A fertile boom in editing Jewish texts is seen in the 15th and 16th centuries in various centres of learning, above all Italy. Basically, the nature of such editions is the attempt to offer a vulgata – a common readable text – of some manuscripts, mostly by an eclectic method. Not until the 19th century, and following the major trends of the new academic sciences, did the scholars developing the Wissenschaft des Judentums consider it of utmost importance to reach standards in editing texts of rabbinic and medieval literature. Leopold Zunz, the “founder” of the science of Judaism, critically noted that the “so-called editiones principes, as soon as they accomplish more than a reproduction of manuscripts, (. . .) can rightly make the claim of being preliminary literary studies.” A significant number of editions were completed in this key period and remain an indispensable tool on the desk of every scholar of rabbinic, medieval and early modern literature.

Giuseppe Veltri, “From The Best Text To The Pragmatic Edition: On Editing Rabbinic Texts”, in The New Testament and Rabbinic Literature, eds. Reimund Bieringer, Florentino García Martínez, Didier Pollefeyt, Peter Tomson (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2010), 63-64.

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