Thursday, January 28, 2016

Samuel ben Jacob and the Leningrad Codex

In January's Cairo Genizah fragment of the month, Ben Outhwaite highlights a contract from 1021 CE between the scribe Samuel ben Jacob and a patron to copy and supply with Masorah a codex of the prophets and writings. Samuel is to be paid the handsome sum of 25 dinars for his labor. But what is particularly interesting is that Samuel is also the scribe of the famous Leningrad Codex of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, which he probably finished in 1008 or 1009 CE. This small fragment from the Cairo Genizah, therefore, gives us insight into the life of a skilled scribe whose influence on the text of the HB/OT probably extends far beyond what he ever could have imagined.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Newsweek on Digital Reconstructions

Todd Bolen points out an interesting Newsweek article on the use of new imaging techniques to decipher Elephantine papyri, discussing multispectral imaging and X-ray/CT scans.

VU University Amsterdam Summer School in Syriac Bible and Tradition

VU University Amsterdam is hosting two summer school classes on The Bible in the Syriac Tradition and Syriac Chrisitanity in Context between 16-30 July, for those interested in learning more about the Syriac Bible and tradition. It sounds like a great opportunity.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Genealogies, Chronologies, and Calendars... Oh, My!

After finally deciding to dig a little deeper into a pesky textual problem regarding the number of descendants of Jacob in Exodus 1:5, I found myself once again being pulled into a black hole of textual data. The variants arise from a harmonization to Genesis 46:27, where the same variation in numbers occurs. The different counts of Jacob's descendants in Genesis 46, in turn, is based on harmonizations to the genealogy in Numbers 26:28-37 in conjunction with a number of other disagreements on the inclusion/exclusion of other descendants from the counts. After reaching the third level of harmonizations, I simply decided to stop. Now I remember why I hate genealogies, chronologies, and calendars! The last time I tried to sort out a few contested dates I ended up spending a year on ancient calendars!

So, a warning to the wise... If you want to have a life outside of intricate textual minutia, stay away from anything having to do with genealogies, numbers, chronologies, and calendars! :) Okay... well, maybe somebody has to do it... But be prepared to dedicate a ridiculous amount of time to learning arcane things you never would have imagined yourself studying.

On a related side note, however, the vigor with which ancient scribes threw themselves into studying these details never ceases to amaze me. My life would probably be a lot easier if they hadn't cared so much about such things, but alas, they did. Respect... serious respect...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Peter Flint and the Dead Sea Scroll

Peter Flint gives a nice preview of his work on the Hebrew Bible Critical Edition of the Psalms and his Eerdmans' edition of the Qumran cave 1 scrolls here.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Textual Criticism Summer School with Kristin De Troyer

For those who don't know, Kristin De Troyer has a particular passion for doing summer schools in textual criticism, and she has done a number in Göttingen in the past. This year, the Septuaginta-Unternehmen will not be hosting a summer school, but Kristin has decided to do one in Salzburg, her new home. This would be a great opportunity for students who want to learn to deal with ancient manuscripts and textual criticism from one of the foremost experts in the field. Highly recommended!

See her announcement below:

On Biblical Manuscripts and Their Use in Biblical Studies
Summer School in Salzburg, Austria

4-8 July 2016

The Hebrew and Greek Texts of Joshua

Professor Kristin De Troyer

Class schedule: Classes start on Monday July 4 at 9 am to Friday July 8, noon, with sessions from 9-12 on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and sessions from 14 to 17 on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Arrival on Sunday July 3, 2016 is recommended.


-          USA/Canada: an MA in Biblical Studies, Theological Studies or Religious Studies or an MDiv,

-          UK/Australia/etc: an honours degree in Biblical, Theological or Religious Studies,

-          Any equivalent to the above mentioned options.

-          Sufficient knowledge of Hebrew and Greek.

Credits: 5 ECTS (= 2.5 US Sem credits)-6 ECTS (mit Arbeit oder Prüfung; with paper and exam; = 3 US Sem credits)

Instruction language: English                                       Fee: €100


-          Please send a letter of motivation, a transcript and a CV to Prof Kristin De Troyer, FB Bibelwissenschaften & Kirchengeschichte, Theologische Fakultät, Universitätsplatz 1, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria.

-          Please indicate whether or not you would like us to book a room for you in Haus St Benedikt (Toscaninihof 1, 5020 Salzburg; pp/pn:  60 for students;  75 for Double room/  90 for Single room).

-          Application due date: April 15, 2015

-          Accepted candidates will be informed before May 1, 2016

-          A maximum of 10 students will be admitted.


-          10 rooms will be reserved for the participants at the Haus St Benedict (Sunday evening to Friday noon, 5 nights). We strongly encourage participants to use this facility as available accommodation during summertime in Salzburg is rare and expensive.

-          Participants are responsible for their accommodation and food (cash only).

Where? Faculty of Theology, Universitätsplatz 1, 5020 Salzburg, Austria

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Free JPS Exodus Volume

Nahum Sarna's JPS Exodus commentary is available for free on Logos this month as part of their Free Book of the Month offer. Not a bad deal!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Scripture and Interpretation: Qumran Texts that Rework the Bible

In a recent Enoch Seminar Online review, Atar Livneh calls attention to an important book on Rewritten Scripture that warrants the attention of those working on the topic:

Ariel Feldman and Liora Goldman, Scripture and Interpretation: Qumran Texts that Rework the Bible. Edited and introduced by Devorah Dimant. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 449. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014.

The book has both editions and commentaries on selected Rewritten Scripture texts from Qumran that promise to be of great interest. And of course, in light of the recent Review of Biblical Literature decision to close off public access to their reviews, it's always nice to find helpful reviews conveniently published online!