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The International Summer School of Semitic Philology

December 21, 2015

The International Summer School of Semitic Philology

July 11-31, 2016

Ostroh, Ukraine


The content. Two kinds of courses are offered: a) basic courses in Semitic languages – Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Akkadian and Ugaritic; b) short courses of lectures on special issues of the Semitic philology. The basic courses include the main principles of phonology, grammar and elements of syntax, as well as development of reading and writing skills in Semitic languages. The short courses are dedicated to different fields of Semitic philology, Biblical and Hebrew studies. Students can choose any courses which will be interesting for them. After completion of these courses students receive certificates.

 The main object of this School at the academic level is the propagation of the Ancient Middle East cultural heritage among students from the Eastern Europe countries (especially from the post-Soviet states), and the development of their own national schools of Semitic studies (in prospect); acquaintance by many students with the heritage of Semitic civilizations will further the popularization of multi-cultural worldview and the consolidation of tolerance in society, as well as the resistance to anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

 The target audience. The Summer School of the Semitic Philology is intended for students, who are engaged in the study of Semitic languages, Biblical and Judaic studies, theology, and the history of the Middle East.

 Prior demands. Participants are supposed to have learnt at least a basic course in one of Semitic languages (Hebrew, Arabic, etc.). Nevertheless those without any experience in Semitic Languages will also benefit from the courses.

 Languages of teaching: English, Russian and Ukrainian.

 Schedule of the courses. Classes in the Semitic languages will be held every day (no more than 90 minutes a day for each course) in the morning hours; it means that at least 4 courses will be taught simultaneously; each course will last two or three weeks, since learning languages requires time and cannot be ‘intensified’ above limits. So, each student should take no more than two basic courses in the languages. Short courses of lectures will be held in the afternoon; each of them will last several days, and students could take more than two of them simultaneously with the basic language courses.


I. Basic courses in the Semitic languages


1. Introduction to Biblical Hebrew.

 Lecturer: Yakov Eidelkind, Russian State University for Humanities

 Course description: A propaedeutic course designed for anyone studying Biblical Hebrew for the first time. The course begins with the alphabet and covers the basic morphology of Biblical Hebrew as well as the more important points of syntax. The study is to result in an ability to read and understand simple narrative texts from the Hebrew Bible. This goal will be attained largely by translating exercises from Hebrew and into Hebrew.

  2. Introduction to Mishnaic Hebrew.

 Lecturer: Arye Olman, The Academy of the Hebrew Language, Jerusalem

 Course description: Mishnaic Hebrew is the unique stage in the history of Hebrew. It was one of the spoken languages of the Jewish population in the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman periods of the history of Palestine. Uniqueness of this language is expressed in his phonology, morphology, syntax, thesaurus and semantic shifts that differ extremely from those of Biblical Hebrew. Mishnaic Hebrew in its variations was a language of Jewish rabbinic literature — Mishnah, both Talmuds, various midrashim — for more than thousand years, and this literature is essential for studying and understanding ancient and modern Jewish religion and culture.

 3. Aramaic Languages: an Introduction.

 Lecturer: Sergey Loesov, Russian State University for Humanities

 Course description: Aramaic is a group of Semitic languages with about three thousand years of written record. The ancestor of all Aramaic languages, the so-called Proto-Aramaic, was spoken about 1500 BC. The Aramaic homeland was probably located in the region of upper Euphrates. Before the year 1000 BC Proto-Aramaic split into what became two main subgroups, Eastern Aramaic and Western Aramaic. Already ninth- and eighth-century BC monumental inscriptions belong to different subgroups (that of Tell-el-Fakhariya written in Eastern and the rest of them — in Western Aramaic). Imperial Aramaic, the Middle East lingua franca after the Achaemenid conquest, was a literary Western idiom, which had no daughter languages, so the Middle Western Aramaic Languages are not its descendants. The course will explain the linguistic features that characterize Aramaic among other Semitic languages, as well as those that divide it into Eastern and Western branches. A brief linguistic history of Aramaic will be presented and an overview of unsolved problems, the most important of which is the evolution of Aramaic verbal system. This evolution resulted in an almost complete elimination of the “old” verbal system and the birth of a new, innovative system (wherein finite forms evolved from Middle Aramaic participles), which is the most striking feature of modern Turoyo and NENA languages.

