Re: b-aramaic?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Apr 23 1998 - 07:06:46 EDT

At 9:33 PM -0500 4/22/98, Jim West wrote:
>At 09:34 PM 4/22/98 -0500, you wrote:
>> wrote:
>> Speaking of what is and what is not on-topic for both
>>b-Greek and b-Hebrew, I would like to see more discussion of
>>Aramaic. There are times when it is appropriate for b-Greek
>>when discussing translational Greek from Aramaic sources, and
>>I assume appropriate for b-Hebrew when we discuss the Targumim.
>> I wonder, however, how we could have a forum for
>>Aramaic exegesis and linguistic structure..perhaps a b-Aramaic list?
>Now thats an interesting idea. Has anyone floated it to the folk who can
>make it a reality? How about it, Carl, Edward?

In response, two or three comments:

(1) Edward and I are co-chairs of B-Greek only, appointed by the
list-owner, David Marotta. If David should interested in establishing such
a list, that would be up to him, but there's no reason that such a list
should have to be established under the same auspices as the three lists. In fact, back in December when it became
evident that there was a group with sufficient interest to establish a
special list for critical Synoptic studies, Mark Goodacre undertook to do
this at his own University of Birmingham in the UK. Anybody with access and
some sort of credentials could do this, and I would think that Jack Kilmon,
who first raised this question, would be eminently qualified to do that.
For myself, who know very little Hebrew and no Aramaic whatsoever, I would
never try to undertake such a thing. I think that most academic
institutions have sufficient electronic capacity as well as the software to
run a list (there are several types of list-management software), and many
would, I think, be quite willing to host such a list. And so: (a) it's
really up to those who want such a list to take the initiative of seeking a
host institution and setting up the list leadership and guidelines for
operation and membership; and (b) there's no particularly compelling reason
why such a list should be set up at the University of Virginia, although I
shall forward this message to David Marotta, just in case he is not
currently watching the B-Greek correspondence.

(2) Those who are seriously interested in such a list might do well to
consult with Mark Goodacre about his procedures in establishing the
Synoptic List.
(a) I don't think that the mechanics of the list--subscriptions,
distribution, postings, possible archives--are anything difficult to set
up, although I'm sure one would have to consult with one's local System
facilitators and ascertain what is possible at one's own institution.
(b) Somewhat more complicated is the question of what sort of leadership,
guidelines for participation, and qualifications for participation are
desirable. Would you want, for instance, to restrict list-membership to
those who either already have or are in the process of acquiring competence
in Aramaic (and perhaps ALSO Greek and Hebrew)--or would you want to open
it up to anyone interested? If you don't, you run something of a risk of
the list being used and abused by persons or groups with agendas of their
own with which you may or may not agree; on B-Greek we make it clear that
we welcome beginners and advanced students and scholars in Biblical Greek,
but that we do intend the focus to be strictly on the Biblical Greek
language and on the Greek text of the NT or OT or of related (e.g.
Patristic, Hellenistic Jewish) literature.
(c) What sort of oversight would you want, and what sort of procedures for
handling nuisance posts and violations of standards of civil
discourse--"netiquette"--would you want?
(d) Also, if it hasn't also been implicit in what I've mentioned already,
you might want to consider just what kinds of persons you would want the
list to be particularly useful to--and it can make quite a difference
whether you want to make it primarily a vehicle of academic discussion
between scholars or whether you want to make it a more open forum where
beginners in Aramaic are comfortable posing even what may be "stupid"
questions about the language or how the language works in a particular
passage; we have tried to make B-Greek a list welcoming that sort of
inquiry in Greek, and some of our more valuable exchanges have, I think,
been those between more advanced and less advanced students of Greek.
(e) And would you want to restrict the discussion on the list to the
ancient Aramaic language and its bearing upon Biblical questions--or would
you open it up for anybody to ask any question about ANYTHING concerned
with the Bible? This is up to those who want to establish such a list, of
course, but it seems to me that there are other lists where ANYTHING
concerned with the Bible is open for discussion, and that an Aramaic list,
like our own B-Greek list, will be more useful to its membership the more
carefully delimited its focus is.

So there are a few thoughts on the matter. It's certainly not up to me but
to those of you who are seriously interested in a "B-Aramaic" list to take
the initiative in setting it up. I should add, however, that I don't by any
means intend to suggest or imply that questions regarding possible Aramaic
original oral formulations may underly specific GNT texts are not
appropriate to B-Greek. Our focus IS on the Biblical Greek language, but it
is also on the Biblical Greek text and on understanding how the Greek of
the GNT functions in particular texts--and where a possible Aramaic
formulation may underly a Greek text, I think that's worth bringing up--but
a broader discussion of Aramaic in its own right seems to me outside the
proper focus of our own list.

I hope this may be helpful to those interested in a "B-Aramaic" list.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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