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7. Scribal Prerogative in Modifying Calendrical Tables

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Chapter Summary

This chapter is about practices of medieval and early modern Hebrew scribes. It is constructed with examples from the scribal transmission of paratextual elements in a single work, the (untitled) calendrical work of Abraham bar Ḥayya. There is an additional dimension to this variation. In some cases, variation seems to be motivated by differing conceptual stances. As bar Ḥayya discusses in 3:3, according to the calculation of the Rabbinic sage Samuel, the length of a solar year is 365¼ days exactly. In his 'Conclusion', bar Ḥayya presents a table listing the days of the week on which solar months begin, through the 'Great Cycle' of 28 years. While scribes consistently try (with overall success) to accurately convey the data contained in the tables, they vary in their fidelity to the captioning and layout of these tables, exhibiting the accustomed tension between innovation and conservatism.

Keywords: Abraham bar Ḥayya; calendrical tables; Hebrew scribes; Samuel



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