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William H.C. Propp (Revised by Jeffrey H. Tigay, 1997; updated November, 2005)
             A  graduate  essay is very different from  an  undergraduate 
        paper.  It should focus on an issue only as large as the writer
        can master.  To master an issue means to examine all the evi-
        dence, to confirm or refute claims made by predecessors (no
        longer "authorities"), to consider all the angles (including
        logic or evidence opposed to your conclusion) and to make an
        honest effort to read and respond to every prior scholarly treat-
        ment.  Be responsibly original (but since you are still a stu-
        dent, you may be a little irresponsible), and do not hesi-
        tate to disagree courteously with established scholars, including
        your teachers.  A negative conclusion is as important as a posi-
        tive one, and the field is littered with speculations wanting
        rebuttal.  Always write with a view toward publication, but don't
        let that goal inhibit you in the early stages, for perfectionism
        has paralyzed many a scholar.  No one covers all the bases; 
        everyone makes mistakes, including the stupid kind; no work is
        ever finished, merely dropped. 
             Presumably you will be doing most of your research at the
        VPL and CAJS* libraries. Whatever they lack may be obtained
        through inter-library loan, but that can take weeks, so make your
        requests early. 
             There  is a fairly standard procedure which will enable  you 
        to treat rigorously any subject to which you turn your attention.
             The first steps in the analysis of a biblical passage 
        are establishing the original text by the tools of textual criti-
        cism and determining the meaning of every word and phrase. 
        Logically, establishing the text precedes determining the meaning, 
        but in practice the two steps are interdependent: it is not always 
        practical to do an exhaustive search for the variants of every
	word (in the future, HUB [see below] may make this more feasible),
        so problems in determining the meaning of a particular passage in
	the MT are often the first stimulus to searching for variant readings, 
	and decisions about the original reading depend in part on which
	makes most sense. 

             1. For textual criticism, the standard critical edition of the 
	Bible is Biblia Hebraica (the best known editions are the Kittel
	and Stuttgart editions, BHK and BHS respectively). 

		There are several guides to BHK and BHS: E. Würthwein, 
		The Text of the Old Testament (BS 1136 W813 1995); R.
		Wonneberger, Understanding BHS (BS715 1990); and W. R.
		Scott, A Simplified guide to BHS: critical apparatus, 
		masora, accents, unusual letters & other markings (CAJS
		BS715 S36 1987). There is also a table of BHS's abbre-
		viations in E. Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible
		(Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), pp.  376-377. 

	Biblia Hebraica is not really a reliable guide to variants,
	but at best an early warning system.  At worst it is misleading or 
	erroneous. See H.M. Orlinsky, "The Textual Criticism of the OT,"
	in The Bible and the Ancient Near East, ed. G.E. Wright, pp. 
	140-169; E. Tov's review of BHS in Shnaton 4 (1980):172-180
	(Hebrew); and F. Deist, Towards the Text of the Old Testament 
	(BS1136.D44 1981), excursus on "The Würtembergische Bibelanstalt 
	editions."  For certainty, the 	actual manuscripts or ancient 
	translations (in critical editions when they exist) must be
	checked, especially if citing a reading in a paper. 

