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Hebrew manuscripts: Catalogues and guides

Access to the Hebrew manuscript collection is mainly through the British Library's Asian & African Studies Reading Room. A small selection of material is also available online.

Consulting Hebrew manuscripts at the British Library

To access Hebrew manuscripts, use the printed catalogues in the Library's Asian and African Studies Reading Room. Hebrew material is also ordered and consulted here. (See also: Registering for a Reader Pass).

Some manuscripts of Jewish interest are also listed in the (Western) Manuscripts Catalogue.

Hebrew manuscripts on the British Library website

The famed Golden Haggadah, a sumptuously illuminated Passover liturgy dating from c.1320, and the iconic Lisbon Bible, a three volume Hebrew Bible created in Portugal in 1482, are available on the Online Gallery Turning the Pages application. To view selected images from the Hebrew manuscripts collection see Images Online.

Manuscript catalogues: British Library manuscripts

Margoliouth, G. Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan manuscripts in the British Museum. London, 1899-1915. 3 vols. - describes in detail 1206 Hebrew MSS, including the foundation and Almanzi manuscripts and a very small number of Genizah fragments. N.B. Samaritan MSS not included.

Leveen, J. Supplementary volume (vol.4) to G. Margoliouth's Catalogue. London, 1935. - contains indexes and a list describing briefly 159 manuscripts acquired between 1900-1934.

Allony, N. and Loewinger, D.S. Catalogue of the Gaster manuscripts in the British Library. Jerusalem, 1960. - brief records of OR MS 9879-10878, OR MS 12250-12379; several indexes; separate conversion tables; Hebrew text throughout.

Crown, A.D. A Catalogue of the Samaritan manuscripts in the British Library. London : The British Library, 1998 - detailed records of 178 manuscripts.

Goldstein, D., Leveen, J. & Rosenvasser, J. - Notes on Gaster manuscripts. - xerox copy of the catalogue on blue slips describing 481 manuscripts.

Hoerning, R. Description and collation of six Karaite manuscripts of portions of the Hebrew Bible in Arabic characters. London 1889 - describes OR. 2540, 2547, 2548, 2550, 2554, 2556.Leveen, J. List of Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic manuscripts believed to be derived from the Cairo Geniza. London c. 1930 - Typescript.

Lists of oriental manuscripts - arranged chronologically; give brief details of all oriental MSS acquired between c.1753 - 1991, including Hebrew MSS.

Preliminary descriptive list of oriental manuscripts acquired from 1991 onwards - includes Hebrew MSS also.

Rosenvasser, J. Judeo-Persian manuscripts in the British Museum (in G.M. Meredith-Owens' Handlist of Persian Manuscripts, London, 1968) - describes 45 Judaeo-Persian items.

Sassoon, D. S. & Ohel David. Descriptive catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan manuscripts in the Sassoon Library. Oxford, 1932, 2 vols.

Manuscripts catalogues: other significant Hebrew collections

These catalogues are on open access in the Library's Asian and African Studies Reading Room.

Collective catalogue of Hebrew manuscripts. Jerusalem: Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, c. 1990 - bibliographic records of the entire corpus of Hebrew handwritten books held in various collections around the world.  12 files (boxed)

Hebrew manuscripts. Oriental Institute, St. Petersburg. Print-out of the Aleph catalogue records supplied by the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, JNUL. Jerusalem, 2000. 2 vols.

JTS Hebrew manuscripts. - MSS from the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York - brief descriptions of fourteen microfilm collections arranged in two volumes.

List of the Guenzburg Manuscript Collection. Printout of the ALEPH catalogue records supplied by the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, JNUL. Jerusalem, 2000. 4 vols.


Ilana Tahan, M.Phil., Lead Curator, Hebrew and Christian Orient Studies
Asian and African Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7646
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7641