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Book lists from the Cairo Genizah: a window on the production of texts in the middle ages

  • Miriam Frenkel (a1)

The historicity of books – their role as a force in history – has been addressed in post-war literary studies from different perspectives and across various disciplines. Nevertheless, the scholarship on the history of the book in medieval Islam is still relatively sparse, even though this society underwent a thorough process of textualization. But even authors who do consider the social and cultural role of books in medieval Islam look only at the production and consumption of Arabic books within the boundaries of Muslim society, relying on Islamic sources which reflect mainly the courtly milieu of scribes and secretariats. None discuss books produced and consumed by the religious minorities that were an indispensable part of this society, and none have made use of the abundant Genizah documents as source material. In the present programmatic article, I call attention to the many book lists found in the Cairo Genizah and to their potential as significant tools for developing a better understanding of the cultural and social history of the medieval Islamicate world.

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1 Haskins, Charles H., The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century (Cleveland: Meridian, 1964), 83 .

2 Most scholars who published book lists believed that the sigla alongside the names of the entries in these lists are Coptic numerals. In fact, they are Ghubar numerals and in some cases Rumi numerals, both of which are typical of Maghribi manuscripts; this attests to the Maghribi origin of the writers of the Genizah book lists. On the vast migration from the Maghreb to Egypt, starting in the tenth century, see Goitein, S.D., The Jewish Communities of the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza, Vol. I: Economic Foundations (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000), 74–5. On the use of these numerals in Arabic manuscripts, see: Labarta, Ana and Barceló, Carmen, Números y cifras en los documentos arábigohispans (Córdoba: Universidad de Córdoba, 1988); Déroche, François et al. , Islamic Codicology: An Introduction to the Study of Manuscripts in Arabic Script (London: Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation, 2005), 97 ; Lemay, R., s.v. “Arabic numerals”, Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 1982, 1: 382–98. Labarta and Barceló have traced the use of these numerals only in fourteenth-century manuscripts. Hence the Genizah book lists bring their use forward to the eleventh century.

