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Paul D. Mandel

In The Origins of Midrash : From Teaching to Text, Paul Mandel presents a comprehensive study of the words darash and midrash from the Bible until the early rabbinic periods (3rd century CE). In contrast to current understandings in which the words are identified with modes of analysis of the biblical text, Mandel claims that they refer to instruction in law and not to an interpretation of text.
Mandel traces the use of these words as they are associated with the scribe ( sofer), the doresh ha-torah in the Dead Sea scrolls, the “exegetes of the laws” in the writings of Josephus and the rabbinic “sage” ( ḥakham), showing the development of the uses of midrash as a form of instruction throughout these periods.

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Edited by Alberdina Houtman, Tamar Kadari, Marcel Poorthuis and Vered Tohar

In Religious Stories in Transformation: Conflict, Revision and Reception, the editors present a collection of essays that reveal both the many similarities and the poignant differences between ancient myths in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and modern secular culture and how these stories were incorporated and adapted over time. This rich multidisciplinary research demonstrates not only how stories in different religions and cultures are interesting in their own right, but also that the process of transformation in particular deserves scholarly interest. It is through the changes in the stories that the particular identity of each religion comes to the fore most strikingly.

The Proselyte and the Prophet

Character Development in Targum Ruth

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Chr.M.M. Brady

The Proselyte and the Prophet: Character Development in Targum Ruth by Christian M. M. Brady is an exegetical study of Targum Ruth with a focus upon the transformation of the biblical characters into exemplars of rabbinic piety. Ruth becomes the ideal proselyte while Boaz is presented as a judge, a scholar of the Law, and a prophet. Brady demonstrates that the Targumist follows standard Targumic practice, rendering each Hebrew word of the biblical text into Aramaic, while making additions that further his agenda of presenting Ruth as a rabbinic model to be emulated.

In addition to the character analysis Brady provides a transcription of the manuscript Valmadonna 1, a new translation into English, and a verse-by-verse commentary of Targum Ruth.

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Edited by J.T.A.G.M. van Ruiten and George van Kooten

Issues such as the immortality of the soul, the debate about matter versus life, and whether one was capable of knowing the outside world were all being extensively discussed in many religions and cultures in both East and West. The present volume addresses the concept of an immortal soul in a mortal body, and focuses on early Judaism and Christianity, where this issue is often related to the initial chapters of the book of Genesis. The papers are devoted to the interpretation of Gen 2:7 in relation to the broader issue of dualistic anthropology. They show that the dualism was questioned in different ways within the context of early Judaism and Christianity.

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Kurtis Peters

In Hebrew Lexical Semantics and Daily Life in Ancient Israel, Kurtis Peters hitches the world of Biblical Studies to that of modern linguistic research. Often the insights of linguistics do not appear in the study of Biblical Hebrew, and if they do, the theory remains esoteric.

Peters finds a way to maintain linguistic integrity and yet simplify cognitive linguistic methods to provide non-specialists an access point. By employing a cognitive approach one can coordinate the world of the biblical text with the world of its surroundings. The language of cooking affords such a possibility – Peters evaluates not only the words or lexemes related to cooking in the Hebrew Bible, but also the world of cooking as excavated by archaeology.

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Edited by Lily Kahn and Aaron D. Rubin

This Handbook of Jewish Languages is an introduction to the many languages used by Jews throughout history, including Yiddish, Judezmo (Ladino) , and Jewish varieties of Amharic, Arabic, Aramaic, Berber, English, French, Georgian, Greek, Hungarian, Iranian, Italian, Latin American Spanish, Malayalam, Occitan (Provençal), Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Syriac, Turkic (Karaim and Krymchak), Turkish, and more. Chapters include historical and linguistic descriptions of each language, an overview of primary and secondary literature, and comprehensive bibliographies to aid further research. Many chapters also contain sample texts and images. This book is an unparalleled resource for anyone interested in Jewish languages, and will also be very useful for historical linguists, dialectologists, and scholars and students of minority or endangered languages.

This book is also available as paperback version.

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Edited by Edit Doron

Language Contact and the Development of Modern Hebrew is a first rigorous attempt by scholars of Hebrew to evaluate the syntactic impact of the various languages with which Modern Hebrew was in contact during its formative years. Twenty-four different innovative syntactic constructions of Modern Hebrew are analysed, and shown to originate in previous stages of Hebrew, which, since the third century CE, solely functioned as a scholarly and liturgical language. The syntactic changes in the constructions are traced to the native languages of the first Modern Hebrew learners, and later to further reanalysis by the first generation of native speakers.
The contents of this volume was also published as a special double issue of Journal of Jewish Languages, 3: 1-2 (2015).

Contributors are: Vera Agranovsky, Chanan Ariel, Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal, Miri Bar-Ziv, Isaac Bleaman, Nora Boneh, Edit Doron, Keren Dubnov, Itamar Francez, Roey Gafter, Ophira Gamliel, Yehudit Henshke, Uri Horesh, Olga Kagan, Samir Khalaily, Irit Meir, Yishai Neuman, Abed al-Rahman Mar'i, Malka Rappaport Hovav, Yael Reshef, Aynat Rubinstein, Ora Schwarzwald, Nimrod Shatil, Sigal Shlomo, Ivy Sichel, Moshe Taube, Avigail Tsirkin-Sadan, Shira Wigderson, and Yael Ziv.

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Bernard Spolsky

Until quite recently, the term Diaspora (usually with the capital) meant the dispersion of the Jews in many parts of the world. Now, it is recognized that many other groups have built communities distant from their homeland, such as Overseas Chinese, South Asians, Romani, Armenians, Syrian and Palestinian Arabs. To explore the effect of exile of language repertoires, the article traces the sociolinguistic development of the many Jewish Diasporas, starting with the community exiled to Babylon, and following through exiles in Muslim and Christian countries in the Middle Ages and later. It presents the changes that occurred linguistically after Jews were granted full citizenship. It then goes into details about the phenomenon and problem of the Jewish return to the homeland, the revitalization and revernacularization of the Hebrew that had been a sacred and literary language, and the rediasporization that accounts for the cases of maintenance of Diaspora varieties.

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Edited by Sidnie White Crawford and Cecilia Wassen

The Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran and the Concept of a Library presents twelve articles by renowned experts in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran studies. These articles explore from various angles the question of whether or not the collection of manuscripts found in the eleven caves in the vicinity of Khirbet Qumran can be characterized as a “library,” and, if so, what the relation of that library is to the ruins of Qumran and the group of Jews that inhabited them. The essays fall into the following categories: the collection as a whole, subcollections within the overall corpus, and the implications of identifying the Qumran collection as a library.

The Verbal System of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Tense, Aspect, and Modality in Qumran Hebrew Texts

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Ken M. Penner

In The Verbal System of the Dead Sea Scrolls Ken M. Penner determines whether Qumran Hebrew finite verbs are primarily temporal, aspectual, or modal.
Standard grammars claim Hebrew was aspect-prominent in the Bible, and tense-prominent in the Mishnah. But the semantic value of the verb forms in the intervening period in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were written has remained controversial.
Penner answers the question of Qumran Hebrew verb form semantics using an empirical method: a database calculating the correlation between each form and each function, establishing that the ancient author’s selection of verb form is determined not by aspect, but by tense or modality. Penner then applies these findings to controversial interpretations of three Qumran texts.