Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sad News: Professor John Kevin Coyle

SAD NEWS: This in an e-mail from Pierluigi Piovanelli:
Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I am extremely saddened to announce that Professor John Kevin Coyle, of St. Paul University, has suddenly passed away in the night of Wednesday, October 20.

Those who have known Kevin will remember him not only as a great scholar – he had just published in 2009 the volume Manichaeism and Its Legacy, a collection of his articles on Manichaeism in Brill’s prestigious series Nag Hammadi and Manichean Studies – but also and especially as a warm and generous person, a true gentleman. This is a terrible loss for all of us.

I am sure that his soul is presently climbing the column of glory and is not too far from her final destination in the paradise of light, where she will enjoy the company of Augustine and Mani.

May peace be upon him!
Requiescat in pace.

Book review: Fields, The Dead Sea Scrolls, A Full History, Vol. 1

The Dead Sea Scrolls, A Full History, Vol. 1

by Weston W. Fields

Leiden/Boston, Brill, 2009, 592 pp.
$99 (hardcover)

Reviewed by Charlotte Hempel

This lavishly illustrated volume contains a virtual mini-archive of the momentous events relating to the discovery, acquisition and early publication history of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Fields interviewed all the living major, as well as some minor, players or their family members in different parts of the world. Among them are Arab nomads, local Arab antiquities dealers, scholars, wealthy collectors and librarians. Fields studied the archives of universities and institutions in various countries and reproduces much of what he has discovered word for word.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Job in Jewish apocryphal lit and history of Judaism in antiquity

Faculté de théologie et de sciences des religions

The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (FTSR) at the University of Lausanne invites applications for the following position:

Full professor or tenure-track position at the level of full professor in Jewish Apocryphal Literature and History of Judaism in Antiquity
Follow the link for details. The deadline is 31 December.

Project on multi-faith ancient biblical exegesis

A PROJECT to study multi-faith ancient biblical exegesis:
Scripture Through Jewish, Christian and Muslim Eyes

by Chana Ya'ar (Arutz Sheva)

A joint research project headed by Rabbi Mordechai Cohen of Yeshiva University and Professor Meir Bar-Asher at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University has launched a comparative study of early Biblical scholarship in the world’s three major monotheistic faiths.

The study, which began September 1 at the Jerusalem Institute for Advanced Studies, examines early Jewish, Christian and Muslim strategies of Scriptural reading and their contemporary implications


“In Judaism, we need only think of the riches offered by the Cairo Genizah [an accumulation of Jewish manuscript fragments that were found in the store room of the Ben Ezra Synagogue Cairo in the 19th century - ed.], from which extensive exegetical texts have now been published. Similar finds exist in Christian and Muslim interpretation. The time has come to study all of these interpretive traditions comparatively,” [Cohen] explained.


As part of its work, the team will study the basic Hebrew, Latin and Arabic (and in some cases Greek and Aramaic / Syriac) terminology and idioms of pre-modern interpretation.


Nag Hammadi murder trial update

NAG HAMMADI MURDER TRIAL UPDATE: Prosecutors call for death sentence for Naga Hammadi murder suspects. But the conclusion of the trial has now been rescheduled to 18 December.

Background here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls

THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS is coming out in the UK in a week, and a couple of weeks later in the USA. Follow the link for details. The Amazon link is here. Professor Timothy Lim, co-editor of the volume, also has sent the table of contents. I have contributed an article on the Scrolls and mysticism.
Introduction: Current Issues in Dead Sea Scrolls Research
Timothy H. Lim and John J. Collins

1. Khirbet Qumran and its Environs
Eric M. Meyers

2. The Qumran Cemetery Reassessed
Rachel Hachlili

3. Constructing Ancient Judaism from the Scrolls
Martin Goodman

4. The Origins and History of the Teacher’s Movement
Michael O. Wise

5. Women in Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls
Tal Ilan

6. Sectarian Communities in the Dead Sea Scrolls
John J. Collins

7. The Classical Sources on the Essenes and the Scrolls
Joan E. Taylor

8. Sociological Approaches to Qumran Sectarianism
Jutta Jokiranta

9. Qumran Calendars and Sectarianism
Sacha Stern

10. The Book of Enoch and the Qumran Scrolls
James C. VanderKam

11. Assessing the Text-Critical Theories of the Hebrew Bible after Qumran
Ronald S. Hendel

12. Authoritative Scriptures and the Dead Sea Scrolls
Timothy H. Lim

13. Rewritten Scripture
Molly M. Zahn

14. The Continuity of Biblical Interpretation in the Qumran Scrolls and Rabbinic Literature
Bilhah Nitzan

15. Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek in the Qumran Scrolls
Jan Joosten