3 The following list makes no claims to be complete: Adler, Elkan Nathan and Broydé, Isaac, “An ancient bookseller's catalogue”, Jewish Quarterly Review (JQR) 13, 1901, 52–62, 550–1; Allony, Nehemia, “Four book lists from the twelfth century”, Kiriath Sefer 43, 1967–68, 121–39 [Hebrew]; idem, Two autograph book lists by Rabbi Joseph Rosh ha-seder (twelfth century)”, Kiriath Sefer 38, 1962–63, 531–7 [Hebrew]; idem, Book lists from the twelfth century”, SBB 6, 1964, 160–74 [Hebrew]; idem, Three ancient book lists”, Kiriath Sefer 36, 1960–61, 389402, 517–24 [Hebrew]; idem, Two book lists in a single hand from the thirteenth century”, Alei Sefer 1, 1974–75, 3558 [Hebrew]; idem, On the list of books by Rabbi Joseph Rosh ha-Seder ”, Kiriath Sefer 30, 1954–55, 445–6 [Hebrew]; idem, Additions and corrections to ‘An autograph book list by Rabbi Joseph Rosh ha-Seder’ (Kiriath Sefer 48: 152–72)”, Kiriath Sefer 49, 1973–74), 657–8 [Hebrew]; Allony, Nehemia and Scheiber, Alexander, “An autograph book list by Rabbi Joseph Rosh ha-Seder ”, Kiriath Sefer 48, 1972–73, 152–72 [Hebrew]; Assaf, Simha, “Ancient book lists”, Kiriath Sefer 18, 1941–42, 272–81 [Hebrew]; Ashtor, Eliyahu, “Book prices in Genizah documents”, Tarbiẓ 33, 1963–64, 214–23 [Hebrew]; Bacher, Wilhelm, “Un vieux catalogue”, Revue des Études Juives (REJ) 32, 1896, 126–9; idem, Une vieille liste de livres”, REJ 34, 1899, 199208 ; idem, La bibliothèque d'un médecin juif”, REJ 40, 1900, 5561 ; Baneth, David Zvi, “The library of a doctor in Egypt in the time of Maimonides (a Genizah document)”, Tarbiẓ 30, 1960–61, 171–85 [Hebrew]; Worman, Ernest James, “Two book lists from the Cambridge Genizah fragments”, JQR 20, 1908, 450–63; Mann, Jacob, “Listes de livres provenant de la Gueniza”, REJ 72, 1921, 163–83; idem, A Fihrist of Saʿadya's works”, JQR, n.s., 11, 1921, 423–8; idem, Texts and Studies in Jewish History and Literature, vol. 1 (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1931), 663–84; Poznanski, Samuel, “Einige Bemerkungen zu einem alten Bücher-Catalog”, JQR 13, 1901, 324–30; idem, A Fihrist of Saadya's works”, JQR, n.s. 13, 1922–23, 369–96; idem, Une liste d'ouvrages caraïtes”, REJ 72, 1921, 184–91; idem, Jüdisch-arabische Bücherlisten aus der Geniza in Cambridge”, Zeitschrift für Hebräische Bibliographie 12, 1908, 111–24; idem, Ein altes-jüdisch arabisches Bücher Verzeichnis”, JQR 15, 1903, 76–8; Scheiber, Alexander, “An additional book list by Joseph Rosh ha-Seder from the Kaufman Genizah documents”, Kiriath Sefer 44, 1968–69, 546–8 [Hebrew]; idem, Two Book Lists of Joseph b. Jacob Habavli”, Journal of Jewish Studies 22, 1971, 6877 ; idem, Contributions to medieval Jewish booklore”, Acta Orientalia 35, 1981, 148–51; Sokolow, Moshe, “Four book lists from the Cairo Genizah (from the rstate of the late Prof. Nehemia Allony)”, Sefunot 21, 1992–93, 257312 [Hebrew].

4 Notably halakhic works by R. Samuel b. Ḥofni, dean of the Babylonian academy (yeshiva) of Sura (d. 1013). We do not have copies of all his works mentioned in the book lists, but in recent years scholars have made serious progress in their discovery and publication. See Sklare, David, Samuel ben Hofni Gaon and His Cultural World: Texts and Studies (Leiden: Brill, 1996); Meacham, Tirzah (ed.) and Frenkel, Miriam (trans.), The Treatise on Majority by R. Samuel ben Hofni (Jerusalem: Yad Harav Nissim, 1999) [Hebrew]; Libson, Gideon, “The contribution of the Genizah to the study of Rabbi Samuel ben Hofni's Halakhic monographs: their structure, extent, and development”, Teʿudah 15, 1999, 189239 [Hebrew], and the additional literature referenced there.

5 Allony, Nehemia, The Jewish Library in the Middle Ages: Book Lists from the Cairo Genizah (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 2006) [Hebrew].

6 Goitein, S.D., Jewish Education in Muslim Countries Based on Records from the Cairo Genizah (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 1962) [Hebrew].

7 Goitein, Jewish Education in Muslim Countries, 151–5.

8 For more on the use of this system, in which books are listed by their initial words, by European university libraries of the thirteenth century, see Christ, Karl, The Handbook of Medieval Library History, rev. Kern, Anton, trans. and ed. Otto, Theophil (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1984), 36–7.

9 For quite similar methods in the organization of later local endowed Islamic libraries, see Hirschler, Konrad, The Written Word in the Medieval Arabic Lands: A Social and Cultural History of Reading Practices (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012), 152–5.

10 Ann Blair relates the absence of European medieval antecedents to this genre to the fact that “diffusion of information about books available for sale or copying in the Middle Ages depended primarily on personal contact” and that “book buyers principally relied on information gleaned from one another and from other intermediaries” ( Blair, Ann M., Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 164 ). The numerous Genizah book lists, written by book traders, call for another explanation.

