Abstract to Hanna Liss

This article deals with the commentary on the Song of Songs from MS Hamburg Heb 32 that is usually attributed to Rashbam. After discussing the question if this commentary can be traced back to Rashbam as the ‘author’, or whether it is a later compilation by a Rashbam-‘school’ (Ps.-Rashbam ), the author addresses the relationship between the exegesis ad litteram and the ‘allegorical’ explanations. In contrary to Rashi’s Commentary on the Song of Songs that offers allegorical explanations by using the term dûgmâ throughout, this commentary at all times introduces these interpretations with the expression dimyôn. One section, therefore, elucidates why Ps.-Rashbam relinquished the term dûgmâ and introduced his explanations with the term dimyôn. Finally, it is argued that Ps.-Rashbam insists on reading the Song of Songs as a profane love-poem comparable to the coeval chansons de femmes. Ps.-Rashbam’s characteristic exegetical technique comprises a description of a love-scene or ‘paraphrase’ of the text as an attempt to open up new fictional realms and to create an ‘old-new’ fictional narrative.

Abstract to Ingeborg Lederer

The commentary on Ruth in Manuscript Vatican ebr. 18 is put together in two parts, both written by different hands. These two parts contain interpretations which can also be found in other manuscripts. In comparison with parallel commentary versions in other manuscripts, the compiled remarks may be attributed to different origins, like Midrash Ruth Zuta, or exegetes like Rashi, and exegetes of the Northern French School in his footsteps.

This article elaborates on the different parts of the commentary, including, e.g., an example referring to peshat-exegesis, as a way of interpretation formulated by Rashi's successors. Also other topics like sources, subject matter and purpose of the commentary as one unit will be discussed in the course of this paper. The Hebrew text of the commentary on Ruth in Manuscript Vatican ebr. 18 and its parallel version in Manuscript Hamburg hebr. 32 is displayed in the appendix at the end of the article.

Abstract to Johannes Heil

"Beyond 'History and Memory'" pursues the discussion about Jewish historiographical thinking in the Middle Ages and challenges the assumption that there was almost no Jewish historiography between Flavius Josephus and Isaak M. Jost, especially deliberately historical work (Momigliano, Neusner). Following the paths explored by Bonfil, Funkenstein and Yerushalmi, the author argues that the lack of medieval Jewish historiography is rather the result of losses than of a distinctly a-historical mindset. Though no comprehensive medieval Jewish chronicle is extant, and most probably no such work was ever written, a closer look shows that medieval Jews deployed various forms of historiographical practices which served specific apologetic, affirmative and identificational needs. These practices reflected in one way or other the minority situation of pre-modern Jews, who countered the narratives and the teachings of the other side with their own stories. To illustrate what he understands as "interlinear" and "participatory" forms of historiography, the author deploys a broad spectrum of examples of medieval Jewish texts. He also argues that some Jewish historiographical pieces, when they served the narrative needs of the other side, found their way into the work of Christian Latin chroniclers such as Thiertmar of Merseburg or Dalimil.


MJS online 1 (2007/2008)

Article 1

Hanna Liss

The Commentary on the Song of Songs Attributed to R. Samuel ben Meïr (Rashbam), pp. 1-28

published May 8th, 2007 (some formal renewals June, 2009)

Article 2

Johannes Heil

Beyond ‘History and Memory’. Traces of Historiography in the Middle Ages, pp. 29-71

published May 6th, 2008


MJS online 2 (2012)

Article 1

Ingeborg Lederer

The Commentary on the Book of Ruth in the Hebrew Manuscript Vatican ebr. 18, pp. 1-28

published May 1st, 2012

Medieval Jewish Studies online