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).

New Book: A Jewish Targum in a Christian World

Dineke Houtman sent me word of this new and intriguing book.

A Jewish Targum in a Christian World

ISBN: 9789004267817

62124What is the use of a Targum in a cultural setting where Aramaic is not a common language anymore? And why would Christians be interested in a typically Jewish text in an otherwise anti-Jewish milieu? These and related questions have served as guides for Alberdina Houtman, Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman and Hans-MartinKirn in bringing together the articles for the present book, which consists of three parts:
  1. Uses and Functions of Targum in Europe;
  2. Editing Targums and their Latin Translations;
  3. Targums and Christianity.
A number of the articles deal with the codicological and paratextual aspects of the relevant manuscripts and editions as witnesses of their cultural historical situations. The intended readership includes specialists in Targum, Jewish and medieval studies, (church) historians, codicologists and (Christian) theologians.