These publications are authored by members of the ERC Calendars research team and are related to research carried out in this project, but are not all outputs of the project itself.
Ilana Wartenberg, (2020). Mudejar Decorations within Calendrical, Geographical, and Mathematical Tables and Diagrams in a Fifteenth-Century Sephardic Manuscript of Isaac Israeli's Yesod Olam from the British Library
Nadia Vidro, (2021). Dating medieval manuscripts with the help of calendars: an evaluation, Revue des Études Juives 180/1–2, 193–205
Undated manuscripts that have a calendar are often approximately dated to the starting years of the calendar. This method assumes that scribes were unlikely to include a calendar for past years, since this information would have been no longer relevant. The present article is an evaluation of the method of calendar dating. By examining dated manuscripts that include a calendar, the article demonstrates that calendar dating is unreliable and should not be seen as yielding more than a terminus post quem. This conclusion applies to calendar formats most commonly found in European and later medieval and early-modern Near Eastern Hebrew manuscripts, namely long-term calendars for a range of 19-year cycles in which each year is represented by one calendrical year type, and especially calendars for thirteen 19-year cycles (247 years), which were erroneously believed by many medieval and early-modern Jews to be reiterative and useable forever.
Nadia Vidro (2021). The 247-year Jewish calendar cycle: origins, diffusion, and diversity, in Stern, S. (ed.), Calendars in the Making: The Origins of Calendars from the Roman Empire to the Later Middle Ages, pp. 245–291.
This paper traces the history of the Jewish 247-year calendar cycle based on evidence provided by a comprehensive corpus of medieval and early modern manuscripts from different geo-cultural areas. It gauges popular and scientific attitudes towards the reiterative calendar asking why, although this cycle was known to be “faulty” already in the 12th century, reiterative calendars continued to be copied and discussed until the 19th century.
Wartenberg, I., A non-linear transmission of Euclid's Elements in a medieval Hebrew calendrical treatise. Centaurus. 2020;62:158–180. https://doi.org/10.1111/1600-0498.12277
In this article I present the unique partial transmission of Euclid's Elements in the medieval Hebrew calendrical treatise Yesod 'Olam (The Foundation of the World ), which was composed by Isaac Israeli in 14th‐century Toledo. After a short introduction of Yesod 'Olam , I discuss the role of mathematics, as understood by Israeli, in the study of astronomy and the Jewish calendar. I then provide a mapping of the Elements found in Yesod 'Olam and demonstrate Israeli's peculiar rendition of this seminal Greek work through four examples. Finally, I show that Israeli's transmission of the Elements is lexically independent of earlier known Hebrew versions of the text.
Wartenberg, I., Linguistic innovations in the mathematical Hebrew in treatises on the Jewish calendar in the Middle Ages, in E. Bar-Asher Siegal and D. Yaakov (Eds.), Hebrew and Aramaic in the Middle Ages – Language Studies and Grammatical Thought, Hebrew Language Academy, 2020, pp. 153-162 (in Hebrew).
Wartenberg, I., Mudejar Decorations within Calendrical, Geographical, and Mathematical Tables and Diagrams in a Fifteenth-Century Sephardic Manuscript of Isaac Israeli's Yesod Olam from the British Library (MS Add. 15977), in L. U. Afonso and T. Moita (Eds.), Sephardic Book Art of the Fifteenth Century, Brepols, 2019, pp. 157-174.
In the year 921/2, the Jewish leaders of Palestine and Babylonia disagreed on how to calculate the calendar. This led the Jews of the entire Near East to celebrate Passover and the other festivals, through two years, on different dates. The controversy was major, but it became forgotten until its late 19th-century rediscovery in the Cairo Genizah. Faulty editions of the texts, in the following decades, led to much misunderstanding about the nature, leadership, and aftermath of the controversy. In this book, Sacha Stern re-edits the texts completely, discovers many new Genizah sources, and challenges the historical consensus. This book sheds light on early medieval Rabbanite leadership and controversies, and on the processes that eventually led to the standardization of the medieval Jewish calendar.
