Saturday, November 22, 2003

MY INTERNET TIME runs out soon and I want to get downstairs to the book display before lunch, so this will be my last Atlanta post. But I do want to mention what an energizing and reaffirming experience this conference is. I've spent most of the last few months in a room by myself slaving over a book that deals with extremely difficult historical problems - the longer I work on them the more I realize how difficult they are. Sometimes I've felt discouraged. So it's been great to be here and to have conversations on the plane, in the PSCO session, and in the hallways with people who know the subject and who see the point of what I'm doing and why I'm doing it the way I am. As I said earlier, they have alerted me to texts I didn't know about. Also, the process of talking through a project with other people who are working in related areas is in itself helpful: verbalizing and summarzing what I'm doing makes me think it through again and distil the important points for myself in ways I hadn't before. And hearing about their projects sometimes gives me new angles on mine.

That's the real point of conferences (which, of course, is not to say that drinking and gossiping are entirely irrelevant), and it's something you can't get just by posting the papers online, much as I approve of doing that too. For that reason I don't think we'll reach the point of fully virtual conferences any time soon, if ever. At least I hope not.

By the way, I haven't had the patience to correct the time given in these entries, so they still reflect the Scottish time zone. Subtract five hours from all Atlanta entries to see what time I was actually posting them.

Look for me again on Wednesday.
IN OTHER NEWS, the Guardian. reports on a BBC2 program that takes apart the Bible Code nonsense. The Yale Daily News reports that American Sign Language, Arabic, and Hebrew are the languages whose study is growing the fastest in the USA. And according to Eonline the New York Post reviewed Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ based on a pirated rough cut that fell into their hands.

Sorry, you'll have to find the URLs yourself but, armed with the information above and Google, this shouldn't be difficult.
THE PSCO SESSION last night had something over 30 attendees. Here's some of what happened, based on my hastily scrawled notes. I shall try to represent accurately what I heard (and in one or two cases I asked people after the session to make sure I had it right), but if I get something that you said wrong, drop me an e-mail and I will correct it. As always, I will refrain from quoting anyone who asked not to be quoted.

Bob Kraft opened with some observations on the Seminar and the history of the study of the "parabiblical literature." He noted in passing that Montague Rhodes James, best known in our circles for being a prolific publisher of parabiblical literature, is known in wider circles mainly for his ghost stories. A Google search of his name verifies this.

The first panelist was George Nickelsburg (University of Iowa - retired), who spoke on Enoch and Abraham. I missed the first part of his comments on Enoch in my notes, but he did say that Enoch is interesting for being in competition with the Moses tradition and even "stealing" from it (e.g., opening lines of the Book of the Watchers, where material from the Moses tradition is put in the mouth of Moses. As for Abraham, there's lots of later interest in the Aqedah (binding of Isaac): Paul and James duel over its meaning (does it show his faith or his works?) and the Testament of Abraham uses him as an example of someone who doesn't have faith. Traditions migrate among the stories of the patriarchs (e.g., Job traditions are applied to Abraham in Jubilees). Curiously, although Enoch has no real biography, he becomes typified as a model righteous person.

My comments went according to script and you can read them in Wednesday's entry below.

Brannon Wheeler (University of Washington) spoke about traditions about the prophets in the Qur'an and early Islamic exegesis. The Qur'an and early Islam grow out of late antiquity and the full range of traditions about the prophets should be looked at - they can be mutually illuminating. He had three main points, with examples. (1) Qur'anic material sometimes gives a different perspective than that of Jewish or Christian exegesis. (2) One could argue that later texts sometimes have traditions ealier than what we find in earlier texts. Pseudepigrapha and parabiblical literature in some cases are post-Qur'anic. (3) Jews and Christians also borrowed from Muslims.

Kim Haines-Eitzen (Cornell) spoke on the female figure of Thekla in early Christianity. This is not an area I know much about (I don't think i've even read the Acts of Paul and Thekla) and so my notes on her comments are not very coherent. Her (Kim's, not Thekla's) interests are in religious identity as seen through the lens of "textual communities," and in the preservation, copying, and transmission of particular texts, and in what the material form of books can tell us about their use, interpretation, and production. The earliest fragments of Thekla material are often in miniature codices, perhaps for use in pilgrimage. She also mentioned an episode in which Thekla baptized herself when she was thrown into a tank of killer seals. I think I heard that right.

