Saturday, March 12, 2011

Metatron is Carlos Santana's guardian angel

ARCHANGEL METATRON WATCH: Metatron is Carlos Santana's guardian angel:
He laughs with a hearty chuckle when I suggest some of his ideas sound hopelessly flaky and he's a good sport when I ask him to tell me about his guardian angel, who goes by the excellent name of Metatron.

"I think everyone on this planet has many voices inside their heads. Most of these voices scream at you and tell you you're a liar and full of shit and you'll never amount to anything, but behind all that there's always one voice that reminds you that you are significant and meaningful and worthy of love.

"Some people think I am crazy but I don't think this is strange. Policemen have their own patron saint, St Michael, to protect them. The healing angel is Raphael, and travellers have St Christopher. Everyone has something they believe. Some people believe in Mickey Mouse or Santa Clause but I believe in Metatron, along with Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Bob Marley. It's not a problem, man."
(Grant Smithies,

Donny George, R.I.P.


Chuck Jones reports (on FB) that he died yesterday in Toronto.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Edward Ullendorf, R.I.P.

Edward {Ullendorff} Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages and of Ethiopian Studies, SOAS, London University; Fellow of the British Academy and Foreign Fellow of the Accademia dei Lincei, Rome. Hon Fellow, SOAS; Hon Fellow, OCHJS. He died peacefully on 6th March 2011, much loved and loving husband of Dina for 67 years. Funeral private; no letters, no flowers, please, but donations if wished to the Oxford Centre for Hebrew Studies, Yarnton Manor, Oxford OX5 1PY. A Memorial Service to be announced later.

Published in The Times on March 10, 2011
Before going to SOAS, Professor Ullendorff was Reader in Semitic Languages at the University of St. Andrews. (There's more information on his career at his Wikipedia page here.) I met him once, briefly, I think at a Dead Sea Scrolls conference at Oxford in 1997. I remember we talked about A. M. Honeyman, another of my predecessors at St. Andrews.

Pirates sink the LSJ!


More on the Son of Man

MORE ON THE SON OF MAN: Larry Hurtado has a guest post from Dr. Paul Owen, the co-editor of Who is This Son of Man? (noted here). Owen's position sounds closer to mine than Hurtado's does. I have commented on Maurice Casey's use of Aramaic to reconstruct Gospel traditions here.

NPR on Knust, Unprotected Texts

NPR interviews Jennifer Wright Knust on her new book, Unprotected Texts: The Bible's Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire, and gives some excerpts from the book.

A recent book on the same topic by Michael David Coogan has been noted here and here.

Hebrew at Sheffield language festival

Speaking up for Hebrew at language festival

By Jessica Elgot, March 10, 2011 (The Jewish Chronicle)

Hebrew will be a prominent part of the UK's biggest language festival, starting today at Sheffield University.

Biblical Hebrew, Hebrew script and modern Ivrit are on offer for 40-minute sessions as part of 150 languages and dialects from Esperanto to Braille.

Jasmine Woods will teach ancient Hebrew and Israeli Yael Benn, 37, a psychology researcher at the university, will teach modern Hebrew and script.

This is weird:
Despite the presence of many Arabic dialects, including Palestinian, Hebrew has been classified as a "European" language by the festival's organisers.
Yiddish will not be represented. No word on Aramaic.

HB/OT lectureship at Nottingham

JOB: Lecturer in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Nottingham University.
Applications are especially welcome from those whose interests lie in literary or theological approaches to the texts, or from those whose research is in the area of the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism.

The successful candidate will be responsible for teaching Hebrew and Biblical Studies modules in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, supervising postgraduate research and contributing to departmental administration.

Candidates will possess a PhD in the area of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and will be able to demonstrate a good research record and potential in Hebrew Bible or Old Testament.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Dr Karen Kilby, Head of Department, tel: +44 (0)115 951 5851 or email: Please note that applications sent directly to this email address will not be accepted.
Closing date 4 April. Follow the link for additional details.

(Via the BNTS list.)

Apocalyptic Science?