 4. Introduction to Biblical Aramaic.

 Lecturer: Dmytro Tsolin, The National University of Ostroh Academy

 Course description: The course covers the main aspects of the Biblical Aramaic (BA): an overview of the history, the biblical texts which are written in Aramaic, phonology, grammar, syntax and review of the bibliography. The grammar and syntax of BA will be considered on the material of the biblical texts: students will be invited to read and analyse all the passages in Aramaic, from simple phrases and sentences to more complicated forms and constructions. One of the methods of teaching is comparison between Aramaic and Hebrew phonology, morphology and syntax, what facilitate learning the language (for students who studied Hebrew before). Besides, this course includes an excursus in the diachronic analysis of BA, and analysis of correlation between the accent signs and the syntax in the Aramaic texts of the Bible.

 5. Introduction to Jewish Babylonian Aramaic.

 Lecturer: Matthew Morgenstern, Tel Aviv University

 Course description: Jewish Babylonian Aramaic is the dialect employed in the Babylonian Talmud, the most extensive and influential Jewish work of Late Antiquity. However, many corruptions in its transmission in the Middle Ages resulted in the fact that accurate linguistic descriptions of the dialect have only recently been published. This course will present the language of the Talmud as it is found in the best textual witnesses, and will present the most up-to-date findings in the research of the dialect.

 6. Introduction to Classical Syriac.

 Lecturer: Yulia Furman, Russian State University for Humanities

 Course description: Starting with the writing systems, students will move on to learn the basics of grammar. A short introduction to standard manuals and lexicons of the Syriac language will be made so that the students can further develop on their own the basic knowledge acquired in the course. The study of the grammar will be accomplished by reading of a selection of texts: historical chronicles, hagiographic stories, and poetry. At the final stage of the course, the students will be able to apply their skills to reading a portion of an original manuscript in Classical Syriac.

 7. Introduction to Turoyo (Modern Eastern Aramaic).

 Lecturer: Nikita Kuzin, Russian State University for Humanities

 Course description: Turoyo is the most archaic among the living Eastern Aramaic languages, hence its importance for the history of Aramaic. The speakers of Turoyo used to inhabit the area called Tur ‘Abdin, which is situated to the east of the Turkish town Midyat in the Mardin province. The course will mainly focus on studying folklore texts in Turoyo collected by field linguists. The grammar and the lexicon of Turoyo will be analyzed from comparative standpoints. Thus, the knowledge of Classical Syriac or some other Aramaic idiom is welcome but not necessary.

 8. Introduction to North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic.

 Lecturer: Aleksey Lyavdanskiy, Russian State University for Humanities

 Course description: The place of the North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic (NENA) in the modern classification of Neo-Aramaic. The problems of the internal subgrouping of the NENA dialects. Written forms of Neo-Aramaic: Jewish translations of the Bible, Christian poetry from Alqosh, texts in Christian Urmian from the Soviet Union. Christian Barwar and Jewish Betanure as the example of two NENA dialects of different religious communities from the same place (North Iraq, province of Dihok): comparative features of phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon. Selected readings in Christian Barwar and Jewish Betanure.

 9. Introduction to Akkadian.

 Lecturer: Sergey Loesov, Russian State University for Humanities

 Course description: Along with Egyptian and Sumerian, Akkadian is the language of texts which shed light on the history of the most ancient human civilizations. It has the oldest written attestation among all the Semitic languages. Literary history of Akkadian covers the period of roughly three thousand years. It embraces poetry including famous Epic of Gilgamesh; religious texts; laws, including a well known monument of Ancient East legal thought, Hammurapi Code; astronomic and mathematic texts; thousands and thousands of letters, economic documents and contracts, which clarify the history of social relations in Ancient Near East.

