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May 11th, 2006

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10:02 pm - Samaritan Manuscript
Wow, something actually worth blogging about. Sorta.

I went into New York City today. Someone at the NY Public Library had heard about my Comparing Pentateuch (and even ordered one for the library), and wrote to me, asking if I could help out. It seems they have an old Samaritan manuscript there, from 1232 or something, and they want to scan it and make it available online. Problem is, they would like to be able to annotate each page with things like "Exodus 1:4-2:13" or whatever, and they can't read the text because it's in Paleo-Hebrew. The Samaritans still use the ancient form of the Hebrew alphabet, which the Jews abandoned already well before the first century ("k'tav `ivri" as it's called in the Talmud: "Hebrew script," as opposed to what Jews use for Hebrew, "k'tav 'ashuri", literally "Assyrian script"). But I can read Samaritan Hebrew; I studied it when I was working on all the other Samaritan stuff I'd been tinkering with. So I went in to meet with him and all.

He wound up being held up and came very late. No real problem. I wasn't really expecting them to plop the actual book "in the flesh" in front of me on the first day, but that's what they did, while waiting. Cool. Wow, it's a beautiful thing, an old manuscript. Wrinkly but sturdy (mostly) parchment, and bold, neat and clear 13th century penmanship. Wow. And the additions and repairs in a much later hand, repairing worn sections and adding back in the first few and last few pages... I don't know when it was from, but you can tell the repairs and the added pages are in the same hand. And it wasn't just someone who threw in the text; the text was neatly laid out and justified and artistically set, just like the scribe did in the rest of the text, and the last page had the end-notes and decorations... I get the feeling whoever it was somehow copied from the original pages. Or maybe from another document for all I know. I need to find out more of the history of the manuscript. An image of a page from it can be seen at http://www.fathom.com/course/72810016/s1_4_z14.htm if you're curious.

I'm hoping I can do some more useful stuff there after I'm done with that. I figure with all the weird stuff I know, there has to be something I can do that's useful for a library. And I mentioned that to the person I was meeting, when he showed up. We went to a late lunch, then I went home, but I had fun talking to him, etc (it's nice to find people who'll listen when I ramble...)

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:May 12th, 2006 02:48 am (UTC)
mmm, that is very cool. good for you!
[User Picture]
Date:August 6th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
Да это просто отлично! Присоединяюсь к пожеланиям!

Да, смотреть фильмы онлайн бесплатно можно, а порой даже нужно!
[User Picture]
Date:June 9th, 2006 04:16 am (UTC)
That is ktav ivri, isn't it. Very cool. I picked up a ms. of a targum on Ebay some years ago (19th-C. I think, on paper, in a square modern Hebrew hand), for which the sample pictures didn't agree with Onkelos or Pseudo-Jonathan, the regular targumim in the chumash. I sent a few sample pages to Moshe Bernstein through a mutual friend, and he said it was a targum of Samaritan Genesis, identifiable by the years in the begats.

He also wondered what a regular Jewish guy was doing with something like that. My friend said "he's a collector". "Oh, that explains it."
[User Picture]
Date:June 9th, 2006 04:55 am (UTC)
I suppose technically it's not "the" ktav ivri as used however many centuries ago, since after all alphabets develop and change just like everything else. This is how it developed in the hands of the Samaritans over the years. But it's still a lot closer to ktav ivri than anything in the ktav ashuri line. It didn't change very much. (Joseph Naveh, in his book on the history of the alphabet, says that the old Phoenician/proto-Canaanite alphabet sort of split into three lineages: the Phoenician lineage went on to change at a pretty normal rate, as writing systems develop. The Hebrew lineage (ktav ivri) changed extremely slowly, retaining its shapes very faithfully. The Aramaic lineage (which includes ktav ashuri, and also Arabic and a bunch of others) changed very rapidly.

My brain is telling me I remember something about a MS like that... Maybe I read it in one of the back-issues of the Samaritan journal I got when researching this stuff. I remember something about a targum of the Samaritan version... Maybe I'll flip through it and find it. Yeah, the listed lifespans in Genesis are different. Sounds neat; I never tried collecting old books and MSS...
Date:October 23rd, 2006 02:54 am (UTC)

compared Torah

I an interested to see how this compares to the Tzdaka book we have for sale at www.the-samaritans.com. It will be interesting indeed! Shomron- Editor of theSamaritanUpdate.com
[User Picture]
Date:October 23rd, 2006 03:32 pm (UTC)

Re: compared Torah

I think I have a copy of that book (if you mean the Samaritan Pentateuch in Samaritan lettering. If you mean the comparing pentateuch, I have that too, in photocopy, and it inspired me to make my own version, which you can find on lulu.com). I don't know what the differences in the text will be between the Tzedaka version and the 1232 manuscript I looked at, but textual variants among many *many* Samaritan versions are documented in painstaking detail in Von Gall's book (which indeed lists the manuscript I used. I don't know what the source for the Tzedaka version was).

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