The Book of Jonah is commonly read as the prophetic reading in the afternoon of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). The tradition to recite this text in Greek dates to antiquity when Greek was the common language of most Jews in the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East. The practice probably continued well into the 19th century and was revived at Etz Hayyim Synagogue where the text is now read every year on Yom Kippur.

In the manuscript, the first three verses are written in Hebrew, followed by the entire text in a Greek translation, but written with Hebrew letters. Two extant manuscripts of a Cretan Book of Jonah date to the 14th and 15th centuries, respectively.

Photo 1: © Bodleian Library Oxford

Photo 2: © Nikos Stavroulakis

Photo 3: © Etz Hayyim Synagogue

First page of a Cretan Book of Jonah, ca. 14th century

Jonah, drawing by Nikos Stavroulakis

Facsimile of Cretan Book of Jonah on reading stand at Etz Hayyim Synagogue

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