BWB colloquium day 3
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.
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-SchlangerRevisiting 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.