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Algerian Judeo-Arabic

(4,707 words)

Author(s): Ofra Tirosh-Becker
Algerian Judeo-Arabic, spoken and written by Algerian Jews, is part of the sedentary Maghrebi Neo-Judeo-Arabic dialect ensemble, that are classified either as pre-Hilālī or non-Hilālī urban Arabic dialects. Various levels of dialectal differences between Jewish and Muslim dialects are documented throughout the Arabic-speaking world. In some cases, the differences between these dialects are major. This is the case in Oran (Wahrān) and some smaller Algerian towns near the capital Algiers, where th…

Jeshua ben Judah (Abū ʾl-Faraj Furqān ibn Asad)

(674 words)

Author(s): Ofra Tirosh-Becker
Jeshua ben Judah (also known as Abū ʾl-Faraj Furqān ibn Asad) was one of the most renowned Karaite scholars in eleventh-century Jerusalem. An outstanding Karaite philosopher and Bible exegete who flourished circa 1040-1060, he was a student of Levi ben Japheth, Yūsuf al-Baṣīr, and Abū ʾl-Faraj Hārūn.Following his mentor Yūsuf al-Baṣīr, Jeshua became a prominent exponent of the Jewish kalām (scholastic theology), which was influenced by the Baṣran school of the Muʿtazila. The philosophical work of al-Baṣīr and Je…

Translations of Rabbinic Sources into Arabic

(1,469 words)

Author(s): Ofra Tirosh-Becker
Numerous Judeo-Arabic translations of the Bible were composed throughout the centuries. These include pre-Saʿadian translations extant in fragments from the Cairo Geniza, Saʿadya Gaon’s monumental Bible translation known as the Tafsīr, Bible translations composed by early Karaite scholars (see Karaism), the later

Transcribed Hebrew texts

(687 words)

Author(s): Ofra Tirosh-Becker
The Karaites in the tenth and eleventh centuries often used Arabic script for their Judeo-Arabic writings, unlike their Rabbanite rivals, who used Hebrew script for Judeo-Arabic compositions (with very few exceptions). The earliest evidence for Karaite Judeo-Arabic manuscripts written in Hebrew script is found in colophons dated to the beginning of the eleventh century, but the practice became widespread in later centuries. Early Karaite scholars used Arabic script even to transcribe Hebrew texts, first and foremost the Bible. Such Arabic transcriptions are found in manuscripts of works by Karaite savants who lived in Palestine, Iraq, and Egypt, including Japheth ben Eli, Jeshua ben Judah, Jacob al-Qirqisānī, and ʿAlī ibn Sulaymān.The use of Arabic characters by non-Muslims is a unique phenomenon in the history of Arabic script. Several explanations have been proposed to account for the early Karaites’ use of Arabic script in their writings, and…