Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Paleography Solution

A few months ago I posted about a set of paleography problems I was having, signatures of the owners of a manuscript I'm working on: 

I'm sharing pre-publication data because the hive mind of the web was so helpful in my getting it sorted out that it seems only fair. (And the individuals who were particularly helpful are, of course, acknowledged by name in the article.) But this is still pre-publication data and my own drawings (that will appear in a chapter entitled 'Meeting the Mediterranean Halfway: The Material Text as a Map of the Maimonidean Controversies' in an as-yet untitled book to be published by Penn Press in or around 2016). Please don't be a jerk.

The first one remains undeciphered. The second two are as follows:

זה הספר שייך להירשל בן צבי
This book belongs to Hirschell ben Ẓvi.

This was a bit disappointing because it didn't add any new information to the provenance of the manuscript, since I already knew that it had belonged to Solomon Hirschell (son of Ẓvi Hirschell), but it was satisfying to sort it out.

בר מנחם
הצ נע

This belongs to me,
bar Menaḥem
the F[rench guy whose] s[oul is in] E[den]

It's been suggested to me that the personal name for this last one should be read Yishayahu rather than Yiẓḥaq. However, the grapheme that would have to be either a letter hey or a letter quf is, in the sixteenth century when this MS was copied, far more likely to be the latter. Plus, I can identify a relevant Isaac but no relevant Isaiah.

The names only get us so far and there is more to the story — hate to be cryptic about it but I don't want to run into issues with the editors, who were very clear that the material for the book had to be all new and unpublished elsewhere. I think I'm ok sharing the images, but I may have to take them down at a later date.

So that's that. It was a lot of work and a lot of frustration and a lot of help from others for two little names. (Of course I'm still more than happy for any additional feedback or critique.)

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