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Shabbatai Donnolo and Sefer Yeṣirah

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Chapter Summary

Sefer Yeṣirah (SY) is a short work consisting, even in its longest version, of less than two thousand words, written in laconic and enigmatic language, and virtually devoid of biblical references. The text of SY was transmitted in three different recensions: the Saʿadiah Recension, the Long Recension and the Short Recension. The so-called Saʿadiah Recension is named after Saʿadiah ben Joseph Gaon, one of the leading authorities of Babylonian Jewry and author of the first known commentary on SY, entitled Tafsir Kitab al-Mabadi and composed in Arabic around the year 930. The earliest attestation of the Long Recension is to be found in the commentary on SY by Shabbatai Donnolo. Just as Saʿadiah was considered the editor of this recension, so the hypothesis was advanced that Donnolo had similarly intervened in the text of SY and that he was the editor of the Long Recension.

Keywords: Saʿadiah Recension; Sefer Yeṣirah (SY); Shabbatai Donnolo



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