9th International Meeting of the International Organization for Targum Studies

9th International Meeting
International Organization for Targum Studies (IOTS)
July 9-11, 2018, University College London

NB: The meeting will start in the evening of July 9th. 

We are pleased to announce a call for papers related to Targum and Cognate Studies. We particularly invite paper proposals with a thematic focus on one of two closely related and increasingly topical aspects of the contents and language of the Targums:

The Aramaic dialects within their Late Antique environment;
The development of the Targums within their wider interpretative milieu.

In keeping with former IOTS meetings, we also issue an open call for paper proposals by scholars who wish to present their research on any topic in the field of Targum Studies.

The Aramaic dialects within their Late Antique environment The study of the local influences on the dialect of Onqelos and Jonathan, long considered to represent a direct development of Middle Aramaic, and sometimes held to reflect little to no signs of any specific provenance (Western, Eastern, Central Aramaic), is attracting renewed attention, which warrants the re-opening of the question about these Targums’ dialect and provenance. Moreover, the provenance and integrity of the dialect of the Late Targums remains unsolved. These days their Aramaic is considered a learned, written dialect divested from a vernacular basis, but despite arguments of a considerable Syriac influence, its provenance is as yet unclear.

The development of the Targums within their wider interpretative milieu At the literary and exegetical level, the milieu of composition and transmission raises questions about the meaning of parallels between targumic and non-targumic exegesis. Exactly how does targumic exegesis relate to its rabbinic parallels? What are the differences in terms of contents, context, presentation, and narrative arc? The mere observation that parallels exist does not analyse the relationship at a level that is anywhere near profound enough to be meaningful.

Beyond the old questions of literary dependence, we still need to establish whether targumic exegesis reflects signs of a non-rabbinic, late rabbinic or other specific local environment. In spite of the evidently close connection between targumic and rabbinic exegesis, questions linger about the precise relationship between the Targums and the rabbinic milieu, whether in Roman Palestine, Babylonia or Jewish communities elsewhere, and the wider society in which they took shape and to which they inevitably responded.

Location and hospitality

The conference will be organized under the auspices of the IOTS by the Institute for Jewish Studies (IJS) at University College London. Hospitality will be available via the IJS at the Tavistock Hotel in Bloomsbury, for £85 a person a night; please contact the IOTS at the address below. To take advantage of this discounted price, early reservations via our organization are recommended. Details to follow.

How to submit paper proposals

Papers should be of twenty-minutes length, allowing ten additional minutes for discussion. All proposals should include title, speaker, academic affiliation, and a short abstract of 200- 250 words. This call for papers will remain open until 31 December 2017. Please send your proposal to: Professor Willem Smelik, Email: willem.smelik@ucl.ac.uk; postal address (until May 1, 2018): 17 Gray Street, #3, Cambridge MA, 02138 USA.

Download Announcement: 9thIOTSConference

Valmadonna Collection Purchased by the National Library of Israel

This is very good news! It appears the entire collection has been purchased by the Israeli National Library. Several years ago Sotheby’s was exhibiting and the family seeking to sell this incredibly important collection. It is particularly important for Targum scholars because it includes Valmadonna 1 (formerly Sassoon 282). The Sotheby’s catalogue described the manuscript as follows:

Codex Valmadonna I

The jewel in the Valmadonna Library’s crown is one of the most important privately-owned books in the world – a Pentateuch (Hebrew Bible), written in England the summer of 1189. Known as the Codex Valmadonna I, this extraordinary book is the only dated Hebrew text in existence from medieval England, before King Edward I’s 1290 edict expelling the Jews.

It is a massive collection and many scholars were worried it would be separated and go into private collections. This should ensure access and enable new research going forward. The JC article shares a few more details about the collection and the owner, Jack Lunzer, who recently passed away.

The Valmadonna Trust Library, widely regarded as the finest private collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts in the world, was assembled by Jack Lunzer, who spent more than six decades assembling it.

The vast collection charts the spread of Hebrew printing around the world and includes 550 broadsheets and newspapers dating back as far as the 16th century.

Hailing the purchase, Oren Weinberg, director of the National Library of Israel said: “The Valmadonna Trust Library represents an historic addition to our leading collection of Jewish manuscripts, prints and books, which reflect and embody the cultures of the Jewish people around the world and across the ages.”

Mr Lunzer, who died last month at the age of 92, was born in Antwerp and made his fortune as a young man in the diamond industry in London. He named his collection after the town of Valmadonna in northern Italy, where he and his wife Ruth Zippel, had connections.  In 2015 Mr Lunzer sold his 16th century Babylonian Talmud, made by the Christian printer Daniel Bomberg, for US$9.3 million (£7.5 million).

The Origins of the SBL Aramaic Studies Section and the NTCS

We had an excellent session at SBL and a nice surprise as well: Malcolm C. Doubles shared with us the history of Aramaic Studies in SBL. He has kindly shared his paper with me along with a picture of the earliest members of the group.

How It Began

Malcolm C. Doubles

Visiting Professor of Religious Studies
St. Andrews University, Laurinburg, NC

A Paper Read at the
Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting
Baltimore, Md., 11/23/2013–11/26/2013
Aramaic Studies Section, 11/24/13, 1:00–3:45 p.m.

The Society of Biblical Literature was organized in 1880 and has met annually ever since. Until 1967, these meetings were often hosted by Union Theological Seminary in New York. You may find it hard to believe, but for the first ninety-five years of its existence the Society sponsored no program segment devoted to matters of Aramaic origin. Such items were usually relegated to Old Testament program sections, or occasionally to a New Testament section. I begin this paper with thanks to Ed Cook for his willingness to allow me a few minutes to share with you my memories of how the Society was moved to initiate a discrete program segment devoted to rēbus aramaica. In this endeavor, I am especially indebted to Julia Foster who was involved in this effort from the beginning and who has shared much material and many memories with me.

Meeting at Baltimore Hebrew College, June 13–14, 1973     Front: Shirley Lund, Julia Foster, Roger Le Déaut, Malcolm Doubles  Back: Moses Aberbach, Douglas Fox [the photographer], Bernard  Grossfeld, Ernest Clarke, Stephen Kaufman, Walter Aufrecht,  Moise Ohana, Samuel Iwry

Meeting at Baltimore Hebrew College, June 13–14, 1973
Front: Shirley Lund, Julia Foster, Roger Le Déaut, Malcolm Doubles
Back: Moses Aberbach, Douglas Fox [the photographer], Bernard
Grossfeld, Ernest Clarke, Stephen Kaufman, Walter Aufrecht,
Moise Ohana, Samuel Iwry

The story begins with the 1972 SBL Congress Meeting in Los Angeles and the person most responsible for our start, the late Bernard Grossfeld who sadly passed away this past July just a week or so before Julia was able to inform him about today’s planned presentation. Between sessions one evening in Los Angeles, Bernard approached Julia and me with the argument that we in Targum Studies needed an organization similar to that in Septuagint Studies. Furthermore, he noted that on the weekend of October 28–29, Gerard Kuiper was hosting a meeting in Atlanta with Julia and the late Shirley Lund to examine some Neofiti and Pseudo-Jonathan readings. Bernard insisted that if I would go down so would he and we could “crash” that meeting for a few hours. So that’s what we did.

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