Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Ice Man

Has come and stayed for a bit, leaving me yet again homebound. I guess it's not so bad since I have a lot I need to do and some quiet is fine. I am missing some meetings at work which I regret. There's always something important -- although a bit that's not.

Anyway, I can't believe the first week of January is coming to a close, and I have to start teaching on Friday!

In other non-related teaching news, I'm taking a class at my synagogue on the Talmud. My medieval friends will find this particularly interesting. I never knew much about the Talmud which is a repository of commentaries on Jewish Law (everything from what is okay to eat to what should you do if you suddenly fart while praying). Right now what is most fascinating to me is the manuscript. I've put a page below. The middle column is the original law (the Mishna from Palestine, 3rd century CE) and then the original commentary (Gemara from 5th century CE from Babylonia). Then all the text around it is all the commentaries that have accrued over time. The text closest to the binding on the right is Rashi (from France, 11th century CE, which was also translated into Old French at one point). On the left, closest to the middle column are the Tosafists (thought to be students of Rashi -- France and Germany 12th to 13th centuries). Far left, cross references to other sections of the Talmud. Below that Comments of another reader (Tunis, 11th Century). The notes at the bottom are from Austria-Hungary (early 19th century) and so on and so forth.

Medievalists work with manuscripts all the time but to see a text accrue other texts like that is just something I haven't seen before. I can understand now why the Talmud is so important to Jews because it really does represent learning through the ages in one package. The image and other information about the Talmud is from here.


Cranky Yankee said...

I like the way each commentary is layered over the previous looks neat.

K. A. Laity said...

Way cool!