26 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2023
    1. Then two things happened. Goitein had bequeathed his “geniza lab” of 26,000 index cards and thousands of transcriptions, translations and photocopies of fragments to the National Library of Israel (then the Jewish National and University Library). But Mark R. Cohen(link is external) and A. L. Udovitch(link is external) arranged for copies to be made and kept in Princeton. That was the birth of the Princeton Geniza Lab. 


      Mark R. Cohen and A. L. Udovitch made the arrangements for copies of S.D. Goitein's card index, transcriptions and photocopies of fragments to be made and kept at Princeton before the originals were sent to the National Library of Israel. This repository was the birth of the Princeton Geniza Lab.

    1. Zinger, Oded. “Finding a Fragment in a Pile of Geniza: A Practical Guide to Collections, Editions, and Resources.” Jewish History 32, no. 2 (December 1, 2019): 279–309. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10835-019-09314-6.

      Read on 2023-01-09

      An overview of sources and repositories for fragments from the Cairo Geniza with useful bibliographies for the start of Geniza studies. Of particular interest to me here is the general work of Shelomo Dov Goitein and his 27,000+ card zettelkasten containing his research work on it. There's some great basic description of his collection in general as well as some small specifics on what it entails and some reasonable guide as to how to search it and digital versions at the Princeton Geniza Lab.

    2. The wealthy Egyptian Jacques Mosseri financed excavations in thevicinity of the Ben Ezra Synagogue and in the Basatin Cemetery at theend of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. Hiscollection remained with the Mosseri family and was unavailable forscholars for many years. In 1970, scholars from the National Library ofIsrael were allowed to microfilm the collection, which resulted in the1990 catalog. In 2006, the Mosseri family loaned its collection toCambridge University for a twenty-year period during which thecollection would be conserved, digitized, and studied and then,conditions permitting, deposited in the National Library of Israel. ForMosseri’s account of how he obtained his collection, see his “A NewHoard of Jewish MSS in Cairo,” Jewish Review 4 (1913): 208–16. Formore information on the subsequent history of the collection, see theintroduction to the 1990 catalog; and http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/jmgc.
    3. offers a breakdown of the most useful index cards of the second type.

      Oded Zinger provides a two page chart breakdown overview of the smaller portion of Goitein's 7,000 cards relating to his study of the Geniza with a list of the subjects, subdivisions, microfilm rolls and slide numbers, and the actual card drawer numbers and card numbers. These cards were in drawers 1-15, 17, and 20-22.

    4. About twenty thousand of those cards are 3 × 5 inches and seven thousand 5 × 8 inches.

      Goitein's zettelkasten is comprised of about 20,000 3 x 5" index cards and 7,000 5 x 8" index cards.

      Link to: https://hypothes.is/a/TEiQ5H1rEe2_Amfzi4XXmg

      While not directly confirmed (yet), due to the seeming correspondence of the number of cards and their corpus descriptions, it's likely that the 20,000 3 x 5" cards were his notes covering individual topics while the 7,000 5 x 8" cards were his notes and descriptions of a single fragment from the Cairo Geniza.

    5. Transcriptions taken from Goitein’s publications were corrected according to handwrittennotes on his private offprints. The nature of Goitein’s “typed texts” is as follows. Goitein tran-scribed Geniza documents by hand from the originals or from photostats. These handwrittentranscriptions were later typed by an assistant and usually corrected by Goitein. When Goiteindied in 1985, the transcriptions were photocopied in Princeton before the originals were sentto the National Library of Israel, where they can be consulted today. During the followingdecades, the contents of most of these photocopies were entered into a computer, and period-ically the files had to be converted to newer digital formats. The outcome of these repeatedprocesses of copying and conversion is that transcription errors and format glitches are to beexpected. As the Princeton Geniza Project website states: “Goitein considered his typed texts‘drafts’ and always restudied the manuscripts and made revisions to his transcriptions beforepublishing them.” See also Goitein, “Involvement in Geniza Research,” 143. It is important tokeep in mind that only the transcriptions that were typed were uploaded to the project website.Therefore, e.g., Goitein’s transcriptions of documents in Arabic scripts are usually not foundthere. The National Library of Israel and the Princeton Geniza Lab also hold many of Goitein’sdraft English translations of Geniza documents, many of which were intended for his plannedanthology of Geniza texts in translation, Mediterranean People.

      Much like earlier scribal errors, there are textual errors inserted into digitization projects which may have gone from documentary originals, into handwritten (translated) copies, which then were copied manually via typewriter, and then copied again into some digital form, and then changed again into other digital forms as digital formats changed.

