In my doctoral comprehensive exams, I was asked to list out what material I wanted on my exams. Since I majored in Second Temple Legal Traditions and Legal Interpretation, I decided to list most of Midreshei Halakha on my exams. My advisors accepted my list with a few minor additions of their own, and I was off to immerse myself in reading Mishnah, Tosefta, and Midrash on a daily basis—it is the normal routine.
During my preparation for exams, I accrued a rather extensive amount of textual notes, translations, and future journal article ideas (and/or conference presentations). When I launched this blog, I thought it would be a great platform to transform these notes into a running commentary on the legal interpretation of the Torah. I have been dealing a lot with Sefer Devarim, so I begin the series there. Before we progress, I would like to address the format of the series.
The series sets out to accomplish several things: the first focuses on philological transmission of Deuteronomy. This means that I am keen to address issues of textual development and scribal interpretation. Whereas in modern scholarship we divide the activities of transmission, copying, interpretation, and textual fluidity and fixity, these issues often times are intimately correlative one to another and were mutually related in the practices of ancient Jewish scribalism. The second focuses on the interpretative trajectories attested in Qumran legal traditions, Septuagint translators (OG; LXX), Aramaic translators (Targumim), Latin translators (Old Latin; Vulgate), Syriac translators (Peshitta; ), and other writers such as the tradents of the Temple Scroll, Philo, and Josephus. Third, as I am working through these texts, I am also creating a virtual environment where it will be possible to facilitate a host of research queries and literary analysis. I will speak more about this soon. For now, there are a lot of primary resources I will use in this study.
To keep the posts focused on the text, I will progress through the text of Deuteronomy one verse at a time. Each verse will be broken down into three parts. The first part is an analysis of the verse apropos the ancient Versions (e.g., Greek, Syriac, Aramaic, Latin); the second part is analysis of the interpretation of Deuteronomy in Samaritan Pentateuch, Qumran texts and Rabbinic texts.
Our series starts with Deuteronomy 1:1 next Friday!