“Inventory of Structurally Important Literary Features in the Anonymous and Pseudepigraphic Jewish Literatures of Antiquity”

This is an exciting project that our colleagues at Manchester and Durham have been working on. News from Alex Samely:
Dear Colleagues,

I have pleasure in announcing the availability of a new terminological framework for the analysis of ancient Jewish literature, the “Inventory of Structurally Important Literary Features in the Anonymous and Pseudepigraphic Jewish Literatures of Antiquity”.

This Inventory gathers together all the basic literary options available to ancient Jewish text makers and puts them into a systematic order. It is available in PDF and web-based formats from:


The Inventory identifies literary structures found in any one of the anonymous or pseudepigraphic works of ancient Judaism. The corpus on which the Inventory is based includes the Pseudepigrapha, the Apocrypha, the Dead Sea Scrolls (only near-complete texts are included), and rabbinic literature to the end of the Babylonian Talmud.

Several hundred features are defined and organized in a systematic order under twelve main headings. Each feature is illustrated by one or more ancient text containing it.

The categories reflect insights drawn from a large variety of modern disciplines, including philology, literary studies, text linguistics, discourse analysis, narratology and post-structuralism.

The Inventory is the first major result of a four-year research project funded by the AHRC which started in 2007 at Manchester and Durham Universities.

The website also has a discussion forum. Scholars are invited to share observations on, and experiences with, the Inventory or related questions.

A Database of literary Profiles is being prepared which applies the Inventory to individual texts from the Project corpus. Scholars may be given pre-publication access to the Database if they wish to create a Profile, under their own name, for a text with which they are concerned. Please get in touch with me if you are interested in this.

There will be a workshop on problems in the literary analysis of post-biblical Jewish literature in Manchester on 11-12 July 2011. The workshop will be discussion-based, but also introduce the use of the Inventory and of the pre-publication Database for sample texts, including texts suggested by participants. The workshop is open to colleagues, post-docs and postgraduate research students working on any ancient Jewish or related text. There is assistance with travel costs and accommodation is free. A document is attached containing further details and a registration form. It is also available from the Project website:


Alexander Samely

Alexander Samely
Professor of Jewish Thought
Co-Director, Centre for Jewish Studies
Middle Eastern Studies / Languages, Linguistics and Cultures, Samuel Alexander Building
The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK
Tel. (0)161-2753072
Research Project: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/ancientjewishliterature/
Midrash Database: http://mishnah.llc.manchester.ac.uk/home.aspx

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