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Dating the Even Bohan of Qalonymos ben Qalonymos of Arles. A Microhistory of Scholarship*

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Abstract The Even Bohan of Qalonymos ben Qalonymos has long been acknowledged as a masterpiece of Hebrew satire and an important source for Jewish life in medieval Aragon, Provence, and Italy. The date of its composition, however, has been the subject of persistent confusion. For over four centuries its completion was dated decades before the birth of its author, even though the correct date had been discovered by Joseph Scaliger and (independently) by Leopold Zunz. After an overview of Qalonymos’s world and works, this essay uncovers this history by tracing the fate of one word through textual transmission from manuscript to print. Studying past attempts to date Qalonymos’s text, this essay tells chapters in the histories of the Hebrew book and the perception of medieval Jewish history by both Renaissance Christian Hebraists and nineteenth-century scholars of the Wissenschaft des Judentums. It also provides the correct date of the completion of the Even Bohan.


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