The language course which is intended for students of the Summer school deals with Old Babylonian - a variety of Akkadian, which was spoken in Central and Southern Mesopotamia in the first half of the II millenium B.C. In later periods, this dialect was considered as classical language by the speakers of Akkadian themselves. In the modern study of Akkadian, Old Babylonian often functions as the starting point.

 10. Introduction to Akkadian Cuneiform (A companion course to Introduction to Akkadian).

 Lecturer: Kateryna Peresada, Russian State University for the Humanities

 Course description: This course is meant to acquaint students with the history of cuneiform and to give them an introduction to the cuneiform writing system and its distinctions from alphabetic writing systems, as well as the basic facts about the origin and evolution of cuneiforms signs; they will come to know the standard manuals of cuneiform and learn the most frequent cuneiform signs. By the end of the course, students will start deciphering hand-copies and digital images of genuine Akkadian texts.

 11. Introduction to Ugaritic language and literature.

 Lecturer: Tania Notarius, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

 Course description: Course goals comprise: a working knowledge of the Ugaritic language (partially in correlation with other Semitic languages); a general introduction to the the main genres of Ugaritic literature; an interactive presentation on the central topics of Ugaritic religion and culture. Emphasis will be laid on the reading and philological analysis of selected passages. A preliminary list of Ttxts for the in-class study: letters – KTU 2.10, 2.16, 2.38, RS 96.2039, KTU 2.30, 2.13; legal and administrative texts – Marzihu Presciptions (KTU 3.9), Land Transfer (KTU 3.5); rituals and narrative poetry – El’s Marzihu (KTU 1.114), Kirtu’s Wives (KTU 1.14), Aqhat (KTU 1.17), Baal Cycle (KTU 1.2).

   12. Introduction to Quranic Arabic.

 Lecturer: Alexey Duntsov, Russian State University for Humanities

 Course description: This introductory course of Quranic Arabic aims at providing students with a grounding in the basic grammatical structures of Quranic Arabic, so that they are be able to read the original text of the Quran. Since it is assumed that the students are familiar with Hebrew, the course includes etymological excurses and comparisons with Hebrew and other Semitic languages. The course is designed on the basis of Biblical stories in the Quran, which link the Islamic Arabic tradition to the Jewish and Christian ones. By the end of the course, the students are expected to acquire the skills and knowledge required for independent further study in this field.

 13. Introduction to Modern Standard Arabic.

 Lecturer: Vera Tsukanova, Russian State University for Humanities

 Course description: The course is intended for beginners who are not familiar with the Arabic language. The purpose of the course is to acquaint students with the script and the basics of grammar of the so-called Modern Standard Arabic, as well as the principles of using Arabic dictionaries. The grammar will be presented in the form of reference tables that can be used to transcribe and read modern texts. A short story by one of contemporary Arab writers is intended to be read in the class.

14. Amharic: general introduction and typological profile against the classical Semitic background.

Lecturer: Iosif Fridman, St. Tikhon Orthodox University for the Humanities

 Course description: Amharic is culturally the most important of the living languages of modern Ethiopia. It is also a language with a written history that goes back as far as the 14th century A. D. – a rare case for sub-Saharan Africa. From the typological point of view, Amharic shares with most other modern Ethiosemitic languages several major and minor features that represent a drastic departure from the language type commonly known as “classical Semitic”. The course will focus on two interconnected topics: firstly, it will give an overall typological portrait of the modern Amharic language, with excursuses into Old Amharic texts whenever they might prove elucidating; secondly, it will attempt to compare Amharic (taken here as representative of the general modern Ethiosemitic linguistic type) with the classical Semitic languages, predominantly with literary Arabic and Biblical Hebrew. As a conclusion, several short Amharic text specimens will be read and analyzed.


II. Short courses of lectures

 1. North-West Semitic Epigraphy of the 1st millennium BC.

 Lecturer: Aleksey Lyavdanskiy, Russian State University for Humanities

 Course description: The early history of the Semitic Alphabet. Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Canaanite scripts. Ugaritic “short” and “long” alphabets. The development of alphabetic signs from Proto-Sinaitic to Phoenician. The traditions of the order of letters and of the letter names.

