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Preservation and Innovation: The Tracks of the Master Scribe

January 23, 2018 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Sara Milstein is Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible and Near Eastern Studies in the Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies at the University of British Columbia. She published Tracking the Master Scribe: Revision through Introduction in Biblical and Mesopotamian Literature (Oxford UP, 2016), and in 2010, she co-authored with Daniel Fleming The Buried Foundation of the Gilgamesh Epic: The Akkadian Huwawa Narrative (Brill). Her current project, “Making a Case: The Emergent Near Eastern Legal Mind,” is funded by a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Grant.


When we encounter a text, whether ancient or modern, we typically start at the beginning and work our way toward the end. For biblical and Mesopotamian literature, however, this habit can lead to misinterpretation. In the ancient Near East, “master scribes”—those who held the authority to produce and revise texts—regularly introduced changes in the course of transmission. One of the most effective techniques in the scribal toolbox was what Milstein calls “revision through introduction,” a method that allowed scribes to preserve received material while simultaneously recasting it. Milstein demonstrates what is to be gained by disentangling the competing voices in a given work, a process that allows for the text to be perceived afresh at all stages in its development.

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Moderator: William Schniedewind

Sponsored by the
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies
Cosponsored by the
UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures
UCLA Center for the Study of Religion



January 23, 2018
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm