Ilona Steimann


Education: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, PhD in Art History (2009–2015), awarded Alex Berger Prize. Dissertation title: Habent sua fata libelli: Hebrew Books from the Collection of Hartmann Schedel. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, MA in Art History (2002–2008). Thesis title: Illuminated Haggadot from Venetian Candia. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, BA in Art History and Comparative Religion (1997–2001), magna cum laude.

Research Interests: Jewish-Christian relations in the late middle ages and early modernity, Christian Hebraism, Hebrew medieval manuscripts, incunabula, book history, history of book collections, Jewish art and material culture.

Selected Academic Publications: “‘Das es dasselb puch sey’: The Book as Protagonist in the Ceremony of the Jewry-Oath.” European Journal of Jewish Studies, accepted for publication.

“Jewish Scribes and Christian Patrons: The Hebraica Collection of Johann Jakob Fugger.” Renaissance Quarterly, accepted for publication.

“Hebraism without Hebrew: Hartmann Schedel and the Conversion of his ‘Jewish’ Books.” In Hebrew between Jews and Christians, ed. Daniel Stein Kokin (Studia Judaica, 77). Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017, in print.

“The Preservation of Hebrew Books by Christians in the Pre-Reformation German Milieu.” In Research on Hebrew Manuscripts – Status quaestionis, ed. Irina Wandrey (Studies in Manuscript Cultures). Berlin: De Gruyter, in print.

Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow in the Institute for Jewish Studies, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster. Research project: “Jewish” Book – “Christian” Book: Hebrew Manuscripts in Transition between Jews and Christians at the Cusp of Early Modernity.

Abstract: An intriguing development in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth-century Christian Hebraism is how and why Christian Hebraist scholars came to produce their own Hebrew books. Aimed to be published as a monograph, this project offers a novel examination of this development in the light of a nearly unknown group of around twenty Hebrew manuscripts produced by German Hebraists. Anticipating Hebraist printed editions of Hebrew texts, this group represents one of the earliest attempts of Christians to independently form a corpus of Jewish literature, which would meet their scholarly needs and interests, and embodies the encounter of Jewish and Christian views of the Hebrew text and book. Based on the close examination of the Hebraist Hebrew manuscripts, this interdisciplinary study addresses the motivations behind their production, practical complications involved, and their function and meaning in the Christian context. Its main objective is to examine various modes of transition of the Hebrew manuscripts from ‘Jewish’ to ‘Christian’ objects, and to explore how their Christian copyists reflected on their inherent ‘Jewishness’ and in what ways they adapted (or transformed) them to serve Christian needs from both material and textual perspectives. In a wider context, this study will contribute to the field of the intellectual and cultural history between the two epochs of the middle ages and the early modernity.

Ilona Steimann (003)