A Census of Torah Scrolls
NO MATTER WHERE IT MAY BE,
A PEARL REMAINS A PEARL.
- BABYLONIAN TALMUD
Tractate Megillah, 15a
The Surviving Scrolls
IN THE FIRST CHAPTER of this Census of Kaifeng Torah scrolls the individual exemplars I have inspected are described in numerical order, starting with Scroll 2 and ending with the un- numbered American Bible Society copy. The second chapter of the Census summarizes what I have learned about those Kaifeng Pentateuchal scrolls which, though no longer extant, have been described, however scantily, in the literature of Sino-Judaica over the past several centuries. Of those scrolls that are missing, some exemplars and detached skins will, one hopes, be found by others. It is highly improbable, however, that all the missing Kaifeng Torah scrolls and loose skins will ever be discovered, and it would seem reasonable to assume that some of these have not survived.
SCROLL 2 (c)
LOCATION: The British Library, London.
CATALOGUE REFERENCE: Add. 19,250, Department of Ori- ental MSS. & Printed Books.
DATE SEEN: 5 November 1973.
CONDITION: Excellent, complete. Has two wooden rods, each with a pointed knob at one end.
NUMBER OF SKINS: 94.
INDIVIDUAL SKIN NUMBERlNG: No numbering in Genesis, but the remaining four books are numbered erratically, each book starting with 1.
SPECIFIC REFERENCE: G. Margoliouth. Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the British Museum, 3 parts (London: 1899); lithographic reprint (London: 1965). See Part 1, no. 6, pp. 3-4.
HISTORY: Purchased at Kaifeng in 1851 by agents of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews. Brought to London by the Society and presented to the British Museum on 11 December 1852.
COMMENTS: "Ninety-four strips of sheepskin, with 1 to 5 columns in a strip; 239 columns, measuring about 23 in. by 6 to 8½, with 49 lines to a column." (Margoliouth, Part 1, p. 3).
SCROLL 4 (s)
LOCATION: Cambridge University Library, Cambridge.
CATALOGUE REFERENCE: Add. 283, Oriental Department.
DATE SEEN: 6 November 1973.
CONDITION: Excellent, complete. Has two wooden rods, each with a pointed knob at one end.
NUMBER OF SKINS: See "Individual Skin Numbering," immediately below.
INDIVIDUAL SKIN NUMBERING: My notes indicate that the first skin of Genesis is numbered 1 and that the skin numbering then continues erratically to 89, the last skin of Deuteronomy. Schiller-Szinessy reports 82 skins in all (see Comments, below). An 1851 report in the Chinese Repository has this scroll containing 79 skins.
SPECIFIC REFERENCES: S.M. Schiller-Szinessy. Catalogue of Hebrew Manuscripts Preserved in the University Library (Cam- bridge: 1876), item 6, pp. 8-9. See also Schiller-Szinessy's notes (only partially published), which are available at the Oriental De- partment, Cambridge University Library, and which describe this scroll in detail.
HISTORY: Purchased at Kaifeng in 1851 by agents of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews. Brought to London by the Society and presented to Cambridge in 1853.
COMMENTS: "A roll of 82 white roe-skins, 125 ft. x 1 ft. 11 in.; 239 columns, 48-50 lines; square character, Chinese hand of the XVIIth century." Schiller-Szinessy, Catalogue, p. 8. The hand- written notes of Schiller-Szinessy show him to have been thoroughly outraged by the enormous number of errors he found in the Cam- bridge scroll. "One does not know what to say of this copy," he complains, "so marvellous a production is it [in its display] of hu- man ignorance, coupled with impudence. Lu lo ra'iti lo he'amanti! ["If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I'd never have believed it!"], I am compelled to exclaim. Is it possible that people who seem not to have the smallest notion of what a Jewish sofer ought to be can sit down & fill the space of 239 columns of beautifully prepared goatskins with the Pentateuch, which they do violence to in almost every column? Why, one of the numerous MSS. hunters, folks anxious to establish variant lectiones, needs only to get hold of this or a similar copy & we shall be blessed with important discoveries!"
