Monday, January 16, 2017

Dever Fellowship report 2016: Shikhin

ASOR BLOG: My Time at a Roman-Era Jewish Settlement.
By: Jill Marshall, 2016 William G. Dever Fellowship Recipient

Thanks to ASOR’s William G. Dever Fellowship for Biblical Scholars, in Summer 2016, I traveled to Israel to participate in the Shikhin Excavation Project and to conduct research at the Albright Institute in Jerusalem. Since my research is in New Testament and early Christianity, I chose Shikhin because it is a Roman-era Jewish settlement that gives scholars insight into the socio-economic landscape of the Galilee. Directed by James R. Strange of Samford University and Mordechai Aviam of Kinnaret Academic College, the excavation reveals interesting details about ceramic production and the interactions between cities (Sepphoris) and villages (Shikhin) in the Roman period.

[...]

CFP: Horizons in Textual Criticism

ETC BLOG: Call for Papers: Horizons in Textual Criticism (Peter Gurry).
On 10-11 May, 2017, the University of Oxford will host a colloquium devoted to methodologically new and unique work in textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible and related texts.

Interview with Maggie Anton

THE TEL AVIV REVIEW: MISSIONARY POSITIONS: WHAT THE TALMUD SAYS ABOUT SEX (Gilad Halpern).
Maggie Anton, a Talmud scholar and historical fiction writer discusses her new book Fifty Shades of Talmud: What the First Rabbis Had to Say about You-Know-What.
Audio interview. Background on Maggie Anton, her recent book on sex in the Talmud, and her earlier novels, is here and links.

Congratulations to Professor Elton Daniel

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Center for Iranian Studies and the Encyclopædia Iranica.
Many congratulations to Professor Elton Daniel, who has been appointed the Interim Director of the Center for Iranian Studies and Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopædia Iranica. See below for the full text of the announcement:

[...]
I'm surprised that its been nearly a decade since I've mentioned the Encylopaedia Iranica. I know I have consulted it more often than that. It now goes up to Z.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Putthoff, Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology
The Malleable Self and the Presence of God


Tyson L. Putthoff, Trinity College Dublin
In Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology, Tyson L. Putthoff explores early Jewish beliefs about how the human self reacts ontologically in God’s presence. Combining contemporary theory with sound exegesis, Putthoff demonstrates that early Jews widely considered the self to be intrinsically malleable, such that it mimics the ontological state of the space it inhabits. In divine space, they believed, the self therefore shares in the ontological state of God himself. The book is critical for students and scholars alike. In putting forth a new framework for conceptualising early Jewish anthropology, it challenges scholars to rethink not only what early Jews believed about the self but how we approach the subject in the first place.

Dreams in the ANE and the Joseph story

PROF. JACK M. SASSON: Joseph and the Dreams of Many Colors. Understanding the practice of dream interpretation in the Joseph story by using the ANE interpretive traditions as background (TheTorah.com).
Dreams across Centuries

Millennia before Sigmund Freud penned his classic work Die Traumdeutung (The Interpretation of Dreams, 1899) and long before the 2nd century CE professional diviner, Artemidorus of Daldis, distilled centuries of traditions on dream interpretation into his Oneirocritica,[1] people in the Ancient Near East had cultivated a strong interest in dreams and their interpretations. From the Freudian perspective, dreams are an expression of a person’s subconscious, and they teach us about a person’s inner life.

In antiquity, however, a dream was understood as a message from a deity, often reflecting an issue of importance to an entire community. In fact, in the conception of the ancients, a dream could affect many people beyond its recipient. Thus, in the ANE, a process of evaluating dreams developed, which included the following investigations: their viability, their veracity, their import, and their fulfillment.

[...]
Some background on dreams and dream interpretation in antiquity is in yesterday's post here (and links) and also here, here, here, here, and here. And then there's the story of my own revelatory dream here.

Batten on honor and shame in the NT

BIBLE ODYSSEY: Honor and Shame in the New Testament (Alicia J. Batten).
Q. We are told that ancient societies like those of Israel were "honor-shame cultures," and see various examples of that in biblical stories. My question is more about NT theology. How do the honor-shame cultural values of New Testament authors inform and shape their theology, especially Christology?

