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Genizah Documents As Literary Products

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Chapter Summary

The Cairo Genizah offers a rich and variegated collection of writings, which were traditionally classified by Genizah researchers and librarians into several categories, naturally corresponding to modern Western classifications. The main division is between the 'literary Genizah' and the 'documentary Genizah'. This chapter describes the tools of literary analysis to assess three different types of Genizah documents: a personal letter, a court record, and an historical scroll. It demonstrates how releasing these texts from their strict categories can help us to understand better the predominant mindsets and world views of this society. All three texts are contextualised within their culture. All are closely connected to canonical and familiar texts, mainly to biblical narrations and verses. Indeed, they are each constructed as links in a chain of ancient texts, all forming part of a collective memory.

Keywords: Cairo Genizah; Genizah documents; literary analysis



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