Preservation and Innovation: The Tracks of the Master Scribe

Preservation and Innovation: The Tracks of the Master Scribe

A lecture by Sara Milstein (University of British Columbia), Moderated by William Schniedewind (UCLA)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
12:00 PM
314 Royce Hall

Image for Calendar ButtonImage for Calendar Button

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.


Sara Milstein is the Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near Eastern Studies and a Wall Scholar of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. She is the author of Tracking the Master Scribe: Revision through Introduction in Biblical and Mesopotamian Literature (Oxford University Press), which earned the Frank Moore Cross Award from the American Schools of Oriental Research for Best Monograph in Hebrew Bible and/or Ancient Near Eastern Literature in 2017; and co-author with Daniel Fleming of The Buried Foundation of the Gilgamesh Epic: The Akkadian Huwawa Narrative (Brill). A graduate of Bates College (B.A. in English), City College of New York (M.A. in Secondary Education in English) and New York University (M.A./Ph.D. in Hebrew and Judaic Studies), she has been the recipient of fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the Killam Foundation. In 2016, she was the recipient of the university-wide Killam Teaching Prize. Her current project, titled “Making a Case: The Emergent Near Eastern Legal Imagination,” is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and is contracted with Oxford University Press.



Pre-registration is required. Please click here or call (310) 267-5327 to register.

Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures