Saturday, July 18, 2015

Batten on Galilean fishing economy

ALICIA J. BATTEN: Fishing Economy in the Sea of Galilee (Bible Oddyssey). HT AJR.

Rabbula Gospels

SYRIAC WATCH: Rabbula Gospels online! (Adam McCollum, hmmlorientalia blog).


PETER J. GURRY (ETC): Online Database of Syriac Manuscripts. The e-ktobe site was also noted here a few years ago.

Miller, At the Intersection of Texts and Material Finds

Stuart S. Miller
At the Intersection of Texts and Material Finds
Stepped Pools, Stone Vessels, and Ritual Purity Among the Jews of Roman Galilee

1. Auflage 2015
423 Seiten with 22 fig. gebunden
ISBN 978-3-525-55069-4
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

Journal of Ancient Judaism. Supplements - Band 016

Stuart Miller examines the hermeneutical challenges posed by the material and literary evidence pertaining to ritual purity practices in Graeco-Roman Palestine and, especially, the Galilee. He contends that “stepped pools,” which we now know were in use well beyond the Destruction of the Temple, and, as indicated by the large collection on the western acropolis of Sepphoris and elsewhere, into the Middle and Late Roman/Byzantine eras,must be understood in light of biblical and popular perspectives on ritual purity. The interpretation of the finds is too frequently forced to conform to rabbinic prescriptions, which oftentimes were the result of the sages’ unique and creative, nominalist approach to ritual purity. Special attention is given to the role ritual purity continued to play in the lives of ordinary Jews despite (or because of) the loss of the Temple. Miller argues against the prevailing tendency to type material finds—and Jewish society––according to known groups (pre-70 C.E.: Pharisaic, Sadducaic, Essenic; post 70 C.E.: rabbinic, priestly, etc.). He further counters the perception that ritual purity practices were largely the interest of priests and argues against the recent suggestion that the kohanim resurfaced as an influential group in Late Antiquity. Building upon his earlier work on “sages and commoners,” Miller claims that the rabbis emerged out of a context in which a biblically derived “complex common Judaism” thrived. Stepped pools, stone vessels, and other material finds are realia belonging to this “complex common Judaism.” A careful reading of the rabbis indicates that they were acutely aware of the extent to which ritual purity rites pertaining to home and family life had “spread,” which undoubtedly contributed to their intense interest in regulating them.

One God, One Lord, 3rd edition

LARRY HURTADO: One God, One Lord”: Third Edition Forthcoming. I read the first edition back around 1991 or 1992, when the SBL Divine Mediator Figures Group was starting up, and it has influenced my thinking a great deal.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Swenne, Démons iraniens

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: . A notice of a new book: Swennen, Philippe (ed.). 2015. Démons iraniens: actes du colloque international organisé à la Université de Liège les 5 et 6 février 2009 à l’occasion des 65 ans de Jean Kellens. Liège: Presses Universitaires de Liège.

The Story of Melchizedek

THE STORY OF MELCHIZEDEK, translated recently in Bauckham, Davila, Panayotov (eds.), Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures vol. 1 (Eerdmans, 2013), is profiled by Tomas Garcia-Huidobro in his Spanish-language blog, Experiencias Religiosas y Escrituras: La Historia de Melquizedek (apócrifo cristiano).

I usually just link to English-language blogs, but I do follow this one and it is worth a look. The masthead gives its subject matter as "temprano misticismo judío, cristiano, y gnóstico como medios para iluminar los orígenes del cristianismo."

Penn, Envisioning Islam

Envisioning Islam
Syriac Christians and the Early Muslim World

Michael Philip Penn

320 pages | 6 x 9
Cloth Jun 2015 | ISBN 978-0-8122-4722-0 | $59.95s | £39.00
Ebook Jun 2015 | ISBN 978-0-8122-9144-5 | $59.95s | £39.00
A volume in the Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion series

"A sophisticated and well-conceived study of the evolving depictions of Muslims in Syriac texts that will shed new light on the socially complicated history of early Islam."—Sydney H. Griffith, the Catholic University of America

The first Christians to encounter Islam were not Latin-speakers from the western Mediterranean or Greek-speakers from Constantinople but Mesopotamian Christians who spoke the Aramaic dialect of Syriac. Under Muslim rule from the seventh century onward, Syriac Christians wrote the most extensive descriptions extant of early Islam. Seldom translated and often omitted from modern historical reconstructions, this vast body of texts reveals a complicated and evolving range of religious and cultural exchanges that took place from the seventh to the ninth century.

