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Dr Ben Outhwaite has been Head of the Genizah Research Unit in Cambridge University Library since 2006, having worked for the previous seven years as a Genizah researcher.

Dr Outhwaite received a B.A. in Hebrew Studies and an M.Phil. in Medieval Hebrew literature from Christ's College, Cambridge. His Cambridge Ph.D. thesis, on the grammatical description of Hebrew letters in the Genizah, was completed under the supervision of Professor Geoffrey Khan.

Dr Outhwaite's research interests revolve around Hebrew and its use and transmission in the Middle Ages: the vocalisation traditions of Biblical (and post-biblical) Hebrew, the Medieval Hebrew language (particularly its use as a medium of communication throughout the early Middle Ages) and the documentary history of the communities who deposited manuscripts into the Cairo Genizah. His research projects have been funded by the AHRC, the Wellcome Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, among others, and he is a series editor for Brill’s ‘Cambridge Genizah Studies’ series.

Principal publications

‘Karaite epistolary Hebrew: the letters of Ṭoviyyah ben Moshe’, in Geoffrey Khan (ed.), Exegesis and Grammar in Medieval Karaite Texts, Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement 13 (OUP, 2001), 195–234

Hebrew Bible manuscripts in the Cambridge Genizah Collections. Volume 3: Taylor- Schechter Additional Series 1–31 (with M.C. Davis), Cambridge University Library Genizah Series 2 (CUP, 2003), 500 pp.

Hebrew Bible manuscripts in the Cambridge Genizah Collections. Volume 4: Taylor- Schechter Additional Series 32–225 (with M.C. Davis), Cambridge University Library Genizah Series 2 (CUP, 2003), 553 pp.

‘“In the language of the Hagri”: the Judaeo-Arabic letters of Solomon ben Judah’ in Shulie Reif (ed.), The Written Word Remains: the Archive and the Achievement. Articles in honour of Professor Stefan C. Reif (Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit at Cambridge University Library, 2004), 52–69

‘A newly-discovered autograph fragment of Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed from the Cairo Genizah’ (with F. Niessen), Journal of Jewish Studies 57.2 (2006), 287–297

‘The Hebrew manuscript collection of Cambridge University Library’, European Judaism 41.2 (2008), 37–38

‘Taylor, Schechter and Jacques Mosseri’ in Stefan Reif (ed.), Charles Taylor and the Genizah Collection (St John’s College, Cambridge, 2009), 75–80

‘Byzantium and Byzantines in the Cairo Genizah: new and old sources’ in Nicholas de Lange, Julia Krivoruchko and Cameron Boyd-Taylor (eds), Proceedings of the International Colloquium on the Greek Bible in Byzantine Judaism (Tübingen, 2009), 182–220

B. M. Outhwaite and S. Bhayro (eds), ‘From a sacred source’: Genizah studies in honour of Professor Stefan C. Reif (Cambridge Genizah Studies 1; Brill, Leiden 2010), 419 pp.

With Shmuel Glick et al, Seride Teshuvot: a descriptive catalogue of responsa fragments from the Jacques Mosseri Collection, Cambridge University Library (Brill, Leiden, 2012), 490 pp.

‘Clothed in Glory and Decked in Splendour’: Medieval Hebrew since the discovery of the Cairo GenizahBritish Association for Jewish Studies Bulletin 2012, 3–8

With Esther-Miriam Wagner and Bettina Beinhoff (eds), Scribes as agents of language change (De Gruyter, Berlin, 2013), 350 pp.

‘Lines of communication: Medieval Hebrew letters of the 11th century’, in E-M. Wagner, B. Outhwaite and B. Beinhoff (eds), Scribes as agents of language change (De Gruyter, Berlin, 2013), 183–198

‘Gaonic correspondence’ in G. Khan et al (ed.), Encyclopedia of Hebrew language and linguistics, vol. 2 G–O (Brill, Leiden, Boston, 2013), 2–6

With Amir Ashur, ‘Between Egypt and Yemen in the Cairo Genizah’Journal of Islamic Manuscripts 5.2–3 (2014), 198–219

With Christopher Stokoe and Gabriele Ferrario, ’In the shadow of Goitein: text mining the Cairo Genizah’, Manuscript Cultures 7 (2014), 29–34

‘A hoard of Hebrew MSS’, Limn 6 (2016), 6–10

With Amir Ashur ‘An eleventh-century pledge of allegiance to Egypt from the Jewish community of Yemen’, Chroniques du Manuscrit au Yémen 22 (2016), 34–48

‘Schechter's eye for the extraordinary’Jewish Historical Studies 48.1 (2016), 34–45

With Esther-Miriam Wagner, ‘“These two lines...”: Hebrew and Judaeo-Arabic letter-writing in the Classical Genizah Period’, in J. Cromwell and E. Grossman (eds), Beyond Free Variation: Scribal Repertoires from the Old Kingdom to Early Islamic Egypt (Oxford, 2018), 314–332

‘Beyond the Leningrad Codex: Samuel b. Jacob in the Cairo Genizah’, in N. Vidro, R. Vollandt, E.-M. Wagner and J. Olszowy-Schlanger (eds), Studies in Semitic Linguistics and Manuscripts: A Liber Discipulorum in Honour of Professor Geoffrey Khan (University of Uppsala Press, Uppsala (2018), 320–340.

With Amir Ashur, ’A Jewish marriage deed from nineteenth-century Yemen’, Chroniques du manuscrit au Yémen 25 (2018), 40–52

Selected other outputs

Genizah Research Unit’s Fragment of the Month ‘Two new responsa of Moses Maimonides’ (April 2007)

Genizah Research Unit’s Fragment of the Month ‘St Augustine in the Cairo Genizah’ (May 2007)

Genizah Research Unit’s Fragment of the Month ’T-S NS 3.21: The oldest Hebrew fragment in the Collection?’ (November 2010)

The Essay: Life in Fragments: Stories from the Cairo Genizah, BBC Radio 3, first broadcast May 2013

Genizah Research Unit’s Fragment of the Month ‘Samuel ben Jacob: the Leningrad Codex B19a and T-S 10J5.15’ (January 2016)

Genizah Research Unit’s Fragment of the Month ‘T-S 18J3.9 the Ramla Earthquake: for this relief much thanks’ (August 2017)

Genizah Research Unit’s Fragment of the Month ‘The first owners of the Leningrad Codex: T-S 10J30.7’ (November 2017)

‘A pious errand’ (fiction), Jewish Quarterly blog for November 2015 (

PhD thesis (2000): A descriptive grammar of the medieval Hebrew of the Cairo Geniza letters (doctoral thesis).

With M. Schmierer-Lee and C. Burgess, Discarded History: the Genizah of Medieval Cairo, exhibition catalogue (2017).