	     A far more thorough critical edition is The Hebrew 
	University Bible (HUB). It illustrates the complexity 
        of the discipline though, unfortunately, at present it exists
        only for Isaiah (BS1515.2 .G63), Jeremiah (BS1525.2 .T68 1997), 
        and Ezekiel. The theoretical basis of HUB is
        spelled out by M. H. Goshen-Gottstein, The Book of Isaiah -- 
        Sample Edition with Introduction (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1965)
        (BS1515.2 .G6 1965). The HUB Project also publishes the periodical
        Textus (JANES: BS/410/T45/), which is dedicated to the
        study of text-criticism and the primary sources on which it is
             There are two types of textual witnesses: those whose proto-
        types  antedate the canonization of the Hebrew  consonantal  text 
        (first  century C.E.) and those from a later time.  In the  first 
        group  we have the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Old Greek (OG; the  term 
        "Septuagint" [LXX] properly refers only to the Torah; some  books 
        of  the  OG may be later than the Hebrew  canonization)  and  the 
        Samaritan Pentateuch (SP).  
             For  an index to biblical texts at Qumran, see J.  Fitzmyer, 
             The  Dead Sea Scrolls: Major Publications and  Tools  for 
             Study (BM 487Z F5 1977) and Eugene Ulrich, "An Index  of 
             the  Passages  in the Biblical Manuscripts from  the  Judean 
             Desert  (Genesis-Kings),"  Dead  Sea  Discoveries   1 
             The  best  editions of OG are those of A.E.  Brooke  and  N. 
             McLean   (the  "Cambridge  Septuagint")  and   J.   Ziegler, 
             Septuaginta:   Vetus   Testamentum   Graecum     (the 
             "Göttingen  Septuagint") (both editions are in RS*  and 
             CAJS*).  Since  we do not possess the original  OG,  you  must 
             examine  the  variants  in the  MSS  (often,  unfortunately, 
             revised  back to conform with the Hebrew) to  ascertain  the 
             original  Greek  reading.   These two  editions  have  ample 
             citations of variants; in a pinch, Rahlfs' Septuaginta,   
             an abridged edition based on the Göttingen edition, will  do 
             (JANES*, BS41.R3 1935), as will Swete's The Old Testament in Greek 
             (JANES, BS 41 S8 1909). If you do not yet know Greek, you can
             check the translation  of Sir Lancelot C. Brenton, The Septuagint 
             version of the Old Testament. With an English   Translation, 
             and  with  various readings and critical  notes  (JANES, 
             BS742 B74 1971), but the text is uncritical. (The English 
             translation alone, without the Greek, is found at 
    A new English 
             translation of the Septuagint, called, appropriately,  The 
             New English Translation of the Septuagint" ("NETS") is now 
             complete. See Finally, there is
             the multi-volume annotated edition in French, La Bible 
             d'Alexandrie. See A 
             list of the Penn library's holdings in this series can be 
             seen if you do a title search for "Bible. O.T. French. Bible
             Valuable  for  using the OG are E. Hatch and  H.A.  Redpath, 
             A  Concordance  to the Septuagint  (BS1122.H3  1954), 
             which gives all the Greek-Hebrew equivalences. T. Muraoka's 
             Hebrew/Aramaic Index to the Septuagint gives all the
             equivalents in reverse, that is, it lists all the Hebrew and
             Aramaic words in the Bible and then cites all their Greek
             equivalents in LXX. This is very valuable for seeing the 
             various different ways a word is rendered in the LXX, and
             whether the word used in a given passage is one used normally
             or rarely. Muraoka's index is published in the new edition of
             Hatch-Redpath and also appeared separately as a  paperback 
             (both published  by Baker Books, 1998).  Note also the LXX  
             dictionaries A Greek-English Lexicon of the 
             Septuagint, by J. Lust et al (RS, PA781.L8 1992), and T.
             Muraoka, A Greek-English Lexicon of  the Septuagint. 
             Twelve Prophets (Louvain:  Peeters, 1993).  See also 
             S.P. Brock et al., A classified bibliography of the
             Septuagint (Leiden, Brill, 1973;  VPL Z7772.A1  B7)  and 
             Cecile Dogniez, Bibliography of the Septuagint =
             Bibliographie de la Septante (1970-1993) (Supplements
             to Vetus Testamentum, 60; Leiden:  Brill, 1995; VPL BS410.V452
             v.60). -- Keep in mind that the value of the OG is not 
