The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

The Best of Both Worlds: Creating a New Edition of Moses Zacuto’s Letters in Print and Online

Maximilian de Molière and Vladislav (Ze`ev) Slepoy

The edition of Zacuto’s correspondence will be realized as a hybrid edition, i.e. a printed edition and an online platform. At the heart of our project are TEI-XML files into which the letters are encoded along with the relevant variants, named entities, and commentaries. These files will be transformed via LaTeX into a print-ready PDF file. They will also be fed into a TEI Publisher instance that will deliver the online edition. While there remain open questions regarding the technical implementation, the real challenge of Zacuto’s correspondence lies in the source material itself and the editorial decisions which must be made to arrive at a viable edition.

To name only one facet, the individual letters are transmitted in about two dozen manuscripts in widely differing shapes. Although we find autograph letters, it is far more common for early modern figures to encounter collections of correspondences prepared by later generations. Each of these collections reflects the specific interests of the copyist. Some would painstakingly preserve the entire text including Zacuto’s paleographic idiosyncrasies, while others delete large sections. In addition, there are two traditional editions of the letters (Iggerot ha-ReMeZ, Livorno 1780) and the responsa (Shut ha-ReMeZ, Venice 1761) which have shaped the reception of Zacuto’s epistolary oeuvre for centuries. What is more, the size corpus (about 400 letters) and the many duplicate copies of many letters present the editors with the puzzling challenge to discern the relevant sources. The edition seeks to make the relevant stages of transmission for each letter available to in both the printed edition and the online platform. Our paper will address how we use traditional philology and digital tools to organize the unwieldy corpus and prepare the edition.