New book: Jewish Treasures from Oxford Libraries

Tuesday July 21, 2020

Rebecca Abrams, Cesar Merchan-Hamann (eds.), Jewish Treasures from Oxford Libraries

Bodleian Library - University of Oxford, 2020

Representing four centuries of collecting and 1,000 years of Jewish history, this book brings together extraordinary Hebrew manuscripts and rare books from the Bodleian Library and Oxford colleges. Highlights of the collections include a fragment of Maimonides’ autograph draft of the Mishneh Torah; the earliest dated fragment of the Talmud, exquisitely illuminated manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible; stunning festival prayerbooks and one of the oldest surviving Jewish seals in England. Lavishly illustrated essays by experts in the field bring to life the outstanding works contained in the collections, as well as the personalities and diverse motivations of their original collectors, who include Archbishop William Laud, John Selden, Edward Pococke, Robert Huntington, Venetian Jesuit Matteo Canonici, Benjamin Kennicott and Rabbi David Oppenheim. Saved for posterity by religious scholarship, intellectual rivalry and political ambition, these extraordinary collections also bear witness to the consumption and circulation of knowledge across the centuries, forming a social and cultural history of objects moved across borders, from person to person. Together, they offer a fascinating journey through Jewish intellectual and social history from the tenth century onwards.

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