He then states that the scroll he is examining is "to the best of my knowledge and conscience only a copy of the Pentateuch read [italics are Schiller-Szinessy's] by somebody to the scribe, or the numerous interchanges between aleph and he, ayyin and aleph, he and het, het and kaph, &c. could not be accounted for." However, this conclusion, as I point out later in the present study, appears to be uncalled for.
Schiller-Szinessy's declaration more than a century ago that the variant readings in the Kaifeng scrolls might be taken too seriously by certain individuals reflects, I suppose, an excessive concern lest the hundreds of discrepancies in these scrolls — all of which are obviously the products of scribal ignorance and error — be misused in a sensational and irresponsible fashion to challenge established scriptural texts. But. this, of course, has not happened. I think, moreover, that Schiller-Szinessy was much too hard on the Kaifeng scribes who, after all, seem to have done the best they knew how. Admittedly, these scribes can by no stretch of the imagination be considered qualified soferim, but would the Jews of Kaifeng have been better off in the long run without any Pentateuchal scrolls at all than with the essentially correct (if orthographically and stylistically disturbing) scrolls that their scribe did provide?
SCROLL 5 (v)
LOCATION: Bodleian Library, Oxford.
CATALOGUE REFERENCE: MS. Huntington Add. B., Department of Oriental Books.
DATE SEEN: 7 November 1973.
CONDITION: Excellent, complete. One of the wooden rods is missing, and the knob which should be at one end of the other rod is broken off.
NUMBER OF SKINS: 75
INDIVIDUAL SKIN NUMBERING: The first skin of Genesis is marked 1. The numbering of the skins then continues sequentially until the last skin of Deuteronomy, which displays the figure 75.
SPECIFIC REFERENCE: Neubauer, A., Catalogue of the Hebrew Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library (Oxford: 1886), item 49.
HISTORY: Purchased at Kaifeng in 1851 by agents of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews. Brought to London by the Society and presented to the Bodleian in 1852 or 1853.
SCROLL 6 (u)
LOCATION: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna.
CATALOGUE REFERENCE: Handschriftensammlung, Cod. Hebr. 219.
DATE SEEN: 23 November 1973.
CONDITION: Relatively poor. All skins are present, but there are lacunae within individual skins. The carving at one end of each of the two wooden rods resembles the lotus.
NUMBER OF SKINS: 90.
INDIVIDUAL SKIN NUMBERING: Skin 1 of Genesis displays no number. The next skin is marked 2, and numbering then continues sequentially up to and including 14. Several ensuing skins display no numbers at all. Then a 3 appears on the skin beginning with Gen. 40:9. Following this, the skins are for the most part again numbered sequentially, but there are several skins which lack numbers. Num- bering starts over again at the beginning of each book.
SPECIFIC REFERENCES: A.Z. Schwarz. Katalog der Hebraischen Handschriften (Vienna: 1925), item 21, p. 27.
Karl von Scherzer. "Eine Gesandtschaftsreise nach Peking." In: Deutsche Revue VIII (July-September 1883), pp. 78-94, with par- ticular reference to p. 89.
Karl von Scherzer. "Die Juden in China." In: Vierter Jahres- bericht der Gesellschaft für Sammlung und Konservierung von Kunst-und Historischen Denkmalern des Judentums (Vienna: 1901), pp. 53-54.
HISTORY: Purchased by the Austrian diplomat Karl von Scherzer at Beijing, on 5 November 1870, from three young Chinese Jews who had brought it from Kaifeng, together with two other scrolls, and sent to the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek by Dr. von Scherzer. It is not known whether the three young men were au- thorized by their fellow Jews in Kaifeng to transport these scrolls to Beijing and seek out likely European purchasers, or whether they did so illicitly and pocketed the money they received from the buyers.
COMMENTS: Schwarz gives the skin height as 58.5 cm., and the length of the scroll as 38.32 m. He counts from one to four columns on individual skins, for a total of 239 columns, with the number of lines per column varying from 48 to 51. He also reports that the twenty-first, twenty-second and twenty-ninth skins of the scroll are written in a hand differing from that occurring in the other eighty-seven skins.
SCROLL 7 (z)
LOCATION: Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York.
CATALOGUE REFERENCE: Sulzberger Collection, L-12.
