ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 46 (2009) 241-242
Anke Joisten-Pruschke, Das religiose Leben der Juden von Elephantine in derAchiimenidenzeit. Gdttinger Orientforschungen. III. Reihe:
Iranica, NF 2. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2008. 258 pages. ISBN 978 -3-447-05706-6.
The title of this work, begun as a dissertation under the late Volkmar Fritz
and completed under Hans-Jiirgen Becker at Gottingen, is rather misleading.
Better would be something like: "studies in the society and religion of the
Jewish military colony at Elephantine." It is based on extensive bibliographical research and should prove to be useful, even if it is not a creative work of
The Introduction reviews the discovery and publication of the Aramaic
finds from Achaemenid Elephantine and Syene/Aswan in a very detailed way,
including extensive tables of editiones principes and other publications as well
as concordances of the numerous editions in which these texts have been published - a highly useful tool. At the end Joisten-Pruschke takes issue with the
magnificent drawings by Ada Yardeni in her four-volume publication, with B.
Porten, of the Textbook of Ancient Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt (Jerusalem and Winona Lake, IL, 1986-1999). I am still inclined to trust Yardeni's
The first three chapters are all quite brief. Chapter One, entitled "Die Juden
von Elephantine im Spannungsfeld zwischen jiidischer Gemeinde und Reichsregierung," is essentially a review of the discussion of why the Jews were allowed to bring meal and incense offerings to the Temple of Yahu at Elephanine
but not animal sacrifices. (My guess is that the policy was convenient to both
the Persian Mazdaean authorities and the Jerusalem Temple officials.) It also
adduces evidence from inscriptions elsewhere in the Persian empire for comparison. Chapter Two is entitled "Das religiose Leben der Juden von Elephantine in der Achimenidenzeit im Kontext multinationaler und multireligidser
Begegnungen," but basically it is a review of how personal names move from
one religious group to another within the same family, a topic earlier discussed
at length by such scholars as B. Porten and M. Silverman. Chapter Three discusses a few issues surrounding clauses in marriage contracts. Everything in
all three chapters is derivative.
The major chapter in terms of length is the fourth, a complete presentation of twenty selected texts of various genres in transcription, translation,
and commentary. It is a quasi-critical edition, with all of the readings of earlier
scholars given and adjudicated. I was unable to spot any significant philological innovations.