EAJS Programme in European Jewish Studies 2015/16
Research Approaches in Hebrew Bible Manuscript Studies. A Critical Overview Based on Evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls, Cairo Genizah and European Genizah
Aix-en-Provence, MMSH, Centre Paul-Albert Février (UMR 7297 – Aix-Marseille University), 6th to 8th June 2016
Main organizer: Élodie Attia-Kay (Aix-Marseille University, Textes et Documents de la Méditerranée Antique et Médiévale UMR 7297)
Co-organizers: Antony Perrot (EPHE – Paris, UMR Orient & Méditerranée UMR 8167); Samuel Blapp (Cambridge University)
- Original mission statement (event rationale)
This EAJS Lab Aix 2016 aimed to critically examine the research approaches used for the study of the transmission of the Hebrew Bible from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. To this end, the Laboratory brought together PhD students, Early Career Researchers and senior scholars of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Cairo Genizah and the European Genizah in order to share their research methods and approaches. Furthermore, it sought to critically address questions regarding the Digital Humanities and how they can improve scholarly work on the transmission of the Hebrew Bible. This laboratory was designed to foster and encourage future transdisciplinary research collaborations between the participants.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, the Cairo Genizah and the European Genizah are usually seen as three separate corpora. Scholars in these fields develop methods and approaches for the study of their respective sources and thus form isolated research communities. This EAJS Lab was conceived to facilitate a deeper scholarly understanding of the transmission of the Hebrew Bible from Antiquity to the Middle Ages in a cross-disciplinary perspective. It is our main aim to bring these isolated research communities closer together and thus contribute to a holistic understanding of the transmission of the Hebrew Bible.
The main questions were:
- What are the approaches to the study of Hebrew Bible manuscripts (e.g. language, palaeography)?
- What are the limits of these approaches (i.e. how much do they tell us)?
- How are these approaches applied in DSS, CG and EG studies (e.g. are palaeographical approaches the same in all three fields)?
- How can researchers in these three fields benefit from each other’s research practices?
- Can digital tools make Hebrew Bible studies more rigorous?
- What research tools are still needed to improve the study of the material transmission of the Hebrew Bible?
The expected outcomes and outputs of this EAJS Laboratory were the following:
- To create a transdisciplinary scholarly network of researchers to improve the study of the transmission of the Hebrew Bible.
- To foster and encourage future transdisciplinary research projects
- To develop and improve research tools (e.g. database), which could be used in all three fields.
- To publish the proceedings of the Laboratory or an innovative collective volume on the theme of the Laboratory, which would stimulate further research in these areas; it would include the keynote lectures, the papers, a summary of the discussions, and co-written articles which could emerge from the discussions and the concluding session.
- To propose further tools to provide a sustainable structure for a transdisciplinary networking group (i.e. website or blog).
- Actual Event. Program, interventions and discussions
The event was divided into the following main sessions:
- Studies in Biblical Manuscripts from the Dead Sea
- Studies of Biblical manuscripts/fragments from the Cairo Genizah
- Studies of the Biblical manuscripts/fragments of the European Genizah
- Current and Future Projects on Hebrew Bible Manuscripts Session.
- Workshop on « The Digital Future of Hebrew Bible Manuscript Studies »
Session 1: Dead Sea Scrolls Session
- Research approaches: Cross-comparative study of the features of the biblical sources coming from the Dead Sea and ‘the Genizot’ (Stökl ben Ezra);
- Textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible via the Septuagint (Dorival);
- “Material Philology” (Monger); Mathematical tools helping reconstituting a Pentateuch scroll (Longacre);
- Maximalist approach on Phylacteries (Busa); and
- A new study Paleo-Hebrew script based on Palaeography and Epigraphy (Perrot/Richelle).
