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e-Gorgias (Issue 73, March 2014)

 

Issue 73
March 2014
Reading Time: 10 minutes
 

It has been a busy month here at Gorgias, with two conferences - one international! See the "Conference Report" section for more details. And in the News section, you'll find information about an upcoming Hollywood film that will bring attention to historical events in the Middle East, as well as information about three different Syriac language courses being offered over the summer, taught by Gorgias' president George Kiraz.

If you haven't already, sign up for a subscription to the Antioch Bible, now 50%-off for a limited-time only (originally $150/volume, now $75/volume with subscription discount). Please note that the 50% discount applies only to subscribers to the series and not to the individual books. Hurry and subscribe now!

Happy reading!


 

  • Recently Released
  • Coming Soon
  • From the Acquisitions Desk
  • News
  • Enthusiast of the Month: John Stephens
  • Conferences


Below is a select list of recent releases. For the complete list, please visit our Just Published page.

Bardaisan of Edessa
Introduction by Jan Willem Drijvers; By H.J.W. Drijvers

ISBN 978-1-4632-0188-3
 Hardback, $90 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $81.00)

In this volume, a reprint of his 1966 monograph, H. J. W. Drijvers investigates the life and teachings of Bardaisan of Edessa, determining his place in the religious and cultural life of Edessa in the second half of the second century of the common era.

 

Reflections on Lexicography
Edited by Richard A. Taylor & Craig E. Morrison

ISBN 978-1-4632-0229-3
 Hardback, $150 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $135.00)

Colloquia of the International Syriac Language Project. These essays offer a probing analysis of selected lexical tools and methods for working with ancient Syriac, Hebrew, and Greek sources, as well as offering reflections on methodological concerns for lexicographical tools of the future.

 

Conversos in the Responsa of Sephardic Halakhic Authorities in the 15th Century
By Dora Zsom

ISBN 978-1-4632-0239-2
 Hardback, $95 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $85.50)

This volume presents a systematic and detailed elaboration of the halakhic (legal) decisions written by five of the most important authors who wrote responsa concerning conversos between the years 1391 and 1492. The expulsion was an event that radically changed the perspectives of the Iberian conversos. The halakhic authorities were confronted with an absolutely new situation, in which they had to reformulate their position towards the conversos. This volume presents all the responsa written in connection with conversos by Isaac b. Sheshet Perfet, Simeon b. Ṣemaḥ Duran and his descendants: Solomon b. Simeon Duran, Ṣemaḥ b. Solomon Duran and Simeon b. Solomon Duran.

 

Scribal Wit
By David Marcus

ISBN 978-1-61143-904-5
 Hardback, $95 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $85.50)

This book presents a detailed analysis of the Aramaic mnemonics, those short witty sentences written in Aramaic as memory aids in the margins of one of the oldest extant biblical Hebrew manuscripts, the Leningrad Codex (1008 CE). The material is presented in clear, user-friendly charts. Each mnemonic is set alongside the Hebrew verses it represents. This book demonstrates the ingenuity of the Masoretes in their grand endeavor to preserve the text of the Hebrew Bible precisely in the form that it had reached them.

 



Here is a select list of forthcoming publications. Click here for a complete list.

Reforming Ottoman Governance By Fuat Andic & Suphan Andic
The book is the history of reform attempts in the Ottoman Empire and the internal and external difficulties in implementing them. Imperialist aggression towards the Empire and bloody janissary revolts hampered the reforms, and although some successes in governance were achieved, there were many failures, and these contributed to the demise of the Empire at the end of the First World War.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0236-1, Hardback, $169 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $152.10)

Engraved on Stone By Rony Feingold
Cylinder seals were important instruments in the Ancient Near East, and were used in Mesopotamia from the beginning of the third millennium BCE to the fifth century BCE. This volume presents an analysis of 1000 cylinder seals (including 70 that are not yet published) from the Old Babylonian period, including the Isin and Larsa dynasties, and uses this analysis as well as data from written texts of the period to answer questions relating to the seal cutters and the production of the seals.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0167-8, Hardback, $95 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $85.50)

An East Syrian Manuscript of the Syriac 'Masora' Dated to 899 CE Volume 1: Prepared by Jonathan Loopstra
This unique manuscript of the East Syrian Syriac ‘Masora’ is essential for any study of early Syriac vocalization, accentuation, and punctuation. This volume presents a facsimile reproduction of this ‘masoretic’ manuscript. An introduction and comprehensive scriptural indices will be included in a forthcoming volume.
ISBN 978-1-61143-896-3, Hardback, $262.6 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $236.34)

Moses Bar Kepha: Commentary on Myron Translation and Introduction by Baby Varghese
Moses bar Kepha: Commentary on Myron is an important witness to the history of the West Syriac Liturgy. Fr.Baby Varghese has translated the Syriac text into English for the first time.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0214-9, Paperback, $43.55 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $39.20)

Insiders versus Outsiders Edited by Jacobus (Kobus) Kok & John A. Dunne
Christianity as a movement developed within the already established, but volatile Jewish movement/religion, expressing a profound sense of inclusivism illustrated in the transcendence of social boundaries. In this book the dynamic reality of creating and transcending boundaries and the relationship between insiders and outsiders are explored by way of reflecting on mission and ethos.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0257-6, Hardback, $171.145 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $154.03)



This month I’m pleased to announce the forthcoming publications in the fields of Christian Late Antiquity, Biblical Studies, and Early Christianity.

