Learning Hebrew in thirteenth-century England

A group of anonymous English Christian Hebraists, in most cases collaborating closely with Jewish scribes, systematically compared the Hebrew text of the Bible with its Latin translations. They displayed an unprecedented knowledge of Hebrew language and grammar based on philology rather than polemics. Their correction of the Vulgate (Latin Bible), however, went beyond textual criticism. In England, the Hebrew text of the Bible was provided with a new Latin translation which not only followed the literal meaning of the Hebrew, but often proposed interpretations based on rabbinic sources, chief among them the biblical exegesis of Rashi and the twelfth-century Hebrew dictionary of Salomon Ibn Parhon.

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