Codex Leningradensis

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The Codex Leningradensis. Decorative page with information about the scribe (in the Star of David)

The Codex Petropolitanus B19a or Codex Leningradensis ( L ) is the oldest known complete and dated manuscript in the Hebrew Bible . It was written in 1008 (or 1009) and is located in the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), with the library signature ЕВР IB 19 A . The Codex L is one of the best examples of the Masoretic text .

Origin and dating

The manuscript was made by Samuel ben Jakob ( Shmuel ben Jaakob ) in "the city of Egypt", so probably Old Cairo . This can be found in the first colophon , before the beginning of Genesis . It is there that the scribe dates the completion of his handwriting five times: to the month of Siwan in the year of creation 4770, to the year 1444 after the exile of King Jehoiachin , the year 1319 of the "Greek rule" (i.e. the Seleucid era beginning in 311 BC ), the year 940 of the destruction of the second temple and the year 399 of the “little horn” (cf. Dan 7,8  EU ; what is meant is the Hejra ). Unfortunately, the information does not match exactly. The Siwan 4770 would point to May – June 1010 AD, the year 1319 of the Seleucid era, however, to 1008, the Islamic year 399 to the early summer of 1009.

In the secondary literature there are therefore various details for the year of origin. Those who most trust the calculation after the Seleucid era give the year 1008. Others suspect that the Muslim era statement was probably correct because the writer lived in a Muslim country. You argue for 1009 as the year of origin. The latest possible date, 1010, results from following the first mentioned information according to the usual Jewish calendar.

Despite this small uncertainty, the L manuscript remains in any case the oldest dated manuscript in the complete Hebrew Bible. The Codex of Aleppo and the manuscript Sassoon 1053 are older than L (10th century) and originally also included all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible, but they do not contain any dating. Other dated Bible manuscripts, such as the Codex Babylonicus Petropolitanus ( ЕВР IB 3) from 916, which contains the posterior prophets , and the Pentateuch manuscript of Solomon ben Buya'a from 930 ( ЕВР II B 17), also in St. Petersburg , are older and dated, but they never contained the entire Hebrew Bible.

The manuscript contains further colophons , some of them on particularly magnificently designed decorative pages, which may have been included at the beginning of the manuscript, but can now be found at the end of the manuscript. One contains a four-stanza poem, the 15 lines of which begin with the first letters of "Samuel ben Jakob, the scribe" (שמואל בן יעקב הספר).

Another colophon contains the information that Samuel ben Jakob based his handwriting on the “corrected books” of the “learned Aaron ben Moshe ben Ascher, who may rest in the Garden of Eden”. This note is twofold. On the one hand, because it contains the biographical information that Aaron ben Ascher had already died when Samuel ben Jakob wrote this page, and on the other hand, because it contributed significantly to the reputation of Codex L in modern times. Writes Rudolf Kittel 1929 in his preface to the third edition of his Biblia Hebraica : "It is against this issue instead of the text of Ben Chaijim or any other on manuscripts from the 13th and 14th centuries AD dormant Masoretentextes for the first time to.. Centuries older text by ben Ascher presented in the form in which the handwriting L gives it. "

The further fate of the manuscript

According to several colophons, the client and probably the first owner of the manuscript L is a Mevorach ben Josef haKohen ( the priest ), about whom nothing else is known. More recent notes in the manuscript indicate that it was sold to Damascus in the 16th century. The Karaites Abraham Firkowitsch has finally acquired the handwriting on one of his journeys to the Orient. It was initially in Odessa from 1839 . Ephraim Moses Pinner was able to examine them there in 1845; its description in the appendix to a catalog of the Odessa collection first drew the general scientific public's attention to the manuscript. As part of the purchase of the Firkowitsch collection by the Russian tsar, the manuscript found its way into the Imperial Public Library of St. Petersburg in 1863. There it was given the signature B 19 A in the first department for Hebrew manuscripts . The detailed description in the catalog of the Petersburg Hebrew Bible manuscripts published by Abraham Harkavy and Hermann Leberecht Strack pays particular attention to the Masoretic lists in the appendix to the Codex.


