THIS is the first volume of the 'Translations of Early Documents' now being issued under the general editorship of Dr. Oesterley and Canon Box, and Dr. Cowley's contribution begins the first series of these translations, comprising pre-Rabbinic Palestinian Jewish texts.
The documents in this attractive and well-printed little volume represent the more important of those papyri (covering the fifth century BC.) discovered at Elephantine or at Assuan between 1898 and 1908-a fruitful decade in archaeological discovery and research. Some doubt has here and there been expressed as to their genuineness'; for example, the Laudian Professor of Arabic is frankly skeptical. The majority of experts, however, after close and continued scrutiny have accepted these remarkable papyri as genuine 'records contemporary with the events to which they relate'; and the student who reads the first page of Dr. Cowley's interesting introduction will find his imagination kindling as he reads that 'No. 5 was rolled up, tied and sealed in 471 B.C., and was not opened again till 1904 in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.'
The Church Quarterly Review was one of the first periodicals to introduce to English readers, with some fullness, the more interesting of these papyri.
The documents in the present volume (several of them not hitherto translated) are mainly business agreements, deeds, letters, reports; but they also include portions of the story of Ahikar and of the Behistun Inscription. Dr. Cowley is one of the foremost authorities on documents of this period, and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge is to be congratulated on this excellent inaugural volume of its new series, which is intended to help students with scholarly translations unencumbered by over-elaborated comment, and also to interest the general reader.
-The Church Quarterly Review, Volume 91 show more