Saturday, September 02, 2006

PRETTY QUIET in the media at the moment, as least as far as ancient Judaism goes, but here's an interesting article on female Torah scribes in St. Louis.

I'm heading back to St. Andrews now. It's been a good conference and I'll post some thoughts on it later.

Hi Mark! Wish you were here!
From Helen Ingram, Jim, and Catherine Smith (L to R).

UPDATE (10:15 pm) I'm back in St. Andrews. And happy third blogiversary to Mark's New Testament Gateway blog and David Meadows's Rogue Classicism.

Friday, September 01, 2006

BIBLICAL STUDIES CARNIVAL IX has been published by Stephen Carlson over at Hypotyposeis. This carnival is an increasingly important resource for keeping track of what's happening in the Biblioblogosphere and Stephen has produced an exemplary edition. Go have a look.
FROM THE BNTC BOOK DISPLAY: I don't want to have to carry too many extra books home on the train, but I couldn't resist these small volumes from SPCK at half price:
Margaret Barker, Temple Theology: An Introduction

R. H. Charles, The Book of Enoch (The 1917 edition, still in print.)

Kenneth Schenck, A Brief Guide to Philo
WE MISS YOU TOO, MARK. I've heard a number of people comment how odd it feels not to have Mark Goodacre around at this year's BNTC.
TIKVA FRYMER-KENSKY has passed away, I am sorry to report. The following details have been posted by Jack Sasson on the Agade List:
This very sad news came from Jeffrey Tigay

I am sorry to inform you that Tikvah Frymer-Kensky, a much-cherished and admired friend and member of the Biblical Colloquium, passed away this afternoon after a long illness which she fought valiantly until the end.

Her funeral will take place Sunday, I presume at her husband's synagogue in Wilmette, Illinois. I know that all who knew her join in condolences to her husband Rabbi Allan Kensky and their children Meira and Eytan.


[This brief profile comes from

Professor of Hebrew Bible and the History of Judaism in the
Divinity School; also in the Law School and the Committees on the
Ancient Mediterranean World and Jewish Studies
M.A., Ph.D. (Yale University)

Tikva Frymer-Kensky’s areas of specialization include Assyriology
and Sumerology, biblical studies, Jewish studies, and women and
religion. Her most recent books are Reading the Women of the
Bible, which received a Koret Jewish Book Award in 2002 and a
National Jewish Book Award in 2003; In the Wake of the Goddesses:
Women, Culture and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth; and
Motherprayer: The Pregnant Woman’s Spiritual Companion. She is
also the English translator of From Jerusalem to the Edge of
Heaven by Ari Elon (Alma Dee, original Hebrew). ]
May her memory be for a blessing.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday pledged NIS 22 million in government funds for the archaeological park in Tiberias. The project centers on excavating the Roman theater built in the second and third centuries C.E. at the foot of Mount Berenice, remnants of which were discovered in 1990 by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Archaeologists were surprised by the find, since written sources contain no mention of this theater. City officials believe the theater, located 200 meters from the shore of Lake Kinneret, has major economic potential. Olmert's pledge came during a tour of Tiberias with Minister Shimon Peres. (Eli Ashkenazi)
BAALBEK UPDATE: The BAS site has new information (dated 30 August). It seems the Temple of Bacchus was not damaged after all, and that damage to the temple complex was very minor. But there was considerable damage elsewhwere to the old souk. Plus there are some new discoveries. Read it all.
I'M IN SHEFFIELD, blogging from the British New Testament Conference. I'm not presenting a paper this time, but I'm co-chairing the Seminar on NT & Second Temple Judaism and am also chairing one of the short paper sessions. The seminar programs and abstracts are available here and those for the short papers here. Main speakers are listed here. The organizers have kindly arranged Internet access for me, so blogging should continue through the conference (as time permits).