In his keynote speech, Daniel Stökl ben Ezra (EPHE, Paris) declined to consider the Cairo Genizah and the European Genizah as separate objects and proposed the term ‘genizot’ to describe the two areas. He offered an interesting new comparative overview of each kind of source. While we are well aware of the numbers of sources from the DSS, all are subject to a high numbers of hypotheses because of a very ancient state of the redactional shape of the biblical text. The sources of the genizot have not already been completely identified and reflect different forms of the biblical text (the homogeneity of the Tiberian Masoretic Text during the Middle Ages is not demonstrated anymore). He stated that there is no link between DSS and Genizot in terms of textual criticism, but there are fruitful areas for interactions: Book formats, Sitz im Leben, History of the books, Linguistics, technical tools.
Gilles Dorival (Aix-Marseille University) presented a paper on textual criticism and redactional criticism, underlying the importance of “interpretation of the text” over the text itself. He explored the Septuagint, trying to know if it was an initiative of the translator or a copyist. The textual pluriformity of the Dead Sea Scrolls was highlighted. These concepts allow us to edit or seek the best (or true) Vorlage of the Hebrew Bible, knowing that the Septuagint and the Masoretic text (if there is such unique version) have reviewed the original text. The Septuagint represents a Greek translation of a very ancient Proto-Hebrew text (proto-Masoretic) that has been lost.
Matthew Monger (Oslo) defended a methodological approach called ‘New/Material Philology’ applied to the Book of Jubilees (4Q216). This approach argues that the context of the artefact should be taken more into account, the production, the material of the DSS in order to study them, as this is often not the case in DSS studies: 1) the physical object, 2) The text words, 3) the layout and the material form of the text.
Drew Longacre (Helsinki) summarized methods used in the study of the DSS and the Herculaneum papyri, seeking to contribute to the question of the possible existence of a complete Pentateuch in Qumran (large literary scroll or roll). He provided interesting mathematical and practical tools for materially reconstructing fragmentary scrolls (for instance 4QExod-c).
Anna Busa (EPHE Paris) presented her work on forty Phylacteries from Qumran, specific items bearing biblical text, of which some were previously attributed to sectarian groups, and asked whether a specific or locally determinable Qumran Scribal Practice may have existed. Her methodological approach is maximalist, encompassing various disciplines (palaeography, textual criticism, rabbinic sources, linguistic). She determined the textual contents, the linguistic features, and the scribal practices and concluded that the scribal practices were employed without any particular connection to peculiar religious circles. She argued that the categorizations made by earlier researchers sometimes narrow the view and constitute an impediment to a real reconstruction of the artefacts.
Antony Perrot (EPHE Paris) and Matthieu Richelle (FLTE, EPHE-Sorbonne, Paris) presented a very stimulating palaeographical transdisciplinary analysis of the Paleo-Hebrew script from the Second Temple period based on different kinds of sources, namely DSS scrolls, coins and epigraphical items. They largely confirmed McLean’s relative chronology, but suggested that far more caution is necessary in proposing absolute dates, because of the extremely minimal amount of evidence.
Session 2: Cairo Genizah Session
- Research approaches: Linguistics (Khan);
- Classification of manuscripts (Blapp);
- Paratextual elements (Phillips);
- Masorah (Martín-Contreras);
- Hebrew Manuscripts collection in Russia (Golinets); and
- Methodological overview (Cassuto).
In his Keynote lecture, Geoffrey Khan (University of Cambridge) presented “Recent Advances in our knowledge of the Tiberian Reading tradition”. Khan introduced his paper by stating that the Cairo Genizah and other material sources of medieval Judaism made it possible in the past couple of years to gain a more in depth picture of the medieval reading traditions of Hebrew. Such sources are in general vocalised manuscripts written in Hebrew script, Hebrew Bible manuscripts, grammatical treatises and Karaite transcriptions of the Hebrew Bible into Arabic script. The picture, which emerged from this wide variety of documents, is that despite the diversity of the Hebrew reading traditions the Tiberian tradition was the most authoritative of them. This is already reflected in the earliest grammatical treatises of biblical Hebrew by Saadia Gaon and the Karaite grammarians in the 10th century CE, since they use the Tiberian reading tradition in their works. Recent advances in the Tiberian reading traditions are based on such works, which record the original Standard Tiberian reading traditions in a theoretical way. So, for instance, we know that the qualitative value of šəwa is depending on its environment. By default it is pronounced as a short /a/ vowel, whereas when it occurs before yod it is always pronounces as short /i/ and when it occurs before a guttural it is pronounced with the same quality as the vowel below the guttural letter. Furthermore we know from grammatical treatises and the Karaite transcriptions that šəwa ga‘ya had the same quality as a full long vowel. Despite the high prestige of the Tiberian reading tradition, one can find many differences in the various Tiberian Hebrew Bibles. Some of these differences reflect an orthoepic development in order to disambiguate for instance the realisation of šəwa as silent or vocalic by adding for instance a pataḥ to the šəwa (i.e. ḥaṭaf pataḥ) in order to indicate its vocalic realisation. Khan also introduced us to one of his most recent discoveries about dageš, which he also considers to be of orthoepic nature. He suggested, that the pronunciation of dageš underwent a development, which he calls the extended dageš forte reading. This is reflected in the Karaite transcriptions and grammatical treatises. In an answer to a question Khan suggested that the Tiberian and Babylonian pronunciation tradition of biblical Hebrew are derived from the same proto-Masoretic reading tradition.
Samuel Blapp (University of Cambridge) dealt with “The Importance of the Classification of Standard Tiberian Manuscripts”. Blapp showed in his presentation that a close examination of the Standard Tiberian (in what follows ST) manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible is necessary to contextualize them within the ST tradition of biblical Hebrew. He then used three features to exemplify such an examination and their outcome on the most widely known Hebrew Bible manuscript, the Leningrad Codex B19a, by comparing it to other manuscript from the ST tradition (i.e. Aleppo Codex and BL Or 4445. Initially he showed that besides the orthoepic features in ST Hebrew Bible manuscripts, which Khan mentioned, there are also features, which have to be considered as non-standard features, since they directly contradict the ST grammatical treatises. The most prominent of these features are the more than 30 cases of ḥaṭaf vowels in closed syllables.
Kim Phillips (University Library of Cambridge, Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit) presented a lecture on “Two New Fragments from the Scribe behind the Leningrad Codex (B19a)”. Phillips laid out his arguments for his latest discoveries of two manuscripts (T-S A2.46 and T-S A3.35) in the Taylor-Schechter collection held in Cambridge University Library, which were written by Samuel ben Jacob, the scribe of the Leningrad Codex B19a. Phillips emphasized that only the simultaneous occurrence of all of these features could point towards a Ben Jacob authorship, since many of these features occur isolated in other manuscripts. Phillips’ catalogue included the following non-palaeographical features, since he claims that these are characteristics which reflect the individual style of the scribe: Layout of the Masorah magna notes; the ornaments at the end of Masorah magna notes; the centre justification of final part-lines of Masorah magna if it contains more than two lines; the style of the Seder makers; line fillers employed for the left-justification of the biblical text; line fillers employed for blank lines; and the use of rafe, segolta, pašta and ga‘ya. In a comment on Phillip’s paper the possibility of scribal schools was suggested.
Elvira Martin-Contreras (CSIC Madrid) talked about the MS T-S D1.61. Martin-Contreras questioned in her paper Keller’s suggestion about T-S D1.61 that the author of the first of the two Masoretic lists of this manuscript did not use rabbinical interpretation tools although they appear to be similar. She explained that it is in fact a variant of the Midrash of the same manuscript rather than an independent Masoretic treatise. The second list contains entries identified as tiqqune soferim and from the Masoretic compendium Oklah we-Oklah. The combination of this Midrash with the Masoretic lists despite their originally separated transmission history is not an innovation by the author, since they have been found in the appendix to two Hebrew Bible manuscripts. Consequently, she suggested, T-S D1.61 might also originally have been part of a Hebrew Bible manuscript.