My jet lag was catching up with me fast at this point and most of the discussion didn't make it into my notes. I did get a few things on the discussion of Enoch. George floated the idea that there was a developing tendency in late antiquity to focus sacred traditions on persons, unlike in the Bible. He also said that Enoch is a name looking for a tradition. He also asked why certain figures disappear from the traditions, citing as an example the the way that the Watchers story and Enoch are dropped from the fourth centuries on in Christian circles as an explanation for the origin of evil, with the Adam and Eve story replacing them for that subject. This led to a discussion of Augustine's need of an anthropological explanation as part of the reason, the question of whether there was already discomfort with Enoch in Christian circles before the fourth century (e.g., Origen), whether Enoch was entirely dropped in the Greek traditions, and what kinds of interest n Enoch there were in Egypt.

A number of people also gave me leads for additional material relating to the Rechabites, for which I am grateful.

That's about all I can squeeze from my notes. The PSCO secretary also taped the session, so maybe we can look forward to a more thorough summary in due course.

Friday, November 21, 2003

MARK GOODACRE gives us some preliminary thoughts regarding his paper on his "All-n-One Biblical Resoures Guide." To read them, go to the links section on the right, click on the "Weblogs etc." link and you will find there a link to his New Testament Gateway blog.

Mark notes the acroynym "CARG," which came about back when the Computer Assisted Research "Section" was still a "Group" (the two terms have technical meanings in SBL parlance). I've always been amused by the acronym and I was glad they kept it when the name changed. Science fiction readers will recall that in Keith Laumer's classic novel Dinosaur Beach the "Kargs" were evil Terminator-like robots from the future who came back in time to carry out dastardly deeds to change the course of history.

I'm sure the similarity in name is just a coincidence. Of course, I have presented a CARG paper myself iin recent years, so I would say that, wouldn't I?


That's enough from me today. (Probably more than enough.) The PSCO session is this evening. Scroll down for my preliminary comments for the panel discussion. I'll aim to give you a brief report on the session tomorrow morning.
ROGER WIECK, Curator of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts for the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, will be lecturing on "The Medieval Bible" at the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book Exhibit on Saturday, 6 December, according to Yahoo News. Again, try using some of the key words above as search terms in Google News or in Yahoo News's seach engine to access the article.
OKAY, THE BIG NEWS is that a second inscription has been found on Absalom's Tomb in the Kidron valley. (Unfortunately, my hotel-room TV system doesn't even show you URLs, let alone let you copy them so you can link to something. Grrr. So no links in Atlanta posts: well have to try a lateral approach instead.) Regular readers will recall that Absalom's Tomb (so-called, much later than Absalom actually) has a Byzantine-era inscription referring to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. (Try entering the search term "Absalom" into my search engine, down and to the right, to access the relevant posts in the archive).

The new inscription refers to Simeon, who according to Luke blessed the baby Jesus in the Temple. The inscription is actually part of the text of Luke 2:25. The article appears in dozens of news sites, but the best coverage I found was on the CNN site, which includes an image of drawings of both inscriptions. Enter the article title "Biblical clue found on ancient shrine" either into Google News or the CNN website itself and this should get you the article.

Please excuse typos. I'm trying to catch them but, as I said, conditions are primitive.
I'M IN ATLANTA, blogging in my hotel room from a woefully inadequate television system. I got here yesterday evening and managed to get most of a night's sleep, although I've been up since 5:00 am. Downtown Atlanta seems to lack a single Internet cafe, which is, well, primitive. I wouldn't be blogging at all, but I promised my mother I would e-mail her and she would fret if I didn't. So I have television Internet access through tomorrow morning. Right now it's early afternoon local time and I need a nap. I"ll try to dig up some blog goodies for you later.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I LEAVE FIRST THING TOMORROW MORNING for the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta. I am slated for two presentations there. First, on Friday evening, I'm on a panel discussion for the Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins. I have some brief preliminary comments on myself and on "The Rechabites in Patristic and Parabiblical Literature," which premium subscribers to (meaning anyone who clicks on the link) can read now. And here's the handout that goes with the presentation.

Then on Monday morning I present a paper in the Pseudepigrapha Section on "Is the Story of Zosimus Really a Jewish Composition?" which, again, you can read here in advance along with it's handout.

There is a great deal going on at the AAR/SBL meetings, including many papers on ancient Judaism. I can't hope to attend anything like all of them (many are scheduled in conflict with one another), but I'll do the best I can and, if I can find a convenient cyber caf� and enough energy, I'll do my best to comment on a few of them here during the conference. The Cambridge SBL meeting was in a single building, but this conference is in two different hotels some distance from each other in downtown Atlanta so, assuming I do attend some papers, I may not have much time for blogging.

