The Republic of Letters in the Babylonian and Second Temple Periods

Decades ago, scholars like Michael Stone pointed out ways that the intellectual milieu of the Aramaic Enoch literature was Mesopotamian. The question, as scholars like Mladen Popovic emphasize, has always been exactly who shared what with whom, how.

In recent years scholars have been getting more specific about who was writing what, when in the Babylonian and Second Temple periods.

Among the useful new resources and works are this database of

Cuneiform texts mentioning Israelites and Judeans

and Paul-Alain Beaulieu’s masterful treatment of the interface between cuneiform and Aramaic, and how it shifted with the drastic political changes over the first millennium, available for download here as part of the Margins of Writing, Origins of Cultures conference volume.

Jonathan Ben-Dov produced a groundbreaking study of the nature and dating of the Babylonian astronomy in the Enoch and Qumran literature, and with Ben-Dov I assembled a study of one aspect of this problem, the emergence of science–often Babylonian-based–in early Judaism, in our Ancient Jewish Sciences conference and volume, online here.

The rich archives are still being studied and scholars like Michael Jursa have revealed remarkable things about everything from Aramaic and Babylonian writing to the prosopography of scroll-writing scribes. New work is underway from the Leiden “Rivers of Babylon” Project and young scholars like T. E. Alstola.

My forthcoming book on Textual Production and Religious Experience: The Transformation of Scribal Cultures in Judea and Babylonia brings some of these lines of research together.





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