Viktor Golinets (Hochschule für Jüdische Studien – Heidelberg) presented the lecture “Biblical Manuscripts from the Collections of the Russian National Library and Their Place in the Textual Research of the Hebrew Bible”. Golinets presented an overview of the collections of Hebrew Bible manuscripts held in the Russian National Library. His paper contained a detailed description of which collections the codices and scrolls can be found in, as well as how many of them they contain. Furthermore, he gave an overview of what has already been published of this material so that he could subsequently suggest that a study of these Hebrew Bibles is necessary, since they bear invaluable information about the Tiberian Masoretic tradition, which has not yet been properly examined. His paper also contains shelfmarks for Samaritan manuscripts as well as Talmud and Rabbinica and further Jewish manuscripts in Hebrew and Arabic script.
Philippe Cassuto (Aix-Marseille University) “The Four Great Oriental Manuscripts, a Family?” Cassuto presented his research on the four most famous Oriental manuscripts: Leningrad Codex B19a, Aleppo Codex, BL Or 4445 and the Cairo Codex of the Prophets, which should be considered as belonging to the same family of manuscripts, namely the Tiberian ben Asher family tradition.
Session 3: European Genizah Session
- Research approaches: Data-bases (Olszowy-Schlanger);
- Catalogues (Del Barco);
- Model Codices and Textual Variants (Kogel);
- Methodology on Torah Scrolls (Perani); and
- Palaeography and Codicology (Tonnarelli/Attia-Kay).
Judith Olszowy-Schlanger (EPHE, Paris) was not able to attend the event, but she had a short paper read in absentia surveying the results of the Books within Books project (in what follows the BWB Project). This project identifies fragments of manuscripts reused in ancient bookbindings throughout Western Europe. The BWB Database has been available on-line since 2014 and contains at least 15000 fragments, enlarging considerably our knowledge of Hebrew manuscripts. The identification of a wide range of fragments of manuscripts, some one third biblical, highlights a great prospect by defining palaeographically sub-local regions, especially in the Ashkenazic Area.
Javier del Barco (CSIC, Madrid) gave a brief history of the cataloguing of Hebrew manuscripts, underlining the need to update most of the extant catalogues made at the end of the 19th century. He emphasized the trend to include more codicological information in parallel to the New Philology and the distinction between cataloguing complete manuscripts and fragments. He underlined the place of the Digital Humanities by mentioning the new features of meta-data catalogues bearing the source itself (when digitized) and bibliography, among other information such as use and reuse in other places.
Judith Kogel (IRHT, Paris) followed the use of thirty-three biblical fragments found in the bindings of incunabula housed in the municipal libraries in Colmar and in Strasburg (fragments on-line in BwB Database). The fragments are the remaining part of a “liturgical Pentateuch” (containing only the Torah, the Five Megillot and the Haftarot) that were possibly copied quire by quire in a specific scriptorium. Kogel focused mostly on variants in the Haftarot: qere qetiv on God’s Name, addition of words in the margin, and minor other variants. The question of the method of identifying a Model Codex depending on these variants has been raised.
Mauro Perani (University of Bologna) presented a summary of his findings on the 12th century Bologna Torah scroll, one of the oldest medieval Torah Scrolls, preserved in a complete form at the Library of the Bologna University. The script had been not correctly identified and a recent analysis had brought the scroll back to scholarly interest. Perani noted the use of final nun in vacats to indicate awareness of different traditions of segmentation and patterns of usage of taggin (decorations on letters in Torah scrolls).
Roberta Tonnarelli (EPHE – Paris) and Élodie Attia-Kay (Aix-Marseille University, UMR 7297) then discussed their work on differentiating between Italian and Ashkenazi manuscripts before 1300. They used various biblical manuscripts, fragments of the Cairo Genizah (one bearing a script quasi similar to Tosefta Erfurt) and fragments from the Cairo Genizah and the European Genizah. The interest is in the possibility to better localize and date textual variants, improving our knowledge of the Palestinian tradition transmitted via Italy, and to better reconstruct the transmission of biblical text traditions from Orient into the Early Medieval Western Europe.
Session 4: Project Sessions
The first two projects are currently funded; the last three are planned projects.
Daniel Stökl ben Ezra presented the mid-term project Scripta Qumranica Electronica – Dead Sea Scrolls Aggregated Database and Virtual Research Environment (DIP – DFG / University of Göttingen, Haifa, and Tel Aviv in cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in Jerusalem). The aim of the project is “to create a dynamic, virtual research environment for the digitization of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is to be achieved by enhancing and linking the robust databases administered by the Qumran-Lexicon-project of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library of the IAA, by developing advanced digital tools for linking texts and images, and by developing new end-user applications for the creation and publication of a new generation of critical digital editions.”