Selected readings of the NWS epigraphic documents. Phoenician inscriptions of the first milllennium B.C.: Ahiram sarciphagus, Yehimilk, Kilamuwa I, Yehaumilk, Tabnit. Inscriptions in Old Aramaic: Tell Fekherye, Zakir stele, Sefie I.

 2. Hebrew Onomastics against the Background of the Comparative Semitic Onomastics.

 Lecturer: Viktor Golinets, Hochschule für Jüdische Studien (Heidelberg)

 Course description: The course deals with the linguistic form and the meaning of the Hebrew personal names from the Old Testament and epigraphic sources. The syntactic and semantic structures of Hebrew names will be presented in the context of comparative Semitic onomastics. Different grammatical issues like phonology, morphology and syntax will be discussed alongside with lexico-semantic types of the names and the cultural significance of the Hebrew onomastic corpus.

 3. Birth and Revival of Modern Hebrew.

 Lecturer: Arye Olman, The Academy of the Hebrew Language, Jerusalem

 Course description: The phenomenon of Modern Hebrew has no analogues in the history of civilization. In a few decades the language of traditional literature, the written language for many centuries, became the language that would be able – and is able – to maintain all the needs of modern state: codex of civil law and stand-up jokes, naval terminology and mash notes, translation of “Odyssey” and modern poetry. Questions to be considered in this course will include: choice of the pronunciation for renewed language, sources for enrichment of the thesaurus, changes in the grammar of revived language for the last century of its development, language planning and the permanent struggle with the slang.

 4. Linguistic History of Arabic.

 Lecturer: Vera Tsukanova, Russian State University for Humanities

 Course description: The course is designed for students with any degree of Arabic proficiency. It is devoted to the history of the language from the pre-Islamic inscriptions to modern Arabic dialects. Peculiarities of Arabic inside the Semitic family and their causes will be discussed, as well as the question, why one cannot build a standard family tree for the Arabic dialects, with the reference to the impact of a specific sociolinguistic situation in the Arab world. Students will discover the mysteries of the so-called Middle Arabic and clues to them provided by a careful study of the Arabic script.

 5. Textual Criticism of the Book of Isaiah.

 Lecturer: Cyrill von Büttner, Stellenbosch University

 Course description: The course introduces the student to the main problems of the textual criticism of the Book of Isaiah. The main topic is the scroll 1QIsaa, the oldest extant copy of Isaiah, which will be read and compared with the Masoretic text and other Qumran scrolls. Septuagint will be used for comparison as well.

 6. Stories of Patriarchs in Genesis.

 Lecturer: Yakov Eidelkind, Russian State University for Humanities

 Course description: Reading of some of the stories about the patriarchs in the book of Genesis: the three sister-or-wife stories, the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael, the struggle between Jacob and Esau, Jacob´s vision in Bethel, the selling of Joseph, and maybe some others.

Special attention will be paid to the mythological background of the stories elucidated by parallels in myths, epic traditions and tales across the world. This way of reading the Biblical text helps to identify in it typical themes and stock figures, such as the trickster, the younger son, the twins etc. This leads to the problem of the oral tradition in Genesis and its relation to the written sources postulated by the documentary hypothesis as well as to the final redaction of the book of Genesis. Since the course is meant to be a close reading of the Hebrew text, questions of syntax and style of Biblical prose will also be dealt with.

 7. Archaic Biblical Poetry.

 Lecturer: Tania Notarius, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

 Course description: The poetic passages from Pentateuch and Former Prophets (as Gen 49, Ex 14, Deut 32, Deut 33, etc) reveal many linguistic and stylistic peculiarities that are largely associated with the pre-classical stage of Hebrew. The course suggests a general introduction into the literary genres, represented in this anthology, in the context of the Ancient Near-Eastern literary process, as well as the study of the main phonetic, morphological, and syntactic characteristics of the language of these texts, based on the philological study of the selected fragments.