Reminder: BIOSCS is now JSCS

AWOL: Open Access Journal: The Journal of Septuagint and Cognate Studies (JSCS) formerly, The Bulletin of the International Organization of Septuagint and Cognate Studies (BIOSCS). The change in title was noted earlier here in 2015, but it's always good to post reminders when AWOL takes something up.

BI Blog 2016 statistics

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Statistics for 2016. It provides lots of good content and is doing well for such a specialized blog. PaleoJudaica links to it frequently for information on ancient Persia and Zoroastrianism.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ge'ez classes begin at University of Toronto

ETHIOPIC WATCH: University of Toronto Starts Ge’ez Classes (Ezega.com).
January 13, 2017 - The University of Toronto (U of T) has begun Ge’ez classes to enable a new generation of students understand the ancient language and access long-lost trove of knowledge.

This week, Professor Robert Holmstedt of the department of Near and Middle Eastern civilizations welcomed 25 students and members of Ethiopian community in Toronto to the first day of an introductory course on Ge’ez.

With this course, U of T becomes one of the only places in the world where students can learn the fundamentals of Ge’ez, according to a statement on the university’s site.

The program came about through several significant donations, including from The Weeknd, the Ethiopian community and the Faculty of Arts & Science.

Department Chair Professor Tim Harrison has said that he hoped, with continued support, U of T would eventually add more courses and be positioned to launch the first Ethiopian studies program in North America.

Since the subject is so rarely taught, Holmstedt had to invent course materials and revise one of the only Ge’ez textbooks in English, the 40-year-old Introduction to Classical Ethiopic: Ge’ez by Thomas O. Lambdin. Ge’ez is a window into an ancient culture and offers insights into other languages, he said.

“I like giving students access to things that 99.5 percent of the world doesn’t have access to,” he said, adding: “It’s part of advancing our knowledge and the pursuit of truth. This is the very nature of the university. We can’t leave this behind.”

[...]
Excellent! Ge'ez (ancient Ethiopic) is of interest for ancient Jewish studies in particular because the text of 1 Enoch is preserved complete only in a Ge'ez translation.

Background here and links.

"All dreams follow the interpretation" - you are warned!

Dr. HAIM WEISS: “All Dreams Follow the Interpretation” – Even for the Rabbis! A New Approach to the Story of Abaye, Rava and the Dream Interpreter Bar Hedya (b. Berakhot 55b-56a) (TheGemara.com).
Introduction

Dreams – an involuntary human experience of unclear purpose, and of symbolic and enigmatic elements – presented the rabbis with an interpretive, cultural, and theological crux. Their struggle with this challenge, extending from the Mishnah (c. 200 C.E.) all the way to the late midrashim (eighth-ninth centuries), is reflected in dozens of statements, stories, and theological discussions.

In addition to these asides about dreams, three lengthy passages devoted to dreams have come down to us: y. Ma‘aser Sheni 4; 55b-c; Eichah Rabbah, and part of the ninth chapter of b. Berakhot, known by scholars as “Tractate Dreams,” 1 which will be the focus of this article.
Some past posts on dreams and dream interpretation in the Talmud are here, here, here, here, and here.

Interview with Benyamin Tsedaka

SAMARITAN WATCH: Fox column: Benny is a good Samaritan (Pastor Mark Fox, The Times-News).
“Many people learn history. Very few people learn from it.”

That was one of the statements Benyamim Tsedaka made in our 90-minute meeting for lunch a few weeks ago. Benyamim, who prefers to be called Benny to make it easier for Americans, is a 125th-generation Samaritan who knows his history and is on a mission to help others know it as well, so lessons may be learned and tragedies avoided.

The Samaritans are a tribe of Israelites that once boasted more than a million people in the 5th century, and dropped as low as 141 in 1919. Now there are 800 Samaritans, but that number is growing again. From the ancient tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Levi, the Samaritans live in or near Mount Gerizim in Israel, and follow only the first five books of the Old Testament, or, the Pentateuch.

Benny says the Samaritans and Jews are two brothers of the same nation, and he travels throughout the world for two months every year, meeting with world leaders and representing the Samaritan people. When he and I met with JL Williams and Margaret Wooten (the Wootens are Benny’s "adopted family" in Alamance County), he had just come from a meeting with one of the members of President-elect Trump's transition team.

