Saturday, October 21, 2006

PROFESSOR ALAN SEGAL has taken to guest biblioblogging over at Loren Rossen's The BusyBody. His first post summarizes elements of his recent book on life after death in Western religion. Welcome, Alan!

(Via Hypotyposeis and the New Testament Gateway Blog.)
The Fifth Congress of the International Organization for Targumic Studies (IOTS) is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, 12-13 July 2007, in Ljubljana, Slovenia. It will be held in conjunction with the XIXth Congress of the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament (IOSOT) in Leiden during 15-20th July 2007. As with past meetings, registration and accommodations will be arranged through the IOSOT, whose website is located at: .

We are pleased to announce a call for short papers in the following categories:
1. Language, Dating and Inter-relationships among the targumim; translational theory and the targumim.
2. Exegesis; Relationships with other rabbinic and contemporary literature (halakhic, aggadic, patristic, historical etc.).
3. Theology, Eschatology and Sitz im Leben of the targums.
4. Text-criticism, manuscript history, and stemmatology.

Papers should be of twenty-minutes length, allowing ten additional minutes for discussion. The deadline for paper proposals is 15 January 2007, and 15 March 2007 for the submission of written abstracts. Please respond to:

Dr. Paul V.M. Flesher
Religious Studies Program
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY 82071-3353

Phone: (1) 307-766-2616
Fax: (1) 307-766-3189

Paul V.M. Flesher, Director
Religious Studies Program
1000 University Avenue
Dept. 3353
University of Wyoming
Hoyt Hall 309B
Laramie, WY 82071-3353

Office (307) 766-2616
Fax (307) 766-3189

Exploring Religions

Bible and Interpretation

Newsletter for Targumic and Cognate Studies
(From the Hugoye list and the Agade list.)
THE SEATTLE DEAD SEA SCROLLS EXHIBITION is covered in the Longview Daily News. It's the usual sort of survey piece, but it lists each exhibited scroll and gives some information on it, sometimes in garbled form. But there's this interesting aside:
The actual researchers have modern-day science on their side. Because most of the scrolls were written on animal skins, scientists can match DNA to piece the puzzle together. It can take them a month to conserve three or four fragments.
I've always thought that DNA analysis should be used someday to connect up otherwise unidentifiable scroll fragments (and to verify connections made on other grounds). If this paragraph is accurate, it seems that this process has begun, which is good.
P IS FOR PSEUDEPIGRAPHA -- The Dallas Morning News Religion column has this odd and rather unhelpful sound bite:
RELIGION A TO Z - This week is brought to you by the letter P. P is for pseudepigrapha. Which is not in the Microsoft Word spellchecker, I can assure you. "No suggestions," it says.

Friday, October 20, 2006

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH -- speaking of treasures from the Temple Mount, Haaretz has the following profile of the project to sift the rubble excavated by the Waqf:
Temple Mount dirt uncovers First Temple artifacts
By Nadav Shragai

The project of sifting layers of Temple Mount dirt has yielded thousands of new artifacts dating from the First Temple period to today. The dirt was removed in 1999 by the Islamic Religious Trust (Waqf) from the Solomon's Stables area to the Kidron Stream Valley. The sifting itself is taking place at Tzurim Valley National Park, at the foot of Mount Scopus, and being funded by the Ir David Foundation. Dr. Gabriel Barkai and Tzachi Zweig, the archaeologists directing the sifting project with the help of hundreds of volunteers, are publishing photographs and information about the new discoveries in the upcoming issue of Ariel, which comes out in a few days.
The objects found date from a very wide range of time:
Most of the finds predate the Middle Ages. The finds include 10,000-year-old flint tools; numerous potsherds; some 1,000 ancient coins; lots of jewelry (pendants, rings, bracelets, earrings and beads in a variety of colors and materials); clothing accessories and decorative pieces; talismans; dice and game pieces made of bone and ivory; ivory and mother of pearl inlay for furniture; figurines and statuettes; stone and metal weights; arrowheads and rifle bullets; stone and glass shards; remains of stone mosaic and glass wall mosaics; decorated tiles and parts of structures; stamps, seals and a host of other items.
As for the First Temple period and earlier:
The oldest artifacts found are remnants of tools like a blade and scraper dating back 10,000 years. Some potsherds and shards of alabaster tools date from the Bronze Age - the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C.E. (the Canaanite and Jebusite eras). Only a handful of potsherds were found from the 10th century B.C.E. (the reigns of King David and King Solomon), but numerous artifacts date from the reigns of the later Judean kings (the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.E.), such as stone weights for weighing silver.

The most striking find from this period is a First Temple period bulla, or seal impression, containing ancient Hebrew writing, which may have belonged to a well-known family of priests mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah.
There's lots more information about finds from other periods and about the sifting project itself, so read it all.

(Via the Agade list.)
Sean Kingsley, God's Gold: The Quest for the Lost Temple Treasure of Jerusalem (London: John Murray, 2006)
I'm very skeptical about the theory presented in this book, but it should be useful for my current work on Massekhet Kelim, The Treatise of the Vessels.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

IN THE MAIL -- my review copy of:
Jens Herzer, 4 Baruch (Paraleipomena Jeremiou) (SBL Writings from the Greco-Roman World 22; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005)
PETER FLINT has given The Da Vinci Code a well-deserved drubbing in a recent lecture in Seattle. The Seattle Post Intelligencer has a summary. Excerpt:
Flint said Brown's treatment of the Dead Sea Scrolls isn't much better. Teabing describes the scrolls as Christian Gospels that were found in 1950 in a cave near Qumran in the Judean desert. Teabing also says the documents "speak of Christ's ministry in very human terms" and "highlight glaring historical discrepancies and fabrications" in the modern Bible.

