ManuscriptBoy, at Hagahot, has just gushed a little, regarding some of the exciting papers that are going to be presented at the upcoming World Congress of Jewish Studies. I know where he’s coming from! You can download the 217-page program yourselves, from here. Truly amazing! There are a number of sessions that have me almost clapping my hands with excitement, but by far the most amazing are the seven sessions on synchronic and diachronic approaches to Biblical Hebrew. What is one to do! In the interests of sharing my schedule (and possibly boring several of you to tears – although nobody is making you read it), the following papers constitute highlights for me:
Emanuel Tov will speak on “The Relevance of Textual Theories for the Study of the Biblical Text”;
Erhard Blum will consider “The Need for an Alternative to the J/E Hypothesis”;
Dalit Rom-Shiloni will assess the period “From Ezekiel to Ezra/Nehemiah: Continuity and Transformation in the Babylonian-Exilic Ideology”;
Rachel Elior will bid “Farewell to the Essene Theory”, and Russell Fuller will (in the same session) consider “The Identification of Biblical Citations and their Use in the Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible”;
Rafael B. Posen will reassess “Ibn Ezra’s Attitude Towards Targum Onkelos” and, in the same session, Uriel Simon will explore “The Four Ways in which Ibn Ezra’s Super-Commentaries Decipher his “Secret of the Twelve”";
David Biale, Menachem Brinker and Eliezer Schweid will, all three of them, consider contemporary secular Judaism as a unique cultural phenomenon;
W. Randall Garr will comment upon “Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew”;
Ohad Cohen will consider “The Methodological Implications of the Biblical Translations for the Research on the Hebrew Verbal Tense System”. In the same session, Adina Moshavi will turn her attention to “Rhetorical Questions in Biblical Dialogue in the Light of Argumentation Theory”;
Four incredible papers in one session!! David Toshio Tsumura will assess “The Tense and Aspect of Hebrew Verbs in 2 Samuel 7:1-16″. Then, Ed Greenstein will appraise the alleged “”Difficulty” in the Poetry of Job”. After that (or is it before?), Tania Notarius will discourse upon “Temporality and Atemporality in the Language of Biblical Poetry”. Finally (be still, my beating, nerdish heart!) Elitzur Avraham Bar-Asher will enlighten us all on the nature of “Predicative Possessive Constructions in Biblical Hebrew”. Phew!;
Another four incredible sessions! Alexey Yuditsky will provide us with “A New Interpretation of some Verbal ל”א Forms”, followed by Nimrod Shatil, who will consider, specifically, “The Forms Pilpel, Hitpalpel in Biblical Hebrew”. After him, Aliza Rishevitz will discuss “The Genitive Syntagms baal-X, ish-X, ben-X and Derived Adjectives with -i suffix in Biblical Hebrew: Syntactic, Pragmatic, and Textual Aspects”. Lastly, although most certainly not least, Esther Haber will present the “Significance of the Interchanging of the Mono-Consonantal Prepositions in Biblical Hebrew: Rabbinic and Comparative Semitic Evidence”. Lord!;
I have been sent by my supervisor to “spy out” a particular session for him (although, little does he know how readily I would have attended regardless!). Frank Polak is going to consider “The Judges-Samuel Narratives and the Deuteronomists: Syntactic-Stylistic Differentiation and Sociolinguistic Periodization”. After him, Shalom E. Holtz will discuss “The Development of the Meaning of the Biblical Hebrew Locution “‘-m-d + ‘al“”, and Gary Rendsburg will turn his formidable intellect to “Late Biblical Hebrew in the Book of Haggai”. My supervisor really had to twist my arm to go to those ones;
Yigal Bloch will tackle a controversial issue: “The Pronominal Suffix -mu / -mo and its Implications for Dating Biblical Poetry”. Less provocative, although no less interesting, will be Haim Dihi‘s presentation of the “Linguistic Innovations in MS F of Ben Sira”;
As part of the 9th International Conference for the Study of Jewish Names, Yigal Levin is going to raise an important question: how prevalent was “Baal Worship in Early Israel? A Look at the Onomastic Evidence”;
Finally, as part of the 22nd Congress of the International Organization for Masoretic Studies, Ephraim-Bezalel Halivni is going to discuss “Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar in View of the Aleppo and the Leningrad Codices”.
This whole remarkable tableau (this intellectual smorgasbord!) has only two things wrong with it. Firstly, it comes before my intensive eleven-day workshop on academic Hebrew and not after it! So many of these papers will be presented in Hebrew and I truly fear that I will miss much of what the presenters will have to say. My second problem reflects a situation that would have been less easy to resolve and that is: all this in a week!?? I am going to have a hard enough time finding ways of attending the things I want without missing other things that I need to hear, yet how much more would I experience, were this whole thing over a month!
Over the three weeks that I will spend in Jerusalem, I look forward very much to meeting, and being reunited with, so many incredible scholars – under some of whom (namely Dr Shani Berrin and Dr Gary Rendsburg), I have had the pleasure of studying in the past. I also hope to be able to report on a Shabbat in the local Qaraite Synagogue, and on the many (many) books that I expect to acquire. I wish that I had the time to also visit the Samaritans up north, but I suspect that I may not. If the time is found, Qumran is more likely to be a priority, although I do not know how easily that particular road is traversed these days and it might constitute a lengthy detour. In any case, I’ve several friends to see, in both Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, and a wine festival in the Holy City that likewise demands my full (*cough*) intellectual attention.
And the truly amazing thing is that, aside from the cost of travel to and from Israel and the necessity of finding accommodation, it has only cost me a paltry $75US to attend. Let’s not let the organisers know, but I would have been prepared to fork out over five times that, had they asked. For some things, you just can’t set a price.