Page 77 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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RICHLER/HEBREW MANUSCRIPT COLLECTIONS
69
BR IT ISH HOLDINGS
Eng land is th e hom e o f several o f th e la rges t an d most im ­
p o r ta n t collections. T o g e th e r , the Bod le ian L ib ra ry an d the Col­
lege lib raries in O x fo rd hou se over 3 ,000 H eb rew an d S am a r ­
itan MSS. We have a lready m en t io n ed some o f the m ain sources
o f acquisition: the C h r is tian H eb ra ists o f th e 17th an d 18th
c en tu r ie s an d th e O p p en h e im an d Michael collections p u r ­
chased by the Bod leian L ib ra ry in the 19th cen tu ry . T ow a rd s
th e en d o f th e cen tu ry the lib rary p u rch a se d several h u n d r e d
MSS from various booksellers an d ab o u t 5 ,000 Gen izah f ra g ­
m en ts. T h e lib rary has a good selection o f MSS in almost all
fields o f Jew ish study . Most o f its m anu sc r ip ts d a te from the
14th to the 17 th cen tu r ies . Am ong its trea su re s a re the illum i­
n a ted K enn ico tt Bible, an d an a u to g ra p h copy o f M a im on ides’
comm en ta ry on the M ishnah .
Second in size to th e Bod leian is th e B ritish L ib rary (fo rm e rly
the B ritish M useum L ibrary) in L o ndon with its 2 ,500 MSS.
Until the m idd le o f the 19th c en tu ry th e re were only 200 H e ­
brew m anu sc r ip ts in th e library , over h a l f o f them from the
Harley collection acqu ired in 1753. W ith the acquisition o f the
A lmanzi collection o f 332 MSS in 1865 an d abou t 300 MSS,
mostly Yem en ite an d Karaite , between 1877 an d 1882, the col­
lection grew to over 1,000 by 1925 when th e lib rary pu rch a sed
1,100 MSS from the G aste r library . T h e G as te r collection in ­
c ludes a la rge n um b e r o f late O r ien ta l works, ad d in g a n o th e r
d im ens ion to the mostly med ieval ch a ra c te r o f the ea r lie r col­
lection. T h e Jud aeo -A rab ic K ara ite MSS com p rise p e rh ap s the
most im p o r ta n t sou rce fo r the s tudy o f med ieval Karaism o u t ­
side the Soviet Un ion . Am ong its m any illum ina ted MSS p e r ­
haps the most fam ous is th e G o lden H aggadah .
T h e H eb rew collection o f th e C am b r idge University L ib rary
p robab ly da tes back to th e 13th cen tu ry . Several MSS were a d d ­
ed over the years bu t th e g re a te r p a r t o f th e 1,000 m anu sc r ip ts
in the lib rary were pu rch a sed tow ards the en d o f the 19th cen ­
tu ry from th e m any collections th a t were o ffe red fo r sale at
the time. T h e C am b r idge L ib rary is most fam ous fo r its u n ­
su rpassed collection o f h u n d r e d s o f thou sand s o f Gen izah f ra g ­
m en ts b ro u g h t to th e lib ra ry from C airo by Solomon Schech ter
in 1896. Many o f the College libraries in C am b r idge have H e ­
brew MSS, the la rgest g ro u p o f over 150 MSS be long ing to