Review of "Aramaic in Its Historical and Linguistic Setting" (ed. by M. Folmer and H.Gzella)
The book describes bricks stamped with Aramaic and/or figural impressions from Babylon of the sixth century B.C. The book under review is not only a catalogue of bricks with Aramaic impressions and figurative stamps. The authors analyze catalogued items from several viewpoints, among which the most important are the following: 1) paleography and the significance of these documents for the history of Aramaic writing; 2) interpretation of the images found on Neo-Babylonian bricks; 3) onomastics and its bearing on the ethno-linguistic situation in Babylon during several decades of the sixth century B.C. The book of B. Sass and J. Marzahn provides sufficient comparative material for the sixth century Aramaic writing to help solving problems of dating some Aramaic texts.
Syriac medical tradition was formed as a translation of the Graeco-Roman Galenic medicine into the Oriental tradition. An outline of that tradition in connection with the Greek and Arabic medical schools is proposed in the article.
The book under review is a reworked dissertation written under supervision of Prof. Otto Jastrow and submitted to Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg in 2006. It is the first part of the planned three-volume work which is the outcome of many years of field research (1997-2005). The review includes a survey of the contents of the volume, discussion of the position of Talay's book in the context of Neo-Aramaic studies, detailed commentary on some controversial issues in the book. The findings of Shabo Talay are compared to the dialect description by Heidi Jacobi whose work on Txuma was based on the material recorded from the informants originating in Khabur area.
The article deals with the toponyms occurring in the Aramaic and Arabic texts of the Late Sassanian and Early Moslem period concerning the biography of the prominent Eastern Syrian mystical writer Isaac of Nineveh. Two particular cases are analysed. Firstly, it is reported by Ishodnah and other writers that Isaac left Qatar in the mid-7th century and became bishop «of Nineveh», whence his cognomen Ninwāyā. The history of Nineveh and its mythological reception are traced to the 7th c. BC. Due to the never forgotten glory of Assyrian past, any new centre which ever re-emerged at Kuyunjik or Nabi-Yunus hills (which had been parts of Assyrian Nineveh) and even the pre-Mosul settlement on the opposite bank of the Tigris (once called Nav-Ardashir) received the name of «Nineveh» and were thought to be the same Assyrian Nineveh. It was this western pre-Mosul settlement that is really implied by «Nineveh» of Isaac. The population lived on the western bank of the Tigris in Nav-Ardashir, while the historical city of Nineveh had been abandoned. Bishops of Nineveh resided in the monastery of Beth Abe (in the Forests). It can be concluded that the term Ninwaya in the episcopal title of the Church of the East was a mere convention. Secondly, the toponym Matut is brought under analysis. After leaving Beth Nuhadra Isaac moved northwards to Susiana (Beth Huzaye), where he spent some time in the monastery of Rabban Shapuhr before moving to the mountain cave where he spent the rest of his hermitic life. The name of the mountain in Aramaic sounds Matut and it is said that Matut encircled Susiane which makes «Matut Mt.» to be a rather vast segment of Zagros. It is impossible to explain the horonym quite reliably, but it can be hypothetically interpreted as a late form of Ancient Mesopotamian GN Mat-Utem (a part of Zagros region at upper Lesser Zab was called that as early as the 2nd mill. BC), used in extended sense.
The categorial shift from temporal deictic adverb to discourse marker is observed in many languages of the world. There are three Semitic languages — Hebrew, Aramaic, and Akkadian — where similar developments were attested for a temporal adverb with present time reference. This article is dedicated to the comparison of non-adverbial usages for Hebrew (wǝ)ʕattā, Aramaic kʕt/kʕnt/kʕn and Akkadian inanna and anumma. The preliminary results of this investigation, based on the findings of Rhetorical Structure Theory and discourse markers research, show that in most of the uses these adverbs function as discourse markers. As is the case with Hebrew (wǝ)ʕattā, the specific discourse function is attested also for Aramaic kʕt/kʕnt/kʕn and Akkadian inanna: an adverb with the meaning ‘now’ marks a transition from assertive discourse unit to directive discourse unit within directive utterances. The range of usage for Aramaic kʕt/kʕnt/kʕn and Akkadian inanna is broader than for Hebrew (wǝ)ʕattā. Akkadian anumma is another type of lexeme: not being used as a temporal deictic adverb, it also appears in directive utterances, but, unlike Hebrew (wǝ)ʕattā and Aramaic kʕt/kʕnt/kʕn, it usually has an assertive discourse unit in its right co-text, the transition from assertive to directive usually left unmarked.