A while ago Mark Goodacre pointed out the SBL Program Pages site, which links to the home pages for a number of the SBL program units. Many of these already have conference papers posted. For ancient Judaism note especially the Josephus Seminar, which has links to the following papers for this year:

John M G Barclay (University of Durham) "Josephus and his Audiences: Exploring Reading Options in a Commentary" (Response: James S Mclaren [Australian Catholic University])

Jonathan J Price (Tel Aviv University), "Josephus' reading of Thucidydes: A test-case in the BJ," (Response: Honora H Chapman [California State University, Fresno])

Miriam Ben-zeev (Ben Gurion University), "Josephus' Ambiguities: His Comments on Cited Documents,"

Claude Eilers (McMaster University), "Josephus' Caesarian Acta: History of a Dossier"

Tessa Rajak (University Of Reading), "Who needs charters? Josephus in the light of Greek historiographical practice"

(Response: Erich S. Gruen [University of California Berkeley])

There's also the Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism Group (to whose main page, mysteriously, there is no link). Papers for this year include:

Jonathan Knight - The mystical understanding in the Ascension of Isaiah

Andrei Orlov - Ex 33 on God's Face:A Lesson from the Enochic Tradition

Christopher R. A. Morray-Jones - The Exegete Goes to Heaven: How Visionaries Read Visions (This is dated 2000 and the book has been published - included on the Program Pages page by mistake?)

Charles A. Gieschen - Baptismal Praxis in the Book of Revelation

These and other groups have papers from past years on their websites as well. Mark Goodacre has also been listing papers of New Testament interest this week (just keep scrolling down). If you can't get to the conference this year, there's plenty online which will give you a good virtual experience, even if it still lacks the networking in the halls between sessions and drinking at the receptions.

As I said, I'll try to do at least a little blogging while I'm there. I'm scheduled to be back in St. Andrews on Wednesday, the 26th. Have a good week.

Scholar says inscription about 'brother' of Jesus may be genuine (Society of Jesus USA website)

By Bronson Havard

IRVING, Texas (CNS) -- An ancient Holy Land burial box with the controversial inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" may be authentic, Jesuit Father Joseph Fitzmyer, a noted Scripture scholar, said in a lecture at the University of Dallas.

Father Fitzmyer questioned a finding by the Israel Antiquities Authority, a government agency, that the inscription was fake.

The Israeli agency known as the IAA has failed to settle the issue, he said Nov. 8 to nearly 300 people at the university located in Irving.

Father Fitzmyer sided with Andre Lemaire, a Scripture scholar at the Sorbonne University in Paris, in disputing a conclusion by the antiquities authority that the inscription on the burial box, called an ossuary, is a fake.


Read it all.
THREE NEW BOOKS ON GENESIS are reviewed by Walter Brueggemann in Christianity Today. All of this long review is interesting and it's hard to decide what to excerpt. My main interest is in the third book:

Gary Anderson offers a discussion that is limited to Genesis 1-3, a study that is remarkable in its reach�not least in its recovery of early readings of the text. In The Genesis of Perfection: Adam and Eve in Jewish and Christian Imagination, Anderson, recently gone to Notre Dame, takes up these chapters by reference to the Life of Adam and Eve, an ancient post-biblical document much used by Christians in the early centuries of the church. (Anderson offers a translation of the document in an appendix.) Anderson's concern is to study the way in which early Christian interpreters made use of the Genesis text "in conformity with an evolving interpretive tradition." That interpretive tradition was rooted in Judaism, as Anderson respectfully acknowledges; his focus, however, is upon the Christian practice of interpretation, which moves in quite distinctive and imaginative directions.

It is a primary thrust of the book to insist that the Genesis narratives are too terse and underdeveloped to be taken by themselves; they require ongoing work in an interpretive community. Given that premise, Anderson then proposes that taken canonically, the Genesis narratives must be read in terms of their ending, a culmination�in Christian practice�in Christology and with particular reference to Mary, who is the new Eve. The assumption of the book then is "canonical" in a most expansive sense, an insistence that the text must be read in a faith community and with respect for "the domain of the Creed as much as the territory of the dispassionate literary historian." The outcome is a canonical reading through the imagination of the early church, a reading that is so daring as to make even the erudite canonical approach of Brevard Childs seem timid and anemic.

