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Megillat Taanit (Researcher: Robert Hayward):
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1.1 The text refers to itself as verbal entity (with implied or explicit boundaries).

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1.1 The text refers to itself as verbal entity (with implied or explicit boundaries).

1.1.1 The text refers to itself using a genre term, speech act term, verb or other term implying verbal constitution: there is naming of genre through the heading of the document as Megillat Ta'anit, "Scroll of Fasting", in line 1 of the text in Noam's edition, and in 5 out of the 8 MSS which Noam uses in the preparation of her critical edition. This title for the document is also received by tradition, and is so named at m.Ta'an. 2:8. While it is possible that the title might represent a scribal note, an "outsider's description", as it were, this is unlikely, given the use of the heading in m.Ta'an. 2:8, where knowledge of Megillat Ta'anit and its contents is apparently taken for granted; see 7.2.4 for examples of other works that mention Megillat Ta'anit by name.

1.1.2 The text speaks of itself as dealing with an overall theme (subject matter) or purpose, or as consisting of coordinated parts making a whole: Line 2 of the text in Noam's edition explicitly states that the text treats the days on which fasting is not be observed, along with some days on which mourning is also forbidden.

1.1.3 The text uses expressions for characterizing itself as a bounded entity. (PROMPT: "all", "beginning", "some" referring to subject-matter in relation to text): Line 2 of the text in Noam's edition represents the text's declaration of its boundedness: "these are the days on which fasting is not to happen", some of which also involve the prohibition of mourning. This deictic expression heads a complete list of such days, which are systematically presented in order, following the sequence of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar, each and every month being named in order beginning with Nisan and ending with Adar.

1.6 The approximate word count or other indication of comparative size is: 282 words.

1.7 The text’s Inventory profile should be seen in the light of the following further information on completeness, thematic progression, aesthetic effects, etc.: Overview of Parts: The profile presented here is restricted to analysis of the Aramaic text of Megillat Ta'anit alone: it does not include, at any point, an inventory profile of the Scholion to Megillat Ta'anit. The profile is based on the citical edition of Megillat Ta'an published in 2003 by Vered Noam, who took as her base text for her edition MS Parma de Rossi 17. Occasionally, MS variants prove significant for the profile offered here, and are noted as and when they are utilised.

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2.1 The information conveyed in the text defines the perspective of the governing voice in the following way:

2.1.1 The text does not thematize how the governing voice comes to know the text’s contents (or its right to command obedience from the addressee), but suggests that its knowledge (or authority) is unlimited. The text’s governing voice speaks from the perspective of unlimited authority in commanding the addressee’s obedience.

2.1.7 The governing voice (whether first or third person) is anonymous, that is, is not presented as tied to a specific personal identity (or to personhood in general): In the penultimate line of the text, following anonymous sentences into which once, and in a minority of witnesses twice, an unspecific first person voice has been introduced (see, there is an entirely general mention of the Jews: with reference to 28th Adar, it is said that "the good tidings arrived for the Jews, that they should not depart from the Torah". No personal identity is involved here, the governing voice being neutral.

2.1.8 [The governing voice speaks at no point in the first person (except for any and all persons/objects are mentioned from a third-person perspective: most of the text has no indication of a first-person stance, and "the Jews" mentioned in the penultimate line of the text and appearing to include the perspective of the governing voice in generic terms, are themselves referred to in the third person. However, the first person voice is used once and this could be taken to draw a first-person perspective into the text as a whole. See 2.2.]

2.2 A first-person voice imposes its perspective on all (or almost all) knowledge or norms conveyed in the text: at line 14, a first-person plural voice is heard: "On the 24th day (of Av), on it we returned to our law". At line 17, three manuscript witnesses and the first printed edition read for 22nd Elul: "We returned to slay the apostates", whereas all other witnesses here have the third person plural "they returned". These first-person voices are non-specific and appear not to be restricted by the limits of any individual's knowledge, but their identification as being involved in concrete historical (narrative) events does provide them with a persona. They share the same stance as "the Jews" who are mentioned in the penultimate line of the text. They modify the overall outlook of the text away from a view that sees all persons mentioned from a third-person perspective.

