Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cyrus Cylinder loaned to Iran

THE CYRUS CYLINDER has gone to Iran to go on display:
Museum loan to soothe tension with Iran

By Peter Aspden (Financial Times)

Published: September 10 2010 23:07 | Last updated: September 10 2010 23:07

In a rare act of diplomatic accord between the UK and Iran, the British Museum has sent the Cyrus Cylinder – one of its most culturally significant possessions – to Tehran where it will remain on loan and be displayed for the next four months.

The prized clay artefact, a document written by the Persian king Cyrus the Great, was flown to the Iranian capital on Thursday night and will go on display at the National Museum of Iran on Sunday.

The cylinder, written in Babylonian cuneiform after Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, has been described as the first declaration of human rights. It records Cyrus’s restoration, after his conquest, of shrines dedicated to different gods, and his repatriation of deported peoples.

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said the loan was especially important at a time of diplomatic tension between Iran and the west.

The full statement from the British Museum is given here.

Personally, I don't think that loaning out precious pieces of humanity's heritage to totalitarian theocrats is a particularly good idea, but no one asked me. That said, the move may well backfire on the Mullahs, since it may be politically useful to the opposition in their calls for freedom.

For background on the Cyrus Cylinder go here and follow the links.

UPDATE (12 September): Todd Bolen comments on the loan at the Bible Places blog and Dorothy Lobel King comments at PhDiva. I share Dorothy's concerns about the cylinder coming back. She also reminds us that "Cyrus may have ruled over what is now Iran, but the cylinder was found in Iraq."

September 11

Friday, September 10, 2010

Phoenicia sets sail for Carthage

THE GOOD SHIP PHOENICIA has set sail from Gibraltar for Carthage:
Last stage for Phoenicia

Posted: Sep 09, 2010 02:48 pm EDT (ExplorersWeb)

The Phoenicia is surfing eastward in the Mediterranean and are close to finishing the full circle of Africa. The 21 meter replica of a 600BC Phoenician cargo ship has battled heavy shipping in the Gibraltar Strait and gale force wind in the Med the last couple of days.

Phoenicia used 27 days from the Azores to Gibraltar. After a week with some well-earned rest they started on their last leg in to the Mediterranean. The 21 meter vessel, a traditionally built replica of a 600BC Phoenician cargo ship, is on the last stage of recreating the epic first circumnavigation of Africa some 2,600 years ago.


Their next port of call is Carthage in Tunisia, and before autumn set in they are to dock in their final destination; Tartous, Syria.

Captain Philip Beale and his crew started their circumnavigation of Africa from Syria in August 2008. Next year they plan to sail to the UK.

Background here.

Michael F. Bird on ancient Jewish proselytizing

MICHAEL F. BIRD summarizes his new book on proselytizing in ancient Judaism for Bible and Intepretation:
“Gentiles for Moses”: The Debate about the Nature and Intensity of Jewish Proselytizing Efforts in Ancient Judaism

Second Temple Judaism did attract proselytes and facilitate the conversion of Gentiles that wanted to convert to Judaism, much to the ire and contempt of some Greek and Latin authors, but it was not self-conscious missionary since the role of Israel, the Torah, and the synagogue was never directed unequivocally towards Gentile recruitment.

See also: Crossing over Sea and Land: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Second Temple Period (Hendrickson Publishers, 2010).

Dr. Michael F. Bird
Crossway College, Brisbane, Australia

Tacky Temple Mount repairs

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Hershel Shanks complains in BAR of tacky repairs to the wall of the Temple Mount platform:
First Person: Temple Mount Repairs Leave Eyesores

By Hershel Shanks

Two unsightly scaffolds hang from the walls of the Temple Mount, one on the southern wall and a second on the eastern wall. The question is whether they will be there forever.