	     limited to textual criticism; it is also useful for its 
	     exegetical value as an early commentary on the Bible, 
             sometimes preserving otherwise forgotten meanings of words, 
             and as evidence for the literary development of certain 
             Biblical books. Three useful works on these aspects of the OG 
             are K.H. Jobes and M. Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint 
             (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2000) and Emanuel Tov's 
             Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, chap. 7, and The 
             Text-critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research, 
             chap. VIII.    
             The  Samaritan  Pentateuch is also based  upon  a  prototype 
             antedating canonization. The critical edition, listing  vari-
             ants in different MSS, is that of A. von Gall (in JANES);  a 
             very  helpful  edition,  based on two  old  manuscripts  and 
             laying  out SP and MT in parallel columns  with  differences 
             highlighted,  is A. and R. Sadaqa, Jewish  and  Samaritan 
             Version  of  the Pentateuch (Tel Aviv and  Holon,  1961-
             1965;  JANES). 
             Post-canonization  versions such as the Latin  Vulgate,  the 
        Aramaic  Targumim or the Syriac Peshitta are less  important  for 
        textual  criticism because they are generally based  upon  either 
        the  traditional  Hebrew  or Greek texts and  do  not  constitute 
        independent witnesses. It is not that they never reflect  genuine 
        variants, but these are hard to find.  There are translations  to 
        assist in understanding these versions: the Douay translation  of 
        the  Vulgate; translations of the Targums by  Etheridge,  Drazin, 
        Aberbach and Grossfeld, and Diez-Macho, and especially the 
        multi-volume, annotated The Aramaic Bible, under the  
        editorship of Martin McNamara; and George Lamsa's trans-
        lation  of the Peshitta, The Holy Bible from  Ancient  Eastern 
        Manuscripts  (Philadelphia: Holman, 1933).  Of course,  there 
        are  translations  of the Bible into virtually every  human  lan-
        guage,  but in the establishment of the pristine text we  decide, 
        not by plebiscite, but by reason applied to independent  witness-
             On  the  other hand, if your interest is in the  history  of 
        interpretation,  the ancient translations  valuable and you  must 
        consult  them.  Bear in mind that if you challenge  a  prevailing 
        view,  you must account for its origin, and in such projects  one 
        cannot ignore the history of the understanding of the Bible.  
             For   more  information  on  textual  criticism  see Tov's 
        Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible and his The Text-
        critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research; S. Jelli-
        coe,  The Septuagint and Modern Study (BS 744 J44); R.  W. 
        Klein,  Textual  Criticism of the Old Testament  (BS  1136 
        K58) and Würthwein, The Text of the Old Testament (BS 
        1136 W 813 1919). See also M. Greenberg, "The Use of the  Ancient 
        Versions for Interpreting the Hebrew Text: A Sampling from Ezeki-
        el  2:1-3:11,"  in  his  Studies  in  the  Bible  and   Jewish 
        Thought (Philadelphia: JPS, 1995), pp. 209-225. 
             2. For ascertaining the meaning of every word, or phrase, in a 
        given passage one consults all other attestations in the Bible. 
	The aim is to find decisive  examples of the meaning or 
	nuance you think is present in the verse you are studying; that
	is, passages where the meaning or nuance is not merely possible but
	inescapable. Use a concordance, such as Mandelkern's, Lisowsky's or 
	Even-Shoshan's. Each of these is valuable for different purposes.  
	Mandelkern's - the classic work -- breaks down each root into each
	of its inflected forms, so you can see how it is used in various
	conjugations, with various prepositions, etc. Even-Shoshan, at the
	beginning of each entry, classifies the words in terms of the
	combinations and idiomatic phrases in which they appear. Lisowsky 
        is largely limited to nouns and verbs. It subdivides the verbs by
        their conjugations and the nouns by their status as subject,
        object, or other, and then lists the words in the order in which
        they appear in the Bible irrespective of person, number, prefix, 
        suffix, etc; it is valuable for tracking all the occurrences of a
        word in a particular book, part of a book, group of books, or

