Dr Renate Smithuis

Honorary Research Fellow

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Research interests

I am interested in the interaction of Jewish, Christian and Muslim learning, society and culture and in the transmission through Jewish channels of ideas from the Muslim world to Western Europe during the Middle Ages and beyond. The Jewish element forms the main focus of my research, while I tend to do manuscript-based research.

A new research area I am exploring is thirteenth-century Jewish thought and exegesis in Spain, Provence and Italy with figures such as Solomon ibn Adret, Samuel ibn Tibbon and Jacob Anatoli. I am currently also studying Ibn Kammuna in the context of the Persianate world.

As a post-doctoral researcher I catalogued and studied the Cairo Genizah collection of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, consisting of ca. 15,000 fragments, which date from the ninth to the nineteenth century and are mainly written in Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic but also in languages like Arabic and Judeo-Spanish. The contents of these fragments range from everyday documents and letters to all types of Jewish literature.

My PhD project concentrated on the Hebrew and Latin astrological writings of Abraham ibn Ezra, a major twelfth-century Jewish thinker and transmitter of Arabic knowledge from Spain.

Current research projects

Jewish mysticism: Critical Hebrew edition of Abraham Abulafia's Secrets of the Torah, a thirteenth-century Kabbalistic commentary on Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed (completed). This edition will appear in The Kabbalistic Library of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola series published by Nino Aragno in Turin, together with De secretis legis, Flavius Mithridates' autograph Latin version of the same text, transcribed by Dr David Juste (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, completed), as well as an English translation of Mithridates' text by Dr Lucy McGuinness and me (London, work in progress).

Thirteenth-century Jewish exegesis (Jacob Anatoli, Samuel ibn Tibbon)

Ibn Kammuna in the Persianate world

Catalogue of Codices, Scrolls, and Other Texts in Hebrew Script in the University of Manchester (John Rylands) Library Project (01/04/15-01/03/18) of which I am the Principal Investigator; presently I'm conducting a pilot project in preparation. Grants received to date total £125,000. When completed, the catalogue, which builds upon the unpublished catalogue of Hebrew manuscripts produced by Professor Alexander Samely in the early 1990s, will be made available online.


Research and projects

No current projects are available for public display