 8. Philological Commentary to the Song of Songs.

 Lecturer: Yakov Eidelkind, Russian State University for Humanities

 Course description: This is a verse-by-verse close reading of selected poems from the Hebrew text of the Song of Songs. According to the position to be substantiated in the course of this reading, the Song of Songs is a collection of love poems composed ca. 300–200 BC. Although it makes broad use of traditional formulae, topoi and genres, it is not oral, but written poetry, especially since one of its characteristic features is double entendre based on homography.

The theme of the poems is erotic love between human beings; the allegorical hypothesis is demonstrated to conflict with the playful character of many poems and with the inversion of patriarchal gender roles evident in some of them.

The language of the book will be shown to have very much in common with Rabbinic Hebrew. This fact is not only an indication of a late date of the book, it is a result of a very unconventional stylistic choice made by the poet(s): the Song of Songs represents an otherwise unattested variety of written Hebrew, a mixture of the language of Biblical poetry with vernacular Hebrew spoken in Hellenistic Judea.

 9. Philological Commentary to Hosea 1-3.

 Lecturer: Victoria Gordon, Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences

 Course description: The Book of Hosea contains presumably the earliest biblical prophetic texts. The course presents a detailed reading of the first three chapters of the Book of Hosea with special attention to poetic features such as metaphors, parallelism and alliterations. Central place will be given to sexual and marital metaphors. The question is intertextuality will be discussed: it will be demonstrated by the example of the motive of Exodus in Hos 2.

 10. Religion and Cult at Ugarit.

 Lecturer: Serguei Tishchenko, Russian State University for Humanities

 Course description: The first part of the course is dedicated to gods dwelling on the mountain Zaphon (KTU 1.47; 1.118; 1.148), in other words to Ugaritic (West Semitic) pantheon. The influence of the Hurrian theogonic myth with its idea that one generation of gods of the Ugaritic pantheon is replaced by another will be discussed. In the second part of the course ritual and cultic texts will be read (generally in translation, but several excerpts in Ugaritic): 1 ) rites for the vintage (KTU 1.41), 2 ) the entry ritual of the goddess Astarte (i.e. the transfer of divine effigy from one sanctuary to another) (KTU 1.43), 3 ) a royal funeral liturgy (KTU 1.161) and a list of sacrifices offered to the dead kings (1.39), 4 ) three-day sacrificial ritual for the bed of Pidray and the enthronement of the new king (KTU 1.132).

 11. Classical Syriac Literature: 2-13 AD: major writers and trends (with excursuses on Biblical and scientific texts).

 Lecturer: Alexey Muraviev, School of Oriental Studies, Higher School of Economics, Moscow

 Course description: The course is dedicated to the three main periods of the Literature in Classical Syriac, early, classical and later. It begins with the writers like Mara bar Serapion and Bar Daysan continues with Ephrem and Narsai. For the next two periods a chronological plan is adopted: every period describes both Western and Eastern writers. The main writers featured are: Liber Graduum, Isaak of Antioch, Jacob, John of Apamea, Serge of Resh‘ayna, Babai the Grat, Abraham, Nestorian mystics, Philoxenos, John of Ephesos, Jacob of Edessa, Abdisho bar Brikha, Bar Ebroyo and some other. Special attention is paid to the development of the literary language and to the poetry. Interaction with Hebrew, Greek and Arabic will be analyzed. There will be two separate excurses: on the Syriac Biblical texts (Syro-Hexaplaric, Pshitta NT and VT, Harlkean, Philoxenian and Diatessaron for NT) and on the translation of the scientific texts from Greek (Aristotle, Galen and Ptolemy).

  12. The Syriac language as a vehicle and mirror of Syriac Christian identity: from antiquity to the present.

 Lecturer: Sergey Minov, University of Oxford

 Course description: The role played by the Syriac language in the processes of formation and maintenance of communal identity among Syriac-speaking Christians is discussed in the course. Proceeding from Late Antiquity through the Middle Ages into the modern period, the following topics are discussed: the beginnings of Syriac as a literary language of Syriac Christianity, its various sociolinguistic aspects (including Greco-Syriac and Greco-Arabic translation movements), its use for the purposes of ethnic and national identity building (including claims of Syriac as the primeval language, the language of Jesus etc.).

The deadline for applications is May 15.

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