Tag Archives: Mandaic

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”).


Big Unicode News: Mandaic Has Arrived

In between fighting off a cold and trying to keep myself getting *some* work done today, I came across a very pleasant news article about the release of Unicode 6.0: Now with support for the Mandaic Alphabet!

This brings the count of ways to express Aramaic in Unicode up to 6 (Imperial Aramaic, Hebrew, Mandaic, Phoenician, Samaritan, and Syriac).

Now it’s just a matter of how long it’ll take for operating systems to implement it.

Once I’m feeling well enough to pick back up with the grants I’m working on, I’m going to lay out the framework to integrate this into the translation software.

I’ll also have some more to say about the resurgence of the James Ossuary in the news, but for now… must rest.


Mandaic Book of John Project Software

Today I am beginning work on the software to aid translating the Mandaic Book of John, and am using this blog post as a means to get my thoughts and design goals in order.

The original thought was using a collaborative wiki-like environment to manipulate and edit the content which can store Mandaic text in a standard transliteration for editing, but otherwise output it as images (or whatever other format we need) for viewing.

From that basic idea, for this to be a successful and useful tool, I feel it will need:

  1. A means to store each manuscript we’re working from, separately.
  2. A means to divvy up each manuscript into workable “chunks.”
  3. A way to display each parallel chunk of the manuscript side-by-side for comparison purposes.
  4. A means to annotate the Mandaic texts with footnotes, cross-references, and lexical tags.
  5. A means to display the Mandaic text as images, unicode (Hebrew, Syriac, and Mandaic if it goes through) or other encodings.
  6. A place where all members of the project can access and contribute to the English translation and tag the Mandaic texts.
  7. A means to annotate the *English* text with footnotes, cross-references, and lexical tags.
  8. A way that all changes are tracked and can be rolled back or reviewed.

Some other features to implement once there is enough data in the system to experiment with would be:

  1. Automatic export features to a variety of formats (.doc, .pdf, LATEX, etc.)
  2. Automatic concordance and lexicon/dictionary generation.
  3. Adding in hooks for standard Natural Language Processing (NLP) libraries.

Right now I’m going to see about sketching out some potential workflows and database models and get a “toy” version working to play with.


John The Baptist’s Remains Found?

More along the Mandaic theme, some Bulgarian archeologists believe that they have “found the remains of John the Baptist.” Where this was “presided over” by the Eastern Orthodox, John the Baptist is a central figure in Mandaism, and with all of the funding going out to preserve Mandaic works, I found it ironic. 🙂

I honestly don’t know much more about this than the video over at BBC says about it, nor the reliability of the claims.

[Remains of John the Baptist ‘found’ – BBC]


Israel Science Foundation to Fund New Aramaic Research Project

Crazy how two projects I’m currently working on “converge” in such a way, between the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon and the Mandiac Book of John. 🙂

August 02, 2010 via Biblical Archaeology Review

“The Israel Science Foundation will be funding a three-year research project to transcribe and study the unpublished manuscripts of the Mandaic culture. Mandaean religious texts were written in a dialect of Eastern Aramaic, which is very grammatically similar to Jewish Aramaic of the Babylonian Talmud. Mandaeans are the last surviving Gnostic religious group and can be traced back to the Talmudic period; political problems over the past few decades have threatened the continued existence of this ancient culture.

The Mandiac texts themselves will be kept in Israel, but they will be digitized through the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon Project of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. This will be the first time the texts will be made accessible to the public. They will eventually be made into a dictionary of the Mandaic language.”