Friday, February 12, 2016

UNESCO recognizes the Aleppo Codex as a world treasure

As reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 9, 2016 (link in original):

The Aleppo Codex — believed to be the world’s oldest surviving copy of the Hebrew Bible — has been officially recognized as a treasured item by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The codex, which is on permanent display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, will be listed in UNESCO’s International Memory of the World Register, Haaretz reported Tuesday.

UNESCO officially recognized the codex on Monday, according to Haaretz, deciding it belongs in its registry of 300 items and collections from all over the world. The registry already includes two other items from Israel: the Israel Museum’s Rothschild Miscellany, a collection of illustrated 15th-century manuscripts, and the Pages of Testimony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, which documents the names and stories of Holocaust victims.

Written in northern Israel around 930 CE, the codex has a storied and transient history. It was smuggled into Israel from Syria 60 years ago, and since then 200 of the original 500 pages have mysteriously disappeared.

An award-winning 2013 book — “The Aleppo Codex: In Pursuit of One of the World’s Most Coveted, Sacred and Mysterious Books” — chronicles its history.

According to Haaretz, 7,200 pages of Isaac Newton’s papers, which are stored in Israel’s National Library in Jerusalem, was also added to the UNESCO registry this week.
And this item, reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 12, 1976:


A facsimile edition of the oldest known manuscript of the Hebrew Bible — the Aleppo Codex — was published by the Hebrew University last week. It is the fruit of 20 years’ work by a team of Hebrew University scholars, headed by Prof. Moshe Goshen Gottstein. The 500-page red and blue leather-bound facsimiles will sell for $400 apiece.

The Aleppo Codex was first published in about 900 AD in Tiberias by Aharon Ben Asher, a master of the textual tradition. By the end of the 11th century, the manuscript had been carried off from Jerusalem to Cairo. But it was subsequently transferred to Aleppo, Syria where it remained in the possession of the Jewish community. During Israel’s War for Independence in 1948, the Syrians tried to burn the Biblical treasure, but 600 of the 800 pages were saved.

The manuscript was smuggled out of Syria in 1956 and delivered to President Yitzhak Ben Zvi of Israel for safe-keeping. It is now at the Ben Zvi Institute in Jerusalem. Most of the Pentateuch is among the lost portion. The manuscript begins with Deuteronomy, Chapt. 28, Verse 17. It includes the books of Joshua, Judges and Samuel but Kings I is missing and only parts of Kings 2 have been preserved. The books of Isaiah and Ezekial are complete, but only parts of Jeremiah are preserved. Most of the minor prophets, the Book of Psalms and Chronicles are also preserved.
See also my post Israeli scholar completes 30-year mission to "fix" textual errors in Old Testament (January 18, 2013).

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