Material Text Cultures

Scholarly Knowledge, Drollery or Esotericism? The Masora of the Hebrew Bible in its Various Material Properties


current staff members

Teilprojektleiterin Prof. Dr. Hanna Liss
akademischer Mitarbeiter Dr. Dr. Federico Dal Bo

former staff members

akademische Mitarbeiterin Dr. Elodie Attia
akademischer Mitarbeiter Kay Joe Petzold
akademische Mitarbeiterin Hanna-Barbara Rost
akademischer Mitarbeiter Clemens Liedtke
akademischer Mitarbeiter Jonas Leipziger




In its third funding phase, Subproject B04 focuses on the change from writing by hand to printing, and in particular on the transfer of handwritten and printed artefacts to the Masora. Printing defined a text and layout tradition for the Masora, in which the Ashkenazi tradition - characterised by a multifaceted masora figurata - was gradually replaced by the less elaborate Sephardic tradition.

Print of Raschi’s Commentary on the Torah, Lisbon 1491

The project looks at the incunabula, early prints and related manuscripts. It investigates the reception and significance of the Masora and considers those involved in book production (printers, writers) as well as their altered social fields (synagogue, university). It also explores the philological consequences that have come with book printing and the establishment of a standardised Masora. These consequences are still relevant today. This is the first time that the academic fields of Bible (text) research and Jewish studies, which have been separate since the first universities, have been brought together again.

The praxeological view of the production of Hebrew Bibles and the associated presentation of the Masora in the initial phase of early Hebrew book printing between 1475 and 1500 appears particularly exciting because the disappearance of the masora figurata from the Ashkenazi Bible manuscripts of the 11th to 14th centuries was by no means isolated. It was accompanied by a change of writing material (parchment to paper), separation and/or change of producers and recipients ([Christian and Jewish] printers rather than Jewish scribes), Christian Hebraists, Jewish scholars), as well as considerable variation in text stock and volume, layout and layer binding. It was not, however, an abrupt development: at the end of the 15th century, the first incunabula prints of the Hebrew Bible and the established Hebrew commentaries appeared in Italy and on the Iberian peninsula alongside the handwritten tradition. There is a visible juxtaposition and coexistence of the Bible text (as a hypotext) and its various commentaries (as hypertexts): Bible commentary(s), Targum and Masoretic notations.

Print of the Second Rabbinic Bible (Bomberg2), Venice 1525

Using a comparison of the Bible manuscripts and early 15th century prints, the project aims to establish key findings regarding the reciprocal reception of Ashkenazi and Sephardic textual traditions (Northern Italy) and Sephardic-Tiberian textual traditions (Spain/Portugal), which was accompanied by the loss of Ashkenazi Masora traditions at the beginning of the typographic age in the first half of the 16th century. It will also provide findings of praxeological relevance with regard to the affordance of artefacts and their liturgical and/or scientific uses.


Digital Edition of Masora Figurata developed by project members Clemens Liedtke and Kay Joe Petzold:



Subprojects of the 3rd Funding Period

A01 A02 A03 A05 A06 A08 A09 A10 A11 A12 B01 B04 B09 B10 B13 B14 B15 C05 C07 C08 C09 C10 INF Ö2 Z



Completed Subprojects

A01 A03 A04 B02 B03 B06 B07 B11 B12 C01 C02 C03 C04 C06 IGK Ö1



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