Nadia Vidro, (2019), Nahshon Gaon – a calendar scholar or a pseudo-author?, Jewish Studies Quarterly, 26/1 (2019), pp.17-34
This article studies Nahshon Gaon’s association with the Jewish calendar. Nahshon ben Zadok Gaon, a ninth-century head of the academy of Sura, is credited with developing a system of calendation known as the “Iggul of R. Nahshon” and considered the Gaon’s most reliably attributable work. Based on a corpus of over two hundred medieval and early-modern sources, the article questions the historicity of this attribution. The article identifies six different calendar schemes ascribed in the sources to Nahshon Gaon under the title Iggul and demonstrates that such attributions are pseudoepigraphic and predominantly Ashkenazi. Nahshon Gaon’s name first appears in late 12th-century Ashkenazi calendar sources, linked to a reiterative calendar for 247 years. Other schemes copied under the title Iggul are later and their attribution to Nahshon Gaon reflects the fact that the Gaon came to be perceived as a calendar authority.
Nadia Vidro, (2018). Manuscript to print and print to print: on the transmission history of Jacob ben Asher’s Tur Orah Hayyim, Zutot: Perspectives on the Jewish History and Culture, 15/1 (2018), pp. 73 – 93
This article is a case study in the transition of texts from manuscript to print. It looks at all surviving manuscripts and 15th–16th-centuries printed editions of Jacob ben Asher’s ʾArbaʿah Turim, Tur Orah Hayyim. Based on a close textual investigation of Tur Orah Hayyim, chapter 428, it identifies and dates manuscript clusters, and establishes how different imprints are linked with the manuscript tradition and with each other. The article suggests that the Soncino 1490 imprint by Solomon Soncino exerted a crucial influence on the printed text of Tur Orah Hayyim. Whereas before imprints were independent and closely associated with individual manuscripts, Soncino 1490 became the archetype for all but one subsequent 15th–16th-centuries imprints, and direct dependence on manuscripts subsided.
Nadia Vidro (2018). Calendar tables in manuscript and printed Arba'ah Turim (Tur Orah Hayyim, chapter 428), Journal of Jewish Studies, 69/1 (2018), 58–85.
This article is a case study in the creation, transmission and evolution of calendar tables in medieval and early modern Jewish sources. It looks at calendar tables in Arbaʿah Ṭurim by Jacob ben Asher (early fourteenth century), one of the most influential rabbinic codes of law. Calendar tables in printed editions of Arbaʿah Ṭurim (Ṭur Oraḥ Ḥayyim, chapter 428) deviate from the normative rabbinic calendar and can lead to celebrating religious holidays at wrong times. The inclusion of non-standard tables in an authoritative code of law has long raised questions about their authenticity. This article examines the history of calendar tables in Ṭur Oraḥ Ḥayyim by investigating all extant manuscripts and fifteenth–sixteenth-centuries printed editions of the code. The article highlights the unstable connection of calendar tables with authorial compositions and the lack of calendar expertise among copyists and users of calendar tables.
Nadia Vidro, (2017). A Popular Calendar. Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit at University of Cambridge, Fragment of the Month, September 2017.
A short note on a popular medieval Jewish calendar scheme that allowed people with little calendar knowledge to be able to set the calendar and stay in sync with the correct calendar for most years.
Ilaria Bultrighini, (2018). Thursday (dies Iovis) in the Later Roman Empire. Papers of the British School at Rome. (forthcoming)
This paper discusses two scanty but complex groups of sources which seem to suggest that Thursday (dies Iovis, that is, Jupiter’s Day in the Roman planetary seven-day week) was a day of rest in honour of Jupiter during the later imperial period: a number of ecclesiastical texts from late antique Gaul and Galicia, and three documentary papyri from Oxyrhynchus. The former imply that an unofficial observance of Jupiter’s Day, as opposed to the Christian Lord’s Day (Sunday), persisted among the populace despite Church opposition to such deviant behaviour. The latter hint at Thursday being a non-working day for official bureaux during the third and early fourth centuries, before the formalisation of Sunday as an official day of rest by Constantine in 321. The paper concludes with reflections on the idea that during the later imperial period –as the use of the planetary week became increasingly popular– Thursday became the most important and sacred day in the Roman seven-day week by reason of being the day dedicated to the chief god of the Roman pantheon and, at the same time, the day associated to the astrologically favourable planet that had been named after Jupiter. If Thursday was ever a day of rest recurring on a hebdomadal basis during the later Roman Empire, it was presumably the Judeo-Christian tradition of the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day that provided pagans with the notion of a weekly feast day.
