Monday, October 22, 2018

Reconsidering the Date of EGLev

Brill has graciously decided to grant free access to its first volume of Textus. That means that, in addition to other interesting articles, you can freely download my recently published article on Hebrew paleography and EGLev, Reconsidering the Date of the En-Gedi Leviticus Scroll (EGLev): Exploring the Limitations of the Comparative-Typological Paleographic Method.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Hebrew Transcription in Origen's Secunda

I just received news on Agade that Benjamin P. Kantor has put up his 2017 dissertation on Academia.edu, entitled The Second Column (Secunda) of Origen's Hexapla in Light of Greek Pronunciation. Scanning through it briefly it looks like a very interesting contribution to the discussion of Hebrew pronunciation and vocalization in the Roman period.

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Hazards of Paleographic Dating

I have an article in press with Textus on the dating of the charred En-Gedi Leviticus scroll (EGLev), which I suggest should probably be dated to the 3rd-4th centuries CE. One comparandum I intentionally did not include was Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Heb. d.89 (P) i, a small Hebrew Exodus fragment from Oxyrhynchus, because uncertainties about its date made it an unreliable anchor for the typology. Yardeni dated it to the 2nd-3rd centuries, but in the Textus article I suggest it could also be dated later (maybe as late as the 4th-5th centuries) based on comparison with EGLev and the archeological context (most Greek papyri found alongside the Oxford fragment were from the 3rd-5th centuries). I recently reread Engel's paleographic analysis of the London-Ashkar Exodus manuscript (7th-8th centuries) and realized that I failed to note in my article that Engel dates the Oxford fragment to the 7th-8th centuries on the basis of similarities with London-Ashkar! Thus, this rare Exodus fragment is dated variously from the 2nd-8th centuries by the foremost specialists in the field. If that doesn't make you skeptical of overly-precise paleographic dating, I don't know what will. :) In the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, I have even seen proposed paleographic date ranges narrower than 20 years...


Photo credits: EGLev courtesy of Brent Seales; Oxf d.89 (P) i from Engel and Mishor, "An Ancient Scroll of the Book of Exodus"; London-Ashkar courtesy of the 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop, Brooklyn, New York.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Critical Edition of the Samaritan Pentateuch

I just got a book notice that Stefan Schorch's first volume of the large critical edition of the Samaritan Pentateuch is almost out on the book of Leviticus. He kindly gave me a preliminary version of his Exodus edition, which was very helpful during my dissertation work, so I am confident this will be a very valuable resource for the field.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Yardeni on Unprovenanced Artifacts

In memory of Ada Yardeni, BAR has given open access to Yardeni's contributions. One in particular struck me, where she gives her own take on publishing unprovenanced artifacts, which is worth highlighting:

"I think that anybody who is interested in the history of the Biblical lands, of the religions that developed in it, and of the neighboring regions understands the importance of discovering and publishing ancient objects, whether inscribed or not, for a better understanding of our past. Unprovenanced antiquities should be carefully examined, and if there is no obvious reason to reject them as forgeries, they should be published by scholars—the same as those found in controlled excavations. We can hope for more authorized excavations, but it would be ridiculous to ignore the existence of treasures that can enrich our knowledge—or to put back into caves or bury in the earth these important finds—just because they came from the antiquities market."

Monday, July 2, 2018

Death of Ada Yardeni

I recently learned of the sad passing of Ada Yardeni on 29 June 2018. She will be remembered as one of the foremost Hebrew paleographers of our time, who had a profound influence on the study of the Aramaic/Hebrew scripts, especially from the 5th century BCE through late antiquity. Her artistic talents gave her a unique calligraphic perspective on the analysis of ancient handwriting. Her famous Book of Hebrew Script has served as a helpful introduction and general guide to Hebrew paleography for many. And her more detailed and technical work in the Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt anTextbook of Aramaic, Hebrew and Nabatean Documentary Texts from the Judean Desert and Related Material remain essential reference tools for the Persian-period Aramaic scripts and later Jewish cursives. She has also contributed paleographic analyses of countless documents in the DJD series and other venues. In 2007, Yardeni rocked the world of Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship by suggesting that about 50-100 scrolls in a round semiformal script from the Judean Desert were copied by a single prolific scribe (“A Note on a Qumran Scribe,” pages 287-298 in New Seals and Inscriptions: Hebrew, Idumean, and Cuneiform, edited by M. Lubetski [Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2007]). I have personally been profoundly influenced by her work, and I have no doubt that her legacy will live on in the work of others as well.

Update 5 July 2018 - The Times of Israel has an interesting tribute to Yardeni, as well as a link to a 2017 interview in Hebrew.