The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Petachiah of Regensburg and his Travelogue: Manuscript Evidence Controversies over Interpretation

The study of the famous travelogue which describes the pilgrimage made by a Central-European Jew to Babylonia and the Land of Israel has a long historiographical tradition both in Jewish studies as well as in Christian Hebraism. Some important achievements in this field were made during the recent decades. Thus, the Warsaw manuscript of his work, containing many important shreds of evidence for the textual criticism of this book was published in 1996 by Abraham David. Nowadays most of the extant manuscripts and early printed editions are available digitally. This situation proposes new challenges for the researches of a text, published for the last time in a critical edition by E. Grünhut as early as in 1905. In my lecture, I will discuss the problems of some of Petachiah’s pieces of evidence on his route from Prague to the Land of Israel based on the new pieces of evidence of manuscripts from Warsaw and London. I will compare his data with other medieval travelogues in the regions of the Middle East and Eastern Europe, such as the account written in the 13th century by Guillaume de Rubrouck and Plano Carpini, in the 15th century by Ambrogio Contarini, a Venetian ambassador to Aq Qoyunly Iranian-Turkic monarchy and an early 12th-century Russian pilgrim Daniel and others. As a part of a panel consecrated to the memory of Norman Golb (1928–2020) my lecture will be also devoted to Rabbi Petachia’s accounts on Rus’, Kiev, the land of Kedar, and his usage of the geographical term “Khazaria” in context of textual differences between the extent manuscript and early printed versions of his work.