The Jordanians have now completed their work and have long gone home. But they have left a scaffold hanging at the top of the southern wall and another at the eastern wall. No one knows when they will be taken down—if ever.
Both archaeologists and tourists say that the Jordanians have done a terrible job. The Jordanians may have reinforced the walls, but the unsightly appearance of the new sections of wall, where the bulges had been, is entirely out of keeping with the ancient ashlars. No effort was made to blend in the new wall sections with the old walls. The new sections bear all the marks—color, smooth surface and size—of new work. Perhaps the hanging scaffolds are justified as conforming to the ugliness of the new sections of wall. They’ve been there now for several years. How much longer
There's a picture of the repaired area and it does look ugly. I have noted the story of the bulge in the Temple Mount wall and its repair from time to time, including here, here, and here.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

DSS tidbits

Dead Sea Scrolls scholar to speak at Brodsky Library

Posted: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 11:28 am


Of all the archaeological discoveries ever made, none surpasses in ongoing international importance the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls. So says Rabbi Shalom Paul, of Jerusalem, one of the world's leading authorities on the Bible and also chairperson of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation.


What: To speak on "The Ever-Alive Dead Sea Scrolls and Their Significance for Understanding the Bible, Early Judaism and the Birth of Christianity," this year's annual Lazaroff Lecture, funded by the Morris and Ann Lazaroff Endowment.

When: 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 14

Where: Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library at the Jewish Federation Kopolow Building, 12 Millstone Campus Drive [St. Louis].

How much: Free to Friends of the library, otherwise $7 per person. Reception afterward.

More info: Reservations are required and can be made at 314-432-0020. Rabbi Paul will sign his "The Jewish Bible: A Jewish Publication Society Guide," which will be for sale Sept. 14 at the Brodsky Library.
And from Biola University News:
The Great Isaiah Scroll

Penned more than 2,100 years ago, the Great Isaiah Scroll is one of only three complete scrolls from 900 documents that comprise the Dead Sea Scrolls. An exact replica of the Great Isaiah Scroll will be housed at Biola University this fall. The survival of this scroll is a celebrated story throughout the world — and now students and the Biola community will be able to celebrate it firsthand.

Owned by Legacy Church, Orange County, and on loan from the Museum of Biblical and Sacred Writings in Irvine, Calif., the facsimile sits 7,000 miles away from its original in the Shrine of the Book Museum in Jerusalem, Israel. Bedouin shepherds discovered the scrolls in caves along rocky cliffs west of the Dead Sea in 1947 near what had been the ancient community of Qumran. The original scrolls have deteriorated significantly since their removal from the dry climate of the Dead Sea region. This facsimile, however, is recreated from prized photographs taken in 1948 to preserve these ancient works.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Happy Seventh Blogiversary to Rogue Classicism

HAPPY SEVENTH BLOGIVERSARY to David Meadows's Rogue Classicism blog. Again, slightly belated: its launch date was 2 September 2003.

Paul Foster on the Gospel of Peter

DR. PAUL FOSTER of Edinburgh University is interviewed on the Gospel of Peter here and here by Michael Bird at the Euangelion blog.

The Talmud Blog

THE TALMUD BLOG has lots of good stuff up. I was trying to decide on specific links, but it's better if you just go to the site and keep scrolling down and reading.

Greek text of Philo on the web

THE GREEK TEXT OF PHILO is on the web.

BNTC 2010: Q Debate

BNTC 2010: The Sheffield Biblical Studies blog reports on the Q Debate between Christopher Tuckett and (in absentia) Francis Watson. Incidentally, I voted for Q.

Monday, September 06, 2010

NT Blog blogiversary

HAPPY BELATED SEVENTH BLOGIVERSARY to Mark Goodacre's NT Blog (originally the NT Gateway Blog).

Job: Research Associate in Papyrology in Oxford

JOB: Research Associate in Papyrology in Oxford (Oxyrhynchus Papyri).

(Via James McGrath on FB.)

Major trends in Hekhalot literature research

MAJOR TRENDS IN HEKHALOT LITERATURE RESEARCH are summed up in an article by Shlomo Brody in Text and Texture:
"The Aleinu Prayer and the Pardes Story: Major Trends in Hekhalot Literature Research"
It's a good summary overall, although it leaves out some of the most recent discussion. I have noted some additional bibliography in a comment.

