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Further Study Unveils Origins of 13th-Century
In the last issue of the Library Newsletter (no.
19, May 1996), Jordana Rubel '96 wrote about her work with
Haverford's 1266 Hebrew Bible. Rachel Beckwith, Executive Library
Assistant, took a more comprehensive look at this Bible for her
graduate work in Art History. She recounts her scholarly study
in this issue.
During the 1996 spring semester, I took a course in Bryn Mawr's
Art History graduate program entitled "Medieval Art in American
Collections." For this course, I chose to do my project on a medieval
object in a collection that I could travel to as often as necessary--Special
Collections here in Magill Library. The object was a thirteenth-century
Hebrew Bible from Spain that was donated to Haverford College
in 1890 by J.Rendel Harris, a Cambridge-educated Quaker who was
a Professor of Biblical Languages and Ecclesiastical History here
at the College from 1885 to 1893.
For my project, I focused on the codicological and artistic aspects
of the Bible in order to gain more information concerning its
provenance. The study of codicology is defined as the study of
manuscripts as cultural artifacts for historical purposes. In
other words, I knew that close examination of the physical attributes
of the Haverford Bible would help me to discern its place of origin.
I also knew that the style of decoration in the Bible would allow
me to make a more specific identification. And finally, the Haverford
Bible contains a colophon (inscription
at the end of the volume which identifies facts about its production)
as well as several different owners' inscriptions throughout,
all of which helped me to trace its travels and to learn more
about the scribe who copied the Bible.
After close examination and careful study of the Haverford Bible,
I was able to clarify questions of its provenance and its place
in the historical continuum. The codicological features of script,
type of pen used, number of sheets to a quire (sheets of parchment
that are placed on top of each other, folded down the center,
and then sewn together), manner of pricking the margins, and ruling
technique clearly place it in the realm of Sepharad. The ornamental
features of carpet pages, decorative panels at the ends of books,
chapter markings, and micrographic masorah (the body of notes
on the textual traditions of the Hebrew Old Testament compiled
by the scribe) all confirm the attribution of this book to Spain.
It is quite clear that the Haverford Bible is not the product
of an immigrant scribe (as many Hebrew manuscripts were), but
rather was actually copied in Spain. Furthermore, comparison with
other Spanish Hebrew Bibles from the same period suggests the
likelihood that the Haverford Bible was copied in Northern Spain,
more specifically in Tudela, Soria, or Burgos. The city of Tudela
is favored because of the unusual order of books following the
Prophets, an order which is also found in another Medieval bible,
the Dublin Ibn Gaon Bible from Tudela (1300). It is possible that
the Haverford Bible was used as a model for the scribe who copied
the Dublin Ibn Gaon since scribes were always working from a model
or prototype. In any case, it seems almost certain that the Haverford
Bible did not originate in Toledo, a city that produced many of
today's extant Hebrew manuscripts.
After examining the colophon and owners' inscriptions, we can
now speculate that the Bible remained in Spain until the expulsion
of the Jews, at which time it made its way to Egypt. We know of
three changes of ownership, one which occurred in 1714-15, one
in 1755-56, and the last in 1890 when J. Rendel Harris purchased
the Bible for Haverford College. Finally, after studying the SFAR-DATA
database (a database that provides an entry for every extant Hebrew
manuscript), it is clear that at this point, the 1266 Haverford
Bible is the only known Bible that is signed by (or, for that
matter, attributed to) the scribe Solomon, son of Moses.
Folio 435r, The Haverford Bible (1266)
Translation of the colophon:
I, Solomon, son of Moses (may his memory be blessed) have written
and delivered these twenty-four books to the esteemed and educated
Rabbi Joshua, son of the esteemed and respected Rabbi Zirachaya,
son of the honored and learned Shealtiel. May God enable him and
his children and his children's children to enjoy them until the
end of time. And it will come to be for them, as it is written,
this book of the Torah shall not wander from your mouth, and you
shall study it day and night in order to be careful to observe
all that is written. For then you will be successful in your ways
and you will be enlightened. And I finished in the month of Adar
5026 (1266) since the creation of the world.