After 1863, the manuscript was initially mostly referred to as Codex Petropolitanus , after it was stored in Saint Petersburg . In order to be able to distinguish it from the numerous other valuable St. Petersburg Bible manuscripts, one had to add the signature or the year of origin. For parts of the Masora , especially the Dikduke haTeamim , the handwriting was unrivaled. The abbreviation "P." was therefore used here. After the city was renamed, the correct name was later Codex Leningradensis B 19 A , or Codex L for short . In the foreword of the third edition of the BHK , which appeared from 1929 and which first made the text of this manuscript the basis of a Bible edition, most of the time L or the manuscript L are mentioned. The abbreviation "L" was later also used in the BHS and in the Hebrew University Bible and, although the city has long since been renamed Saint Petersburg again, it is also retained in the BHQ for conventional reasons ( siglum here: "M L ").

Since 1991 the manuscript has also been called Codex Petropolitanus again , but without the signature it can easily be confused with the Hebrew manuscript from 916 with the text of the posterior prophets, signature Heb. B 3, and other Petersburg manuscripts. In addition, there was and is the name Firkowitsch as handwriting . However, since all the important Petersburg Hebrew Bible manuscripts come from the collections of Abraham Firkowitsch and also belonged to the Leningrad library, each of these designations requires explanation. The correct full name of the manuscript today can only be: Ms. ЕВР IB 19 A of the Russian National Library, St. Petersburg .


The Codex Leningradensis includes all books of the Hebrew Bible in an order that generally corresponds to the printed Jewish Bible editions ( Tanakh ). However, in Codex L (as in the Codex of Aleppo , the model code of Aaron ben Moshe ben Ascher) the chronicle is not at the end, but at the beginning of the scriptures (Ketuvim) . The text is divided into three columns , in some poetic books ( Psalter , Job , Proverbia ) in two columns. On the right and left margins as well as between the columns is the Masora Parva , which mainly contains verbal statistical information. On the upper and lower margins are the lists of Masora Magna . Between the canon parts and at the end of the manuscript there is extensive further Masoretic material, including 16 decorated pages.


Despite numerous Hebrew manuscripts and fragments since the 3rd century BC The Codex Leningradensis is the oldest known complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible, dated by colophons , in the 2nd century BC (see list of the Bible manuscripts from the Dead Sea ) . In addition, the code contains rich masoretic material and is one of the best sources for the grammatical tracts Dikduke HaTeamim attributed to Aaron ben Ascher .

Together with several other incomplete manuscripts, it still serves as the most important basis for several printed editions of Hebrew Bibles. The reason for this lies not least in the fact that this is the oldest completely preserved and dated manuscript (since the partial loss of the Codex of Aleppo ), which contains the Masoretic text in the tradition of the Masorete family Ben Ascher, which was founded in the 9th century . / 10. Century in Tiberias contains. It is a good, if not the best, testimony to the Ben Ascher text and forms the basis of several Hebrew Bible editions commonly used in scholarship today , such as the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and the Biblia Hebraica Quinta , which is about to be published.

Westminster Leningrad Codex

Westminster Leningrad Codex (WLC) is the name of a digital edition of the Codex Leningradensis. It is not about the appearance of the handwriting, but about its exact content. The WLC is freely available on the web, partly with tools for searching, for concordances or for morphological analysis. Coding in Unicode is used today.

Since the Codex L forms the basis of the printed Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), this was the starting point in order to arrive at a machine-processable text. In the 1980s, under the direction of H. Van Dyke Parunak ( University of Michigan ) and Richard E. Whitaker ( Claremont Graduate University , California), BHS was recorded on computers, with Hebrew characters being represented by ubiquitous characters ( beta code ) . This text version was named after the two universities of Michigan-Claremont -Text. Robert Kraft ( University of Pennsylvania ), Emanuel Tov ( Hebrew University of Jerusalem ) and J. Alan Groves ( Westminster Theological Seminary , Pennsylvania) further revised the text and ensured exact correspondence with the handwritten original of Codex L; further text-critical details have also been added. The J. Alan Groves Center for Advanced Biblical Research continued this work after Groves' death in 2007. The WLC is the result after conversion to Unicode.

See also


Editions (text and masora)

  • Biblia Hebraica (smock) (BHK 3 )
  • Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS)
  • Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHS)
  • Aron Dotan: Thesaurus of the Tiberian Masora - A Comprehensive Alphabetical Collection of Masoretic Notes to the Tiberian Bible Text of the Aaron Ben Asher School: Sample Volume: The Masora to the Book of Genesis in the Leningrad Codex , Tel Aviv 1977.
  • Aron Dotan: Biblia Hebraica Leningradensia: Prepared according to the vocalization, accents, and masora of Aaron ben Moses ben Asher in the Leningrad Codex. Leiden 2001.
  • Gérard E. Weil : Massorah Gedolah iuxta codicem Leningradensem B 19 a . Rome 1971.

