The present investigation aims at a reconstruction of the mise-en-livre of four Arabic manuscript Bibles, each of them containing a complete set of biblical books, and the workshop that crafted them. Collecting the relevant codicological details—as, for example, the dates given in the colophons, the names of scribes and their characteristic traits, and references to the place of production—makes it possible to distinguish the various steps in production. The combined evidence allows for a surprisingly detailed glimpse into the work methods of the scribes and especially the liberties they took with regard to some aspects of transcribing. In concluding remarks, the question is addressed as to how to explain the practice, which is uncommon in the Christian Arabic context, of binding all biblical books together into one manuscript.
In this article I trace the modern study of biblical versions to its Medieval and Early-Modern predecessors. My approach to this genre is largely historiographical, presenting the means by which comparative medieval scholarship around Arabic translations of the scriptures—Jewish, Christian and Muslim alike—was continued in Early-Modern times in the form of printings and eventually became absorbed by the practitioners of biblical textual criticism, as part of the larger historiography of biblical versions. After the early, influential works of Ignazio Guidi and Georg Graf, however, scholarship stagnated in the 20th century, a situation that is beginning to change in recent years.