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Haverford/Evans Electronic Partnership
Is it getting any easier to find a needle in a haystack?
If you have already been ensnared in the World Wide Web, it will
come as no surprise to you that, in recent months, it has become
increasingly easy not only to look into the catalogs of libraries
around the world to know what those libraries hold, but also to
read the contents of those holdings, all without leaving the privacy
of your office. Johns Hopkins University's "Project Muse," University
of Michigan's "JSTOR," and the textual databases at the University
of Virginia are among a wide array of resources which make it
possible for researchers to find and examine documents that would
previously have been available only to those who could visit the
holding library. In "libraryspeak" the concept is expressed as
"access," and the goal is to make the greatest amount of information
available to many people in many different places and circumstances.
In Spring 1996, Haverford's Special Collections mounted its first
manuscript "finding aid" on the Web. "Finding aids" are listings
or indexes that assist researchers in locating a particular letter,
photograph, or other individual document which might be buried
inside a collection of materials--such as the papers, scrapbooks,
or account books of a particular family or organization. Many
manuscript repositories have finding aids, but mostly they are
available only to those who make their way to the locations where
the manuscripts reside. With nearly 300,000 manuscripts among
its holdings, Haverford College's Special Collections has many
volumes of finding aids, ranging from hand-written cards from
the early years to computer disks of recent vintage--but for most
of them, you have to come to Haverford to use them.
The finding aid which we put on the Web last spring was a short
biographical sketch of Quaker missionaries Eli and Sybil Jones
(uncle and aunt of Haverford's own Rufus Jones) and an index of
the contents of their papers, which are rich with the story of
the spread of Quakerism to developing countries at the turn of
the twentieth century. The Jones collection was chosen because
researchers world-wide have shown such interest in that particular
Several years ago, J. Morris (Morrie) Evans '43 brought to the
Library some 2500 letters from his family's archives, an archive
that encompassed many generations of leaders in the Philadelphia
Quaker community. We were delighted to receive the letters--but
equally delighted to receive Morrie's index, on disks, of the
dates, authors, and recipients of those letters!! With funds from
an endowment provided by Morrie to assist the College with managing
Quaker archives, we were able to integrate these new letters into
the Library's online catalog, TRIPOD.
Over the next few months, again assisted by funds from the college's
JM & AT Evans Fund, Haverford's Special Collections will be
able to add significantly to the information about the Society
of Friends on the Web. As with the Jones collections, the Evans/Cope/Morris
families, which are encompassed in the letters acquired from Morrie
Evans, are of great interest to researchers who seek to understand
Friends' participation in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century economics,
reform, education, and science. So this collection of materials
will be the next finding aid we will add to the Web. In the process,
we will be investigating the feasibility of using graphic images
to enhance user-friendliness and increased scholarly usefulness.
Would it be helpful to you to view, from a desk in California,
Thomas Pym Cope's signature, or a sample of the zoological drawings
of Edward Drinker Cope? This might happen. Stay tuned. Our Web
page is under construction! It could get easier to find a needle
in a haystack, or at least to find a Friend in Pennsylvania.
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Illuminating the Lives of Medieval Women
Once upon a time, the only medieval women we knew about were
queens in castles and damsels in distress. Now, thanks to the
work of social and economic historians in the last twenty years,
we see the medieval landscape populated by all kinds of women:
prosperous brewers, mothers teaching their children to read, recluses
in saintly solitude, and trobairitz singing songs of love. As
I worked with Professor Susan Stuard and her students researching
medieval women, I was constantly amazed and frequently overwhelmed
by the quantity and variety of material being published. I wished
repeatedly that there was a source that would pull all of these
publications together. This wish became the inspiration for the
Medieval Feminist Index.