Secondary literature

  • S. Baer, ​​HL Strack (Ed.): The Dikduke ha-Teamim des Ahron ben Moscheh ben Ascher and other old grammatical-mass-ethical teaching pieces to determine a correct text of the Hebrew Bible . Leipzig 1879 ( ).
  • M. Beit-Arié, C. Sirat, M. Glatzer: Codices Hebraicis Litteris Exarati Quo Tempore Scripti Fuerint Exhibentes , Vol. 1, Jusqu'à 1020 (Monumenta Palaeographica Medii Aevi, Series Hebraica); Brepols 1997, pp. 114-31.
  • David Noel Freedman, Astrid B. Beck, James A. Sanders (Eds.): The Leningrad Codex. A facsimile edition. Eerdmans et al. a., Grand Rapids MI et al. a. 1998, ISBN 9-00-410854-8 .
  • Christian David Ginsburg : Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible . London 1897 ( ).
  • A. Harkavy, HL Strack: Catalog of the Hebrew Bible Manuscripts of the Imperial Public Library . St. Petersburg / Leipzig 1875 ( ).
  • David Marcus: Scribal Wit. Aramaic Mnemonics in the Leningrad Codex (= Texts and Studies. 3,10). Gorgias Press, Piscataway / NJ 2013, ISBN 978-1-61143-904-5 .
  • EM Pinner: Prospectus of the oldest Hebrew and rabbinical manuscripts belonging to the Odessa Society for History and Antiquities . Odessa 1845 ( [PDF; 29.9 MB]).

Web links

Commons : Codex Leningradensis  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ЕВР stands for Russian еврейский jevreijskij , the section with the Hebrew manuscripts.
  2. fol. 1r , lines 1-2.
  3. fol. 1r , lines 2-6.
  4. The first two dates correspond to the traditional Jewish calendar, according to which z. B. for the Achaemenid rule only about 35 years instead of 200.
  5. See Harkavy / Strack, Catalog , p. 265 (Hebrew text and German translation); Beit-Arié / Sirat / Glatzer, Codices , pp. 117–119 (Hebrew text, French translation and discussion).
  6. ^ So Paul Kahle, Masoreten des Westens , Stuttgart 1927, as well as Beit-Arié / Sirat / Glatzer, Codices , pp. 114, 118.
  7. Harkavy / Strack, Catalog , p. 268, as well as Ginsburg, Introduction , 2, and more recently Aron Dotan, Biblia Hebraica Leningradensia , Leiden 2001, p. Ix and Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, voted for 1009 . Third Edition, Minneapolis 2012, pp. 45, 73.
  8. Pinner, Prospectus , p. 81: "ended in the year 1010"; Baer and Strack, p. XXIV: "at the latest ... in summer 1010"; Paul Kahle, Masoretes of the West , p. 67: “1008-1010”.
  9. Beit-Arié, Sirat and Glatzer, Codices , pp. 114–119.
  10. fol. 491r , right column.
  11. fol. 479r , in the middle of the page.
  12. ^ Rudolf Kittel, Biblia Hebraica (3rd edition), 1937.
  13. Pinner, Prospectus , pp. 81–92 ( [PDF; 29.9 MB]).
  14. ^ Harkavy / Strack: Catalog , p. XVIII.
  15. For the signature in the handwriting see the Scan  - Internet Archive .
  16. ^ Harkavy / Strack, Catalog , pp. 263-274 ( Scan  - Internet Archive ).
  17. Christian David Ginsburg speaks regularly of the “St. Petersburg Codex, dated AD 1009 “. Chr. D. Ginsburg: Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible. Volume 1. 1896, p. 2 and ö. ( Scan  - Internet Archive ).
  18. Baer / Strack, Dikduke ha-Teamim , pp. XXIV – XXVI. ( )
  19. ^ Biblia Hebraica . Edited by Rudolf Kittel , Paul Kahle , Albrecht Alt and Otto Eißfeldt . 3. Edition. Privileged Württemberg Bible Institute, Stuttgart 1937.
  20. See Siegfried Kreuzer: Codex Petropolitanus is not Codex Leningradensis. In: Journal of Old Testament Science . 124 (2012), pp. 107-110.
  21. ^ So Adrian Schenker 1997 in the preface to the 5th edition of the BHS .