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e-Gorgias (Issue 89, July 2015)


Issue 89
July 2015
Reading Time: 10 minutes

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We’ve been sweltering here in New Jersey in the summer heat, but it hasn’t stopped our Syriac Summer Class from having fun. In the intro class, we’ve been looking at George’s primer and getting a feel for the language, while the advanced class has started out by exploring the Gospel of Mark dot by dot. Rumor has it that we’re in for some Garshuni before the end.

Besides the Syriac class, we have some exciting news! Gorgias has launched a new initiative called Gorgias Open, where select books will be made available for free. This initiative is made possible by the gracious consent of some of our authors and the generosity of select funding bodies, who enable us to continue to distribute excellent scholarship at no cost to the reader. Right now, there are six books or articles to choose from, ranging from Jewish Studies to Biblical Studies to Syriac Studies, which you can download at this link.

Gorgias Open is good news for our authors as well as our readers, since making a book open access increases the number of people your work will reach. If making a book open access sounds like it might be the next step for you, please visit our F.A.Q. page or contact us at

There’s more below, as our acquisitions editor Melonie Schmierer-Lee announces some exciting new books and we show off the many great reviews that our books have recently received. Also, saving the best for last, don’t miss Distinguished Author Jason Silverman’s new column on being a Biblical Scholar.!

If you would like to unsubscribe from e-Gorgias, the link can be found at the top and bottom of this newsletter.

Happy reading!

  • Recently Released
  • Coming Soon
  • From the Acquisitions Desk
  • News
  • Author's Corner: Jason Silverman
  • Reviews

For the complete list of recent releases, please visit our Just Published page.

Numbers According to the Syriac Peshitta Version with English Translation
Numbers: English Translation by Edward M. Cook; Text Prepared by George Anton Kiraz & Joseph Bali

ISBN 978-1-4632-0529-4
Cloth, $150

This volume is part of a series of English translations of the Syriac Peshitta along with the Syriac text carried out by an international team of scholars.

Orthodox Monasticism Past and Present
Edited by John A. McGuckin

ISBN 978-1-4632-0530-0
Hardback, $227.5 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $204.75)

Studies in Eastern Orthodox monastic life and culture. Part 1 is devoted to New Testament, Patristic, and Byzantine foundations of eastern monastic theory, and Part 2 is comprised of contemporary reflections on Orthodox monastic life.

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

The Gnomai of the Council of Nicaea (CC 0021) Edited and Translated by Alistair C. Stewart
The first English translation and first complete critical text of a neglected moral treatise from fourth-century Egypt, throwing fresh light on the social history of Egyptian Christianity and on the growth of the church-order tradition.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0260-6, Paperback, $41.6 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $37.44)

The Epistle of the Number by Ibn al-Ahdab By Ilana Wartenberg
The first edition of The Epistle of the Number, composed in Syracuse, Sicily, at the end of the 14th century. It is the first known Hebrew treatise to include extensive algebraic theories and procedures, exposing novel mathematical vocabulary, and enhancing our understanding of the linguistic mechanisms which helped create scientific vocabulary in medieval Hebrew.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0417-4, Hardback, $95 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $85.50)

Divine Motive in the Hebrew Bible By Michael Thigpen
This study begins with a comprehensive survey and analysis of divine motive in the Hebrew Bible. Building on the survey it explores divine motive in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, which contain 25% of the divine motive statements in the Hebrew canon.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0532-4, Hardback, $184.6 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $166.14)

Structural Lexicology and the Greek New Testament By Todd Price
This study demonstrates a method for using corpus linguistics to disambiguate polysemes in the Greek New Testament. Included are several examples applying the method to exegetically problematic texts.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0534-8, Hardback, $180.7 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $162.63)

Bar Hebraeus The Ecclesiastical Chronicle Translated by David John Wilmshurst
The Ecclesiastical History of Bar Hebraeus is an important source for the history of the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Church of the East. It deserves to be widely read, but has hitherto but has never before been fully translated into English. David Wilmshurst, a noted historian of the Church of the East, has now provided a graceful and accurate English translation of the Ecclesiastical History, with the aim of winning this important text the readership it deserves. Wilmshurst's elegant translation is complemented by a well-informed and helpful introduction, several pages of maps and a comprehensive index of places and persons.
ISBN 978-1-4632-0535-5, Hardback, $140 (Gorgias BiblioPerks $126.00)

Gorgias is pleased to announce the publication of two new titles in Eastern Christian Studies.

