Valmadonna Collection Purchased by the National Library of Israel

This is very good news! It appears the entire collection has been purchased by the Israeli National Library. Several years ago Sotheby’s was exhibiting and the family seeking to sell this incredibly important collection. It is particularly important for Targum scholars because it includes Valmadonna 1 (formerly Sassoon 282). The Sotheby’s catalogue described the manuscript as follows:

Codex Valmadonna I

The jewel in the Valmadonna Library’s crown is one of the most important privately-owned books in the world – a Pentateuch (Hebrew Bible), written in England the summer of 1189. Known as the Codex Valmadonna I, this extraordinary book is the only dated Hebrew text in existence from medieval England, before King Edward I’s 1290 edict expelling the Jews.

It is a massive collection and many scholars were worried it would be separated and go into private collections. This should ensure access and enable new research going forward. The JC article shares a few more details about the collection and the owner, Jack Lunzer, who recently passed away.

The Valmadonna Trust Library, widely regarded as the finest private collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts in the world, was assembled by Jack Lunzer, who spent more than six decades assembling it.

The vast collection charts the spread of Hebrew printing around the world and includes 550 broadsheets and newspapers dating back as far as the 16th century.

Hailing the purchase, Oren Weinberg, director of the National Library of Israel said: “The Valmadonna Trust Library represents an historic addition to our leading collection of Jewish manuscripts, prints and books, which reflect and embody the cultures of the Jewish people around the world and across the ages.”

Mr Lunzer, who died last month at the age of 92, was born in Antwerp and made his fortune as a young man in the diamond industry in London. He named his collection after the town of Valmadonna in northern Italy, where he and his wife Ruth Zippel, had connections.  In 2015 Mr Lunzer sold his 16th century Babylonian Talmud, made by the Christian printer Daniel Bomberg, for US$9.3 million (£7.5 million).

The Origins of the SBL Aramaic Studies Section and the NTCS

We had an excellent session at SBL and a nice surprise as well: Malcolm C. Doubles shared with us the history of Aramaic Studies in SBL. He has kindly shared his paper with me along with a picture of the earliest members of the group.

How It Began
by

Malcolm C. Doubles

Visiting Professor of Religious Studies
St. Andrews University, Laurinburg, NC

A Paper Read at the
Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting
Baltimore, Md., 11/23/2013–11/26/2013
Aramaic Studies Section, 11/24/13, 1:00–3:45 p.m.

The Society of Biblical Literature was organized in 1880 and has met annually ever since. Until 1967, these meetings were often hosted by Union Theological Seminary in New York. You may find it hard to believe, but for the first ninety-five years of its existence the Society sponsored no program segment devoted to matters of Aramaic origin. Such items were usually relegated to Old Testament program sections, or occasionally to a New Testament section. I begin this paper with thanks to Ed Cook for his willingness to allow me a few minutes to share with you my memories of how the Society was moved to initiate a discrete program segment devoted to rēbus aramaica. In this endeavor, I am especially indebted to Julia Foster who was involved in this effort from the beginning and who has shared much material and many memories with me.

Meeting at Baltimore Hebrew College, June 13–14, 1973     Front: Shirley Lund, Julia Foster, Roger Le Déaut, Malcolm Doubles  Back: Moses Aberbach, Douglas Fox [the photographer], Bernard  Grossfeld, Ernest Clarke, Stephen Kaufman, Walter Aufrecht,  Moise Ohana, Samuel Iwry

Meeting at Baltimore Hebrew College, June 13–14, 1973
Front: Shirley Lund, Julia Foster, Roger Le Déaut, Malcolm Doubles
Back: Moses Aberbach, Douglas Fox [the photographer], Bernard
Grossfeld, Ernest Clarke, Stephen Kaufman, Walter Aufrecht,
Moise Ohana, Samuel Iwry

The story begins with the 1972 SBL Congress Meeting in Los Angeles and the person most responsible for our start, the late Bernard Grossfeld who sadly passed away this past July just a week or so before Julia was able to inform him about today’s planned presentation. Between sessions one evening in Los Angeles, Bernard approached Julia and me with the argument that we in Targum Studies needed an organization similar to that in Septuagint Studies. Furthermore, he noted that on the weekend of October 28–29, Gerard Kuiper was hosting a meeting in Atlanta with Julia and the late Shirley Lund to examine some Neofiti and Pseudo-Jonathan readings. Bernard insisted that if I would go down so would he and we could “crash” that meeting for a few hours. So that’s what we did.

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