Élodie Attia-Kay presented the mid-term project Manuscripta Bibliae Hebraicae (further MBH Project) funded by the French ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche) to start in September 2016. It is planned to study Biblical manuscripts from Ashkenaz (Germany, England, France and Italy) produced before 1300 in their material and social context, meaning interrogating their forms (definition of palaeographical sub regions of Ashkenaz), use and socio-cultural functions. A new database (MBH Database) will be developed, intended to deal first with Ashkenazic manuscripts before 1300, but afterwards up to 1500 and to all biblical manuscripts. The Sfardata Database and the BWB Project will be continued with the MBH Project.
Javier Del Barco presented a personal scientific planned project intending to study the different forms and functions of late biblical manuscripts within the New Philological approach. His project and the MBH project share in many points and a fruitful cooperation should develop in the next years.
The long term planned project of Ben Outhwaite (Cambridge University Library) deals with the idea of the diversity of the biblical text and biblical fragments. The on-line publication of the 24000 biblical fragments of the Cairo Genizah should be pursued without neglecting the documentation related to them (for instance letters, contracts of redaction). He gave the example of some letters concerning the main scribe of Codex Leningradensis, showing the precise historical context of production of the manuscripts, their price and the maturity of the scribal practices.
Hanna Liss (Hochschule für Jüdische Studien, Heidelberg / SFB 933 Heidelberg University) presented her long term planned project applied at the DFG – Akademie der Wissenschaft to collect and study Masoretic annotations in Hebrew Biblical Manuscripts of the Middle Ages. ‘BiMa’ will be the first database ever dedicated to Masorah and would be a significant aid for critical digital editions of the Hebrew Bible.
Session 5: Workshop session / suggestion of co-writing articles.
The last session – shortened due to modifications in the program – offered the possibility to discuss and suggest co-written articles to be published in the proceedings, one on the concept of New Philology, the other on the cross-comparison method in Palaeography from DSS and genizot sources.
Several problems and questions were highlighted during the discussions:
- The presentation of three separate fields (DSS, CG and EC) appeared not relevant especially to Stökl ben Ezra who claimed that Cairo Genizah and European Genizah are the same field and address the same questions. Attia-Kay noted here that regrouping the Cairo and European Genizot is not natural even if the two areas seem similar from a Qumranistic point of view. Of course, both are medieval, but they are completely asymmetrical. While a large amount of fragments from the Cairo Genizah are documents and only 10% are biblical items (including Commentaries on the Bible), and while Cairo Genizah fragments come only from one specific place in Orient (Fustat), the European Genizah presents fragments, of which a third are Biblical (Scrolls or codices only), come from all over Europe and cannot be attributed to one specific place.
- The benefit of working with a transdisciplinary approach was underlined by Khan, who noted that that some of the diversity of the biblical medieval text emerged already in ancient sources. He commented too that work on the vocalization of Qumran and in Cairo Genizah fragments should also be carried out together.
- The question of the best Vorlage for the Hebrew Bible (the Septuagint or the MT) will depend on some subjective elements. On Gilles Dorival’s paper, Khan suggested a typological comparison between the translation of the Septuagint and the Judeo-Arabic translation of the Hebrew text as an interpretative (midrashic) or literal translation. Longacre drew attention to “interpretation” vs “text”, underlining the ambivalence of the scientific method, and preferring the Septuagint as a Vorlage for the Hebrew Bible and its religious implication. Golinets noted the many changes in scholarly and scientific approaches over the last few decades due to subjective opinions on the questions. Dorival reminded the delegates that classical philology (Plato for instance) should be used more often in Biblical philology.
- The so-called ‘gap of the sources’ (from the DSS to the earliest biblical sources in the IXth century) could be filled by the fragments, according to Ben Outhwaite, especially because their analysis is at an early stage. For Del Barco, the reason for this gap may be explained by theories on the importance of orality over written traditions.