The first book-length analysis of these earliest encounters, Envisioning Islam highlights the ways these neglected texts challenge the modern scholarly narrative of early Muslim conquests, rulers, and religious practice. Examining Syriac sources including letters, theological tracts, scientific treatises, and histories, Michael Philip Penn reveals a culture of substantial interreligious interaction in which the categorical boundaries between Christianity and Islam were more ambiguous than distinct. The diversity of ancient Syriac images of Islam, he demonstrates, revolutionizes our understanding of the early Islamic world and challenges widespread cultural assumptions about the history of exclusively hostile Christian-Muslim relations.
Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

Gardner, The Origins of Organized Charity in Rabbinic Judaism

The Origins of Organized Charity in Rabbinic Judaism

AUTHOR: Gregg E. Gardner
FORMAT: Hardback
ISBN: 9781107095434



This book examines the origins of communal and institutional almsgiving in rabbinic Judaism. It undertakes a close reading of foundational rabbinic texts (Mishnah, Tosefta, Tannaitic Midrashim) and places their discourses on organized giving in their second to third century CE contexts. Gregg E. Gardner finds that Tannaim promoted giving through the soup kitchen (tamhui) and charity fund (quppa), which enabled anonymous and collective support for the poor. This protected the dignity of the poor and provided an alternative to begging, which benefited the community as a whole - poor and non-poor alike. By contrast, later Jewish and Christian writings (from the fourth to fifth centuries) would see organized charity as a means to promote their own religious authority. This book contributes to the study of Jews and Judaism, history of religions, biblical studies, and ethics.

Non-Muslim contributions to Islamic civilisation series

JAMES MCGRATH: Mandaean Contributions to Islamic Civilization. James says:
I received word about the new book series below, and wanted to share it here, since it explicitly mentions the Mandaeans!
And so it does, but also many other traditions. The series is "Non-Muslim contributions to Islamic civilisation" from Edinburgh University Press and the background traditions it proposes to explore include the following:
The series examines the contributions of Jews, Christians (including Armenians, Copts, Ethiopians, Georgians, Mozarabs and Syriacs) Samaritans, Mandeans, Hermetics, Harranians, Zoroastrians and peripheral cultures such as the Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, “Shamanist” and African traditions to the intellectual, ideological, legal, economic and technological development of Islamic civilisation.
I look forward to hearing more.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lamp workshop at Shikhin

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: An Ancient Jewish Lamp Workshop in the Galilee.

GSI Greek Psalter Project

TRINITY WESTERN UNIVERSITY: TWU scholar to lead significant Septuagint project.
TWU professor and Septuagint scholar Rob Hiebert, Ph. D., has been invited to serve as a supervisor for the Green Scholars Initiative’s (GSI) Greek Psalter Project. Hiebert, who has served as a Professor of Old Testament studies since 1998, is the Director of the University’s John William Wevers Institute for Septuagint Studies.

The GSI Greek Psalter Project is a collaborative undertaking focused on an important, well-preserved papyrus containing the text of Septuagint Psalms. Papyrus Bodmer XXIV, dating to the third or fourth century, contains Psalms 17-118 (according to Septuagint numbering) in a text form that is proving to be immensely valuable for reconstructing the original text of the Greek translator. A key aspect of this GSI project will be to prepare and publish a new edition of the papyrus text, one that both corrects the errors that appeared in the first edition in 1967, and that includes new material that did not make its way into that first edition.

Although the project is sponsored by the Green Scholars Initiative, the subject of study, Papyrus Bodmer XXIV, is not part of the Green Collection. Background on the Green Collection is here and here and many links.

CORRECTION (18 July): Michael Holmes has written to tell me that Papyrus Bodmer XXIV is in fact in the Green Collection. Apologies for the error.