Brueggemann concludes:

It strikes this reviewer as most important that these books move quickly beyond the characteristic categories of 20th century-criticism. Borgman, in his centrist approach, is less explicit about context. Kass yields a quite Jewish reading that culminates in appreciation of a community committed to holiness. Anderson's reading is powerfully Christian (Catholic!) in his comprehension of the old and deep tradition. The sum of these books invites critical reflection on the older presuppositions of scholarship, especially concerning (a) source analysis and the question of authority and (b) cultural parallels and the issue of distinctiveness, issues that became a huge battleground over the relation of faith and criticism. The new directions suggest an important unlearning in the field. Critical scholars may unlearn the deep focus on criticism for the sake of the text itself. Resisters to criticism may unlearn the vigorous energy used to defeat criticism. Both critics and resisters might rather turn to the text itself and find common ground there.

These books are especially important in Old Testament studies at a moment when the mostly British "minimalists" have exhaustingly sought to dismiss the text as "historically" unreliable. As these books make clear, such an obsession with "history" as propels the "minimalists" is hardly worth the effort. The text does not depend upon "history" nearly as much as it depends upon serious readers who both take the reading tradition of faith seriously and move on imaginatively. It is a splendid time to be a serious, imaginative reader!

It is indeed.

The remains of a heretofore-unknown ancient Jewish
village dating back nearly two thousand years has been uncovered on the northern rim of Jerusalem, the Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday.

The first century Jewish community was stumbled upon in late May near the entrance to the present day Shuafat refugee camp, in the wake of infrastructure work which the city was carrying out at the site for the Jerusalem's light rail-system, which is still under construction.

A three-month long archaeological excavation at the site - which archaeologists date back to the second temple period and was abandoned during the days of the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans -- uncovered the remains of homes made of ashlar stone, courtyards and three bathhouses in the village.

Read it all.

Stolen Jewish manuscript returned after 65 years (CNN)
Nazis looted 14th century document from collection in Austria

From Chris Strathmann
Tuesday, November 18, 2003 Posted: 5:56 PM EST (2256 GMT)
A rare 14th century Hebrew manuscript was returned to the Vienna Jewish community by U.S. Customs officials Tuesday.

A rare 14th century Hebrew manuscript was returned to the Vienna Jewish community by U.S. Customs officials Tuesday.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Nearly 65 years to the day after it was stolen by the Nazis, a rare historical Hebrew manuscript has been returned to the Austrian Jewish community.

At a ceremony in Manhattan, officials with the Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement presented the letter-size parchment to Erika Jakubovits, executive director of the Jewish Community Organization of Vienna.

Agents recovered the document in June 2002 after it was smuggled into the United States and slated for sale at auction.

The 14th century manuscript is one of the oldest versions of a Kabalistic text known as Sepher Yetzirah. It's one of the first texts to mention the ancient Jewish mystical movement, according to Ori Soltes of the Holocaust Art Restoration Project. The document is valued at $68,000.


Not to be snarky or anything, but I do wish reporters would learn to spell "Kabbalah" and its derivatives, especially since the subject seems to be in the news a lot these days. Two Bs, one L. Or, if you must, the older (in English, that is) spelling "Cabala," which looks to me to be Latinized, perhaps via the Christian Kabbalists. Anybody know?

Congratulations to the Vienna Jewish community on the return of the manuscript. Kudos also to the U.S. customs department for recovering it. And boo to Kestenbaum & Company for trying to go through with the sale.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

A BOOK ON THE QUMRAN CALENDAR AND THE BIBLE is being self-published on the Web. Here's an excerpt from the Yahoo News press release:

'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' Sheds New Light on Questions of Old Testament Chronology
Tuesday November 18, 8:18 am ET

BRISBANE, Australia, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- After ten years of research into the chronological inconsistencies of the Bible's Old Testament - primarily the books of Kings and Chronicles - theologian R.P. BenDedek has uncovered the millennia-old mystery that, he believes, was intended to result in an inflation of the chronological history of ancient Israel. Now BenDedek has published his findings in a new book, "The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran," on the Web at

"For over a century, the chronological history of ancient Israel has remained problematic for theologians, archaeologists and historians alike, by virtue of biblical chronology that exceeds the known parameters of ancient Near Eastern history," BenDedek explained. "But when I stumbled across a common mathematical thread running through biblical chronology, the records of Josephus, and the Damascus Document of the Dead Sea Scrolls, I knew I had found something of great significance."

