Saturday, June 07, 2008

NO BLOGGING TODAY. I'm away from my computer all day, so I've set up this post in advance. I'll try to squeeze in something on Sunday, but no promises.

Friday, June 06, 2008

AND WITH TWO THEY COVERED THEIR ... ER ... "FEET." Sean the Baptist has a follow-up post to yesterday's article on naughty bits in the Bible.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Scholars give Scripture a spin

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

Examine Bible stories top to bottom — particularly the "bottoms" — and you will find a blue vein of sexual and scatological humor not-so-hidden in the verses, say two scholars of Hebrew Scriptures and an evangelical satire writer.

Their new book, The Uncensored Bible: The Bawdy and Naughty Bits of the Good Book, in stores Monday, raises such questions as "Which 'bone' was Eve made from?"

Or whether, in the Book of Judges, a king's assassin escapes through a latrine in a tale laden with euphemisms for feces.

Hint: it may not have been Adam's "rib."
THE HOOPOE, Israel's new national bird, is famous in Solomonic legend.

Applications are invited from enthusiastic, exceptionally gifted and highly motivated teachers.

The Uniting Church has established a Centre for Leadership Development to resource the development of effective leaders, lay and ordained, for healthy, missional churches throughout South Australia. The Centre seeks to appoint a Lecturer in Biblical Studies (Old Testament) to play a key role in the development of leaders who have an advanced knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament and who can interpret the Scriptures in the contemporary missional context. The Centre is part of the Adelaide College of Divinity and the Flinders University School of Theology. A position description together with the method of application is available from the Principal, Rev Dr Andrew Dutney, at

Applications close 18 July 2008. Appointment effective from
January 2009.
(From the SOTS list.)
Author's Subject: JOB: Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Münster
Date Written: Mon, 2 Jun 2008 23:56:22 -0400
Date Posted: Mon, 2 Jun 2008 23:56:22 -0400

The Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (,
Germany, seeks to fill the position of an

Assistant Professor (W1) for Jewish studies with option for tenure track (W2)
at the next possible date. The job holder will be expected to cover the full range of Jewish studies in research and teaching, the desired focus being on Rabbinic Judaism. He or she will contribute actively to the Cluster of Excellence "Religion and Politics in Pre-Modern and Modern Cultures". Teaching requirements include all degree programs concerned. Moreover, the job holder will be expected to cooperate with the Center of Religious Studies. The teaching obligation initially amounts to four semester periods per week and later to five.

The junior professorship is a fixed-term three-year position. It may be extended by another three years on the basis of a positive evaluation after this period. After a total of six years, following positive evaluation, it will be changed over into a W2 tenure track professorship.

The successful candidate holds a university degree and has an outstanding ability for academic work which is usually proven by an appropriate dissertation's quality.

We explicitly encourage women to apply. The applications of women with equal aptitude, qualification and academic achievements will be given priority, provided there are no prevailing reasons to the contrary that arise from a competing candidate's personality. Severely handicapped candidates with equal qualifications will be preferred.

The closing date for applications including a CV, certificates, a publication list and information about previous teaching activities is 30 June 2008. Please submit applications to the Dean of the Faculty of Theology:

Dekan des Fachbereichs 01 ? Evangelisch-Theologische Fakultät
Universitätsstr. 13-17
48143 Münster

In addition, please e-mail your application in electronic form to

Publications should be handed in on request only.
(From the H-JUDAIC list).
7th Annual Greek Study Day, 15th September 2008
Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge

The Greek Study Day is aimed at those teaching New Testament Greek in universities and colleges. It provides an opportunity to hear about different methods and textbooks, to share experiences and to develop new ideas and approaches for teaching. This year's programme is presently being put together - if you would like to offer a session, or to register your interest in receiving further information, please contact:

Jane McLarty
Lucy Cavendish College
Cambridge CB3 0BU
(From the BNTS list.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A CONFERENCE at University College London on 16-17 June:
Sects and Sectarianism in Jewish History

UCL Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies
Summer Conference 2008

The notions of 'sects' and 'sectarianism' are well known but they are also tremendously problematic. Their relevance to Jewish history is commonly assumed, but their meaning and appropriateness needs to be reconsidered.