11 See Goitein, S.D., “The synagogue and its equipment according to Genizah documents”, Eretz Israel 7, 1960–61, 8197 [Hebrew].

12 Déroche, Islamic Codicology, 107.

13 Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. “Fihrist”. Autobibliographies such as Galen's list of his own works and doxographical works like those by Diogenes Laertius and Stobaeus, which listed authors and their works, are known from antiquity, while lists of authors and works in a particular religious or regional tradition are known from Europe only from the twelfth century (see Blair, Too Much to Know, 162).

14 Hirschler, The Written Word, 152–3.

15 The John Rylands Library, Manchester, B 3584-1, line 1 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 66).

16 T-S, Ar. 51.89, line 15 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 20). Here the Quran is referred to as the Qalōn (“shame”), the derogatory term for it that was widespread among medieval Jews. For a manuscript containing the first sura of the Quran, al-Fātiha, see T-S, 16.284, line 5 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 68).

17 Svv. the index of Allony, The Jewish Library.

18 Goff, Jacques Le, Intellectuals in the Middle Ages, trans. Fagan, Teresa (Cambridge, MA: Wiley, 1993), 79 .

19 For the Middle Ages, the term “literature” refers to any written work that society deemed worthy of preserving and disseminating. It includes especially scholarly texts, and not generally belles lettres, most of which date to the eighteenth century and later. See the distinction between “monuments” and “documents”, where the latter are purely utilitarian uses of language. This expansive definition, in which the measure of “literature” is its reception by a society rather than the objective value of its language and content, allows us to speak of “medieval literature”. See Zumthor, Paul, La lettre et la voix de la “littérature” médiévale (Paris: Le Seuil, 1987); Fleischman, Suzanne, “Philology, linguistics, and the discourse of the medieval text”, Speculum 65, 1990, 1937, esp. n. 2.

20 For more on the twelfth-century renaissance in Christian Europe, see Haskins, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century.

21 Toorawa, Shawkat M., Ibn Abi Tahir Tayfur and Arabic Writerly Culture: A Ninth Century Bookman in Baghdad (London: Routledge, 2005); Touati, Houari, L'armoire à sagesse. Bibliothèques et collections en Islam (Paris: Editions Aubier, 2003); Hirschler, The Written Word, 17–22.

22 For the book lists, see: T-S NS 298.52 (reprinted in Allony, The Jewish Library, 26); T-S NS 298.9 (ibid. 27); T-S K 3.16 (ibid. 37); ENA 1290, fol. 5 (ibid. 39). For Meir as buyer and seller of books, see T-S NS 228.3 (ibid. 42).

23 For the book lists, see: T-S K 3.14 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 43); ENA 2687, fol. 6 (ibid. 44); T-S K 3.28 (ibid. 45). The first of these lists also mentions Solomon Halevi as trimming and binding books.

24 Aryeh Leo Motzkin, “The Arabic correspondence of Judge Elijah and his family (Papers from the Cairo Geniza): a chapter in the social history of thirteenth century Egypt” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1965) [ProQuest AAI6513360]. For Solomon b. Elijah as a book merchant, see T-S 8 J 6, fol. 7 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 56); Oxford, Bodleian, MS. Heb. d 66, fol. 119 (ibid. 57); Oxford, Bodleian, MS Heb. d 66, fol. 130 (ibid. 77).

25 Svv. in the index in Allony, The Jewish Library.

26 On Abu al-ʿIzz as a buyer of books, see T-S 20.44 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 67). On his estate, see ENA 1290, fol. 16 (ibid. 63). On his relations with Solomon b. Elijah, see Motzkin, “Arabic correspondence”, 64.

