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The Aleppo Codex: The True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the International Pursuit of an Ancient Bible

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  766 Ratings  ·  157 Reviews
A true-life thriller about the journey of one of the world's most precious manuscripts--the 10th century annotated Hebrew Bible known as the Aleppo Codex--from its hiding place in an ancient Syrian synagogue to the newly-founded Israel. Using his research, including documents which have been secret for 50 years and interviews with key players, AP correspondent Friedman ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 15th 2012 by Algonquin Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jun 17, 2012 Lena rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The Aleppo Codex is a thousand year old manuscript originally created to help Jews properly interpret their religious texts. For the six hundred years prior to 1947, it resided in a synagogue in the Syrian town of Aleppo. In the riots following the vote to create the State of Israel, however, its secure home was breached and the book thought to be destroyed.

The good news is that this priceless ancient book actually survived the riots. Today, 60% of it is in the hands of the Israeli government. W
Nov 06, 2012 K rated it really liked it
My original brilliant review was lost due to post-storm internet issues, so here is a far less brilliant synopsis.

The titular Aleppo Codex refers to what is probably the closest thing we have to an original bible. Written in 960, it includes the 24 books of the Hebrew bible with guiding notes on words that are written one way and read another or other ambiguities. Since its completion in 960, the Codex traveled around, was used by Maimonides, and eventually found its home for 600-something year
Maggie Anton
Jan 29, 2016 Maggie Anton rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish, judaism
The Aleppo Codex is a thousand year old manuscript originally created to help Jews properly read the Torah. For the six hundred years prior to 1947, it resided in a synagogue in the Syrian town of Aleppo. In the riots following the vote to create the State of Israel, however, its secure home was breached and the book thought to be destroyed. The good news is that this priceless ancient book actually survived the riots and this books tells us how.

The bad news is that the most important parts of
Oct 12, 2015 Judie rated it it was amazing
We read of at least three victims as we follow Matti Friedman’s quest to learn the facts behind the Crown of Aleppo, a version of the Hebrew Bible written before 1000 CE.
When Friedman first sees it displayed in a secluded room at Israel’s National Museum in Jerusalem, he learns that very few of the pages are original. He sets off to learn more about it and finds much more than he anticipated.
The book, considered by Maimonides, who lived in the twelfth century and considered, even today, to b
Jan 03, 2016 Brina rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish-books
I give this book a 3.5. The Aleppo Codex is a 1000 year old manuscript written by Ahron ben Asher that is considered the most complete version of the Jewish people ever penned. For nearly 1000 years scholars studied the work and guarded it closely. After 1947 pages went missing. Friedman's work was to investigate those who were present at the time of the theft to find out where the missing pages are today.
The reason why I didn't give this book a higher review is because of the writing. Friedman
Do you like a good mystery? Do you like “serious” books about things that actually happened? Do you have lots of commuting time? Well, these are three reasons you have to listen to this book!

I decided to teach myself Biblical Hebrew a few decades ago, with the desire to see what the text did actually say, cleansed from all adaptations to Western tastes. This, plus my fascination for anything bookish, made this book really intriguing to me. I had no idea I was actually plunging into a real myster
Dec 27, 2015 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nooit gedacht dat een boek over een boek zo boeiend kon zijn! De auteur gaat op zoek naar het verhaal achter de Aleppo-codex en de verdwenen bladzijden daaruit, en doet dit op een indrukwekkende manier. Je leert het belang van De Kroon (zoals de codex ook wordt genoemd) kennen, en je krijgt inzicht in de joodse gemeenschap en de geschiedenis van het boek (voor zover die te achterhalen valt). Erg boeiend geschreven, het leest bijna als een -zij het dan waargebeurde- detective.
Mar 31, 2014 Ariella rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this most interesting ancient and important book! What a fascinating history- I am surprised it is not more well-known. It was not a novel, but I don't think a person could've made up anything more interesting or twisted than this story! Well done Matti Friedman for his thorough research.
Diana Barshaw
Nov 08, 2014 Diana Barshaw rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading about the Aleppo Codex itself and its history, I also enjoyed reading about the Jewish community that lived in Aleppo. However, I didn't quite believe the solution of the "mystery" of what happened to the codex, and the investigation leaves more questions than answers.
Jim Leffert
Mar 23, 2013 Jim Leffert rated it liked it
Journalist Friedman peels away much myth and misinformation to tell the eventful and in many ways tragic true story of the People of the Book's most cherished physical book--the more than 1000 year old Aleppo Codex. This handwritten 10th century codex preserves the authoritative Masoretic version of the 24 books of Jewish Bible on parchment, in clear calligraphy, with vowel and cantillation markings and scholarly annotations.