Pau Figueras, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at Ben Gurion University in the Negev, has prepared the next volume in our Gorgias Handbooks series. An Introduction to Early Christianity examines the apocalyptic and messianic doctrines of the Early Church, from its Jewish background to its liturgy and sacraments, monasticism, art and architecture.

The Armenian Prayers attributed to Ephrem the Syrian (edited and translated by Edward G. Mathews Jr) is the next in our Texts from Late Christian Antiquity series and it provides the first English translation of these poems, which exist only in Armenian. The prayers express a deep spiritual yearning using powerful biblical imagery. The text and translation appear together on facing pages.

The divine warrior is an important motif in the Old Testament. Charlie Trimm surveys this motif in "YHWH Fights for Them!" (in the Gorgias Biblical Studies series) and examines the development of these martial aspects in relation to the Exodus narrative, exploring the actions, terminology, weapons and psychological attacks employed, and the deployment of cosmic enemies against Pharaoh.

To see the full list of titles in different series, visit our series page.

Melonie Schmierer-Lee

Acquisitions Editor

An Introduction to Early Christianity By Pau Figueras
A general introduction to the origin and development of Christianity, from its Jewish background in the land of Israel up to its contribution to the throughout and art of medieval Europe.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0238-5, Paperback, $48 (Gorgias BiblioPerks™ $43.20)

"YHWH Fights for Them!" By Charlie M. Trimm
The divine warrior is an important motif in the Old Testament, leading many to study profitably the motif in its most prominent manifestations in poetic texts. This study builds on that foundation by examining the divine warrior in detail in the exodus narrative to construct a broader picture of the motif in the Old Testament.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0271-2, Hardback, $188.5 (Gorgias BiblioPerks™ $169.65)

Jacob of Sarug's Homily on the Creation of Adam and the Resurrection of the Dead Translation and Introduction by Edward G. Mathews Jr.
Mêmrâ 72 is a meditation on the fall of Adam and its consequences, subjecting all creation to corruption. God’s mercy, however, will restore everything to a spiritual, incorruptible state that will exist eternally in the unending light of Christ.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0264-4, Paperback, $41.6 (Gorgias BiblioPerks™ $37.44)



Hollywood and the Middle East

According to this article in the The Telegraph, Nicole Kidman will portray Gertrude Bell (a well-known explorer and archaeologist in the late 1800s, responsible in part for the formation of Jordan and Iraq) in an upcoming movie. Gorgias Press published Gertrude's account of her travels in the Middle East in Amurath to Amurath: A Journey Along the Banks of the Euphrates.

Syriac Language Courses

George Kiraz (president of Gorgias Press, director of Beth Mardutho, and PhD in Computational Linguistics) will be teaching three Syriac language courses this summer.

  • Classical Syriac (beginners, immersion style) at Polis, the Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities, from June 30 to July 25. For more information and to register visit the Polis website.
  • Introductory Syriac (reading/writing) with Beth Mardutho (The Syriac Institute) in collaboration with Rutgers University (Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literature) from August 4–29. Students with no prior experience in Syriac will learn introductory reading, writing, grammar, and should be able to translate introductory texts by the end of the course. A hybrid method of teaching will be used drawing from both traditional reading/writing and immersion (conversational) models. Classes will be held Mon–Thursday, 3-4 hours per day. Students are expected to spend the rest of the day doing homework and preparing for the next day lesson. For more information and to register, visit Beth Mardutho.
  • Intermediate-Advanced Syriac (grammar, advanced reading) with Beth Mardutho (The Syriac Institute) in collaboration with Rutgers University (Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literature) from August 4–29This course is geared toward students who have already done Syriac and would like to dig deeper into the grammar and nuances of the language. A hybrid method of teaching will be used drawing from both traditional reading/writing and immersion (conversational) models which will allow the student to get a better command of the language. Intermediate-advanced texts will be read. For more information and to register, visit Beth Mardutho.




