Law and Religion between Petra and Edessa: Studies in Aramaic Epigraphy on the Roman Frontier, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Law and Religion between Petra and Edessa

Studies in Aramaic Epigraphy on the Roman Frontier, 1st Edition

By John Healey


320 pages

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pub: 2018-10-18
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pub: 2011-04-28

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The thousands of surviving inscriptions in Middle Aramaic (e.g., in the Nabataean, Syriac and Palmyrene dialects) are an underused resource in the study of the Near East in the Roman period, especially in the study of religion and law. Particularly important was the emergence during this period of new peoples with their cultural roots in Arabia, such as the Nabataeans. This volume collects together, under the interrelated themes of religion and law, twenty-three articles by John Healey, with sections on "Petra and Nabataean Aramaic", "Edessa and Early Syriac" and "Aramaic and Society in the Roman Near East". Individual papers discuss the continuation of "Ancient Near Eastern" culture, the Aramaic legal tradition as well as the development of both written and spoken forms of Syriac and Nabatean.


'It is particularly useful to have [Healey's] articles on the 'Aramaic Crescent' in the Hellenistic and Roman period made easily available within one volume.' Journal of Semitic Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part I Petra and Nabataean Script: Nabataean inscriptions: language and script; Were the Nabataeans Arabs?; Nabataean to Arabic: calligraphy and script development among the pre-Islamic Arabs; Sources for the study of Nabataean Law; The Nabataeans and Mada'in Salih; A Nabataean sundial from Mada'in Salih; Jaussen-Savignac 17: the earliest dated Arabic document (A.D. 267), (with G. Rex Smith); Nabataeo-Arabic: Jaussen-Savignac nab. 17 and 18; A Nabataean papyrus fragment (Bodleian MS Heb. d. 89); 'Sicherheit des Auges': the contribution to Semitic epigraphy of the explorer Julius Euting (1839-1913). Part II Edessa and Early Syriac: The Edessan milieu and the birth of Syriac; The early history of the Syriac script: a reassessment; A new Syriac mosaic inscription; Lexical loans in early Syriac: a comparison with Nabataean Aramaic; Variety in early Syriac: the context in contemporary Aramaic; Some lexical and legal notes on a Syriac loan transfer of 240 CE. Part III Aramaic and Society in the Roman Near East: 'Romans always conquer'. Some evidence of ethnic identity on Rome's eastern frontier; New evidence for the Aramaic legal tradition: from Elephantine to Edessa; The writing on the wall: law in Aramaic epigraphy; 'May he be remembered for good': an Aramaic formula; Dushara as Sun-God; The kindly and merciful God: on some Semitic divine epithets; From Sapanu/Sapunu to Kasion: the sacred history of a mountain; Addenda and corrigenda; Index.

About the Author

John Healey is Professor of Semitic Studies at the University of Manchester, UK.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Middle East / General