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Karaite Exegetes and the Origins of the Jewish Bible Commentary in the Islamic East


The Jewish Bible commentary was created in the Islamic East during the tenth century by scholars seeking a rational, systematic approach to Scripture. Among its earliest champions were the Karaites, scripturalists who denied rabbinic authority. Seeking to restore Judaism to its biblical roots, they wrote numerous commentaries in Judeo-Arabic. Through the investigation of key topics, this book traces the contours of early Karaite biblical exegesis. Subjects covered include: halakhic indeterminacy; dream interpretation; the Song of Songs as salvation history; Psalms exegesis as liturgical commentary; and inter-religious polemics. The exegetes discussed include Ya‘qub al-Qirqisani, Salmon b. Yeruhim, Sahl b. Masliah, and above all, Japheth b. Eli. Extensive selections from unpublished manuscripts are presented in English translation and the original Judeo-Arabic.

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Daniel Frank, Ph.D. (1991), Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University, is Associate Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the Ohio State University. His research focuses on Karaism; he has edited The Jews of Medieval Islam (Brill, 1995).
'Leading the way in this new phase of Karaite research is Daniel Frank’s elegant and rich book, which not only contributes to our understanding of, as the title suggests, Karaite exegesis, but also sheds important light on its role in the development of rabbinic Bible commentaries. [..] This, in sum, is a very important and well-written study that should serve as the basis for all further work on Karaite exegesis.'
Aaron Hughes, Review of Biblical Literature, 2005.
All those interested in medieval Jewish history, literature, and culture, biblical studies, Arabists and Islamicists, and theologians.
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