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

O TEMPORA! O MORES! In Slate, Emily Watson mourns the decline of traditional philology signaled by the success of the Loeb Classical Library series:
The series surivived, despite these shortfalls, because it was the only thing of its kind, and because many authors have been hard to find in any other current English translation. (I believe that the Loeb Plutarch offers the only complete translation into modern English of this essential classical author.) But where have the "ordinary amateurs" gone, you might well wonder? One could argue that they have taken over the academy. Just as scholars once feared, there has been a steady decline in hard-core classical philology—and thanks in part to that, the Loeb Library has lately thrived. Figures like the Oxbridge don in Robert Browning's "A Grammarian's Funeral"—who devotes his whole life to parsing the minutiae of ancient Greek while proclaiming, "What's time? Leave Now for dogs and apes!/ Man has Forever"—are ever rarer in modern classics departments. We no longer feel we have forever: The tenure clock stops for nobody. Increasingly alive to the fact that ancient literature is about something, not mere grammar, even professional classicists want to hurry ahead to the gist and skip the boring stuff. Many of us turn to Loebs because there just isn't time to study every particle of classical literature in the detail it might deserve. (That Browning's shuffling, dusty don would be unlikely to find a job today perhaps shouldn't make the profession entirely proud.)


Yet I admit a churlish part of me feels a tiny pang. I still wonder whether we really should be welcoming these splendid new translations with open arms. I, for one, would be extremely wary of recommending a Loeb in an undergraduate class in which the students were expected to read the original Latin or Greek. The temptation to rely too heavily on the translation would be all the greater now that the translations are so much better than they used to be. That's perhaps why I enjoyed the 500th volume of the series, a splendid edition by D.R. Shackleton Bailey of Quintilian's Lesser Declamations, as much as I did. It is a reminder that the old Loeb style is not entirely dead, after all. Shackleton Bailey is a senior and rightly respected Latinist whose English shows little danger of keeping up with the times.
All this is true and is a matter for concern. But I have to say that students using published translations to help them prepare their own translations generally doesn't bother me. When I teach or have taught reading courses in ancient Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic, I tell the students to use whatever translation they like, but that when I call on them I will ask them to defend their translation in detail on the basis of the grammar and vocabulary of the original text. And I do, both in class and on exams. Cribs can help with an initial understanding, but you either understand the grammar or you don't.

(Via Rogue Classicism.)
THE JOURNAL OF SEMITIC STUDIES has a new issue out (51.2, Autumn 2006). Here's the table of contents (articles only):
George Athas
Setting the Record Straight: What are we Making of the Tel Dan Inscription?
J Semitic Studies 2006 51: 241-256; doi:10.1093/jss/fgl001

Arne A. Ambros and Michael Jursa
No Flight of Peace, No Lover of Wisdom? A Reconsideration of Two Phrases in Phoenician and Punic
J Semitic Studies 2006 51: 257-265; doi:10.1093/jss/fgl002

David F. Graf and Salah Said
New Nabataean Funerary Inscriptions from Umm al-Jimal
J Semitic Studies 2006 51: 267-303; doi:10.1093/jss/fgl003

Adil Hamil Al-Jadir
A New Inscription from Hatra
J Semitic Studies 2006 51: 305-311; doi:10.1093/jss/fgl004
John F. Healey
A New Syriac Mosaic Inscription
J Semitic Studies 2006 51: 313-327; doi:10.1093/jss/fgl005

Na'ama Pat-El
Syntactical Aspects of Negation in Syriac
J Semitic Studies 2006 51: 329-348; doi:10.1093/jss/fgl006

Diana Dressel
Intisar al-Fadila aw Hadithat al-Ibna al-Isra'iliyya as an Adaptation of Nathan der Weise
J Semitic Studies 2006 51: 349-371; doi:10.1093/jss/fgl007
There are lots of interesting book reviews too.

