Title: The Aleppo Codex: A True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bible
Author: Matti Friedman
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Rating: 4 out of 5
The Aleppo Codex, also known as the Crown of Aleppo, is a copy of the Hebrew Bible dating from the tenth century. It is not only prized because of its age, but because it is the most accurate copy of the bible that survives into modern day. Matti Friedman traces the Aleppo Codex’s journey from its home in Syria to Jerusalem soon after the founding of Israel. He tries to discover what truly happened to the Codex and where its missing pages might be.
The Aleppo Codex is part-detective story and part-history, all centering around a book that is over 1,000 years old. It goes without saying that the Aleppo Codex is sacred to Jews everywhere. So why, Matti Friedman asks, is its modern day history so shrouded? How did the Crown get from Aleppo, Syria to Jerusalem? He throws himself into uncovering this answer, and what he finds is interesting, to say the least.
Friedman does a great job recounting the history behind the current events surrounding the Crown in The Aleppo Codex. He makes sure the reader knows what was happening in order to flesh out the Codex’s story. It makes for a great, quick summary of history and details some of the events that occurred around Israel’s formation. It goes without saying that this can still be a very difficult, sensitive subject for some audiences; if you’re one of them, then this is probably not the book for you.
Once Friedman uncovers what happened to the Aleppo Codex and understands the nature of its true journey to Jerusalem (and he isn’t afraid to call people and governments out for their culpability on the subject), he turns to the Crown’s missing pages. A significant chunk of the book has been lost; where did these pages go? Have they been missing for centuries, or was there more sinister work afoot, someone who hoped to profit off this religious artifact?
All in all, The Aleppo Codex is an interesting read. It can be a bit dry at times, but Friedman always brings the narrative back to the fascinating subject of the Crown of Aleppo. The detective story portion of the book works well, and readers will be riveted by the reshaping of the Crown’s official history. If you enjoy non-fiction and are in the mood for a good treasure hunt, then this will be an entertaining and exciting read.