Page 63 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

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5 7
S
a rn a
— J
e w i s h
T
heolog ical
S
em in a r y
L
ibrary
quently display readings at variance with later editions. This
is particularly true of the fifteenth century prints of Talmudic
tractates, of which the Jewish Theological Seminary has, in
part or whole, about twenty.
The non-Hebrew incunabula collection of Judaic interest com-
prises no less than 106 books, including a beautiful fragment
of the Gutenberg Bible.
Hebrew printing in the 16th century is represented almost
in toto. The Library also has an almost complete collection of
East European Responsa literature.
All these treasures are among several thousand housed in the
Rare Book Room. One case alone has nearly two hundred books
marked “unique" or “excessively rare.” In addition, over fifty
printed Haggadot, several on vellum, are kept here, the other
2,000 and more editions being lodged in the regular stacks.
Manuscript Collection
The world-famous and unrivaled manuscript collection now
numbers about 10,000, apart from the Genizah fragments and
the archival material. The phenomenal growth of the Library
over a relatively brief period of time has not permitted the
work of cataloguing to keep apace. A catalogue of the Adler
collection was published by Cambridge University Press in 1921
but the progress of Genizah research over the past few decades
has rendered this work inadequate, even for the material it
covers. Listings of various other sections of the ever expanding
manuscript collection are available, and a full-time cataloguer
is presently engaged in the composition of a thorough and
extensive catalogue of the manuscripts.
To catalogue any manuscript collection of this size is a
herculean task in any circumstances. But how shall one describe
it when one is dealing with all the languages which Jews have
used over the millennia, and when the contents represent a full
kaleidoscope of Jewish intellectual interest and achievement?
The Seminary collection has proved indispensable to historians
of science and medicine, to research into medieval French, Italian,
Latin and Spanish, to a history of Mediterranean and Indian
Ocean commerce in the Middle Ages. A glance at some of the
publications which have relied on Seminary collections for their
preparation will indicate to some degree the nature and extent
of the materials the Jewish Theological Seminary has amassed
for scholars of diverse fields wishing to tap the resources of the
Jewish heritage. Among these are bibliographies of Jewish music,
catalogues of Jewish prints and etchings, histories of Jewish
philosophy, mysticism, grammar and philology.