DATES SEEN: July 1972 and December 1973.
CONDITION: Excellent. However, the skins of this scroll require better collation. Thus, the last skin of Exodus, which is marked 24 and ends with Ex. 38:17 (the last verse of Exodus is actually 40:38), is followed by a misplaced four-column skin marked 2, in which the text is that of Num. 4:21 through 6:21. Immediately after this mis- placed skin there is another that is marked 1 and begins with Lev. 1:7. Hence, the text containing Ex. 38:18-Lev. 1:6 is missing. In addition, a fresh, blank skin has been sewn into the scroll im- mediately following the first skin of Numbers (1:5-3:43). This blank skin is in turn followed by a skin marked 3, which starts with Num. 6:22.
In the Book of Numbers, the skin which should contain 3:44-6:21 is wanting. Since the skin appearing immediately after Ex. 38: 17 contains the text of Num. 4:21-6:21 rather than that of 3:44-6:21, the probability is that the skin that was sewn in after Ex. 38:17 was either a spare or was taken from another scroll. Tobar states that in August 1851 the North China Herald reported, in connection with the six scrolls that had just been purchased at Kaifeng, that "among the very deteriorated fragments which were bound together and as piously preserved as if they themselves were a scroll we found duplicates of several parts of Numbers." Could it be that one of these duplicates has been incorporated in Scroll 7? (It should be noted, however, that Scroll 7 was purchased seventeen years after the London Society's Delegates acquired the six scrolls among which the extraneous skins were found, and also that the skin from Numbers which is interpolated in Scroll 7 is not deteriorated.)
Scroll 7 may contain one or two other discrepancies in the collation of its skins; and I regret that I was not able to devote sufficient time in the course of my examination of this scroll to search for them. No rods are attached to Scroll 7. Instead, it has been in- appropriately provided with two wooden rollers (atzei hayyim) of the kind seen in Ashkenazic scrolls, and with a silk mantle of the kind that ordinarily enclose Ashkenazic Torah scrolls. The mantle and the rods seem to have been added nearly a century ago, not very long after the aquisition of the scroll by the JTS Library from Judge Sulzberger. One may surmise that these additions were made by a well-meaning individual who, familiar only with Ashkenazic Torahs, took it for granted that the JTS’s newly-received Chinese Torah must have once been sheathed in a mantle and equipped with atzei hayyim.
NUMBER OF SKINS: See Comments, below.
INDIVIDUAL SKIN NUMBERING: The skins are numbered sequentially, except for the displaced ones, the individual books beginning with 1.
SPECIFIC REFERENCES: Catalogue of the Books Contained in the Barrow Library (New York: 1888).
"Proceedings at Boston, May l9th, 1869: On a Hebrew MS. of the Pentateuch, from the Jewish Community at Kai-fung-fu in China." In: Journal of the American Oriental Society IX (1869), pp. liii-liv.
Michael Pollak. The Discovery of a Missing Chinese Torah Scroll (Dallas: Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University, 1973), pp. 21-27.
HISTORY: Purchased in 1868 by W. A. P. Martin from three Kaifeng Jews who had brought it and two other scrolls to Beijing. Scroll 7 ultimately found its way to the library of John Wylie Bar- row, but I do not know whether there were any intermediate owners between Martin and Barrow, and have not been able to ascertain the date of the acquisition of this scroll by Barrow. The Catalogue of Books Contained in the Barrow Library lists this scroll as item 109 (p. 22), offering it for sale on a "Price on Application" basis. The scroll is next heard of as being in the possession of Judge Mayer Sulzberger of Philadelphia, who presumably bought it from the sales agents representing the Barrow Library (the firm of Bangs & Co.?).
According to Marcus N. Adler, Judge Sulzberger would have been immensely gratified to be able to return Scroll 7 to the Jews of Kaifeng; for, as Adler stated in a lecture delivered in 1900, Sulz- berger had written him as follows: "If I should live long enough to see the Chinese troubles settled, and a new Synagogue dedicated at Kai-fung-foo, it would give me great pleasure to contribute the roll for the edification of the descendants and successors of the original owners." Scroll 7 and the bulk of Sulzberger's library of Hebraica were transferred to the possession of the Jewish Theological Semi- nary in 1903-1904.
