Iakerson S. [Review:] Hebrew Manuscripts in the Biblioteca Palatina in Parma. Catalogue. Ed. Benjamin Richter. Palaeographical and codicological descriptions by Malachi Beit-Arié. Jerusalem: 2001, XXX, 574 pp. — The Hebrew University of Jerusalem I The Jewish National and University Library // Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 9. No. 1. March 2003. P. 70—72.
I dare to break an usual practice of starting a review.
I must admit that I received this marvelous catalogue for
review half a year ago, read through it quickly, and assessed
its unquestionable virtues. However, something prevented
me from writing this review immediately. I was unable
to figure it out. Was it a long-term personal acquaintance
with the authors or the deep professional and human
respect I have for them? I felt it was something else. It appeared
to me that I failed to grasp something essential in
this work, something worth more than the professional description
of this or that manuscript. Now I realize the matter.
I sensed that because of varying historical circumstances
we are at different chronological stages of development
in the same discipline. I write these lines in
a country where, for many reasons, unique collections of
Hebrew manuscripts are concentrated, but their study is still
at their naissance, with information available on the level of
inventories and card catalogues of the nineteenth century
(or later copies of them). Yet I hold in my hands a modern
version of the catalogue to one of the most famed and best
studied collections of Hebrew manuscripts — the collection
of the Biblioteca Palatina in Parma. In other words, I unconsciously
assumed on the basis of Russian collections
that the basic function of a printed catalogue was to introduce
into scholarly circulation this or that body of unknown,
or virtually unknown, manuscripts (for specialists
to correct and amend later, so long as the catalogue itself
exists). The authors of the work under review long ago
overcame this understanding of the goals and tasks of cataloguing.
The aim of their work is to introduce into scholarly
circulation the most accurate possible multifaceted information
(obtained through modern methods and techniques for
processing manuscripts) about manuscripts already known
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