Saturday, June 11, 2005

"600,000+ VERSES SERVED." Zack Hubert continues to develop his wonderful website for biblical language resources. Here is his current list of resources available:
Texts Currently Available - jtauber's GNT v. 5.05, CATSS' LXX, Tanakh, Apocrypha
Concordance - a navigable list of all lemma linked to all usages
Parallel Passages - as many verticals as you'd like
Parsing - available for every Greek word, just hover over the word with your mouse
Word Detail Page - click on a word while reading and see detailed information about that word
Word Study - from the detail page, you can conduct a study on every use of the form or the root
Graphical Occurrence - from the word detail page, shows occurrences of both root and form by book
Basic Root Definitions - simple lexicon entries that you can make more accurate (moderated)
User Features - keep your own bookmark, translation, and font settings (if you're logged in)
Interlinear - include NASB, ESV, KJV or your own translation right next to the Greek

I've only tried out a few of these, but what I have used is very well done.

Friday, June 10, 2005

THE PLAN TO DEMOLISH PALESTINIAN HOMES IN SILWAN is on hold according to the BBC and the Jerusalem Post. Meanwhile, Richard Bartholomew has a long post with lots of background information.
THE JOURNAL FOR THE STUDY OF THE PSEUDEPIGRAPHA has a new issue out (14.3 -- May 2005). Here's the table of contents [NOTE: History Carnival readers, please note the update at the end of this post]:
Daniel M. Gurtner
The �House of the Veil� in Sirach 50
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 2005 14: 187-200.

Timo Nisula
�Time has passed since you sent your letter�: Letter Phraseology in 1 and 2 Maccabees
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 2005 14: 201-222.

David Rothstein
Joseph as Pedagogue: Biblical Precedents for the Depiction of Joseph in Aramaic Levi (4Q213)
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 2005 14: 223-229.

Alexander Toepel
Planetary Demons in Early Jewish Literature
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 2005 14: 231-238.

Jonathan von Kodar
Book Review: The Medieval Popular Bible: Expansions of Genesis in the Middle Ages
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 2005 14: 239-243.

John J. Collins
Book Review: Book III of the Sibylline Oracles and its Social Setting, with an Introduction, Translation and Commentary
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 2005 14: 243.

Lorenzo DiTommaso
Book Review: A History of Biblical Interpretation. I. The Ancient Period
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 2005 14: 244-246.

Requires a paid personal or institutional subscription to download the articles.

It happens that just this morning I got the good news that my article "(How) Can We Tell if a Greek Apocryphon or Pseudepigraphon Has Been Translated from Hebrew or Aramaic?" has been accepted by this journal. You can read an early conference-paper version of it here.

UPDATE: Further to the above, I've been meaning to comment on Ed Cook's post regarding Maurice Casey's attempts at retroverting Greek passages from Mark into their original Aramaic. Ed writes:
I've been reading Maurice Casey's Aramaic Sources of Mark's Gospel, and so far (I haven't read much) it's good, especially on the methodological side.

I think Casey's methodology is weak. His discussions of translation theory and bilingualism don't feed directly into the rest of the book in any way that is clear to me. And he neglects or ignores a considerable secondary literature on problems with retroversion of Hebrew and Aramaic from Greek (Beyer, Maloney, Martin, Fitzmyer, Barr, Tov, Wright, etc.). Some of them are discussed in the conference-paper link above. Casey approaches the issue as though retroversion problems always have one solution, which is by no means the case. He has created some possible solutions to some retroversion problems, but how much his reconstructions represent Mark's actual Aramaic sources is debatable. Retroversion of substantial passages in Hebrew or Aramaic from a Greek source (as opposed to establishing that there was Semitic interference in the Greek) is inherently problematic and I am skeptical that it can be done with any hope of accuracy. For a long treatment of the whole issue, including a discussion of Casey's work, see my forthcoming JSP piece.