		In addition to concordances, consult the dictionary of 
        Brown, Driver and Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old
        Testament (BDB)(1907), which is practically a concordance and
        is very acute in its treatment of semantic nuances and will alert
        you to nuances you never suspected.  Valuable for the same reasons
        is F. Buhl's revision of W. Gesenius's Hebräisches und
        Aramäisches Handwörterbuch uber das alte Testament (GB)(1915). 
        Helpful, too, is Bruce Einspahr's Index to Brown, Driver, & 
        Briggs Hebrew Lexicon (Chicago: Moody Press, 1977), which 
        lists all of BDB's citations of every verse in the Bible. A more
        up-to-date dictionary is The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the
        Old Testament (HALOT), ed. L. Koehler, W, Baumgartner, and
        J.J. Stamm (this is the  English version of a German  original, 
        HALAT; it's also available on a CD-ROM);  it's  more up-to-date, 
        especially with regard to other Semitic languages (esp. Ugaritic
        and Akkadian), but not as thorough as BDB and GB, particularly
        with regard to nuances.  In any case, examine the evidence cited
        by all these works critically -- don't just take their word 
        regarding the nuances of the Hebrew vocables and especially about
        the nuances of the comparative evidence. 
             A very important step is to analyze each word grammatically   
        so as to identify the exact subject, gender and number of nouns 
        and adjectives, the subject, gender, tense and conjugation of 
        verbs (and which function of the conjugation is intended), and 
        to identify aspects of each word that may seem different from 
        what one might expect in the light of the context. For help in 
        the  grammatical analysis, consult Biblical Hebrew grammars,  
        such as:
             M. Greenberg, Introduction to Hebrew
             Gesenius'  Hebrew  Grammar, ed. E. Kautzsch  and  A.E. 
             Cowley  (Oxford:  Clarendon, 1966 etc. [latest  reprint  has 
             expanded  index]).  PJ4564.G5  1966  (copies  in  JANES  and 
             stacks) (abbrev. Gesenius-Kautzsch-Cowley or GKC)
             P.  Joüon,  Grammaire   de   l'Hebreu   Biblique.  
             Rome:   Institut  Biblique Pontifical,  1923.  Revised  Eng. 
             trans.  by T. Muraoka, A Grammar of  Biblical  Hebrew  
             (Rome:  Pontifical Biblical Institute,  1991).  PJ4567.J7613 
             Eduard  König, Historisch-kritiches lehrgebaude  der 
             hebräischen sprache (Leipzig, J.C. Hinrichs,  1881-
             1897), 3 vols. JANES 492.15 K815.2.
             Bruce  K.  Waltke and M.P. O'Connor, An  Introduction  to 
             Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, Ind.:  Eisenbrauns, 
             1990). JANES PJ4707.W35 1990 
             J.  Blau,  A Grammar of Biblical  Hebrew  (Wiesbaden: 
             Harrassowitz, 1976). PJ4567.B625
             S.R.  Driver,  A  Treatise on the Use of  the  Tenses  in 
             Hebrew  and  some  other Syntactical  Questions  2d  ed. 
             (Oxford:  Clarendon, 1881). JANES PJ4647.D7 1881, and  repr. 
             in stacks PJ4647.D7 1969. The 1998 Eerdmans-Dove reprint 
             includes a valuable introduction by W. Randall Garr (see the 
             review by S.E. Fassberg in JQR 100 (1999):170-72).             
             A.B. Davidson, Hebrew Syntax

