Aramaic in Post-Biblical Judaism and Early Christianity


Track #1: Instruction in the Aramaic Language

The primary focus of this track will be to introduce the participants to three Aramaic dialects, and then to give them the opportunity to do further study of one of them. The three dialects are: (1) Standard Literary Aramaic/Jewish Literary Aramaic of pre-135 Palestine; (2) Jewish Palestinian Aramaic of post-135 Palestine; and (3) Syriac. The teaching will combine grammar instruction and text reading.

Most of the participants who will have had some Aramaic, will have learned Biblical Aramaic during their student days. For them, this track will begin with a refresher week on Biblical Aramaic. For the participants who have studied Hebrew but have had no Aramaic, there will be a second "remedial" course during the first week to help them transition from their Hebrew knowledge into Aramaic.

Format

This track will devote a week each to the four dialects being taught. In the fifth week, participants will choose to concentrate on one of the three dialects that constitute the focus of the track and take the readings sessions only in that dialect for week five and the first three days of week six.
During the first four weeks, instruction will be intensive, with two and half hours being devoted to language instruction each morning. In weeks five and six, each dialect will be taught to the participants who wish to work in it for only one hour each morning. During the last two weeks, participants will also be working intensively on their research projects which will involve additional language and text work, mostly self-guided.

Textbooks

For the three key dialects, two grammar textbooks will be required. For Jewish Literary Aramaic, we will use Douglas Gropp's The Aramaic of Targums Onqelos and Jonathan: An Introduction. For Syriac, Takamitsu Muraoka's Classical Syriac for Hebraists will be used, along with a syllabus provided by Lucas Van Rompay. Unfortunately, there is not a good teaching grammar for Jewish Palestinian Aramaic. To address this lack, Paul Flesher will create a Xeroxed workbook drawn from the various scholarly grammars available. For Biblical Aramaic, Franz Rosenthal's A Grammar of Biblical Aramaic, will be required.

Schedule:

Week 1: Biblical Aramaic
Instructor: Eric Meyers

Week 2: Standard Literary Aramaic/Jewish Palestinian Aramaic
Instructor: Douglas Gropp, The Catholic University of America

Week 3: Jewish Palestinian Aramaic
Instructor: Paul Flesher

Week 4: Syriac
Instructor: Lucas Van Rompay

Track #2: Seminar

Aramaic and its Literatures in Post-Biblical Judaism and Early Christianity

The aim of this track is to introduce the participants to the literature of the Aramaic dialects being taught and to place them into their historical/archaeological, religious and social context. The two main goals are to provide the participants with the background to the writings we are teaching them to read, and to introduce them to specific historical and interpretative problems into which their knowledge of Aramaic can give them insights. Particular emphasis will be given to recent scholarly discussions concerning newly discovered texts and new insights. The track thus serves to introduce research ideas and problems to the participants and to stimulate their thinking towards their own research projects.

The seminar sessions will be held for two hours in the evening, three evenings a week. Each session will have required readings. For each session, selected participants will be expected to prepare a short presentation on the day's topic.

Week 1:
Orientation to the Seminar: Aramaic in Post-Biblical Judaism and Early Christianity
The Directors
Aramaic in the Qumran Community and the Dead Sea Scrolls
Paul Flesher and Eric Meyers
Aramaic Epigraphy of Roman Palestine: Jewish Burial & Synagogue Inscriptions
Eric Meyers

Week 2:
Aramaic Translations of Scripture, Part 1: Targum Onqelos to the Pentateuch and Targum Jonathan to the Prophets
Douglas Gropp, The Catholic University of America, and Paul Flesher
Marriage and Divorce in Second-century Palestine in Light of the Babatha Aramaic Archives
Hayim Lapin, University of Maryland
Aramaic Translations of Scripture, Part 2: The Palestinian Targums of the Pentateuch
Paul Flesher

Week 3:
What Language did Jesus Speak?
Paul Flesher, Eric Meyers, Lucas Van Rompay
The Place of Aramaic in the Palestinian Talmud and other Palestinian Rabbinic Texts
Hayim Lapin, University of Maryland
Jewish, Christian and Pagan Interaction in Northern Palestine and Southern Syria
Tina Shepardson, Duke University
Week 4:

Aramaic at the Crossroads of Dura Europos: Jewish Aramaic, Syriac and Palmyrene
Lucas Van Rompay and Paul Flesher
Aramaic Translations of Scripture, Part 3: The Old Testament and New Testament Peshitta
Lucas Van Rompay
Fourth-century Syriac Christianity (Aphrahat and Ephrem) and Judaism in Mesopotamia
Tina Shepardson and Lucas Van Rompay

Track #3: The History of the Aramaic Language

This track will survey the history of the Aramaic language. It will describe the language's spread across the Middle East, the rise and fall of its dialects, and the relationships among them. The main responsibility for the track will be born by Lucas Van Rompay, with two lectures given by the internationally-respected Aramaic scholar Michael Sokoloff. The aim will be to give the participants an understanding of how the dialects they are learning fit into the overall development of the language and to apprise them of advances in scholarly knowledge of different aspects of Aramaic.

The lectures will take place on four evenings during the fifth week of the Seminar for two hours. It will essentially replace the History and Literature seminar sessions which will end in week 4. Although there will be reading lists for the different topics, these will be mostly optional; the preparation for this track will be much lighter than for the seminar sessions, so that participants may concentrate on their research projects during the day.

Session 1: Monday, July 12
From Imperial Aramaic to Standard Literary Aramaic and its Breakup
Lucas Van Rompay

Session 2: Tuesday, July 13
Late Aramaic in Palestine: Aramaic Dialects among the Jews, Christians and Samaritans
Michael Sokoloff, Bar Ilan University (Israel)

Session 3: Wednesday, July 14
Syriac and Other Eastern Dialects
Michael Sokoloff, Bar Ilan University (Israel)

Session 4: Thursday, July 15
Aramaic from the Medieval Period to the Present Day
Lucas Van Rompay

APPENDIX 2: Schematic overview

First week
- Morning Daily: language training (Biblical Aramaic) - 2½ hours
- Afternoon Optional: remedial courses
Daily: individual study (including preparation of morning sessions and seminars)
- Evening Three days a week (Tues., Wed., Thurs.): seminar session - 2 hours each

Second week
- Morning Daily: language training (Standard Literary/Jewish Literary Aramaic) - 2½ hours
- Afternoon Daily: individual study (including preparation of morning sessions and seminars)
- Evening Three days a week (Tues., Wed., Thurs.): seminar session - 2 hours each

Third week
- Morning Daily: language training (Jewish Palestinian Aramaic) - 2½ hours
- Afternoon Daily: individual study (including preparation of morning sessions and seminars)
- Evening Three days a week (Tues., Wed., Thurs.): seminar session - 2 hours each

Fourth week
- Morning Daily: language training (Syriac) - 2½ hours
- Afternoon Daily: individual study and research
- Evening Three days a week (Tues., Wed., Thurs.): seminar session - 2 hours each

Fifth week
- Morning Daily: reading in one of the three dialects - 1 hour
Individual study and research
- Afternoon Individual study and research, consultation with supervisors
- Evening Four days a week (Mon., Tues., Wed., Thurs.): lectures on the history of the
Aramaic language - 2 hours each

Sixth Week
- Monday & Tuesday: Reading in one of the three dialects - 1 hour (morning)
Individual study and research
- Wednesday & Thursday: Presentation and discussion of the research papers
- Friday: Closing sessions.