APOCALYPTIC SCIENCE? Seth Sanders has a post up at Serving the Word about next month's Conference on Ancient Jewish Sciences and the History of Knowledge.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Inventory of Structurally Important Literary Features in the Anonymous and Pseudepigraphic Jewish Literatures of Antiquity

FROM MANCHESTER AND DURHAM UNIVERSITIES: Inventory of Structurally Important Literary Features in the Anonymous and Pseudepigraphic Jewish Literatures of Antiquity.

Sean W. Dever Memorial Prize 2011


The William F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem is pleased to announce the winner of the tenth annual competition for the Sean W. Dever Memorial Prize. This award offers $650 for the best published article or paper presented at a conference by a Ph.D. candidate in Syro-Palestinian or Biblical Archaeology. Authors may be of any nationality but the article or paper must be in English.

This year’s winner is Helen R. Jacobus of the University of Manchester. Her paper is titled “4Q318: A Jewish Zodiac Calendar at Qumran.” It was presented, with a slightly different title, at a conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls at the University of Birmingham in 2007. It has since been published in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Texts and Contexts, ed. C. Hempel (Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 90; Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp. 365-95.

The Sean W. Dever Prize was established in 2001 by Mrs. Norma Dever and Professor William G. Dever, in memory of their son Sean. This year, 2011, is the tenth anniversary of Sean’s passing.

(This is an e-mail by Beth Alpert Nakhai sent to the Agade list. A list of the recipients of the prize is here.)

Congratulations to Helen R. Jacobus.

New book: Who is This Son of Man?

NEW BOOK: Who is This Son of Man?, noted by Larry Hurtado.

UPDATE: More from Larry: “The Son of Man”: Some Linguistic Observations.

I agree with his conclusions, although I would not rule out a direct connection with Daniel 7:13-14 in the mind of Jesus.

Another recent PaleoJudaica post involving Jesus and the Son of Man is here.

UPDATE (11 March): More here.

UPDATE (15 March): More here.

Raphael Patai Prize in Jewish Folklore and Ethnology

STUDENT COMPETITION: Raphael Patai Prize in Jewish Folklore and Ethnology.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The 1 Enoch MS at the Remnant Trust

THE MANUSCRIPT OF 1 ENOCH held at the Remnant Trust is back in the news:
Winona Lake group collects historical documents public can touch

March 06, 2011|By Kristin Bien (


If you think rare books and ancient manuscripts are confined to museums, vaults and hollywood movies, you're mistaken. The Remnant Trust in Winona Lake has a growing collection of rare books and historical artifacts.

"We have cool stuff. We have cool books. We have stuff that nobody else has," says Kris Bex, The Remnant Trust president.


One of the Trust's rarest documents is a hand-written book from the mid-1400s.

"This is the Book of Enoch, which is one the lost books of the Bible," says Bex as he opens the book, "this is a manuscript in its original form. It is in a dialect of Ethiopian. And the only other complete manuscript of the Book of Enoch is in a temple on the island of Lake Tana in Ethiopia and there is only one monk who is allowed to even go in and see it."

The interview seems to have suffered some garbling here. This is one of the oldest manuscripts of 1 Enoch, but there are others, some complete and some not. I don't know anything about the manuscript at Lake Tana. For earlier coverage of this story with more information and some comments by James VanderKam, go here.

Dura Europos and chemical warfare

DURA EUROPOS AND CHEMICAL WARFARE: This is an old story (noted by PaleoJudaica here a couple of years ago), but a new article by Simon James in the current issue of the American Journal of Archaeology has brought it back to the media's attention (e.g., here). The article:
Stratagems, Combat, and "Chemical Warfare" in the Siege Mines of Dura-Europos

Simon James

Download PDF

The Sasanian Persian siege that destroyed Roman-held Dura-Europos, Syria, ca. 256 C.E. left some of the best evidence ever recovered for the nature and practices of ancient warfare. Perhaps the most dramatic of the archaeological deposits, excavated in the early 1930s, were those resulting from the mining duel around Tower 19 on the city’s western wall, during which at least 19 Roman soldiers and one Sasanian became entombed. Recent reanalysis of the excavation archive suggested that the mine evidence still held one unrecognized deadly secret: the Roman soldiers who perished there had not, as Robert du Mesnil du Buisson (the original excavator) believed, died by the sword or by fire but had been deliberately gassed by the Sasanian attackers. This article discusses the implications of this conclusion for our understanding of early Sasanian military capabilities and reviews the question of possible reexcavation in search of the casualties of Tower 19, whose remains were neither studied nor retained.
Much more on Dura Europos here and follow the links.