2.2.3 The first-person governing voice is not identified by name or unique identifier, but speaks of himself/herself in the first person at least once. [The first person is used but represents a generic “I” (“we”) of discourse and discussion, not the projection of a specific persona: it seems that the "we" of line 14 (and line 17 in some manuscripts) is generic in principle, but its indirect and collective identification with concrete historical events gives it a more specific contour missing from purely dialectical formulae of discussion. See 2.2.]

2.4 The governing voice defines a horizon of knowledge as shared with the projected addressee by taking for granted the following linguistic usages or references (in selection):

2.4.1 Persons or unique objects referred to by proper name or by technical expression: with the exception of "the Jews" mentioned in the penultimate line, all persons named are non-biblical characters, such as the Romans (line 16); the sons of Haqra' (line 7); Antiochus (line 29); [Turyanos line 31]; Nicanor (line 32); and Beth Zabdai (line 35). for Gods/mythical figures/supernatural beings, etc., for example: the Divine Name in written form is referred to as 'dkrt' in line 18. for locations, for example: of locations within the Land of Israel, Jerusalem is mentioned 8 times, and we hear also of the Temple and its courts, of Judah, Migdal Zur, Beth She'an, Samaria, and Mt. Gerizim. Outside the Land, the place given as KLBWS in Vered Noam's critical edition is spelled in varying ways (e.g., QLYQWS, BLYQWT) in the several witnesses. for times or calendar dates (specific to a language or culture), for example: Knowledge of the Jewish calendar is taken for granted throughout the text. Two non-pentateuchal festivals are mentioned, namely Hannukah and Purim (lines 25 and 33 respectively). Many MSS and the first printed edition mention Shavu'ot at line 4, although MS Parma di Rossi 117 at that point reads "the Festival". A reference to "the minor Pesah" in line 6 may indicate "the second Pesah", although this is not certain. for documents, texts, books, etc. (identified through being referred to or quoted), for example: at line 11 there is mention of "the book of decrees", and line 37 refers to the Torah.

2.4.3 The text as a whole routinely employs the following language(s), knowledge of which is taken for granted: Aramaic. But for such a short text, a significant number of Hebrew words and expressions occur: yom har-gerizim at line 24; yom tov at line 27 (although the Aramaic equivalent of this phrase, yoma' tava', is used at line 23); bo (rather than Aramaic beyh) at lines 23, 24, and 25; and the ending -im rather than -in for masculine plural nouns in absolute state (though this is not entirely unknown in Aramaic, especially in the case of numerals, as in this text). Additional language(s) taken for granted in certain parts of the text are: Greek loan words akra (line 7); demosionai (line 11); and semaiai (line 22).

2.4.4 Special linguistic usages occur pervasively or prominently: Technical expressions for a particular subject matter: The verbal stems t'n, "fast", and spd. "mourn", are used repeatedly, and represent actions for which customs are prescribed by tradition. The "technical" sense of these two terms is taken for granted throughout the text. Biblicizing language, such that the text may be assumed to project itself as having a link to texts today known as biblical (see Such language is used sparingly, as at line 28, where the Aramaic expression "the work was stopped" recalls Ezra 4:24; and the phrase "the inauguration/dedication of the wall of Jerusalem" (lines 5 and 15) reflects Neh. 12:27. Other special linguistic usages: the text pervasively employs language intended to have normative force, through repeated use of the negative particle la' followed by the infinitive of the verbs t'n or spd.

2.5 The text contains deictic or other expressions referring to the governing voice’s time or place, or place it after/before some key event:

2.5.1 as part of the words of the governing voice: The text offers several references to events, but scholarly attempts to identify these events and to provide them with more or less firm historical contexts have proved only partially successful. The references are terse: "the sons of Haqra' went out from Jerusalem" (line 7); "the men of Beth She'an and the Beqa' went into exile" (line 10); "the escaped remnant of the scribes in the country of KWLBWS in Beth Zabdai" (line 35).

2.6 The text presents itself as speaking to certain persons, groups or entities, explicitly projecting a certain image of its addressee.

