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The Ancient Sefer Torah of Bologna

Features and History. European Genizah Texts and Studies, Volume Four

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Edited by Mauro Perani

The Ancient Sefer Torah of Bologna: Features and History contains studies on the most ancient, complete, Pentateuch scroll known to date, considered by the Jews of Perpignan the archetypal autograph written by Ezra the scribe. The scroll was rediscovered by Mauro Perani in 2013 at the University Library of Bologna. In this volume, leading specialists study the history, structure and different halakhot or norms adopted in the pre-Maimonidean scroll. The Hebrew text is very close to the Aleppo codex, and the scroll was probably copied in a Kabbalistic circle near Perpignan, ca. 1200, where the use of tagin and curled letters flourished, attributing to them mystical and exoteric meanings.

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Sonja Noll

In The Semantics of Silence in Biblical Hebrew, Sonja Noll explores the many words in biblical Hebrew that refer to being silent, investigating how they are used in biblical texts, Dead Sea Scrolls, and Ben Sira. She also examines the tradition of interpretation for these words in the early versions (Septuagint, Vulgate, Targum, Peshitta), modern translations, and standard dictionaries, revealing that meanings are not always straightforward and that additional work is needed in biblical semantics and lexicography. The traditional approach to comparative Semitics, with its over-simplistic assumption of semantic equivalence in cognates, is also challenged. The surprising conclusion of the work is that there is no single concept of silence in the biblical world; rather, it spans multiple semantic fields.

The Development of the Biblical Hebrew vowels

Including a Concise Historical Morphology

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Benjamin Suchard

The development of the Biblical Hebrew Vowels investigates the sound changes affecting the Proto-Northwest-Semitic vocalic phonemes and their reflexes in Tiberian Biblical Hebrew. Contrary to many previous approaches, Benjamin Suchard shows that these developments can all be described as phonetically regular sound laws. This confirms that despite its unique transmission history, Hebrew behaves like other languages in this regard. Many Hebrew sound changes have traditionally been explained as reflecting non-phonetic conditioning. These include the Canaanite Shift of *ā to *ō, tonic and pre-tonic lengthening, diphthong contraction, Philippi’s Law, the Law of Attenuation, and the apocope of short, unstressed vowels. By reconsidering reconstructions and re-evaluating phonetic conditions, this work shows how the Biblical Hebrew forms regularly derive from their Proto-Northwest-Semitic precursors.

Ancient Manuscripts in Digital Culture

Visualisation, Data Mining, Communication

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Edited by David Hamidović, Claire Clivaz and Sarah Bowen Savant

Ancient Manuscripts in Digital Culture presents an overview of the digital turn in Ancient Jewish and Christian manuscripts visualisation, data mining and communication. Edited by David Hamidović, Claire Clivaz and Sarah Bowen Savant, it gathers together the contributions of seventeen scholars involved in Biblical, Early Jewish and Christian studies. The volume attests to the spreading of digital humanities in these fields and presents fundamental analysis of the rise of visual culture as well as specific test-cases concerning ancient manuscripts. Sophisticated visualisation tools, stylometric analysis, teaching and visual data, epigraphy and visualisation belong notably to the varied overview presented in the volume.

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Liv Ingeborg Lied

Abstract

During the first decades of the twenty-first century, a growing number of libraries and collections around the world have digitized their manuscript holdings, making manuscripts visually accessible online. Exploring the outcome of these digitization processes as an ongoing media shift, the present article discusses the potential consequences of the new visual availability of manuscripts to paradigms and practices of textual scholarship. How may the increased presence of manuscripts online contribute to a change in editing practices, as well as the academic reader’s expectations for the content and format of critical editions? How may the increased presence of digitized manuscripts online affect studies of manuscripts – beyond editorial practices, and (how) will the digitization of manuscripts change the needs of scholars to access manuscripts in libraries and collections?

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H.A.G. Houghton

Abstract

The adoption of digital editing software has led to a significant change in the process of creating a critical edition of the New Testament, as embodied in the Novum Testamentum Graecum Editio Critica Maior. Data is no longer gathered as a collation of witnesses against a standard base text, but in the form of complete transcriptions of individual manuscripts which then form the basis of an automatically generated apparatus. This chapter outlines the procedures involved in creating a body of such electronic data. In particular, it considers the accuracy and transparency of the current transcription process for this edition, suggesting that proofreading is an important stage even if a double-blind approach has been used for the initial transcriptions and arguing for a fuller use of the TEI Header to describe the source and limitations of the transcription. It also addresses the publication and release of XML files, proposing that such scholarly work is best made available in the form of individual files consisting of a single biblical book and under a license which only requires attribution to the original creators when the data is re-used rather than restricting data to non-commercial use or stipulating that derivatives must be released under the same terms (share-alike).

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Jennifer Aileen Quigley and Laura Salah Nasrallah

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This chapter offers a history of the edX/HarvardX course “Early Christianity: the Letters of Paul”. It delineates the pedagogical considerations for the development, structure, and implementation of their course, reflecting upon our experiment in whether and how feminist pedagogy could be deployed in a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). We constructed a MOOC that formed a “classroom” or community where all learners contributed to the production of knowledge. This construction included broader strategies of decentering: the organizing faculty member was set alongside other experts, and even the figure of Paul was less of a focus than those to whom he wrote. The chapter offers quantitative data about course participants and qualitative data about the experience of the teaching staff and online students, which may be useful to developers of other such courses in Religious Studies. But the real aim of the chapter contends that MOOCs should keep as a key goal the crafting of a public, free, and critical space for students who express a desire, no matter their location on the globe, to learn about and to discuss the Bible.

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James F. McGrath

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McGrath’s chapter on the so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife sets aside as settled the question of the papyrus’ authenticity, and explores instead what we can learn about the Digital Humanities and scholarly interaction in a digital era from the way the discussions and investigations of that work unfolded, and how issues that arose were handled. As news of purported new finds can spread around the globe instantaneously facilitated by current technology and social media, how can academics utilize similar technology to evaluate authenticity, but even more importantly, inform the broader public about the importance of provenance, and the need for skepticism towards finds that appear via the antiquities market?

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Stephen J. Davis

Abstract

The Yale Monastic Archaeology Project (YMAP) sponsors work at monastic sites in Egypt. Part one of this article reports on the discovery of manuscript fragments in the Church of St. Shenoute at the White Monastery near Sohag and on procedures and complications related to the tasks of photo-documentation and digitization. Part two focuses on the cataloguing of Coptic and Arabic manuscripts at the Monastery of the Syrians in Wādī al-Naṭrūn, where the goal of digitization is complicated by monastic concerns about cultural heritage, the legacy of colonialism, and the control of manuscript content in the digital age.