Semitic programme

This programme consists of four courses: Archaic Hebrew Poetry (slot 1), Biblical Hebrew: the Languaget of the Book of Proverbs (slot 2), Introduction to Epigraphic Northwest Semitic (slot 3), and Introduction to Ancient North Arabian (slot 4).

Slot 1: Archaic Hebrew Poetry (9.30 - 11.00)

Agustinus Gianto (Rome)

Course outline
This is a reading course of selected poetic passages from the Hebrew Bible that represent an early stage of the language, such as the Blessing of Jacob (Genesis 49:1-27), the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:1-18), the Oracles of Balaam (in Numbers 23-24), the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32), the Song of Deborah (Judges 5). The discussions include questions on the speech community and special features of the orthography, phonology, grammar, vocabulary of these texts.

A sound working knowledge of Biblical Hebrew is assumed.

- Cross, F.M. – Freedman, D.N., Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1997
- Gianto, A., “Variations in Biblical Hebrew”. Biblica 77 (1996) 493-508
- Gianto, A., “Archaic Biblical Hebrew”. Forthcoming in Handbook of Biblical Hebrew, ed. by W.R. Garr – S.E. Fassberg
- Kim, D.-H., Early Biblical Hebrew, Late Biblical Hebrew, and Linguistic Variability: A Sociolinguistic Evaluation of the Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts. VTSupplement 156. Leiden: Brill 2013
- Notarius, T., The Verb in Archaic Biblical Poetry: A Discursive, Typological, and Historical Investigation of the Tense System. Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics 68. Leiden: Brill 2013
Sáenz-Badillos, Á., Storia della lingua ebraica. Brescia: Paidea 2007, pp. 11-57

Slot 2: Biblical Hebrew: the Language of the Book of Proverbs (11.30 - 13.00)

Agustinus Gianto (Rome)

Course outline
This is a reading course of passages taken from the Book of Proverbs with special attention to syntax and vocabulary, especially the expressions denoting “wisdom”, “folly” and “speech”. The texts to be discussed are Proverbs 1:1-19  (what the book is all about and an invitation to learn wisdom from parents while avoiding bad company); 8:1-36  (wisdom as teacher, queen of heaven, God’s beloved child); 9:1-18 (wisdom versus folly); 10:1-11 (the wise, the fool, and the just); 18:1-24 (wisdom in speech); 31:10-31 (the ideal wise woman).

A sound working knowledge of Biblical Hebrew is assumed.

Selected commentaries:
-  Clifford, R.J., Proverbs. Louisville: Westminster John Knox 1999.
-  Fox, M.V., Proverbs 1-9. New Haven – London: Yale University Press 2000.
-  Fox, M.V., Proverbs 10-31. New Haven – London: Yale University Press 2009.
-  Perdue, L.G., Proverbs. Louisville: Westminster John Knox 2000.

Slot 3: Introduction to Epigraphic Northwest Semitic (14.00 - 15.30)

Benjamin Suchard (Leiden)

Course description
The Northwest Semitic language family consists of Ugaritic, one of the oldest attested literary languages in the world, Canaanite, containing such well-known languages as Hebrew and Phoenician, and Aramaic, the lingua franca of the Middle East for a thousand years surrounding the start of the Common Era. Together, the languages of this group offer a fascinating window into the Ancient Near East of the first and second millennia BCE. In this course, students will familiarize themselves with the basic grammar of the most important Northwest Semitic languages as they are attested in epigraphic material and read a selection of texts from various genres.

Course outline
Week 1
Day 1: Introduction to Northwest Semitic
Day 2: Introduction to Ugaritic
Day 3: Ugaritic prose
Day 4: Ugaritic poetry
Day 5: Introduction to Canaanite

Week 2
Day 6: Phoenician
Day 7: Hebrew and Moabite
Day 8: Introduction to Aramaic
Day 9: Old Aramaic
Day 10: Imperial Aramaic

Knowledge of a Semitic language will be highly advantageous, but not required. Students must be familiar with basic linguistic terminology.

Students will be asked to review the grammar discussed and prepare texts for most classes.

Handouts on the grammar of the various languages, as well as texts, will be provided by the teacher.