Benny has quite the resumé. He served in the Israeli Air Force in the 1960s. Since 1969, he has served as chief editor of The Samaritan News, and has published 122 books. He is a choir director, the honorary chairman of the Samaritan Basketball Team, and since 2007, he has chaired the Samaritan Medal Committee for Peace and Humanitarian Achievements.

[...]
Yes, Mr. Tzedaka is very active I have been in touch with him occasionally over the years and you will find him from time to time in PaleoJudaica's archives - most recently in connection with his (co-authored with Sharon Sullivan) English translation of the Samaritan Pentateuch.

Malachi Martin

PALEOGRAPHY: The strange case of Father Malachi Martin, the Kerry priest who stars in Netflix's new documentary. A new documentary focuses on a Kerry priest who claimed to have carried out exorcisms. Was he the real deal or a fantasist (Darragh McManus, Independent.ie). Not an endorsement of this new film, which I have not seen and in which I have no interest, but I note this story because it tells me something interesting that I didn't know. Malachi Martin was a trained specialist in Semitic philology and paleography before he left the priesthood:
Born in Ballylongford in 1921, he became a Jesuit priest, did a doctorate in archaeology and Semitic languages in Belgium's Louvain University, worked on the famous Dead Sea scrolls, participated in archaeological digs in Egypt and served as private secretary to a Vatican cardinal, among many other achievements.
His 1999 obituary in the Independent (UK) gives additional details:
Martin grew up in a large, traditional Catholic family in County Kerry and in 1939 as a young man entered the Jesuit Order. He read for a BA in humanities at University College, Dublin, then spent three years studying philosophy followed by three years teaching in a Jesuit college in Ireland, and four years of theology studies at Milltown Park, Dublin (the college where Jesuits did their theological training). There he was ordained into the priesthood in 1954, taking his final vows as a Jesuit on 2 February 1957.

His talents were soon apparent and he was sent for further studies outside Ireland. He received doctorates from the universities of Louvain and Oxford and from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he concentrated on knowledge of Jesus as transmitted in Islamic and Jewish sources. As a biblical scholar, Martin's main contribution was the book The Scribal Character of the Dead Sea Scrolls, published in Louvain in 1958.

Marked out as a high-flyer, he became Professor of Palaeontology and Semitic Languages at the prestigious Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and was a theological adviser to Cardinal Augustin Bea, the head of the Vatican's Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. This brought him into close contact with Pope John XXIII.

Martin's years in Rome coincided with the start of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), which was to transform the Catholic Church in a way that the initially-liberal Martin began to find distressing. Disillusioned by the reforms taking place among the Jesuits, the Church's largest religious order, Martin requested a release from his vows in 1964 and left Rome suddenly that June.
And then, of course, his life took a rather different direction. He is best known as the exorcising priest in the episode on which the 1973 movie The Exorcist is based.

Amusingly, in the quote from the obituary his academic title is given as "Professor of Palaeontology." That should be Professor of Palaeography.

Restorations on the Church of the Nativity

REPAIR WORK UNDERWAY: Bethlehem shrine’s treasures being restored (Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service/Crux reprint).
The Church of the Nativity, built by Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, sits in Bethlehem above what’s believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. Since 2013, Italian experts have been working with the Palestinian government to overcome cultural and religious differences and forge ahead with an ambitious restoration.
As frequently with such things, this is the traditional birthplace of Jesus. In historical terms there is no certainty where or even in what year Jesus was born. But the site has a long tradition of association with his birth:
The church was completed on Constantine’s orders in 339 A.D. but later destroyed during conflict in the sixth century. A new basilica was built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in 565 A.D. and lined with colorful wall mosaics much later, during the 12th century.

“The design of the transept is an example of exceptional craftsmanship, and so too are the mosaics, the columns, the capitals and the architraves,” Piacenti said.

Over the years the structure has suffered from degradation and water infiltration. It was declared a U.N. World Heritage site in 2012 in a bid to save it from further decay and it’s also on the World Heritage endangered list.
But Piacenti said few realize it also withstood invasions, war and natural disasters.

“This church is a fortress that has survived attacks and 15 terrible earthquakes and it is still standing today,” he said.
The restorations have been underway since 2013 and are reportedly about two-thirds complete.