16. Purity in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Jonathan Klawans

17. Apocalypticism and Messianism
Michael A. Knibb

18. Exploring the Mystical Background of the Dead Sea Scrolls
James R. Davila

19. Wisdom Literature and Thought in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Armin Lange

20. Iranian Connections in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Albert De Jong

21. Was the Dead Sea Sect a Penitential Movement?
David Lambert

22. Critical Issues in the Investigation of the Scrolls and the New Testament
Jo¨rg Frey

23. Monotheism, Principal Angels, and the Background of Christology
L. W. Hurtado

24. Shared Exegetical Traditions between the Scrolls and the New Testament
George J. Brooke

25. Halakhah between the Dead Sea Scrolls and Rabbinic Literature
Aharon Shemesh

26. The Contribution of the Qumran Scrolls to the Study of Ancient Jewish Liturgy
Daniel K. Falk

27. Reviewing the Links between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Cairo Genizah
Stefan C. Reif

28. Rhetorical Criticism and the Reading of the Qumran Scrolls
Carol A. Newsom

29. Roland Barthes and the Teacher of Righteousness: The Death of the Author of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Maxine L. Grossman

30. The Scrolls and the Legal Definition of Authorship
Hector L. Macqueen

More on Google's planned Dead Sea Scrolls archive

GOOGLE'S PLAN with the IAA to put the Dead Sea Scrolls online (noted here) has received endless media coverage, most of it repetitive. But here's an interesting little photo essay from National Geographic.

UPDATE: Reader Luke Richards calls my attention to a glaring error that I should have noticed myself:
Discovered in caves near the Dead Sea in the 1940s and 1950s, the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek scrolls date to between 150 B.C. and A.D. 70. They include copies of nearly every book in the Old Testament as well as others that are not part of the traditional canon, such as the Gospel of Judas (time line of early Christianity).
That'll teach me to skim a source before linking, even if it's the normally reputable National Geographic Society. The Gospel of Judas is a Gnostic Christian text in Coptic which was apparently found in Egypt. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Dead Sea Scrolls. It seems that someone at the National Geographic Society has been reading too much Dan Brown.

More on the planted graves at Mamilla cemetery

MORE ON THOSE PLANTED GRAVES at the Mamilla cemetery in Jerusalem:
Arutz Sheva Report Leads Court to Check Out False Arab Graves

by Elad Benari
Follow Israel news on Twitter and Facebook.

The Jerusalem Magistrates Court held a discussion on Wednesday regarding the ancient Muslim cemetery in the city’s center. The Muslim Waqf had asked the court to force the Jerusalem Municipality to stop the actions it has taken to remove the false graves that had been planted in the area, in an attempt to add property to the cemetery..

Background here amd here.

Daniel Matt on the Zohar

DANIEL MATT is lecturing in NYC on the Zohar:
Daniel Matt: Revealing the Secrets of the Zohar

Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Mark Pearlman (The Jewish Week)

Kabbalah – the ancient study of Jewish mysticism – continues to be one of the spiritual movements du jour in Hollywood and around the world. If you are interested in exploring why Kabbalah is relevant today, you should attend one of the lectures by world-renowned author and lecturer Dan Matt when he makes a rare visit to NYC on Halloween Weekend (10/29 - 10/31). To experience Matt’s thoughtful wisdom, below are highlights from an interview with him about various teachable moments from the Kabbalah.

I have been following Professor Matt's progress on his Zohar translation for many years. Background here, here, here, and here and follow the links.

The Tomb of Ezekiel in the NYT

THE TOMB OF EZEKIEL (traditional) gets some coverage in the New York Times. Article here. Excerpt:
The historic core includes not only Ezekiel’s tomb and the synagogue around it, but also a precariously leaning 14th-century minaret of a mosque long since destroyed, and a vaulted T-shaped bazaar built in the 1800s under Ottoman rule, when Jews and Muslims lived in relative tolerance, if not exactly harmony.

All are at the center of Kifl’s redevelopment plan, still under consideration and very much contested. A copy of the plan, hanging on the wall of the mayor’s office, depicts modern hotels, restaurants, shops, parks, parking lots and even a boat launch on the Euphrates shore: Kifl in 2030.

“We hope everyone who visits Iraq comes to Kifl,” said the mayor, Khalid Obeid Hamza.

His ambitions are as grand as the Malaysian city he improbably cited, when asked, as the inspiration for the plans.

“Kuala Lumpur,” he said. “It’s a very nice place.”

The plan, like the restoration work, has been greeted with deep suspicion by Kifl’s residents, including the tailors, shop owners and restaurateurs who work in the covered bazaar. Last month Kifl’s residents staged a protest, fearing the redevelopment would force them out.

“If it’s good for my work, but hurts others, I won’t accept it,” said a baker, Malik Ali, expressing fears that hotels and restaurants for tourists would ruin the town’s historic, albeit worn, charm.

He then echoed a familiar Iraqi lament: “I wish the restoration work would start with electricity and water and sewage.”

In fact, the restoration of the tomb and its environs had barely started before it came under attack. News reports early this year that the project aimed to turn Ezekiel’s tomb into a mosque, removing architectural details like carvings in Hebrew, provoked a fury in Israel and beyond.

The reports were false — the carvings remain in place, as do the wooden balustrades that separated the men’s and women’s sections and a carved cabinet that once held the Torah — but the fears were not without some foundation.

Modern plaster, including some with painted Hebrew words and designs, was removed, ostensibly to expose the original stone walls, which have their own designs.
Photographs here and video here. Some of the Hebrew inscriptions appear in both.

I have been following the fate of the Tomb of Ezekiel for some time. Start here and follow the links back. I am very pleased that the site has been getting some renovation funding and some attention from the international media.

John Dominic Crossan interviewed

JOHN DOMINIC CROSSAN is interviewed by the Religion News Service about his new book on the Lord's Prayer:
10 minutes with … John Dominic Crossan

By Ron Csillag

(RNS) John Dominic Crossan is arguably the world’s foremost scholar of the historical Jesus. Twenty-five years ago, Crossan co-founded the Jesus Seminar with Robert Funk, a group of mostly liberal scholars who decide on the historicity of the deeds and sayings of Jesus.

A former Roman Catholic priest and professor emeritus of religious studies at DePaul University, Crossan newest book—his 26th—looks at the Lord’s Prayer, or the Our Father. In “The Greatest Prayer,” Crossan argues that Christianity’s best-known invocation is misunderstood and undervalued in today’s society.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Heading back to Scotland

HEADING BACK TO SCOTLAND later this morning. Look for me again late on Wednesday at the earliest.

Junk History Watch: Algerian Paper Claims Torah Scroll Includes Name of Mohammed

JUNK HISTORY WATCH: Algerian Paper Claims Torah Scroll Includes Name of Mohammed. The word in question is actually a Hebrew adjective in the Song of Songs. It would be great if a second-century CE scroll of the Song of Songs were discovered in Jerusalem, but I certainly haven't heard this from anywhere else.

Dead Sea scrolls to go on Google archive

FROM CAVES TO COMPUTERS: Dead Sea scrolls to go on Google archive.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Review: Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011

Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011 by Gordon Campbell – review

A history of the King James Version celebrates the Bible's stunning scholarship – and drunken misprints

* Daisy Hay
* The Observer, Sunday 17 October 2010
* Article history

Part way through this history of the King James Bible, Gordon Campbell turns his attention from the 17th century to our own age. "It would be difficult now," he writes, "to bring together a group of more than 50 scholars with the range of languages and knowledge of other disciplines that characterised the KJV translators. We may live in a world with more knowledge, but it is populated by people with less knowledge."

Campbell's book demonstrates that this conclusion is depressingly accurate. The King James Version was, first and foremost, an unbelievable feat of scholarship: its translators were fluent in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic and Ethiopic, as well as being expert theologians and Bible historians. It was also an organisational feat, which brought together Britain's leading scholars in tiers of companies and committees, and which entailed a concerted effort by cohorts of printers, typesetters and bookbinders.

This seems to be turning into one of those media memes that journalists mouth without bothering to check the facts. That's the depressing part. I don't know if Campbell is being quoted in context, but if he is, he should know better. Briefly, yes it would be a challenge to organize such a project, but not an overwhelming one, and no it would not be hard to find the requisite number of specialists. The More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project has an international team of scholars about the same size as the one that produced the King James Bible and the MOTP contributors cover a much wider range of languages and specialties. Mercifully, we don't have "tiers of companies and committees." My comments here also apply.