Christian Calendars in Medieval Hebrew Manuscripts

in Medieval Encounters
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The phenomenon of Christian calendars in Hebrew has largely been ignored in modern scholarship; yet it points to an important dimension of Jewish-Christian relations, and more specifically Jewish attitudes towards Christianity, in late medieval northern Europe. It is also evidence of transfer of religious knowledge between Christians and Jews, because the Hebrew texts closely replicate, in contents as well as in layout and presentation, the Latin liturgical calendars, which in many cases the Hebrew scribes must have used directly as base texts. Knowledge of the Christian calendar was essential to Jews for dating documents, especially (but not exclusively) those intended for Christians, for understanding dates in documents, for scheduling business or other meetings with Christians, and in short, for effectively coordinating their socio-economic activities with the rhythms and structure of Christian medieval life.

Christian Calendars in Medieval Hebrew Manuscripts

in Medieval Encounters



  • 15

    S. Neuberg“Aschkenasisches Latein: ein westjiddischer Cisiojanus,” in Jiddische Philologie. Festschrift für Erika Timmed. W. Röll and S. Neuberg (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer1999) 111–132. Neuberg’s main interest however lies in the languages employed in the text Judeo-Latin and Judeo-German. I am grateful to Lucia Raspe for drawing my attention to this publication.

  • 16

    See K. Haebler“Le soi-disant cisianus de 1443 et les cisianus allemands,” Le bibliographe moderne courier international des archives et des bibliothèques Paris 6th year (1902): 5–40 and 189–210.

  • 26

    See B. Blackburn and L. Holford-StrevensThe Oxford Companion to the Year (Oxford: Oxford University Press1999) 811–812 and 821. The last number is given here as 36 instead of 38.

  • 27

    See J. Isserles“Some Hygiene and Dietary Calendars in Hebrew Manuscripts from Medieval Ashkenaz,” in Time Astronomy and Calendars in the Jewish Traditioned. S. Stern and C. Burnett (Leiden: Brill2014) 273–326.

  • 29

    Blackburn and Holford-StrevensOxford Companion to the Year813.

  • 40

    M. D. DavisHebrew Deeds of English Jews before 1290 (London: Jewish Chronicle1888) with a partial list of examples on p. xiv.

  • 41

    Westminster Abbey Muniment 6747: מבריאת עולם עד קדש פירש גול דאאוט שנת עיטור המלך הנרי שלשים וששה (Davis no. 103 p. 232). St Pierre Gule is 1 August.

  • 42

    Id. 6741: ובתוך שלשה שבועות אחר שיינט מיקל שנת ארבעים אמסור הרגל (Davis no. 114 p. 242).

  • 43

    Id. 6773: יום ב' לפני טוט שיינש שנת מ'ט' למלכות (Davis no. 51 p. 131). Henry’s regnal years began on 28 October 1216. If “year 49” refers to All Saints (1 November) then the year is 1264; if it refers to the preceding Monday then the date is Monday 26 October 1265 (which Davis appears to assume). I am grateful to Judith Schlanger for drawing my attention to these documents and for her advice with regard to the date.

  • 44

    Id. 6782: וזמן פריעת חוב הנקו' למחרת מיום צינדרא שנת ארבעים ושמנה לעטור אדוננו המלך הנרי בן המלך יהן . . . זה השטר נעשה יום ראש חדש כסליו הסמוך לפני יום צינדרא שנת האמור (Davis no.47 pp.116–119 wrongly dated to 1264). I am following Judith Schlanger’s (personal communication) interpretation of צינדרא as Cendres (Ashes); Ash Wednesday in 1264 was on 12 March. Davis interprets it less likely as “St Andrew” (sindré Saint André) i.e. 30 November (1263).

  • 47

    E.g. Westminster Abbey Muniment 6818: קדישה מריאה (St Mary a reference to a church in Norwich document dated 1267—Davis no. 55 p. 144); R. Meir of Rottenburg Teshuvot Maharam b. Barukh ed. Yiṣḥaq Kahana 4 vols. (Jerusalem Mosad ha-Rav Kook 1957–77) 2:52 no. 57 (at least according to the text edition).

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