact that bindings are in Hebrew is passive Hebrew literacy. Italian notaries sometimes began their register with a description of the number of pages and the type of binding of the register, in order to protect against later alteration of their records. Sometimes they note that the register is bound in parchment, sometimes that the parchment has writing on it, and occasionally that the writing was in Hebrew. In 1764, JS Semler published a sermon calling attention to the potential of Hebrew manuscript bindings for studying biblical textual variants.

Dr Javier Castaño

Hebrew documents from Spain should be divided into five areas:

1. Catalonia (including Valencia, Majorca, Roussillon)
2. Navarre and Aragon
3. Castile and Portugal
4. NW Castile (Burgos, Valladolid)
5. Andalusia (has not been studied yet)

Discussion of court documents from Navarra, including Maaseh Bet Din that summarizes documents (ketubah, tsava’ah, shetar matanah) dating back over 100 years in context of a family conflict over inheritance.

Justine Isserles – Hebrew binding fragments in Switzerland. 28 fragments in all, in Ashkenazic script. Mahzorim. Biblical fragments.

Saskia Dönitz

Two unusual fragments in Berlin, a biblical commentary still unidentified. Berlin Staatsbibliothek has important Oriental collection, has not been catalogued since Steinschneider, so probably potential for finding more fragments.

8 folios in two columns, reused in Seheim (SE of Darmstadt) from 1619 onwards – biblical commentary on end of Deuteronomy and beginning of Genesis, identified by Steinschneider as being by Menahem ben Shelomo (Midrash Sekhel Tov). Since Sekhel Tov has not been published on this section, hard to say for certain. Buber, in his introduction to his edition of the midrash, mentions these fragments which were copied for him and he concludes that they are not from the midrash. Part of the commentary focuses on linguistic parallels, another part is more midrashic and discusses numerical significance of letters.

Judith Olszowy-Schlanger

Revisiting Durham fragment already described in 2003 and earlier. Peter the Venerable, most radical anti-Jewish polemicist, first Western Christian source to mention Talmud, as well as Alpha Beta de-ben Sira. AB de-ben Sira was widely read and copied by Jews. It is also quoted in the Hebrew-Latin-French glossary published in 2008 – evidence that it was known in Hebrew in 13th century England. Very small fragment of Latin translation of AB ben Sira, preserved in Durham library. Already detached from binding so hard to know what it looked like there, but binding was done in England and clear that it was folded over the outside of a book and then later reused in a 16th century binding as a pastedown. Interlinear Latin translation of Hebrew text – superscriptio. Hebrew writing includes calligraphic elements, but also cursive aleph (found in documentary texts), seems to have been written by a Jew. Vocalization is in the same ink as superscription and follows system used in other Hebrew-Latin manuscripts. Translation reflects accurate grasp of Hebrew language, including nuance such as ‘ha-Makom’ = Dominus.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

BWB colloquium – day 2

Dr Avraham David – Ginze Yerushalayim

120 medieval fragments, mostly from bindings, that were kept in boxes for years. There are also many modern Oriental and Yemenite fragments, including those donated by Ezra Gorodetzky and Israel Mehlman. More fragments are held in Jerusalem by Michael Krupp and by the Schocken Institute for Jewish Research. There is no budget at the library for studying the fragments, nor for searching for fragments still within NLI bindings.

27 fragments of Isaac de Lattes’s Kiryat Sefer. 2 badly damaged fragments of responsa by Rabad of Posquieres, including the tail end of an unknown responsum. 6 pages of Grabadin, a medical work by Elisha the Greek (15th century, probably from Adrianople) – Ezra Gorodetzky has fragments of another copy. Ephraim Wust recently discovered that this author, Elisha the Physician, was the teacher of Georgius Gemistus.

Fragments of Gersonides on Pentateuch, unidentified introduction to the Talmud, laws of Passover, Nahmanides on Pentateuch, Talmud Bavli Berachot and Baba Mezia.

