Saturday, July 02, 2016

Review of Bausi et al. (eds), Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies: An Introduction

OTTC: Review of "Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies: An Introduction" (Drew Longacre).
Alessandro Bausi (General editor), Pier Giorgio Borbone, Françoise Briquel-Chatonnet, Paola Buzi, Jost Gippert, Caroline Macé, Marilena Maniaci, Zisis Melissakis, Laura E. Parodi, Witold Witakowski, eds. Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies: An Introduction. Hamburg: Tredition, 2015.
Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies: An Introduction is not intended simply as a proceedings volume, subject lexicon, or encyclopedia, but rather as a book to be read cover-to-cover. Coming in at around 700 pages of content-rich and dense material, that is asking a lot of any one scholar. It took me nearly a year of close, occasional reading and a lot of persistance to reach the end, but it was also extremely rewarding. Though the word "Introduction" occurs in the title, readers beware, this is not an introduction for beginners, but rather an advanced introduction for experts to broaden their cultural and theoretical horizons. While not exhaustive in its coverage of every aspect of every tradition, it devotes sections to the topics with most comparative relevance for each tradition, which is a highly effective strategy for an interdisciplinary introduction. The multiple Oriental traditions examined are particularly important for biblical scholars, since the Bible and related literature were translated into most of these languages in antiquity, and these traditions often provide important (or in some cases even the only) textual evidence for the works we study on a daily basis.
The manuscript traditions covered are:
Arabic, Armenian, Avestan, Caucasian Albanian, Christo-Palestinian Aramaic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Slavonic, and Syriac.