Manuscripta Bibliae Hebraicae

The Hebrew Bible Manuscripts in Western Europe (England, France, Germany, Northern Italy) in the 12th and 13th Century: a Material, Cultural and Social Approach

The database dedicated to medieval hebrew bible manuscripts

MBH is an ACHN ANR project which supports the systematic study of Hebrew biblical manuscripts produced in Western Europe before 1300, with a view to establishing their typology on the basis of their form and content.

— Thanks to the growing number and digitisation of Hebrew manuscripts on the net, as well as the existence of several databases devoted to Hebrew manuscripts in general (Sfardata, Books within Books), a systematic study specific to medieval Hebrew biblical manuscripts is now possible and indispensable. This research - which, paradoxically, has never been carried out on one of the most copied books of the Jewish Middle Ages - is crucial in terms of our understanding the phenomena related to the production of Western and Hebrew books as well as getting a better sense of the place occupied by the Hebrew Bible on the basis of its material forms and the types of biblical text used during the medieval period, including in Christian context.
The variety of the biblical manuscripts is linked, for example, to their formats (atlas, pocket, intermediary), their state (complete/partial), the presence or absence of vocalisation, Masorah, commentaries, readers annotations, ornaments. For the purposes of analysis, a new interoperable tool which pulls together all the available data has been developed: the MBH database is an analytical descriptive type of database equipped with a multi-criteria research engine. This tool should make it possible to run queries based on codicological and palaeographic criteria as well as on scribal, textual and historical features of mediaeval Hebrew biblical manuscripts.
The project brings together and/or produces data on dated and undated manuscripts, codices and liturgical scrolls, whether complete, partial or fragmentary. A limited initial corpus of around one hundred biblical manuscripts produced before 1300 in the Ashkenazi Jewish world of England, northern France, Germany, and northern Italy has been selected as a test. Besides giving access to the database devoted to Hebrew Bibles, the MBH portal will also provide various information, tools and experiments that have been carried out, in particular the 3D digitisation of manuscripts which enables a better material understanding of medieval manuscripts and fosters the study of the materialisation of the texts and their significance.
Bologna BU MS 2206
Hébreu 33
Avignon Bibliothèques, 6872/ I


There are as yet no precise statistics on the total number of Hebrew Bibles presently conserved. The MBH Project should improve our knowledge of the corpus. At the current state of research, of the 40,000 manuscripts known to be medieval, 3,200 are precisely dated, representing just under 10 % of the total (Sirat 1994, 10-11). There seem to be around 5,000 biblical manuscripts (Schlanger 2012, 21), the vast majority of which are undated. The MBH Project has so far identified 150 undated Bibles which were produced in Ashkenaz probably before 1300. Of the 1,435 fragments of undated mediaeval manuscripts published on the BwB database, 94 fragments of biblical codices and 2 scrolls are estimated to be Ashkenazic items dating from before 1300 (according to the data available as of 12 March 2018). Of the dated manuscripts identified on the Sfardata codicological database, less than forty Ashkenazic Bibles are dated before 1300.

Shelfmark mode or Production Unit mode

The MS Mode is a brief description of a manuscript as an entire object, generally found in catalogues. It is the main common approach of manuscripts.

The PU Mode (Production Unit Mode) is a codicological description mode inspired by the publication of Patrick Andrist, Paul Canart, and Marilena Maniaci, La Syntaxe Du Codex, vol. 34, Bibliologia (Brepols Pub, 2013). This mode of description offers the possibility to describe the inner structure of the manuscripts, their material features as well as social and textual aspects.

Interoperability / Open Acess

The MBH Database is a scientific database that will be soon interoperable with the Biblissima Portal.

General data will be openly accessible to users. Members will have to create an account in order to see the extensive data.

(Coming soon)


The MBH webportal offers, in collaboration with Viktor Golinets (HFJS, Heidelberg), bibliographical references on Hebrew biblical manuscripts first edited on the website (see "Bibliography on the Bible / Hebrew Biblical Manuscripts").

The references are imported into the MBH Database via the Drupal Bibliography Module. They can be downloaded in RIS or BibText format which is compatible with the Zotero Bibliographical system.

À la une

Capture d’écran viewer 3D Ms 5 Lyon
Since December 2017, an experiment has been carried out involving the 3D digitisation of Hebrew biblical manuscripts and an article on this subject has been submitted to the new French-language journal Revue Humanités Numériques (awaiting acceptance).


Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Séminaire inter-laboratoires CCJ / LAMPEA / TELEMMe / IRAA
Wednesday, April 4, 2018 to Thursday, April 5, 2018
L’atelier doctoral “La Main et l’Écrit” entend initier les étudiants d’Aix-Marseille Université (doctorants, Master Pro et Recherche) à la diversité des écrits produits dans l’Histoire et aux différentes approches scientifiques
Evénement IIIF Biblissima
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Innover pour redécouvrir le patrimoine écrit sera le thème de l’événement organisé par Biblissima, observatoire du patrimoine écrit du Moyen Âge et de la Renaissance, le jeudi 15 mars 2018

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Agence Nationale pour la Recherche Centre Paul Albert-Février Maison méditerranéenne des sciences de l'homme CNRS Aix-Marseille Université LA3M Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon Bibliothèque Municipale Marseille Bibliothèque Méjanes Aix-en-Provence Bibliothèque Municipale Ceccano