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A Reconstructed Codex of the Diwan of Shmuel ha-Nagid - Dr Michael Rand

This project, undertaken jointly with Jonathan Vardi of the Hebrew University, is aimed at reconstructing a medieval codex containing the Diwan of the Spanish Hebrew poet Shmuel ha-Nagid.

The Nagid was a figure of major political and cultural importance in 11th century Iberia. He is considered to be the first great poet of the Golden Age of Hebrew poetry in Muslim Spain. In accordance with the Muslim and Jewish practice of his time, his poems were gathered in a comprehensive collection known as a Diwan. Several copies of the Nagid’s Diwan were deposited in the Cairo Genizah not long after the Nagid’s death. One of these is an especially significant codex, being represented by close to 50 manuscript leaves—an unusually high number—now scattered among several of the Genizah collections of Europe and the United States.

The researchers have gathered these leaves together, and reconstructed the original codex on their basis. This material will be published in the form of a facsimile edition of the codex, and as such it will be one of a very few codices reconstructed from the Genizah fragments. In this regard, it will represent a significant contribution to the history of the Medieval Hebrew book as attested to in the Genizah.

The facsimile edition will also contain a transcription of the preserved poetic material, together with an introduction reviewing the history of the Nagid’s Diwan. This part of the work will represent an advance in the study of the Nagid’s poetry, and will eventually contribute significantly to the production of a new critical edition of this corpus.

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Research and teaching in the field of Jewish Studies take place in a variety of faculties and departments across the University of Cambridge. The Cambridge Forum for Jewish Studies is an initiative whose objective is to join up this activity and communicate the range of expertise and wealth of research in the field that currently exists in the university. The Forum meets once a term to exchange information and ideas. It is hoped that it will encourage wider participation and a variety of perspectives.

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