The Vision of Theophilus: The Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, by Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala, is a critical edition of the popular medieval narrative of the same name. Originally composed in Coptic, The Vision of Theophilus is now extant only in Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic, but the Arabic shows a close dependency on the Coptic version and contains vital clues to reconstructing the history of the text. Besides being of interest to medievalists and Coptic and Arabic scholars, it also adds more legendary material to the circle of nativity stories.

In addition, we continue our Texts from Christian Late Antiquity series with Jacob of Sarug’s Homilies on the Six Days of Creation: The Second Day, translated by Edward Mathews Jr. In his homily, Jacob discusses the making of the firmament that divided the waters above from the waters below: what its purpose was, why it matters for humanity, and its significance in being made on the second day. This new homily will be of interest to Syriac scholars, students of Eastern Christianity, and Biblical scholars.

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

Melonie Schmierer-Lee

Acquisitions Editor

Gorgias Open Access Launched

Big news – Gorgias is now hosting its own Open Access Repository.

For those of you who may not be familiar with open access, it is a new publishing model where digital copies of a book are made publicly available on the internet (please note: we only make books open access with the explicit consent of the author). Anyone with an internet connection can read the books that are in our digital repository, absolutely free.

The open access model shifts the cost of buying the book from the reader (you) to universities and funding bodies, who pay a flat fee designed to cover the cost of production and sales. In this model, we can continue to bring you great, cutting-edge scholarship, and you can read it without worrying about the price.

If you’re wondering - how does open access work? How can I make my book open access? Does it really make a difference? - you might want to visit our F.A.Q. page or see books that are currently open access at our repository.

Gorgias Staff Take Part in Workshop

Gorgias acquisitions editor Melonie Schmierer-Lee recently attended the workshop: Language, Gender and Law in the Judaeo-Islamic Milieu at Cambridge University, where she presented a paper called “Transgressive sexual relationships in the Genizah world.” You can read more about the conference here. Congratulations, Melonie!

Our guest for Author's Corner is Jason Silverman, who edited our book Opening Heaven's Floodgates: The Genesis Flood Narrative, its Context, and Reception. Dr. Silverman is currently working on Second Isaiah, and shares some of his experience as a Biblical scholar below.

In honor of Dr. Silverman, we are offering a 25% off coupon on Opening Heaven's Floodgates, exclusive to e-Gorgias readers. To receive exclusive coupons, sign up for our mailing list.

Here's Dr. Silverman:

"The quotidian and the sublime­­ this is a tension that informs religion and the human experience. Sometimes it is an attempt to see the divine in the everyday; sometimes it is an attempt to escape the present for an envisioned future; sometimes it is a call for action. I've always been interested in how humans try to negotiate such tensions and communicate them to others. Because the problems are perennial and intractable, the same stories and themes crop up in new guises throughout history. Sometimes this is conscious, and sometimes it is not. The Gorgias volume I recently edited, Opening Heaven's Floodgates, presents a good example: the flood serves as a vehicle for such varying concerns as those of chronological speculation and ecological devastation. Yet the basic problems of innocence and guilt, punishment and forgiveness remain. The continuing relevance of such themes is made obvious by Aronofsky's recent epic, Noah. The dialectic of the quotidian and the sublime manifests in a different form in the text on which I am currently working, commonly called Second Isaiah by scholars (Isaiah 40­55). This text contains some of the best known and loved poetry in the Hebrew Bible. It deals with issues of reconciliation and presents, probably for the first time, the shocking concept of vicarious suffering.