This past summer Haverford College granted me five weeks to begin
laying the groundwork for a bibliographic database about women,
gender, sexuality, and family during the Middle Ages. I am indexing
the articles in more than 200 journals and the individual pieces
in essay collections that cover relevant topics.
A record from the Medieval
Feminist Index includes the usual author, title, and source
information, so that the user can track down the article. There
are also more specialized categories like Geographic Area, Century,
Primary Source (the original documents that form the basis of
the study), and Illustrations that contain valuable information.
When the researcher has the power to combine these categories
in a computerized search, the results can be very finely tuned.
Clearly, indexing the flood of publications in this field is
not a one-person operation. Emily Beal, a Haverford senior history
major with a special interest in the Middle Ages, is entering
data and researching questions two afternoons a week. I have also
assembled via e-mail an advisory panel of medieval scholars with
expertise in all fields relevant to women and gender, including
area studies for the various geographic regions. Advisors have
sent me recommendations for journals to be indexed, evaluated
the database, and answered questions in their areas of expertise.
At this point, Emily and I are entering data for journals and
essays published in 1995. We have more than 400 records and hope
to finish 1995 publications before the new year. Once that data
is entered, we will make the Medieval Feminist Index available
for students and scholars to search over the World Wide Web. Emily
and I will then turn our attention to the material published in
1996 and plan as well to pick up the previous year (1994), before
we have to begin on 1997 publications.
It is a pleasant paradox to think that the newest technology
is being used to bring medieval women back to life.
MEDIEVAL FEMINIST INDEX SAMPLE RECORD
Record No. 338
Author Mcgurk, Patrick and Jane Rosenthal.
Title Anglo-Saxon Gospelbooks of Judith, Countess of Flanders:
Their Text, Make-Up, and Function.
Source Anglo-Saxon England 24 (1995): 251-308.
Article Type Journal Article
Subject Bindings Manuscripts Gospel-Books Manuscripts-Commission
of llumination of Manuscripts Noble Women Judith, Countess of
Flanders Patronage, Ecclesiastical Lay Piety Scribes
Geog. Area Britain
Primary Source Manuscript Fulda, Hessische Landesbibliothek,
Aa. 21; Monte Cassino, Archivo della Badia, 437; New York, Pierpont
Morgan Library, M.708, and New York, Pierpont Morgan Library,
Illustrations Eight reproductions of gospel-book pages
from the four manuscripts originallybelonging to Judith, Countess
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Religion and Diversity in American Society
How does one create a crisp definition of "New Age," a definition
that clearly distinguishes this phenomenon from modern manifestations
of "traditional" religions? How can teachers keep all students
involved in the challenge of investigating diverse religious ideas
and traditions without appearing to challenge their deeply-held
religious beliefs? How can we keep students who have unpopular
perspectives from feeling shut out of the educational exchange?
How do we help students think both analytically and sympathetically
about their own and others' religious traditions? How do we help
students sort out the wheat from the chaff in the literature on
These and many other questions were explored during the 1996
summer institute on Religion and Diversity in American Society.
The Institute, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities,
co-sponsored by the Haverford Department of History and the Library's
Quaker Collections, and directed by Professor of History Emma
Lapsansky, brought to the campus more than three dozen participants
and lecturers from some two dozen states. The group was able to
make good use of Tri-College library resources, and reference
librarian James Gulick was lecturer/advisor on the subject of
modern American religions.
Participants in the Institute--all of whom were college or university
teachers--represented a number of disciplines. From sociology,
American studies, religious studies, philosophy, history, and
communications, the Institute drew a broad mix of perspectives
and experiences. Daily discussions wove issues of recent scholarship
and issues of classroom management into a seamless fabric, as
it became clear that all the participants were deeply equally
committed to both teaching and to scholarly pursuits. The result
of the five weeks of lectures, seminars, field trips, and discussions
was a collection of revised syllabi and a team-produced bibliography
designed to assist in teaching students to think broadly and "culturally"
about America's complex religious traditions. Watch the Special
Collections page on the Haverford College Web site for materials
from the Institute.
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