	     Benjamin Davidson, The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee
             Lexicon 2d. ed. (1850; repr. Peabody MA: Hendrickson,
             2000) lists all attested forms of each word alphabetically
             and parses them (including an identification of the
             declension of each noun and an explanation of the declensions
             on pp. 58-77 and 87-90). 
             Most  of these have word and verse indexes to help you  find 
             an analysis of the phenomenon or passage you are working on. 
             The most thorough is in König's Historisch-kritiches 
             Lehrgebaude.  F.C. Putnam's A Cumulative Index to  the 
             Grammar  and Syntax of Biblical Hebrew (Eisenbrauns, 
             indexes several scholarly grammars and may have the most 
             thorough verse (though not word) index. 

             Of course there will be times when a text remains difficult.  
        You  have two recourses: (1) conjectural emendation,  based  upon 
        plausible errors such as transposition, dittography,  haplography 
        or the confusion of similar letters (for all these see the liter-
        ature on textual criticism cited above), or (2) the  philological 
             3. The philological method applies the fruits of the compar-
        ative  study  of ancient, especially Semitic,  languages  to  the 
        Hebrew  text.  A rare word or structure in the Bible might  prove 
        to  be common in another language.  But you should  mistrust  the 
        obsolete  etymologies  of  BDB; consult  rather  HALAT/HALOT  or, 
        better  still,  authoritative dictionaries of  the  languages  in 
        question.   In  rough  order of kinship to  Hebrew,  the  cognate 
        languages are Rabbinic Hebrew, Moabite and Ammonite,  Phoenician, 
        Ugaritic, Aramaic, Arabic, Akkadian, Old South Arabic,  Ethiopic.  
        Do  not  be fooled by the multiplicity of definitions  of  words, 
        especially in Arabic; look for the root sense.  Know the rules of 
        phonetic  correspondence (they can be found in S. Moscati,  An 
        Introduction   to   the  Comparative  Grammar  of   the   Semitic 
        Languages  [PJ 3021 M6]); they work 99% of the time, so  vio-
        late  them at your peril.  If there does seem to be some  irregu-
        larity, consider the possibility of a loan word.
             The  following  are some major dictionaries of  the  Semitic 
             Akkadian  CAD and W. von Soden, Akkadisches  Hand-
             wörterbuch (Akkadian); based on the latter is 
	     Jeremy Black et al., A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian.
             Arabic.  E.  Lane, Arabic-English Dictionary (classical)
             (now available on a CD-ROM). On using Arabic see  
             "On the Use of Arabic in Comparative Philological Study." 
             Aramaic.  Marcus  Jastrow, A Dictionary  of the   
             Targumim, the Talmud Babli, etc.;  (2) Michael Sokoloff,
             A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic of the 
             Byzantine Period; A Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian 
	     Aramaic; A Dictionary of Judean Aramaic.
             Ethiopic.    A.    Dillmann,    Lexicon     Linguae 
             Aethiopicae; note also Wolf Leslau, Ethiopic and South 
             Arabic Contributions to the Hebrew Lexicon. 
             Northwest  Semitic inscriptions. J. Hoftijzer  and  K. 
             Jongeling, Dictionary of the North-West Semitic  Inscrip-
             Rabbinic  Hebrew. (1) Marcus Jastrow, A  Dictionary 
             of the Targumim, Talmud Babli, etc.; (2) E. Ben Yehudah, 
             South Arabic. (1) J.C. Biella, Dictionary of Old South 
             Arabic,   Sabaean  dialect;  (2)  A.F.L.  Beeston  et   al., 
             Sabaic Dictionary   (English-French-Arabic). 

