The Bodleian Library’s ‘Crossing Borders’ exhibition, co-curated by Dr Piet van Boxel and Sabine Arndt, was a great success recently at the Jewish Museum in New York, where it was on show until 3 February 2013. It was the subject of a symposium on Sunday 13 January at the Jewish Museum entitled The Medieval Hebrew Manuscript Today, co-sponsored by the Centre and the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
The symposium was designed to assess the impact of Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations on the production, distribution and reception of Jewish manuscripts in the Middle Ages. It also investigated the roles played by Jewish patrons and producers of manuscripts, and the influence on them of surrounding cultures. At the heart of the ‘Crossing Borders’ exhibition lay the concept that Hebrew, Arabic and Latin manuscripts served as the meeting-place of cultures. The symposium approached this subject from three angles – the production of Hebrew manuscripts, their interpretation today and their future.
Three participants, in addition to the Centre’s President, Dr David Ariel, came especially from Oxford. Sabine Arndt spoke on ‘Science and Scientists at Cultural Crossroads: The Midrash ha-Hokhmah of Judah ben Solomon ha-Cohen’; Dr Zsófia Buda gave a lecture entitled ‘The Donkey that Travelled through Borders’, and Dr César Merchán-Hamann talked about ‘Translating Indian Stories for Muslims, Jews and Christians’. The symposium was a great success, and was attended by large numbers of scholars as well as members of the general public. There was animated discussion about the future of the study of medieval Hebrew manuscripts, in which widely differing views were represented. But the participants agreed that the subject has gone from strength to strength and that new technologies have made this advance possible. The large attendance at the symposium was evidence of the success of the exhibition.