VARIANTS IN RASHI’S
COMMENTARY ON GENESIS 22:
EXISTING EDITIONS AND
RATIONALE FOR PRESENT EDITION
The first modern critical edition of Rashi’s commentary on the Torah is that of Avraham Berliner, which was published in 1866 and further revised in 1905,1 based on one hundred manuscripts. In his edition, Berliner selected what he considered the best text from all the available manuscripts, but did not provide a critical apparatus with the variant readings or explain the reasoning behind his choices. This raises the possibility that he simply went with the most familiar and comfortable reading.2 The critical edition of Rashi on Genesis 22 by Hayim Dov Chavel3 includes a reprint of the Berliner edition, Rashi variants found in the commentary of Nahmanides to the Pentateuch, and some variants from later commentaries on Rashi. It also includes variants from the first printed edition,4 and from the Oxford manuscript (Bodleian 2440) which he doubts was included in Berliner’s hundred manuscripts because it includes unusual variants.5Rashi HaShalem6 reproduces four early printed editions of Rashi’s commentary. Venice 1524 is the main text, and Rome 1470, Reggio di Calabria 1475, and Guadelajara 1476 are reprinted in the back in parallel columns. Mikraot Gedolot Haketer, as yet incomplete and published by Bar Ilan University volume by volume starting in 1992, is based on six Ashkenazic manuscripts but does not contain a critical apparatus.
These critical editions represent at best a late form of Rashi’s commentary and do not allow for the reconstruction of its early twelfth-century form. This late form of Rashi should be understood to be a composite document, much of which was composed in the mid–twelfth century. To speak of Rashi as the author of his commentary is as much of a metaphor