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The Diplomatics of Leadership: Administrative Documents in Hebrew Script from the Geniza

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Chapter Summary

This chapter is a study of petitions and decrees to and from the ruʾasāʾ al-yahūd - of Jewish communal administrative documents in Hebrew script - and how they drew upon the traditions embedded in Fatimid administrative documents in Arabic, both their texts and their graphic features. The author first introduces some of Mark Cohen's work on Hebrew-script petitions from poor people asking for charity, and develops his insights about their similarities to petitions submitted to Fatimid high officials. Then, he examines decrees and petitions from and to heads of the Jewish community in the late eleventh century and their parallels in Fatimid state documents. The author argues that Jews - or at least one segment of the Jewish communal elite - developed a distinctive "chancery style", and developed it in contact with Fatimid state documents.

Keywords: Fatimid state documents; Hebrew-script petitions; Jewish community; Mark Cohen



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