Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Joint Venture of the FJMS and NLI!

Just announced... a new cooperation between the FJMS and NLI! This looks very promising for future resources for studying Hebrew manuscripts!

The Friedberg Jewish Manuscript Society (FJMS) and the National Library of Israel (NLI) are proud to announce a historic cooperation agreement
The Friedberg Jewish Manuscript Society (FJMS), and The National Library of Israel (NLI)  are proud to announce a historic cooperation agreement that will guarantee the long-term stability and development of the most advanced digital projects related to Hebrew manuscript research in the world, merging the cutting-edge resources of the FJMS with the NLI's vast collection.

The NLI is the world's largest and most comprehensive repository of Jewish books, manuscripts, periodicals, and archives, in both physical and digital formats. The FJMS, for nearly twenty years, has developed multiple digital humanities projects designed to enable research into Hebrew manuscripts.
 According to the newly signed agreement, the projects affiliated with the FJMS will be gradually integrated into the NLI's technological infrastructure, allowing the resources of both projects to mutually support one another.

The FJMS's flagship digital initiative is the Friedberg Genizah Project, created under the Direction of Professor Yaacov Choueka, which allows scholars to view, read, and annotate hundreds of thousands of images of fragments and documents from the famed Cairo Genizah. The website's advanced technologies assist in identifying separate fragments that originally stem from the same document. The hundreds of thousands of visits to the site demonstrate its unparalleled contribution to learning and research. In addition, the FJMS sponsors Hachi Garsinan, a website that provides images and transcripts of textual variants of the Babylonian Talmud; Yad HaRambam, which will providea synoptic text of Maimonides' influential code of Jewish Law, based on early printings and manuscripts; an online collection of important Judeo-Arabic texts and annotated bibliography of the field; the comprehensive Sussmann Thesaurus of Talmudic Manuscripts; and the Yemenite manuscripts from the collection of Yehuda Levi Nahum.  FJMS is currently developing a Dynamic site where researchers can use unique tools to create synoptic transcriptions of textual variants of their choosing.

The FJMS is the brainchild of Albert Dov Friedberg, a Toronto-based philanthropist and investment manager, whose concern for Jewish sacred texts has made him a leading supporter of Jewish manuscript research.

Over the course of 125 years, the National Library of Israel has developed into the world's leading Judaica library. Through its current renewal process the NLI has also now emerged as a technological leader, with a world-class online catalog and digital presence. Particularly relevant in this context is Ktiv: The International Collection of Digitized Hebrew Manuscripts, which aims to provide centralized online access to all of the world's Hebrew manuscripts. Millions of images of nearly 50,000 manuscripts are already available on the Ktiv website (, which was launched in August 2017.  Ktiv is a joint venture of Albert D. and Nancy Friedberg through FJMS and the National Library of Israel, in cooperation with the Israeli Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage's Landmarks project.
According to Oren Weinberg, Director General of the NLI, this agreement will "bring the technological developments of both bodies into conversation with one another, allowing the best minds and products of the Jewish digital humanities to cross-pollinate."
Albert Dov Friedberg added, "Our agreement assures that this work, to which I have dedicated so much of my concern and resources, will continue to grow, develop, and be preserved into the future.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Van der Horst Review of Snapshots of Evolving Traditions

Pieter van der Horst has a sympathetic but critical review of Liv Ingeborg Lied, Hugo Lundhaug (ed.), Snapshots of Evolving Traditions: Jewish and Christian Manuscript Culture, Textual Fluidity, and New Philology. I think he does a fair job appreciating the value of the material turn in philology, but also pushing back against the reductionistic idea that we should abandon all attempts at critical text reconstruction (as does Davila in the same volume). I would agree completely that Material Philology is an opportunity to expand the horizons of our scholarship, not an excuse to narrow them.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Digitized Hebrew Manuscripts from the National Library of Israel

Haaretz has a brief article highlighting the Hebrew manuscript digitization project of the National Library of Israel that gives some background to the project. This project is opening access to a vast trove of Hebrew manuscripts to a broad audience, and it will be very exciting to see its further progress. On my Online Digital Manuscripts and Editions page I have already highlighted the large number of Bible manuscripts available on the Ktiv site.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New Codex by Shmuel ben Yaakov

Kim Phillips has identified a new codex as written by Shmuel ben Yaakov, the scribe of the famous "Leningrad Codex". This is a codex of the former prophets (labelled L17), and Kim takes the interesting opportunity to compare it to the Leningrad Codex to better understand the scribe's work. A very interesting piece of detective work!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Book Notices on Editing the Bible and the Legacy of Barthélemy

Two new books from Helsinki colleagues that are sure to be of interest:

Insights into Editing in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East
What Does Documented Evidence Tell Us about the Transmission of Authoritative Texts?
edited by R. Müller and J. Pakkala
Documented evidence has shown that the Hebrew Bible was edited by successive scribes for centuries, and the impact of editing on the resulting text has proven to be crucial. A better understanding of any issue in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Israel requires a deep understanding of the editorial processes. As a consequence, the editorial processes of the Hebrew Bible have come to the fore in the most recent scholarly debates.

