Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Joint Venture of the FJMS and NLI!

Just announced... a new cooperation between the FJMS and NLI! This looks very promising for future resources for studying Hebrew manuscripts!

The Friedberg Jewish Manuscript Society (FJMS) and the National Library of Israel (NLI) are proud to announce a historic cooperation agreement
The Friedberg Jewish Manuscript Society (FJMS), and The National Library of Israel (NLI)  are proud to announce a historic cooperation agreement that will guarantee the long-term stability and development of the most advanced digital projects related to Hebrew manuscript research in the world, merging the cutting-edge resources of the FJMS with the NLI's vast collection.

The NLI is the world's largest and most comprehensive repository of Jewish books, manuscripts, periodicals, and archives, in both physical and digital formats. The FJMS, for nearly twenty years, has developed multiple digital humanities projects designed to enable research into Hebrew manuscripts.
 According to the newly signed agreement, the projects affiliated with the FJMS will be gradually integrated into the NLI's technological infrastructure, allowing the resources of both projects to mutually support one another.

The FJMS's flagship digital initiative is the Friedberg Genizah Project, created under the Direction of Professor Yaacov Choueka, which allows scholars to view, read, and annotate hundreds of thousands of images of fragments and documents from the famed Cairo Genizah. The website's advanced technologies assist in identifying separate fragments that originally stem from the same document. The hundreds of thousands of visits to the site demonstrate its unparalleled contribution to learning and research. In addition, the FJMS sponsors Hachi Garsinan, a website that provides images and transcripts of textual variants of the Babylonian Talmud; Yad HaRambam, which will providea synoptic text of Maimonides' influential code of Jewish Law, based on early printings and manuscripts; an online collection of important Judeo-Arabic texts and annotated bibliography of the field; the comprehensive Sussmann Thesaurus of Talmudic Manuscripts; and the Yemenite manuscripts from the collection of Yehuda Levi Nahum.  FJMS is currently developing a Dynamic site where researchers can use unique tools to create synoptic transcriptions of textual variants of their choosing.

The FJMS is the brainchild of Albert Dov Friedberg, a Toronto-based philanthropist and investment manager, whose concern for Jewish sacred texts has made him a leading supporter of Jewish manuscript research.

Over the course of 125 years, the National Library of Israel has developed into the world's leading Judaica library. Through its current renewal process the NLI has also now emerged as a technological leader, with a world-class online catalog and digital presence. Particularly relevant in this context is Ktiv: The International Collection of Digitized Hebrew Manuscripts, which aims to provide centralized online access to all of the world's Hebrew manuscripts. Millions of images of nearly 50,000 manuscripts are already available on the Ktiv website (, which was launched in August 2017.  Ktiv is a joint venture of Albert D. and Nancy Friedberg through FJMS and the National Library of Israel, in cooperation with the Israeli Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage's Landmarks project.
According to Oren Weinberg, Director General of the NLI, this agreement will "bring the technological developments of both bodies into conversation with one another, allowing the best minds and products of the Jewish digital humanities to cross-pollinate."
Albert Dov Friedberg added, "Our agreement assures that this work, to which I have dedicated so much of my concern and resources, will continue to grow, develop, and be preserved into the future.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Van der Horst Review of Snapshots of Evolving Traditions

Pieter van der Horst has a sympathetic but critical review of Liv Ingeborg Lied, Hugo Lundhaug (ed.), Snapshots of Evolving Traditions: Jewish and Christian Manuscript Culture, Textual Fluidity, and New Philology. I think he does a fair job appreciating the value of the material turn in philology, but also pushing back against the reductionistic idea that we should abandon all attempts at critical text reconstruction (as does Davila in the same volume). I would agree completely that Material Philology is an opportunity to expand the horizons of our scholarship, not an excuse to narrow them.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Digitized Hebrew Manuscripts from the National Library of Israel

Haaretz has a brief article highlighting the Hebrew manuscript digitization project of the National Library of Israel that gives some background to the project. This project is opening access to a vast trove of Hebrew manuscripts to a broad audience, and it will be very exciting to see its further progress. On my Online Digital Manuscripts and Editions page I have already highlighted the large number of Bible manuscripts available on the Ktiv site.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New Codex by Shmuel ben Yaakov

Kim Phillips has identified a new codex as written by Shmuel ben Yaakov, the scribe of the famous "Leningrad Codex". This is a codex of the former prophets (labelled L17), and Kim takes the interesting opportunity to compare it to the Leningrad Codex to better understand the scribe's work. A very interesting piece of detective work!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Book Notices on Editing the Bible and the Legacy of Barthélemy

Two new books from Helsinki colleagues that are sure to be of interest:

Insights into Editing in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East
What Does Documented Evidence Tell Us about the Transmission of Authoritative Texts?
edited by R. Müller and J. Pakkala
Documented evidence has shown that the Hebrew Bible was edited by successive scribes for centuries, and the impact of editing on the resulting text has proven to be crucial. A better understanding of any issue in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Israel requires a deep understanding of the editorial processes. As a consequence, the editorial processes of the Hebrew Bible have come to the fore in the most recent scholarly debates.

Nevertheless, editorial processes in the Hebrew Bible are still poorly understood and a methodological overview is lacking. It is apparent that collaboration between scholars of different fields is needed, and a methodological discussion that takes into account all the editorial techniques witnessed by documented evidence in the Hebrew scriptures and the rest of the ancient Near East is required. This book is a step in this direction. Contributions in this volume by leading scholars approach the issue from various perspectives, including methodology, textual criticism, redaction criticism, Dead Sea Scrolls, Assyriology, and Egyptology.

The Legacy of Barthélemy
50 Years after Les Devanciers d'Aquila
edited by Anneli Aejmelaeus and Tuukka Kauhanen
Les Devanciers d'Aquila by Dominique Barthélemy (1963) is an epoch-making work on the textual history of the Septuagint. On the basis of his analysis of the Nahal Hever Minor Prophets Scroll, Barthélemy developed his theory of an early Hebraizing revision (so-called kaige revision), designed to bring the traditional text of the Septuagint closer to the Hebrew text, and recognized examples of it in the B-text of books such as Joshua, Judges, and Samuel-Kings. The work of these early Hebraizing revisers resembled the later very literal translation by Aquila; hence the name of the book, "the predecessors of Aquila". Textual scholars of today continue in the footsteps of Barthélemy and work on the same questions that were raised in Devanciers: How extensive was the influence of the kaige revision and how can it be recognized? What is the nature of the Lucianic text: when does it represent the Old Greek and when does it give a stylistically revised text? What is the relationship between the kaige revision and Theodotion's revision of the Septuagint?The present volume mainly consists of papers presented at the 50th anniversary symposium of Les Devanciers d'Aquila that was held in connection with the SBL International Meeting in St Andrews, Scotland, in 2013. The papers focus on history of research, case studies on the text of Samuel-Kings (1-4 Kingdoms), and studies on the text-historical position of specific witnesses.