"However, this text is not simply some timeless utterance. It was created in a particular context, and it attempted to communicate a vision of the sublime into very mundane situations. Understanding these contexts opens up the work the text tries to accomplish, providing both historical information and even parallels for more modern situations.

"My current work tries to understand Second Isaiah as part of a discourse within the changing political and social situation at the beginning of the Persian Empire. By paying close attention to the rhetoric and social setting, I want to explore how a minority negotiated its standing through the seismic changes created in the ANE by Cyrus the Great. How should a minority construct its identity, understand its social position, maintain its traditions, relate to its religion? Is a change in imperial overlord to be welcomed or feared? Second Isaiah maintains that the rather common, albeit rapid, conquests of Cyrus evince the workings of YHWH in ways the implied audience found inconceivable; indeed, it is was a reason for hope and for embracing new things. As I explore the particular context more thoroughly, I hope to show some more of the nuances and negotiations between such strands in Second Isaiah, revealing how this text envisioned something greater in the midst of its everyday."

Opening Heaven's Floodgates
Edited by Jason M. Silverman

ISBN 978-1-61143-894-9
Hardback, $150 (With Coupon and Biblioperks Discount: $101.25)

The narrative of Noah’s flood in Genesis draws perennial interest from scholars and the general public. Too often, however, historical and exegetical studies of the text, the story’s reception, and discussion of theological appropriation remain aloof from each other, if not at odds. This volume takes the influential nature of the flood story as an ideal opportunity to bring some of these methods into dialogue.

We've been getting a lot of great reviews from academic journals - so many, in fact, that we'll save some to share with you next month. For now, here are two that stand out:

Zev Garber praised Righteous Giving to the Poor: Tzedakah (“Charity”) in Classical Rabbinic Judaism in a recent issue of Review of Biblical Literature:

"This gleaning from Rivka Ulmer (Bucknell University) and Rabbi Moshe Ulmer (retired congregational rabbi) reflect the rich field of rabbinic Judaism on the dynamics of Jewish charity and related issues. The distinguished professorial-rabbinic couple provides a reference manual giving specified information, instruction, and cited sources on the subject of charitable giving and receiving. . . Readers from the novice to the scholar will appreciate. . . the reader-friendly writing of the Ulmers."

(You can read more here).

Also, Nigel Hamilton of the International Journal of Dream Research wrote a very positive review of The Dreams and Visions of Aelius Aristides, by John Stephens:

"I very much enjoyed reading the ‘Dreams and Visions of Aelius Aristides’ by John Stephens. . . Overall, Stephens has made a strong case for taking this ancient text seriously. His analytical focus enables the modern reader to appreciate Aristides’ experiences and to therefore reflect more deeply upon the depth and potential capabilities of our human nature. . . Stephens’ study represents an important contribution to the study of dreams and their relevance in our modern age."

Thinking of buying one or both of these? We're extending the 25% coupon to cover these two books as well. To receive exclusive coupons, sign up for our mailing list.

Righteous Giving to the Poor: Tzedakah ("Charity") in Classical Rabbinic Judaism
By Rivka Ulmer & Moshe Ulmer

ISBN 978-1-4632-0261-3
Paperback, $65 (With Special Discounts: $43.88)

Moral insights and comments about Tzedakah ("Charity") are found throughout the vast body of rabbinic literature. This book attempts to present a survey of the rabbinic sources concerning Tzedakah and to provide the reader with an analysis of the system of Tzedakah as created and understood by the Rabbis.

The Dreams and Visions of Aelius Aristides
By John Stephens

ISBN 978-1-4632-0232-3
Hardback, $95 (With Special Discounts: $64.13)

An analysis of the religious experiences of the Greco-Roman sophist, Aelius Aristides. As a member of the cult of Asclepius, Aristides recorded his nocturnal dreams, waking visions and spiritual healings in a diary entitled the Sacred Tales. A study of this diary sheds light on the spiritual environment of the Roman world in the first and second century CE.


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