4/24/08

Does the Pope's Manuscript Gift Insult the Jews?

If one blogger is correct, the Pope gave the Jewish community a gift of a facsimile of an manuscript page that was illuminated by a Jew who converted to Catholicism.

By most standards that would be deemed at least "tacky" and by some, "an insult" to the community. Here is the blogger's comment:
Hagahot Blog: As you may know, a new and comprehensive catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts in the Vatican libraries is on the way. Meanwhile, I checked the IMHM catalogue and found only two Vatican manuscripts dated 1435. One of them, Rossiana 555, is a copy of Rabbi Jacob ben Asher's major work, the Tur. It was copied in Italy and contains decorations of some sort, making it a likely candidate for the gift (for a short description of the manuscript, see here, at the end of the 'Text' section).

What makes it funny, or maybe upsetting, is that this particular manuscript was copied by Yitshak ben Ovadiah of Forli. Who, according to Nurit Pasternak (Tarbits 68), converted to Christianity.
Here is some more information about the manuscript facsimile from other news sources:
CNS: Before leaving, the pope gave the Jewish community a gift: a copy of a page taken from an illuminated 15th-century manuscript from the Vatican Library. The work of a Hebrew scribe who lived in Italy, the page depicts the scene of a traditional Jewish wedding.

AsiaNews.It: The pope gave the community a copy of a 15th century miniature taken from a manuscript of the Vatican Library, depicting a Jewish wedding.

Huliq.com: On Friday evening Pope Benedict XVI visits the Park East Synagogue New York where he will gift a faithful copy of a page taken from an illuminated parchment in the Vatican Apostolic Library.

The codex dates from 1435 and is of Italian manufacture, probably from the city of Mantua where it was produced by the famous scribe Isaac ben Ovadia who was unique among his contemporaries for his ability to blend the characteristics of Hebrew and Latin manuscripts. It is a copy of an older (13th-14th cent.) juridical work entitled Arba'ah Turim ("Four Columns"), the title of which alludes to the number of sections into which it is divided.
[Source: Radio Vatican]


3 comments:

bryce said...

I've heard of a great rabbi who had studied CD Ginsberg's book.
Not sure how that relates to this story, though.

- Saul said...

Here is a nice round-up web-page of Jewish manuscripts:

http://aix1.uottawa.ca/~weinberg/hebraica.html

BTW, your classes in Minnesota started a wonderful journey for me. Thanks.

Tzvee said...

thanks - nice page and nice to hear from you.