Tag Archives: James McGrath

Call for Papers: Ancient Religion, Modern Technology Workshop

Via James McGrath:

Via The Stoa Consortium, [he] learned of this call for papers:

Workshop Call for Papers
February 13-14, 2012
Brown University

The Program in Judaic Studies in collaboration with the Brown University Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship is pleased to announce plans for a two-day workshop devoted to investigating the ways in which the digital humanities has or can change the study of religion in antiquity. The workshop will take place on February 13-14, 2012, at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

We invite proposals for papers and presentations that explore the intersection of ancient religion and the digital humanities. We are particularly interested in presentations of projects that have the potential to open up new questions and avenues of research. Can digital tools not only allow us to do our work faster and more thoroughly but also enable entirely new kinds of research? How might different digital data (e.g., textual, geographic, and material culture) be used together most productively? The workshop will concentrate primarily on research rather than directly on pedagogy or scholarly communication. One session will be devoted to “nuts and bolts” issues of funding and starting a digital project.

The focus of the workshop will be on the religions of West Asia and the Mediterranean basin through the early Islamic period. Proposals relating to other regions, however, will also be considered.
Please submit proposals of up to 300 words by October 31, 2011, to Michael Satlow (Michael_Satlow@Brown.edu).

Workshop Themes

While all areas relating to the intersection of the ancient religion and the digital humanities are open, we anticipate focusing our discussions on four themes and encourage submissions that relate directly to them:

Corpus Development. While this has comprised the bulk of the effort to date, we welcome further discussion and investigation of best practices, challenges, and standards. How should data be structured?
Digital Tools. What resources that might apply to the analysis of our data already exist? Can they be easily configured to work with the data? We will be demonstrating some projects that might have applications to our data. What tools would we like developed?
Interoperability. How might data from different corpora operate together? How might data interoperability advance research?
Visions. In an ideal world, what would we like to see? What do we want to be able to do and what scholarly questions could these new approaches help to solve or open? We welcome presentations of prototypes or even mock-ups.

Workshop Accommodations

Attendance at the workshop is open to all. Travel subsidies may be available for presenters. Discounted accommodations are available at The Saunders Inn at Brown (http://www.brown.edu/Facilities/Saunders_Inn/). All workshop activities will take place within walking distance of the Saunders Inn.

For travel information, see http://www.brown.edu/Administration/Conference_Services/prov_travel.php.


The workshop is generously funded by the Ruth and Joseph Moskow Fund in the Program for Judaic Studies. It is co-sponsored by the Brown University Library as well as the Departments of Religious Studies and Classics and the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World.


Now all I need to do is sit down and write up a few proposals. Top on my list are:

  1. Anything relating to my work on the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (which can hit on all four foci in spades).
  2. The Mandaic Book of John project I’m working on with James McGrath and Charles Häberl and the software I’ve been developing for that.
  3. An article I’ve been working on and off about Unicode and how it is more of a hindrance than a help when dealing with encoding Aramaic languages in certain circumstances due to multiple encoding schemes for the same alphabet.

Now I must enforce the discipline to (read: get my Other Half to sufficiently kick me in the buttocks towards) getting on it, as with a deadline in October I shall surely procrastinate! 🙂


The Satirical Use of Christian Material in the Mandaean Book of John

James McGrath just learned that his paper “The Satirical Use of Christian Material in the Mandaean Book of John,” has been accepted for the Aramaic Studies section at the Society of Biblical Literature 2011 Annual Meeting in San Francisco!

More on Exploring Our Matrix.


Happy Valentine’s Day! (Now also in Mandaic)


My colleague James McGrath composed a beautiful Mandaic poem for the annual Eisenbrauns Valentine’s Day Contest and took first place!

Sadly, my entry (the Syriac Heart Pendants I’ve made) didn’t make it this year, but I’m glad to have helped co-edit the winning entry. 🙂

Next year however, James, Charles, and I may collaborate on another Mandaic endeavor and actually submit a Mandaic prayer bowl with poetry inscribed upon it, so we’ll see how that goes. 🙂


Here’s a bit from the GAL010: Everyday Aramaic (Galilean) course over at DARIUS in line with the season, how to say “I love you” in early Galilean Aramaic:

Latest Lesson: Holiday: Valentine’s Day

From a man to a woman

From a woman to a man

If you wish to be sweet, you can also follow it up with (“with all my heart”).


Translating The “Drashia D-Iahia” – The Mandaic Book of John

(That’s pronounced something close to “Drash-ee di-hya,” btw.)

Well, the cat is finally out of the bag with the NEH announcing the award of the grant so I can speak freely. 🙂

And James McGrath is so blasted quick with his blog that he scooped me on it too! 🙂

However since he put it so much better than I could, I simply must steal what he said:

The NEH has announced that it will be funding a grant proposal I [James] wrote for a project to translate the Mandaean Book of John into English. Over the next two years, the focus will be on producing a typed eclectic Mandaic text using the available manuscript evidence, and an English translation. The longer-term goal is to publish the Mandaic text and English translation in a volume that also includes commentary.

My principal collaborator on the project is Dr. Charles Häberl of Rutgers University, an expert in Semitic languages whose doctoral research and first book are on a spoken dialect of Neo-Mandaic. Also involved as a consultant is Dr. April DeConick, well known not only for her contribution to scholarship on the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, Gnosticism and mysticism in antiquity, but also for her blog, Forbidden Gospels. Steve Caruso, whom you may know from The Aramaic Blog, will also be involved.

(Emphasis mine.)

In other words: This is a big deal. Not only for Aramaic geeks like me and the rest of the team, but for the Mandeans who are very quickly losing their language (Mandaic Aramaic) and culture.

My primary part in all of this (at least as of now) will be dealing with wrangling and typesetting the actual Mandaic text, for which I foresee developing appropriate fonts and typesetting tools etc., as well as creating and tending a website for the book.

In short, I can’t get wait to get started! Stay tuned.