Researcher: Dr. Tsur Shafir

A central question in researching liturgical texts of the early Middle Ages is the antecedence of the French liturgical rite and its relationship to that of Ashkenaz. One of the problems facing researchers in this field is the lack of early manuscripts, particularly those from before the thirteenth century. The primary source available to researchers is the Vitry Mahzor, however the wide dissemination of this text throughout the “Ashkenazi” region led to a situation in which the surviving manuscripts demonstrate Ashkenazi influences without providing an indication as to which rite came first. Of all the available manuscripts of the Vitry Mahzor, only a single example can be dated to the twelfth century.

The purpose of this research is the publication of a critical edition of Corpus Christi Manuscript 133 (Oxford Library Collections), with an extensive critical introduction. This manuscript was a personal prayer book owned by one of England’s wealthy Jews, and it has been dated to the last quarter of the twelfth century. This manuscript, written in England – which during the period in question was part of the French cultural sphere – can greatly contribute to the inquiry regarding the relationship between the French and Ashkenazi regions, as well as add a significant new layer to our understanding of the history of prayers and prayer books.

Dr. Shafir is currently in the process of writing the lengthy critical introduction to the annotated edition of the manuscript, as well as a supplementary appendix with the French and Ashkenazic rites found in the Goldshmidt Edition. Upon completion of the introduction, Dr. Shafir will submit his work to Prof. Reif for review and editing.

 

 



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