Hatpasah–Jewish translata documents from medieval Catalonia: formulae, law and society

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This article presents a type of medieval Jewish document–a reproduction of an authenticated copy–called in Hebrew hatpasah. These documents, with accompanying formulae, were a Catalan Jewish approach to reproducing private deeds, in tandem with and parallel to Latin translatio. Such authoritative copies could work together, supersede, replace and, at times, conflict with Jewish legal norms. This practice seems to have arisen from contact between Jews and the Christian notary system, and was first initiated by Jewish individuals who conducted private transactions before Christian courts and notaries. These parties and the Christians notaries sought the assistance of Jewish scribes and courts, who assisted in authenticating the Hebrew signatures on the Latin documents being reproduced. Over time, Jewish scribes started to produce analogous reproductions of Hebrew documents, first for submission to non-Jewish notaries and, eventually, for use in Jewish courts. In this process, Jewish litigants, and later professional scribes, translated and internalized Latin formulae into Hebrew. Thus this case sheds light on the extent to which Jewish scribes were integrated into Latin notarial culture, and how that system’s norms influenced their practices and were integrated into Jewish law.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-194
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Medieval Iberian Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 4 May 2018


  • Barcelona
  • Catalonia
  • charters
  • hatpasah
  • notaries
  • shetar
  • translatio

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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