Tag Archives: Aramaic

A (New) Old Iranian Etymology for Biblical Aramaic אֲדַרְגָּזַר‬‎

Noonan, Benjamin J.  2018. A (new) Old Iranian etymology for Biblical Aramaic אֲדַרְגָּזַר‬‎. Aramaic Studies 16(1): 10 – 19.

Despite the many advances that have taken place in our understanding of the Hebrew Bible’s Old Iranian terminology, the donor terms of several words have remained elusive. Among them is Biblical Aramaic ‮אֲדַרְגָּזַר‬‎ (Dan. 3:2–3). Proposed Old Iranian etymologies for this word suffer from various phonological and semantic difficulties, rendering them unlikely. This paper proposes that Biblical Aramaic ‮אֲדַרְגָּזַר‬‎ is best derived from *ādrangāžara- ‘announcer of financial obligation’, a compound of *ādranga- ‘financial obligation’ and *āžara- ‘announcer’. A derivation from Old Iranian *ādrangāžara- adequately explains the form of Biblical Aramaic ‮אֲדַרְגָּזַר‬‎. Furthermore, this etymology also suits the context well in that ‮אֲדַרְגָּזַר‬‎ occurs just prior to ‮גְּדָבַר‬‎ ‘treasurer’ and therefore falls logically within the progression from political administration to finances to law evident in the lists of Nebuchadnezzar’s officials (Dan. 3:2–3).

The Mandaean religion and the Aramaic background of Manichaeism

Ionuţ Daniel Băncilă. 2018. Die mandäische Religion und der aramäische Hintergrund des Manichäismus: Forschungsgeschichte, Textvergleiche, historisch-geographische Verortung. (Mandäistische Forschungen 6). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Mandaeism, the only surviving Gnostic religion, reflected, recorded, evaluated and thus transformed various religious traditions of different identities. Although a “Mandaean identity” did not develop until after the Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia, one can assume that “Mandaean ideas” were already present in various Aramaic-speaking groups in Mesopotamia.
In his study of the Mandaean religion, Ionuţ Daniel Băncilă asks whether traces of “Mandaic thoughts” can be found in Manichaeism, the second major Gnostic religion in the region. He examines this question in three different methodological approaches: A detailed look at the history of research on the subject shows to what extent previous attempts to explain the relationship between Manichaeism and Mandaeism were subject to the cultural fashions of different epochs; the text-comparative part of the study examines motifs in Manichaeism that can be identified as “Mandaic ideas” on a philological-literary critical basis. In a third part, the Mandaean understanding of history is critically examined and an attempt is made to explain the relations between the two religions geographical and historical vantage point.

Table of Contents

 

Aramaic Magic Bowls

Siam Bhayro, James Nathan Ford, Dan Levene & Ortal-Paz Saar. 2018. Aramaic magic bowls in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin. Descriptive list and edition of selected texts (Magical and Religious Literature of Late Antiquity 7). Lieden: Brill.

The collection of Aramaic magic bowls and related objects in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin is one of the most important in the world. This book presents a description of each object and its contents, including details of users and other names, biblical quotations, parallel texts, and linguistic features. Combined with the detailed indices, the present volume makes the Berlin collection accessible for further research. Furthermore, sixteen texts, which are representative of the whole collection, are edited. This book results from an impressive collaboration between Siam Bhayro, James Nathan Ford, Dan Levene, and Ortal-Paz Saar, with further contributions by Matthew Morgenstern, Marco Moriggi, and Naama Vilozny, and will be of interest for all those engaged in the study of these fascinating objects.

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Cultural and linguistic relations within the Achaemenid Empire

ÁLVAREZ-PEDROSA, Juan Antonio , Flavia POMPEO & Maria Carmela BENVENUTO (eds.). 2017. Del Indo al Egeo. Relaciones culturales y lingüísticas en el interior del Imperio aqueménida, Madrid: Guillermo Escolar Editor.

This book is a product of the project entitled «Indios y Griegos en la corte de los Aquemenidas. Analisis de un contacto cultural (IGCA) – Indians and Greeks in the Achaemenid Court. A Cross-cultural Analysis (IGAC)», coordinated by Juan Antonio Álvarez-Pedrosa Núñez (referentia FFI2013-41023-P, sponsored as part of the ‘Plan Estatal de Investigación Científica y Técnica y de Innovación 2013-2016’).

