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Latin and Vernacular Translations of Hebrew Texts in the 12th and 13th Century



Beginning in the twelfth century, translations of Jewish texts begin to appear in Christian Europe.  These translations were usually of texts concerned with the Bible (“correctoria”) or its exegesis.. Among the texts translated are Bible commentaries (especially Rashi), liturgical poems (piyyutim), but also halakhic (Talmud) and philosophical texts (Maimonides).

The workshop planned focuses especially on translations of texts by Ashkenazic Jews and their influence on Christian scholars. To mention only two areas: In the 19th century Arsène Darmesteter discovered a medieval French translation of a Hebrew-written piyyut. The question occurs, as to why it was translated and who the possible readers were. A second area is formed by the works of Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi (“Rashi”, ca. 1040-1105). He became famous within Judaism for his commentary on all books of the Jewish Bible and of the complete Babylonian Talmud (only very few Biblical Books and Talmudic treatises had been finished by his disciples). Some of these commentaries were translated into Latin (at least one manuscript which contains a translation of the commentary on the Song of Songs is still extant) and Rashi was one of the two Jewish authors who were read and quoted in Latin literature of the 12th to 14th century.

The workshop aims at giving an overview over the state of scholarly work on Christian translation activities of Hebrew texts and of the transformation of Jewish knowledge into the Christian scholarly work of the high middle ages.

The invited speakers shall have enough time to develop their argument (ca. 45 minutes each) and it is planned to give time for extended discussions.

A volume with the proceedings might also result of the conference.

Tagungsbericht Latin and Vernacular Translations of Hebrew Texts in the 12th and 13th Century. 20.09.2011-21.09.2011, Bochum, in: H-Soz-u-Kult, 10.01.2012, <>.

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