Abstracts

DOCUMENTS

M.A. Friedman, Jewish Marriage in Palestine, A Cairo Geniza Study, Tel -Aviv and New York: Tel-Aviv University and The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1980-81, 2 vols., Pp. xxiv, 492, xiii, 517 + 30 plates. - It is a pleasure to welcome the appearance of these two volumes, which originated in Professor Friedman's doctoral thesis. Volume II alone, an edition of sixty-seven manuscripts and fragments under the title The Ketubba Texts, greatly enriches the primary source material available to historians of Jewish law. Each document is described, transcribed, translated and annotated, with frequent reference not only to talmudic parallels, but also to modern scholarly literature commenting thereon. Photographs of many of the texts are also provided. The volume has a lavish apparatus: a word index, manuscript index, source index, and name and subject index (marred only, in my copy, by the binding of four pages of this last upside-down). Additionally, Professor Friedman has provided, in volume I (The Ketubba Traditions of Eretz Israel), an invaluable study of the documents, dealing with historical, linguistic, social and legal aspects. The legal topics considered include clauses affirming the volition of the parties (especially the groom) to enter into the contract (a clause absent from Babylonian formularies), the obligations of husband and wife, the time of writing the marriage contract, mohar and dowry, provisions for divorce, ransom and succession, and the concluding formulae and signatures of the document. Many points of detail receive elaborate treatment. While each of them is of independent interest to legal historians, they add up to a distinct Palestinian tradition of the marriage contract, in which, as Professor Friedman remarks, the position of women "appears to be more advanced in some respects than one would have imagined." These volumes went to press before the appearance of volume III of Professor Goitein's A Mediterranean Society ("The Family"), but the two are complementary (Goitein supervised Friedman's research). The current generation is privileged to have access to this new material, and fortunate in the service that has been rendered by its editors. (B.S.J.)

J.-Ph. Lévy, "Sur trois textes bibliques concernant des actes écrits", Mélanges à la mémoire de Marcel-Henri Prévost (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1982), 23-48. - This article discusses three biblical texts which concern written legal acts. The author provides a substantial study of Jeremiah 32, considering the writing material, the role of Jeremiah in writing it, the sealing, and the relationship of the procedure to the form of Doppelurkunde, the witnesses, and the deposit of the document. More briefly, he considers the written documents to which reference is made in the Book of Tobit, and the parable of the steward in Luke 16: 1-8. (B.S.J.)

Gershon Weiss, "A Testimony from the Cairo Geniza Documents: Son-in-law - Mother-in-law Relations", JQR 68.2 (1977), 99-103. - From one fragment, T-S C2, f.17, Gerson Weiss indicates that the year 875 marks the year when shetarot were issued. From another piece, from the 15th cent., T-S Box G I, f.52, a deposition for litigation, with Judeo-Spanish phrases, Weiss draws an analogy which may explain the introduction of Judea-Arabic into Jewish legal practice (i.e., that the issues could be most unambiguously stated in the vernacular). (M.F.)

 

 

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