COMMENTS: In May 1869, as noted in the "Proceedings at Boston," W.A.P. Martin presented a report by John Wylie Barrow to the American Oriental Society which described what is un-doubtedly Scroll 7. "This is a synagogue roll," the report stated, "written on 112 skins of white leather, in 237 columns of 49 lines each; it measures 143 feet in length. The skins are in two or three places put together in the wrong order, and one passage from Exodus xxxviii.18 to Leviticus i.6 is wanting." According to the Barrow catalogue, "the whole roll is 141 ft., 5 in. long; 24-l/2 in. wide; upper margin, 1-7/8 in.; lower, 2-l/8 in.; and rolled on sticks [now missing]. There are 234 columns; each column is 20-l/2 in. high; the width of each column differing materially, but usually about 7 in."
A Torah scroll that is not complete, or is otherwise textually corrupt, may not be read in the synagogue as part of a worship service. It is true, of course, that although the Kaifeng scrolls contained numerous errors they were still used in synagogal ser- vices. It does not seem likely, however, that the rabbis of Kaifeng would have tolerated the reading of substantially incomplete scrolls as part of the services conducted in their synagogue. The relatively few skin displacements in Scroll 7 suggest, therefore, that this was probably one of the thirteen scrolls kept in the ark of the Kaifeng synagogue and used in the congregation's worship services. The condition of the scroll and the fact that its calligraphic style is patently the same as that of Chinese Hebrew script found in the surviving post-1642 Kaifeng scrolls indicate that it was probably written after 1642, so that it would presumably have been read from time to time as part of the synagogal services. It would appear, then, that Scroll 7 was partially dismembered after it left the possession of the Kaifeng Jews and was later reassembled, for it is difficult to imagine that once synagogal services were dis- continued in Kaifeng the congregation — now entirely illiterate in Hebrew — would have attempted to disturb the sequence of skins in one of its scrolls. The skin displacements in the JTS scroll, we must surmise, were made by westerners long before the scroll was purchased by so accomplished a Hebraic scholar as Judge Sulz- berger. Nor may we assume that these "corrections" were made once the scroll came into the possession of JTS. Arguably, the most likely "mender" of the scroll would have been one of the collectors who owned it before Sulzberger — perhaps Martin, perhaps Bar- row, or perhaps the possible "intermediate" owner mentioned above.
Scroll 7 exhibits an interesting error at Gen. 7:23, the word v’ad (sgu) being written twice. The other surviving scrolls do not display the superfluous v’ad.
SCROLL 12 (CH)
LOCATION: Bridwell Library, Perkins Scholl of Theology, Southern Methodist University,
CATALOGUE REFERENCE: MS., Harrison Collection.
DATES SEEN: Intermittently, from 1970 to 1974.
CONDITION: Excellent, complete. Two wooden rods, each with a pointed knob. These rods have been separated from the scroll it- self, but one rod is still enveloped within a turn of sheepskin which is detached from the rest of the scroll but corresponds in color, height and in the positioning of needle holes with one side of the first skin of Genesis in the scroll itself.
NUMBER OF SKINS: 68. The literature erroneously reports 66, but there are two skins, each containing only one column of text, which are not numbered. One of these appears between Skin 48 and Skin 49, and the other between Skin 52 and Skin 53.
INDIVIDUAL SKIN NUMBERING: The first skin of Genesis is not numbered. The second is numbered 2, and the numbering then proceeds sequentially to 66. As noted above, the skin between 48 and 49 and the skin between 52 and 53 are not numbered.
SPECIFIC REFERENCES: Michael Pollak. The Discovery of a Missing Chinese Torah Scroll (Dallas: Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University, 1973).
Unpublished correspondence and other documentation at Bridwell Library, contained in the Harrison Collection and relating to the history of that collection.
