KEYNOTE LECTURE: The Art of Compilation

Karel van der Toorn

University of Amsterdam

ISAW is committed not to schedule public events on holidays that would prevent anyone from attending on account of religious observance. We deeply regret that nevertheless by our oversight the conference "The Scribal Mind: Textual Criticism in Antiquity" was scheduled to take place on Rosh Hashanah, and we apologize to all who were therefore unable to engage in the conference.

-Alexander Jones, Leon Levy Director

*** Video Recordings from this conference are now available to view ***

Compilation is among the higher arts of the scribal profession, open only to scholar scribes in positions of prestige and authority. The classics of the East Mediterranean world are compilations. They consist of narratives (e.g., Gilgamesh, Genesis), oracles (e.g., the “Book of Balaam,” Neo-Assyrian oracle collections, prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible), ritual songs (e.g. Book of Psalms, Papyrus Amherst 63), or other types of literary material. Compilation provided a natural context for revision and textual criticism. This paper explores examples of scribal interventions in the context of compilation by looking at Gilgamesh, the prophetical books, and the Aramaic papyrus in Demotic script (pAmherst 63).

Keynote Lecture
The Scribal Mind: Textual Criticism in Antiquity
Conference organized by Emily Cole (ISAW Visiting Assistant Professor)
September 21, 2017

The intellectual exercise of textual criticism is far from a modern invention. Without the regularity provided by printing, there were constantly different texts in circulation, and it was up to learned individuals to figure out how to make sense of them. While no manual on the assembly and editing of ancient manuscripts existed in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, or China, scribes diligently worked through copies of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Sumerian Incantations, or Buddhist manuscripts, and noted variants as they went along. It is the intention of this conference to draw out the details concerning how those scribes produced a text tradition, added commentary to new editions or marginalia to old ones, and what these practices might say about the culture in which the scribes were working. In three related panels, conference participants in various fields of study will consider the conception, process, and culture of textual criticism in the ancient world with the intention of better understanding the place of scribal communities in antiquity.

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Please note that separate registration is required for Day 1 (September 21st), Keynote Lecture (September 21st), and Day 2 (September 22nd).

The conference is co-sponsored by ISAW, the NYU Center for the Humanities, the NYU Center for Ancient Studies, the NYU Classics Department, and the NYU East Asian Studies Department.