The Summer School “The Masoretic Text, the Septuagint and Early Jewish Biblical Exegesis”

The scientific study of biblical texts is nowadays a highly complex interdisciplinary enterprise. It is no longer sufficient to master Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek and to possess the conventional text-critical skills. Rather, it has come become clear that it is also necessary to acquire a set of tools which allows to see different forms of the ancient textual tradition in their mutual relation. In particular, the relationship between the main pre- and extra-Christian manifestations of these texts (the Hebrew Bible, as it is available in the Masoretic text (MT) and in the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), as well as the Septuagint (LXX)) is a rich source of information about the textual tradition of the pre-Christian era in its confounding plurality, as well as about  the history of its interpretation. This interplay of texts is part of the history of the spiritual and religious development in the Eastern Mediterranean towards the end of the 1st millennium BCE. However, extracting and implementing this information is a delicate task: the procedure as such as well as each individual result are currently the subject of intense scientific debate. The traditional curricula in biblical studies, be it in Western Europe or in the United States, be it in Eastern Europe or in Israel, are slow to adapt to the new requirements. The subject is in transition, the new teaching forms and contents must first be developed.

The planned Summer School at the University of Bern sees itself as part of this methodological-pedagogical, but also genuinely research-oriented initiative. The Septuagint summer schools or postgraduate seminars are already an established tradition, be it in Göttingen, Salzburg or Oxford. In contrast to these, the Summer School in Bern does not aim to concentrate on a specific manifestation of the texts, such as the Old Greek translation. Rather, it focuses on the Hebrew (both in the traditional consonant basis and the Masoretic interpretive vocalization) as well as the Greek, whose relationship, we believe, makes the intended meaning and the development of the texts comprehensible. To this end, we intend to offer to advanced students of Biblical and Jewish Studies who have sufficient knowledge of Hebrew and Greek 12 reading seminars of 1.5 hours each in five days, prepared by three lecturers from the Berne Institute of Jewish Studies and three Russian colleagues from the new program "Bible Studies and the History of Ancient Israel" at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. The latter will bring along 6 of their best students. Each of the instructors will guide two reading sessions, the  whole groupe of 12 people participating in each seminar. One focus will be the Dead Sea Scrolls, another the Greek Bible manuscripts. Yet another focus will be the commentaries of the pre-Christian Jewish interpreters (Philo and Josephus). Three remaining sessions will be reserved for a theoretical introduction to the principles of using the respective text form (MT, DSS, LXX), each conducted in pairs by a lecturer from Bern and from Moscow.

 

Participants 

Prof. Dr. René Bloch
University of Bern
Theologische Fakultät, Institut für Judaistik and Institut für Klassische Philologie

Dr. Maria Sokolskaya
University: Göttingen/Bern
Theologische Fakultät, Seminar für Neues Testament (im Forschungsauftrag)

Dr. Peter Schwagmeier
University of Bern
Theologische Fakultät, Institut für Judaistik

Prof. Dr. Mikhail Seleznev
Moscow Higher School of Economics
Faculty of Humanities / Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies

Maria Yurovitskaya
Moscow Higher School of Economics
Faculty of Humanities / Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies

Alexey Lyavdansky
Moscow Higher School of Economics
Faculty of Humanities / Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies