Crown of Aleppo: The Mystery of the Oldest Hebrew Bible Codex

Crown of Aleppo: The Mystery of the Oldest Hebrew Bible Codex

by Hayim Tawil, Bernard Schneider
     
 

Thanks to this generous donor for making the publication of this book possible:
Jack B. Dweck.

The history and dramatic rescue of the oldest Hebrew Bible in book form

In Crown of Aleppo, Hayim Tawil and Bernard Schneider tell the incredible story of the survival, against all odds, of the Aleppo Codex—one of the most authoritative and

Overview

Thanks to this generous donor for making the publication of this book possible:
Jack B. Dweck.

The history and dramatic rescue of the oldest Hebrew Bible in book form

In Crown of Aleppo, Hayim Tawil and Bernard Schneider tell the incredible story of the survival, against all odds, of the Aleppo Codex—one of the most authoritative and accurate traditional Masoretic texts of the Bible.

Completed circa 939 in Tiberias, the Crown was created by exacting Tiberian scribes who copied the entire Bible into book form, adding annotations, vowel and cantillation marks, and precise commentary. Praised by Torah scholars for centuries after its writing, the Crown passed through history until the 15th century when it was housed in the Great Synagogue of Aleppo, Syria. When the synagogue was burned in the 1947 pogrom, the codex was thought to be destroyed, lost forever.

That is where its great mystery begins. Miraculously, a significant portion of the Crown of Aleppo survived the fire and was smuggled from the synagogue ruins to an unknown location—presumably within the Aleppan Jewish community. Ten years later, the surviving pages of the codex were secretly brought to Israel and finally moved to their current location in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

This wonderfully rich book contains more than 50 rare photographs and maps, some in full color, including those of the Aleppo Codex, the Great Synagogue of Aleppo, and of the people who played a part in its rescue.

 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this fascinating and comprehensive investigation into the Aleppo Codex, scholars Tawil and Schneider vividly recreate the history of this rare and eminently significant text and track its intriguing any tragic course through time. Through their analysis of its authorship in then10th century; insights into its association with medieval and modern biblical luminaries; pointed questions regarding its partial destruction; and rare photographs, the authors convey both the spiritual and material significance of what many call simply the Crown. As the most authoritative rendering of the Torah, the Crown's maintenance and survival was vital, yet its transfer from place to place over the centuries has almost always been shrouded in mystery. During its 500-year stay in Aleppo, Syria, under the superstitious and watchful eye of the Jewish community there, only a handful of religious scholars were permitted to view the sacred codex, reflecting an unfortunate reality since pogroms in the 1940s destroyed substantial portions of the text. This highly readable and intriguing account will captivate readers both familiar and unfamiliar with the history of the Crown. (July)
Jewish Eye

“All in all, although the book is small, it contains a wealth of information that people kissing and otherwise extolling the Torah should know.”—Jewish Eye
South Florida Jewish Journal

“I once heard Elie Wiesel say: ‘Go try to write Jewish fiction when Jewish reality is always more incredible than anything that you can imagine!’ I thought of that line when I read this book . . . for if a novelist had made up this story, it would have been dismissed as impossible to believe.”—Rabbi Jack Reimer for the South Florida Jewish Journal

— Rabbi Jack Reimer

Bill's Faith Matters Weblog

“The story of how the Dead Sea Scrolls were found . . . is well known. But the remarkable tale of the Crown of Aleppo, itself a simply priceless work, is much less known. This book from the Jewish Publication Society should start to fix that.”—Bill’s Faith Matters Weblog
Heritage Florida Jewish News

Crown of Aleppo amounts to something of a short course in Jewish history in general and Bible scholarship in particular for the non-specialist reader. But it is also a kind of a thriller . . . that is solidly rooted in fact.”—Heritage Florida Jewish News
Read the Spirit
“This new book not only shares a gripping story of survival and preservation, but it also explains a lot about how our modern Bibles were preserved through the millennia.”—Read the Spirit
 
South Florida Jewish Journal - Rabbi Jack Reimer

“I once heard Elie Wiesel say: ‘Go try to write Jewish fiction when Jewish reality is always more incredible than anything that you can imagine!’ I thought of that line when I read this book . . . for if a novelist had made up this story, it would have been dismissed as impossible to believe.”—Rabbi Jack Reimer for the South Florida Jewish Journal
Library Journal
Tawil (Hebrew language & literature, Yeshiva Univ.) and Schneider, an attorney with serious interest in the Hebrew Bible, elucidate one of the 20th century's most intriguing biblio-mysteries: the story of the Aleppo Codex—the world's oldest extant Hebrew Bible in book form, created in the early tenth century. The authors recount the history of the so-called Crown of Aleppo, including its context, provenance, significance, and final, perilous journey out of Syria and into modern Israel. First, Tawil and Schneider detail the anti-Jewish activity and pogroms in 1947 Syria, setting the stage for the Crown's disappearance from the Synagogue of Aleppo. Then they go back to discuss the book's origins, travels, and textual controversies, describing in the process a host of memorable characters, e.g., the great medieval sage Maimonides and the scholarly debate over his use of the Crown; the paradoxical member of the Karaite sect, Abraham Firkovich, who attempted to acquire the Crown; and the courageous Murad Faham, who ultimately saved the Crown and brought it back to Isarel. The final chapters discuss the academic and religious politics of the Crown and its legacy. VERDICT Both generalists and specialists will find this a wonderfully engaging story, well researched and informative.—Anthony J. Elia, JKM Theological Lib., Chicago

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780827608955
Publisher:
Jewish Publication Society
Publication date:
04/01/2010
Pages:
220
Sales rank:
633,360
Product dimensions:
6.90(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.80(d)

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