Project Scope

The Hebrew treatise Keter Shem Ṭov (“Crown of the Good Name”) composed in the 13th century is one of the most important introductory texts into the Kabbalah. This text is usually attributed to Abraham ben Axelrad of Cologne who was probably a student of Eleazar of Worms (c. 1176–1238) and Ezra ben Salomo of Gerona (around 1240). It combines the classical symbolism of the ten Sefirot or manifestations of the Godhead with interpretations of the tetragrammaton or the four-letter ("good") name of God known from the literature of the Ḥaside Ashkenaz or German Pietists. Keter Shem Ṭov is the oldest text bringing these two mystical traditions together. There are about 100 manuscripts testifying to the existence of this treatise (which is not only discussed in Jewish Kabbalistic circles but also in Christian ones) in different versions.
The purpose of the first period of this project (2019-22) funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft - DFG) is to prepare a critical edition of the different versions in synoptic columns in a printed edition as well as an online version which will be interactive and openly accessible. An English translation with a detailed commentary as well as studies focusing on the history of its reception complements the edition of this text.
In the second period (2022-25), again funded by the DFG, the main goal is the development of a digital multi-layered synopsis of Keter Shem Ṭov combined with other related treatises like Divrei Menaḥem and the Commentary on Song of Songs by Ezra of Gerona. In addition, we develop a digital tool for the detection of alphabet-mystical motifs in kabbalistic texts parallel to Keter Shem Ṭov.