90426 - History of the Hebrew Book

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Docente: Emma Abate
  • Credits:: 6
  • SSD: L-OR/08
  • Language: Italian
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Ravenna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Library and Archive Science (cod. 9077)

Learning outcomes

The course aims to describe the evolution and the history of the Hebrew book, manuscript and printed, from the Dead Sea scrolls, written more than two thousand years ago, to the codices of the Modern age and, for the printed books, from the late fifteenth century incunabula to the Nineteenth century editions. The pre-established training objectives are intended to make the student aware of the very important role played by the Hebrew book produced in Italy in libraries all over the world, to make it able to dominate the bibliographic instruments also telematics, to recognize and to date the writing, as well as to work to cataloguing of undescribed funds and of the thousands of sheets dismembered from medieval Hebrew parchment manuscripts to be reused as bookbinding in Italian archives and libraries.

Course contents

The course retraces the history of the Hebrew Book from the first ancient evidence (the Qumranic sources) to the production of medieval codices, from the formation of the humanistic collections up to Early Modern Times phenomena of loan, censorship, dismemberment and reuse. In this perspective, the historical-cultural and artistic elements characterizing different books formats (rolls, codices), their contents, writing techniques and styles will be highlighted. The material aspects of the production will be connected to the main literary genres, from the religious tradition to the books used for private study. At the end of the course the student will be able to move in the panorama of the "life cycle" of the Hebrew book.


Bibliography for the exam:

Students who attend the classes

  • C. Sirat, Du scribe au livre. Les manuscrits hébreux du Moyen Âge, CNRS Editions, Paris, 2002 (En. ed.: Hebrew Manuscripts of the Middle Ages, trans. N. De Lange, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2008)
  • A. Hoffman, P. Cole, Il cimitero dei libri. La Genizah del Cairo: un mondo perduto e ritrovato, Officina Libraria, Cremona, 2019 (Or. ed.: Sacred Trash. The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza, Nextbook, Schocken, New York, 2011)
  • M. Perani (ed.), The Ancient Sefer Torah of Bologna. Features and History, Brill, Leiden, 2019 (two articles selected from part I and II).

Students who cannot attend the classes will add to the aforementioned bibliography the following essays:

1) from J. Olszowy-Schlanger and N. de Lange (eds.), Manuscrits hébreux et arabes. Mélanges en l'honneur de Colette Sirat, Turnhout, Brepols, 2014:

  • Introduction (pp. 9-14)
  • M. Beit-Arié, The Individual Nature of Hebrew Book Production and Consumption (pp. 17-28)
  • N. Pasternak, Who were the Hebrew Scribes in Renaissance Italy? A Short Review of their Manifold Roles (pp. 29-37).

2) from J. R. Hacker and A. Shear (eds.), The Hebrew Book in Early Modern Italy, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011:

  • Introduction: Book History and the Hebrew Book in Italy (pp. 1-16)
  • B. Nielsen, Daniel van Bombergen, a Bookman of Two Worlds (pp. 56-75).

Teaching methods

30 hours, both lecture and seminar classes.

Assessment methods

Oral exam.

For students attending the classes: The interview will allow to evaluate the student's ability to talk through the topics discussed in classes and scheduled in the program.

The participation of the student in the scientific discussions during the classes and in seminars is considered an element of evaluation.

For students who do not attend the classes: The interview will allow to evaluate the student's ability to talk through the topics scheduled in the program for students who cannot attend the classes.

For all students:
The student dealing with the topics in the program, discussed during the course or in the bibliography, with accuracy, synthesis, critical sense and command of language will receive the highest grade.
A fair or sufficient grade will be assessed to the student dealing with the topics in program and in the bibliography in a mnemonic way, but correctly and with an appropriate language.

The student who shows gaps in preparation and inadequate expression will fail the exam.

Teaching tools

Further readings and materials will be distributed during the course and in "Virtuale".

Student who cannot attend the classes are invited to get in contact with me in order to receive an individual program and to fix the date of the oral exam.

Office hours

See the website of Emma Abate


Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities Partnerships for the goals

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.