Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Papyrus Amherst 63

Dean Koller on Sabbatical
Yeshiva College Associate Dean Aaron Koller went on Sabbatical this year as his time in the administration came to an end. After what he dubbed as “fulfilling but consuming administrative work at YU,” Dr. Koller is in Israel for the year with his family. Primarily, he will be serving as the Lady Davis Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University, where he will be teaching a graduate seminar on the history of the alphabet in the Department of Hebrew Language. He was also granted a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship at the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, where he will be preparing an edition of part of Papyrus Amherst 63, an ancient Aramaic text written in Demotic (Egyptian) script. (This fascinating but challenging text was deciphered decades ago by Prof. Richard Steiner, professor emeritus at the Revel Graduate School, but has never been fully published.) ...
Papyrus Amherst 63 is an extraordinarily important and extraordinarily difficult text that merits much more attention than it has yet received. The papyrus seems to have come from Elephantine and is the work of Aramaic-speaking worshippers of the god Betel (Bethel). It includes three Israelite hymns, one of which is a Canaanite version of Psalm 20, and a legendary account of an unsuccessful revolt of Babylon against Assyria around 650 BCE. There have been efforts to decipher some of it, but a great deal of work remains to be done. I knew that Professor Tawny Holm of Penn State was working on an edition, but this is the first I have heard of Dean Koller's work. I look forward to seeing more published on this remarkable text.

Cross-file under Aramaic Watch, although the papyrus also includes material in Hebrew/Canaanite.