Update: Dr Ezra Chwat adds the following about 'Genizat Yerushalayim':

Most of the Genizat Yerushalayim items can be found in NLI Heb. 8°1800, presently holding 400 cataloged items. Among them, material similar to Cairo Genizah fragment, like this one, that if they were not in secondary use as bindings would have remained in an unknown Yemenite genizah that dated to 12th cent, if not The (Ben Ezra) Genizah.

Prof Simcha Emanuel – the first Tosafist autograph manuscript

Most of the few extant autographs of medieval rabbis were found in the Cairo genizah. Yehudah ha-Levi, Maimonides, R Hayye Gaon, R Samuel ben Ali, R Manoah.

A single leaf, commentary on TB Berachot, found in monastery in Melk. Unfortunately, no information in the library on what book the leaf was originally bound into. The page contains corrections and lengthy additions, including lines that run along the side of the page. Additional leaves from the same manuscript are found in Gratz, including the end of commentary to Berachot. On one of those pages there is a quote from the author’s brother, R Yehudah. This quotation is found word for word in Yihuse Tannaim va-Amoraim. So the author was the brother of R Yehuda ben Kalonymus of Speyer. R Yehuda’s older brother, Meir, wrote Tosafot but these do not quote the younger brother. R David ben Kalonymus of Mintzburg seems to have been much younger than R Yehuda, and therefore Urbach suspected that he wasn’t even his brother. But Aptowitzer pointed out that he was simply a much younger brother. This R David is probably the author of the fragmentary Berachot commentary. Judith Olszowy-Schlanger pointed out (based on Hebrew documents from England) that the script and graphic fillers reflect 13th century rather than 12th century, so additional reason to identify the younger brother rather than the older.

After this, I started getting tired from the fast and jetlag. So I'll summarize:

Dr Judith Kogel has been studying Hebrew fragments from Colmar. She discussed the dimensions, order and layout of a Sefer Haftarot she found there, in comparison with similar manuscripts in Parma.

Michael Krupp showed some fragments he bought in recent years, purportedly all from the library of a single Yemenite community. Many of the fragments are from Europe, and presumably made their way to Yemen.

Elodie Attia discussed a Hebrew booklist from Avignon that she found, along with other fragments from Comtat Venaissin, in the binding of a Hebrew manuscript in Munich.

Luca Baraldi couldn't make it and his paper was read by Emma Abate. He discussed chemical analysis of binding fragments and the importance of interpreting the resulting information in historical context.

Tamas Visi discussed medieval Jewish manuscripts from Moravia. Virtually no complete manuscripts exist. One manuscript in Oxford contains a divorce (get) from Brno.

Fragments of 6 manuscripts can be identified, though, based on the fact that they are bound in books that were produced in Moravia. Tur, Mahzor Yom Kippur, Talmud (Sanhedrin and Keritut), Mahzor Pesah and Shavuot, Rif with Rashi, Tosafot and Mordechai. Fifty more fragments can also be considered. History of Jewish in Moravia – communities from 1200, but no significant rabbis until 1390. After Black Death, influx of Jewish refugees. Aizik Turna in the 1420s and Mahari Bruna in 1430s. 1454 – expulsion from major cities. 15th century – bindings of Latin manuscripts from monasteries. 16th-17th centuries – administrative records. Kromeriz – French-Hebrew glossary, bound into Latin manuscript from 1394, perhaps in the wake of French expulsion. Most fragments came from Ashkenaz – Germany and Austria. Fragments divide equally between Biblical (34%), liturgical (35%) and Halakhic (31%). Nothing scientific or philosophical. Apparently high incidence of Torah interspersed with Onkelos.

Dr Esperança Valls discussed economic fragments from Girona - list of moneylenders, a builder's contract in Hebrew and other documents.

Prof Martha Keil described the state of the Austrian Genizah project, which has almost finished with the small libraries and is ready to tackle the large ones. Then she spoke about an exhibition that she helped organize at the Jewish museum in Vienna, illustrating medieval Jewish life in Vienna through Hebrew manuscript fragments.