27 For titles such as ʾAmīn al-Dawlah and Thiqat al-Dawlah, see the index in Allony, The Jewish Library, svv.

28 For further details, see Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed., s.v. “Ibn al Nadim”. See also Pedersen, Johannes, The Arabic Book (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 43 . Déroche, Islamic Codicology, 95, points out the versatility of this profession, but is not sure whether warrāqs were also engaged in copying books. Genizah book lists attest that at least the Jewish warrāqs copied books themselves.

29 See Oxford, Bodleian, MS Heb. f.22, fols 25v–52v (2728) (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 40).

30 Oxford, Bodleian, MS Heb. d66, fol. 129, lines 13–6 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 41).

31 Oxford, Bodleian, MS Heb. d66, fol. 130 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 77).

32 Hourani, Albert, “The Islamic city in light of recent research”, in Hourani, Albert and Stern, Samuel (eds), The Islamic City: A Colloquium (Oxford: Brune Cassier, 1970), 19 .

33 Udovitch, Abraham, “Merchants and amirs: government and trade in eleventh century Egypt”, Asian and African Studies 22, 1988, 5372 .

34 Putnam, George Haven, Books and Their Makers During the Middle Ages, vol. 1 (London: Putnam, 1896), 184–94; Rouse, Richard, “Manuscripts, Production of”, in Dictionary of the Middle Ages, vol. 8 (New York: Scribner, 1987), 100–05; Destrez, Jean, La «Pecia» dans les manuscrits universitaires du XIII et du XIV siècles (Paris: J. Vautrain, 1935); Pollard, GrahamThe ‘pecia’ system in the medieval universities”, in Parkes, Malcolm B. and Watson, Andrew G. (eds), Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts and Libraries: Essays Presented to N.R. Ker (London: Scolar, 1978), 145–61.

35 Frenkel, Miriam, “ The Compassionate and Benevolent ”: The Leading Elite in the Medieval Jewish Community of Alexandria (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 2006) [Hebrew].

36 Chartier, Roger, The Order of Books: Readers, Authors, and Libraries in Europe between the Fourteenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994), 74 .

37 Svv. in the index of Allony, The Jewish Library. For different meanings of this term in relation to Muslim libraries, see Hirschler, The Written Word, 128.

38 See T-S Misc 36.134 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 75).

39 Le Goff, Intellectuals in the Middle Ages, 7. On the difference between the books at universities, which were used as tools, and those in monasteries, which were viewed as valuables, see Goff, Le, Medieval Civilization 400–1500, trans. Barrow, Julia (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), 345 .

40 T-S Ar. 52.214, line 7 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 61).

41 T-S NS 83.37 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 58).

42 T-S 8 K 1 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 29).

43 Rabbi Joseph's ready use of the pen reflects a high level of literacy. Contrast this with the status of writing in Europe during the same period, with its “mixed orality”; that is, writing is known, but was partial and merely external: the local vernaculars had no systematic rules for dividing words and sentences or transcribing sounds precisely. As a result, every written text had to be read aloud – a phenomenon that was clearly not the case with Judaeo-Arabic then. See Kittay, Jeffrey, “Utterance unmoored: the changing interpretation of the act of writing in the European middle ages”, Language in Society 17/2, 1988, 209–30.

44 See Goitein, Jewish Education in Muslim Countries, 175.

45 For more on the life and works of Rabbi Joseph Rosh ha-Seder, see Lipa Ginat, “Rabbi Joseph Rosh ha-Seder and his commentaries on the Mishnah (from the Genizah)” (Master's thesis, Tel Aviv University, 1990) [Hebrew]. See also: Friedman, Mordechai, “The estate of a man with two wives: two responsa from the Genizah”, Dinei Yisraʾel 13–4, 1985/6–1987/8, 255–6 [Hebrew], with a comprehensive bibliography; Friedman, Mordechai, “On responsa from the Genizah by Rabbi Abraham Maimuni and his contemporaries”, Bar Ilan 25–6, 1994–95, 259–76 [Hebrew]; idem, Opposition to Palestinian prayer and prayer customs in responsa from the Genizah (from responsa by Rabbi Joseph Rosh ha-Seder)”, in Elizur, Shulamit et al. (eds), Knesset Ezra: Literature and Life in the Synagogue, Studies Presented to Ezra Fleischer, (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 1994), 69102 [Hebrew].

