IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 1306: Material Witnesses: Text and Image in Hebrew and Arabic Manuscripts

Wednesday 3 July 2013, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Sara Offenberg, Department of Arts / Department of Jewish Thought, Bar-Ilan University / Department of the Arts, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva
Paper 1306-aIllustrations of the Zodiac in Medieval Hebrew Prayerbooks
(Language: English)
Gabriel Wasserman, Independent Scholar, New York
Index terms: Art History - General, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Liturgy, Manuscripts and Palaeography
Paper 1306-bDiagrams of the Lost Arabic Translation of Euclid's Elements
(Language: English)
Gregg de Young, Department of Mathematics, American University in Cairo
Index terms: Islamic and Arabic Studies, Manuscripts and Palaeography, Science
Paper 1306-cChristian Illuminators Working for Jewish Patrons
(Language: English)
Eva Frojmovic, Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Leeds

Paper -a:
In medieval Hebrew manuscripts from the Ashkenazic (German Jewish) tradition, there are images of the signs of the zodiac next to the stanzas of certain poems in the annual Prayers for Dew and Rain. These images relate to the structure, though not much to the narrational content, of these poems. They are probably the most common visual trope in medieval Hebrew prayerbooks, and the only one to survive on into the printed prayerbooks of the modern period. This paper will situation this phenomenon in the context of the broader European tradition of artes memoriae, specifically the liturgical memorial tradition, which scholars have already studied in Christian manuscripts. Nonetheless, there are some specifically Jewish features in the images.

Paper -b:
Studies in the medieval transmission of Euclid’s Elements repeatedly note the complexity and incompleteness of the surviving evidence. One perennial problem has been the early Greek – Arabic transmission because the first Arabic translation is no longer extant. Quotations preserved in several Arabic sources allow a partial perception of its content, allowing us to discern some hints of its influence on later Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin transmissions. This presentation focuses on a collection of recently identified geometrical diagrams and their relation to the known verbal quotations. These diagrams offer fresh insights into this early Arabic transmission and provide additional opportunities to assess the influence of this Arabic translation on the later medieval transmissions of the Elements.

Paper -c:
My paper will be about Christians who illuminated Hebrew books for Jewish patrons in the 13th century. My main examples will be the the a Bible commentary of 1232/3 (Munich, Stabi) and two prayerbooks, the Michael and Laud Mahzor (both Bodleian Library). I will present the evidence for identifying the artists as Christians, and then proceed to ask what consequences that has for our ability to interpret the meaning of these illustrated books.