Many medieval and early modern Jewish calendars were based on the assumption that the calendar repeats itself exactly after 247 years. Although this cycle—known as the Iggul of R. Nahshon Gaon—is discussed in many sources, both medieval and modern, its origins remain a mystery. The present article sheds light on the early history of the reiterative Jewish calendar by looking at the oldest 247-year cycles identified to date. (also available on JStor)
Ilaria Bultrighini, (2017). New light on five Latin inscriptions of the later imperial period, with special reference to their dating formulae. Epigraphica. Periodico internazionale di epigrafia, Volume 79, 2017. pp 411–424.
This article consists of a series of comments, revisions, and new readings of five Latin epigraphic documents dating approximately from the third to the sixth century CE. Four inscriptions come from various areas of Italy (Rome, Ascoli Piceno, and Folloni di Montella, near Avellino), while the fifth inscription comes from Spain (Villadecanes, region of Léon). The common denominator between these assorted inscriptions (one votive inscription and four epitaphs) is the presence of a more or less articulated dating formula within their texts, on which my comments, revisions, and new readings primarily –although not exclusively– focus.
Ilaria Bultrighini, (2017). Notes on days of the week and other date-related aspects in three Greek inscriptions of the late Roman period. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, Volume 201. pp 187–196.
This article consists of a series of comments, revisions, and new readings of three Greek inscriptions coming from different areas of the Roman Empire (Asia Minor, Thessaly, Gaul), and dating approximately from the third to the fifth century CE. I offer a restoration proposal and a new interpretation of inscription no. 1 – a votive dedication inscribed on an altar from Ankyra in Galatia – while my comments, revisions, and new readings of nos. 2 and 3 – two epitaphs, from Nea Anchialos in Thessaly and Augusta Treverorum in Gallia Belgica, respectively – concern primarily, though not exclusively, questions related to their date formulae.
François de Blois (2016). al-Bayruni, the twelve apostles, and the twelve months of the Julian year in Winds of Jingjiao. Studies on Syriac Christianity in China and Central Asia. ed. by Li Tang and Dietmar W. Winkler (= orientalia – patristica – oecumenica Vol. 9). Vienna. pp. 155-160.
al-Biruni discusses the reason why February is the shortest of the Julian months, and why it takes an extra day in a leap year. This is compared with a discussion of the same phenomena in Syriac Church literature.
Israel M. Sandman, (2016). The Transmission of Sephardic Scientific Works in Italy. In T. Langermann, R. Morrison (Eds.), Texts in Transit in the Medieval Mediterranean (pp. 198-221). UNIVERSITY PARK, PA, US: Penn State University Press.
Israel M. Sandman illustrates how manuscript copies scribed in Italy are vital to the transmission of medieval Hebrew scientific works from Iberia. He then demonstrates that in some cases these copies from Italy constitute families of high-quality standardized texts, arguing that this indicates communally organized copying. Finally, he analyzes the nature of marginalia as an indication of how various genres - purely scientific works vs. scientific-religious works - were used.
Israel M. Sandman, (20 April 2016). Palaeography: Scribes and the Transmission of Hebrew Scientific Works. British Library.
In this contribution to the British Library’s online exhibition on ‘Hebrew Manuscripts’, Israel M. Sandman considers the intervention of scribes when copying Hebrew scientific works. See also, Palaeography: scribes and the transmission of Hebrew scientific works.
