Examination of the predominantly Greek borrowed vocabulary in the Midrash Genesis Rabbah, written in Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic

This digital dictionary aims to provide an efficient tool for further cultural and linguistic studies, not only in the field of Rabbinics, but also in order to promote the research on the interaction between the Jewish tradition with other cultures in the Greco-Roman worlds in Late Antiquity.

The objective of this project consists in the compilation of a digital dictionary in TEI format (by using the VLE tool) and the annotation of the loanwords in the corpus for the investigation of issues pertaining to sociolinguistics as well as corpus linguistics.

Genesis Rabbah (GenR) is the earliest rabbinic commentary on the Book of Genesis. It was compiled during the 5th CE in Roman Palestine. GenR is an exegetical Midrash (an interpretation of the Biblical text in rabbinic Judaism). It contains short explanations of words and sentences, often in Aramaic, but also highly difficile and subtle (narrative) explanations and interpretations of the Biblical text.

GenR displays the Rabbinic-Jewish worldview and maps out numerous rabbinic theological concepts (e.g. creation, Israel and the nations etc.). Many references into non-Jewish philosophical thought and literature are made, usually in a non-explicit way. GenR is rich in foreign words, especially Greek, the study of which will be the main objective of the project.
Greek loanwords, which total over 2000 items stemming from various dialects, make up the largest group of non-native words not only in GenR but also in the totality of the Hebrew/Aramaic lexicon. The transliterations of Greek words in the rabbinic literature show evidence for cultural and linguistic contact between Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek, as well as important secondary evidence of Hellenistic Greek.

This project aims at covering some of the desiderata concerning GenR, and intends to provide an up-to-date digital supplement to the lexicography of Greek loanwords in the Rabbinic literature, which still remains unfulfilled, especially due to the interdisciplinary character of the research.

The project is based on a cooperation between the ACDH-CH and the University of Salzburg (Center for Jewish Cultural History) under the supervision of Prof. Susanne Plietzsch (collaborators: Dr. Vladislav Slepoy & Dr. Christina Katsikadeli) and is funded by the FWF.

Project duration

01 April 2018 – 31 March 2021

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