Rare Hebrew Manuscript Identified; Music Written by Christian Convert

An enigmatic and unique Hebrew manuscript which has been on display for many years in the Museum of the Jewish Theological Seminary, has now been identified as a liturgical poem copied in the 12th century by a Christian convert to Judaism who fled Italy in 1070 C.E., when he was converted to Judaism and finally settled in Egypt.

The story of the discovery is told by Norman Golb of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute in the current issue of the Journal of Religion published by the University of Chicago Press. Dr. Golb has definitely shown that it was Obadiah, the Christian convert to Judaism, who gave the poem the musical annotations, in his own hand-writing. Earlier it was assumed that the music was Jewish in origin. The musically annotated liturgical poem in Obadiah’s handwriting is one of the so-called Genezah documents found in an old synagogue South of Cairo.

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