2.6.2 The projected addressee is characterized as having a certain moral or epistemic stance, or as standing in contrast to another group’s moral or epistemic stance: "The Jews" of the penultimate line are evidently meant to be identical with those those who adopt and adhere to, or are those people whom the text fully expects to adopt and adhere to, the norms set out. The norms are expressed in such a way, however, as to suggest or imply to anyone reading the text that there are, or may be, individuals or groups who do not accept or adhere to these norms, and persist in fasting and mourning on the days mentioned in the text.

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5.3 The text’s discursive/descriptive treatment of its subject matter can be understood as assembling precisely those sub-topics of an overall theme which result when that overall theme is exhaustively defined or numerically fixed by application of a constant principle of differentiation: The text offers a complete catalogue of days on which fasting and mourning are prohibited, and explicitly announces that its subtopics represent an exhaustive treatment of its subject matter.

5.3.1 The sub-topics, if seen in this manner, represent a unifying theme for the whole text: The sub-topics are all concerned with days on which fasting is prohibted; and to some of these days alo is extended a prohibiton of mourning.

5.5 The text’s sequence of sub-topics (discursive or narrative) mirrors a temporal or spatial order, but without narrative emplotment between the sub-topics. Or it mirrors the sequence of units of meaning in another text (from single words to whole books), while not reproducing the relationships between those parts, not using quotations from it as lemmatic progression (i.e., no 6.1), and not creating narrative emplotment.

5.5.1 This order includes all parts of the text (excepting frames), as follows: The twelve months of the standard Jewish calendar, named in sequential order beginning with Nisan and ending with Adar, are used from the beginning to the end of the text to provide the order for every sub-topic and part of the text. A temporal order provides the sequence for norms or normative information: The normative prohibitions of fasting and mourning are all, without exception, tied to particular named days of months set out in the sequential order of the standard Jewish calendar.

5.8 The bulk of the text consists of small forms and patterns drawn from a limited set of formats for thematic articulation or for discussion (further section 8).

5.12 The text thematizes the meaning of historical or narrative events and summarizes, alludes to or refers to events as evidence, but does not create sustained emplotment (contrast 4.7).

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7.1.4 The text shares features of language with the Hebrew Bible, or exhibits tacit overlap with specific biblical wording, whether narrative or not. The text contains prominently, but not necessarily frequently, the wording of specific biblical passages such as whole sentences or unique biblical phrases, used in a tacit manner. See also The wording of line 28, "the work was stopped", makes use of the wording of biblical Ezra 4:24 (a text in Aramaic); and lines 5 and 15 employ the phrase "the inauguration/dedication of the wall of Jerusalem", which reflects Neh. 12:27. The tacit overlap of wording takes place across language boundaries, with respect to the current language of the text (this point does not apply to 6.13 cases): The phrase "the inauguration/dedication of the wall of Jerusalem" appears in the text in Aramaic, and represents the Hebrew of Neh. 12:27.

7.2 Narrative or thematic correspondences, or overlap of specific wording, occur between the non-biblical text under discussion and other non-biblical texts in a manner that is prominent or pervasive.

7.2.4 The wording or specific theme of self-contained thematic units is occasionally identical to those of another non-biblical text (or part-text), without being marked as quotations from that other text (does not apply if 7.2.6, 7.2.8 or 7.2.9 applies; not applied to Mishnah/Tosefta Tractates): there is some tacit overlap with rabbinic works, e.g. bBB 115b (an Aramaic version of a Megillat Ta'anit statement); mTaan 2:8 mentions the title of this work and quotes its formulae for forbidding fasting and mourning; the work is also mentioned and some of its provisions discussed in yNed 8:3, 40d middle and further. Megillat Ta'anit is explicitly quoted in some works of rabbinic literature, e.g. bRH 18b and yMeg 1:6, 70c–d. In the latter, lines from Megillat Ta'anit are quoted in a lemmatic fashion (without quotation formula, but then subjected to meta-textual explanation), and their source is also named towards the end; similar passages also occur in yTa'aniot (and other works). Wording from Megillat Ta'anit it also once quoted with the quotation formula "talmud lomar" (in quoted speech), which is usually only found with biblical quotations. Formal indicators in yMeg thus treat Megillat Ta'anit as somewhat parallel to Mishnah (see 6.9.2 in the Profile of yMeg) as well as to Bible (the latter only in the one passage), in that some provisions of Megillat Ta'anit are also presented as unintroduced quotations and commented upon, in yMeg 1:6 (see also Profile yMeg 7.2.3), as also happens in yTaan 2:13.