Scanning antiquity underfoot

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Scanning antiquity underfoot (ScienceBlog). New technology to discover archaeological sites in Israel and elsewhere:
Reported recently in the journal Advances of Geosciences, Prof. Eppelbaum’s new tool gathers data from a number of sources — including radio transmitters used to communicate with nuclear submarines and detailed magnetic field observations — and applies an original algorithmic approach to the measurements to make sense of what lies below the earth’s surface at depths of up to several dozen yards. His tool can help people “see” meaningful objects, artefacts or civilizations — – and lay them out in a four-dimensional chart.

Completion of the Steinsaltz Talmud

THE COMPLETION OF THE STEINSALTZ TALMUD is covered with detailed background in The Forward: Man of the People of the Book: After 45 Years, Adin Steinsaltz Has Completed His Talmud Translation.

Reflecting on the past five decades, he said that one of the biggest challenges has been responding to the changing needs of those who study Talmud and coming up with a translation and commentary that satisfy the modern, curious mind. “The Talmud mentions a name or an object — what is it? This question possibly for my great-grandfather wasn’t a problem — It was a vessel or it was a tree or it was an animal, and that was enough. In our times, you won’t be pleased if you are only told it’s an animal.” Providing this kind of information took him to some pretty unlikely places for a Talmudist, including a long conversation he recalled with a top Israeli expert on fowl.

His second challenge, in the course of opening up the Talmud to the uninitiated, was to explain the various expressions that form the basis of Talmudic logic. In the past, commentators assumed that people had learned at heder the hermeneutical rules around which the text is structured. Today, one cannot assume, for example, that kal v’chomer, a rabbinic rule for drawing an inference from one case to another, is a meaningful concept to a Jewish reader of the Talmud.

A third challenge for Steinsaltz was to confront some of the ethical questions regarding the Talmud and its style that are specific to modern readers. One arises from the fact that the Talmud constantly tries to harmonize apparently divergent scholarly opinions. “Is this harmonization fair? That you push two people together when they are really not in agreement? It would be much easier to say, ‘Okay, they have two different opinions and let them go as they are.’ All the Talmud is a big attempt at harmonizing. So this is a question that possibly my great-grandfather didn’t ever think about.”
Background here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

A tribute to Anson Rainey by Bill Schniedewind

A TRIBUTE TO ANSON RAINEY by Bill Schniedewind has been published an the SBL site: A Personal Reflection on the Life and Work of Anson F. Rainey (January 11, 1930–February 19, 2011). Bill reports that he is completing Professor Rainey's new edition of the Amarna letters, which is exciting news.

Via Bob Cargill at XKV8R.

More tributes to Anson Rainey here.

Historical marvels at Tel Dan

HISTORICAL MARVELS AT TEL DAN are noted briefly by Wayne Stiles in the Jerusalem Post. The ninth-century Aramaic Tell Dan inscription, which mentions "the house of David," gets star billing.

Aramaic or Assyrian Ikea instructions?

ARAMAIC OR ASSYRIAN IKEA INSTRUCTIONS? The final paragraph of this Guardian article:
British Museum buys Assyrian treasures cleaned by Agatha Christie

The crime writer used face cream to restore the ivories discovered in the city of Nimrud by her archaeologist husband
says the following:
Scholars are itching to get their hands on the ivories after the exhibition. Some of the pieces have notes on the back in ancient Aramaic, which appear to be the Ikea flatpack instructions of almost 3,000 years ago on how to assemble the furniture.
Why ancient Aramaic? That doesn't make any sense to me; Assyrians in Nimrud in the seventh century would be writing in Assyrian (Akkadian), not Aramaic. Can anyone confirm what language these assembly notes are in?