Gorgias Enthusiast of the Month: John Stephens

John C. Stephens is an author, a scholar, and researcher in the field of religious studies. He received a PhD in religious studies in 1982 from University of California, Santa Barbara. His areas of specialization include ancient Mediterranean religious traditions and the psychology of religion. He has taught introductory courses in religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and California State University, Sacramento. In addition, Stephens has taught social sciences courses at the secondary level. Stephens’ research interests have focused upon the subject of ancient dream literature. Recently, Gorgias Press published his monograph entitled The Dreams and Visions of Aelius Aristides: a Case Study in the History of Religions. In 2013, Stephens wrote an article about the dream-diary of the second century CE Christian martyr St. Perpetua which was published in the peer-reviewed on-line journal The International Journal of Dream Research. Stephens resides in Modesto, CA. He enjoys reading, travelling and taking long walks. He has three children and four grandchildren. Here is what he had to say about Gorgias Press:

“I am extremely impressed by the breadth and scope of the many outstanding books which make up the various book series published by Gorgias Press. Taken as a whole, the scholarly influences of Gorgias Press are truly immeasurable for academicians.”

Check out John's favorite Gorgias books below!

Seeing the God
  Edited by Jeffrey B. Pettis

ISBN 978-1-61143-251-0
 Hardback, $120 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $108.00)

 "When people prayed, they expected their gods to come," wrote Robin Lane Fox, providing the impetus for this volume of collected essays exploring the concept of how the ancients “envisioned” the deities within various ancient religious traditions. The perspectives of Judaism, Gnosticism, Syriac Christianity, Byzantium, and Classical Greco-Roman religion and philosophy are considered. Specific emphasis is given to phenomena such as dreams, visions, and initiatory rites mediating the divine encounter.

 

Studies on Magic and Divination in the Biblical World
  Edited by Helen R. Jacobus, Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme & Philippe Guillaume

ISBN 978-1-61143-869-7
 Hardback, $150 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $135.00)

 A selection of essays on magic and divination in relation to the biblical world, including Mesopotamian demonology, Akkadian literary influences, exorcism, healing, calendars, astrology, bibliomancy, dreams, ritual magic, priestly divination, prophecy, magic in the Christian Apocrypha and the New Testament, magic in rabbinic literature, and Jewish Aramaic magic bowls.

 

As Below, So Above
  By Glen J. Fairen

ISBN 978-1-59333-082-8
 Hardback, $80 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $72.00)

 Questioning the scholarly assumptions regarding the “heretical” Nag Hammadi Library and the “apocalyptic” Dead Sea Scrolls, Fairen argues that they were not diametrically opposed, but represent a scribal reconfiguration of an Enochic worldview as a critique of foreign rule.

 

Qumran through (Real) Time
  By Robert R. Cargill

ISBN 978-1-60724-058-7
 Hardback, $147.5 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $132.75)

 This book proposes a new occupation model for the remains of Khirbet Qumran, the site associated with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Using the latest in virtual reality technology, the author reconstructs the site of Qumran and demonstrates that the site was initially built as a Hasmonean fortress, and was later expanded into a residence for a self-sufficient community responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls.

 


Below are excerpts of reviews of a few Gorgias titles.

Jacob of Sarug’s Homilies on Elijah Fascicles 9-13 by Stephen Kaufman:

“If one is not familiar with Syriac, yet wishes to read Jacob for his Biblical exegesis, typology, and theological insight, Kaufman has provided a superb contemporary translation...If one does read Syriac, the benefit multiplies for the reader who is able to see how a dynamic equivalent translation is produced both with integrity to the text and creative and graceful renderings into modern English. In other words, one can learn a lot about Jacob and his theology, the beauty of Syriac poetry, and the art of English translation.” Robert Kitchen, in Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 17.1 (2014): 178.

Studies in the Historical Syntax of Aramaic by Na’ama Pat-El:

“The book helps position Aramaic syntax in more general linguistic debates, makes data from three thousand years of language history more easily available to practitioners of other subfields, and stimulates an exchange of ideas between Semitics and syntactic typology or even theoretical syntax. This must count as an important advance that shows great promise for future studies.” Holger Gzella, Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 17.1 (2014): 151.

The Rabbis’ King-Parables by Alan Appelbaum:

""Appelbaum’s study is reflective of a methodological watershed in the study of rabbinic narratives. . . This approach should be extended to synoptic parables. . . and 2nd c. rabbis. Thus, [his] well-written book shows promising ways for studying the mesmerizing literature called parables." Eric Ottenheijm, Journal for the Study of Judaism 43 (2012): 381.

Christian and Muslim Dialogues by David Bertaina:

"Christian and Muslim Dialogues: The Religious Uses of a Literary Form in the Early Islamic Middle East is an informative book which meaningfully contributes to the literature on the religious meanings of pre-modern interreligious dialogical production." Caterina Bori, Adamantius 19 (2013): 607.

