Sunday, 12 April 2015


I am on my way to Helsinki to attend a conference on text, ritual and magic organized by the Centre of Excellence in Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions at the University of Helsinki. Here's my paper abstract:

Reading texts in ritual and manuscript contexts: Re-contextualizing 2 Bar 72:1-73:2

In this paper I will use the transmission/transformation history of 2 Baruch as a laboratory for exploring and discussing the various interrelationships between text, manuscript, and ritual – with a dash of magic.

2 Baruch is commonly known and contextualized as a 1st or 2nd century, Jewish, apocalyptic writing. However, as often is the case for ancient writings, the manuscripts that serve as our sources to 2 Baruch are considerably younger. Scholars have applied these Syriac manuscripts, which date from the 6th/7th to the 15th centuryexclusively as witnesses to the assumed early text of 2 Baruch. 

The implication of this practice is that the literary and material aspects of the manuscripts themselves and the scripted use of these textual artefacts in medieval, Syriac, ritual contexts have never been engaged as relevant contexts for 2 Baruch, even if these historical contexts are explicitly given by the form and layout, notes, colophons, and other traces of use in the manuscripts themselves.

This paper offers a “thick description” of one select situation of use of 2 Baruch in a Syriac, thirteenth century context. I will look closer at the monastic use of an excerpted passage from 2 Baruch in a lectionary manuscript dated 1256, scripted to be read as a lesson from Scripture on Easter Sunday, and probably read as such, for instance, in the Monastery of the Syrians in the Wadi al-Natrun (Egypt).

Hence, this paper offers both a fresh exploration of the text in its 13th century material, spatial and performative context, and a possible methodological correction of the default scholarly models of interpretation and categorization of ancient writings that tend to decide our engagement with manuscripts and their texts.

On Thursday I am also giving a lecture on New Philology, "What's New about New Philology?" at the Faculty of Theology.  I might publish the power point presentation on later.

I have posted my lecture notes on Please, look for "New Philology - in a Nutshell".

There is also a blog post on the Text, Ritual, and Magic-conference over at the Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions-blog (Here: )

Update II:
New Philology - in Finnish, here:

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