46 See T-S K 6.170, lines 29–32 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 99).

47 Mez, Adam, The Renaissance of Islam, trans. Bukhsh, Salahuddin Khuda and Margoliouth, David Samuel (London: Luzac, 1937), 178 .

48 See T-S K 6.170, lines 104–8 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 99).

49 T-S Misc. 36.134 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 75).

50 T-S Ar. 52.214 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 61).

51 Lévi-Provençal, Évariste, “Note sur l'exemplaire du Kitâb al-ʿIbar offert par Ibn Ḫaldûn à la bibliothèque d'Al-Ḳarawîyîn à Fès”, Journal Asiatique 203, 1923, 164 .

52 Mez, The Renaissance of Islam, 172–3.

53 Étienne Marc Quatremère, “Mémoire sur le goût des livres chez les Orientaux”, Journal Asiatique, 3rd ser., 6 (1838, 64, 170. Carl. Petry, F., The Civilian Elite of Cairo in the Later Middle Ages (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981), 242 .

54 Lévi-Provençal, “Note”, 164.

55 Quoted in Quatremère, “Mémoire”, 64.

56 Hirschler, The Written Word, 141–4.

57 Smith, Lesley, “Lending books: the growth of a medieval question from Langton to Bonaventure”, in Smith, Lesley and Ward, Benedicta (eds), Intellectual Life in the Middle Ages: Essays Presented to Margaret Gibson (London: Hambledon, 1992), 265–80, at 267.

58 Christ, Handbook, 49.

59 Clark, John Willis, The Care of Books: An Essay on the Development of Libraries and Their Fittings from the Earliest Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century, second ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1902), 57–8, 66.

60 de Bury, Richard, Philobiblion, text and trans. Thomas, Ernest C., ed. MacLagen, Michael (Oxford: Blackwell, 1960), 157, 161.

61 Ker, Neil Ripley, Books Collectors and Libraries: Studies in the Medieval Heritage (London: Hambledon, 1981), 327–30. Clark, The Care of Books, 261–6; Artier, Jacqueline, “Les bibliothèques des universités et de leurs collèges”, in Jolly, Claude (ed.), Histoires des bibliothèques françaises, les bibliothèques sous l`Ancien Régime, 1530–1789 (Paris: Promodis, 1988), 4555 .

62 Putnam, Books and Their Makers, 61–81; Christ, Handbook, 30–35. See also Cohen-Mushlin, Aliza, “The twelfth-century scriptorium of Frankenthal”, in Brownrigg, Linda L. (ed.), Medieval Book Production: Assessing the Evidence (Los Altos Hills, CA: Anderson-Lovelace, 1990), 85101 .

63 Translation of Oxford, New College, MS 121 fol. 376v by Parkes, Malcolm, English Cursive Book Hands 1250–1500 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1969), xiii, as quoted by Smith, “Lending books”, 266.

64 For medieval Muslim scholars, who copied books for themselves (li-nafsihi), see Déroche, Islamic Codicology, 96.

65 The first systemized book on Jewish law after the Talmud, attributed to R. Yehudai Gaon, who was the head of the academy of Sura (757–761). See Brody, Robert, The Geonim of Babylonia and the Shaping of Medieval Jewish Culture (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998).

66 T-S K 3.44, lines 73–7 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 101).

67 T-S NS 308.39, lines 37–40 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 109).

68 T-S NS 309.65, lines 113–22 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 103).

69 ʾAzharoth, literally “exhortations”, are didactic liturgical poems on the Jewish commandments. The first known example appears in the tenth century in Saʿadiah Gaon's prayer book.

