Added note – This post from 2013 is made a ‘sticky’ for the time being – just for the record and because this is easier than recalling an essay in press to add a footnote there. Some of the content was superseded by subsequent research – e.g. the date for transmission is better assigned to the mid-thirteenth to mid-fourteenth century; the map’s centre is more likely meant for Arin. Expert opinions kindly given me in response to questions about medieval and earlier scripts also showed that (setting aside the issue of exemplars used by the fifteenth-century copyists), our present manuscript’s written text could not have been written by observant Jews. (22/06/2017)
So – just for the record…
Having now googled to find who before me thought Jewish scribes might have made ms Beinecke 408, I’m reminded of an undated web-page to which I’ll now refer you.
The web-page is undated, though linked on a ciphermysteries page entitled ‘Voynich Theories’ – first comment there dates to 2012.
By that time I’d been working though the manuscript’s imagery for a good while, but on all points where we coincide I am happy to presume the author of that page has precedence.
I can’t comment in any detail about his explanation of the written part of the text, but my own consideration of the imagery leads me to believe that the language won’t be classical (Qur’anic) Arabic. One among the several languages and dialects used in pre-Islamic Arabia and the near-east appears more likely to me.
The centre of f.86v I think meant for the dam of Mar’ib, the centre of pre-Islamic Sabaean culture (note: not Nabataean) and associated to with Raidan, where was found the single greatest cache of palm-leaf manuscripts inscribed in Sabaic miniscule.
Natural, political and religious upheavals caused a Sabaean diaspora to occur in waves over the centuries, most notably in the 3rdC AD, dispersing the original tribes and clans towards all points of the compass.
Some settled in Mesopotamia, near the site that would become Baghdad, and these are believed by some to have become the Radhanites who are noted in the ninth century as alone knowing the routes from China as far as the west – from before the pre-Islamic era.
Muslim geographers of the earliest period classed Radhanites as Jews, and thus they are described so in most recent sources. Earlier references express a certain ambivalence, but so little is known that we may suppose them one of the Jewish sects by then.
It is certain that one Sabaean tribe, the Azd were to became the first dynasty of Muslim rulers in the Iberian peninsula. Another branch is said to have given an emperor in Byzantium. In the Indian Ocean, the Azd were synonymous with mastery of the sea, Ibn Majid being presumed for that reason another Azdi.
That web-page mentioned above contains two botanical identifications which both agree pretty well with mine (f.16r and f.17r) .
I have also of spoken ‘Hada’ – a form for ‘Hadad’ which name the Greek author finds in the text along with names which are familiar from ancient and classical Syria.
Numerous other points of agreement between his work and mine may be found. In each case, I am content to grant that author precedence as appropriate.
I’ve also referred to the Iberian peninsula more than once in treating the manuscript’s return to the Mediterranean, which I date (as a whole) to the 12thC, especially by reference to fol.86v.
In this later period, too, Artur Sixto’s comment (Feb. 17th. 2011) should be taken into account. Artur offered his view that inscriptions for the month-names were closer to Catalan Jewish than to Occitan.
When a number of researchers, each sufficiently qualified, come independently to closely compatible views, supported by the primary evidence and reached independently, I think the topic merits better attention.
In this case, it is certainly time that more attention was given these indications of Jewish instrumentality in bringing ms Beinecke 408 to its present form.
My next few posts will be those promised ‘pre-Rudolfine’ biographical sketches.
Palaeography and codicology thereafter.
For the last subjects, I’m hoping to enlist a couple of guests, but if they decline to comment publicly on the Voynich manuscript, I hope they’ll at least offer me some enlightenment on these subjects, in neither of which I would claim professional competence.