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Philology and Aesthetics

Figurative Masorah in Western European Manuscripts

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Edited By Hanna Liss

European Bible manuscripts and their Masorah traditions are still a neglected field of studies and have so far been almost completely disregarded within text-critical research. This volume collects research on the Western European Masorah and addresses the question of how Ashkenazic scholars integrated the Oriental Masoretic tradition into the Western European Rabbinic lore and law. The articles address philological and art-historical topics, and present new methodological tools from the field of digital humanities for the analysis of masora figurata. This volume is intended to initiate a new approach to Masorah research that will shed new light on the European history of the masoretic Bible and its interpretation.

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Personal Grief Between Private and Public Space: A Micrographic Inscription as a Historical Source (MS Vienna Cod. hebr. 16) (Rainer Josef Barzen)

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Rainer Josef Barzen

Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Personal Grief Between Private and Public Space: A Micrographic Inscription as a Historical Source (MS Vienna Cod. hebr. 16)*

Abstract: In an Ashkenazi Bible manuscript from 1299 (MS Vienna, ÖNB, Cod. hebr. 16), the masora magna was added to the Bible text in micrographic script. The text of the masora forms letters, which in turn form words and this design was applied to all the titles of the individual biblical books. In the same way, with the help of the micrographic masora magna, the Masorete Aberzush added a memorial inscription to the Book of Psalms in commemoration of his murdered family members. The inscription extends across the bottom of 42 pages of the codex. There is a content related interdependence between the sections of the inscription and the psalms on each respective page. This indicates that the place and form of the commemoration of the dead are therefore consciously chosen and executed by the Masorete when creating the masora. The relationship of the text of the psalms to Aberzush’s inscription is bidirectional. The potential reader of the manuscript should be involved with the Masorete as an active participant in the commemoration of the dead. This form of commemoration, therefore, transforms what began as a private manuscript into a “public space” in which future generations of readers will carry on the now public remembrance of the dead.    The phenomena described are also observable in a 16th...

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