Current Issue Article Abstracts

Spring 2022 Vol. 7.1

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ARTICLES  

MS Bodley Or. 621 as a “Study Psalter” for Christian Hebraists
Celeste J. Pan

Because of its diminutive size, unconventional decorative scheme and total lack of built-in translations, MS Bodley Or. 621 is an anomaly among the nine “Hebrew Psalters for Christian Use” listed by Raphael Loewe. It has received scant attention principally because, as a book that appears to have been intended for Jews only to be later appropriated by Christians, it seems to be of lesser relevance to discussions of thirteenth-century English Hebraism than those psalters that were unambiguously custom-made for gentile scholars.

This article challenges this premise and this conclusion. By re-examining and synthesising the paleographical and codicological evidence presented by the text proper, I suggest that the psalter may indeed have been commissioned by a Christian according to his specific needs. By considering the form, content, and distribution of the marginal annotations, especially those that contain not only Latin and French translations but also Hebrew roots, I highlight the remarkable and unique method of learning Hebrew adopted by one of the scholars, which is not unlike the modern notion of learning a language through immersion. By approaching the all-Hebrew psalter with an imperfect grasp of the language, he transforms the experience of reading into a learning process, and the psalm text into a type of textbook. This agrees well with the short and fragmentary nature of surviving Hebrew grammars from thirteenth-century England, and perhaps explains why there was no need for more comprehensive works.

 

Multiple Hands in the Marginal Annotations of the Hebrew Bible Codex Madrid M1 (Biblioteca Histórica Marqués de Valdecilla, BH MSS1)
Elvira Martín-Contreras

This article presents a paleographical analysis of the marginal annotations that appear next to the biblical text in the Hebrew Bible codex known as Madrid M1. In order to do so, a new methodology has been developed. The ensuing analysis has identified a great number of annotations, largely located in the outer and intercolumnar margins, written by multiple hands. These later interventions have different aims and produce diverse results. The systematic additions associated with different Masoretic textual phenomena reveal an interest in organizing the information differently and offering the information on each phenomenon consistently by adding cases that are lacking. The non-systematic additions seem to be more the result or reflection of later revisions, readings, and uses of the manuscript. The annotations of both types show a clear intention to complete and expand the already abundant information found in the margins of Madrid M1, rather than an effort to correct it.

 

Beautiful Books with Beautiful Covers: The Bindings of Hebrew Manuscripts in Late Medieval Ashkenaz
Ilona Steimann 

Binding, which adapts a written text to its intended use, is one of the most formative stages of book production. The scarcity of extant medieval bindings makes any discussion of how Hebrew manuscripts were originally bound rather speculative, but such a discussion is nonetheless worthwhile. To shed light on the practices of bookbinding among Jews, this article examines various aspects of bookbinding in Ashkenaz on the basis of selected examples of extant medieval bindings and primary written sources relevant to the matter. The aspects to be discussed include the question of Jewish binders, the role of bindings as a material marker of manuscripts in Jewish private libraries, and the ways in which Hebrew books were rebound when they entered Christian book collections.

 

Aspiring to be a Buddha and Life before Liberation:The Colophons of the Siamese Questions of King Milinda
Eng Jin Ooi 

This article presents the colophons of a Buddhist text, the Questions of King Milinda, as seen in manuscripts found mainly in Central Thailand. Through a survey of over seventy Pāli palm-leaf manuscripts and a Thai samut khoi (folding book), the colophons reveal information not only related to textual transmission, but also to the social and soteriological ambitions of the communities that created them. Inspired by the ideology of merit, which promises good karmic returns for presenting and preserving the Dharma in this world, donors and scribes produced various kinds of aspirations (Pāli: patthanā). These aspirations are recorded in colophons. In this group of manuscripts, it is not uncommon to find that the preferred path to Nirvana among stakeholders is to become a Buddha. This is somewhat contrary to the general assumption that the way of arhat is preferred for a community that upheld the Theravāda tradition. Moreover, the quest to be fully awakened and omniscient is shown not to be confined to kings or to the nobility, but shared by a wider layer of society. The colophon of the samut khoi was sponsored by the noble royal ladies (pavaranārī) from the court of Ayutthaya. It gives us a glimpse into what—in a past era—was considered good and righteous, both materially and spiritually, by the inner circle of the ruling establishment. Accordingly, colophons deserve special attention as they provide information not only about their respective manuscripts but also about the socio-cultural aspects of the community that preserved and transmitted them.