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8.1 Standard forms or contents formulated in set phrases, set sentence formats, or clauses in a standard syntactic connection.

8.1.2 Unconditional norm: these are pervasive. The expressive use of unmarked biblical wording whose function in the text’s discourse is enhanced or achieved by it being recognised as coming from a Scripture: this occurs twice, at lines 5 and 5:15, where the phrase "the inauguration/dedication of the wall of Jerusalem" utilises the wording of Neh. 12:27; and at line 28, where "the work was stopped" overlaps with the wording of Aramaic Ezra 4:24.

8.1.6 Speech report:there is one such example, at line 26.

8.1.11 List enumerating items by whole sentences/interpretation units: the whole text can be said to form an enumeration of this kind, with occasional repetition of the list rubric for some individual items.

8.1.17 Report sentence of a singular event in the past which is not part of a narrative unit, nor of a mashal: frequent.

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9.4 For an extended passage there is a juxtaposition of thematic units (sentences or groups of sentences) capable of being interpreted in the following manner:

9.4.3 Repetitions as markers of architecture: There is a repetition of words marking out as coordinated passages that deal with contrastive sub-topics of the same superordinate theme, usually unnamed: the text presents (a) regular opening formulae for all sentences: "on numbered day [n] in/of [x] month" or, when month has already been named: "on numbered [n] day in it"; and (b) a repeated closing formula forbidding mourning, as and when required (15 occasions).

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11.1 The non-narrative text projects its thematic concern as being mainly one or more of the following:

11.1.3 Law, commandments or norms of behaviour.

11.2 The text is dominated by the reporting of emplotted events, whether or not in an overarching narrative format (4): there is no narrative format for the text as a whole.

11.2.3 The reported events have no strong links to biblical events.

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12.1 Sampling of genre labels applied to the text in secondary literature: calendar; ancient Tannaitic chronicle; list; scroll; halakhic collection.

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Text: J. Mueller, "Der Text der Fastenrolle", MGWJ 24 (1875), pp. 43-48, 139-144; G. Dalman, Aramaeische Dialektproben (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs'sche Buchhandlung, 1896), pp. 1-3, 32-34; H. Lichtenstein, "Die Fastenrolle: Eine Untersuchung zur juedisch-hellenistischen Geschichte", HUCA 8-9 (1931-1932), pp. 257-351; Vered Noam, Megillat Ta'anit. Versions, Interpretation, History with a Critical Edition (Jerusalem: Yad Ben Zvi Press, 2003) [Hebrew]. The Wilna printed text using Oxford manuscript of the Aramaic plus Hebrew scholion is also available online: (accessed 09/11/09).

Translations: V. Noam, "Megillat Taanit - The Scroll of Fasting" (also text), in S. Safrai, Z. Safrai, J. Schwartz, P. J. Tomson (eds.), The Literature of the Sages, Part 2 (Assen: Van Gorcum and Fortress Press, 2006), pp. 339–362; A. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 2 vols (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1890), vol. 2, pp. 698-700; M. Schwab, "La Megillath Taanith ou "Anniversaires historiques"", in Actes du onzieme congres international des Orientalistes (Paris, 1898), pp. 199-259; S. Zeitlin, Megillat Taanit as a Source for Jewish Chronology and History in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods (Dropsie College: PhD Dissertation, 1922); Aharon Varady (ed.), Megillat Antiokhus: the Scroll of Antiokhus and Other Writing Concerning the Festival of Ḥanuka, with annotated English trans. by J. C. Reeves (Cincinnati, OH.: Dimus Parrhesia Press, 2015).

Literature: H. D. Mantel, "The Megillat Ta'anit and the Sects", Studies in the History of the Jewish People (1970), pp. 51-70 [Hebrew]; Y. Erder, "The First Date in Megillat Ta'anit in the Light of the Karaite Commentary on the Tabernacle Dedication", JQR 82 (1991-1992), pp. 263-283.

Note: The Inventory profile given here is based on Vered Noam's critical edition of Megillat Ta'anit, and does not include analysis of the Scholion. See further below, 1.7.

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