HISTORY: Purchased at Kaifeng in 1851 by agents of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews, and brought to London and kept there in the possession of the Society together with the presently lost unnumbered scroll described in Part 2, Chapter 2, below. In letters addressed to the Society on 6 March 1918 and 14 March 1918, Sir David Sassoon offered to purchase all the smaller Kaifeng manuscripts, and also what is now the Bridwell scroll and the unnumbered exemplar. The offer was declined. On 14 January 1929, Dr. M. L. Ettinghausen of the well-known London rare book firm of Maggs Bros. Ltd. attempted to buy either of the two scrolls still in the possession of the Society on behalf of Dr. A. S. Oko, librarian of the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati. In Oxford, on 7 November 1973, Dr. Ettinghausen told me that his offer had not been accepted. He suggested, however, that the most likely purchaser of the two scrolls, if they had indeed been sold later on, would have been Maggs. Bros, and advised me to check that possi- bility with that firm.
On 8 November 1973, a day after my conversation with Dr. Ettinghausen, Mr. John Maggs told me that shortly after the beginning of the second World War his late father had taken the precaution of moving a large portion of the firm’s stock of rare books and documents to a building in the English countryside. There was good reason to assume, Mr. Maggs informed me, that in the hustle and bustle surrounding the wartime transfer of the items, many of them were not recorded properly. It was quite possible, ac- cordingly, that the scroll now at Bridwell and the much older Torah which is presently missing were among those that were stored for safeguarding in the English countryside by Maggs Bros. It is also possible that the scrolls were sold during or slightly after the hostilities to one or more unidentified buyers and were either not re- corded properly in Maggs’ books or recorded in files that did not survive the war.
In 1955 a bookseller in Pennsylvania informed Thomas J. Har- rison of Pryor, Oklahoma, a collector of bibles, that an old Penta- teuchal scroll was on the market, and that this scroll had been identified in England as a Torah of the seventeenth century, pre- sumably of Middle Eastern origin. The bookseller, who had per- sonally never seen the scroll, wrote Mr. Harrison that it was written in "some eastern province, Syria or Turkey," adding that it was not ritually acceptable for reading at public worship services. Harrison agreed to purchase the scroll for the sum of $250.00; and on 3 February 1956 the bookseller wrote: "Just received the Scroll [apparently from an equally misinformed source in England]. It is the finest I have ever seen. If I had seen it first I would have asked $50.00 more as it is easily worth $500.00, but a bargain is a bargain. However, if you want to pay expressage, it's up to you. It is too large to send parcel post."
In 1963, following the death of Mr. Harrison, his library of biblical materials, the unidentified Torah scroll among them, was assigned by the Thomas J. Harrison Trust to the custody of Brid- well Library. During the nine years which followed, the Bridwell staff, not satisfied with the Pennsylvania bookseller's identification of the scroll, made repeated efforts to establish its proper pro- venance. In 1972 these efforts were at last rewarded, and the scroll was positively identified as one of the six which the Chinese Delegates had purchased from the Jews of Kaifeng in 1851.
COMMENTS: The scroll is 96 feet long, with the height of the skins averaging about 23¼ inches. The manuscript weighs 18½ pounds. It contains 239 columns divided among 68 skins. All columns are approximately 20½ inches high and have 49 lines of text, except in the case of Column no. 86, which is 20 inches high and has 48 lines.8
LOCATION: Library of the American Bible Society, New York.
CATALOGUE REFERENCE: ABS 698, Acc. 37219.
DATES SEEN: September 1972 and April 1973.
CONDITION: Very poor. The scroll has suffered severe water damage, and extends from Gen.1:1 to Lev. 18:19 only, displaying numerous lacunae. No rods.
NUMBER OF SKINS: 37.
INDIVIDUAL SKIN NUMBERING: None.
SPECIFIC REFERENCES: David Sandler Berkowitz. In Remembrance of Creation (Waltham, Mass.: Brandeis University Press, 1968), item 12, pp. 10-11.
Unpublished documentation at the library of the ABS:
(1) Letter from Charles F. Gammon to the Rev. John Fox, D.D., 14 April 1904.
(2) W.H. Ward, "Ancient Manuscript of the Hebrew Pentateuch," n.d.
(3) Textual studies of the ABS scroll, as prepared by Dr. Erroll F. Rhodes.