That something turned out to be an artificial calendar year. When BenDedek substituted a 336-day year (twelve months of four seven-day weeks) for the Essene 364-day solar year (thirteen months of four seven-day weeks), he found that the chronological inconsistencies in I and II Kings and Chronicles disappeared.

The first third of the book is free but you have to pay for the rest, when the rest becomes available.

I am extremely skeptical of this sort of anonymously self-published attempt to solve a huge problem that has been occupying scholars for many years. In this case, I'm not at all sure that this problem has a solution, at least of the straightforward type the author envisions. If the author wants to be taken seriously, he or she should go public, present their credentials, and convince a reputable academic publisher to publish the book. This is not an area I have a lot of interest in, but a quick look-through doesn't turn up anything to allay my skepticism. For example, I can find nothing in chapter one on the numerous, extremely difficult, calendrical texts from Qumran or the burgeoning secondary literature on them. In general, knowledge of the secondary literature looks quite sketchy. If any specialists in Qumran or Israelite calendrical problems want to take the time to have a look and e-mail me their comments, I'll consider posting them here.

Meanwhile, I would advise you to save your money for something more credible.

UPDATE (19 November): "R.P. BenDedek" and I have had an e-mail exchange that is recorded in part here. This is the full text of my reply to his/her message (BenDedek's words in italics, mine in Roman font):

Hello R. P. BenDedek,

Thank you Mr. Davila for your posting. That was the aim, and I'm indebted to you.

1. Could you tell me why it is that you feel that 'purchasing' the book from an author makes it unworthy of sale, but giving your money to an academic publisher is fine? (This is rhetorical - I'm not looking for you to post this email).

Because the publisher puts the book through a peer review process that weeds out books that don't reach at least a reasonable control over the primary and secondary sources and the relevant methodologies. I am generally suspicious of self-published efforts for that reason. In the specific case of your book, it looks to me as though it would not have made it through the peer review process. Thus I don't think my readers would get their money's worth by buying it.

2. Please note that my work is anything but simple.

I never said it was simple. I said it did not control the relevant primary and secondary literature.

3. However everything that one needs to examine it, is free online, so there really is no need for 'academics' to buy it. The tools are provided free for them to 'scientifically' test the hypothesis and check the results against known history.

Fair enough.

4. Thank you for recommending it to qualified academics. That was much appreciated.

Best Wishes.

Best wishes,

Jim Davila

I wasn't precisely recommending it: I was drawing it to their attention. But if they want to take the time to look at it I'd be interested in their reactions.
WANT TO ACE THE SAT? Take Hebrew or Latin, in that order:

Students who took Latin outscored every other language-studying group on the verbal portion of the SAT except those who took Hebrew, according to the College Board's most recent profile of college-bound seniors.


Manuscript Looted by Nazis to Be Returned (Acron Beacon Journal)
Associated Press

NEW YORK - A 14th-century Jewish manuscript seized by the Nazis from a library in Vienna 65 years ago will be returned to Austria after it turned up in a New York auction house.

The Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division is scheduled to present the rare Kabbalistic manuscript valued at over $68,000 to Jewish Community Organization of Vienna at a news conference on Tuesday.


A description from the auction catalogue says the Hebrew manuscript is an early version of a form of the Sepher Yetzirah, or "Book of Formation," described as the "oldest and most esoteric of all Kabbalistic texts." Kabbala is an ancient Jewish mystical tradition.


The oldest certainly: specialists date the Sepher Yetzirah to anywhere from the Mishnaic period to something like the ninth or tenth century. But I wouldn't want to try to decide which Kabbalistic work is the most esoteric.

Monday, November 17, 2003

JERUSALEM THROUGH COINS is a very interesting website by amateur collector Sandy Brenner which has lots of information on coins in ancient Judaism, lavishly illustrated with photographs.
ON IOUDAIOS-L Steven Mason has posted information on a Josephus colloquium at Trinity College, Dublin and a new postgraduate program at York University in Toronto.

Beit Morasha of Jerusalem - Robert M. Beren College
The Institute for the Study of Rabbinic Thought

Invites the public to attend its Sixth Annual Conference:

How Formative are Polemics to
Rabbinic Thought?

Sunday-Wednesday, December 21-24, 2003
Beit Morasha of Jerusalem, Kiryat Moriah Campus
Talpiot, Jerusalem
For further details please contact:

Sunday, December 21
9:30-11:30 Joshua Schwartz (Bar-Ilan University), Chair
Alon Goshen-Gottstein (Beit Morasha), Polemicomania - Methodological Reflections on the Place of Christian-Jewish Polemic in Rabbinic Thought
Reuven Kimelman (Brandeis University), When Are Things Polemical and When Are They Self-Affirmation?

