Glossary

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abide

Stay, endure, tolerate, survive.

accost

Greet.

action potential

The change in electrical potential associated with the passage of an impulse along the membrane of a muscle cell or nerve cell

analogize

To treat two things are comparable.

Andreas Vesalius

Sixteenth-century physician and anatomist, and author of the influential book on anatomy, On the Fabric of the Human Body (1543).

apocalypse

Writings that are considered revelatory or full of revealed visions, often on the subjects of the future, heavenly things, or the afterlife.

apocrypha

“Hidden” writings, texts that explain themselves in some way as the hidden knowledge or traditions.

Aramaic

A Northwest Semitic language closely related to Hebrew, it was adopted by the Neo-Assyrian Empire and became an international language of trade. It is one of the oldest living languages and has had a long history of use.

Athens

capital city and largest city in Greece.

Babylon

Ancient ruined city in what is now Iraq.

BCE

Or CE. Before Common Era / Common Era, a chronological label widely preferred in Judaism (and beyond) today to be used instead of BC/AD (Before Christ / Anno Domini – Year of our Lord).

blazon

A literary device in which each part of a woman’s body is described in turn.

blood-brain barrier

A layer of tightly packed cells that make up the walls of brain capillaries and prevent substances in the blood from diffusing freely into the brain: passage across the cell membranes is determined by solubility in the lipid bilayer or recognition by a transport molecule

borne

Carried.

bugle

A small trumpet often used in hunts and army exercises.

chace

An old spelling of ‘chase’.

changeth

Old form of ‘changes’.

cloven

Hoofed, like a goat’s hooves.

codex

Any book that is made of individual sheets of paper, usually folded into “signatures” or gatherings of sheets, and usually bound with a cover. The first codices were wooden tablets that were bound with leather straps, used as notebooks.

Dead Sea

In Hebrew “yam ha-melach” or the salt sea, it is a salt lake on the eastern border of Israel and Palestine and western shore of Jordan, whose main tributary is the Jordan River. The water is over one-third salt (ocean water is only 3.5% salt!) and in recent years the lake is evaporating at an alarming rate due to climate change. There are a number of archaeological sites around it including many villas, fortresses, anchorages, Qumran, and Masada.

delirious

Excited to the point of madness.

discourse

A term used in the social sciences and humanities to refer to a way of discussing (and, by extension, thinking about) a topic.

early modern

Another term for the Renaissance period, roughly 1500-1700.

empirical

An approach to pursuing knowledge that emphasises the importance of direct observation (rather than deferring to authorities on the subject, for example).

Essenes

A Jewish sect from around the turn of the first century CE, believed by some to be identified in some way with the Qumran community.

felon

Prisoner or criminal.

Galen

Ancient Roman physician, whose writings on medicine remained very influential in Europe until end of the Renaissance period.

gallant

Heroic, brave.

genizah

A “retirement” place usually within a synagogue or a Jewish cemetery that is reserved solely for the temporary storage of religious books and anything that uses the Hebrew script. Genizot are periodically emptied for proper cemetery burial. Genizot are used in Judaism because the Talmud says that it is forbidden to throw away any writings that contain the name of God.

goblin

Small monstrous/mischievous creature.

Hebrew Bible

Also known as the Tanakh, or Torah Nevi’im Ketuvim (Law, Prophets, Writings), refers to the Jewish Bible. In a slightly different order the Old Testament contains the books of the Tanakh.

historicize

To make something into an object of historical enquiry.

humoral

A model of the body that sees the body as a container for four fluids or ‘humours’.

Josephus

Flavius Josephus, or simply Josephus, was a first century Roman-era Jewish historian who wrote many books in Greek including the Antiquities of the Jews and The Jewish War.

khirbeh

“Ruin” in Arabic.

khirbet Qumran

The ruins of Qumran, also known simply as Qumran.

leprosy

Disfiguring numbing disease.

magnolia

Sweet-smelling tree with large pink or white flowers.

manuscript

A handwritten text.

Masoretes

Jewish rabbis or scribe-scholars who lived in the 6th to 10th centuries CE, the Masoretes were responsible for adding standardized pronunciation marks and other signs to Hebrew Bible texts.

mechanistic

A word to describe theories that view phenomena as functioning in mechanical (machine-like) ways.

megillah

Hebrew for “scroll”.

mezuzah

Literally meaning “doorpost” in Hebrew, it is a decorated case containing a tiny rolled parchment scroll containing verses from Deuteronomy that consist of the Shema prayer in Judaism. Mezuzot are fixed to doorposts of Jewish buildings.

miqveh

A bath or water enclosure used for ritual immersion, usually with steps leading down, used in Judaism from antiquity to modern day, used for Jewish practices of purification as well as conversion.

moccasin

A soft leather shoe worn by Native American tribes.

neuron

A specialized cell transmitting nerve impulses; a nerve cell

neurotransmitter

A chemical substance which is released at the end of a nerve fibre by the arrival of a nerve impulse and, by diffusing across the junction, effects the transfer of the impulse to another nerve fibre, a muscle fibre, or some other structure

papyrus

Invented in ancient Egypt, it is a writing material made from prepared fibres of the above plant.

parchment

Invented originally in ancient Egypt, it is any writing material that is made from carefully prepared animal skins, vellum is a type made from calf skin or the skin of a young animal, while the above term refers to any type of animal skin.

parody

A mocking imitation of something.

pastoral

Associated with farmland, specifically with herding sheep and cows. A Christian preacher can also be called a pastor’, because they are supposed to tend their church congregation, or ‘flock’, like a shepherd.

patriarchal

A term to describe a society in which men monopolise power and dominate women.

Philo of Alexandria

First century CE Jewish philosopher, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt

physician

Another word for ‘doctor’.

physiology

The branch of medical science that deals with the functioning of living organisms and their organs.

Pliny the Elder

First century CE Roman naturalist writer and historian, who was famously killed in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE (he wanted to get a closer look).

plumed

Feathered.

psychosomatic

Something (especially a medical condition) that involves the workings of both the body and the mind.

Sadducees

A Jewish sect from around the first century CE, noted for their lack of belief in an afterlife or the resurrection of the dead. Little is known about their true practices and beliefs because none of their own writings survive.

satiety

Satisfaction.

scriptorium

A room where manuscripts are made, famously found within medieval monasteries.

Second Temple Judaism

The period of Judaism following the building of the Second Temple in 515-510 B.C.E (the First Temple was destroyed in 587 B.C.E) until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE.

staples

Heavy metal fastenings on carriages and doors.

synagogue

A place of prayer and worship in Judaism, meaning “place of gathering” in Greek.

synapse

A junction between two nerve cells, consisting of a minute gap across which impulses pass by diffusion of a neurotransmitter

Temple of Jerusalem

Before 70 CE, Jewish worship revolved around worship and sacrifices made in the central Temple of Jerusalem. Jews visited the Temple on pilgrimages to make sacrifices at festival times. In the ancient world, Judaism was distinct in having only a single Temple, while pagan religions had many temples. After the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, sacrifices necessarily stopped completely as a practice in Judaism, and synagogues became purpose-built places of Jewish communal worship.

tidings

News. ‘Tiding’ can also mean ‘to drift with the tide’.

visage

Face.

void

Empty.

yachad

Also spelled yaḥad: meaning “together,” “group,” “unity,” or “community” in Hebrew, the only term that is used in the Qumran sectarian literature to refer to the Qumran community.