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Kanaanaische und aramaische Inschriften.

Kanaanaische und aramaische Inschriften, vol. 1. Fifth expanded and revised ed. By HERBERT DONNER and WOLFGANG ROLLIG. Wiesbaden: HARRASSOWITZ VERLAG, 2002. Pp. xviii + 79. [euro]24.80 (paper).

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Mark Lidzbarski's Handbuch der nordsemitischen Epigraphik (Weimar, 1898) and G. A. Cooke's A Text-Book of North-Semitic Inscriptions (Oxford, 1903) were the most useful and authoritative handbooks of Northwest Semitic inscriptions, with fine selections of texts and accompanying philological and historical comments. These volumes were broad in nature, and treated Aramaic (including Nabataean and Palmyrene), Phoenician and Punic, Hebrew, and Moabite. During subsequent decades, a number of handbooks were published, but normally these reflected narrower foci. For example, epigraphic Hebrew was the predominant focus of both David Diringer's handbook entitled Le Inscrizioni Antico-Ebraiche Palestinesi (Florence, 1934) and Sabatino Moscati's L'Epigrafia Ebraica Antica: 1935-1950 (Rome, 1951).

For this reason, during the middle of the twentieth century, there was a distinct need for a new handbook of Northwest Semitic. Herbert Donner and Wolfgang Rollig's first edition (1962) of Kanaanaische und aramaische Inschriften (abbreviated KAI) was, therefore, a most welcome addition to the field of Northwest Semitic, and it rapidly became a standard reference work. It consisted of three separate volumes, comprising Texte; Kommentar; and Glossare, Indizes, Tafeln. The most important component of this handbook was, arguably, the philological notes (replete with variant readings) of volume two.

Several editions of KAI were published; regrettably, however, all three volumes have now been out of print for well more than a decade. Of course, John C. L. Gibson's three-volume Textbook of Syrian Semitic Inscriptions (Oxford, 1971-82) has been an important handbook of Northwest Semitic. Moreover, Shmuel Ahituv's (modern Hebrew) Handbook of Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions (Jerusalem, 1992) is useful not only for First and Second Temple Hebrew, but also (to some extent) for Ammonite, Moabite, Philistine, and Edomite. And naturally, Johannes Renz and Wolfgang Rollig's multivolume Die althebraischen Inschriften (Darmstadt, 1995-2003) is a sine qua non for Old Hebrew. Nevertheless, because of its broad and deft selection of Northwest Semitic linear texts and the high caliber of the philological notes, KAI has continued to be the most authoritative and useful handbook of Northwest Semitic.

For these reasons, the publication of this fifth edition of volume one of KAI is most welcome. It contains various corrections to earlier editions and, most importantly, a supplement with some forty additional Phoenician, Punic, Aramaic, Moabite, and Ammonite inscriptions (nos. 280-320 in the fifth edition). With regard to the "new" inscriptions contained in this volume, readers will be pleased to find the following sorts of materials: the monumental epigraphs from Tel Miqne and Kition, as well as the Tell Fakhariyeh Bilingual (Aramaic and Akkadian), the Tel Dan Stele, the Tell Siran Bronze Bottle, the Amman Citadel Inscription, the Deir 'Alla Plaster Texts, and the el-Kerak Fragment. Following the precedent of previous editions, the texts of this volume are printed in block-script Hebrew, and there are no photos, hand-drawings, or comments (such things were, of course, printed in volumes two and three of KAI).

Rollig states (pp. xiii-xiv) that volume three of KAI will soon be republished in a new edition as well, with a brief bibliography replete with reference to the most useful secondary sources for the fifth edition of volume one and a revised and augmented glossary. Specialists and students within the field will look forward with anticipation to the publication of this volume. However, Rollig also states there is no plan to publish a new edition of volume two (the commentary volume) of KAI. This is most disappointing, because this volume reflects rare philological erudition. It is hoped that this decision will be reconsidered and, at the very least, a reprint of volume two will be published. In sum, the fifth edition of volume one merits accolades, and the forthcoming publication of a revised volume three is also most helpful. However, the decision not to republish volume two will mean that there will continue to be a lacuna in the field.


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Title Annotation:Kanaanaische und aramaische Inschriften, vol. 1, 5th ed.
Author:Rollston, Christopher A.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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