12:00-14:00 Jonah Fraenkel (Hebrew University), Chair
Yaakov Elboim (Hebrew University), Polemics, Disputes and Constant Truths In Urbach's The Sages
Vered Noam (Tel-Aviv University), The Excommunication of R. Eliezer - Between Dispute and Polemics
Yehuda Brandes (Beit Morasha), Fictive Polemics as Representation of Others' Halakhic Opinions

Monday, December 22
9:30-11:30 Daniel Schwartz (Hebrew University), Chair
Ruth Clemens (Orion Center), Lifting Moses' Elbows; or, How Do You Know a Counter-Interpretation When You See One?"
Ron Reissberg (University of Judaism), A Tale of Two Cities: From Caesarea to Nisibis, The Christian Impact on Rabbinic Theology
Ido Hevroni (Bar-Ilan University), Tempting Satan: Multi-Layered Polemic in a Talmudic Story

12:00-14:00 Galit Hasan-Rokem, (Hebrew University), Chair
Israel J. Yuval (Hebrew University), 'All Israel Have a Share in the World to Come' - The Limits of Polemical Interpretation
Gavriel Barzilei (Bar-Ilan University), Anti-Samaritan Polemic in the Early Exegesis of Genesis
Amram Tropper (Hebrew University), Polemic Readings of Tractate Avot: Methodological Considerations

Tuesday, December 23
9:30-11:30 Daniel Sperber (Beit Morasha & Bar-Ilan University), Chair
Avraham Wallfish (Herzog College), Explicit and Implicit Polemics in the Mishna and their Philosophical Implications
Harry Fox (University of Toronto), Explicit and Implicit Polemics in the Amida: A Reconsideration
Avigdor Shinan (Hebrew University), Internal or External Polemics? The Prophet Jonah in the House of R. Yohanan

12:00-14:00 Chana Safrai (Hebrew University), Chair
Tal Ilan (Freie Universit�t, Berlin), Jesus and Joshua b. Perahia: A Jewish- Christian Dialogue on Magic
Eyal Regev (Bar-Ilan University), Anti-Sadducee Polemics as a Shaping Factor in Rabbinic Halakhic Thought
Meir Bar-Ilan (Bar-Ilan University), Polemics between Priests and Sages in the First Century C.E.

Wednesday, December 24
9:30-11:30 Joshua Levinson (Hebrew University), Chair
Chaim Milikowksy (Bar-Ilan University), Concealed Polemics in Seder Olam
Rina Lapidus (Bar-Ilan University), Parallel and Allegory in Rabbinic Polemics
Tamar Meir (Bar-Ilan University), The Live Dog and Dead Lion: An Inter-Cultural Confrontation Concerning the Concept of Leadership

12:00-14:00 Shlomo Naeh (Hebrew University), Chair
Menahem Kister (Hebrew University), A Polemic on the Conquest of Canaan
Gilad Sasson (Bar-Ilan University), Rabbinic Criticism of the Patriarchs in Light of the Jewish-Christian Polemic
Isaiah Gafni (Hebrew University), Rabbinic Representations of the Past - a Counter-Reaction?
A DEAD SEA SCROLL TEXT will be on display at a holiday festival in November and December in Elkhart County, Indiana. The article says:

The month-long festival at the 4-H fairgrounds, expected to open during Thanksgiving week 2004, will feature food, shopping and performances. The centerpiece of the event will be the depiction of the travels by Joseph and Mary, as well as a display of Holy Land artifacts -- including a portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it was announced Saturday.

No word yet on which Scroll fragment or text will be on display.
THE FIRST-CENTURY JERUSALEM SHROUD is to be the subject of a lecture by Dr. Shimon Gibson at UNC-Charlotte tonight and then at the American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting in Atlanta, which begins on Wednesday. You can find more on the shroud project here.

UPDATE: I originally incorrectly said the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting. I have corrected the post above. Thanks Mark!

Sunday, November 16, 2003

I'VE NEGLECTED TO POST any course syllabi for some time, so here's one by Prof. Scott B. Noegel of the University of Washington: "Inscriptions from Biblical Times: HEBR 428." It deals with material earlier that what I usually cover, but there aren't many courses taught on ancient Hebrew epigraphy, so I'll include it.