The story of Johanan and the Scorpion. A thirteenth-century Hebrew romance

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The present article analyzes the Hebrew story of Johanan and the Scorpion, found in a thirteenth-century manuscript from Northem France (Ms. Oxford [Bodl. Or. 135]), which represents an unusual phenomenon in Jewish literary tradition. Although it appears in a manuscript considered an important milestone in the history of medieval Hebrew literature, and despite the Jewish cultural norm of rewriting literary works again and again, it is the only existing Hebrew version of this theme. The reason it was never revised or copied may be the portrayal of the main character as a Jewish knight who leaves his community and surrenders to the element of 'the other', thereby losing his original identity. The assumption is made that these problematic ideas and poetic materials, together with historical circumstances, created the non-acceptance of this story.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-66
Number of pages13
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
1 l wouId like to thank RelIa Kushelevsky for her valuable cornments and for letting me use sorne ofthe materials connected to her research on Hebrew manuscripts from Ash-kenaz in the 13th and 14th centuries, supported by The Israel Science Foundation (ISF).


Dive into the research topics of 'The story of Johanan and the Scorpion. A thirteenth-century Hebrew romance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this