UPDATE: Dorothy King e-mails to solve the mystery, which only arose from my careless reading of the article. An earlier paragraph in the article says:
The collection comprises almost 1,000 numbered items, as well 5,000 fragments or unnumbered pieces. These carved ivories, dating from the 9th-7th centuries BC, were mostly made in Syrian and Phoenician cities near the Mediterranean coast and were brought to Assyria as loot.
These ivories must have been from Syria, where the assembly instructions would have indeed been in Aramaic.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Mughrabi Gate ramp renovations

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Israel plans work at contested Jerusalem holy site. The site is the Mughrabi (Mugrabi) Gate ramp. Background here.

Did 'mummy's curse' kill Egyptian looters?

WORKS FOR ME: Did 'mummy's curse' kill Egyptian looters?

I'd like more verification before I actually believe this story, but it was too good not to note.

Al Ahram: Egypt's antiquities moved for fear of looting

AL AHRAM: Egypt's antiquities moved for fear of looting.

When Buffy met biblical studies

TWO OF MY FAVORITE THINGS: When 'Buffy' Met Biblical Studies. The connections with biblical studies are pretty tenuous, but the author, Ronald Helfrich, seems to be advocating a more traditional text-based approach to academic Buffy studies. That sounds all right to me.

Lawrence Schiffman at YU

LAWRENCE SCHIFFMAN is now at Yeshiva University: New Vice Provost Schiffman Advances Undergraduate Synergy, Ideology.

(HT, Joseph Lauer.)

Background here.

Review of Rose Williams, A Beginning Latin Christian Reader

Rose Williams, A Beginning Latin Christian Reader: de bonis cogitationibus. Mundelein, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., 2010. Pp. iv, 79. ISBN 9780865167506. $15.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Michael Klaassen, St. Timothy’s Classical Academy (


Rose William’s “A Beginning Latin Reader, De Bonis Cogitationibus” is a much-needed book and a welcome addition to the field of elementary Latin readers, where good, simplified versions of biblical texts are in short supply. This book will serve a niche market, of course – Christian and “classical” schools, as well as the home-school crowd, who want biblical and ethical readings to back up their elementary study of Latin. Williams has explicitly designed the book as a companion to Waldo Sweet’s Artes Latinae, and as such its approach is not one that will appeal to all teachers of the language, particularly those who use the grammar-translation method.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Ed Cook on stative and progressive

ED COOK gives us one of his interesting (but alas infrequent) philological posts over at Ralph the Sacred River: "Loving This Book": Stative and Progressive.

Francesca Stavrakopoulou on Asherah etc.

FRANCESCA STAVRAKOPOULOU educates the Daily Mail about Asherah and the (now lost!) Kuntillet Ajrud inscription: Why the BBC's new face of religion believes God had a WIFE.

Nice pictures—both of Francesca and the drawings on the potsherd. For some reason, though, most of the inscription (upper left, where her thumb is) is missing. Steve Wiggins posts a drawing that includes it here.

UPDATE (14 March): Not "lost" after all? More here.

New JSIJ article on midrashic reconstructions

JSIJ - JEWISH STUDIES: AN INTERNET JOURNAL has published a new article: Arnon Atzmon, Reconstructing the Original Midrash Based on Rabbinic Parallels: A New Paradigm for an Old Problem (in Hebrew). Click on the link to download as a pdf file.

Modern scholarly reconstructions of rabbinic texts have tended to avoid the use of higher critical methods, because they are based on the indirect evidence provided by parallels in rabbinical literature. Indeed, they seldom use these methods in combination with the lower critical method, which is based on the study of direct textual witnesses. Rather, scholars engaged in textual reconstruction have adopted the lower critical method almost exclusively as their primary tool, arguing that reference to parallels in rabbinic literature is a speculative and problematic methodology. In this paper, I support the use of higher criticism for reconstruction of the original versions of rabbinic texts by demonstrating its usefulness in this framework. I propose distinguishing between two paradigms of textual reconstruction based on higher critical methods by presenting the results of midrashic reconstructions.