From North Africa and Europe in the west, through the Middle East to China in the east, our collection of Hebrew manuscripts manifests Jewish cultural and social lives spanning a thousand years. Explore some of these newly digitised collection items, examine key themes in our collection, and read expert articles to learn more about Jewish wisdom, culture, history and religion.
The exceptional collection of decorated Hebrew prayer books in the British Library contains an intriguing work produced in Italy in 1469 CE. Dr Evelyn M Cohen explores its unique representations of women participating in Jewish rituals.Read More
Jonnie Schnytzer reads between the lines of a commentary to The Book of Creation, and explores how copyists have the power to alter the meaning of secret symbols.Read More
The British Library Maḥzor Vitry is one of 11 preserved manuscript copies of the lost 11th-century original attributed to Simḥah ben Samuel of Vitry. Dr Justine Isserles revisits this highly significant manuscript.Read More
Most readers of the Bible feel that they sometimes need an explanation – a gloss – to understand a text written and edited many centuries before it reached their hands. Dr Javier del Barco looks particularly into the practice of producing glossed Hebrew Bibles in medieval Ashkenaz.Read More
The catalogue records for the British Library’s collection of Hebrew manuscripts are remarkably diverse and informative. Dr Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert explores how this data can be further improved and standardised in preparation for scholarly analysis.Read More
Before the age of printing, the texts and layouts of Hebrew works were not standardised. This is because the transmission of works was out of the hands of their authors and in the hands of scribes. Dr Israel Sandman considers the intervention of scribes when copying Hebrew scientific works.Read More
Using the work of the Library’s Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project, Dr Yossi Chajes examines ‘visual Kabbalah’, its interpretations and its importanceRead More
By looking into Jewish mystical texts and the use of names in Jewish magic, Dr Agata Paluch considers the use of divine and angelic names to gain special powers, cast magic, or even attain unification with God.Read More
Today's post is by guest contributor Jacqueline Nicholls, a London based visual artist and Jewish educator. She uses her art to engage with traditional Jewish ideas in untraditional ways. She co-ordinates the Art Studio and other Arts & Culture events...
While art historical research has focussed on the beauty and splendour of Persian miniature paintings, the study of Judeo-Persian manuscript art has lagged behind, receiving only more recently the attention and recognition it deserves. These paintings form part and parcel...
The British Library’s sole Judaeo-Urdu manuscript is a copy in Hebrew script of the well-known Urdu theatrical work, the Indar Sabha, written by Agha Sayyid Hasan ‘Amanat,’ a poet at the court of Vajid Ali Shah of Awadh. Opening folio...
Looking through our collection of digitised Hebrew illuminated manuscripts, you may have noticed that amongst all of the biblical scenes and decorative letters, there are scenes of families cleaning their houses. Given the same spatial importance of scenes of lofty...