Look out for Tyndale House staff speaking at the Annual Meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), the American Society of Overseas Research (ASOR) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) this month.
This November academics, scholars and students will be gathering across three locations in Texas to discuss and explore the biggest questions in biblical scholarship and research, religious studies, and theology. Tyndale House Research Fellow Dr Caleb Howard and Research Associate Dr Kaspars Ozolins will be presenting papers across all three conferences.
The first of these conferences, the ETS annual meeting, will take place in Fort Worth. On 16 November Dr Howard is moderating a program unit session on Old Testament Backgrounds and the Ancient Near East, in which Dr Ozolins will be presenting a paper on Ugarit and Second-Millennium Alphabetic Writing Traditions.
Ugarit was a flourishing and highly cosmopolitan Late Bronze Age city state. Its alphabet represents an unparalleled melding of Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform practices (a form of writing where characters are written in distinctive wedge shapes) and concepts taken from linear alphabets (alphabets with letters composed of strokes).
Dr Ozolins’ paper will address a peculiar sign in the Ugaritic alphabet that has long puzzled scholars: the final sign of the alphabet, s̀. Although its shape is based on ‘samekh’, a sign frequently found in other linear alphabets representing ‘s’, Ugaritic has another sign in its alphabet representing ‘s’ which is used far more frequently, the 19th sign. This has caused scholars to wonder whether the s̀-sign may have represented a different sound.
The true identity of the s̀-sign remains a mystery. However, equipped with a detailed knowledge of the textual corpus at Ugarit undertaken as part of the ongoing Tyndale House Old Testament Project, Dr Ozolins will attempt to shed light on this sign by re-examining the relationship between cuneiform and linear alphabets.
On the following day at ETS, Dr Howard will again be moderating the Old Testament Backgrounds and Ancient Near East program unit session and will himself present on the differences between historical and typological comparative methods and their implications for scholarship. Critically examining the methods which scholars use is a vital part of maintaining rigorous scholarship: comparisons are often made between Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern cultures, but Dr Howard will be questioning whether such comparisons demonstrate a causal connection between the cultures, or merely similarity.
In addition to this, on November 18 Tyndale House’s Academic Vice Principal, Dr Dirk Jongkind, will be a panellist for the New Testament Canon, Textual Criticism, & Apocryphal Literature program unit session, reflecting on the intersection of text, paratext and reception.
Moving north to the ASOR annual meeting in Chicago, Dr Caleb Howard will again be presenting, this time on developments in the study of Amorite names and their grammar. This paper is a direct product of the ongoing Old Testament Names project at Tyndale House which has so far analysed all the personal names which can be found in every available surviving text from Alalaḫ and other second millennium Levantine sites. In the past decade several ground-breaking analyses of the Amorite language (known only to us through surviving personal names) have emerged. Caleb will be bringing his own detailed knowledge of the names in the Alalaḫ and other Levantine texts into this discussion of Amorite.
Finally, at the SBL annual meeting, held this year in San Antonio, Dr Ozolins will be presenting again on the Ugaritic alphabet in the Ugaritic Studies and Northwest Semitic Epigraphy section on 21 November.
If you are planning to attend any of these conferences, either virtually or in person, don’t miss these fascinating contributions from the Tyndale House team.