Corpus Masoreticum 

The Inculturation of the Masorah in Western European Jewish Learning Culture from the 11th to the 13th Centuries. Digital Development of a Forgotten Culture of Knowledge.

Long-term project at the Heidelberg Center for Jewish Studies, funded by the German Research Foundation

MS Wien, Cod. hebr. 16, f. 299r – © Österreichische Nationalbibliothek Wien

The Project

The Masorah of the Hebrew Bible has come down to us in various recensions within Biblical codices as well as in separate treatises. Until today, only the oriental Masoretic tradition had been dealt with in a scholarly fashion. The aim of this project is the first ever scientific engagement with the Western European (Ashkenazic) Masorah tradition between the 11th and 13th centuries, which differs from the oriental Masorah not only with respect to the philological content but also regarding its layout and mise en texte as masorah figurata. By means of certain exegetical and artistic features, the Ashkenazic scholars tried to integrate the oriental Masoretic tradition that was originally developed as linguistic grammatical knowledge vis à vis Islamic punditry into Western European Rabbinic lore and law.

This inculturation was conceivably influenced by the Christian environment (theology; iconography, book illumination, architecture). The anticipated results in this project will shed new light on the European history of the Masoretic Bible and its interpretation, and yield important scientific impulses not only for Jewish Studies, but also for Jewish and Christian theology as well as medieval art history.

The philological work will be integrated into a digital work environment (BIMA Biblical Masorah database), which will be hosted by the Abraham Berliner Center at the Center for Jewish Studies Heidelberg, and whose edition files and raw data will be incorporated by the University library Heidelberg after the project’s termination.

The Team

Principal Investigator

  • Prof. Dr. Hanna Liss (Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg)  

 Research Associates

  • Lena Bindrim M.A.
  • Jonas Leipziger M.A.
  • Clemens Liedtke M.A.
  • Maria Seidel M.A. 
  • Dr. Renate Smithuis
  • Dr. Kay Joe Petzold (until April 2020)

Student Assistants

  • Ekaterina Gotsiridze
  • Frederik Kaufmann

Virtual library, digitization, presentation and technical support 

  • Dr. Maria Effinger (Heidelberg University Library)
  • Leonhard Maylein (Heidelberg University Library) 


planned (subject to modifications): 

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin

  • Or. fol. 1213
  • Or. qu. 9

National Library of Israel, Jerusalem

  • IM 180-52

British Library, London

  • BM Add 21160
  • Add 15282
  • BM Harley 5710-11

Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris

  • heb. 5-6

Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Mailand

  • B 30.31.32. inf.

Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München

  • Cod. hebr. 2

Biblioteca Palatina, Parma

  • Cod. 3289
  • Cod. 2808

Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana

  • Vat. ebr. 14
  • Vat. ebr. 468

Museum of the Bible, Washington

  • CG. MS. 000858 (Valmadonna 1)

Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Wien

  • Cod. hebr. 16

Biblioteka Uniwersytecka, Breslau

  • M1106

Advisory Board

  • Prof. Dr. Geoffrey Khan (Universität of Cambridge)
  • Prof. Dr. David Marcus (Jewish Theological Seminary, New York)
  • Prof. Dr. Yosef Ofer (Bar-Ilan University)
  • Prof. Dr. Sara Offenberg (Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Be’er Scheva)
  • Prof. Dr. Judith Olszowy-Schlanger (École pratique des hautes études, Paris / University of Oxford)
  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Schorch (Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg) 


Project “Corpus Masoreticum”

Heidelberg Center for Jewish Studies

Landfriedstraße 12

69117 Heidelberg, Germany


Mail: Hanna.Liss at 

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