A Manual of Palestinian Aramaic Texts gathers together Palestinian Aramaic texts of various sorts and varying lengths from the last two centuries BC and the first two centuries AD (roughly 200 BC to AD 135). It presents the kind of Aramaic used in Palestine during this period. Discussions of the language of Jesus in recent decades have been legion, and much of that discussion has been based on texts that are of questionable relevance. The authors’ purpose in gathering the Palestinian Aramaic texts of this period is to illustrate what should be the background to that discussion.
The texts are of diverse character: a few of them are biblical (revealing the form of the text in this period); a number belong to the so-called intertestamental literature of Palestinian Jews; some of them are letters, contracts, or business documents of different sorts, reflecting various elements of Palestinian life of that period. The last part of the collection of texts presented here comes from ossuaries or tombstone inscriptions and often contains no more than a few words or names. Indeed, it is not at all easy to decide whether such texts are really written in Aramaic (and not in the Hebrew of the day). They are included here only to the extent that they have something in them that may indicate an Aramaic relationship.
A Manual of Palestinian Aramaic Texts provides the text of these documents (often with emendations and restorations, to the extent that these are possible), a translation of the text, a brief introduction, and a bibliography of secondary literature on each of the texts. A glossary of the texts completes the collection.
Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J. is professor emeritus at the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. He has taught New Testament, its Semitic background, and Biblical languages at Woodstock College, University of Chicago, Fordham University, and Weston School of Theology. In 1984 he was awarded the Berkitt Medal for Biblical Studies by the British Royal Academy. He has authored over twenty books. He is co-editor of the New Jerome Biblical Commentary.
Daniel J. Harrington, S.J. is Professor of New Testament at Weston Jesuit School of Theology. In addition to serving as editor of New Testament Abstracts, he teaches courses in both the Old and the New Testament. His research focuses on biblical interpretation in antiquity, modern biblical interpretation, and the relation between exegesis and preaching. He has written over thirty books.