Background on its listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site is here and links.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Secunda on Hanukkah and Zoroastrian Fire Veneration

DR. SHAI SECUNDA: The Development of the Chanukah Oil Miracle in Context of Zoroastrian Fire Veneration. The Ancient Fire that Fueled the Chanukah Story (TheGemara.com).
Introduction
In recent years, most scholars have observed that the story concerning the miracle of oil is a late addition to the Chanukah traditions.1 This article suggests a possible Greek precursor to the story, and examines the role that the Iranian religion, Zoroastrianism, played in both these traditions about miraculous fire.
Cross-file under, Belatedly, 'Tis The Season (Hanukkah Edition).

Kemosh and YHWH

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY (ASOR): Kemosh, YHWH’s Counterpart and “Abomination” (Collin Cornell).
Sitting in a seminary classroom and translating the famous Mesha Inscription from Moab can create a unique sense of unease and confusion. Here is a god so similar to, well, God; to Yhwh that is, the god of the Hebrew Bible! So who was Kemosh, really?

[...]
Cross-file under Chemosh, Epigraphy, and History of Religion. More on the Mesha Inscription (Mesha Stele, Moabite Stone) is here and links.

Goodacre and Still now editors of NIGTC

READING ACTS: Goodacre and Still, New Editors of the New International Greek Text Commentary series.
Here is an exciting announcement from Eerdmans: Mark Goodacre and Todd D. Still are taking over editorship of the New International Greek Text Commentary series. The NIGTC is one on the premier New Testament commentaries published today. ...
Congratulations to both.

Magness lecturing at Baylor on Huqoq mosaics

BAYLOR UNIVERSITY: Biblical Mosaics Discovered in Ancient Israeli Synagogue Will Be Topic of Lecture by Excavation Director Jan. 19.
WACO, Texas (Jan. 12, 2017) — New discoveries of mosaics uncovered in an ancient synagogue in Israel’s Galilee region will be the topic of an upcoming slide-illustrated lecture by Jodi Magness, Ph.D., director of the excavations.

Magness’ presentation, which is free and open to the public, will be given at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, in Baylor University’s McClinton Auditorium, Room 240, of the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation, 1621 S. Third St.

[...]
Past posts on the new mosaic from Huqoq are collected here. And follow the links there for past posts on the other mosaics from Huqoq.

Herman Charles Hoskier Project

HISTORY OF NEW TESTAMENT TEXTUAL CRITICISM: Project Announcement: Herman Charles Hoskier and the Future of the Bible (Dr. Garrick Allen). This is a project being undertaken in Ireland by Dr. Allen, one of our recent St. Andrews PhDs. He has been mentioned at PaleoJudaica a number of times, including here, here, here, and here.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Review of Stang, Our Divine Double

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW:
Charles M. Stang, Our Divine Double. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 2016. Pp. 309. ISBN 9780674287198. $49.95.

Reviewed by Gregory Shaw, Stonehill College (gshaw@stonehill.edu)


Preview
Excerpt:
Eloquently written and accessible, this book traces in successive chapters the spiritual current of doubling that underlies Platonism, early Christianity, Manichaeism, and Neoplatonism. To read Our Divine Double is to fall under the spell that enthralled the author, who tells us that “the task of this book is to retrieve this tradition of the divine double from the obscurity into which it has fallen” (12). There is a prescriptive edge to Stang’s explorations. He has something at stake and his passion for retrieving the divine element in our human condition is infectious. Not only does this book invite us into the originating impulse of Christianity and other ancient traditions, it allows us to recognize that the divine double still lives among us, in intuitions, dreams and reveries, which belong to a language that has long been forgotten in our contemporary culture. Stang has discovered the syntax that allows us to reflect on such moments and recover a place for them in Western traditions.
I noted the book here when it came out last year. Further to my comments there, you can find some discussion of the divine double (heavenly counterpart) tradition in ancient Judaism in some of the essays by Andrei Orlov collected in From Apocalypticism to Merkabah Mysticisim (JSJSup 114; Leiden: Brill, 2007).

Academic conference presentations

THE ANXIOUS BENCH: Make a Good Impression at Academic Conferences (Please!) (Beth Allison Barr). Excerpt:
Most of us, when thinking about how to give a good conference paper, focus on the research, the historical conversation to which we are contributing, the questions we might get asked, and the scholars we might offend in the audience. After sitting through several sessions this past weekend, however, I think perhaps our priorities are skewed. Perhaps we should start paying at least as much attention to how we present our papers as we do to how we research our papers.
Read this before your present another conference paper. There's lots of good advice here.

