The Genizah Collection

Hey, look at this, more news about ancient manuscripts. Well, most of these aren't anywhere close to ancient, but many of them do shed light on ancient near east issues. The Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit has had a website for a while, but this large new grant from the AHRC will provide the resources to catalog and digitize a bunch of these fragments (including interesting things like the "Zadokite" fragment):

"Professor Stefan Reif, Founder Director of the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection, said: “The Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection at Cambridge University Library offers a window on the world of the 10th–13th centuries. The largest and most important collection of medieval Jewish, Hebrew and Arabic documents in the world, it is at least equal in importance to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Whilst the Dead Sea Scrolls chronicled the life of a dissident sect that cut itself off from the world, the Genizah fragments tell the story of ordinary people dealing with everyday life, love and lore."

The collection has taught us more about people like Maimonides, given us greater textual clarity on Talmud literature, and even afforded us access to a few Greek and Syriac texts that had been scraped and reused by later scribes (palimpsests). The relation of the collection to New Testament studies is limited, but it certainly helps to add dimension to what we already know about the language and customs of that era.

It will be especially interesting to see some of these fragments in greater detail, as some of them are amulets made of cloth (this particular one "has the aim of making the heart of the loved one burn with passion", others are rather well preserved pages of paper and vellum. With this large range of materials and manuscript types, I look forward to seeing the variety of book formats represented by this collection.