      As a result it is often fruitful to be able to compare the various versions to see the sorts of errors which each level of copying can introduce. One might suppose that textual errors were only common when done by scribes using manual techniques, but it is just as likely for errors to be inserted between digital copies as well.

    6. Recently, images ofGoitein’s index cards and transcriptions have been attached to existing tran-scriptions or to shelf marks without transcription, thus increasing the numberof records to over eighty-three hundred (as of May 2018).

      S.D. Goitein's index cards have been imaged and transcribed and added to the Princeton Geniza Lab as of May 2018. Digital search and an index are also available.

    7. More recent ad-ditions to the website include a “jigsaw puzzle” screen that lets users viewseveral items while playing with them to check whether they are “joins.” An-other useful feature permits the user to split the screen into several panelsand, thus, examine several items simultaneously (useful, e.g., when compar-ing handwriting in several documents). Finally, the “join suggestions” screenprovides the results of a technologically groundbreaking computerized anal-ysis of paleographic and codiocological features that suggests possible joinsor items written by the same scribe or belonging to the same codex. 35

      Computer means can potentially be used to check or suggest potential "joins" of fragments of historical documents.

      An example of some of this work can be seen in the Friedberg Genizah Project and their digital tools.

    8. The Friedberg Genizah Project makes excellent digital images of Genizadocuments available to scholars around the world.
    9. The first place to start any search for Geniza documents is A Mediter-ranean Society by S. D. Goitein.
    10. “In the beginning of my engagement with Geniza studies, I innocently supposed that I didnot need to deal with the original of a document already mentioned by another scholar. To-day, it is clear to me that the Geniza scholar must examine the original even for a docu-ment that has been fully published (even by Goitein), not to mention a document only men-tioned.” See S. D. Goitein, “The Struggle between the Synagogue and the Community” (inHebrew), in Hayyim (Jefim) Schrimann: Jubilee Volume, ed. Shraga Abramson and AaronMirsky (Jerusalem, 1970), 69–77, 71 n. 8 (my translation)

      Geniza studies rule of thumb: ALWAYS consult the original of a document when referencing work by other scholars as new translations, understandings, context, history, and conditions regarding the original work of the scholar may have changed.

    11. Most editions of Geniza documents appear in Hebrew-language publications, andthis means that Hebrew documents are usually left untranslated. It is important to recognizethat this is a problem.
    12. the majority of Geniza documents are found in the Taylor-Schechter (T-S) collection in the Cambridge University Library
    13. Another use-ful work is Shaul Shaked’s Tentative Bibliography of Geniza Documents.

      Shaul Shaked, A Tentative Bibliography of Geniza Documents (Paris, 1964).

      The bibliography in Shaked is considered obsolete, but can be useful when referring to older publications.

  2. Dec 2022
    1. The Princeton Geniza Project(link is external) is a database of more than 30,000 records and 4,600 transcriptions of documentary geniza texts. Since 1986, the PGP has been dedicated to discovering and describing unpublished documents; maintaining a full-text retrieval database of geniza documents; and creating new transcriptions and translations.
    1. Goitein accumulated more than 27,000 index cards in his research work over the span of 35 years. (Approximately 2.1 cards per day.)

      His collection can broadly be broken up into two broad categories: 1. Approximately 20,000 cards are notes covering individual topics generally making of the form of a commonplace book using index cards rather than books or notebooks. 2. Over 7,000 cards which contain descriptions of a single fragment from the Cairo Geniza.

      A large number of cards in the commonplace book section were used in the production of his magnum opus, a six volume series about aspects of Jewish life in the Middle Ages, which were published as A Mediterranean Society: The Jewish communities of the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza (1967–1993).

    2. https://genizalab.princeton.edu/resources/goiteins-index-cards

      <small><cite class='h-cite via'> <span class='p-author h-card'>u/Didactico</span> in Goitein's Index Cards : antinet (<time class='dt-published'>12/15/2022 23:12:33</time>)</cite></small>

    1. Theonly surviving manuscripts that were actually made in the ancientworld (before around AD 500) are small fragments of papyri found ona rubbish tip in Egypt and some scrolls from the Villa of the Papyri atHerculaneum.*1

      Rubbish tip, places the author as speaking British English.

      Odd that she doesn't specifically reference the Cairo Geniza by name here.

      She's also dismissing the Dead Sea Scrolls.

      Are there other repositories of older texts missing here?