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(5,922 words)

Author(s): Olszowy-Schlanger, Judith
1. Introduction Codicology is a relatively new discipline, whose main purpose is the study of manuscripts as material objects in their own right. This study is complementary to, but distinct from the study of the textual contents and palaeography (script and handwriting) of manuscripts. In a narrow sense, codicology focuses on materials and techniques of handwritten book production. More broadly it deals with the relationship between these material aspects and the script and genre of the text, wit…

Karaite Legal Documents

(592 words)

Author(s): Olszowy-Schlanger, Judith
The Karaites used written documents to record and carry out their legal and business transactions. The Cairo Genizah collections contain some eighty legal documents (betrothal and marriage documents, appointments of a bride’s agent, financial provisions for children before childbirth, a certificate of circumcision, letters of divorce and deeds of release) from the 10th–13th centuries, written according to Karaite formulae. The most distinctive feature of the Karaite legal documents is their use …

Christian Hebraists: Medieval Period

(8,999 words)

Author(s): Olszowy-Schlanger, Judith
1. Introduction The study of the Hebrew language and Jewish literature as undertaken by Christian scholars during the Middle Ages has been the subject of several modern works. This modern scholarship has often expressed a rather negative opinion of the achievements of medieval Christian Hebraists, contrasting them with the subsequent development of Hebrew studies during the Renaissance. However, recent studies of original manuscripts have revealed a hitherto unsuspected level of knowledge and impo…

Saint-Victor’s Abbey in Paris

(701 words)

Author(s): Olszowy-Schlanger, Judith
In 1108 Guillaume de Champeaux, a master in the cathedral school of Paris, founded a hermitage dedicated to St. Victor on Mount St. Geneviève, on the left bank of the River Seine. Five years later, by an act of Louis le Gros, the monastery became an abbey and its members regular canons. Later in the 12th century, the abbey of St. Victor became an important center of learning and a place where a specific school of Bible exegesis was followed. The method consisted of literal exegesis. The literal …

Manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible in the Middle Ages

(2,520 words)

Author(s): Olszowy-Schlanger, Judith
In the Middle Ages, Hebrew Bible manuscript production underwent important changes. While the consonantal text and the canonical composition of 24 books had long been fixed, it was now provided with the textual apparatus of the Masorah and the system of written vowels and cantillation signs (טעמים ṭeʿamim), which followed three main traditions: Babylonian, Palestinian, and Tiberian. The books acquired a new shape: the codex form was accepted alongside that of the traditional scrolls, which continued to be used in liturgy. The material aspect…

Transcription into Latin Script: Pre-Modern England

(1,436 words)

Author(s): Olszowy-Schlanger, Judith
Works of Christian Hebraists in 12th- and 13th-century England are interspersed with Hebrew words transcribed into the Latin alphabet (Christian Hebraists: Medieval Period). The reason for such transcriptions was two-fold: on the one hand, it was a pedagogical device for teaching Hebrew, and on the other, it gave a certain minimal access to the Hebrew language to those who had not mastered it but wanted to use it (for example, in anti-Jewish polemics). It is often difficult to ascertain whether …