The Codex, produced by Aaron Ben Asher and colleagues in Tiberias, foun
Aug 05, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
THE ALEPPO CODEX: A True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bible. (2012). Matti Friedman. ****.
The Aleppo Codes (book) was considered to be one of the most truthful renderings of the Torah and subsequent books of the Bible. It was used by Maimonides in his biblical work and studies. It is believed to have been composed in about 1100 A.D. It was kept secure in a special alcove in the temple at Aleppo, in Syria. In 1947, after the United Nations approved the partition of Pa
Paula Howard
May 24, 2012 Paula Howard rated it really liked it
The Aleppo Codex is about sacred scripture that is owned and protected by the Aleppo community. As WWII rages and Jews are being taken to the camps, there is also destruction of of synagogues. The Aleppo Community sends it the the Israel. The newly established Israeli government wants the document for them self not going the Aleppo rabbit in Jerusalem.

The Aleppo Codex ws very well written. Novel was not only about the path taken by the Aleppo The good of the State of Israel was considered more i
Oct 17, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing
Loved this book, I recommend it highly, if you want to know more about the Aleppo Codex, the Jewish Aleppo community. What happened to this highly sacred Crown. Why was everyone after this book. Israel was suppose to keep for safekeeping. All of sudden 200 pages are missing. Why was there a cover up? What community owns history? Or doesn't. Matti Friedman a journalist, kept us guessing. My only complaint at times he kept repeating the same thing, over clarifying, several times. I wanted to jump ...more
Jul 11, 2012 Rabbi rated it really liked it
The book read well, like a novel. It had the feel of being well-researched but I always find real mysteries leaving me with more questions than answers. For those in the know about the Israeli academic scene, this book will also open up one's eyes to the underworld of some of the star players who are deceased.
Oct 15, 2015 Christopher rated it really liked it
Intriguing study of the fate of one of the most revered Hebrew manuscripts of the Middle Ages--reads like a thriller combined with a solid academic investigation.
Rachelle Urist
Jun 12, 2015 Rachelle Urist rated it really liked it
Matti Friedman is an investigative wiz. The Aleppo Codex, an ancient copy of the bible used by Maimonides, stayed safe in the Great Synagogue of Aleppo, Syrian, for 400 years. It was written in the 5th century and became the model for scribes, who used its version of the text ever after. It was meant to be a source of wisdom. It became a font of mystery. Its journey to and from Aleppo over the centuries, ferried from Jerusalem after its sacking by the Crusaders, to Cairo, to Aleppo, then back to ...more
Oct 31, 2016 James rated it it was amazing
Amazing! Written as a modern mystery by an astute Journalist! I just wish there was more to read!
Aug 22, 2013 Vicki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Journalist Matti Friedman has written a mesmerizing page turner featuring the most sacred text in Hebrew literature, The Aleppo Codex. Friedman hones his detecting skills as he researches this story, a tale which turns out far differently than he imagined in the beginning.

The Codex was laboriously and painstakingly created in the 10th century. A scribe described as swift, but known for his artistry in creating perfectly formed Hebrew characters, prints by hand 28 lines, 3 columns to a page, unti
Oct 17, 2012 Steve rated it liked it
Shelves: recently-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 14, 2015 Sheri rated it really liked it
Corinna gave this to me. Apparently, it had been on my Amazon wish list. I never consult that anymore (I use goodreads now) although sometimes maybe I add a book Dad might like for his Kindle. In any case, I don't remember how I learned of this book. I had no idea what the Aleppo Codex is. Probably I'd read a review in Moment magazine. In any case, I read it and really enjoyed it. It was engaging, unsettling, disturbing. Illuminated times and cultures about which I knew little or nothing. Gave ...more
Aug 24, 2012 Dale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story comes to life in the audiobook.

Published by Highbridge in 2012.
Performed by Simon Vance.
Duration: 7 hours, 27 minutes.

"The story of this book...should come as no surprise to any who have read it."

I'm going to be brutally honest here. I picked up this audiobook on a lark. I thought it sounded like it was going to be interesting but I have a little pile of audiobooks and this one was quickly heading to the bottom of the pile because I was having a serious case of buyer's remorse. It loo
E. Ce Miller
Nov 09, 2014 E. Ce Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love nothing more than a great book about a great book--and that is exactly what "The Aleppo Codex" is. "The Aleppo Codex" tells the story of one investigative journalist's dive into the politically-charged crossroads where ancient texts, book smuggling, the black market and religion all meet. The Aleppo Codex itself, also known as The Crown of Aleppo, was considered the most perfect copy of the Hebrew Bible, prior to it's round-world adventure from Syria to Israel, the United States and ...more
Jul 24, 2016 Fiery rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is not an Eglish translation of the Aleppo Codex, but about the book also known as the Crown of Aleppo. The Codex is written around 930 AD in Tiberias by a rabbi known as Ben-Buya’a, under the direction of Aaron Ben-Asher also known as "lord of scribes and father of sages". Instead of a scroll its a bound codex of about five hundred parchment leaves. Ben-Asher adds marks indicating vowels and cantillation. He also adds thousands of tiny notes in the margins. These notes include how ...more
Oct 04, 2013 Alex rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed-books
I recommend "The Allepo Codex" with some caveats.

