Browse results

Johannes Pahlitzsch


The aim of this paper is to address the question to what extent and for what reasons the Melkites, especially of Southern Syria and Egypt, resorted to allographic writing systems, of which garšūnī, the writing of Arabic with Syriac letters, was only one mode. Indeed, various languages such as Greek, Arabic, Syriac and Christian Palestinian Aramaic (CPA) coexisted in the Melkite community, which is characterized by its linguistic diversity. Melkite garšūnī texts can be dated to between the 11th and the late 13th centuries. While the Melkites were not the first to use garšūnī, this mode of writing was in this period far more widespread among them than in the other oriental Christian communities and not limited to notes and colophons, also including liturgical texts and probably a poem on the Mamluk conquest of Tripoli. Other allographic writing systems were also used by the Melkites, such as writing Arabic in Greek characters, Greek in CPA script or Greek in Syriac script. Consequently a rich, very versatile corpus of allographic writing modes was employed by the Melkites between the 9th and 13th centuries for different kinds of texts. Thus the idea that the use of a specific allographic mode can be attributed to the desire to express a sense of group identity or to the reverence for a specific sacred language seems not generally applicable for the Melkites. At different times and places various Melkite groups had different preferences, because there was no single Melkite prestige language. Therefore it is necessary to establish for each case the respective reasons for the application of a certain allographic writing system.

Anton Pritula and Peter Zieme


The text being discussed is found in many manuscripts of the Divan (collection of poems) of an East Syriac poet Khāmīs bar Qardāḥē (late 13th century). The edition demonstrates the discrepancies in rendering glosses in the Turkish stanzas, in contrast to a relative unity of readings in the Syriac ones. To explain these discrepancies, the following pages discuss the lack of consistency in the Turkic Garshuni tradition. In addition, the poem is one of the earliest texts of this group. It should be dated to the period close to the life of Khāmīs, but was not necessarily composed by this poet, since it is absent from the earliest surviving copies. All the Syriac stanzas use quatrains in a 7-7-8-8 meter. Each of them has its own internal rhyme that follows a constant scheme, i.e. in every first, second and and fourth lines of each verse (ааха). In the Turkic stanzas, the verses have an irregular meter that varies from eight to ten syllables. In the Turkic translation of the Syriac original, one finds many syriacisms, such as bar Maryam (the Son of Mary), a stable combination used in the texts. Such a broad use of borrowings, both in vocabulary and syntax, is common for translated religious texts, especially liturgical ones, in which the proximity to the original might have a great importance.

Erez Ben-Yosef


This paper aims at highlighting a methodological flaw in current biblical archaeology, which became apparent as a result of recent research in the Aravah’s Iron Age copper production centers. In essence, this flaw, which cuts across all schools of biblical archaeology, is the prevailing, overly simplistic approach applied to the identification and interpretation of nomadic elements in biblical-era societies. These elements have typically been described as representing only one form of social organization, which is simple and almost negligible in historical reconstructions. However, the unique case of the Aravah demonstrates that the role of nomads in shaping the history of the southern Levant has been underestimated and downplayed in the research of the region, and that the total reliance on stone-built archaeological features in the identification of social complexity in the vast majority of recent studies has resulted in skewed historical reconstructions. Recognizing this “architectural bias” and understanding its sources have important implications on core issues in biblical archaeology today, as both “minimalists” and “maximalists” have been using stone-built architectural remains as the key to solving debated issues related to the geneses of Ancient Israel and neighboring polities (e.g., “high” vs. “low” Iron Age chronologies), in which— according to both biblical accounts and external sources—nomadic elements played a major role.