Requires a paid personal or institutional subscription to access.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

MANDAEANS CONFERENCE: From the Aram Society's forthcoming conferences page (via the Agade list).
• The Mandaeans, 8-10 July 2007 (Sydney University)

ARAM Society for Syro-Mesopotamian Studies is organising its Twenty Fourth International Conference on the theme of The Mandaeans, to held at Sydney University, 8-10 July 2007.

The conference will start on Sunday morning 8th July with a Mandaean baptism, and a special exhibition of Mandaean culture will be part of the opening ceremony. Scholarly papers will be presented on Monday and Tuesday 9-10 July, and each speaker's paper is limited to 30 minutes, with an additional 10 minutes for discussion.

If you wish to participate in the conference, please contact our Oxford address:

ARAM, the Oriental Institute, Oxford University, Pusey Lane, Oxford OX1 2LE, England. Tel. ++1865-514041. Fax ++1865-516824. E.Mail:

All papers given at the conference will be considered for publication in a future edition of the ARAM Periodical, subject to editorial review.
Lots of other conferences on Aramaic-related subjects are also listed through 2012.
LEBANON'S MAJOR ANTIQUITIES SITES ARE UNSCATHED after the war, according to the National Geographic Society, which has brief reports and a photo gallery on six of them. There's this general statement:
But as fighting escalated after a Hezbollah raid into Israel on July 12, many people feared for Baalbek and Lebanon's other archaeological and cultural treasures. Now that a tentative cease-fire has been declared, experts returning to the country say that the sites—which have successfully survived decades of violence in the war-torn region—appear to have once again emerged unscathed.
This seems to contradict the report of damage to the Temple of Bacchus at Baalbek. I hope the new report is right, but we'll see. Regarding the Baalbek temples, the National Geographic report says:
During the recent conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, the temples were considered a Hezbollah stronghold, with militant fighters patrolling the ruins.
I trust we'll be hearing lots of condemnations of this blatant violation of the Hague Convention by Hezbollah.

Also, the report on Byblos does not mention the oil spill. I'm not sure why. Are the ruins back from the coast so they weren't affected? Still, I would think it merited a mention.

Monday, August 28, 2006

DONNY GEORGE, president of Iraq's State Board of Antiquities and Heritage has reportedly resigned and left the country.
Saviour of Iraq's antiquities flees to Syria

· Violence and Sadrists drive away archaeologist
· Looting fear as funds run out to pay protection force

Michael Howard in Irbil
Saturday August 26, 2006


Iraq's most prominent archaeologist has resigned and fled the country, saying the dire security situation, an acute shortage of funds, and the interference of supporters of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had made his position intolerable.

Donny George, who was president of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, achieved international recognition for his efforts to track down and recover the priceless antiquities looted from Iraq's National Museum in the mayhem that followed the fall of Baghdad in 2003.

But this week he revealed that he had resigned and was in hiding with his family in the Syrian capital Damascus. In an interview with the Art Newspaper, Dr George said Baghdad was now so dangerous that the National Museum, which houses a trove of Sumerian and Babylonian artefacts, had been sealed off by concrete walls to protect it from insurgent attacks and further looting.

(Again, via the Agade list.)
Maria José Strazzulla, Ancient Lebanon: Monuments Past and Present. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2006. Pp. 71; color ills. 80, map 1, site plans 4, color overlays 16. ISBN 88-8162-142-8. $29.95.

Reviewed by Michael Decker, University of South Florida
(BMCR, via the Agade list.)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

JADED THEA has a blog round-up of the Lebanon oil spill.
AN EXHIBIT OF "HOLY LAND ARTIFACTS" is coming to Atlanta and then moving around the USA:
Holy Land artifacts show in Atlanta

An exhibit of 340 sacred texts and artifacts from the Holy Land, the largest such show ever in the United States, will open in Atlanta on Aug. 15. "From Abraham to Jesus" will also tour 27 other cities, including Nashville.

The display includes the Isaiah Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and a box that some experts believe held the remains of Simon the Cyrene, who carried Jesus' cross.

The opening date should be September 15, not August. The exhibition's website is here.