This programme consists of four courses: Hebrew: Texts from Ancient Israelite Literature (Gianto), Ugaritic Language and Literature (Gianto), The Linguistic History of Arabic (van Putten & Al-Jallad), The Old Syriac Inscriptions (Gzella).
- Time slot 1: Hebrew: texts from Ancient Israelite literature (9.30 - 11.00)
- Time slot 2: Ugaritic language and literature (11.30 - 13.00)
- Time slot 3: The Linguistic History of Arabic (14.00 - 15.30)
- Time slot 4: The Old Syriac Inscriptions (16.00 - 17.30)
Agustinus Gianto (Rome)
This course aims at developing skills interpreting various forms of Ancient Israelite literature as preserved in the Hebrew Bible. Class discussions will be based on selected passages taken from Early Hebrew Poetry, Classical Hebrew Narrative, Prophets, Psalms, and Wisdom literature. Special attention will be given to questions on syntax and semantics of the texts.
A selection of texts and the special bibliography will be made available to the participants.
This intermediate-advanced graduate course requires a working knowledge of Biblical Hebrew.
Alonso Schökel, L., A Manual of Hebrew Poetics, Rome: PIB/GBPress, 1988.
Alter, R., The Art of Biblical Narrative, New York: Basic Books 1981.
Coogan, M. The Old Testament. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Garr, W.R. – S.E. Fassberg, A Handbook of Biblical Hebrew. 2 vols., Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns 2017.
Sáenz-Badillos, A., A History of the Hebrew Language, Cambridge: Cambridge UP 1993. (The Italian edition Storia della lingua ebraica, Brescia: Paideia 2007 is practically a new edition.)
Watson, W.G.E., Classical Hebrew Poetry: A Guide to its Techniques, New York: T&T. Clark 2005 (= unaltered paperback edition of the hardback of JSOT Suppl. 26 Sheffield: JSOT Press 1986).
Agustinus Gianto (Rome)
This course is an introduction to the study of the indigenous language of Ugarit, a city-state on the northern Syrian coast that flourished in the second millennium BCE. As the oldest independently documented language in the Northwest Semitic group, Ugaritic has a special relevance for the study of the Semitic languages, especially Hebrew. Its rich religious literature also provides an important context for the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible.
The basic grammar and vocabulary will be presented in the first week as a preparation to reading continuous texts during the second week. At the end of the course the student will, among other things, be able to enjoy the following poetic passage in the original language: "I have a word to tell you, a story to recount to you: the tree's word and the stone's charm, the heavens' whisper to the earth, the deep ocean's to the stars [….]. Come and I will reveal it in the midst of my mountain, the divine Zaphon, in the holy place, the mountain of my inheritance, in the beautiful place, the hill of my might!" (Baal's message to Anat, KTU 1.3:III:21-25; 28-31). A manual for use in class will be made available to those signing up for this course.
Gianto, A., "Ugaritic" in: Languages from the World of the Bible, edited by Holger Gzella, Berlin – New York: de Gruyter 2011, 28-54.
Gianto, A., "Ugaritology and Biblical Interpretation" in: The Oxford Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation, edited by Steven L. McKenzie, Oxford: Oxford UP 2013, vol. 2, 429-436.
For further studies
Bordreuil, P. – D. Pardee, A Manual of Ugaritic, Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns 2009. This manual contains an outline of Ugaritic grammar, fifty-five texts of various genres with copies, photos, transliteration, translation, copious notes, and glossary. The brief treatment of grammar can be supplemented by the following textbook.
Huehnergard, J., An Introduction to Ugaritic, Peabody: Hendrickson 2012. This textbook contains the basic grammar, practical exercises with keys, paradigms and twelve annotated texts of various genres, glossary. Included is an essay on the Ugaritic alphabetic script by John L. Ellison.
