05 July 2013

The Aleppo Codex; Matti Friedman

The Aleppo Codex: The True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the International Pursuit of an Ancient BibleThe Aleppo Codex: The True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the International Pursuit of an Ancient Bible by Matti Friedman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I read, I hear the words in my head. All too frequently during this book I heard that portentous voice you hear on "documentaries" like "Mysteries of the Ancient Incas" - I suspect that was part of the author's intent.

What we have here is a story told in several time frames: today, when our author is tracing the mystery of the Codex, the 1940s/50s, when the Codex is moved from Aleppo to Jerusalem, and the history of the Codex that brought it to Aleppo. The most understandable of this story is how the Codex was created and moved through the Middle East to Aleppo. What happens after the UN vote to establish the State of Israel is a little (ok, a lot!) murkier and the modern day story is downright confusing. There are stories and hints and suggestions but nothing concrete. It's an incredible story, particularly given the importance of the book to the Jews (as the author says, this is a group held together by a "mere" book, unlike other peoples united by a homeland, language, ruler, etc.).

Given the historical importance of the Codex, it's a shonda that the Government of Israel hasn't really investigated what happened. The culpability seems to be all theirs, and obviously they won't admit anything. After all, they've just allowed the Dead Sea Scrolls to be studied by a wider range of people - maybe we'll get lucky in the next century, when everyone connected with this story is dead.

Copy provided by the publisher.

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