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A New Approach to the Evolution of Texts Based on the Manuscripts of the Targums

Objective

TEXTEVOLVE will study the Targums. Targums are Jewish Aramaic paraphrases of the Hebrew Bible. They are important because they provide a unique insight into what Jews believed God was saying to them through their sacred texts at transformative moments in Jewish history, particularly the aftermath of the First Jewish-Roman War (66–74 CE). The state of the art in the study of the Targums is defined by 1) methodology, and 2) the primary sources that are available. TEXTEVOLVE will go beyond the state of the art in both areas.

Methodology — We do not possess the author’s original copy of any Targum. Rather, in most cases we have multiple copies preserved in much later manuscripts, all of which differ one from another. Existing methodology aims to reconstruct the earliest possible form of the text. But changes made by later copyists also yield important insights into evolving Jewish culture, theology, and praxis. Therefore TEXTEVOLVE reframes the dominant research question in the field so that neither the importance of the original wording nor the significance of subsequent changes is neglected. It asks: How did the text of the Targums evolve over time and why? TEXTEVOLVE will develop a new methodology, called Evolutionary Philology, that is capable of addressing this core question. It will use techniques from evolutionary biology that have not previously been applied to texts to achieve this. This will have implications across disciplines that work with historical texts.

Primary Sources — To ensure the most robust possible dataset, TEXTEVOLVE will expand the pool of primary sources available for analysis. TEXTEVOLVE will find Targum manuscripts that have been ‘lost’ in un-catalogued or poorly catalogued collections, and will analyse for the first time recently discovered manuscripts from the ‘European Genizah’. Since the available primary sources define the boundaries of any discipline, this is the second major way in which TEXTEVOLVE goes beyond the state of the art.

Field of science

  • /humanities/history and archaeology/history
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/evolutionary biology

Call for proposal

ERC-2018-COG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-COG - Consolidator Grant

Host institution

KATHOLIEKE UNIVERSITEIT LEUVEN
Address
Oude Markt 13
3000 Leuven
Belgium
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 933 574,16

Beneficiaries (2)

KATHOLIEKE UNIVERSITEIT LEUVEN
Belgium
EU contribution
€ 1 933 574,16
Address
Oude Markt 13
3000 Leuven
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
CARDIFF UNIVERSITY
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 32 684,84
Address
Newport Road 30-36
CF24 ODE Cardiff
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments