Hebrew Codicology
Masoretic notes in Prophets. MS Cairo

Hebrew Codicology

​​​​​See here for a pre-publication of Malachi Beit-Arié’s book, Hebrew Codicology: Historical and Comparative Typology of Hebrew Medieval Codices based on the Documentation of the Extant Dated Manuscripts in Quantitative Approach (in Hebrew). It is also accessible through the website of SfarD​a​​ta​, the Hebrew-English database of the Hebrew Palaeography Project of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, which is intergrated within the website of the National Library of Israel (sfardata.nli.org.il). An English version is in preparation. Meanwhile a table of contents of the chapters and the main sub-chapters and an extensive summary of major codicological practices in English are accessible.

Table of Contents

Abbreviations and selected bibliography                 ​​11
Chapter I:  Introduction 33
​​1. The codex ​33
​​​The rotulus ​39
​2. Codicology – development, approaches to the study of hand-produced books, trends ​41
​​3. Hebrew codicology ​43
​Statistical tables 1-3: Geo-cultural and chronological distributions of immigrant scribes ​47
​​4. Extant manuscripts, geo-cultural classification of codicological practices and types of book script 51​
​​Table 4: Geo-cultural distribution of manuscript genres ​54
​​Branches and main types of codicological traditions and script styles 58​
​​Tables 5-10: General statistics of the database, geo-cultural, chronological and Geo-chronological diffusion of the dated manuscripts until 1540 ​65
​​5. The singularity of Hebrew book production ​69
​​Tables 11-13: Distribution of copying destination and the proportions of self-production and commissioned production ​83
​​6. The indispensability of the comparative perspective for Hebrew codicology ​89
​Chapter II: Colophon components and scribal formulae 91
​1. Names of manuscript producers and division of labour between them ​95
​How did scribes disclose their names by the copied text and multi-hand manuscripts 108
​2. Destination of copying ​118
​3. Dating systems ​118
​4. Indication of locality ​124
​5. Personal and historical information ​127
​6. Information on copying conditions and on the exemplar     ​130
​7. The duration of copying and its pace ​132
​8. Blessings ​138
​9. Scribal formulae ​140
Chapter III: ​Writing materials 151
​Parchment: visual appearance of Italian, Franco-German (in comparison to Latin mss), Middle Eastern, Sefardic and Byzantine manuscripts ​155
​Oriental (Arabic) and Occidental paper        ​167
​The disposition types of laid and chain lines in Oriental paper ​175
​Combination of paper and parchment (mixed quiring) ​183
​Tables 14-16: Distribution of writing materials until 1500 ​187
​Ink ​193
Chapter IV: Quiring​ 197
​Ordering parchment bifolia and beginning of the quires ​202
​Quire composition practices ​205
​Quiring practices classified by geo-cultural zones and tables 17-19 ​220
Chapter V: Marking the sequence of quires, bifolia or folios in the codex 233
​Catchwords: quire, bifolium, folio, page, column catchwords ​236
​Counter-catchwords ​243
​Signatures: types of quire signatures, bifolium and folio numeration ​245
​Marking the central opening of the quire ​252
Chapter VI: The scaffolding of copying – The architectural disposition of the copied text and its techniques 259
​Ruling patterns and the dynamic and changing ruling ​261
​Guiding pricking for horizontals ruling: in outer margins, in outer and inner margins, double prickings for through lines, single prickings for guiding template ruling ​265
​Ruling ​275
​Relief ruling by hard point: unfolded parchment bifolium on hair side / on flesh side, consecutive folios / bifolia at once on hair side, folio by folio ​276
​Blind ruling by boards or templates: ruling paper by mastara in the Middle East, by ruling board in Spain and Italy, by folding ​285
​Coloured ruling: by plummet, engraving plummet and with ink ​291
​Regional presentation of pricking and ruling practices and their transformations ​305
​Tables 23-34: Diffusion of pricking and ruling practices ​310
Chapter VII: ​Line management and its impact on the copying pace and the comfort of reading 319
​Line justification which does not interfere with the integrity of last words ​320
​Line justification which breaks up last words ​324
​Chapter VIII: Legibility of the text, transparency of its structure and the graphic hierarchy of its layers 337
Chapter IX: The affinity between the copying of the text and its decoration, illumination and illustration 353
Chapter X: Bibliographical, codicological and palaeographical units and methods for distinguishing between hands 357
Chapter XI: Hebrew palaeography: Modes of medieval book-script, their diffusion and function, script types and their evolution 375
​Branches of Hebrew script: The “Islamic”, Latin “Christian” and “Byzantine” branch ​380
​The three-operation mode of the Hebrew script structure: The Square, Semi-Cursive and Cursive; the selection of mode and its function ​382
​Script types and their modes ​396
​Scripts in the Islamic zones: The Eastern Islamic sub-branch: The Middle Eastern type ​398
​The Yemenite and the Persian sub-types ​400
​The Western Islamic sub-branch: The Sefardic type ​401
​The scripts in the Western Christianity zones: The Ashkenazi type ​415
​The Italian type ​424
​The Byzantine type ​431
​Chapter XII: ​Selected specimens of cursive scripts with annotated transcriptions ​437
​Chapter XIII: ​The textual aspect: Deliberate intervention in the transmission and unconscious corruption ​459
​Publication of texts in the Middle Ages ​459
​Personal production and its impact on the transmission: the scholarly copying as against the duplication of texts by hired scribes ​467
​The implications on textual criticism and on the editing of texts ​480
​​Afterword   491
​Reflections on the mystery of the uniformity of Hebrew book craft in each of the geo-cultural entities and on the extent of affinity to the host tradition ​491
​The evolution of manuscript book production – progression or regression? ​495
​1. Production techniques.
​2. Line management
​3. Legibility of the text and its transparency
​4. The transmission of the text ​500