Here is the Spanish abstract:

Los estudios que conforman este volumen abarcan un rango muy variado de contactos culturales y lingüísticos que se produjeron en el interior del Imperio aqueménida. La estructura descentralizada de su administración favoreció todo tipo de contactos. Igualmente lo hizo el reconocimiento por sus gobernantes de su carácter multilingüe, multinacional y multirreligioso y la flexibilidad con la que gobernaron todas estas complejas realidades.

El Imperio aqueménida contaba con núcleos particularmente activos en su vida cultural. Uno estaba constituido por las capitales del Imperio: Susa, Ecbátana, Persépolis, Pasargadas y Babilonia, donde radicaban la lengua propia de la realeza y la aristocracia, el antiguo persa, que coexistía con lenguas como el acadio. En Anatolia, se configura un núcleo cultural importante en las capitales de las satrapías más occidentales, Sardes y Dascilio, con una influencia fuerte de la cultura griega. Parece claro que al Oriente se va creando un núcleo bactro-céntrico, con una importancia especial de la ciudad de Bactra.

También es cierto que el uso del arameo como lengua franca de la administración y el comercio facilitó enormemente el cáracter descentralizado y flexible del gobierno aqueménida y, sin duda, pavimentó el camino para la difusión del griego en el periodo helenístico.

En definitiva, se trata de in mundo cultural de una riqueza y complejidad sin parangón, que puede dar lugar a sucesivos hallazgos científicos que nos permitirán conocerlo más y mejor.

Source: Guillermo Escolar Editor. 

For the table of contents, see here.

First alabastron with Aramaic inscription in Persian period

Qahéri, Sépideh & Kevin Trehuedic. 2017. Premier alabastron d’époque perse à inscription araméenne (MNI 218/9). Arta 2017.002.

Trilingual Greek-Aramaic-Middle Persian Pharmaceutical Lexical List

Image from an 18th c. Syriac manuscript from Alqosh. Thomas touching the wounds of Jesus, with Simon Peter looking on. DFM 13, f. 60r. © hmmlorientalia

Müller-Kessler, Christa. 2017. A Trilingual Pharmaceutical Lexical List: Greek – Aramaic – Middle Persian. Le Muséon 130(1–2). 31–69.

This trilingual plant list in Greek, Aramaic, and Middle Persian (Pahlavi) is a late copy in the Aramaic square script from the Cairo Genizah of the ninth or tenth centuries with randomly applied Palestinian vocalisation (T-S K14.22). It is the second example of a trilingual lexical list, containing plant names after Barhebraeus’ plant list in the Menārath Kudhshē. The origin of the Vorlage speaks for Jundishapur as its place of completion, and Syriac used for the Aramaic glosses, since this fragment shows a number of Syriac calques, especially particles, which came in through the translation from one Aramaic dialect into another. This unique text source demonstrates again how closely interlinked Greek, Aramaic, and Middle Iranian were in Late Antiquity, despite the loss of most of the text material from this famous academy of medical studies. What this list makes also so valuable is the application of the grades of the plants’ effect that go back to Galen, as can be found in the remnant Syriac manuscript Mingana Syr. 661.
Christa Müller-Kessler is an scholar of Syriac and Aramaic Studies at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena.

The Arshama project

The Arshama Project is not new, but since it is a valuable resource for the study of Achaemenid history, we would like to introduce it briefly.

The parchment letters of the Persian prince Arshama to Nakhthor, the steward of his estates in Egypt, are rare survivors from the ancient Achaemenid empire. These fascinating documents offer a vivid snapshot of linguistic, social, economic, cultural, organisational and political aspects of the Achaemenid empire as lived by a member of the elite and his entourage. The letters give unique insight into cultivation and administration, unrest and control, privileged lifestyles and long-distance travel. Arshama’s letters to Nakhthor, two leather bags and clay sealings, entered the Bodleian Library in 1944. These pages are a result of a collaboration between the Bodleian Libraries and scholars from the AHRC funded project Communication, Language and Power in the Achaemenid Empire: The correspondence of the satrap Arshama.

The result of the project, a volume entitled The Arshama Letters from the Bodleian Library, is openly accessible on the Publications tab.

More information can be found here and on the Arshama project website.

The Archaeology and Material Culture of the Babylonian Talmud

Geller, Markham J. (ed.). 2015. The archaeology and material culture of the Babylonian Talmud (IJS Studies in Judaica 16). Brill.

