Some of the Vatican’s most prized medieval Hebrew manuscripts are to go online in a joint partnership with Oxford’s Bodleian Library.
Works of Kabbalah, biblical commentary and Jewish law dating from as early as the ninth century will be among the items made accessible to scholars through the joint digitisation venture.
The four-year project, which will process 1.5 million pages from some of the most important ancient texts in both libraries, has been funded by the Polonsky Foundation, headed by British Jewish philanthropist Dr Leonard Polonsky.
It will also include Greek manuscripts, early Bibles and other Christian literature.
Dr Polonsky said: “In today’s fast-paced, digital-driven world of scholarship, easy access to primary resources is paramount.”
Dr Polonsky added that he hoped “the collection of digital texts that is jointly released by the Bodleian and the Vatican Libraries will make a contribution to the advancement of modern scholarship.”
His foundation has also helped to finance the digitisation of 280,000 fragments from the Cairo Genizah — the most important source of documents on medieval Jewish life — in the Bodleian, as well as the recent joint acquisition by both Oxford and Cambridge Universities of another significant collection of Genizah manuscripts.