Saturday, March 28, 2009

RACHEL ELIOR'S THEORY that there were no Essenes is covered by the Daily Princetonian. Princeton Professors James Charlesworth and Martha Himmelfarb weigh in and are unconvinced.

Background here.
PHILOLOGOS Gets Roasted – And Eaten. Cicero is involved.
A Byzantine Bathhouse was Uncovered Close to Kibbutz Gevim

(Art Daily)

JERUSALEM.- A bathhouse that dates to the Byzantine period was exposed in an archaeological excavation undertaken by the Israel Antiquities Authority near Kibbut Gevim (at the site of Horvat Lasan) and underwritten by the Israel Railways, prior to laying a railroad track from Ashkelon to Netivot.


Friday, March 27, 2009

HOME WITH A COLD. Sorry for the dearth of blogging. I've been sleeping most of the time for the last couple of days. I'll be back as soon as I can.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

RON HENDEL thinks he has located the missing walls of Jericho. Giants are involved. Highly speculative, but interesting.

More on Og the giant here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

HAPPY SIXTH BLOGIVERSARY TO PALEOJUDAICA! My first (introductory) post is here and the first substantive post is here. Past anniversary posts: 2004 (1st), 2005 (2nd), 2006 (3rd), 2007 (4th), 2008 (5th).

Here are some of my favorite posts over the last year. For subjects that got a lot of coverage, I've just picked posts in which I had something substantive (if sometimes brief) to say.

Enema instructions in ancient Aramaic?

Doctor Who meets the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha

David Noel Freedman 1922-2008

Tutela Valui
(Most popular post of the year, receiving several thousand hits. Must be the Latin.)

Good snow here

The Vision of Gabriel: here, here, here, and here.

The Gedalyahu ben Pashur seal: here and here

British New Testament Conference 2008

The Khirbet Qeiyafa inscription: here, here, and here. Is that thing published yet?

SBL 2008

Rosslyn Chapel

Ralphies 2008

The Kilduncan Stone in St. Andrews

Martin Luther King Jr. and biblical apocrypha and pseudepigrapha

Ancient Neoplatonist libraries and the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha

The Persepolis Cuneiform Archive controversy

The Dead Sea Scrolls sock puppet scandal and the Golb arrest: here, here, here, and here.

Rachel Elior's theory that there were no Essenes: here, here, and here.

I have meetings all day today (the 24th) until late afternoon, so I'm preposting this the evening before. But I'll try to add some annual statistics at some point on the day.

UPDATE: This is posting number 5960 for PaleoJudaica (905 posts this year). The counter stands at 593,295 total individual hits (and 832,415 total page views) and PaleoJudaica is currently ranked at number 41,812 by Technorati. That's 117,404 individual hits in the last year and an ascent of 23,756 places in the Technorati ranking. A year ago Technorati indexed 112.8 million blogs. I can't find the current number, but it had gone up to 133 million still in 2008.

As always, please keep sending me items of interest and please do keep reading PaleoJudaica.

Monday, March 23, 2009

$100 million renovation of Israel Museum to double display space for art and artifacts

12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, March 22, 2009

FROM WIRE REPORTS Gwen Ackerman, Bloomberg News

JERUSALEM – The Israel Museum, with a collection that includes Picasso sculptures, Chagall paintings and the Dead Sea Scrolls, is barely visible behind a jumble of cranes dotting its campus on Jerusalem's Hill of Tranquility.

The 20 acres of galleries, sculpture gardens and research facilities are getting a $100 million facelift to make the museum's collection more accessible.

The price has risen by $20 million since June of 2007 and has doubled since April of 2006. I hope they're getting their money's worth!
ANOTHER REVIEW of People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks has been published by Regis Schilken in Blogcritics Magazine. Haven't seen one of these for awhile. Excerpt:
I would recommend People of the Book to those who enjoy a series of individual short stories. By this I mean the fanciful Haggadah journeys in between most chapters.

Each of these tales is well-written but predictable in this sense: the reader discovers early that each Haggadah journey involves some kind of terrifying threat to the book, often to the lives of those who rescue it. Finally, the tale would be more compelling if the exaggerated, painful, daughter-mother relationship were left out entirely.

I think the book is worth reading. As fiction, it gives the reader a non-fictional sense of the terrors of past Jewish history. The Haggadah's survival down through six-plus centuries is remarkable. During that long period of time, I feel certain it has undergone countless narrow escapes with destruction similar to that detailed in People of the Book.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Sisters of Sinai by Janet Soskice is reviewed by James McConnachie in the London Times. Excerpt:
In 1892, the twins travelled from their home in Cambridge to Cairo, then made their way for nine days on foot and by camel across one of the world's more inhospitable deserts. Arid plains gave way to limestone ridges, maze-like wadis and, finally, the brutal 7,000ft peaks of the Mount Sinai range. Agnes, the travel writer of the pair, had no complaint to make about the journey other than that the camel's rolling gait disturbed her reading of the Psalms in Hebrew.

Since Tischendorf's escapades, the monks had tended to greet visitors with a volley of stones, thrown down from the vast fortified walls. But Agnes saw only a spiritual oasis; she likened it to a dove hiding in a cleft of the rocks. Respect for the sisters' sex ensured a welcome, and their tents were soon pitched in the monastery garden, close to “the well of Moses” and the original burning bush.

Agnes dared to ask to see the oldest Syriac manuscripts and, in a dimly lit chamber, she found the promised chests. One harboured a dirty, damaged volume whose parchment pages had to be steamed apart using the twins' travel kettle. Faint beneath the main 7th-century text were two columns of older underwriting. Agnes's Syriac studies meant that she could read the headings: “Of Matthew”, “Of Luke”.

Agnes had found and recognised one of the earliest New Testament manuscripts yet discovered, its text dating to the 2nd century. ...
I don't believe the second century date. I doubt that the earlier Syriac text would be any earlier than the fourth century, and this seems to be right.

Cross file under Aramaic Watch.

UPDATE (24 March): Stephen C. Carlson e-mails:
It is not super clear, but perhaps the author is making a distinction between the age of a manuscript and the age of its text. The manuscript itself is late fourth / early fifth century, but its text could be as early as the late second depending on when the translation into Syriac was made.
I suppose that could be what it means. But if so, then no, it isn't very clear.
ARAMAIC WATCH: Ancient Aramaic inscriptions in the UAE:
Where hidden treasures await
Posted on: Sunday March 22 , 2009 12:03:32 PM (GMT+4) (Eye of Dubai News)

From rusty cannons and ancient manuscripts to majestic fishing ships and tombs housing the oldest traces of life in the country, museums across the UAE are home to hidden treasures unknown to most of the country’s residents and citizens.

“Each museum has something special and visitors always leave the museum knowing something new about this country,” says Nasser Hashim Mohammed, the curator of Sharjah Archaeology Museum.


Artefacts from all parts of the country are on show in museums in Sharjah, Al Ain and Dubai, featuring some of the oldest examples of the written word, including Aramaic, Hasaean and Greek inscriptions that have survived on jewellery and pottery that pre-date the Arabic language.

No more information is given, but sounds intriguing.