This is a reasonably factual account of the stealing of the Aleppo Codex and whatever happened with its missing books. The Aleppo Codex is the Bible (or Tanakh) in book form. It is called "The Crown" because it was so carefully edited and preserved (and old enough to have been used by Maimonides). Yet when Israel was established in the 1940's there was an attempt to move the Codex to "some place safe". In that moving of the codex several embarras
Jul 15, 2012 Julie rated it it was amazing
Friedman does an excellent job telling the remarkable story of a thousand year old Hebrew manuscript, known as The Crown of Aleppo. Along with the history of the codex itself, there is great background about the community of Aleppo Jews, an overview of Jewish populations in the Middle East, and Zionism. The most controversial aspect of the book’s history only occurred in the 20th century, when the manuscript was nearly destroyed in a riot that devastated the Aleppo synagogue, then transferred to ...more
Jul 05, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it
When I read, I hear the words in my head. All too frequently during this book I heard that portentous voice you hear on "documentaries" like "Mysteries of the Ancient Incas" - I suspect that was part of the author's intent.

What we have here is a story told in several time frames: today, when our author is tracing the mystery of the Codex, the 1940s/50s, when the Codex is moved from Aleppo to Jerusalem, and the history of the Codex that brought it to Aleppo. The most understandable of this story
Dec 08, 2014 Colin rated it really liked it
Provocative, thrilling and ultimately unsatisfying – no final exegesis here – this story reads like a mystery because it is one, a still unelaborated litany of deception and betrayal whose protagonists are in some cases still around. The great Bible, brought to Aleppo six hundred years ago when it was already old, survived through generations guarded by the Jewish community until riots in the wake of the vote at Flushing Meadows destroyed the synagogue where it was harbored. After that, history ...more
Dec 01, 2012 Ellen rated it really liked it
The Crown of Aleppo is a codex, that is a book of the Torah and writings prepared by a scribe in the 10th century, that is the exemplar for later Torah scrolls and writings. As one of the most precious manuscripts in existence, it was carefully protected by the Jewish communities from Jerusalem to Egypt to Aleppo, Syria where it was hidden for 600 years.

At the time of the UN vote to establish Israel, the Jewish community of Aleppo was attacked. The Codex was pulled from its hiding place and end
May 06, 2013 Pamela rated it really liked it
Fascinating true story of a 1,000+ year old bible that has created a lot of controversy relative to who has rights to ownership, how it should be protected, and how 40% of it went missing. The Aleppo Codex was a bound text originally written in 930 A.D.; it included the Torah and 19 other holy books, bound together for the first time in history, with important information about how it should be read & understood. The codex was in Aleppo, Syria from the 1400's to 1957, when it was brought to ...more
Apr 17, 2016 Argum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Very interesting story about an ancient manuscript. The Aleppo Codex was thought destroyed after riots surrounding the creation of the State of Israel. A decade later at least some of it arrived in Israel. Under some shady circumstances that have been obscured for decades it became the property of a state institution with ties to the then President of Israel. At some point after this it was discovered a large portion was in fact missing. Periodic interest has heated up several times, but no real ...more
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Matti Friedman is an Israeli Canadian journalist and author.

Friedman was born in Canada and grew up in Toronto. In 1995, he made aliyah to Israel and now he lives in Jerusalem.

Between 2006 and the end of 2011, Friedman was a reporter and editor in the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press (AP) news agency. During his journalistic career, he also worked as a reporter in Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon,
More about Matti Friedman...

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“Since the rise of Islam, Jews had lived as a tolerated minority, or dhimmi, a status granted to Jews and Christians because they were monotheists. Despite a growing tendency in our own times to paint the premodern Islamic world as an Eden of religious tolerance in which Jews flourished, they always lived by the whims of fickle rulers and the mood of a hostile majority. In the eyes of that majority they were effete, lacking in honor, and powerless by definition, but as long as they accepted the supremacy of Muslims they were usually allowed to live and observe their faith and occasionally to prosper.” 0 likes
“The Jews of Syria have no connection with the Zionist question,” read one plaintive advertisement that a Jewish youth club in Damascus, Syria’s capital, published in local papers in 1929. “On the contrary, they share with their fellow Arab citizens all their feelings of joy and sadness.” Muslims, it read, must “differentiate between the European Zionists and the Jews who have been living for centuries in these lands.” 0 likes
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