             Syriac.  (1)  C.  Brockelmann;  (2)  R.  Payne  Smith, 
             Thesaurus Syriacus; (3)  J. Payne Smith, A  Compen-
             dious Syriac Dictionary. 
             Ugaritic.  C.  Gordon, Ugaritic  Textbook  (for 
             bibliography  of  more recent studies see  the  articles  of 
             Dennis Pardee in Archiv für Orientforschung   34 
             [1987]:366-471; 36/37 [1989/90]:390-513)
             A study devoted to words that appear only once in the  Bible 
             (hapax  legomena) is H.R. Cohen, Biblical Hapax  Legomena 
             in the Light of Akkadian and Ugaritic. 
             However,  there are many problems and pitfalls  involved  in 
        using  comparative  philology to understand the  Bible.  See  the 
        important  study by James Barr Comparative philology  and  the 
        Text  of  the Old Testament (Oxford, Clarendon  Press,  1968; 
        recently reprinted by Eisenbrauns; VPL PJ4544 B37). 
             4.  Never forget to examine the context of the  passage  you 
        are studying; it might give it an entirely different meaning, and 
        you will be embarrassed when this is pointed out to you.
             5.  Look  for passages in the Bible or  cognate  literatures 
        similar  or comparable to that which you study; similarities  and 
        differences can alike be enlightening.  But never forget that the 
        Bible, not to mention all ancient literature, is the work of many 
        people  who  do not use words and phrases in precisely  the  same 
        way.  Parallels often point out the possible, rather than consti-
        tute proof.
             6.  Try  to envision social, economic or  political  factors 
        that may have affected your text.  Note any relevant  archeologi-
        cal evidence.  Even when dealing with linguistic minutiae, it  is 
        important  to remember that the Bible did not exist in a  vacuum.  
        Presumably,  for instance, many of the words found only  once  in 
        the Bible were very common in day-to-day speech.
             7.  Envision ramifications of your view in the Bible  or  in 
        material  remains; see if such exist and if they are  susceptible 
        of alternative explanation.
             8.  Do  not be discouraged if some evidence doesn't  fit  or 
        argues  contrary to your view.  If such data did not  exist,  the 
        odds  are that your solution would have been so obvious it  would 
        have been seen long ago.  But you should try to account for these 
        difficulties.  Ideally, you should weigh several explanations  of 
        a problem and see which fits best with known data.
             9. At some point, of course, you must consider other  schol-
        ars' treatments of your text.  If you do this at the beginning of 
        your  research  you will know where the issues  stand  and  avoid 
        duplicating the work of others; if you do this after the bulk  of 
        your  own work you will have avoided being biased by the  results 
        of others and perhaps will have seen something new.  Some  schol-
        ars  prefer  the latter approach: they do their  own  work,  then 
        correct  it  in light of the opinions of others, who  often  have 
        seen  what they have missed.  Of course, one can find  one's  own 
        medium between these two extremes.
             Locating  earlier treatments is a matter of  both  detective 
        work  and  luck.  Experience will sharpen your  research  skills.  
        For  example, you may know of a book on a subject  tangential  to 
        your  own  whose index can direct you to sources you  really  re-
        quire.   But there are several publications whose sole aim is  to 
        facilitate your research.  Every scholar should be familiar  with 
        the following:
             (1)  Many  journals  periodically  publish  indices  listing 
        everything that has appeared in the journal since the last index. 
        Most  exhaustive is the Elenchus Bibliographicus  Biblicus  
        (vols.  1-48 [1920-1967] bound with Biblica 1-48;  in  RS: 
        BS/410/B7;  since  vol.  49  [1968]  bound  separately;  in   RS: 
        Z/7770/E44  [RS]).  This is a huge, yearly  index  of  everything 
        published anywhere related to the Bible.  It is difficult to use, 
        and  its organization is altered every few years.  Look first  at 
        the  index in the back.  Unfortunately, it is several  years  be-
        hind.   In   addition,  the   journals   Orientalia    and 
        Syria (both in JANES) publish yearly indices in the fields 
        of  Assyriology  and  Epigraphy, respectively.   Know,  too,  the 
        Annual Egyptological Bibliography. 
             (2)  We have, in book form, the card catalogue of the  Ecole 
        biblique  et  archeologique  de  Jerusalem,  Catalogue  de  la  
        bibliotheque   de   l'ecole   biblique   de   jerusalem   (in 
        JANES:  BS/417/E3/1983). It lists works (including  articles)  by 
        author, title, subject and by Biblical chapter and verse.   Since 
        the Ecole has a huge biblical collection, almost everything  ever 
        written is listed. A CD-ROM version of this catalogue is now 
             (3)  Index  of Articles on Jewish Studies  (known  as 
        RAMBI  from its Hebrew title Reshimat Ma'amarim  be-Madacei  
	ha-Yahadut, includes articles on the Bible in Hebrew and other
	languages, and is probably the most thorough source for Israeli and  
	Hebrew publications. For the on-line version see
        ~libnet/rmb" (N.B. this should be entered as a single string
	of characters, with no empty spaces) or see the link in Franklin under 
	the call number BM1.I634.

