Quntres: An Online Journal for the History, Culture, and Art of the Jewish Book, Vol 1, No 1 (2009)

Editors’ Introduction

Editors’ Introduction

Two years ago, the libraries of The Jewish Theological Seminary, in New York and Jerusalem (the Schocken Library) announced the formation of a new online journal dedicated to the history of the Jewish book. Entitled Quntres: an Online Journal for the History, Art, and Culture of the Jewish Book, it was to be published electronically on an annual basis, with the first issue projected to appear in the summer of 2007.

Well, as is often the way in such matters, our original schedule turned out to be unrealistic. Bringing attention to our planned publication, attracting worthy submissions, putting an editing process in place, and taking the steps to produce the journal online all turned out to take longer than expected. But we feel that our efforts and patience have paid off, and we are proud finally to publish this inaugural issue. As we finally come online, it is worth repeating our hopes for the journal as they were originally articulated:

The journal will be open to scholarly contributions of any length relating to any aspect of the history of the Jewish book in all of its forms. For purposes of the journal, the Jewish book will be defined as works written or published in Hebrew characters, in any language: Hebrew, Aramaic, Ladino, Yiddish, Judeo-Persian, etc. Contributions may relate to scrolls or codices or fragments thereof, in manuscript or printed. Contributions relating to the next stage in the history of the Jewish book—electronic publishing—are also invited.

It is the purpose of this journal to continue the tradition of scholarship dedicated to the history of the Jewish book once represented in Europe in Hebräische Bibliographie and the Zeitschrift für hebräische Bibliographie, then transplanted to Israel in Kiryat Sefer, and now taking on a virtual form at the libraries of the Jewish Theological Seminary. This tradition recognizes that Jewish books share a history with other books in the settings in which they were produced, but have a distinct history as well, and this history is worthy of ongoing inquiry and documentation.

Studies appearing in this new journal will explore authorship, scribal matters, versions, book production, readership, book markets, the book as artifact, the sociology of the book, and so forth. They will explore the relationship between Jewish books and Jewish society, and the impact that books have always had on that society. In recent decades, scholars like Robert Darnton, Elizabeth Eisenstein, Natalie Zemon Davis and Roger Chartier have shown how rich a historical mine is contained in the study of books as such; studies in this journal will follow their model as well.

We hope that you, the reader, find benefit in the scholarship offered here. We welcome both your submissions for future issues and your suggestions. As the Jewish book assumes its next historical form—one that, ironically, resembles in significant ways both the scroll and, by virtue of the power of the individual over electronic publication, the manuscript—we are confident that there will be a purpose for this journal for many years to come. Perhaps there will even be a footnote, in some future scholarship on the history of the Jewish book, on this modest publication.

David Kraemer

Shmuel Glick