BOOK TALK about the Greatest Medieval Masoretic Pentateuch: The Lailashi Codex—the Crown of Georgian Jewry

Author Thea Gomelauri in conversation with Prof Geoffrey Khan, Prof Ori Soltes, and Debra Band.

The Lailashi Codex is the greatest nearly complete Masoretic Pentateuch. This ancient witness to a scribal tradition known as ‘vavei ha’aamudim’ (each leaf of the manuscript begins with the letter vav except for the six cases defined by a scribal school) is lavishly adorned with exquisite micrographic designs and calligrams.
The manuscript emerged into the Western world awareness from Dr Thea Gomelauri’s book ‘The Lailashi Codex: The Crown of Georgian Jewry’ published in October 2023. The provenance of the Lailashi Codex and its trajectory is as mysterious as its authorship and ownership. According to the legend, it was brought to Lailashi (Georgia), a remote village at the footstool of the Caucasian mountains, on an angel’s wings. The villagers saw a floating book in a river and rescued it from the stream. This unique artefact was said to have miracle-working powers. It became the best-kept secret of Georgian Jewry.
Dr Thea Gomelauri, together with three renowned scholars of Semitic Languages, Illuminated Jewish Art, and Hebrew Manuscripts, will discuss the fascinating history and content of the Lailashi Codex, and its significance to Biblical scholarship and Jewish Studies.