Gignoux, Mazdéens et chrétiens en terre d’Iran à l’époque sassanide

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Zoroastrians and Christians in Sasanian Iran. Notice of a new book: Gignoux, Philippe. 2014. Mazdéens et chrétiens en terre d’Iran à l’époque sassanide. (Ed.) Matteo De Chiara & Enrico G. Raffaelli. (Serie orientale Roma 3). Roma: Scienze e Lettere.

Judean Desert flyover video

JAMES MCGRATH: Dead Sea Drone. Amir Aloni presents us with another of his excellent, unnarrated flyover videos, this one including the Dead Sea region and Masada. More here and links.

Ellis, The Hermeneutics of Divine Testing

The Hermeneutics of Divine Testing
Cosmic Trials and Biblical Interpretation in the Epistle of James and Other Jewish Literature

Nicholas Ellis examines the interplay present in early Jewish literature between authors' theological assumptions on divine agency in evil and their readings of biblical testing narratives. Ellis takes as a starting point the Epistle of James , and compares this early Christian work against other examples of ancient Jewish interpretation. Ellis shows how varying perspectives on the divine, satanic, and human roles of testing exercised a direct influence on the interpretation of popular biblical testing narratives such as Abraham and Isaac, Job, and the Trials in the Wilderness. Read in light of the broader Jewish literature, Ellis argues that the theology and hermeneutic found in the Epistle of James as such relate to divine testing are closely paralleled by the so-called 'Rewritten Bible' tradition. Within James' cosmic drama, God stands as righteous judge, with the satanic prosecutor indicting both divine integrity and human religious loyalty.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

R.J. Zwi Werblowsky 1924-2015

SAD NEWS FROM H-JUDAIC: Obituary: Prof. R.J. Zwi Werblowsky.
H-Judaic is greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Prof. R.J.Zwi Werblowsky (1924-2015), a towering figure in the field of Comparative Religion, and a senior scholar and Dean for many years at the Hebrew University. Werblowsky burst upon the academic scene with his brilliant doctoral dissertation, published under the title LUCIFER AND PROMETHEUS: A STUDY OF MILTON'S SATAN (1952), with an introduction by C.G.Jung, but is best known to scholars of Judaica for his important biography of JOSEPH KARO: LAWYER AND MYSTIC and for his magnificent translation of Gershom Scholem's SABBATAI ZEVI: THE MYSTICAL MESSIAH. He also coedited the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JEWISH RELIGION. ...

Parchments from Oxyrhynchus

BRICE C. JONES: Parchment Manuscripts Discovered at Oxyrhynchus. Most of the Oxyrhynchus texts are papyri (i.e., paper made from reeds), but there are a few parchments (made from animal leather. Brice Jones lists them here. There are a couple of New Testament manuscripts, one may be an otherwise unknown NT apocryphon, one is an amulet that quotes the NT, and another is a copy of LXX Genesis.

Much more on the Oxyrhynchus papyri can be found here and links.

The Temple Institute and the red heifer

CROWDSOURCING THE RED HEIFER: Raise a Red Heifer in Israel. The Temple Institute has set up an Indiegogo project for producing a herd of red heifers in preparation for the rebuilding of the Temple. Their goal is $125,000 and they have already raised nearly $10,500.

HT reader Yehoshua Rabinowitz.

We last saw the red heifer in a post on the television series Dig. We last saw the Temple Institute in a post about their gold-prospecting on Mount Eilat, and then before that in a post also about Dig. Follow the links there for more on them.

Regarding this project to rebuild the Temple, I seem to need to repeat myself endlessly: no excavation or building on the Temple Mount! Let's wait to study its contents until we have non-invasive and non-destructive technologies that allow us to study its contents without damaging the site or the buildings that are already there.

Isbell, "Emic or Etic?"

Emic or Etic?
Interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures

A tangential issue that must be addressed is the idea that the negative language the gospels direct against Jews represents nothing more than a family squabble, or conflicts between different groups of first century Jews, and does not reflect Gentile Christians speaking ill of Jews. The evidence offered below indicates that the etic readings of Judaism by the writers of the Synoptic gospels were not part of either mainstream Judaism or any identifiable Jewish sub-group of the era. The ideology presented in these gospels is clearly Christo-centric, and the points being made far too often fit a Roman or Hellenistic context to sustain the idea that we are reading nothing more than the saga of some Jews involved in a petty dispute. In addition, the church fathers, who were certainly not Jewish, had no difficulty in using the NT to denigrate Judaism in a most derogatory fashion. This they could do without the necessity of rephrasing as Gentiles what they read in a Jewish New Testament. All they needed to do was to take seriously the NT on its own terms as they read and understood it. As it stood, it fit well with the decidedly non-Jewish world views and cultures of the church fathers.

See Also: How Jews and Christians Interpret Their Sacred Texts (Resource Publications, 2014).

By Charles David Isbell
Director of Jewish Studies
Louisiana State University
July 2015
Interesting perspective, but I would like to see some interaction with the Second Temple Jewish literature, notably the Qumran sectarian texts and the Enochic literature.


I'M TAKING THE REST OF THE WEEK OFF to get out of St. Andrews, both to escape the British Open and to get some rest. I don't intend to keep up with news blogging while I'm away, unless someone finds the Ark of the Covenant or something. But I will try to post now and then, and I have already pre-posted lots of things, so do keep coming back as usual. Have a good week.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Good and bad vow-work-arounds in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: What’s Mine Is Mine and What’s Yours Is Mine, Too. Giving, taking, owning, donating, and other elements of property law, in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi.’
Reading Tractate Nedarim over the last several weeks, it has become clear that the rabbis of the Talmud walk a fine line when it comes to vows. On the one hand, they disapprove of the institution of vowing and offer many opportunities for a Jew to annul his or her vows. We saw, for instance, that a vow made in exaggerated terms, or one made in the heat of a business negotiation, can be canceled by the court. On the other hand, the rabbis do not want people to use deliberately dishonest means to get out of their own vows—for instance, by claiming that they didn’t use the words they seemed to use, but meaningless homonyms. After all, if people could get out of their vows so easily, it might have the perverse effect of making vowing more common—not to mention encouraging contempt for the law. Threading this needle—making it easy to get out of your vows, but not too easy—is an ongoing challenge for the rabbis.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

More on Aksum

TRAVEL: AKSUM, HOME OF STUNNING ANCIENT CRAFTS (Mamo Gebrehiwot, Ethiosports). "Crafts" is a modest term for the massive stone monuments on the site. Aksum (Axum), in Ethiopia, has been getting quite a bit of media attention lately.

Background, including why PaleoJudaica is interested in the site, is here and links.

More mosaics at Huqoq

ANOTHER SITE THAT KEEPS ON GIVING: Unique Images Uncovered in Fifth-Century Synagogue (Archaeology Magazine).
This summer’s excavations have revealed images surrounding a dedicatory inscription that include animals, male figures supporting a garland, a rooster, and male and female faces in a wreath. There are also winged putti, or cupids, holding roundels with theater masks. The team also uncovered columns inside the synagogue that had been covered in plaster and painted ivy leaf designs.
The following article by Daryl Worthington at New Historian gives another detail or two (the dedicatory inscription mentioned above is in Hebrew) and some more background on other mosaic finds at Huqoq: Unique Mosaics Found in Synagogue in Galilee.

Background on Huqoq and its mosaics is here and many links.

Why the GJW is a fake

WORTH REPEATING: 5 Reasons Why the Gospel of Jesus' Wife Is a Fake (Simon J. Gathercole, Christianity Today). Regular readers of PaleoJudaica will be well familiar with all of these points, but Dr. Gathercole has done a service by gathering them all in one brief article.

Background here with oh so many links.

The Messiah and the Nephilim?

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: No Fairy Tale: Will Giants Return to Usher in the Messianic Era? ( Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News). Without endorsing this or any other eschatological scenario, I thought the mix of traditional sources cited in this essay was worth noting.

Lots more on the Zohar is here and links. The Zohar is written in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Shimon ben Yohai), but was composed long after his time. An excellent collection of midrashic material by Jack Collins, relating to the Flood, the watchers, and the giants, is noted here. The Midrash of Shemihazai is to be translated in the second volume of the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project, along with the rest of the Book of Giants material. More on Og the giant is here and links. The Nephilim have appeared frequently in PaleoJudaica and you can find the many posts through the search engine.

