Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day in honor of Larry Hurtado

A DAY IN HONOR OF PROFESSOR LARRY HURTADO is being planned by Dr. Helen Bond, the new director of the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins at the University of Edinburgh:
We have a few ideas for the coming year, but I’d like to announce only one at the moment – a day in honour of Prof Larry W. Hurtado on 7th October 2011, 10am – 4 pm. We’ve invited a distinguished list of speakers – Profs Richard Bauckham, Tommy Wasserman and Thomas Kraus – all of whom will engage with Larry’s work in the areas of early high Christology, text criticism and early Christian manuscripts. Its likely to be a lively and engaging discussion, and we might even let Larry offer some kind of a response . . . As always, all are welcome. More details to follow.
An excellent idea! I hope I can make it to this.

(HT Tommy Wasserman at the Evangelical Textual Criticism Blog.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Davies on the metal codices in PEQ

FAKE METAL CODICES WATCH: At the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, Dirk Jongkind reports that Philip Davies has published an article on the metal codies in PEQ. I have not yet seen the article, so at the moment I am relying entirely on the blog post. Apparently Davies agrees that the copper codices (including the one shown to Thonemann) are modern fakes, and he allows that the balance of probability is that the lead ones are modern fakes as well, but he does not entirely rule out the possibility that they are ancient.

I will have to look at the article. What we know so far is that (1) one of the codices, a copper one, is an obvious and crude fake; (2) the supposedly ancient lead codices share so-far indistinguishable iconography with the fake copper one; (3) there are concerns about this iconography in itself; (4) at least some of the lead codices (at least one?) seems to be made of ancient lead (but such lead would not be hard to obtain for such purposes); (5) the source who gave us the codices in the first place admits also to manufacturing hundreds of similar fakes, and thus apparently to having the skills and resources to have faked them all; and (6) that the behavior of the anonymous "team" of supposed researchers has been bizarre and suspicious. (I am not referring to Barker or Davies, who have been appropriately cautious.)

The indications are pretty compelling that the whole thing is a hoax and that is clearly the way to bet at present. I agree with Davies that the story is intrinsically interesting and worth (someone else's time) trying to unravel. I agree also that it is worthwhile to have experts examine the actual supposedly genuine codices, if nothing else to study the manufacturing techniques of the forgery. In fact, if I were the one who had access to them (i.e., Elkington), I would be making in my highest priority to make that happen. Funny that doesn't seem to be happening here ...

Again, here are the conditions that need to be fulfilled if anyone expects the scholarly community to start taking this seriously.

Much additional background here.

UPDATE: The article is available in electronic format: EDITORIAL: MYSTERIOUS BOOKS FROM JORDAN (PEQ 142, 2 [2011], 79-86), but it is behind a subscription wall. Having now read it, I stand by the comments above and have only the following to add. Davies writes:
It seemed a further oddity of this affair that Elkington was anxious to consult as widely as he could from among scholarly experts, while insisting on confidentiality. This pattern did not seem to fit a publicity-seeking fraudster.
I have not accused Elkington of being the forger and I don't think it is likely that he is. At the same time (as Davies acknowledges in n. 4), Elkington failed to make Thonemann's debunking of the copper codex public, so Elkington's motivations and actions are hardly above reproach.

Also, Davies's effort in n. 4 to leave open the slight possibility that the codex shown to Thonemann is actually ancient is desperate. The Greek phrase in question makes sense in its context on the tombstone but is grammatically and contextually incoherent on the copper plate. It is a single line copied from the tombstone inscription and put on the copper plate by someone who was too lazy even to pay attention to what they were copying.

UPDATE: You can read the editorial for free here (HT Daniel McClellan.)

A new Director for the NY Jewish Museum

A NEW DIRECTOR has been appointed for the Jewish Museum in New York:
The Jewish Museum Appoints Claudia Gould As Director

Wednesday, August 24, 2011; Posted: 12:08 PM - by BWW News Desk

The Board of Trustees of The Jewish Museum today announced that Claudia Gould has been named the institution's new Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director.

Ms. Gould is currently Daniel W. Dietrich, II Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She will assume her post at The Jewish Museum in fall 2011, succeeding Joan Rosenbaum. As previously announced, Ms. Rosenbaum will retire from The Jewish Museum at the end of August 2011 upon concluding a 30-year tenure during which she transformed the institution into an international arts destination and positioned it for future growth and success.

For more than a century, The Jewish Museum has illuminated the Jewish experience and demonstrated the power of art and Jewish culture through critically acclaimed exhibitions, related education programs, and a renowned collection of 26,000 objects that is among the three largest of its kind in the world and distinguished by its breadth and quality. Inspiring people of all religious and cultural backgrounds, the Museum is poised to enter a new phase and reach an ever broader and more diverse audience.

Congratulations to Ms. Gould and the Jewish Museum.

Past posts about the Jewish Museum in New York are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ancient Judaism and related matters around the blogosphere

ANCIENT JUDAISM and related matters around the blogosphere:

New dissertations in the field of Talmudic studies are listed by Shai Secunda at the Talmud Blog. Shai also has an interesting post on The Talmud in Arabic and More Epigraphical Rabbis.

Dorothy King's PhDiva blog has posts on Romulus: What Would Jews Say?; Early Images of the Crucifixion; and Every Tourist Goes to Masada -- Even 110 Years Ago.

AWOL: Open Access Library: Trismegistos:
Its core component is Trismegistos Texts, which includes papyrological and epigraphic texts, not only in Greek, Latin, and Egyptian in its various scripts (Demotic, hieroglyphic, hieratic and Coptic), but also in Meroitic, Aramaic, Arabic, Nabataean, Carian, and other languages (currently 121779 records). Most of the metadata are provided by partner projects, normally limited to texts in a certain language, on a type of writing surface (e.g. papyrus) or of a certain type (e.g. literary vs. documentary).
Larry Hurtado: Nomina Sacra in Early Graffiti (and a Mosaic).

Tony Burke has a post on Secret Mark and Hebrew Matthew at the Apocryphicity blog.

UPDATE: N.S. Gill: On This Day in Ancient History - A Sacking and an Eruption. I have more on the eruption of Vesuvius here and a view-from-my-window photo (just of Vesuvius, not the eruption) here. Plus photos of Pompeii here.

More from Dorothy King: Make Your Own Fake Lead Codex. It's what all the cool kids are doing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fake fake metal codices vs. real fake metal codices?

FAKE FAKE METAL CODICES VS. REAL FAKE METAL CODICES? The Jordan Codices Facebook page now has an anonymous post up claiming that (1) the person who produced the codices in the first place now says that he has flooded the market with fake metal codices, but that (2) these are forgeries of the real metal codices for which he is also the source. Got that?
Approximately two months ago, Hassan Saida, the Israeli Bedouin who smuggled the Jordan Codices into Israel, telephoned to inform the team that he and his cohorts had made 500 forgeries of various of the codices and put them into the Jerusalem market. We didn't think too much of it as he tells lots of tales; however, one of team members was sent these two photographs by someone who purchased them in Israel. To those who have seen the real McCoy, these were obvious forgeries. However, even comparing them to the posted photographs, the difference is all too apparent. Below are some observations made by one of the metal experts assisting the team. We expect more will materialise in due course.
Details of the supposed differences between the forged metal codices and the real ones follow, reportedly by this anonymous expert.

Isn't it interesting that "the team" was told by the source of their own metal codices two months ago that he had produced a lot of fakes, but they only thought it was worth mentioning now?

I have never ruled out the possibility that some of the inscribed material on some of the metal codices could be genuine ancient markings. But I have yet to see any evidence at all that this is the case and I have kept a careful eye out for it. Again (and again and again), I have summed up the evidence that they are fakes here and here.

It looks to me as though someone is realizing that the gig is up and is trying to prolong the news cycle on these items. Could it be that the next step will be for David Elkington to announce that oops he accidentally gave Peter Thonemann one of the fake codices but the rest in his possession are genuine? Meanwhile, we have an admission that the source of the codices "tells lots of tales" and that he has the resources to produce fake metal codices.

Thanks to Joel Watts who seems to have been the first to notice the latest Facebook post, and to Tom Verenna, who brought it to my attention by e-mail and to whom I owe the last point in the preceding paragraph.

I think the evidence presented so far is adequately explained by positing that someone in modern times made the fake metal codices, apparently using ancient metal, at least for some of them. If anyone wants to demonstrate that among the now admitted sea of fakes is a genuine ancient inscription, I refer them to my list of conditions that need to be fulfilled here. Take your time, but don't expect me to hold my breath.

Background here with endless links.

UPDATE: Tom Verenna comments on the latest here with links.

UPDATE: Why am I not surprised by this? Jordan Lead Codices: DELETE! DELETE!

UPDATE: One laughs. Or weeps. Or both. David Elkington’s Take on Paleo-Hebrew

Hermeneia Commentary on 1 Enoch, volume 2

VOLUME TWO OF THE HERMENEIA COMMENTARY ON 1 ENOCH is coming out in October and is available for pre-order from Fortress Press:
1 Enoch 2: A Critical Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 37-82

by George W. E. Nickelsburg (Author); James VanderKam (Author)
Via the Agade list.

Renewed Israel Museum welcomes one millonth visitor

Israel Museum welcomes one millionth visitor since inauguration of renewed campus

(Art Daily)

JERUSALEM.- In an unprecedented achievement for an Israeli cultural institution, the Israel Museum is proud to announce that it has welcomed one million people to its renewed campus since its inauguration one year ago. During this time, visitors have enjoyed the Museum’s renewed galleries, new architecture and rich program of exhibitions, events and activities.

Background here.

Travel piece on Masada

TRAVEL COLUMN: Masada National Park: A World Heritage Site (Arutz Sheva). Looks pretty good.

Jerusalem LRT opens after antiquities delay

THE LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT in Jerusalem has now been opened. The project was delayed in 2009 due to the discovery of a Byzantine-era bathhouse. This article also mentions a sixth-century monastery at the site, but I can find no previous reference to it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review of Miles, "Carthage Must Be Destroyed"

REVIEW OF MILES, CARTHAGE MUST BE DESTROYED in the Californian Literary Review:
Book Review: Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles

by Ed Voves
August 19th, 2011 at 11:01 am

Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization

by Richard Miles
Viking Adult, 544 pp.
CLR Rating: ★★★★★

Woe to the Vanquished

When you visit museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York or the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the shared legacy of ancient Greece and Rome is readily apparent. These museums are noted for their collections of Greek and Roman antiquities. Study these ancient treasures and you will witness the remarkable story of how artistic expression united the diverse peoples of the Mediterranean world — the Greeks, the Etruscans and the Romans — across space and time.

But something is missing from this story — and from these museum collections.

An entire civilization, which played a crucial role in the growth of trade, the founding of cities and the spread of literacy throughout the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea, has been effaced from the records of world culture. In an important new book, historian Richard Miles has uncovered the story of ancient Carthage, the Semitic civilization which flourished in its North African home city and in colonies all over the western Mediterranean until it was conquered by the Romans in 146 B.C.

Carthage, however, was not merely conquered by Rome. As the title of Miles’ book asserts, Carthage was destroyed. In three brutal wars, Carthage’s military power was annihilated by the legions of the Roman Republic. The city was ransacked and burned, down to its foundations. The people of Carthage were massacred or enslaved. The literature of the city was put to the torch. Not a stone was left upon a stone.

Why this special degree of vengeance by the Romans? Even for a people not known for compassion, the Romans waged a ruthless campaign of “fire and sword” against the Carthaginians far in excess of their customary brutality. The reason was simple. Carthage, a resourceful and resilient commercial power, was a threat to Rome like no other kingdom or city state in the Mediterranean.

This long review includes a nice capsule summary of the Punic Wars.

The fake metal codices have a Facebook page

FAKE METAL CODICES WATCH: The metal codices now have a Facebook page, as noted by Joel L. Watts at Unsettled Christianity. I've been getting a spike of Jordan lead codices searches lately, and this explains why.

The only thing of interest on the page is a copy of what is claimed to be Peter Northover's report on the composition of the lead, which you can read here. And another report (which does not try to date the lead) attributed to one Peter Korgul, is here. Note that the first report says that "a Mediterranean origin is certainly feasible," which is not the same thing as saying that the lead is of Mediterranean origin. It sounds as though comparative data are lacking.

To keep repeating, the lead may be ancient, but all current evidence points to the writing and iconography of these codices being modern fakes. I have summed up the evidence here and here.

Another recent summary of the current situation is here. Although it inadvertently commented on an article from April, the commentary and links are still relevant. And it leads to many, many earlier posts on the subject.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Reflections on Secret Mark by Craig Evans

REFLECTIONS ON SECRET MARK by Craig Evans at Bible and Interpretation:
Doubting Morton Smith and Secret Mark

Although a number of scholars were willing to accept the find as authentic, or at least were willing to accept Smith’s account, a number of other scholars suspected the find was a hoax and that perhaps Smith himself was the hoaxer. The matter continues to be debated.

By Craig A. Evans
Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament
Acadia Divinity College and Acadia University
Wolfville, Nova Scotia B4P 2R6 Canada
August 2011
Professor Evans is suspicious because central themes in Secret Mark show up in Morton Smith's work before the supposed discovery of the manuscript. This essay is related to the symposium on Secret Mark held by Tony Burke in April. Background here.