Wednesday, January 22, 2020

From Scribal Error to Rewriting: How Ancient Texts Could and Could Not Be Changed

I just received my editor's copies for our new volume!

Anneli Aejmelaeus, Drew Longacre, and Natia Mirotadze, eds. From Scribal Error to Rewriting: How Ancient Texts Could and Could Not Be Changed. De Septuaginta Investigationes 12. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2020.

For the contents and introduction see the free preview here.

How ancient texts could and could not be changed has been in the focus of vibrant scholarly discussions in recent years. The present volume offers contributions from a representative group of prominent scholars from different backgrounds and specialties in the areas of Classical and Biblical studies who were gathered at an interdisciplinary symposium held in May 2015 at the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University in Tbilisi, Georgia. In the first part of the volume Ancient Scribal and Editorial Practices, the authors approach ancient scribal and editorial techniques in Greek, Latin, and Syriac sources concerning classical and biblical texts, their textual criticism, and editorial history. The second part Textual History of the Hebrew Bible focuses on scribal and editorial aspects of the textual history of the Hebrew Bible. The third part Writing and Rewriting in Translation deals with a variety of writings from the Old Testament, New Testament, Apocrypha, and Patristic texts in various languages (Greek, Coptic, Arabic, Armenian, and Georgian), focusing on issues of textual criticism and translation technique. The volume contains an especially rich assortment of contributions by Georgian textual scholars concerning ancient editorial practices and ancient Georgian translations of biblical and patristic texts. This collection of papers provides insights into a variety of different areas of study that seldom come into contact with each other but are clearly in many ways related.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Stylistic Classification of the Hebrew Scripts

For those interested in Hebrew paleography, I just got word that my article on stylistic classification is now published. My goal in this article was to clarify what paleographers mean by "formality" and lay a theoretical framework for stylistic classification of the Hebrew scripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Drew Longacre, “Disambiguating the Concept of Formality in Palaeographic Descriptions: Stylistic Classification and the Ancient Jewish Hebrew/Aramaic Scripts.” Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies Bulletin 5, no. 2 (2019): 101–128.


The concept of formality in palaeographic analysis is often ill-defined and understood in conflicting ways by the scholars who utilize it. In this article, I attempt to clarify the meaning and significance of formality by suggesting that it is best understood as a multifaceted concept dependent upon the interaction between morphology, execution, and function. From this perspective, formality is an overall impression of the level of handwriting based on the type of model script chosen to reproduce, the skill and care with which it was written, and the purpose(s) for which the embodying manuscript was created. Each aspect can be conceptualized and to some extent analyzed independently in concrete terms other than formality. The resulting, more explicitly-defined nature of formality proposed here then provides a better foundation for hypothesizing about the functions of manuscripts. I apply this schema to the Jewish Hebrew/Aramaic scripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls to show its potential for increased clarity and resolution in stylistic analysis.