Crown of Alep­po: The Mys­tery of the Old­est Hebrew Bible Codex

Hay­im Taw­il and Bernard Schneider
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011

The authors pro­vide an excit­ing his­tor­i­cal analy­sis of the ori­gins and trav­els of the Alep­po Codex. It was the first time the Hebrew Bible (Tanach) was cod­i­fied and trans­ferred from scrolls to a book form. The authors trace the Codex from its ori­gins in Tiberias and pro­vide an under­stand­ing of the Masoretes. They go on to trace the his­to­ry of the Codex’s devel­op­ment and the unique anno­ta­tion attrib­uted to Aharon Ben Ash­er. In almost a detec­tive sto­ry like fash­ion they weave in the unique trav­els of the Codex to Egypt and its pos­si­ble con­nec­tion to Mai­monides. The Codex’s sto­ry is full of intrigue and mys­tery as the authors dis­cuss the ques­tion of the Karaites’ rela­tion­ship to the Codex and how it was trans­ferred to Alep­po, Syr­ia. It was dam­aged in an attack on the Great Syn­a­gogue of Alep­po in 1947 fol­low­ing the UN deci­sion to estab­lish the State of Israel. In 1958 the Alep­po Codex arrived in Israel and was pre­sent­ed to then Pres­i­dent Yitzhak Ben- Zvi. Two hun­dred nine­ty-five of the 380 pages have sur­vived and there are many ques­tions about the miss­ing pages. Although lost in the pogrom they were not destroyed by fire and the mys­tery continues.

Although a schol­ar­ly work, this is a fas­ci­nat­ing book that main­tains the reader’s atten­tion through­out the text. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, glos­sary, index.
Stephen G. Don­shik, D.S.W., is a lec­tur­er at the Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty’s Com­mu­ni­ty Lead­er­ship and Phil­an­thropy Pro­gram. He writes on the non-prof­it sec­tor and has a con­sult­ing firm focused on strength­en­ing non-prof­its and their lead­er­ship for tomorrow.

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