UnisaETD = University of South Africa Electronic Theses & Dissertations

I just stumbled upon UnisaETD (University of South Africa Electronic Theses & Dissertations). On this site, you can search theses and dissertations originating at Unisa. It’s a great supplement to Proquest’s Digital Dissertation Abstracts* and the British Library’s EThOS. UnisaETD theses are abstracted in Dissertation Abstracts, but you must hunt down the electronic text directly through UnisaETD.

There’s one major quirk to UnisaETD, however. You MUST use Internet Explorer to navigate through the site.

*The full-text version of Proquest’s Digital Dissertation Abstracts is available through the Boston Public Library for those in Massachusetts who qualify for an eCard. How’s that for your tax dollars at work? 😉

Search Biblia Patristica Online

Excellent news! Ben Blackwell at the Dunelm Road notes in a recent post that the index of patristic biblical citations & allusions found in the 7 volume Biblia Patristica is searchable online through BIBLindex!

As Ben notes, the search interface is not terribly user-friendly, but who cares? It beats flipping through pages any day. Check out his post for information on using this resource.

In case you’re wondering, here’s a little bit of information on the Biblia Patristica series (as explained by Ben):

Seven volumes have been published to date, along with a supplementary volume for biblical references in Philo of Alexandria, who served as an exegetical model for many patristic authors.  The entries do not distinguish between quotations and allusions, and criteria for the latter are rather loose. (Began in 1975, latest volume in 2000.)

  • Volume 1: beginnings of extracanonical Christian literature up to Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian.
  • Volume 2: Third century, apart from Origen.
  • Volume 3: Origen
  • Volume 4: Fourth century, includes Eusebius of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Epiphanius of Salamis.
  • Volume 5: covers Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Amphilochius of Iconium.
  • Volume 6: Latin writers, Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose of Milan, and the Ambrosiaster.
  • Volume 7: Didymus the Blind.

If this post excites you, you’ll want to read Ben’s earlier post on Patristic Biblical Citations.

Thanks, Ben, for blogging on this!

Seeing demons in the Talmud

David Pescovitz at BoingBoing draws attention to Aharon Varady’s post linking ‘demons’ in rabbinic literature to “Charles Bonnet Syndrome, a disease where mentally healthy people have very strange and vivid hallucinations.” Aharon quotes from the Babylonian Talmud, tractate Berakhoth 6a:

It has been taught: Abba Benjamin says, If the eye had the power to see them, no creature could endure the demons. Abaye says: They are more numerous than we are and they surround us like the ridge round a field. R. Huna says: Every one among us has a thousand on his left hand and ten thousand on his right hand.2 Raba says: The crushing in the Kallah3 lectures comes from them.4 Fatigue in the knees comes from them. The wearing out of the clothes of the scholars is due to their rubbing against them. The bruising of the feet comes from them. If one wants to discover them,5 let him take sifted ashes and sprinkle around his bed, and in the morning he will see something like the footprints of a cock. If one wishes to see them, let him take the after-birth of a black she-cat, the offspring of a black she-cat, the first-born of a first-born, let him roast it in fire and grind it to powder, and then let him put some into his eye, and he will see them. Let him also pour it into an iron tube and seal it with an iron signet that they6 should not steal it from him. Let him also close his mouth, lest he come to harm. R. Bibi b. Abaye did so,7 saw them and came to harm. The scholars, however, prayed for him and he recovered.

(2) Cf. Psalm 91:7 which verse is quoted in some editions.
(3) The Assemblies of Babylonian students during the months of Elul and Adar, v. Glos.
(4) For really the lectures are not overcrowded.
(5) MS. M.: their footprints.
(6) The demons.
(7) He put the powder into his eye. (Soncino)

He also cites b. Ber. 43b, another passage where demons are mentioned. (Demon = מזיק maziq; pg. 755 in Jastrow.)

On a tangential note, under the entry for מזייעי (frightening demons) in Jastrow’s dictionary, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Numbers 6:24 is cited, which contains a nifty expansion of Aaron’s Priestly Benediction:

The Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord make His face to shine upon thee, and gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and grant thee peace. The Lord bless thee in all thy business, and keep) thee from demons3 of the night, and things that cause terror, and from demons of the noon4 and of the morning, and from malignant spirits and phantoms.  The Lord make His face to shine upon thee, when occupied in the law, and reveal to thee its secrets, and be merciful unto thee. The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee in thy prayer, and grant thee peace in thy end.

3 Liliths
4 Psalm 91:6. Vulg. et Sept. (Tg. Ps.-J. Num 6:24-26; Etheridge’s translation)

It’s interesting that both the Soncino Talmud and Etheridge’s translation of the Targum mention Psalm 91:6-7 (vv 5-7 quoted below):

You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 91:5-7 NRSV Be not afraid of the terror of demons who walk at night, of the arrow of the angel of death that he looses during the day; Of the death that walks in darkness, of the band of demons that attacks at noon. You will invoke the holy name; a thousand will fall at your left side, and ten thousand at your right; they will not come near you to do harm. Targum Psalms 91:5-7 (Cook)

These rabbinic passages are quite strange. All three documents associate this Psalm with the demonic. I’m too tired to analyze this, but it seems an appropriate post for Friday the 13th, a few minutes before midnight.

It’s good to see the Babylonian Talmud getting props on BoingBoing.

Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts

Elephant from the Aberdeen Bestiary

Matthew Fisher, an assistant professor of English at UCLA has put together a Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts. Prof. Fisher has cataloged 1,024 digitized manuscripts out of a potential of 5,000. Several medieval biblical manuscripts are included. Here’s a link to Matthew chapter 1 in a 9th century Greek manuscript from Bobbio, Italy (now housed at the Abbey of St. Gallen in Switzerland).

Read the whole article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. HT: John Jaeger of Dallas Baptist University.