This conference will consider the phenomenon of sects and sectarianism in various periods of Jewish history. We will be looking at the identification of various Jewish religious groups and movements as 'sects' or 'sectarian', and considering the meaning of those terms in the context of Jewish history. A range of groups and movements from all periods of Jewish history will be presented and discussed by specialists in the relevant field.
SEPHER YETZIRAH meets contemporary art. (Okay, I'm not sure where Shrek fits in, but otherwise it works.)
Start your view at the huge blue cube
Jun 2, 2008 9:15 PM (1 day ago) by Janos Gereben, The Examiner


From Genesis to Shrek to music for the Hebrew alphabet, the first exhibits in the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s new building are unusual, imaginative and noteworthy: “In the Beginning: Artists Respond to Genesis,” “From the New Yorker to Shrek: The Art of William Steig” and John Zorn’s “Aleph-Bet Sound Project” will be on view Sunday when the 24-year-old institution celebrates the grand opening of its new facility with special programs and free admission.

The bold structure, on Mission Street between Market Street and Yerba Buena Gardens, was designed by Daniel Libeskind. Its most striking feature, a huge blue cube resting on its corner, is the venue for Zorn’s music project, for which the MacArthur Fellow has commissioned sound and music based on letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

The structure itself — with a 65-foot ceiling, walls converging at striking angles and 36 diamond-shaped windows providing the light — channels the Hebrew “yud,” the letter used in writing the name of Adonai or God (or, properly, G-d). The official name for the cube is the “Stephen and Maribelle Leavitt Yud Gallery.”

Zorn, 54, is best known for integration of jazz, klezmer, improvised and contemporary music. His sound project aims at linking the alphabetic symbols found throughout Libeskind’s architecture with the new museum’s mission of “rethinking tradition.”

Zorn’s mandate is to assist musicians as they embrace the Kabbalistic principle that the ancient Hebrew alphabet is a spiritual tool full of hidden meaning and harmony.


“In the Beginning” exhibits the multimedia and sound-installation works of seven artists — Alan Berliner, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Ben Rubin, Matthew Ritchie, Kay Rosen, Shirley Shor and Mierle Laderman Ukeles — “in dialogue” with historical, rarely displayed works about Genesis.

There are illuminated manuscripts from the Medieval and Renaissance periods; 18th- and 19th-century drawings by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and William Blake; modern and contemporary works by Auguste Rodin, Marc Chagall, Barnett Newman, Jacob Lawrence, Ann Hamilton and Tom Marioni.

PALESTINIAN SCHOOL TEXTBOOKS still have trouble with ancient Jewish history:
Report: Palestinian textbooks portray Jews badly

By DIAA HADID – 6 hours ago

JERUSALEM (AP) — Authors of Palestinian school textbooks took small steps toward softening their portrayal of Israel under the rule of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — but progress was quickly reversed after the militant Islamic Hamas took over, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education and by the American Jewish Committee looked at 120 textbooks published from 2000 to 2006.

The report reflects charges by Israelis that Palestinian textbooks are not in keeping with a peace process that started in 1993. Palestinians counter that Jewish Israeli students are not taught about Palestinian suffering.

Arnon Groiss, author of the report, said most of the textbooks from grade one to 10, issued under the late Yasser Arafat's rule, don't acknowledge any historical Jewish presence in ancient Palestine.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

THE MOUNT ZION EXCAVATION headed by Shimon Gibson and James Tabor is soliciting donations for their summer 2008 season.
THE TEL KEDESH EXCAVATION has a blog run by two conservators from the University of Michigan.
THE ISAIAH SCROLL EXHIBIT is covered by Bloomberg:
Dead Sea Scroll's 2,100-Year-Old Peace Appeal Goes Back on Show

By Gwen Ackerman

June 3 (Bloomberg) -- The yellowing parchment, pocked with dark blotches from the sun, has ragged and fragile edges. The lure remains as strong as ever for the hundreds who study all 16 feet of it keenly under the dim light. While the 2,100-year-old inscription has faded, its words still resonate.

``They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks,'' the Prophet Isaiah's famous vision of peace says. ``Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.''

The two longest sections of the oldest existing copy of the book of Isaiah are on display for the first time in 40 years at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. The most complete of the Dead Sea Scrolls was taken out of storage and will be on show through Aug. 19 to mark the founding of the Jewish state 60 years ago. Israel is negotiating peace with the Palestinians and Syria after concluding agreements with two of its Arab neighbors in the past three decades.

