The Ma‘asé-Ester. A Judeo-Provençal poem about Queen Esther

A Critical Edition with Commentary


The Ma‘asé-Ester, “Esther’s affairs”, is a 14th-century Judeo-Provençal poem on the story of Esther, intended for a recital during the banquet for Purim.
The short poem – recently discovered in the single manuscript that preserves it – is a new precious document that enriches a small corpus of medieval Judeo-Provençal texts. This book offers the first critical edition of the complete text accompanied by a detailed study of the sources and the language. It guides us in understanding why the story of Esther became such a popular theme in 14th-century Provence, and in what way the Avignon Papacy and the studies on Moses Maimonides influenced this literary novelty.

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Erica Baricci, Ph.D. (2014), University of Milan, teaches Hebrew and Aramaic. She has published translations and articles on Judeo-Provençal and Hebrew Literature, including ‘Vite da copisti. Scorci autobiografici nei colophon di alcuni manoscritti ebraici’, Consonanze 22 (2020) and Yitzhaq ibn Sahula’s Meshal haQadmoni (Novelle Antiche, 2021).
Editor’s Note

 1 Judeo-Provençal Texts on Queen Esther: Dates and Context
 2 Narrating Purim in Medieval Provence: Wine Songs and Prayers
 3 Esther, an Inspirational Example of Provençal Jews
 4 Roman d’ Esther: Text, Author, Audience
 5 Biblical Inspiration and Jewish Themes
 6 Romanz and Romance Themes
 7 The Omniscient Author, the Modernization and the Irony
 8 Maʿasé-Ester or “Esther’s Affairs”
 9 Text, Content and Style
 10 Metrical Structure
 11 Between Oral Tradition and Authorial Rearrangement
 12 A Text in Search of an Author

The Maʿasé-Esther: Text and Commentary

1 The Text

2 Alterations in the Manuscript

3 Maʿasé-Esther
 1 Text
 2 Notes to the Text

4 Linguistic Study
 1 Phonetics: Vocalism
 2 Phonetics: Consonantism
 3 Morphology
 4 Syntax
 5 Vocabulary

5 Glossary of Provençal Terms

6 Glossary of Hebrew Terms

7 Transcription of the Manuscript Text

8 Transcription in Latin Letters

9 The Codex unicus
 1 The ms. Rome, Casanatense 3140
 2 Physical Description of the Manuscript and the Scripts
 3 Structure
 4 State of Preservation
 5 Decorations, Notes and Annotations to the Text
 6 A Composite Manuscript
 7 Story of a Book and of the Person Who Wrote it
 8 Watermarks
 9 Ms. Rome, Casanatense 3140: Photo-Reproductions of Fols. 190v–192r

Index of Special Terms
Anyone interested in the History of Jewish Literature: students and scholars of Judeo-Provençal Literature, European Jewish History, Jewish Languages, Romance Languages (especially Provençal), and Jewish Studies more broadly.
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