Nevertheless, editorial processes in the Hebrew Bible are still poorly understood and a methodological overview is lacking. It is apparent that collaboration between scholars of different fields is needed, and a methodological discussion that takes into account all the editorial techniques witnessed by documented evidence in the Hebrew scriptures and the rest of the ancient Near East is required. This book is a step in this direction. Contributions in this volume by leading scholars approach the issue from various perspectives, including methodology, textual criticism, redaction criticism, Dead Sea Scrolls, Assyriology, and Egyptology.

The Legacy of Barthélemy
50 Years after Les Devanciers d'Aquila
edited by Anneli Aejmelaeus and Tuukka Kauhanen
Les Devanciers d'Aquila by Dominique Barthélemy (1963) is an epoch-making work on the textual history of the Septuagint. On the basis of his analysis of the Nahal Hever Minor Prophets Scroll, Barthélemy developed his theory of an early Hebraizing revision (so-called kaige revision), designed to bring the traditional text of the Septuagint closer to the Hebrew text, and recognized examples of it in the B-text of books such as Joshua, Judges, and Samuel-Kings. The work of these early Hebraizing revisers resembled the later very literal translation by Aquila; hence the name of the book, "the predecessors of Aquila". Textual scholars of today continue in the footsteps of Barthélemy and work on the same questions that were raised in Devanciers: How extensive was the influence of the kaige revision and how can it be recognized? What is the nature of the Lucianic text: when does it represent the Old Greek and when does it give a stylistically revised text? What is the relationship between the kaige revision and Theodotion's revision of the Septuagint?The present volume mainly consists of papers presented at the 50th anniversary symposium of Les Devanciers d'Aquila that was held in connection with the SBL International Meeting in St Andrews, Scotland, in 2013. The papers focus on history of research, case studies on the text of Samuel-Kings (1-4 Kingdoms), and studies on the text-historical position of specific witnesses.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dan Machiela on The Aramaic Language of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Dan Machiela writes on Ancient Jew Review The Aramaic Language of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Why it Matters and What Lies Ahead. In this interesting post he discusses the linguistic dating and classification of this important corpus.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Zachary Cole on Greek Numerals

Zachary Cole has published a new book on Numerals in Greek NT manuscripts that sounds very interesting, including for those interested in Septuagint manuscripts.

Numerals in Early Greek New Testament Manuscripts Text-Critical, Scribal, and Theological Studies

Zachary J. Cole, Union Theological College

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Layout Conventions for the Masoretic Song of Moses (Deut 32)

Kim Phillips has an interesting discussion of a fragment from the Cairo Genizah that explicitly states an often-implicit convention among several of our most important Masoretic codices with regard to the layout of the text before the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32. Quite an interesting read!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Hugh Houghton's Open Access Book on the Latin NT

Hugh Houghton just announced that his book The Latin New Testament: A Guide to its Early History, Texts, and Manuscripts is now available Open Access and can be freely downloaded from the OUP website. It is a great resource for those interested in understanding the Latin biblical manuscript tradition.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Free Audio Course on New Testament Textual Criticism by Daniel Wallace

Credo Courses has a great offer right now of a free audio course on New Testament Textual Criticism by Daniel Wallace, one of the leading evangelical practitioners in the field. I'm looking forward to listening to that in the near future while working on some more mundane tasks.

HT Andrew Simpson

Equation for the Calculation of Scroll Length

So apparently I missed Pi day, but I figured I would offer one fun equation a day late to honor the occasion. This is a preview of a forthcoming publication of mine on methods for reconstructing fragmentary scrolls in a conference proceedings volume. So here is the equation "to estimate the realistic length of material that can be expected to have been rolled up inside of a given point in the scroll (lr-real). Note well that this is not the total length of the scroll, but only the length of the rest of the material that would have been rolled inside of a given point in the scroll. If ri is the radius of the unused inner core, r is the radius of the scroll at a given point in the scroll from which lr-real is calculated, and z is the increase in circumference per turn of the scroll, then:

