Introduction: A Handbook for Documentary Geniza Research in the Twenty-First Century
This essay introduces a special triple issue of Jewish History that aims to offer both an introduction to and an in-depth guide for documentary Cairo Geniza studies. We outline the history of scholarship that led to the definition of the documentary or historical Geniza and in particular introduce the work of Shlomo Dov Goitein, the scholar whose work has essentially defined the field for the past half century. This historical sketch is followed by a brief review of the kinds of materials found in the documentary corpus and a look at the distribution of scholarship to date on different document genres, including some that have so far remained relatively overlooked. The nature of the materials, and the history of their scholarship, helps shape the rationale for the volume’s form as we provide an overview of the essays in each of its four sections, which focus in turn on historiography, methodology, document types, and writing Geniza history.