HISTORY: The history of this scroll is presented in an ambiguous and confused fashion in the literature pertaining to the Kaifeng Jews. In 1880 W. A. P. Martin wrote that he had procured a scroll "for my friend S. Wells Williams, who presented it to the library to Yale College," but a year later he wrote of this same scroll that Williams had "presented it to the American Bible Society."9 The assertion that Williams gave the scroll to Yale is not correct. However, because a copy of A. Kingsley Glover's Jewish-Chinese Papers had somehow been placed in the same box as a Torah scroll donated to Yale by John Wylie Barrow (a one-time owner of the Kaifeng scroll now at the Jewish Theological Seminary), certain scholars who had read Martin's 1880 statement understandably con- cluded that the Torah at Yale was of Kaifeng origin. To set the matter straight, it should be pointed out that the Torah at Yale which has so often been confused with a Kaifeng scroll is catalogued as Hebrew +120 at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. It is made up of fifty-four strips, "21½ cm. x various widths," of vellum. It has nothing to do with the Chinese Jews, and is specifically described in the Yale catalogue as having been written in a "modern (19th century) hand," and as having been acquired as a "gift of John Wylie Barrow, January, 1869."10
The confusion surrounding the American Bible Society scroll was complicated by the fact that the ABS lent its Kaifeng exemplar to the New York Public Library, where it remained for several decades. It is not unusual, accordingly, to find reports in the literature of the presence of one Kaifeng scroll at Yale and another at the New York Public Library. In March 1937 the ABS scroll was returned by NYPL to the Ameican Bible Society.11 It has been held by the Society since that time.
COMMENTS: The ABS scroll is 71 feet long and about 23 inches high. It may have been assembled from skins written outside China. Berkowitz, ibid., believes that the components of this Torah date back to the period between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, and notes that it contains "some interpolated columns on different skins, in other hands and varying formats added at a later date. One interpolated column, in the middle of one of the oldest skins, contains Exodus xiv.28-xv. The text after Leviticus viii.5 is also in a different hand and on later parchments: Gen. xxiii.6; Lev. xiii.56; and ibid., xiv.30, 31."
The literature tells us repeatedly that the ark of the synagogue of Kaifeng was the repository for thirteen Torah scrolls. Berkowitz points out that the ABS scroll was obtained by Martin in an incomplete state, its text going only to Lev. 18:19. Since an incomplete scroll would not have been considered fit for use in the synagogue, Berkowitz contends, such a scroll might not have been included by the Kaifeng Jews in their count of the thirteen Torahs they owned, but, rather, it may have been considered an unusable supernumerary. The ABS scroll, he notes, is in several different hands. He believes that the scroll was written in China (see, however, Lehman's opposing view, below) and that it, or the skins from which it was assembled, must already have been in existence when the new copies were made after the 1642 flood.
I would agree with Berkowitz that the ABS scroll was put together of skins salvaged from the flood of 1642. I should also think that we have no real proof that the ABS scroll was ever complete. Moreover, it cannot be the exemplar referred to in the literature as the Scroll of Moses. The Scroll of Moses, we know, was read as part of the synagogal services held on the Shemini Azeret festival of Saturday, 3 October 1722, the Jesuit missionary Jean Domenge being present as a very interested observer. Domenge reports that the scriptural portion of the day was read from the Scroll of Moses, that this scroll was water-damaged, and that the portion which was read was taken from the latter part of Deuteronomy.11 Therefore, if we wish to theorize that the ABS scroll is the Scroll of Moses we must first assume that in 1722 the ABS scroll was complete and in good enough physical condition to make its text readable. We would also have to assume that not only have all the skins of this scroll beyond Lev. 18:19 been lost since 1722, but also that the surviving skins have been permitted in that interim to deteriorate to their present sad state. Since Martin de- scribed the scroll now at ABS as being severely defective and far from complete at the time he acquired it well over a century ago, it would follow that between 1722 and the date of its acquisition by Martin the Jews of Kaifeng had somehow lost substantial parts of their most ancient and most revered treasure. We would have to assume, moreover, (and this, I think, we can safely do) that the unnumbered exemplar formerly at the London Society was not the real Scroll of Moses, despite the numerous allegations appearing in the literature that it was. (See Part 2, Chapter 2, below.)