So if you happen to have a fragmentary scroll lying around where you can figure out how big it was at a certain point and can estimate how big the unused inner core was and how much you think the circumference grew each turn of the scroll, why not give it a shot!? :) Seriously though, I do think it is a very helpful equation for those working with fragmentary scrolls. If you ever have use of it but aren't comfortable with the math, don't hesitate to ask!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Emanuel Tov Reviews Hendel's Steps to a New Edition of the Hebrew Bible

Emanuel Tov reviews Ron Hendel's Steps to a New Edition of the Hebrew Bible in RBL. I have often felt that Tov was more focused and reliable on the nitty-gritty philological details, and Hendel moreso on the philosophical and methodological underpinnings of the discipline, and this review confirmed that to me clearly! The relationship and relative emphasis between theory and praxis remains a major dividing line in the field of OTTC, but I sincerely hope that HBCE will be able to balance both well. Maybe it will be possible to have both sound methodology and philological reasoning in the same volumes after all. <cue cheeky grin> :)

Hindy Najman on Sommer's Revelation and Authority

Hindy Najman has a glowing and interesting review of Benjamin D. Sommer's Revelation and Authority in Marginalia.

HT Agade

A Digital Palaeographic Approach towards Writer Identification in the Dead Sea Scrolls

The University of Groningen and KU Leuven ERC project "The Hands that Wrote the Bible: Digital Palaeography and Scribal Culture of the Dead Sea Scrolls" has produced its first publication, A Digital Palaeographic Approach towards Writer Identification in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Congratulations to Maruf, Sheng, Mladen, Eibert, and Lambert for a job well done, as well as to Ruwan van der Iest for all of his behind-the-scenes work on this pilot project. This article was an attempt to use digital images of the Dead Sea Scrolls to determine how accurately existing digital tools are able to distinguish the scripts of samples from a limited number of scribes from different parts of documents and across different documents considered by paleographers to have been written by the same scribe. The computer ranks all samples in relation to a query sample and produces a ranked hitlist of samples that most closely match the query sample. Overall competence in automated handwriting recognition peaked at 80% correct identification of the scribe in the first position in the hitlist. The ability of the computer to correctly place samples of the scribe within the top 10 of the hitlist peaked at about 95%. These results will provide an important benchmark as we now seek to increase our precision by using the higher-quality IAA images and tailoring the measured features better to our documents. The field of paleography of the Dead Sea Scrolls is now well on its way to becoming truly digital, and it will be exiting to see the results over the next couple of years.


To understand the historical context of an ancient manuscript, scholars rely on the prior knowledge of writer and date of that document. In this paper, we study the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of ancient manuscripts with immense historical, religious, and linguistic significance, which was discovered in the mid-20th century near the Dead Sea. Most of the manuscripts of this collection have become digitally available only recently and techniques from the pattern recognition field can be applied to revise existing hypotheses on the writers and dates of these scrolls. This paper presents our ongoing work which aims to introduce digital palaeography to the field and generate fresh empirical data by means of pattern recognition and artificial intelligence. Challenges in analyzing the Dead Sea Scrolls are highlighted by a pilot experiment identifying the writers using several dedicated features. Finally, we discuss whether to use specifically-designed shape features for writer identifica tion or to use the Deep Learning methods on a relatively limited ancient manuscript collection which is degraded over the course of time and is not labeled, as in the case of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Percentage Attestation of the Hebrew Bible in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Everyone who has worked with the DSS has probably had that annoying time when you are working on a passage and check to see if any scrolls have it, only to find that there are none. The preserved remains are often quite meager, though it's extremely hard to quantify precisely how much. But in a fun, informal Facebook conversation, Rick Brannan crunched some numbers on Logos comparing the Lexham DSS Interlinear and Lexham Hebrew Bible modules and suggested that about 33% of verses in the Hebrew Bible have some attestation and about 30% of the total number of words are at least partially attested. Isaiah skews the overall results, such that it would be around 25% by word count if we exclude Isaiah. I initially suspected closer to 10-15% attestation by word, so I was pleasantly surprised by that result. :)

New TC Books on Jeremiah and the Syriac of Exodus


The Last King(s) of Judah

Zedekiah and Sedekias in the Hebrew and Old Greek Versions of Jeremiah 37(44):1–40(47):6
[Die letzten Könige von Juda. Zedekia und Sedekias in der hebräischen und altgriechischen Fassung von Jeremia 37(44):1–40(47):6.]
2017. XVII, 255 pages.
Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe 89
Published in English.
Zedekiah ben Josiah was the last king of Judah, and under his leadership, in 586 BCE, Jerusalem was destroyed. Interestingly, the Hebrew and Old Greek versions of Jeremiah present very different portrayals of Zedekiah, prompting a variety of literary and historical-critical questions. In this study, Shelley L. Birdsong uses a multi-critical approach to highlight the two unique characterizations of Zedekiah and address their relationship text- and form-critically. She argues that the Greek text depicts Zedekiah as a manipulative and mysterious Machiavellian prince, whereas the Hebrew presents him as a hesitant and kind king who metaphorically mirrors the fall of his capital. Following this literary comparison, the author employs several scholarly methods to substantiate the claim that the Hebrew text is a later edited text. Overall, she demonstrates the importance of doing character studies in Septuagint scholarship and using multiple methods to create a more comprehensive picture of biblical characters.

