Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A King Without a Crown

Sixty mostly medieval manuscript items from the Schoyen Collection are being auctioned at Sotheby's in London next month. Notice of the auction came over one of the listserves because several of the items are Spanish in origin.

(Click any of the images to embiggen.)

The list, interestingly, directed readers to a catalogue being maintained by an Oxford don who is keeping track of the movement of medieval manuscripts on the market, a valuable service indeed so that we don't lose manuscripts in private collections. That catalogue can be found here.

The medieval pieces weren't of such great interest to me, but I thought that this one, a leaf of a translation of the Gospel according to Matthew into Hebrew, was fascinating since it raises very provocative questions about what constitutes authenticity for different audiences:


  1. The form of this ms. is fascinating! Off the top of my head, I can't think of any cuneiform texts that appropriate the forms of other genres in what appears to be an attempt to imbue them with a certain kind of authority or acceptability. But I will certainly be thinking about it.

  2. I know — the carpet page is just wild. This MS is (I keep wanting to call it Haskalah-period, but it's really just straight-up) Enlightenment-period and i just don't know enough about (again, the MS itself keeps spawning these funny terms in my head) the Christians of Ashkenaz to really know why such a thing would exist or who would use it... but presumably with the cuneiform, if such a thing were to exist, the status of the Greek could also very much be the issue?