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Faculty of Divinity


Discovering, Deciphering and Dissenting: Ben Sira's Hebrew Text, 1896-2016

 12-14 September 2016 

St John's College, Cambridge

A conference on the 120th Anniversary of the Cairo Genizah Discoveries.

Sponsored by the Polonsky Co-Exist Fund, University of Cambridge and the ISDCL.

On the 120th anniversary of the discovery of the Genizah manuscripts of Ben Sira, this conference will consider the particular contributions of the Hebrew manuscripts of Ben Sira, in connection with the language and transmission of the book. Despite the existence of six versions in the Genizah as well as the scroll from Masada and two tiny fragments from Qumran, the characteristics of each Hebrew witness have been neglected and their palaeography is due for serious consideration.

In this light the conference will examine the features of individual manuscripts, the synoptic problems of the witnesses, their text-critical value and the history of the discoveries. It will also consider the place of the manuscripts in Jewish literary history, the Hebrew language of Ben Sira, and the interpretative character of the Hebrew.

Organisers: Dr. James Aitken, University of Cambridge, Professor Renate Egger-Wenzel, Universität Salzburg /ISDCL, and Professor Stefan Reif, St John’s College, Cambridge.

Speakers: Dr James Aitken (Cambridge), Professor Pancratius Beentjes (Nijmegen), Prof Dr Nuria Calduch-Benages (Rome), Dr Jeremy Corley (Meynooth, Ireland), Professor Haim Dihi, Prof Dr Renate Egger-Wenzel (Salzburg), Prof Matthew Goff (Florida), Professor Jan Joosten (Strasbourg/Oxford), Professor Noam Mizrahi (Tel Aviv), Professor Vered Noam (Tel Aviv), Professor Judith Olszowy-Schlanger (Paris), Dr Ben Outhwaite (Genizah Unit, Cambridge), Professor Stefan Reif (Cambridge), Prof Dr Friedrich Reiterer (Salzburg), Professor Jean-Sébastien Rey (Metz), Dr Eric Reymond (Yale Divinity School), Professor Benjamin G. Wright (Lehigh, USA).

Programme: A draft conference programme is now available.

Registration and Lectures: Registration and all lectures (except Tuesday afternoon in the University Library) will take place in the old Divinity School, St John's Street, Cambridge.

Bookings: Bookings closed on August 10th 2016. Any queries should be sent to Dr Aitken (

Conference fee: £40 (day rate/students £25). Accommodation can be booked at £59 per night (bed and breakfast). Meals prices vary.

Practical arrangements:

  • WiFi is available in the meeting rooms and hot spots in the College and details of how to log on together with the password will be available. Wired internet facilities are available in the bedrooms. If you are registered with Eduroam that should be sufficient for most purposes.
  • Room keys will be available for collection from the Cripps Porters lodge from 7.00am to 1.00am, and then the keys are transferred to the Forecourt Porters Lodge for collection during the night. Both of these are on St John's Street, Cambridge.



Current students and supervisors can access the Faculty’s Moodle page by clicking on the image below.