English Translation by Mark Meyer; Text Prepared by George Anton Kiraz & Joseph Bali
This volume is part of a series of English translations of the Syriac Peshitta along with the Syriac text carried out by an international team of scholars. Mark Meyer has translated the text, while Kiraz has prepared the Syriac text in the west Syriac script, fully vocalized and pointed. The translation and the Syriac text are presented on facing pages so that both can be studied together. All readers are catered for: those wanting to read the text in English, those wanting to improve their grasp of Syriac by reading the original language along with a translation, and those wanting to focus on a fully vocalized Syriac text.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Technology in Textual Criticism

Jacob W. Peterson has some interesting thoughts on important technological developments that have revolutionized textual criticism in From Scribe to Screen: How Technology is Changing Textual Criticism. He points out developments in multi-spectral imaging, optical character recognition, and online access to manuscripts. Many more could be added, but these are certainly some of the more revolutionary.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New Post on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Literary Criticism

Ancient Jew Review has published my short discussion on the relevance of the Dead Sea Scrolls to pentateuchal criticism, entitled Reflections on the Textual Development of the Pentateuch in Light of Documented Evidence. There is much more to say about this important topic, and we could (and should) easily get bogged down in details, but this is intended to give a brief summary of what I think the DSS tell us about some important principles of textual development.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

RBL Reviews

The most recent volume of the Review of Biblical Literature has the following reviews of interest:

James H. Charlesworth, Lee Martin McDonald, and Blake A. Jurgens, eds.
Sacra Scriptura: How “Non-canonical” Texts Functioned in Early Judaism and Early Christianity
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Eric J. Tully
The Translation and Translator of the Peshitta of Hosea
Reviewed by Jerome A. Lund

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Interview with Natalio Fernández Marcos

William Ross has a nice interview with Natalio Fernández Marcos to commemorate LXX day 2017. :)

Marieke Dhont on LXX Manuscripts in the Vatican Library

Marieke Dhont has an interesting blog post on LXX manuscripts in the Vatican library that might be of interest!

Hebrew University Announces the Discovery of Qumran Scroll Cave 12

My wife pointed out to me last night that Hebrew University just published a press release announcing the discovery of a 12th scroll cave near Qumran. Apparently the excavators found numerous scroll jars, some linen used for wrapping the scrolls, and one piece of parchment probably from a scroll. They are currently trying to discover whether the parchment has any writing on it or not. They also found iron pickaxe heads from looters in the 1950s, all of which leads them to conclude that the cave originally contained DSS, but that they were all looted. This potentially throws further into question the already tenuous identification of the provenance of many of our scroll fragments, as it is entirely possible that some of them came from this 12th cave.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Kratz on Insights into the Growth of Biblical Literature from the Dead Sea Scrolls

Reinhard Kratz has an interesting article Insights into the Growth of Biblical Literature from the Dead Sea Scrolls in Ancient Jew Review. Keep an eye out for more similar articles soon, because Andy Perrin made an arrangement to publish with AJR several articles from different contributors that he had been collecting for an online platform that had to be abandoned with the passing of Peter Flint.

HT Agade

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Brent Seales on Digitally Unrolling Scrolls

The Book & The Spade has an interesting short interview with Brent Seales, who recently successfully digitally unrolled the Leviticus scroll from Ein Gedi. He is quite optimistic about his ability to read unopened Herculaneum papyri, and his project is still ongoing.

Monday, January 30, 2017

SBL and ASOR on Immigration Ban

Only tangentially related, perhaps, to OTTC, but it is worth pointing out that a number of scholarly organizations have publicly protested the recent temporary immigration ban of the Trump administration. The general argument is that it interferes with scholarly work by interrupting freedom of movement of scholars from some countries, as well as potentially leading to the exclusion of American scholars from some difficult-to-access countries. Just one more unintended consequence of a generally bad immigration policy...

Society of Biblical Literature

American Schools of Oriental Research

Saturday, January 28, 2017

New Book by Seth Adcock

Peeters is now advertising Seth Adcock's new book "Oh God of Battles! Steal My Soldiers' Hearts!": A Study of the Hebrew and Greek Text Forms of Jeremiah 10:1-18. The book is a revised version of his doctoral dissertation under Kristen De Troyer at St. Andrews. Congratulations, Seth!

This volume represents a comparative analysis of the Greek and Hebrew text forms of Jer 10:1-18. One finds that the Hebrew text's ancient battle hymn has been transformed by the old Greek translator into an apotropaic incantation against evil spirits. Thus, the two text forms of chapter 10 hinge upon the Aramaic of verse 11 and whether one finds exorcistic magic in its obscure words or enigmatic condemnation of idolatry from the prophet Jeremiah. The Masoretic text proves to evidence a more ancient textual tone and structure.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

LXX Summer School with Kristin De Troyer

Kristin De Troyer has announced her next LXX summer school in Salzburg. Highly recommended for anyone interested in learning textual criticism from one of the foremost experts in the field!

Summer School in Salzburg,

Class schedule: Classes start on Monday July 3 at 9 am to Friday July 7, 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 2, 2017 is recommended.
- USA/Canada: MA in Biblical Studies, Theological Studies or Religious Studies
or MDiv,
- UK/Australia/etc: an honours degree in Biblical, Theological or Religious
- 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, 2016
- Accepted candidates will be informed before May 1, 2017
- 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
- Participants are responsible for their accommodation and food (cash only). !

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

Conference on Hoskier and Textual Scholarship

Garrick Allen has released a call for papers for an upcoming conference entitled Herman Hoskier and the Future of Textual Scholarship on the Bible (28-30 August 2017). The topics and lineup sound like they will make for a great conference! See more information below:

Call for Papers

Herman Hoskier and the Future of Textual Scholarship on the Bible

28-30 August 2017
Dublin City University
School of Theology, Philosophy, and Music

Herman Charles Hoskier (1864-1938) was a textual scholar of the New Testament whose work remains influential in the field today. As part of the Irish Research Council’s Decade of Centenaries, this conference explores the present state and future prospects of textual scholarship on the Bible in the digital age, using Hoskier’s work as a starting point for the discussion. Short papers are invited that address the following topics: the intellectual context of twentieth century textual scholarship, manuscript collections in Ireland, the future of the critical edition, the digital humanities and the Bible, Hoskier’s text critical work and current developments in the field, the versions in textual scholarship, the Editio Critica Maior, manuscripts as objects and material culture, trends and prospects in textual criticism, text critical method, the future of textual scholarship, early printed editions, studies on manuscripts, and related topics. 

Invited Speakers include:

·      David Parker (University of Birmingham) 
·      Stanley Porter (McMaster Divinity College)
·      Jennifer Knust (Boston University)
·      J. K. Elliott (University of Leeds) 
·      Martin Karrer (KiHo Wuppertal) 
·      Juan Hernández Jr. (Bethel University)
·      Claire Clivaz (Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics)
·      Thomas J. Kraus (Universität Zurich)
·      Tommy Wasserman (Ansgar Teologiske Høgskole)
·      Christina Kreinecker (Universität Salzburg)
·      Klaus Wachtel (INTF Münster) 
·      Catherine Smith (University of Birmingham)
·      Hugh Houghton (University of Birmingham)
·      Martin Wallraff (LMU München)
·      Jan Krans (VU Amsterdam) 
·      Annette Hüffmeier (INTF Münster) 
·      Jill Unkel (Chester Beatty Library)
·      Dirk Jongkind (University of Cambridge)

Abstracts of 250 words will be accepted until 15 April 2017 (send to Dr. Garrick Allen, For more information on this event see the project blog ( and follow Hoskier on Twitter (@HCHoskier). Registration will open 15 February 2017 and close 30 June 2017. The early bird cost is €60 (until 1 May 2017, thereafter €90). This project is funded by the Irish Research Council.

Interview with Anneli Aejmelaeus

Helen Dixon has posted an interview with Anneli Aejmelaeus, recently retired professor and Septuagint specialist from the University of Helsinki. I had the pleasure of working with her for the past couple of years and greatly enjoyed my time in Helsinki.

Free E-Books from Brill

For Academic Week 2017, Brill has made several volumes freely downloadable. Thanks to Brill for this generous offer! :) Among those most of interest to readers of this blog, see:

Marvin J. Heller

Medieval Manuscript Production in the Latin West
Explorations with a Global Database
Eltjo Buringh

Robert J. Wilkinson

Early Christian Manuscripts
Examples of Applied Method and Approach
Edited by Thomas J. Kraus and Tobias Nicklas