Frederik A. de Wolff, The Canterbury Hebrew Psalter from the bequest 253 of Franciscus Raphelengius: ms. Leiden Or. 4725 and the Jewish origin of its scribe. A remarkable product of Jewish-Christian cooperation in twelfth-century England

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The Canterbury Hebrew Psalter from the bequest 253 of Franciscus Raphelengius: ms. Leiden Or. 4725 and the Jewish origin of its scribe. A remarkable product of Jewish-Christian cooperation in twelfth-century England

Frederik A. de Wolff  in De Gulden Passer, vol. 99 (2021), nr. 2, pp. 253–307

Description

The Hebrew Psalter ms. Leiden Or. 4725 is partly bilingual as it has Latin glosses in the margin. It has raised quite a few questions for a long time. The unusual vocalisation and initials have given the impression that it was not written by a Jewish scribe. In 1955, Western palæographer G.I. Lieftinck wrote that both the Hebrew and the Latin were written by one and the same person, a Christian. He found it described as Psalterium Hebraicum in a 14th-century catalogue from Canterbury. The manuscript must have been added to Christopher Plantin’s library in Antwerp around 1572 and must have been brought to Leiden by Franciscus Raphelengius, when he was appointed printer to the Leiden university in 1586.

Recent palæographic and linguistic research of the Hebrew shows that the main text was written by an Ashkenazi Jew, who cooperated closely with his Christian patrons. The script is pre-Gothic and demonstrates the scribe’s northern French background. There are reasons to assume that the manuscript was written in Canterbury for use by Christian Hebraists.

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