James D. Purvis Collection of Samaritana

JAMES D. PURVIS. Scholar and educator.   Dr. Purvis graduated from Harvard University in 1963 with a Doctor of Theology degree for a dissertation entitled “The Origin of the Samaritan Sect.”   His dissertation was published by Harvard University Press in 1968 as volume two in the Harvard Semitic Monographs series.  He joined the faculty at Boston University College of Liberal Arts (now the College of Arts of Sciences) in 1966 as chairman of the Religion Department.  In 1986, he won the Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching at Boston University, and retired from teaching in 1997.  He presented papers on the Samaritans at the Fifth World Congress of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem, 1969), at the Academic Conference on Hebrew Bible (Hebrew College, Brookline, MA, 1974), and at the Fifth Congress of the Société d’Études Samaritaines (Milan, 1996), as well as in festschrifts for G. Ernest Wright (1977), Frank Moore Cross (1982), and H. Neil Richardson (1994). He has provided papers on the Samaritians at regional and national meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature between 1962 and 1995, as well as primary articles for The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible Supplementary Volume (1976), The Biblical Encyclopedia (Jerusalem, 1982), The Cambridge History of Judaism (1989), and A Companion to Samaritan Studies (1993).  His reviews of Samaritan materials have appeared in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, the Journal of Biblical Literature, the Journal of Theological Studies, the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, the Critical Review of Books in Religion, and Religious Studies Review.

Scope and Content: The collection contains both primary and secondary materials on the Samaritans.  The primary materials consist of fifty volumes of Samaritan texts, including thirty-five hand-copied volumes, mostly collected in the early 1960s, for the most part anthologies of liturgical materials–service books for daily and Sabbath prayers, songs and prayer for the liturgical year, and songs for special occasions–as well as copies of biblical texts and theological writings, with texts in Samaritan Aramaic and Hebrew (in Samaritan characters), and less frequently in Arabic (sometimes in a mixture of Arabic and Samaritan characters).  Included are four antiquarian volumes, and a substantial run (1981-82, 1984, 1986, 1996-1999, with some issues from 1991-1992) of Aleph-Beth: The Samaritan News. Secondary materials include twenty-eight monographs in English, Hebrew or German, including bibliographies, mostly published in the 1960s to 1990s, and eighty off-prints or photocopies of articles on the Samaritans, primarily in English with a few in German, mostly from the 1950s to 1990s.

Extent: 8 cu. ft.

Access: No access restrictions.
Limitations: No limitations.
Provenance: Gift, 1999, 2001-2002.
Cite as: Purvis Samaritana Collection, Boston University School of Theology Library.

Processing: Stephen P. Pentek, January 2000, May 2001, February 2002.

Arrangement: Arranged and catalogued by Dr. Purvis in six sections: I. Photographic Reproductions of Hand-copied Samaritan Texts; II. Other Writings by Samaritans; III. Editions of Samaritan Texts by Western Scholars; IV. Samaritan Studies and Research Materials: Books and Monographs; V. Samaritan Studies and Research Materials: Offprints and Photocopies; VI. Aleph-Beth, the Samaritan News.

To see further details on Series I-VI, please click here.

  • Series I:  Photographic Reproductions of Hand-copied Samaritan Texts (35 volumes)
  • Series II: Other Writings by Samaritans (8 volumes)
  • Series III: Editions of Samaritan Texts by Western Scholars (9 volumes)
  • Series IV: Samaritan Studies and Research Materials: Books and Monographs (34 volumes)
  • Series V: Samaritan Studies and Research Materials: Offprints and Photocopies (86 items)
  • Series VI: Aleph-Beth: the Samaritan News (4 bound volumes and 78 issues)

Click here to read more about our Purvis Collection exhibit in Fall 2001.