Friday, March 16, 2018

Gary Rendsburg on Old Torah Scrolls

Gary Rendsburg writes an illustrated survey of the oldest post-DSS Torah scrolls known today in The World’s Oldest Torah Scrolls. It includes background and discussion of the oldest known fragments and scrolls, as well as images of each.

Eibert Tigchelaar on Skilled Scribes

Eibert Tigchelaar's lecture Beautiful Bookhands and Careless Characters has been posted online by the University of Birmingham. He proposes classifying scribal hands according to skillfulness, beauty, and regularity. He also suggests that there may be a correlation between skillfulness and function.

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!