             (4)  Less  compendious than the above, are (a)  the  journal 
        Old  Testament  Abstracts,  a list of  books  and  articles 
        loosely  grouped  by  subject  with an index  in  the  back;  (b) 
        Internazionale  Zeitschriftenschau  fur Bibelwissenschaft  und 
        Grenzgebiete (in JANES: BS/410/I583) (abbreviated IZBG);  and 
        Paul-Emile  Langevin,  Bibliotheque  Biblique  (in  JANES: 
        BS/410/L35).  Almost, but not quite, useless is (d) the  Index 
        to Religious Periodical Literature.  Its purview is simply too 
        broad to cover the field.
             (5) Among encyclopedias, the following are noteworthy: 
             Entsyqlopedia Miqra'it (Encyclopaedia  Biblica, 
             in Hebrew; 8 volumes plus index volume); in JANES:BS/440/E5. 
             Thorough  and excellent, especially for  matters  historical 
             and  archaeological,  though the first three  volumes,  pub-
             lished  in the fifties, were not up to the standard  reached 
             in the remaining volumes. 
             Anchor  Bible Dictionary. 6 vols. 1992 (Ref  BS440.A54 
             1992) (abbreviated ABD). Articles are generally thorough and 
             up-to-date, but finding the topic you want can sometimes  be 
             maddening. An index may be planned. 
             The   Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (4   vol-
             umes   plus  supplementary  volume;   in  JANES   and   Ref:  
             BS/440/I63)  (abbreviated  IDB). Aging but  still  extremely 
             F.  Vigouroux, Dictionnaire de la Bible. The  original 
             edition is out of date, but the supplement has much valuable 
             material.  JANES BS440.V7 Suppl. and  VPL Yarnall 203 
             V688 Suppl.
             Theological  Dictionary   of  the  Old  Testament (11 
             volumes   to date [German original is complete]); in  JANES: 
             BS/440/B5713) (abbreviated TDOT). More useful than you would 
             think from its name, and the same is true of the Theolog-
             ical Dictionary of the New Testament (RS). The trick  to 
             using these is to think of a Hebrew or Greek word likely  to 
             have an entry.  The discussions are often very technical and 
             have  little to do with theology. [On one occasion the  pub-
             lisher of the English translation, Eerdmans in Grand  Rapids 
             Mich., was helpful in providing galley proofs of the English 
             translation  of an article in not-yet-published  volume;  if 
             you need to try this, contact Alan Myers there, at  616-549-
             4591, or]
             E.  Jenni & Claus Westermann, Theological Lexicon of  the 
             Old Testament, 3 vols. (Hendrickson, 1997) is a more 
             concise theological lexicon, also very useful. 
             Encyclopaedia    Judaica    (16   volumes; in   JANES   
             and   Ref: DS/102.8/E52 and E53) (abbreviated EJ). 
             For older views, a handy and thorough source is Hasting's 
             Dictionary  of  the Bible; it often has the  fullest  and 
             most  clearly  presented collection of  the  Biblical  data, 
             though it is very out-of-date regarding extrabiblical data. 
             M. Avi-Yonah and E. Stern's Encyclopedia of  Archaeologi-
             cal  Excavations in the Holy Land is a  handy  reference 
             tool for archaeological excavations, listed by site  (unfor-
             tunately there is no index of artifacts found). 
             Of  course you will want to consult commentaries  regularly. 
        For a compendium of rabbinic interpretation on the Torah, partic-
        ularly  Midrash, consult M.M. Kasher's  Torah Shlemah. Most of the 
        classical medieval Jewish commentaries, such as Rashi, Ibn Ezra, 
	Rashbam, Radak (Kimhi), Ramban (Nachmanides), and Seforno, are 
	printed in non-critical editions in Miqra'ot Gedolot. There
	are critical editions of the rabbinic and medieval commentaries
	(including many further medievals such as Bekhor Shor, Hazzekuni,
	and Ralbag [Gersonides]; some of Abravanel is now out in a ctitical 
	edition). There are now also two critical editions of Miqra'ot 
	Gedolot: Torat Hayyim on the Torah alone, and Bar Ilan 
	University's Miqra'ot Gedolot HaKeter edited by Menahem Cohen 
	(Genesis, Former Prophets, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Psalms have 
	appeared as of November, 2005).  
             Modern  commentaries are too numerous to list here, but  two 
        that have particularly valuable methodological introductions must 
        be mentioned: Moshe Greenberg's commentary on Ezekiel, vol 1. pp. 
        18-27, and  Adele Berlin's commentary on Zephaniah, pp. 17-31,  
        both in the Anchor Bible Series. For further methodological  
        observations by  Greenberg,  see  his  Studies  in  the  Bible  and  
        Jewish Thought, pp. 209-243. 
             This is hardly a complete list of the tools of the trade. 
        Please consult your teachers for further tips on resources, as
        well as advice on writing a paper.  But this at least should give
        you a good start in producing a well crafted essay. 