In a letter written on 25 October 1723 in Nanyang Prefecture, Honan Province, and published for the first time in 1980,12 Domenge states that when he inspected the Kaifeng Torah known as the Scroll of Moses he observed that it was written "not on vellum but on a kind of strong pasteboard, but nevertheless thin enough to be wound on a pivot" ("qu'elle est écrite non sur du velin mais sur un espèce de carton assez fort, et pourrant assez délié p[ou]r être roulé"). Since the ABS scroll, like all other Torah scrolls that are read in synagogal services, is made up of animal skins, we cannot be sure that Domenge's identification of the substance on which the Kaifeng Scroll of Moses was written as an "espèce de carton" is to be taken literally. Nevertheless, his statement adds weight to the case against identifying the ABS scroll as the Scroll of Moses.
When, on 9 November 1970, Dr. I. O. Lehman, Curator of Hebrew Manuscripts at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, examined the ABS scroll, he informed Dr. Erroll Rhodes of the ABS (according to the notes taken by Dr. Rhodes and held at ABS) that it was probably written "not later than the 16th century, and possibly somewhat earlier." This scroll, Dr. Rhodes' notes continue, "bears obvious marks of damage attributable to the flood of 1642, and subsequent repairs (especially the retracing of faded words) are in a characteristically Chinese hand. The original hand of the earliest parts of the scroll is typical of manuscripts written in the Near East. Mr. Lehman suggested that the scroll was probably taken by a shaliach (official Jewish envoy) from the Near East to the prospering Jewish community at Kai Feng Fu, following the trade routes (possibly by sea, but more probably by land). The whiter skin of certain repaired sections he identifies as probably goat skin prepared at Bokhara, one of the oldest trade and cultural centers in Central Asia (first mentioned in Chinese records in the 5th century A.D.)."
Later, however, Dr. Lehman altered his initial position re-garding the provenance of the ABS scroll, stating that the evidence "is sufficient to show that this scroll, too, was written in China, perhaps around the 15th century, with some sheets presumably dating back to the 17th century inserted later," adding that "the hand or hands writing this scroll are not the ordinary Chinese Hebrew hands except in sections which constitute late repairs. There is a clearly archaistic touch to the script....The writer[s-?] of the New York scroll, who clearly learned to write outside China but yet writes in a hand unfamiliar from anywhere else, very closely follows the masoretic text." Dr. Lehman, who had also inspected the Vienna exemplar, concludes that its soferic work, which was done in Kaifeng during the seventeenth century, "may point back to traditions which are about three-quarters of a millennium older."13 The repairs, which are described by Dr. Lehman as being "in a characteristically Chinese hand," are relatively minor in scope and would not indicate, it seems to me, that the ABS scroll is one of the two reported in the stele of 1663 as having been restored and repaired after the 1642 flood by Li Chên and Li Ch'êng-hsien. To begin with, it appears highly unlikely that the ABS scroll could have been written in Kaifeng, if only because its calligraphic style is not the same as the calligraphic style favored by any of the post-1642 Kaifeng scribes whose work we know. Moreover, if this scroll was actually restored and repaired after the 1642 flood, it should contain a fair proportion of text written in a hand similar to that charac- terizing the other extant Kaifeng scrolls — but it does not. And furthermore, in order to identify the ABS exemplar as one of the two which were restored shortly after the 1642 catastrophe, we would have to defend the proposition that while the bulk of its pre-1642 skins have survived, all of its post-1642 skins have been lost. That this could have happened is, of course, highly im- probable.We would also have to argue that in spite of the extremely poor condition of its extant skins (which, I would guess, were in not much better condition shortly after the 1642 flood than they are now) the ABS exemplar was permitted a place in the services of the Kaifeng Synagogue. This too is questionable.
We know that the Chinese Delegates were offered an incomplete Torah scroll "more ancient than the rest," and that although they were at first reluctant to include this Torah in their purchases because of its inferior condition, they finally bought it, together with five others and numerous smaller manuscripts.14 For the reasons noted above, however, I remain unconvinced that the ABS scroll is the same Torah as the one that was taken out of the ark of the synagogue of Kaifeng and read aloud as part of the Shemini Azeret service of 1722. I submit, in short, that it is not the scroll that Father Domenge saw on that occasion.