70 T-S K 3.1 (repr. in Allony, The Jewish Library, 113).

71 Blair, Too Much to Know.

72 Blair, Too Much to Know, 74; Foucault, M., “On the genealogy of ethics”, in Dreyfus, Hubert L. and Rabinow, Paul (eds), M. Foucault, Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), 229–64; Van Hulle, Dirk and Van Mierlo, Wim, “Reading notes: introduction”, Variants, The Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship 2/3, 2004, 16 .

73 Bloom, Jonathan, Paper before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World (New Haven: Yale University Press), 2001 .

74 Elinoar Bareket has presented several fragments that are actually abridgements of Samuel b. Hofni's commentary on Genesis. See Bareket, Elinoar, “Exegetic writing of Ephraim Ben Shemaria, head of community in Fustat, Egypt, during the first half of the eleventh century”, Hebrew Union College Annual 75, 2004, 2550 . Roni Shweka, Marina Rustow and Judith Olszowy-Schlanger have reconstructed some fragments in which Efrayim appropriates the Sheʾiltot of R. Aha of Shabha: see Ronny Vollandt has identified an abridged adaptation of Saʿadiah Gaon's Tafsir to Genesis: see Vollandt, Ronny, “Review of Richard C. Steiner, A Biblical Translation in the Making: The Evolution and Impact of Saadia Gaon's Tafsīr, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2010”, Journal of Jewish Studies 64, 2013, 209–13. All these fragments were written on former Fatimid decrees reused as rotuli. For more examples of ad hoc writings, see Polliack, Meira, “Genres in Judaeo-Arabic literature”, The Halmos Lecture Series, 8, 1998 .

75 Beit-Arié, Malachi, “Transmission of texts by scribes and copyists: unconscious and critical interferences”, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 75/3, 1993, 3351 . Frenkel, Miriam, “Literary canon and social elite in the Genizah society”, in Ben-Sasson, Menahem, Brody, Robert, Lieblich, Amia and Shalev, Donna (eds), Uncovering the Canon; Studies in Canonicity and Genizah (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2010), 88110 [Hebrew].

76 Febvre, Lucien and Martin, Henri-Jean, L'Apparition du livre (Paris: Albin Michel, 1958).

77 Stock, Brian, The Implications of Literacy: Written Language and Models of Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983); Walter, J. Ong, S.J., Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (London: Methuen, 1982); Goody, Jack, The Interface between the Written and the Oral (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).

78 Ruh, Kurt (ed.), Überlieferungsgeschichtliche Prosaforschung (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1985).

79 McGann, Jerome J., A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983); McKenzie, D.F., Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts: The Panizzi Lectures 1985 (London: British Library, 1986; repr. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

80 Cerquiglini, Bernard, In Praise of the Variant: A Critical History of Philology, trans. Wing, Betsy (Baltimore: Parallax, 1999). The entirety of Speculum 65 (1990) was dedicated to this topic. See also Nichols, Stephen, “Why material philology? Some thoughts”, in “Philologie als Textwissenschaft: Alte und Neue Horizonte”, ed. Tervooren, Helmut and Wenzel, Horst, special issue, Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie 116, 1997, 1030 .

81 Busby, Keith (ed.), Towards a Synthesis? Essays on the New Philology (Atlanta: Rodopi, 1993).

82 Keith Busby, “Doin’ philology while the -isms strut”, in Busby (ed.), Towards a Synthesis? 89–95.

83 Haijo Jan Westra, “Editing medieval Latin texts”, in Busby, Towards a Synthesis? 49–58. See also: Lerer, Seth, “Review of In Praise of the Variant: A Critical History of Philology ”, Comparative Literature 52/4, 2000, 369–72; Paden, William D., “Review of Bernard Cerquiglini and Betsy Wing, ‘In Praise of the Variant: A Critical History of Philology,’Speculum 76, 2001, 405–8; Boast, Richard P., “Bringing the New Philology to Pacific legal history”, NZACL Yearbook 16, 2010, 239–57.