Sacha Stern, (20 April 2016). A Christian calendar in the Northern French Hebrew Miscellany. British Library.
In this contribution to the British Library’s online exhibition on ‘Hebrew Manuscripts’, Sacha Stern describes an unusual Christian calendar in the Northern French Hebrew Miscellany (c. 1278 CE). See Palaeography: scribes and the transmission of Hebrew scientific works.
Sacha Stern, (2016). Christian Calendars in Medieval Hebrew Manuscripts. Medieval Encounters, Volume 22, Issue 1-3, pages 236 – 265.
Christian liturgical calendars in Hebrew translation are attested in Hebrew manuscripts from 13th-16th-centuries France and Germany. This article describes the calendars, discusses why Jews produced them, how they were used, and what they reveal about Jewish attitudes to Christianity in late medieval northern Europe.
Sacha Stern, (2016). David Gans on the Gregorian reform, modern astronomy, and the Jewish calendar. Judaica Bohemiae, Vol. 51, Issue 1, pp. 127-147.
A study of David Gans' (1541-1613) response to the Gregorian reform of the calendar, and his claim that the Jewish calendar was based on the most accurate astronomical values of his day.
Sacha Stern, (2016). A primitive rabbinic calendar text from the Cairo Genizah. Journal of Jewish Studies, Spring 2016, vol. 67, no. 1, pp. 068–090.
A hitherto unnoticed fragment from the Cairo Genizah presents an early attempt to turn the Jewish calendar into a fixed cycle. This calendar, from no later than the 8th century, may be seen as a missing link between the empirical, new moon-based calendar of Mishnaic and Talmudic sources and the molad calendar that became standard in the later medieval period.
Nadia Vidro, (2016). A Barley Believable Calendar Dispute. Genizah Fragments (71), 2.
A short note on intercalation in the Karaite and Rabbanite Jewish calendars and the sometimes violent calendar disputes that followed.
Sacha Stern, (2015). A Christian liturgical calendar in Hebrew. Genizah Fragments (70), 3.
A short report on the discovery of a Christian calendar in Hebrew from southern France, in three fragments from the Cairo Genizah.
Sacha Stern, (2015). 'Rabbinic, Christian, and local calendars in late antique Babylonia: influence and shared culture'. In M. Geller (Ed.), The archaeology and material culture of the Babylonian Talmud (pp. 260-288). Leiden: Brill.
Rabbinic, Christian, and local calendars in Babylonia of late Antiquity were all lunar, and in a process of becoming increasingly standardized and fixed. This article investigates their complex relationship, which involved at once mutual influence and a common, shared culture and history.
Sacha Stern and Justine Isserles, (2015). 'The astrological and calendar section of the earliest Mahzor Vitry manuscript (MS ex-Sassoon 535)'. Aleph 15.2 pp. 199-318.
Edition, with translation and introduction, of part of an early-mid 12th-century French manuscript from Rashi’s school, containing astrological materials and an almost complete treatise on the Jewish calendar.
Israel M. Sandman, (2014). 'Critical method of editing used by a late medieval Ashkenazi scribe'. Journal of Jewish Studies, LXV (2), 349-367.
Working inductively, particularly by comparison with other textual witnesses, I demonstrate the systematic rules by which the scribe of manuscript JTS 2564, transmitting a medieval Jewish calendar treatise, used ‘paratext’ – symbols, letter- and word-size, text breaks, and marginalia – to superimpose his insights onto the faithfully transmitted main text.
Ilana Wartenberg, (2012). 'The Discovery of a Fragment of Isaac Ha-Israeli’s Yesod Olam in the Cairo Genizah', Zutot , 9 (1) 51 - 58.
This article presents the discovery of a fragment that belongs to Isaac ha-Israeli’s scientific book Yesod Olam in the Cairo Genizah thanks to one trigonometric expression typical of this author. The discovery is discussed within the larger context of the evolution of Hebrew, Latin and Arabic trigonometric terminology and the role of Yesod Olam.