- On Longacre: Stökl ben Ezra made a criticism about the reconstitution of the scroll but found these methods very promising and interesting.
- On Perrot/Richelle: Attia-Kay had a question about the possibility to publish online a tabula of scripts and full documents in relation with each other. Stökl ben Ezra had a question on the use of the tabula script (each letter corresponding to an image) and the problem of the multiplicity of ductus for each letter. Richelle and Attia-Kay agreed that one ductus is generally not enough in such tabula, and that – in order to be precise – one should always mention or calculate the percentage of occurrences for each ductus
- Del Barco on Tonnarelli/Attia-Kay pointed out the need to reconsider the geo-cultural areas of Jewish Manuscripts, while the general classification should be dynamic and not static (in the classical definition of geo-cultural Jewish areas). Attia-Kay explained that the Project MBH should fulfil this task by creating, via its database, a dynamic geo-spatial mapping of Hebrew biblical manuscripts.
- Attia-Kay asked to Outhwaite and Schlanger about the availability of the on-line resources from the Cairo Genizah and European Genizah in order to build a new interoperable database dedicated to biblical manuscripts (the MBH Database) using ‘permalinks’. Elvira Contreras made a critical remark on the sustainability of such ‘Meta-Database’ (namely gathering data from other databases), especially in case of URL changes that corrupt all links (other than permalinks) and generally provoke major dysfunctions. Outhwaite reminded the delegates that the hosting of data requires outsourcing and specific funds, as public institutions are nowadays becoming less and less inclined to offer it.
To conclude, the diversity and the richness of the different material forms of the biblical text imply a diversity and variety of perspectives and research approaches; even with everything that was presented at the Laboratory, it could not come close to being exhaustive. In this huge amount of work, with fruitful perspectives of research, it has been only possible to favour some interesting aspects, and we hope for another event in 2018 to complete aspects or issues that would have not been completely exposed or analysed here. Besides, it was noted (by Stökl Ben Ezra and Longacre) that the interdisciplinary approach requires specific commitments from the participants to especially address their papers to non-specialists and to stress the main elements of their work. The second important point to emerge is that, for most of the participants, the digital tools represent an evident way to work more rigorously on Biblical Manuscripts, especially because they offer the opportunity to compute large amounts of data, much more than in previous decades. Nevertheless, computerised tools cannot replace the traditional method that requires expertise in the scripts. The limits of the digital palaeography and digital recognition of scripts emerges especially when the scripts are rare. Another issue, that was perhaps not sufficiently debated, was the sustainable development of digital tools over the years, decades and centuries.
- Planned outcomes (projects, future workshops, cooperation) and outputs (publications)
The event has been an occasion to create a transdisciplinary scholarly network of researchers and should improve the study of the transmission of the Hebrew. The participants enjoyed the discussions (public and private) that emerged from this meeting. Specific collaborations should emerge between projects from Attia-Kay, Outhwaite, Del Barco, and Liss. An innovative collective volume on the themes of the Laboratory is planned that will include the keynote lectures, the papers, a summary of the discussions, and co-written articles that emerged from the discussions and the concluding session. Attia-Kay plans to transform the website www.hebrewbiblemanuscripts.com into a Web portal on Hebrew Bible manuscripts studies (via her ANR Manuscripta Bibliae Hebraicae) that will provide a structure for a transdisciplinary networking group and information about activities of the network participants. A future workshop or conference should be held in 2018.
As stated in the rationale, this Laboratory aimed to foster an inter- and cross-disciplinary network between early career scholars and established specialists. Indeed, it helped create bonds among all participants and foster long-term institutional and scientific collaborations, collective and individual projects, publications, public conferences, workshops and courses.
Élodie Attia-Kay, Samuel Blapp, Antony Perrot
Aix, July 26, 2016
- Media relating to the Laboratory
Websites promoting the Laboratory
- BWB Website : http://www.hebrewmanuscript.com/news/eajs-lab-aix-2016-research-approaches-in-hebrew-bible-manuscript-studies-22.htm