Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Book in progress!

I am on research leave this term, aiming to produce the full first draft of a book I have been working on for a while. I got the idea for the book a long time ago, back in 2005 while finishing my PhD, which means I have been living with and developing on the idea for a decade. Although I have been engaged in several other projects during these last ten years, this particular book in progress has continued to be a favourite child of mine. In fact, this blog is the result of my ongoing work on the book project, as are several other papers and articles I have written since 2008.

The preliminary title of the book is, as it has been for quite some time now, The Transmission and Transformation of 2 Baruch: [Catchy, Yet Informative, Subtitle]. As the working title suggests, this is a book on the history of transmission, circulation, use, transformation, mushrooming, etc., of the so-called 2 (Syriac Apocalypse of) Baruch. I am structuring the book to make it readable on three levels. Reading it as an exploration of the history of transmission of the writing 2 Baruch is obviously one of them. It may also be read more broadly as an input to the ongoing research on the history of the transmission and transformation of the so-called Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Third, and importantly, I use the transmission history of 2 Baruch as a laboratory for exploring and discussing theoretical and methodological issues which are important to all those who somehow use medieval and late antique manuscripts as sources to texts that are generally assumed to be ancient. In other words, the book reads well as a discussion of dilemmas produced by a historical critical paradigm and by text critical methods, from the point of view of a perspective inspired by New Philology.
At the time being, the TOC looks like this,
Introduction. Quite traditional, but with a strong focus on method and theory.
Chapter 1. Imagining and Re-Imagining 2 Baruch. I discuss the challenges of having just one, dominant, text witness. I show how this singular text witness, and the subsequent representations of it in text editions, have shaped the scholarly imagination of the assumed early writing 2 Baruch. From the theoretical point of view that texts change, also after scholars tend to assume that they are “finished” and, based on the manuscripts sources available, I explore how 2 Baruch may have developed after it assumedly started circulating in the 2nd century up until it was copied in the manuscript that serves as the text witness 500 years later. I end the chapter with a discussion of how we might re-imagine 2 Baruch based on the material that has come down to us.
Chapter 2. Engaging with 2 Baruch. I study 2 Baruch in the context of the main manuscript in which it is in fact found, the 6th to 7th century Syriac Codex Ambrosianus. My interest in this chapter is to study 2 Baruch as a meaningful component of this particular codex, exploring, e.g., the order of books, paratextual information and layout, and narrative lines across book units. I trace signs of use of the codex and how theses signs matter to our understanding of 2 Baruch and, I explore how the inclusion of a copy of 2 Baruch in this venerable textual artefact may have affected the further history of circulation of the writing.
Chapter 3. Reading 2 Bar 72:1-73:2 on Easter Sunday. I explore the 13th century liturgical use in monastic circles of a lection excerpted from 2 Baruch. Starting with the lectionary manuscript that contains the lection (BL Add 14687) and the information found there, I provide a “thick description” of a very different historical context of reading than the one scholars normally allow for a passage of 2 Baruch (i.e., a 1st to 2nd century Jewish context). How does the excerpted text become meaningful in this, other, context?
Chapter 4. The Epistle of Baruch – What Is a Text Witness? I trace the history of editing the Epistle of Baruch as a unit integral to 2 Baruch and, I rub this editorial history against the information provided by the extant Syriac manuscripts containing it. With one exception, these manuscripts suggest that the Epistle is something else, i.e., another “work.” I discuss critically the paradigmatic procedures that have decided the dominant scholarly representation, which subsequently has paved the way for, for instance, the use of this Epistle as a context for understanding 1st-2nd century letter writing.
Chapter 5. The Transmission and Transformation of 2 Baruch – Categorisations, Status, and Complexities. In this chapter I explore some of the scholarly categorisations and discourses that have effectively decided our modern day representation and understanding of 2 Baruch: the categorisation of 2 Baruch as a “pseudepigraphon”; the analytical potential of understanding a writing as “scriptural-to some”; our understanding of excerption and independently circulating textual entities; the confusion of books and textual units ascribed to Baruch; the importance of the co-circulation of 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra, as well as the observable effects of ascribing books to authoritative figures. In the last part of the chapter, I offer an outlook on the transmission histories of other, comparable, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.
Conclusion. Well, I conclude, but I don’t want to share the conclusion with you yet!

The book will be out as soon as it is finished, I have a publisher.
Right now I enjoy being completely immersed in the writing process!