Saturday, November 04, 2006

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: The controversy over the plan to build a fifth minaret on the Temple Mount receives a useful backgrounder in Haaretz ("Higher than the Al-Aqsa Mosque"). I'll give one excerpt, but I encourage you to read it all:
About 10 years after the construction of the Al-Marwani Mosque, the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount is again abuzz with provocative plans. A few weeks ago, to Israel's dissatisfaction, Jordan's King Abdullah announced the construction of a fifth minaret in the Temple Mount area. The minaret is to be named after King Hussein, Abdullah's father. One of the places designated for the minaret is the empty, southeastern corner of the Temple Mount, above the mosque in Solomon's Stables. Abdullah even declared a competition for the best minaret design.

The religious right is skeptical of the government's unofficial attempts to placate them. When it comes to the Temple Mount, the religious right is tired of denials, which ultimately turn out to be false, concerning the third mosque in Solomon's Stables, the fourth mosque in ancient Al-Aqsa, and the archaeological damage to the Temple Mount during the construction of the Waqf (the Moslem trust) over the years.

Perhaps this is why now, of all times, MK Uri Ariel (National Union-National Religious Party) is presenting a plan of his own for building a synagogue on the Temple Mount. He is also discussing the southeastern corner of the Mount, and this is apparently no coincidence. Ariel is presently looking for an architect, and he plans to submit the plan for the approval of the Jerusalem Municipality's planning committee - not that it has a chance. However, it will cause a commotion. "Such an act will repair a historical injustice much more than did the transfer to Israel of the remains of Herzl's children," says Ariel. "Throughout the generations we were expelled from the site. This is an opportunity for the Muslim world to prove that it is sufficiently tolerant to contain beliefs that differ from its own."
JEWISH STUDIES, AN INTERNET JOURNAL has published a new article by Joseph M. Baumgarten: "Immunity to Impurity and the Menorah" (downloadable from this link as a PDF file)." Abstract:
This paper surveys the objects classified as immune to impurity in biblical and tannaitic Halakhah. It then focuses on the Tosefta, which records the Sadducees’ ridicule of the Pharisaic immersion of the Menorah. This contrasts with the general Sadducean stringency in matters of purity. Prof. Sussmann’s original attempt to reverse matters by claiming that the Sadducees were actually protesting Pharisaic liberalism in allowing public access to the sacred vessels does not seem to be in accord with the straightforward sense of the Tosefta. We suggest that the Sadducean position derives from a priestly tradition concerning the cosmic symbolism of the Menorah. This symbolism is reflected in the Book of Zechariah and Hellenistic writings from the Second Temple period.

Friday, November 03, 2006

ASSIMILATED TO THE BLOGOSPHERE: There is now a new blog called Apocryphicity which is devoted to study of the Christian Apocrypha. It is run by Tony Chartrand-Burke. I encouraged Tony at the Ottawa conference to think about doing this and I'm glad he has decided to go ahead.. Welcome Apocryphicity!

(Via Philip Harland.)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

THE RUINS OF ANCIENT PALMYRA are being restored to the tune of 3 million Euros. More on Palmyra here. The language of Palmyra was a Western Aramaic dialect.

(Via Archaeologica News.)
THE ONLINE CRITICAL PSEUDEPIGRAPHA PROJECT is being advertised in an SBL Publications News e-mail, so this is a good time to mention it again here.

Also, a new issue (vol. 125.3) of the Journal of Biblical Literature has just been posted on the SBL website. You have to log in as a member to access it (earlier issues are available for free as PDF files), but here's the current table of contents:
The Context and Meaning of Proverbs 8:30a
Stuart Weeks

Zedekiah’s Fate and the Dynastic Succession
Juha Pakkala

Taxo’s Martyrdom and the Role of the Nuntius in the Testament of Moses: Implications for Understanding the Role of Other Intermediary Figures
Kenneth Atkinson

Questioning and Conviction: Double-voiced Discourse in Mark 3:22–30
Austin Busch

The Disputed Words in the Lukan Institution Narrative (Luke 22:19b–20): A Sociological Answer to a Textual Problem
Bradly S. Billings

From the Holy to the Most Holy Place: The Period of Hebrews 9:6–10 and the Day of Atonement as a Metaphor of Transition
Felix H. Cortez

Just a Busybody? A Look at the Greco-Roman Topos of Meddling for Defining αλλοτριεπισκοπος in 1 Peter 4:15
Jeannine K. Brown

Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

BIBLICAL STUDIES CARNIVAL XI has been posted by Michael Pahl at The Stuff of Earth.
TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: The Waqf's excavations have reportedly produced a stone inscription that mentions Flavius Silva, the Roman governor who conquered Masada. This is the first I can remember hearing of it.
Hungarian archaeologist discovers tablet mentioning Masada's destroyer

By Nadav Shragai
Last Update: 01/11/2006 12:23 (Haaretz)

In 73 CE, the Roman governor of Judea, Flavius Silva, laid siege to Masada with Legion X Fretensis. When the walls were broken down by a battering ram, the Romans found the fortress' defenders had set fire to all the structures and preferred mass suicide to captivity or defeat. Masada has since become part of Jewish mythology, as has the name Silva, who Josephus Flavius mentions in his writings. It is therefore no great surprise that Hungarian archaeologist Dr. Tibor Grull, studying in Israel three years ago, was excited to discover a stone tablet during a visit to the Temple Mount with a Latin inscription of the name of Masada's destroyer.

Grull asked officials of the Waqf, the Muslim trust for the Temple Mount, where the tablet came from, and they explained it had been found in the large hole dug in the mount in 1999 when the entrance to Solomon's Stables was opened. The Hungarian archaeologist received rare permission to photograph and document the finding.

(You may see code glitches at the article's web page.) If this is accurate, it supports the view that the fill in the Temple Mount contains important artifacts and should not be tampered with apart from controlled scientific archaeological excavations.

The article says that Haaretz is publishing photographs, but none are present.

(Via the Agade list.)

UPDATE (2 November): Menachem Brody e-mails to point out this image, but unfortunately its quality is very poor.
BODMER PAPYRI FOR SALE. This is disturbing. David Nishimura and Peter Williams note the story. There is discussion in the comments to Peter's post.
MARK GOODACRE notes more about James Barr from the Times of London.
THE JOURNAL OF GRECO-ROMAN CHRISTIANITY AND JUDAISM has articles posted for volume 3. Mark Goodacre and Rick Brannan have details.
Q: What would happen if you threw a blue book into the Red Sea?

A: It would get wet.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

TICKETS ARE ON SALE already for the San Diego exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which opens at the end of June 2007. The general public can start buying them today. The museum has sold more than 5,000 tickets so far to members and groups.
ONE NIGHT WITH THE KING is reviewed by Darius Kadivar in the Persian Mirror. Excerpts:
The film's budget of $20 million is relatively small for a story of such epic proportions. But what could be considered as an achievement is flawed by the lack of historical research in both the costumes and sets. This is anything but Ancient Persia ! Where are the Zoroastrian Priests, Persepolis and its Halls of a Hundred Columns topped by the double headed lions or bulls or its tall walls and bas-relief’s ornated by the winged Griffin’s, or Susa and its emerald looking Immortal Guards that commanded respect to any unwelcome visitor of the Kings Palace. Instead lndia and its extravagant palaces were used to replace those of Ancient Persia. The sets are as Kitsch as any Bollywood Soap Opera Production and needless to say nothing, absolutely NOTHING looks or sounds Persian of the Aechemenid Era in the slightest way.


The truly sad aspect of this production is precisely to have such a good cast and legendary film Stars like Sharif and O’Toole who made Movie History in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, be reduced to appearing in a parody of an Epic in the true sense of the word.

As an avid moviegoer myself, I will never call to boycott any film. After all one can always recreate a film genre as Ridely Scott did so brilliantly with Gladiator. But at least good Ol’ Ridley is a believer and his faith is called “Cinema”. If the producers of One Night with the King believe in anything, I very much doubt it is what Hollywood was so good at in the late 50’s and 60’s combining entertainment and a minimum of historical education.

Monday, October 30, 2006

MY BOOK, The Provenance of the Pseudepigrapha, receives a sympathetic and thoughtful review by Sabrina Inowlocki in the Review of Biblical Literature. It's always rewarding to have one's work read and thought about this carefully.
IN THE MAIL -- My review copy of:
Todd E. Klutz, Rewriting the Testament of Solomon: Tradition, Conflict and Identity in a Late Antique Pseudepigraphon (Library of Second Temple Studies 53; London: T&T Clark, 2005)
ED COOK discusses some Hebrew Phrases in the Qumran Texts.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Q IS FOR QUMRAN. The Religion Column of the Dallas Morning News has a brief description of the site and the usual interpretation of its inhabitants and importance.

Blogger has been down most of this morning and has been glacially slow when available at all. I have more to post, but my time to waste over this is limited.