 

Penna volans Discovered: Analysis of a New Exemplar of Calligraphic Virtuosity by Baldericus van Horicke (Brussels, ca. 1616)
Diego Navarro-Bonilla, Sofía Alonso-Peleato

This article analyses an unpublished manuscript (here referred to as the Cuaderno Español) discovered in a private collection in Madrid, which contains eight folios of calligraphy by the hand of Baldericus van Horicke (†1643), a noted writing master active primarily at the court of the Archdukes of Austria in Brussels. A detailed paleographical study of the new manuscript enhances our knowledge of this exceptional virtuoso of the pen, who practiced at the height of the golden age of the writing arts in Europe. Additionally, such an analysis demonstrates how these calligraphic materials were used to teach the art of writing from the seventeenth century onwards.

  

ANNOTATIONS

The X-Ray Micro-CT of a Full Parchment Codex to Recover Hidden Text: Morgan Library M.910, An Early Coptic Acts of the Apostles Manuscript
Paul Dilley, Christy Chapman, C. Seth Parker, W. Brent Seales

This article describes the first effort to read inside a damaged codex using X-Ray micro-CT imaging, which has an additional complication beyond most unrolled scrolls, for which the process has been successful: there is writing on both sides. The project is a collaboration between a humanist, a team of computer scientists and engineers, as well as librarians and conservators, to undertake the x-ray micro-CT imaging of codex M.910, a fifth- or sixth-century parchment codex of Acts of the Apostles which is too damaged to open in its current state. The first round of image processing was conducted in December 2017 at the Morgan Library and Museum, and a second round in November 2019; work on restoring the text using machine learning is ongoing, and has already resulted in the identification of some words and phrases. We first describe codex M.910, including the basics of its codicology, and its potential significance for early Christian book culture, as well as the history of the biblical text. We then provide an overview of the manuscript imaging process, at a level of technical detail intended for a general audience, with the hope of providing a reference for future work in this expanding field of research. The key initial step was the preparation of the manuscript’s mount, which had to take into account the necessities of both conservation safety and micro-CT imaging. We also break down the imaging process itself, which was carried out by Skyscan micro-CT scanner, donated for use in this project by Micro Photonics. Finally, we give a brief discussion of the ongoing preliminary data analysis.

The Charterhouse Antiphonal Fragment
Kathleen E. Kennedy, Anna H. H. De Bakker 

An item included within the collection of manuscript leaves known as Ghent, University Library, MS BHSL.HS.3020 can now be identified as a fragment of the sole surviving English Carthusian antiphonal, and the third extant historiated English antiphonal. Specific features of the chant identify the use as Carthusian, and the illumination localizes the antiphonal’s production to London in the early Tudor period, making it likely that the volume was made for the London Charterhouse.


Shorthand Crosses the Atlantic: An Overview and Preliminary Census of Shorthand Manuscripts in Early American Archives
Theodore Delwiche 

Forms of short and fast writing have existed since antiquity, but interest in them rapidly took off during the early modern period. Dozens of different manuals and methods appeared, all promising to teach the trendiest manuscript technologies of the day. Despite the widespread early modern interest in stenography and ciphers, relatively little research has been conducted on these scribal arts. Some scholars have focused on the famed diary of Samuel Pepys, but few have considered the scores of early modern journalists, ministers, students, diplomats, and merchants, among many others, who also actively employed fast writing in their daily lives. This article provides a historical overview of early modern shorthand, as well as an original bibliographic account of shorthand's presence and prevalence in colonial American archives.

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REVIEWS

Laura Cleaver, Alixe Bovey, and Lucy Donkin, eds.
Illuminating the Middle Ages: Tributes to Prof. John Lowden from His Students, Friends and Colleagues.
Joan A. Holladay 

 

Orietta Da Rold. Paper in Medieval England: From Pulp to Fictions.
William Noel 

 

Crystal B. Lake. Artifacts: How We Think and Write About Found Objects.
Megan L. Cook 

 

Cécile Michel and Michael Friedrich, eds. Fakes and Forgeries of Written Artefacts from Ancient Mesopotamia to Modern China.
Kelly Tuttle 

  

Roland Betancourt. Byzantine Intersectionality: Sexuality, Gender, and Race in the Middle Ages.
Michelle M. Sauer 

 

Sandra Hindman and Federica Toniolo, eds. The Burke Collection of Italian Manuscript Paintings.
Andrew H. Chen 

 

Bernard Bousmanne and Elena Savini, eds. The Library of the Dukes of Burgundy.
Hanno Wijsman 

 

List of Manuscripts Cited