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Australian Biblical Review


ISSN 0045-0308

BOOK REVIEW  Published in Volume 62, 2014

HANNAH M. COTTON, LEAH DI SEGNI, WERNER ECK, BENJAMIN ISAAC, ALLA KUSHIR-STEIN, HAGGAI MISGAV, JONATHAN PRICE AND ADA YARDENI (eds), Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae, Volume 1: Jerusalem, Part 2: 705–1120 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012). Pp. xvi + 575. Hardback. €129.95 RRP.

Part of the new series Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palestinae: a Multi-lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad, this text fills a long-term void in biblical scholarship. Compilations of inscriptions have long been available for certain regions or languages of the ancient world (such as the works of William Horbury and David Noy on inscriptions from Egypt and Europe; the Discoveries in the Judean Desert series; the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum; and the Inscriptiones Graecae project) but a collection of such material centred on Judaea/Palestine is a late and welcome addition to the pool of resources for biblical scholars.

The authors of the series have chosen to divide inscriptions geographically as well as chronologically. The quantity of inscriptions from the Jerusalem area has resulted in the decision to divide the inscriptions from this region into two volumes: this, the second volume, focuses on material from AD 70 to the Arab conquest. The numbers given in the text title refer to internal inscription reference numbers, not years.

Entries in this volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palestinae are arranged chronologically. The book’s first section (labelled “A”) covers the period from 70 to the reign of Constantine, subdividing the individual entries according to topic (“Inscriptions of a Religious Character,” “Building Inscriptions,” “Emperors and Senators,” “Funerary Inscriptions,” “Instrumentum domesticum,” varia and fragments).

The second section (“B”) pertains to inscriptions from the period of Constantine to the Arab conquest (with the subdivisions “Imperial Constitutions,” “Inscriptions of an Ecclesiastical and Religious Character,” “Inscriptions Found in Situ,” “Inscriptions with No Provenance”). Sections C through G cover miscellaneous inscriptions, including funerary inscriptions of the later periods, varia and inscriptions of “uncertain type.” Inscriptions are in Armenian, Coptic, Georgian, Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic. Transliteration keys for the Armenian, Coptic, Georgian and Hebrew and Aramaic scripts can be found at the front, along with abbreviations, diacriticals and author sigla. An index of personal names and maps of Jerusalem and Judaea are located at the back of the volume. An appendix comprising “a number of inscriptions, which, for various reasons, have not been included in the previous chapters” (p. v) is also at the end of the text.

The format of each entry is similar to that found in other printed inscription collections. Each inscription is given a reference number and a designation, for example: “739. Fragment of a Latin burial inscription, 2–3 c. AD (p. 42).” A description of the physical item follows; the findspot of the piece is given (if known); and its current location (if known). A typed copy of the inscription is provided alongside a photo for the reader to compare (where available), followed by the critical apparatus with probable textual re-constructions as relevant. Each entry then has a transliteration of the inscription text with an English translation followed by a commentary, bibliography of important relevant texts, and image credits, where applicable. Sigla indicate which author has penned a particular entry.

The length of the entries varies depending on the material under discussion. Inscriptions of known provenance or particular interest (including entries under considerable academic dispute, such as the funerary inscription of deacon Nonnus, 266–69) are understandably given more attention (sometimes running to several pages) and have larger lists of bibliographic references. Fragments have less detail. Not all entries have accompanying images: some contain brief descriptions of inscriptions previously recorded and now lost.

This volume has very few drawbacks. The preface makes it clear that much of the methodology behind the series is presented in the first volume and not repeated in subsequent publications. The collection of material into the appendix is not fully explained or described in the contents, making it difficult to identify material unless one is willing to go through each entry individually. This causes frustration if one is interested in doing linguistic analysis, for example. Likewise, a concordance of oft-recurring words would have been a useful inclusion. None of these detract from the value of the work.

Even with the increased online availability and digitisation of ancient texts, this work proves a valuable resource through its careful annotations and bibliographies. The inscriptions do not ‘float in a void’ as can often seem the case in online collections: they are presented within an interpretive framework. As a reference work, it is unparalleled and an essential addition to any serious biblical scholar’s references.

Review by
La Trobe University