Manuscripts in non-latin alphabet

The BNE includes in its joint collection not very many manuscripts in greek, hebrew, arabic and even in other african languages, as the ge ’ ez or classic etiópico liturgical language of the church, largely as a npm testimony of christianity in Ethiopia. The origin of the pieces is varied.


The fund of manuscripts in Arab scriptures the BNE is the second in our country, after the library of the royal monastery of El Escorial, by the number of pieces, set out.

Within the fund, most of the works are written in arabic, but there are also manuscripts aljamiados (i.e., written in spanish town with arabic characters), turkish manuscripts and persian manuscripts. Many lack information on the date of production, but a great deal has been produced between 15th and 19th centuries. Historically, the most significant are probably the manuscripts produced in Spain during the 15th century, as testimony to the culture of the moorish population.

As regards the topic, this is mainly a religious character and legal terms, but there are works of philosophy, linguistic, astronomy, music, medicine and literary creation.

The origin of the pieces is varied. The most significant, for the number of manuscripts that it brings, is towards the purchase of 1860, by a delegation of the spanish government in Morocco. Between the source of private libraries are the cardinal Zelada, duke of Osuna e Infantado or Serafín Estébanez Calderón. Also there had been any recent purchase as this Qur ’ Aan from the 12th century acquired in an auction of Christie ´ s in 1990.


The greek fund consists of about 365 manuscripts, described in a large extent by Juan de Iriarte, librarian at the 18th century of the royal Library. An important part of this fund comes from the library of constantine Láscaris (1434-1501), byzantine scholar emigrated to italy in the 15th century and founder of a prestigious school in Messina (Sicily). The bulk of the library of constantine Láscaris is conserved, in the Biblioteca Nacional. as part of the collection of the duke of uceda, viceroy Of sicily, having been its library seized by Felipe v after the civil war.

The papyrus of ezekiel, in greek, is the oldest manuscript preserved in the institution. Are 20 pages, dating from the centuries II and III and belong to the former codex known from the old testament greek.

Although it remains in deposit into the BNE since 1983 the papyrus of Ezekiel it Matritenses Papyri foundation Pastor of classical studies, constituted by 348 egyptian papyri written in greek and coptic, which were written between the 2nd century bc and VII.


In the case of the collection of the BNE most 46 the manuscripts were incorporated into it in late slotting and many were copied! Mostly come from convents or other institutions of the church desamortizadas; only six codices purchases to come from private individuals and eight other unknown origin. The most numerous are those from the cathedral of Toledo and of the convent of San Martín de Madrid.

From Toledo (21 codices in total), with the exception of a bible, were part of the personal collection of cardinal Francisco Javier Zelada, which was librarian Vatican library, and many are of italian bill.

In the collection of nineteen hebrew codices gathered by the librarian and hebraísta Martín Sarmiento in the convent of San martín de Madrid only seven or eight are kept by the BNE, perhaps owing to successive transfers suffered until you reach the current headquarters de Recoletos.

Of the convent of Sto. Tomás de Ávila, for its part, comes the manuscript today appears as document Vitr/26/6, a magnificent bible.

Despite this small number, there is a notable number of formats and content of the hebrew manuscripts in the BNE. Hopefully, a number of copies contain the hebrew bible or parts of the same. There also exists a group of seven manuscripts (Mss/5480-5485) that should guide the personal prayer. It is maḥzorim ritual of jews in Rome, with the exception of the Mss/5480 askenazi, of origin.

In addition to the bible are abundant rabbinical comments to them, as well as translations of works of grammatical philosophical and scientific works

Where available