A newly identified document gives insight into the mind of Maimonides

by | May 19, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — Researchers at Cambridge University have discovered a document bearing the handwriting of the 12th-century rabbi, doctor, philosopher and polymath Moses Ben Maimon, better known as Maimonides, the university announced last week. The 900-year-old “scrap of paper,” Cambridge said, was among the hundreds of thousands of fragments collected from the Cairo Genizah, a trove of Jewish writings held in a Cairo synagogue that collectively chronicles nearly two millennia of Jewish life in Egypt, where Maimonides, born in Spain in 1135, died.
It was first discovered in 2005, though its author was not known at the time. The writing was identified as the work of Maimonides by José Martínez Delgado, a visiting scholar from the department of semitic studies at the University of Granada.
Most famous for his comprehensive commentary on the Torah and Talmud, his compendium of Jewish law, the “Mishneh Torah,” and a philosophic tome, the “Guide of the Perplexed,” Maimonides wrote almost entirely in Hebrew or Judaeo-Arabic — an Arabic dialect written in the Hebrew alphabet with many Hebrew or Aramaic phrases. 
The page is a glossary written in the Hebrew alphabet but contains translations of more than 90 words into a pre-Spanish language known as Romance. 
Maimonides was born in Cordoba, in what is today southern Spain but known at the time of his youth as Al-Andalus under the rule of the Al …

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