UPDATE (15 June): Welcome, readers of History Carnival #10! For lots more on the Old Testament pseudepigrapha, see this post. And note also the list of Memorable PaleoJudaica Posts on my links page, most of which have something to do with history.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

I'M BACK IN MY OFFICE. There wasn't any bomb. I didn't expect there would be, but it's a relief to have that confirmed. No more information forthcoming at present.
I'M WAY BEHIND on noting new articles and journal issues and have intended to catch up when things quieted down. Well, perhaps this afternoon doesn't count as "quiet," but at least it's quiet where I am at the moment. So here are some recent publications.

Review of Jennifer M. Dines, The Septuagint. Edited by M. A. Knibb. Understanding the Bible and Its World. London & New York: T & T Clark, 2004. xvii + 196 pp. Paperback, $25.95. ISBN 0-567-08464 (by Richard S. Hess for the Denver Journal 8, 2005).

A recent issue of Dead Sea Discoveries which I thought I had already noted, but it seems I didn't get around to it. It's issue 12.1, 2005, devoted to the Dead Sea Scrolls and popular culture and edited by Maxine Grossman and Catherine Murphy.

Introduction: The Dead Sea Scrolls in the Popular Imagination
pp. 1-5(5)
Authors: Grossman Maxine L.; Murphy Catherine M.


Great Scott! the Dead Sea Scrolls, McGill University, and the Canadian Media
pp. 6-23(18)
Authors: du Toit Jaqueline S.; Kalman Jason

Inverting Reality: The Dead Sea Scrolls in the Popular Media
pp. 24-37(14)
Author: Schiffman Lawrence H.

The Scrolls in the British Media (1987�2002)
pp. 38-51(14)
Author: Brooke George J.

On the Fringe at the Center: Close Encounters between "Popular Culture" and the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls
pp. 52-67(16)
Author: Clements Ruth

Mystery or History: The Dead Sea Scrolls as Pop Phenomenon
pp. 68-86(19)
Author: Grossman Maxine L.

The Dead Sea Scrolls in Popular Culture: "I can give you no idea of the Contents"
pp. 87-94(8)
Author: Mahan Jeffrey H.

Why the Papers Love the Scrolls
pp. 95-100(6)
Author: Silk Mark

Oh, yes, I did note it briefly over at Qumranica. But now you have it here too. Requires paid personal or institutional subscription to access.

There are two new issues of the Journal for the Study of Judaism to note:

JSJ 36.1 (2005)

The Letter of Aristeas: A New Exodus Story?
pp. 1-20(20)
Author: Hacham, Noah

Jewish Festal Names in Antiquity�A Neglected Area of Onomastic Research
pp. 21-40(20)
Author: Williams, Margaret H.

Nuancing Augustine's Hermeneutical Jew: Allegory and Actual Jews in the Bishop's Sermons
pp. 41-64(24)
Author: Harkins, Franklin T.

Inscriptiones Judaicae Orientis: A Review Article
pp. 65-83(19)
Author: Van Der Horst, Pieter W.

Review of Books

Review of Books
pp. 84-145(62)

JSJ 36.2 (2005)

Hellenistic Instruction in Palestine and Egypt: Ben Sira and Papyrus Insinger
pp. 147-172(26)
Author: Goff, Matthew J.

Tobit's Religious Universe Between Kinship Loyalty and the Law of Moses
pp. 173-196(24)
Authors: Fa�beck, Gabriele

Eine Reichsteilung Bei Josephus Flavius. Beobachtungen Zu Seiner Auffassung Von Daniel 5
pp. 197-205(9)
Authors: H�ffken, Peter

Ort Und Funktion Der Wolkenvision Und Ihrer Deutung in Der Syrischen Baruchapokalypse. Eine These Zu Deren Thematischer Entfaltung
pp. 206-246(41)
Author: Leuenberger, Martin

Review of Articles

Review of Articles
pp. 247-262(16)

Requires paid personal or institutional subscription to access.

That's enough for now. I'm going to go find out what's happening at St. Mary's and then see about some lunch.
BOMB THREAT! One of the University buildings near St. Mary's College received a bomb threat this morning and we've all been evacuated from our building as well. No official word on what the threat was about, and I'm not going to repeat any of the speculations that are circulating. I'm blogging from the library at the moment. Blogging may be light today. Then again, it may take a while for the buildings to be declared safe, in which case I won't have much else to do.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Three Palestinians nabbed for stealing ossuary

Three Palestinians are under arrest for allegedly stealing antiquities from a Second Temple Jewish burial site in the Modi'in area, Israel's Antiquities Authority announced Monday.