84 For a discussion of similar adaptations for didactic purposes, see also Ta-Shma, Israel, “The open book in medieval Hebrew literature: the problem of authorized editions”, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 75/3, 1993, 1724 ; Ta-Shma, Israel, “The libraries of the eleventh and twelfth century sages of Germany”, Kiriath Sefer 60, 1984–85, 298309 [Hebrew]. Ta-Shma believes that this phenomenon was typical of the German rabbis. See, for example, the multiple versions and editions of Rabbi David ha-Nagid's homilies, in Almagor, Ella, The Manuscripts of David Ha-Nagid`s Homilies: A Bibliographical Study (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 1995) [Hebrew]. The only explanation for this diversity is that the homilies underwent a process of change and free editing by copyists, each according to his own needs, and that, up to a certain time they served as a reference work and guide for homilists, used by generations of Maimonides’ family: each copyist and user essentially created a new work suited to his own needs. See ibid., 20, 36. This phenomenon does not stem from the fact that homilies are by nature oral works that were written down, inasmuch as the process in question is actually the reverse – literature created as a written text intended for oral delivery. As such it should be treated as written literature in every respect. For more on this distinction, see Finnegan, Ruth, Oral Poetry: Its Nature, Significance, and Social Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 18 . Almagor, too (Manuscripts, 31), notes a reverse process of the gradual weakening of the original literary format and strengthening of oral and popular elements over the years.

85 On Encyclopaedism in the Mamluk era: Elias Muhanna, “Encyclopaedism in the Mamluk period: the composition of Shihāb al-Dīn al-Nuwayrī’s (d. 1333) Nihāyat al-Arab fī unūn al-Adab” (PhD Diss., Cambridge, MA, Harvard University, 2012); Maaike van Berkel, “The attitude towards knowledge in Mamlūk Egypt: organization and structure of the Ṣubḥ al-aʿshā by al-Qalqashandī (1355–1418)”, in Pre-modern Encyclopaedic Texts: Proceedings of the Second COMERS Congress, Groningen, 1–4 July 1996, ed. Binkley, Peter (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 159–68; Blachère, Régis, “Quelques réflexions sur les formes de l'encyclopédisme en Egypte et en Syrie du VIIIe/XIVe siècle à la fin du IXe/XVe siècle”, Bulletin des Études Orientales 23, 1970, 719 ; Endress, Gerhard (ed.), Organizing Knowledge: Encyclopaedic Activities in the Pre-Eighteenth Century Islamic World (Leiden: Brill, 2006); Gerhard Endress, “The cycle of knowledge: intellectual traditions and encyclopaedias of the rational sciences in Arabic Islamic Hellenism”, in Gerhard Endress (ed.), Organizing Knowledge, 103–33. In Europe: Arnar, Anna S., Encyclopaedism from Pliny to Borges (Chicago: University of Chicago Library, 1990); Ann Blair, “A Europeanist's perspective”, in Endress (ed.), Organizing Knowledge, 201–15; Blair, Ann, “Reading strategies for coping with information overload ca. 1550–1700”, Journal of the History of Ideas 64/1, January 2003, 1128 ; Blair, Ann, “Revisiting renaissance encyclopaedism”, in König, Jason and Woolf, Greg (eds), Encyclopaedias and Encyclopaedism from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

86 Blair, Too Much to Know, 177–86.

87 This medieval perception was phrased by Maimonides, R. Joseph's contemporary, in his well-known saying “שמע את האמת מפי אמרה” (accept the truth from whatever source it proceeds). See Maimonides, Moses, Eight Chapters: Maimonides` Introduction to his Exegesis on Tractate Abot, trans. Schwartz, Michael (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 2011), [Hebrew].

88 Bauden, Frédéric, “Maqriziana II: discovery of an autograph manuscript of al Maqrīzī: towards a better understanding of his working method analysis”, Mamluk Studies Review 12/1, 2008, 198–9.

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