In the last 50 years, the study of the Jewish communities of the medieval Islamic world has changed as research on Cairo Geniza documents has assumed a more central place in the field. Where historians used to characterize those communities as autonomous, self-enclosed, and hierarchical, Geniza-based work has emphasized their multiple points of contact with the state, their fluidity, and their networks of individual ties. Yet we still know very little about how communal institutions actually worked, especially rabbinical courts. Whereas work on Geniza legal documents has focused mainly on litigants and the cases they brought, we propose instead to pay close attention to scribes—to the documents’ formal and formulaic features. Here, we use a single document to illustrate how formulas can provide evidence for the relationship between litigants and the institutions they approached for legal mediation.


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pp. 111-146
Launched on MUSE
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