I have been ferociously busy, researching the poetics and pragmatics of combat myths in the Hebrew Bible (much more of that later), teaching some class sessions at UIC (if anyone proclaims to you that you can't use Jonas Greenfield's "The Zakir Inscription and the Danklied" to help teach Pentecostals and Muslims about what Biblical and Near Eastern prophecy might have in common through a close look at the occasion, themes and poetics of prophecy in Hebrew and Aramaic, they are falsely prophesying and cannot be believed), rooting around in the historical grammar of West Semitic, and of course cross-country skiing with my dog.
Most importantly, I am just putting the very final touches on my edition of three very short but very difficult texts. These are the three alphabetic cuneiform inscriptions found in the land of Israel, which are to be published in Wayne Horowitz, Takayoshi Oshima and Seth L. Sanders, eds., Cuneiform in Canaan and the Land of Israel (Israel Exploration Society?, 2006?). It sounds better in Hebrew as Ketav Yetidot beKanaan.
Though all three were first published decades ago, their real significance has only begun to unfold recently. Among the new things we find in these texts, which I date to the 13th and 12th centuries B.C.E., are: an abecedary that isn't in alphabetical order--that is, it's not in the alef-bet-gimel order from which we get our ABC's, but the halham order known from Epigraphic South Arabian (Beth Shemesh), and an inscribed knife which, I believe, displays a dialect feature known only from the oldest variety of Phoenician (Nahal Tabor). Just by themselves, these texts open up new views on language and culture in the southern Levant because they are some of the earliest examples of people representing their "own" languages (that is, a local and distinctive linguistic tradition, whether exactly identical with the ones they speak or not) over against the international cosmopolitan lingua franca of Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform, and they show a variety of phonemes and writing styles that nobody had quite expected. In fact I think these texts go some way toward disproving some of the theories of linear development of script and language propounded by my revered teacher Frank Moore Cross.
The most interesting question for me when it comes to epigraphy, is: what do you do when the hard facts knock cracks in the clean, straightforward theories of unilinear progress? The easy way out is to go wild in the other direction, to decompose everything into increasingly narrow, local details: "in general, everything is specific," no more big narratives, etc.
But the real quest, I think, is to discover how it all hangs together without moving in a straight line.
Appreciation for my prececessors, who have already done a great deal of the thinking and work, compels me to review some earlier treatments. In two of three cases I believe I have been able to add something to the understanding of the originals, either because of recently discovered parallels (the Beth Shemesh abecedary was illuminated by a better preserved parallel from Ugarit itself, which received an excellent treatment by Dennis Pardee and Pierre Bordreuill, (“RS 8.2215. Abécédaire,” in M. Yon and D. Arnaud, eds., Études Ougaritiques 1: Travaux 1985-1993 RSO XIV [Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les Civilisations, 2001] 341-48) or because I asked a different question of the text (the phonology of the Nahal Tabor inscription).
All three of these texts were treated as part of larger studies of the early alphabet by E. Puech, “Origine de L’Alphabet,” RB 93 (1986) 161-213, which contains good handcopies and careful paleographic readings, and M. Dietrich and O. Loretz, Die Keilalphabete, (Ugarit-Verlag, Muenster, 1988), which sets them in the context of a larger theory of the development of the alphabet at the end of the bronze age (a theory I think is wrong, but which is well documented and argued there).
Three areas where my reeditions might most obviously be useful are 1) they are done as part of a comprehensive study of cuneiform writing in Israel, 2) they draw on new discoveries at Ugarit and elsewhere and 3) they are in English, which could make them more convenient for some.