Aside from the location of the discovery, the rest of the assertions are erroneous, Flint said, because the scrolls are Jewish texts that do not mention Jesus.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

JAMES KUGEL'S NEW BOOK is reviewed in the New York Sun. Excerpt:
In his elegant new book,"The Ladder of Jacob: Ancient Interpretations of the Biblical Story of Jacob and His Children" (Princeton; 280 pages; $24.95), James L. Kugel takes on these, and even more perplexing, questions with great erudition and admirable lucidity. Mr. Kugel is Professor of Bible at Bar-Ilan University and a world authority on the history of the biblical texts and their interpretation. Whether unravelling some philological tangle or reconciling divergent readings, he has the enviable knack of capturing his reader's attention and keeping it firmly tethered. He draws on sources in Hebrew and Aramaic, Greek and Latin, with forays into Syriac and Old Slavonic, but the effect is seldom pedantic.This is a scholarly work but not, in the end, an academic one; the riddles that tantalized the early commentators, however abstruse they may at first seem, vex us still.
More on Kugel here. And I'm still shoving his books into the hands of my students.
JAMES BARR (1924-2006) passed away on 14 October, according to a report on the Agade list. Requiescat in pace.

UPDATE: Obituary here. (Also via the Agade list.)

UPDATE: Mark Goodacre notes another obituary in the London Times.

Also, Ed Cook recalls a visit by Professor Barr to UCLA. I also remember a lecture by Barr in Segert's UCLA postgraduate seminar (it it must have been in the early 1980s), but my recollection is that it was debunking supposed Persian influence on Second Temple Judaism, so perhaps this was a different visit.

Of Barr's many works, the one that has helped my research the most is his small but very important monograph entitled The Typology of Literalism in Ancient Biblical Translations (MSU 15; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979). I draw on it quite a bit, along with a couple of his technical articles, in this article.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

THE NABATEAN CITY of Madain Saleh in Saudi Arabia has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Arab News is glad, but is also thinking ahead and raising some important concerns.
Madain Saleh and Al-Dirriyah are largely undeveloped. The World Heritage status might earn them a large number of tourists. In the event of such an occurence, very carefully considered and researched conservation measures will have to be implemented in order to preserve the essence of the sites.
(Via Archaeologica News.)
THE BEHISTUN INSCRIPTION is reportedly in danger from water damage. (More background here.)

(Via Archaeologica News.)
HAPPY THIRD BLOGIVERSARY (yesterday) to Hypotyposeis.

Monday, October 16, 2006

University of St Andrews
PhD Studentship in New Testament Studies

  • St Mary s College at the University of St Andrews expects to be able to award a PhD studentship in New Testament Studies, beginning in September 2007 and covering full tuition fees as well as a living allowance of £10,000 p.a. for a period of up to three years.
  • The successful candidate will be expected to reside in St Andrews and to undertake research on a topic of historical and theological significance for the study of the New Testament.
  • Applicants should follow the regular admissions procedure detailed on the St Mary s College website (, with a deadline of January 15th.
  • Informal inquiries may be directed to Prof. Markus Bockmuehl (
Oct. 2006
If you have specific queries about this, please write to Professor Bockmuehl, not me.

I'm keeping this post at the top of the page for today. Scroll down for the rest of today's posts.
Now Accepting Applications for the Gorgias Book Grants

In its efforts to promote education, Gorgias Press offers outstanding graduate students grants in the form of Gorgias Press publications. Grants consist of books in the value of $500.00 per grant. Each year, two grants are distributed.
  • 2006-2007 Grant Field: Any field within the scope of Gorgias Publications
  • Application Deadline: January 30, 2007
  • Grant Date: February 2007
Candidate must be enrolled in a graduate program (Master or Ph.D.) in an accredited university or an institution of learning in the field of the grant (to see category listing of Gorgias publications click here). Candidate must have the equivalence of a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Application Process
Send by mail the following items to: Gorgias Press LLC, Book Grants Program, 46 Orris Ave., Piscataway, NJ 08854. (All documents, apart from official transcripts, must be in English.)
  • A letter indicating your interests in your field, and your plans for the future.
  • A two-page description of your thesis, or a one-page description of your course work in the case of course-based programs.
  • Official transcripts of the previous 2 years of university education.
  • Two letters of recommendations from professors familiar with your work (one must be your current supervisor in your field).
Each application is evaluated based on content, originality and academic achievements. Follow the link: to go to the grant page on our website.
(Via the Hugoye list.)
Ground broken for archeological center
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS (Jerusalem Post)

A new state-of-the-art Israeli archaeological center that will house nearly a million archaeological objects and artifacts uncovered in the Holy Land - including thousands of Dead Sea Scrolls - is being built in Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Sunday.

The multi-million dollar 'National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel' is being constructed opposite the Knesset between the Israel Museum and the Bible Lands Museum, with all the funding for the center provided by philanthropists.

(Heads-up, Eibert Tigchelaar.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

BLOG WATCH: A few interesting recent blog posts. A new annual on the Cairo Geniza texts, Ginzei Qedem, began last year. Shai Heijmans has details and a translation of the table of contents over at the Hebrew and Aramaic Philology blog. Happy first birthday (yesterday) to the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog. Stephen C. Carlson writes on Christianity in the Magical Papyri at Hypotyposeis. I have come to similar conclusions in my book The Provenance of the Pseudepigrapha. David Nishimura notes at Cronaca that Bruce Ferrini's house is being sold to pay his bankruptcy debts.

CORRECTION: It is Stephen's guest blogger Andrew Criddle who wrote the Hypotyposeis post on magic. Sorry Andrew.
TOBIT AT THE YOUNG VIC: Tobias and the Angel is playing in London and is reviewed briefly (and with no great enthusiasm) in the Guardian.