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Philology and Aesthetics

Figurative Masorah in Western European Manuscripts


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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Rashi in the Masorah: The Figurative Masorah in Ashkenazi Manuscripts as Parshanut (Kay Joe Petzold)


Kay Joe Petzold

Heidelberg Center for Jewish Studies

Rashi in the Masorah: The Figurative Masorah in Ashkenazi Manuscripts as Parshanut

Abstract: This article deals with three different figurative Eliyya Masorah compositions of MSS Vatican ebr. 14 and Parma Cod. 3289, presents an annotated edition of the masora figurata images, and discusses the question of how the scribes (Eliyya ben Berekhya ha-Naqdan for ebr. 14) introduced Rabbinic exegetical commentaries as well as contemporary halakhic issues linked to the respective Parasha and iconographic agenda of the Masorah.

Keywords: figurative Masora, Masora, biblical illustration, Parshanut, Eliyya ha-Naqdan

Many Medieval Hebrew Bible manuscripts are decorated with micrography, a scribe’s art form that outlines images in tiny script. The textual repository, which is used to furnish the micrography, was frequently taken from contemporary and adopted masoretic traditions (masora figurata). Early examples of micrographically shaped decoration are found in the few extant oriental Bible codices.1 Those few micrographically decorated, illuminated, and gilded pages were usually placed at the end of the codex. From the thirteenth century onward, micrographic, figurative Masorah annotations became an integral part of the mise en page in Franco-German Ashkenazi manuscript culture. The most prominent micrographically decorated Bible manuscripts – the “Duke of Sussex German Pentateuch” (London, BL, Add. 15282), the “Vienna Pentateuch” (Vienna, ÖNB, Cod. hebr. 28), the “Yonah Pentateuch” (London, BL, Add. 21160), the Prophets and Hagiographs codex BL Or. 2091, and the two Erfurt Bibles ←203 | 204→“Erfurt 1” (Berlin, SBB,...

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