Tuesday, July 10, 2018

On the Afghan "Geniza"

The Afghan ‘Genizah’ and Eastern Persian Jewry (Aram Yardumian, Science Trends).
A portion of this collection consists of an 11thcentury private archive belonging to a Jewish family from the town of Bamiyan. These manuscripts, 29 of which were purchased by the National Library in 2013, and 250 more in 2016, were reported at the time as resembling the finds of the Cairo Genizah, and the light they shed on Jewish life during the first half of the 11thcentury in this once diverse and thriving region, and now we are beginning to know why.

The documents are written in six languages, Early Judaeo-Persian, Early New Persian, Judaeo-Arabic, Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic, and range in genre from Islamic legal instruments to personal correspondence, civil contracts to biblical commentary, debt lists to poetry. The most celebrated manuscript so far is a page of 10thcentury exegete Saadia Gaon’s commentary on Isaiah 34, otherwise absent from the rebbe’s corpus, and yet this is hardly the most revelatory document to emerge from the cave in Afghanistan.

Although it will take years, perhaps decades, before all the text is analyzed, important progress has already been made. ...
It's been close to a couple of years since we've had any news on these important manuscripts. They were found in a cave in Afghanistan. They first surfaced in the news at the end of 2011. This article gives a convenient summary of the latest work on them, notably the ambitious master's thesis of Ofir Haim at the Hebrew University.

Background here and follow the links.

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