Way back in 2004 there was a discussion of this issue among (and yes, we still seem to be using this term) bibliobloggers. You can see my advice, with a link to a post by Mark Goodacre, at my post on how to read a scholarly paper.

An ancient underground ritual bath in Jerusalem

MORE ARCHITECTURE: Jerusalem: Behind the Scenes of The Western Wall — A Monumental Ritual Bath (Carl Rasmussen, HolyLandPhotos' Blog).
We recently took the 80 minute guided tour called “Behind the Scenes of The Western Wall.” This tour is run by the same group that operates the much more familiar “The Western Wall Tunnels” tour.

One of the interesting finds that we visited was a large ritual bath from the late Second Temple Period (New Testament era) that is located on the lower eastern slope of the Western Hill—west of the Temple Mount proper.

[...]
A related post was noted here yesterday. Nice photos in this one too.

JSP 26.2 (2016)

A NEW ISSUE OF THE JOURNAL FOR THE STUDY OF THE PSEUDEPIGRAPHA (Volume 26, Issue 2, December 2016):
2 Baruch and the Syriac Codex Ambrosianus (7a1): Studying Old Testament Pseudepigrapha in Their Manuscript Context
Liv Ingeborg Lied
First Published January 10, 2017; pp. 67–107

Abstract
This article presents three hypotheses that may shed light on the place of 2 Baruch in the Syriac Codex Ambrosianus, the sixth-/seventh-century Old Testament codex that contains the only known complete copy of 2 Baruch. Whereas scholars of 2 Baruch have generally treated this copy in isolation from the rest of the manuscript, using it primarily as a witness to the (hypothetical) early Jewish text, this essay approaches 2 Baruch as an integral part of the codex, exploring codicological elements, the order and organization of books, as well as paratextual features. Inspired by the perspective of New Philology, this article contributes to the ongoing discussions about the origins, transmission and transformation of the so-called Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, claiming the importance of studying them in the manuscript contexts in which they are copied. The article will also be a contribution to the further study of the Codex Ambrosianus and the engagement with 2 Baruch among Syriac Christians.

Reception of the Greek Story of Melchizedek in Syriac Christian Tradition
Sergey Minov
First Published January 10, 2017; pp. 108–143

Abstract
This article focuses on the history of reception of the Story of Melchizedek, an original Greek composition from Late Antiquity, among Syriac-speaking Christians during the Middle Ages. For the first time the original Syriac text, English translation and discussion of three different witnesses to this apocryphal work in Syriac is provided, namely (1) the abbreviated translation of the Story incorporated into Catena Severi (ninth century), (2) the Pseudo-Athanasian excerpt found in ms. Vatican Syr. 159, and (3) the brief discourse entitled Melchizedek the Priest.

The Lion, the Honey, and the New Timnite Woman: Joseph and Aseneth and the Samson Cycle
Christopher Brenna
First Published January 10, 2017; pp. 144–163

Abstract
This study presents a solution for the symbol of the honeycomb employed in Joseph and Aseneth, an ancient Hellenistic Jewish novel, by recognizing signals throughout the rest of the narrative that point to an allegorical reading of Samson's encounter with the lion in Judg. 14.5–9. The thesis is that the author of Joseph and Aseneth is providing an allegorical reading of Judg. 14.5–9, where Samson is a type of wayward Israel and the Timnite woman represents foreign domination. The lion and the honey are interpreted as symbols of Samson's subsequent victory over his Philistine foes, and this symbolical movement is applied to Aseneth's transformed identity. Aseneth is a new Timnite woman and Joseph is a new Samson, reconfigured to triumph over her seductive influence. Parallels are drawn between a constructed allegorical reading of the Samson cycle and the encounter of Aseneth with Joseph and later with the heavenly man. The theological themes upon which such a reading relies are discussed.
A personal or institutional subscription is required to access the full articles. CORRECTION: A correspondent in Paris indicates that he is able to access the full articles without either kind of subscription. So perhaps they are free online, at least for some period of time. If you're interested, give it a try and find out.

Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

Gribetz on how to teach the Mishnah

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Teaching Students to Read (the Mishnah) ( Sarit Kattan Gribetz).
How do we effectively teach students to read new types of texts that might seem daunting for them at first glance? I have a set of simple suggestions, based on my experiences teaching rabbinic sources in introductory religion courses, that might help those looking for new strategies for incorporating texts and genres unfamiliar and seemingly inaccessible to students into their courses. While the example below focuses on teaching the Mishnah, it could easily be adapted to other sources, especially texts or artifacts that might confound students who encounter them on their own for the first time (e.g. Babylonian omen texts, Greek magical papyri, Justinian’s Digest, documents from the Judean desert, etc.).

[...]
There are some really good ideas in this essay and I think I will be adapting some of them in the Mishnah unit of my new Ancient Jewish Literature course this semester. And as the author observes, her overall approach could be adapted for teaching a wide range of ancient literature.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New director for the Israel Museum

CHANGE: Israel Museum announces new director. Architect Eran Neuman of Tel Aviv University will succeed James Snyder following nine-month search (Jessica Steinberg, Times of Israel).
Eran Neuman was announced Tuesday as the new director of the Israel Museum, following a nine-month search to find a successor to James Snyder.

Snyder, who will end his 20-year tenure as director, will assume the newly created role of international president of the museum, working with the network of International Friends of the Israel Museum, and building relationships with sister institutions and collectors worldwide.

Neuman, an architect and graduate of Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and UCLA, is currently director of the Azrieli School of Architecture at Tel Aviv University.

[...]
I noted back in March that James Snyder would be stepping down as director.

A monumental ancient hall in Jerusalem

ARCHITECTURE: A Monumental Herodian (Hasmonean?) Hall in Jerusalem — Behind the Scenes of the Western Wall (Carl Rasmussen, HolyLandPhotos' Blog).
We recently took the 80 minute guided tour called “Behind the Scenes of The Western Wall.” The main reason I signed up for this tour was to revisit a Monumental Hall from the late Second Temple Period (New Testament era).
Nice photos.

"Mastery of the wheels"

JESUS MONOTHEISM BLOG: An little noticed reference to speculation on Adam and the Merkabah in Ben Sira (Crispin Fletcher-Louis).
Ben Sira’s instruction in the “rule” or “mastery” of the wheels must have something to do with a vision of humanity exalted to position equivalent to, or identical with, the position of the human-like Glory of God that Ezekiel saw. That vision, says Ben Sira 50, is available in the liturgy of the temple. It is available, above all, in the ministry of the high priest. In that ministry there is the human-like Glory of God which Ezekiel saw. He is the one who shows us what it means to be given rule over all the works of God’s hands. He is the one who has a “mastery of the wheels of the divine chariot”.

In his own way, Ben Sira was a merkabah mystic, who provided his disciples an interpretation of Ezekiel 1.
Speculative, but interesting.

Seen on Facebook.

Bond on Josephus

BIBLE ODYSSEY: Who was Josephus? (Dr. Helen K. Bond). There are many, many past PaleoJudaica posts on Flavius Josephus. Some recent ones are here, here, here, and here and links.

More on Lithodomos

VIRTUAL REALITY: Walk Through Biblical Jerusalem of 2000 Years Ago With Stunning Clarity (Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News).
While many Bible-lovers through the generations have dreamed of walking through Jerusalem of old and witnessing the glory of the working Temple, no one has done it for two thousand years – until now. Using cutting-edge virtual reality (VR) technology, one archaeology scholar has recreated a detailed, historically accurate ancient world which immerses users in the Biblical experience of a lifetime.

As an undergraduate in archaeology, Simon Young wanted to experience first-hand what he was studying in textbooks. He tried constructing models and even attempted to rebuild historical scenes with 3D technology, but something was lacking. When he began his doctoral studies, he discovered Oculus Rift, a newly developed virtual reality (VR) headset. For the first time, Young was able to put himself inside ancient history. Young used the new technology to create archaeologically correct digital reconstructions of ancient cityscapes.

[...]
This article focuses on the background of the development of the Lithodomos app. Background here. Related story (different software) here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Roman theatre found at Hippos-Sussita

EXCAVATION: Archaeologists find vast pagan sanctuary outside Roman city in north Israel. Location of pagan cult site outside city walls of Hippos-Sussita suggests the primary purpose of the theater was to worship the gods, not entertain the masses (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
Archaeologists excavating the ancient Roman town of Hippos-Sussita in northern Israel have finally found the large theatre they'd been seeking for years. But based on its location outside town, they think the propylaea bathhouse-theater compound they discovered wasn't for entertainment, but for worship.