The three Palestinian men, from Jericho and Bethlehem, were caught red-handed stealing a Second Temple ossuary during a night-time Antiquities Authority raid at the site, said Amir Ganor, head of the Authority's anti-theft division.


The article reports that the site was badly damaged by the looting. It also includes the now standard information in such articles that antiquities looting in Israel has been increasing rapidly -- by more than 50% just in the last year. If these guys are convicted, I hope they throw the book at them.

(Via Bible and Interpretation News. Welcome back!)
JUST GOT BACK from the Faculty of Arts Annual General Meeting. Exams are done, marks are turned in, meetings are over. Three months of summer beckon. My plans are to write a few articles; develop a postgraduate component for my Biblical Aramaic course, which I'm scheduled to teach next year; get caught up make a little progress on professional reading; maybe think a bit about big projects such as MOTP and The Next Book; and, of course, keep our burgeoning postgraduate program running in good order.

Given how dreadful the weather was last summer, it's not a good sign that this spring has been even colder and wetter than the spring of 2004. Nevertheless, I intend to take a fair amount of time off and to spend at least some of it at the beach. I expect blogging to continue as normally most of the time.
THE EXPOSITORY TIMES is now being published online, as noted by Jim West and Michael Pahl. (And for heaven's sake, Jim, do alert us and give us a link when you've published something. Don't be shy.) I just sent them my article "The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha as Background to the New Testament," so I hope it will be available soon.
THE SELF-APPOINTED NEW SANHEDRIN has elected a new "temporary president," Talmud translator Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz new head of 'Sanhedrin'
By MATI WAGNER Jerusalem Post)

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz was elected the temporary president of a rabbinical body Monday that aspires to renew the Sanhedrin, Judaism's highest-ranking legal-religious tribunal.


However, although Steinsaltz's involvement with the endeavor adds important rabbinic and intellectual legitimacy, chances are slim that the reestablishing of the Sanhedrin will muster wide support.

All major halachic authorities, including Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the leading haredi Ashkenazi spiritual leader, and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the premier Sephardi halachic opinion, have refused repeated requests to offer their support.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

VERY SLOW NEWS DAY. Just as well, since I was occupied with end-of-year meetings etc. in the morning and with partying an important business lunch in the afternoon. I've been back for a while and have been indulging myself with reading Hebrew and Latin and installing some useful Unicode keyboards.

As for blogging, here's one little news item. It seems that the script for Indiana Jones 4 has now been approved by Lucas and Spielberg, although Harrison Ford has not yet read it. (Via Explorator.) Personally, I wish they would leave the old trilogy alone, but they haven't asked me. (How much better the Star Wars mythos would be if they had left that old trilogy alone! But I'd best not get started on that one.)

Monday, June 06, 2005

SEMITIC CELTS? So says an archaeological research fellow at Oxford University who was formerly also the chief archaeologist at English Heritage. The article was in Sunday's Times of London.
British genes are invasion-proof
Abul Taher
THE genetic make-up of modern Britons has hardly changed from the Ice Age hunter-gatherers who were the country�s original inhabitants, a leading archeologist claims in a new book.

According to the theory, 80% of the genetic characteristics of the average white British person can be traced back to a few hundred nomads who arrived here about 14,000 years ago.

David Miles, formerly chief archeologist at English Heritage, claims the other 20% of traits derive ultimately from the Celts, whom he argues were a Semitic race of farmers from what is now Syria and Israel.


His book, The Tribes of Britain, is based on a branch of science known as �archeogenetics�. DNA samples are taken from human skeletal remains to discover ethnic groupings and physical characteristics.

Miles, a research fellow at Oxford University, says the first human settlers arrived around 12000 BC as Britain was thawing from the last ice age. They were from parts of what is now western Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. They followed herds of animals they were hunting, eventually moving across a land bridge to what is now eastern England.


