Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The virtues of the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon

I am continually struck by the low profile that the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon project has. It has to rate as one of the most important research tools in areas related to biblical studies, and has much to offer to textual criticism.

I suppose that the URL is not very attractive:

However, the name 'Comprehensive' is fully justified. On this site you can find primary texts in all the early and middle forms of Aramaic. You have electronic versions of the Peshitta (OT and NT), Old Syriac, Christian Palestinian Aramaic versions, and of course the Targums.

What's more, the editions are normally the best available editions. The editions of the Targums are far better than those you might pay for in a printed edition like that of Sperber. Each word of the text is linked through to a lexicon, so that you can look at that word in all other early Aramaic dialects.

Okay, so they haven't produced a Newsletter since 1996, and the format takes some time to get used to, but the content is amazing.

It's also produced by top scholars in the area: Stephen Kaufman (who has additional skills in Poker) and Michael Sokoloff who is not only the greatest living, but probably the greatest all time, Aramaic lexicographer and author of multiple standard lexica.

All this is to say that I think that everyone should visit the site and make it known. (This advert is not sponsored by the gambling industry.)


  1. Keep your eye on the CAL. Slowly but surely we're giving it a complete overhaul and if all goes well, parts of the new system should be up over the next month. :-)

    Steve Caruso
    Translator, Aramaic Designs
    Author, The Aramaic Blog

  2. Thanks Pete, I first used the CAL in connection with the reference to Enoch's prophecy in Jude 14-15 – 1 Enoch 1:9. In fact I then found an error in the database which in turn was an error in Albert Lukaszewski's transcription of the Qumran Aramaic fragment 4Q204 (4QEnc), which I then reported to Ken Penner, and which I see has now been corrected:

  3. ...and now I have used it again when you reminded me that the Christian Palestinian Aramaic texts are there!

  4. Yes, there are other errors, but in my experience the errors go back to previous editions that they have transcribed. The editions that they themselves have made have been to a higher than average standard.

  5. Isurrenda Igivup. How do I find the Palestinian Syriac at the CAL-site? (I'm trying to track down the Heothina.)

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  6. Palestinian Syriac is now generally called Christian Palestinian Aramaic.

    To get to the CPA version:

    Search the CAL textual databases
    Text browse
    Palestinian Aramaic

    It only has the earliest CPA mss.

  7. CSNTM has new announcement:

    "CSNTM is pleased to announce the posting of fourteen Greek New Testament manuscripts from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, as well as a single leaf held by a private owner in Chicago. The manuscripts were photographed in March 2010 by a team from the Center and include GA 1424, an important late 9th or early 10th century manuscript that includes the entire New Testament. The manuscripts are posted on the “Manuscripts” section of the website. CSNTM is grateful to Dr. Ralph Klein, curator of the Rare Books Collection of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and to Dr. Edgar Krentz, for permission to post these images."

  8. Thank you Darrell, I saw the announcement on the Textual-Criticism discussion list. I'll make a separate post.

  9. PJW,

    I still can't find the Heothina-readings. Atm, it looks like this collection is not really comprehensive.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  10. The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon is incredibly good, and even though it is not perfect it is a fantastic resource for Aramaic studies. What would be really great is to get the CAL texts, especially the Aramaic Old Testament, into software such as BibleWorks. The Aramaic morphological analysis is great for studying the texts.