Knowing the location of places named in the Bible is often important for
understanding the meaning of a passage.  Identifying Biblical places can
be difficult because many places were destroyed or abandoned over the
centuries or underwent changes of name. Identifying places mentioned in
ancient texts is a highly specialized discipline known as Historical
Geography. Sometimes the Bible identifies places or gives their location,
particularly when an old name had already been replaced by a newer one
that was better known to readers. Because of the Bible's own interest in
geography, it contains itineraries and lists of the towns of the Israelite
tribes and descriptions of their borders. Frequently, historical
geographers begin with less explicit clues in the Biblical text, such as
the names of nearby places and landmarks and indications of the direction
of one place relative to another. Information in the Bible is supplemented
from several other sources: references to places in other ancient texts,
which are studied by the same methods; archaeological evidence about which
sites were occupied in certain periods;  identifications of Biblical
places in ancient translations of the Bible and other postbiblical texts,
including Josephus, rabbinic literature, the writings of Church fathers,
Christian pilgrims, and Arab geographers;  and Arabic place-names which
sometimes preserve the ancient names. All of these sources must be sifted
with care, since they are not always reliable and are frequently based on
conjecture rather than unbroken tradition. 

The results of such research are scattered in an extensive body of 
scholarly literature. They are periodically summed up in Biblical 
encyclopedias and reference works devoted to historical geography. The 
single most useful source is the Hebrew Entsyklopedia Mikra}it, published 
in Israel by the Bialik Institute and the Hebrew University's Museum of 
Jewish Antiquities, which cites all the major suggestions that had been 
made about each place,  and the evidence on which they are based, as of 
the time the articles were written. Because the available evidence is 
incomplete, there is uncertainty and disagreement about the 
identification of many places. Archaeological exploration regularly opens 
new options, particularly in Jordan. 
    	Further bibliography:   

The classics:    

 F.M. Abel, Geographie de la Palestine (Paris: 1933-38)
 G.A. Smith, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (repr. New York: 
Harper & Row, 1966) 
 G.A. Smith and J.G. Bartholomew, Atlas of the Historical Geography of 
the Holy Land (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1915)

Recent works:

  J.J. Simons, The Geographical and Topographical Texts of the OT 
(Leiden, 1959)
 A.F. Rainey, "The Toponymics of Eretz-Israel," BASOR 231 (1978): 1-17 
(with further bibliography) 
 Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible, revised by Anson F. Rainey 
(Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1979)
 G.I. Davies, The Way of the Wilderness (Cambridge, 1979)
 S. Ahituv, Canaanite Toponyms in Ancient Egyptian Documents (Jerusalem 
and Leiden, 1984)
 N. Na'aman, Borders and Districts in Biblical Historiography 
(Jerusalem: Simor, 1986) 
 Z. Kallai, Historical Geography of the Bible (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1986)
 C.G. Rasmussen, Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible (Grand Rapids: 
Zond-ervan, 1989) 
 E. Stern, ed., The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in 
the Holy Land (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society & Carta; New York : 
Simon & Schuster, 1993)
 Y. Aharoni, M. Avi-Yonah, The Macmillan Bible Atlas, revised by A.F. 
Rainey and Z. Safrai (1993); fourth edition, The Carta Bible Atlas 
(Jerusalem : Carta, 2002)


        CAJS = Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, 420 Walnut St.
        JANES  = Judaica and Ancient Near East Seminar, 4th floor east,        
        Ref = Reference room, first floor VPL
        RS  = Religious Studies Seminar, 3rd floor east VPL (combined 
          with Medieval Studies Seminar)
        VPL = Van Pelt Library

Last updated October 15, 2003