(HT Joseph I. Lauer.)

Tomb Planters at Eastern Wall?

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Tomb Planters at the Eastern Wall?
False Arab Graves Also Found Near Eastern Old City Wall

by Elad Benari
Follow Israel news on Twitter and Facebook.

Several weeks ago, Arutz7 reported exclusively that dozens of new tombs were being added to the Mamilla Cemetery, an ancient Muslim cemetery located on the outskirts of Jerusalem's Independence Park, but no one is buried beneath them. These faked graves were in fact a Muslim project aimed at taking over land.

Following Arutz7’s report, the faked tombs were removed by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israel Lands Authority.

Now, it appears as though the same phenomenon is occurring also in the area of the Eastern Wall in Jerusalem (adjacent to the Western Wall). The Arabs are simply ignoring a law that deems the area a national park.

Maya Shukri of the El Har HaMoriyah Institute, who documented the faked graves with her camera, told Arutz7 on Wednesday that at the present time, the graves are empty but an infrastructure is in place for future burials. Shukri, who compared older photographs to photographs taken recently, said that “there are markings [of graves] there, but underneath there is only soil. Some of them don’t have a tombstone.”

Background here.

Irish bog Psalter had Egyptian papyrus in binding

THE IRISH BOG PSALTER had Egyptian papyrus in its binding:
Manuscript dug from bog rates among our top 10 biggest finds


Sunday September 05 2010

The Faddan More Psalter, a remarkable 1,200-year-old manuscript found in a north Tipperary bog four years ago, has provided astonishing evidence of links between the early Christian Church in Ireland and the Middle Eastern Coptic Church.

As a painstaking conservation process came to its conclusion, tiny fragments of papyrus were discovered in the lining of the Egyptian-style leather binding of the manuscript, which was unearthed by Eddie Fogarty in a mechanical digger in the townland of Faddan More, not far from Birr, in July 2006.

The discovery of Egyptian papyrus represents the first tangible connection between early Irish Christianity and the Middle-Eastern Coptic Church and has confounded some of the accepted theories about the history of early Christianity in Ireland.

Four years ago the find was heralded by Dr Pat Wallace, director of Ireland's National Museum, as "the most important day in the history of the museum since 1868 when the Ardagh Chalice came in".

The four-year conservation process has strengthened that view.

"It was a miraculous thing that the manuscript survived at all. It was found by Mr Fogarty who was cutting turf.

"It was also remarkable that Mr Fogarty and the family he was working for, the Leonards of Riverstown, were familiar with the work of the National Museum and knew exactly what to do to protect a manuscript found in wet bog.

"They immediately covered it with wet turf and this was absolutely vital in preserving the manuscript. If they hadn't done that it would have been obliterated in a few hours in the sunshine," Dr Wallace told the Sunday Independent.

I wonder if the Egyptian connection could help explain the origins of the Irish Old Testament pseudepigrapha.

Background here and follow the links.

UPDATE (8 September): Christian Askeland comments on the story at Evangelical Textual Criticism. This is the first I've heard of linguistic connections between Celtic and Coptic. On the face of it, that sounds pretty unlikely to me. Coptic is an Afro-Asiatic language and Celtic an Indo-European one.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Classical Hebrew degree in Malta

COOL: You can now get a degree in Classical Hebrew at the University of Malta:
Classical Hebrew degree

(Times of Malta)

The course will enable the students to read ancient Jewish texts such as the Hebrew Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

A BA/BA (Hons) degree in Classical Hebrew will be offered as of next month by the University’s Department of Oriental Studies. The degree gives an overview of ancient Israelite and Jewish history and culture, covering the period ranging from the 12th century BC to the 2nd century AD, and of the development of the Hebrew language during this period.

Various language courses on Classical and post-Classical Hebrew (starting from the very basics of the language) will be on offer, which will enable the students to read ancient Jewish texts, such as the Hebrew Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls, in their original language.

Given the location, I hope they add some courses on ancient Phoenician and Punic languages and archaeology.

Back in St. Andrews

BACK IN ST. ANDREWS. Got in last night.