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The Aleppo Codex: A True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bibleby Matti Friedman
Synopses & Reviews
In an age when physical books matter less and less, here is a thrilling story about a book that meant everything. This true-life detective story unveils the journey of a sacred text—the tenth-century annotated bible known as the Aleppo Codex—from its hiding place in a Syrian synagogue to the newly founded state of Israel. Based on Matti Friedman’s independent research, documents kept secret for fifty years, and personal interviews with key players, the book proposes a new theory of what happened when the codex left Aleppo, Syria, in the late 1940s and eventually surfaced in Jerusalem, mysteriously incomplete.
The codex provides vital keys to reading biblical texts. By recounting its history, Friedman explores the once vibrant Jewish communities in Islamic lands and follows the thread into the present, uncovering difficult truths about how the manuscript was taken to Israel and how its most important pages went missing. Along the way, he raises critical questions about who owns historical treasures and the role of myth and legend in the creation of a nation.
"Friedman gives a masterful account of a major religious document, housed with the better known Dead Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem's Shrine of the Book. The Aleppo Codex, a volume of parchment folios written in Tiberius circa 930 C.E., is considered the most accurate text of the Hebrew Bible. Stolen by Crusaders from a Jerusalem synagogue, the codex made its way to Egypt, was used by the great 12th-century scholar Maimonides and later brought to Aleppo, Syria, by a descendant of Maimonides. After being carefully kept in Aleppo's Great Synagogue, the codex was damaged in 1947 by Arab rioters angered by the U.N. resolution to partition Palestine. Friedman plumbs two mysteries relating to the codex: how did it end up in the hands of Israeli authorities after being rescued from the Great Synagogue? And what happened to its missing pages (which caused a scandal when the government revealed their absence)? Facing missing court documents and the 'conspiracy of silence' surrounding the codex, AP reporter Friedman sleuths out the answers, revealing a highly disturbing tale. Friedman delivers an atmospheric, tense story about the destruction of a sacred relic, raising inevitable questions about who owns a people's historical treasures. Photos. Agent: Judy Heiblum, Sterling Lord Literistic." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Winner of the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature
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