Jacob of Sarug’s Homilies on Elijah
  Fascicles 9-13: Translation and Introduction by Stephen A. Kaufman

ISBN 978-1-59333-942-5
 Paperback, $65 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $58.50)

 This volume collects all of Mar Jacob of Sarug's (d. 521) extant homilies on the prophet Elijah. In these homilies Jacob shows a remarkable sensivity to the human motivations of the biblical characters which was quite rare in ancient biblical exegesis. The volume constitutes a fascicle of The Metrical Homilies of Mar Jacob of Sarug, which, when complete, will contain the original Syriac text of Jacob's surviving sermons, fully vocalized, alongside an annotated English translation.

 

Studies in the Historical Syntax of Aramaic
  By Na’ama Pat-El

ISBN 978-1-59333-645-5
 Hardback, $180.31 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $162.28)

 Historical syntax has long been neglected in the study of the Semitic languages, although it holds great value for the subgrouping of this diverse language family. Focusing on the development of adverbial subordination, nominal modifiers and direct speech marking, as well as reviewing changes through language contact and drift, this book is the first step in the syntactic reconstruction of the Aramaic dialect group, the longest-attested branch of the Semitic language family.

 

The Rabbis’ King-Parables
  By Alan Appelbaum

ISBN 978-1-61719-159-6
 Hardback, $198.64 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $178.78)

 The Rabbis’ King-Parables: Midrash From the Third-Century Roman Empire examines the ancient Rabbis at work using parables about kings; parables that reflect the Rabbis' ideas about the role of the ruler in society, and the relationship of humanity to God. It considers the parables as resistance literature in light of the work of theorists of dominated groups. It is the first systematic attempt to read the parables as sources for Roman history in over 100 years.

 

Christian and Muslim Dialogues
  By David Bertaina

ISBN 978-1-61719-941-7
 Paperback, $37.5 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $33.75)

 Linked by a common geography and claim to the true religion, Christians and Muslims had a long history of interreligious discourse up to the Crusades. These faith communities composed texts in the form of dialogues in light of their encounters with one another. This book surveys the development of the genre and how dialogues determined the patterns of conversation. Each chapter highlights a thematic feature of the literary form, demonstrating that Christian and Muslim authors did not part ways in the first century of Islamic rule, but rather continued a dialogue commending God’s faithful believers.

 



Conference Report: Syriac Writers of Qatar in the 7th Century

On February 26-27, George and Christine Kiraz attended a conference at Qatar University about the Syriac Writers of Qatar in the 7th Century CE. Several Gorgias Press authors presented at the conference, such as Sebastian Brock, Mary Hansbury, and Robert Kitchen. The diverse attendees are pictured above center.

Dr. Sheikha Haya Al Thani (pictured above left with Christine Kiraz, being given a copy of the Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage) began the conference by providing a survey of the archeological sites of Beth Qatraye showing ruins of monasteries and churches from Kuwait, Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.

Additionally, Gorgias Press was able to expand our relationship with Qatar University, connecting with the Vice President of research and presenting him with a copy of GEDSH, as well as a copy of George's Syriac Orthography (pictured above right).

All in all, it was an enjoyable, informative, and productive conference. Gorgias Press will be publishing the proceedings.

Conference Report: Syriac Writers of Qatar in the 7th Century

Gorgias Press exhibited at the 10th Annual Graduate Student Conference in Patristic Studies, Historical Theology, and History of Christianity in Late Antiquity at the Pappas Patristic Institute at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston from March 6-8. Here is a conference report from our Marketing Assistant, Jeffrey Haines.

The conference was a chance for us to introduce ourselves to rising stars in the field and to introduce some of them, in turn, to the wonderful world of Syriac. Our most popular item by far was the New Syriac Primer, but we also had a lot of interest in our Texts from Christian Late Antiquity series, which combines a Syriac text on one page with an English translation on the other. These books are inexpensive and an excellent way to become acquainted with the contribution of Syriac thought to the early Church. Pappas was a great time with great people, and for me personally, a chance to meet some of the past and present members of my graduate program at Notre Dame (Go Irish!). We wish all the attendees the best as they continue their academic careers.

The New Syriac Primer, 2nd Edition
  By George Anton Kiraz

ISBN 978-1-59333-325-6
 Paperback, $48 (Gorgias BiblioPerks™ $43.20)

 A truly useful introduction to the Syriac language is a rare find. This practical initiation to the study of this ancient language of the Christian church speaks with clarity and authority. A fruitful integration of scholarly introduction and practical application, this primer is more than a simple grammar or syntactic introduction to the language. Written in a style designed for beginners, Kiraz avoids technical language and strives for a reader-friendly inductive approach. Readings from actual Syriac texts allow the student to experience the language first hand and the basics of the grammar of the language are ably explained. The book comes with downloadable material so that readers may listen to all reading sentences and text passages in the book.

 




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