A true-life thriller about the journey of one of the world's most precious manuscripts - the 10th-century annotated Hebrew Bible known as the Aleppo Codex - from its hiding place in an ancient Syrian synagogue to the newly founded Israel. Using his research, including documents that have been secret for 50 years and interviews with key players, AP correspondent Friedman tells a story of political upheaval, international intrigue, charged courtroom battles, obsession, and subterfuge.
©2012 Matti Friedman. (P)2012 2012 HighBridge Company
“A masterful account of a major religious document.... Friedman delivers an atmospheric, tense story.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The Aleppo Codex could be read as a thriller. It could also be read as a history of the Jewish people, or as a meditation on history and myth. This great book comes closer to containing everything than any book I’ve read in a long, long time.” (Jonathan Safran Foer)
Good, though disturbing story. Matti Friedman did a great piece of research leaving me even more interested in the history of the Aleppo Codex, but the choice of narrator was unfortunate. But when a narrator, even a solid one like Simon Vance, encounters an unfamiliar foreign name or term, e.g., the frequently recurring name, "Ben-Zvi", s/he should ask someone rather than simply wing it with a plausible guess.
It sounds like a minor complaint, but I think every knowledgeable listener will wince as I did at every occurrence of "Ben-Zvi". Unfortunately, it tends to break the spell.
This is the first Audible selection out of many, many, many, that I wish I had read rather than heard. The last one I recall like this is "People of the Book", by Geraldine Brooks???an otherwise terrific book that was even more seriously undermined to my ear by uninformed---but otherwise fine---narration.
Although I learned about the Aleppo Codex I really didn't learn what happened to it. Along the way the author discusses his dead ends at great length. To me this is like reading a mystery without finding out who committed the crime. If I had to do it over again I would not listen to it.
The author feels the need to recount almost all his efforts. My interest is limited to those that bore fruit.
The author makes a strong argument that the official Israeli story of what happened to the missing pages of the Aleppo Codex is not the full story. Beyond that there is nothing but supposition.
A follow-up book is warranted only if significant new information comes to light.
I felt the narration was quite good.
The book was in some ways like a good detective novel.
I learned that an "official" story can be an incorrect one.
He was always a sure narrator.
It was an interesting but not a moving book.
I might have been better if there had been a more definitive conclusion, but it is not the author's fault that the mystery at the heart of the book remained something of a mystery at the end. The book does end with only circumstantial evidence, though.
As someone whose academic background was spent in great measure working with ancient manuscripts and as one who has a great interest in cultural history The Aleppo Codex was not what I had anticipated. The Aleppo Codex considers little about the manuscript as manuscript. One of the few compelling notations is that the massive codex is the work of one hand. For the most part Friedman's narrative seems to view the Aleppo Codex as an image for Zionism wherein the image of the return of a burned, scattered and ancient pages to Jerusalem is rather evident. While Friedman's direction is certainly valid it is not what I had expected. Perhaps I should have been more attentive to the subtitle.
If you are interest in biblical scholarship or 20th century Jewish history, you need to read this book today. If you aren't but but you like good mysteries, you too should read it today. This is an incredibly compelling piece of investigative journalism that is very well researched and very well written. It tells a complex story concisely and uncovers a number of important details that even people familiar with the codex's history will nto have encountered before. Hopefully Mr. Friedman's efforts here will ultimately lead to the recovery of the missing parts.
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