Academy Member Prof. Malachi Beit-Arié’s
book Hebrew Codicology: Historical and Comparative Typology of Medieval Hebrew Codices Based on the Documentation of the Extant Dated Manuscripts until 1540 Using a Quantitative Approach
has been published digitally in Hebrew
and in English
The Hebrew and English volumes are available as Open Access electronic publications via their DOI (Digital Object Identifier) links.
About the book
This volume is the first to use the method of quantitative codicology to establish a diachronic typology of the medieval book in Hebrew script, as a field of historical inquiry in its own right. It rests upon detailed documentation of all the extant dated Hebrew manuscripts preserved in some two hundred and fifty libraries and private collections around the world, their comparison with manuscripts in other scripts produced in the same areas, and presentation of the historical and sociological insights that emerge from this typology. This work is intended to provide the scholars and students in a range of fields who use manuscript sources or are engaged in preparing critical editions of medieval texts with a tool or guide for identifying the provenance of a manuscript and estimating the time of its copying, recognizing the manifold scribal practices used in the various regions, and for the purposes of textual criticism and gaining an understanding of the text’s transmission. Highlighting the importance and indispensability of a material examination of the codices when dealing with texts and their transmission, it demonstrates that handwritten books are not merely receptacles of texts, but cultural artefacts replete with information without which Jewish medieval history would remain impoverished. In their production practices, their design and their preservation of the records of owners and users over the course of time, these tens of thousands of handed-down objects are in themselves authentic historical sources that shed light upon the societies that made them. Classifying manuscripts according to their provenance and period of production enriches historical research with reliable data about the intellectual character and activity of medieval diasporic Jewish communities and may even provide evidence of their extent.