The Celts, who arrived after about 6500 BC, when the hunter-gatherers would have numbered about 5,000, were the first farmers to move across Europe from their homeland in the Middle East. They migrated in search of new farmland as their expanding population caused land to become infertile.

The movement from the Middle East, which took thousands of years, brought crops and the first farm animals such as sheep to Britain by about 5000 BC.


Here are David Miles's Oxford web page and his English Heritage web page.

I know this is outside the usual chronological limits of PaleoJudaica, but it's so weird I had to note it. I have to say I'm skeptical, but then again I know nothing about "archeogenetics." Any archaeologists out there want to comment?
THE FOURTEENTH WORLD CONGRESS OF JEWISH STUDIES takes place at the Hebrew University from 31 July to 4 August 2005. The web page for the congress is here. You can download a PDF-format program in English or Hebrew with over 670 sessions, about half of which have to do with matters of paleoJudaic interest.

(Heads up, Cynthia Edenburg.)
Jewish home found in City of David
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS (Jerusalem Post)

A Second Temple Jewish house has been uncovered in Jerusalem's ancient City of David, Israel's Antiquities Authority announced Sunday.

The 2,000 year old private home, which archeologists believe was part of a complex of homes belonging to affluent people, was discovered during an excavation at the history-rich site last month.


More specifically, the house was excavated in Silwan. Given the current controvery about the area, one has to wonder if this announcement was politically timed.
BOOK REVIEW in the Jerusalem Post:
More than myth

Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism
By Howard Schwartz
Illustrated by Caren Loebel-Fried
Oxford University Press
618pp., $50

Recounting and expounding on close to 700 myths, Howard Schwartz's Tree of Souls is not only impressive for the sheer bulk of its material, but unsettling with its revolutionary claims about just what makes a Jewish myth.

Schwartz, a prolific writer on Jewish folktales and myths, and a professor of English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, has produced a collection that includes all the obvious canonical texts from the Bible, Talmud, Midrash, Kabbala and Hassidism. But the surprises and gems lie in the more fringe inclusions: texts from the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha, literature from non-rabbinic sects like the Samaritans, Sabbateans and Karaites, and citations from halachic texts.

Add to that selections from the myths collected by S. Ansky in Eastern Europe, and by the Israel Folktale Archive (a collection of over 20,000 myths from immigrants from Morocco, Kurdistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Romania, Iraq and India, among others), then mix in the stories of some near-contemporaries like Franz Kafka, and some contemporaries like Reb Zalmen Shachter-Shalomi of the Jewish Renewal movement, and you can begin to see just how widely Schwartz has cast his net.


Sounds like a very interesting collection. Incidentally, this article marks the first mention of the pseudepigrapha by the media in 2005.

CORRECTION: Make that the second mention. The first was in late January, noted here.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

JOHN BROWN'S EFFORTS to find oil in Israel, based on idiosyncratic exegesis of certain biblical passages, are featured in Newsweek's Periscope today. As with other media treatments, it did not occur to Newsweek to ask a biblical scholar what the Hebrew words actually mean. I have discussed this already here and here.
ANOTHER TALMUD REFERENCE: has an article on "Boy or Girl?
The lowdown on whether you can really sway the odds"
in which they assert the following:
Strategies for conceiving a child of a particular sex have been around for centuries. The Talmud, a major book of Jewish law, says that if a wife's orgasm precedes her husband's, the baby will be a boy.

Typically, no reference is given. Can one of my Talmudist readers tell us if this is really in the Talmud and, if so, where?

UPDATE: Thanks to Nahum J. Stone, Carla Sulzbach, Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky, and Simon Montagu for sending the references, which are Berakhot 60a and Nida 25b 28a 31a. It's an interesting pericope, which creatively construes Leviticus 12:2 to say that if a woman "produces seed" ("ejaculates"? -- the verb translated "conceived" in the RSV is the causative verbal form of the root ZR(, "seed") she bears a male. Therefore if the female orgasm happens first, the child will be male, whereas if the male orgasm is first, the child will be female. The Berakhot passage is in a context that asks whether praying can affect the sex of a child. It concludes that because the order of male-female orgasm normally determines it, prayer only has an effect in cases of simultaneous orgasm.