The Babylonian Talmud remains the richest source of information regarding the material culture and lifestyle of the Babylonian Jewish community, with additional data now supplied by Babylonian incantation bowls. Although archaeology has yet to excavate any Jewish sites from Babylonia, information from Parthian and Sassanian Babylonia provides relevant background information, which differs substantially from archaeological finds from the Land of Israel. One of the key questions addresses the amount of traffic and general communications between Jewish Babylonia and Israel, considering the great distances and hardships of travel involved.

Markham J. Geller, Ph.D (1974), Brandeis University, is Professor of Semitic Languages and Director of the Institute of Jewish Studies at University College London, currently on secondment to the Freie University Berlin as Professor für Wissensgeschichte. He is Principal Investigator of BabMed, an Advanced ERC Project.

 

Table of contents

-Acknowledgements
-The Contributors
-Introduction: The Archaeology and Material Culture of the -Babylonian Talmud, Markum. J. Geller
-Land behind Ctesiphon: the Archaeology of Babylonia during the Period of the Babylonian Talmud, St John Simpson
-‘Recycling economies, when efficient, are by their nature invisible.’ A First Century Jewish Recycling Economy, Matthew Ponting and Dan Levene
-The Cedar in Jewish Antiquity, Michael Stone
-Since when do Women go to Miqveh? Archaeological and Rabbinic Evidence, Tal Ilan
-Rabbis in Incantation Bowls, Shaul Shaked
-Divorcing a Demon: Incantation Bowls and BT Giṭṭin 85b, Siam Bhayro
-Lilith’s Hair and Ashmedai’s Horns: Incantation Bowl Imagery in the -Light of Talmudic Descriptions, Naama Vilozny
-The Material World of Babylonia as seen from Roman Palestine: -Some Preliminary Observations, Yaron Eliav
-Travel Between Palestine and Mesopotamia during the Hellenistic and Roman Periods: A Preliminary Study, Getzel Cohen (z’’l)
-Shopping in Ctesiphon: A Lesson in Sasanian Commercial Practice, Yaakov Elman
-Substance and Fruit in the Sasanian Law of Property and the Babylonian Talmud, Maria Macuch
-Rabbinic, Christian, and Local Calendars in Late Antique Babylonia: -Influence and Shared Culture, Sacha Stern
-‘Manasseh sawed Isaiah with a Saw of Wood:’ an Ancient Legend in -Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Persian Sources, Richard Kalmin
-Biblical ‘Archaeology’ and Babylonian Rabbis: On the Self-Image of Jews in Sasanian Babylonia, Isaiah Gafni
-Loanwords in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic: Some Preliminary Observations, Theodore Kwasman
-The Gymnasium at Babylon and Jerusalem, Markham J. Geller and D. T. Potts
-Index

 

 

An Aramaic epigraph

Azzoni, Annalisa & Matthew Stolper. 2015. From the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project, 5: The Aramaic Epigraph Ns(y)h on Elamite Persepolis Fortification Documents. Achaemenid Research on Texts and Archaeology (ARTA) 004. 1–88. – via Charles Jones.

Persepolis Fortification tablets with cuneiform texts in Achaemenid Elamite sometimes also bear short texts in Aramaic script and language. The word ns(y)ḥ appears in more than a third of them, on documents produced in the latest attested stages of information handling that are represented by the excavated form of the Persepolis Fortification Archive. These notations, we propose, refer to a further stage, one that produced documents that are no longer extant.

Studies on Aramaic Magic Bowls and Related Subjects

Aramaic Studies, Volume 13, Issue 1, 2015. Special issue: “Studies on Aramaic Magic Bowls and Related Subjects”.

The special issue of the Journal of Aramaic Studies, guest-edited by Siam Bhayro is devoted to the Aramaic magic bowls.

 

 

Table of Contents

Peter T. Lanfer: Why Biblical Scholars Should Study Aramaic Bowl Spells

Ortal-Paz Saar: A Study in Conceptual Parallels: Graeco-Roman Binding Spells and Babylonian Incantation Bowls

Siam Bhayro: On Early Jewish Literature and the Aramaic Magic Bowls

Avigail Manekin Bamberger: Jewish Legal Formulae in the Aramaic Incantation Bowls

Marco Moriggi: Jewish Divorce Formulae in Syriac Incantation Bowls

Harriet Walker: Possible Psychological Roles of the Aramaic Incantation Bowls: Therapeutic Functions of Belief in Demons and the Practice of Incantations