KTU / CAT = M. Dietrich – O. Loretz – J. Sanmartín, The Cuneiform Alphabetic Texts from Ugarit, Ras Ibn Hani and Other Places, AOAT 360/1, Münster 2013; this is the third, enlarged edition of Die keilalphabetischen Texte aus Ugarit, AOAT 24/1, Neukirchen – Vluyn 1976. Its numbering system has been widely accepted.
del Olmo Lete, G. – J. Sanmartín, A Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition, translated by W.G.E. Watson, 2 volumes, HdO I/67, 3rd edition, Leiden: Brill 2015.
Parker, S.B. (ed.), Ugaritic Narrative Poetry, Scholars 1997. The texts are arranged in poetic lines with facing translation and brief explanatory notes by a team of scholars.
Tropper, J., Ugaritische Grammatik, 2nd edition, Münster: Ugarit-Verlag 2012. This is the most complete reference grammar to date.
Watson, W.G.E. – N. Wyatt (eds.), Handbook of Ugaritic Studies, HdO I/39, Leiden 1999. This is a compendious overview of Ugarit's history, languages, literature, religion, and society.
Marijn van Putten and Ahmad Al-Jallad (Leiden)
This course outlines the linguistic history of Arabic. Beginning with Proto-Semitic, we examine how the linguistic innovations which characterize Arabic developed and aim at a preliminary reconstruction of Proto-Arabic.
The first week of the course will focus on the classification of Arabic within Semitic and the historical phonology and morphology of Proto-Arabic, in light of Old Arabic epigraphy, descriptions of Arabic by the Classical Arabic grammarians, and select modern dialects.
The second week will focus on the historical development of several varieties of Arabic from Proto-Arabic with due attention to the question of genetic relationship between them. Vari eties that we will discuss include Classical Arabic, Tihāma Arabic and the Jabal Rāziḥ Arabic.
The student should be familiar with the methods of historical linguistics and have some knowledge of Arabic and/or comparative Semitics.
There will be short daily homework assignments.
Daily course packets will be distributed and all readings will be posted in a Dropbox file available to registered students.
Holger Gzella (Leiden)
Syriac, the main language of the Christian Near East and medium of a vast literary tradition that is still very much alive, first appeared in some hundred pre-Christian inscriptions from Edessa between the first and the third centuries CE. They reflect the culture and society of a small client kingdom between the Roman and the Parthian empires. It is from this particular milieu that the earliest Christian literature in Syriac emerged, at some point in the second century CE, and soon radiated far and wide. The epigraphic material covers about one hundred memorial, dedicatory, and building inscriptions, as well as a handful of legal documents and epigraphs on joyful mosaics and official coins. Yet the language is already almost identical to Classical Syriac and illustrates the transformation of a regional Aramaic dialect into a literary koiné.
This course offers a brief introduction to the earliest known stage of Syriac and Aramaic epigraphy in the Roman period. Close reading of several original texts will be supplemented by more general linguistic and cultural information. We will also briefly study the transformation of the local scribal culture of Edessa into a global literary idiom and address possible reasons that triggered the sudden appearance of Syriac literature in its bewildering scope and diversity. No previous knowledge of any Semitic language is required, but those familiar with, e.g., Hebrew, any other Aramaic variety, or Arabic will have a chance to further contextualize their understanding of historical-comparative Semitic grammar.
H.J.W. Drijvers and J.F. Healey, The Old Syriac Inscriptions of Edessa & Osrhoene. Texts, Translations & Commentary, Leiden 1999: Brill.
H. Gzella, "Late Imperial Aramaic", in: S. Weninger et al. (eds.), The Semitic Languages: An International Handbook, Berlin and New York 2011: De Gruyter, 598–609.
H. Gzella, A Cultural History of Aramaic: From the Beginnings to the Advent of Islam, Leiden 2015, 246–263.
(If you read Dutch, also: H. Gzella, De eerste wereldtaal. De geschiedenis van het Aramees, Amsterdam 2017: Athenaeum, chapter 6. This book should appear in spring 2017.)
J.F. Healey, Aramaic Inscriptions & Documents of the Roman Period, Oxford and New York 2009: Oxford University Press (esp. the Introduction on pp. 1–51 and the selection of Syriac texts on pp. 222–275).