Introductory reading
-  Gzella, H., ‘Northwest Semitic in general’, in Stefan Weninger (ed.), The Semitic languages (2011, Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton), pp. 425–451.

Reference works (all available at the Leiden libraries)
-  Beyer, K., Die aramäischen Texte vom Toten Meer (1984, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht).
-  Del Olmo Lete, G., and Sanmartín, J., A dictionary of the Ugaritic language in the alphabetic tradition (2003, Leiden: Brill).
-  Dietrich, M., Loretz, O., and Sanmartín, J., Die keilalphabetischen Texte aus Ugarit, Ras Ibn Hani und anderen Orten (2013, 3rd ed., Münster: Ugarit-Verlag).
-  Donner, H., and Röllig, W., Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften (1962–1971, 2002, Wiesbaden: Harassowitz).
-  Friedrich, J., and Röllig, W., Phönizisch-punische Grammatik (1999, 3rd ed., Rome: Pontificio Istituto Biblico).
-  Gzella, H. (ed.), Languages from the World of the Bible (2011, Berlin/New York: De Gruyter).
-  Hoftijzer, J., and Jongeling, K., Dictionary of the North-west Semitic inscriptions (1995, Leiden: Brill).
-  Huehnergard, J., An introduction to Ugaritic (2012, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
-  Renz, J., and Röllig, W., Handbuch der althebräischen Epigraphik (1995–2003, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft).
-  Segert, S., Altaramäische Grammatik (1975, Leipzig: Verlag Enzyklopädie).
-  Tropper, J., Ugaritische Grammatik (2012, 2nd ed., Münster: Ugarit-Verlag).

Slot 4: Introduction to Ancient North Arabian, with a special focus on Safaitic (16.00 - 17.30)

Ahmad Al-Jallad (Leiden)

Course outline
Ancient North Arabian is an umbrella term covering the pre-Islamic epigraphic material composed in the Dadanitic, Safaitic, Taymanitic, Hismaic, Hasaitic, and Thamudic (B-D, Southern) scripts. These inscriptions are concentrated in western two-thirds of the Arabian Peninsula, from the Syrian Desert to Yemen. The earliest ANA inscriptions have been tentatively dated to the middle of the first millennium BCE, based on the mentioning of Nabonidus king of Babylon, but it is impossible to say how many centuries before this period their production stretched. It is also impossible to determine when the ANA inscriptions end, but the most common guess is the 4th century CE.
The ANA inscriptions are written in a consonantal alphabet most closely related to the Ancient South Arabian script.  The language they attest, however, is varied.  Taymanitic shares important isoglosses with Northwest Semitic; Dadanitic has some unique features which preclude it from being a form of Arabic, while Hismaic and Safaitic can be regarded as forms of Old Arabic, perhaps as distinct from Classical Arabic as the language of Beowulf is from Chaucer.  As such, the ANA inscriptions are essential for the proper understanding of the linguistic history of Arabic and give us our only evidence-based view of the linguistic geography of pre-Islamic Central and North Arabia.  Moreover, they provide a unique, first-hand view into the cultural and religious practices of the ancient nomads and oasis dwellers of the Peninsula.   
This course will introduce the scripts and writing systems, grammar, and the main textual material of the ANA corpora, with a special focus on Safaitic. Although knowledge of a Semitic language is not a prerequisite for this class, it can be helpful. Students will learn how to produce tracings from original photographs and commentaries on the inscriptions. We will also look into the matter of dialect variation within Safaitic, the largest ANA corpus. Students completing this course will have a working knowledge of the language and formulae attested in the different ANA scripts, and will have commented on inscriptions based on original photographs.

Materials and Bibliography
Handouts on the grammar of the various languages, as well as texts, will be provided each day in a dropbox.

Al-Jallad, A. 2015. An Outline of the Grammar of the Safaitic Inscriptions. (SSLL 80). Leiden: Brill.
Macdonald, M.C.A. 2000. "Reflections on the Linguistic Map of pre-Islamic Arabia", Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 11 (1), p. 28–79
Macdonald, M.C.A. 2004. "Ancient North Arabian", in: R. Woodard (ed.), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of theWorld’s Ancient Languages, Cambridge, p. 488–533