``It's a real archaeological miracle that we have such a piece from 100 years before Jesus was born,'' said curator Adolfo Roitman, the head of the museum's Shrine of the Book for the past 14 years. ``This is the real Mona Lisa of the Jewish nation.''


Monday, June 02, 2008

NO BLOGGING TODAY: I've been away from a computer all day and am in a rush now. Blogging may be erratic in the next few weeks. Bear with me.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

THE EIGHTH-CENTURY SYRIAC STELE IN CHINA is the subject of a new book that is reviewed in the Taipei Times. Excerpt:
Michael Keevak is a professor at the National Taiwan University. Although his usual area of study is English Literature (his book Sexual Shakespeare was reviewed in the Taipei Times on Jan. 27, 2002), he has put his mind in this new work to the ways this famous Chinese monument was received in the West over the 300 years from its rediscovery. All the illustrations in The Story of a Stele, except for three photos taken by the author on a trip to view the monument, are from books in National Taiwan University's library, so it's reasonable to assume that Keevak's interest in this topic began with his involvement in the preservation of the older books held there, an endeavor described in the Taipei Times on June 9, 2002.

What Keevak here seeks to show is that the Westerners saw, not something that in reality represented a short-lived incident within Chinese history, but a reflection of their own concerns. "The tablet was not even the real object of attention," he writes, "just as China and Chinese culture or the Chinese language were constantly being pushed into the background of European preoccupations with religious conversion, cultural superiority and monetary profit."

Nevertheless, it's hardly surprising that the Europeans, and the Jesuits in particular, found the monument of enormous significance. After all, a 17th century Chinese emperor must have been reflecting the views of many when he exclaimed it was strange that this Western god had neglected his great empire while bestowing his sacred revelation on so many insignificant barbarian kingdoms. This tablet proved that China hadn't been neglected after all, and that the gospel had indeed been propagated within the Celestial Empire from comparatively early times.
Background here.
MICHIGAN CHALDEANS now have a Chamber of Commerce:
Advancing Chaldean interests while educating public about people

June 1, 2008 (Detroit Free Press)

TODAY'S SUBJECT: Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce

THE CHALLENGE: The chamber seeks to dispel negative perceptions and clarify misconceptions about Aramaic-speaking people, including Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs, while advancing the interests of Chaldean-owned businesses. The chamber is a partnership of businesses and professionals working together to strengthen businesses, increase job opportunities, encourage expansion and promote Chaldean culture.

Islamic-era skeletons 'disappeared' from Elad-sponsored dig
By Meron Rapoport (Haaretz)
Tags: archeology, Israel, Elad

Dozens of skeletons from the early Islamic period were discovered during excavations near the Temple Mount, on a site slated for construction by a right-wing Jewish organization. Contrary to regulations, the skeletons were removed, and were not reported to the Ministry of Religious Services. The Israel Antiquities Authority termed the incident "a serious mishap."

The IAA's Dr. Doron Ben Ami is directing the excavations at the Givati Parking Lot in Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood, across from the entrance to the Dung Gate. Elad, an association devoted to Judaizing East Jerusalem, is funding the dig at the site, where it plans to build an events hall with underground parking. The IAA is excavating there even though Elad never filed building plans with the planning authorities.

In recent weeks, workers excavating at a depth of two to three meters reached a layer from the 8th or 9th century C.E., some 200 years after the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem. They discovered several dozen skeletons, skulls and bone fragments, thought to date from the early Islamic period. An IAA source said "dozens of crates" containing bone fragments were removed, which suggests at least 100 skeletons were found.

IAA regulations require that any graves discovered be reported immediately to the Religious Services Ministry and to Atra Kadisha, an ultra-Orthodox organization dedicated to preserving ancient Jewish grave sites. For some reason this discovery was not reported, and the skeletal remains were carted away before ministry officials arrived to inspect the site. The ministry learned of the discovery only two weeks later, following inquiries by Haaretz.

Nor have the Muslim religious authorities been notified, even though the skeletons are thought to be Muslim.

If this report is accurate, it's hard to imagine how Elad could have done more reinforce stereotypes about it and critically damage its own credibility. And the episode doesn't do the IAA any good either. All that said, I want confirmation of the story and it's details before jumping to any conclusions. I note that an earlier Haaretz article on an archaeological issue and Elad by the same journalist had some problems with it.

There is nothing about this episode on the IAA website yet.

For background on Elad and the IAA see here, here, and here.