The ancients didn't have signs saying, "Line up here to adore Augustus." Building the tale of Hippos is like building a detective story, clue by clue, says Dr. Michael Eisenberg of Haifa University, head of the Hippos excavations project.

"First we found the Pan mask, in 2015," he says. "Then we found a monumental gate leading to what we surmised might be a site of worship. This year, in a single compound outside the city walls, we found a bathhouse and a theater."

The latest discoveries in Hippos-Sussita, which is within the Sussita Natural Park run by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, were unveiled Monday at the annual conference of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at Haifa University. At the conference, Eisenberg described the latest discoveries, including two burial grounds also located outside the city proper.

[...]
A long, detailed essay on the new discovery and on the site of Hippos-Sussita. It's a premium article, so read it soon before it goes behind the subscription wall.

The discovery of the Pan mask was noted here and of the monumental gate here. And follow the links in those posts for additional background on Hippos-Sussita.

New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, vol. 1

IN THE MAIL:
Tony Burke and Brent Landau (eds.), New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, volume 1 (Eerdmans, 2016)

Compilation of little-known and never-before-published apocryphal Christian texts in English translation

This anthology of ancient nonbiblical Christian literature presents introductions to and translations of little-known apocryphal texts from a wide variety of genres, most of which have never before been translated into any modern language.

An introduction to the volume as a whole addresses the most significant features of the included writings and contextualizes them within the contemporary (quickly evolving) study of the Christian Apocrypha. The body of the book comprises thirty texts that have been carefully introduced, annotated, and translated into readable English by eminent scholars. Ranging from the second century to early in the second millennium, these fascinating texts provide a more complete picture of Christian thought and expression than canonical texts alone can offer.
A review copy for PaleoJudaica, kindly sent by the publisher. I am very much looking forward to reading it. Watch for the review here in due course. Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

Epic rabbis in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: The Talmud as Epic.This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ brings to life rabbinic heroes on their intellectual battlefield: larger-than-life figures worthy of Greek drama.
But when it comes to aggadah, the Talmud’s passages of lore and legend, these one-dimensional names suddenly spring to life. The rabbis, it turns out, were not just law-producing machines; they were also saints and miracle-workers, friends and enemies, politicians and businessmen. Read one way, the Talmud is an epic, in which the rabbis play the role of heroes. But they are heroes of a particular kind: they fight not with swords but words, and the rewards they seek are not kingdoms but holiness and intellectual authority. This elevation of the intellectual and spiritual over the physical constitutes a particularly Jewish vision of heroism, which continues to play a central role in both religious and secular Jewish culture today.
And they were beautiful. Moses was also remembered as beautiful in ancient Jewish traditions (see here and here). The Merkavah mystics also frequently referred to the beauty of God (see, e.g., the passage from the Hekhalot Zutarti quoted here).

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

Hurtado on The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek

LARRY HURTADO: A New Greek-English Lexicon.
Serious students of early Christian texts will want to become acquainted with a new Greek-English lexicon: GE: The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2016), edited by Madeleine Goh & Chad Schroeder, under the auspices of the Center for Hellenic Studies. (The publisher’s online catalogue entry here.)

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This important new lexicon was noted earlier here, but Professor Hurtado gives additional background and details in his post. Cross-file under Philology.

Nebraska symposium on "Exile and Return in Jewish History"

H-JUDAIC: CFP: "Exile and Return in Jewish History."
The Thirtieth Annual Symposium on Jewish Civilization

“Next Year in Jerusalem: Exile and Return in Jewish History”

Call for Papers: October 29-30, 2017

The Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization (Creighton University), the Kripke Center for the Study of Religion and Society (Creighton University), the Harris Center for Judaic Studies (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), and the Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies (University of Nebraska-Omaha) announce their Thirtieth Annual Symposium, in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, on Sunday, October 29, and Monday, October 30, 2017. Sessions with take place on the campuses of Creighton, UNL, and UNO and also at the Omaha Jewish Community Center.

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The deadline for submission of abstracts is 15 April 2017. Follow the link for further particulars.