I have never before seen b. Sanhedrin 97a brought into the discussion of the Nephilim and I am skeptical that "Bar Nafli" has anything to do with them. It looks to me to be a messianic title based on the phrase "the fallen booth of David" in Amos 9:11. But I am willing to hear the case made if someone wants to make it.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Report on damage to Palmyra

PALMYRA WATCH: Palmyra: Heritage Adrift. A Special Report from the Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology (APSA) (Cheikhmous Ali, June 29, 2015). A report on damage to the site from February 2012 to June 2015. From the ASOR Syrian Heritage Initiative and the Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology. A downloadable pdf file.

Background on Palmyra is here and links.

"Please, do not steal antiquities!"

SOUNDS LIKE THEY WERE BAD LUCK: Ancient Roman Sling Stones Returned by Repentant Robber. 20 years after stealing 2,000-year-old sling stones, thief turns them in with note: 'they brought me nothing but trouble. Don't steal!' (Ari Yashar, Arutz Sheva).
In a surprising turn of events, an antiquities robber last week handed in two 2,000-year-old Roman sling stones that he had stolen 20 years ago, leaving them in the courtyard of the Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures in Be'er Sheva.

Amos Cohen, an employee of the museum, made the surprising discovery of the stones together with a typed note left by an anonymous individual in a bag in the courtyard.

"These are two Roman ballista balls from Gamla, from a residential quarter at the foot of the summit. I stole them in July 1995 and since then they have brought me nothing but trouble. Please, do not steal antiquities!," read the note from the repentant robber.

Well, the thief did the right thing and I hope his or her luck improves now.

Arrests in the Church of Loaves and Fishes arson case

PROGRESS: Police Arrest Suspects in Church of Bread and Fish Arson (JNi.Media).
The arrests followed an intense, undercover investigation conducted by Internal Security (Shin Bet) and the special Nationalistic Crime unit of the Judea and Samaria police. The suspects were interrogated by the Shin Bet, and will be arraigned Sunday in Nazareth Magistrate Court. The police will request the suspects’ remand. A gag order has been imposed on the investigation and the identities of the suspects.

The Shin Bet and the police issued an edict preventing the suspects from meeting with a lawyer for five days. Attorneys Aaron Rosa and Adi Keidar from the Honenu legal aid organization have filed urgent appeals in both Magistrates and District courts in Jerusalem against the order.
I am glad that there is progress on the case, but if the article is accurate and the arrested suspects are being denied legal counsel, I find that disquieting and heavy handed. The vile nature of the crime should not have a deleterious effect on the civil rights of the accused, who, after all, should be assumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

Background here and here.

Name that Phoenician city

PHOENICIAN WATCH: The rise and fall of a forgotten Phoenician city (and its connection to the Israelites) (Ayelet Gilboa, Jerusalem Post). Looks like it started out as an Phoenician city until the Israelites took it over. By the way, as I think I've mentioned before, I was a lowly assistant square supervisor at Tel Dor during the 1987-88 seasons.

The site of Jesus' baptism? Maybe.

NOT SETTLED: UNESCO backs Jordan as Jesus’ baptism site as debate goes on (KARIN LAUB AND SAM MCNEIL, AP). UNESCO is being called out by archaeologists for taking a position on this archaeological debate. Readers of PaleoJudaica were already aware of the issue.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Aramaic death metal

ARAMAIC WATCH: KATAKLYSM: New Song 'Soul Destroyer' Available For Streaming (
Montreal-based death metallers KATAKLYSM will release new album, "Of Ghosts And Gods", on July 31 via Nuclear Blast. The cover artwork for the follow-up to "Waiting For The End To Come" was created by up-and-coming dark and macabre artist Art By Surtsey and can be seen below.


According to KATAKYSM [sic], the "cover art echoes a sinister artwork depicting the reality of humanity's beautifully disturbing existence and its impending death through the mortal and the everlasting. The background shows an ancient Incantation written in Aramaic."

I've been aware of this forthcoming album cover for some time, but until now none of the photos have been large enough for the incantation to be very visible. The photo in this article (follow the link above, bottom photo) is somewhat better, although I still cannot make out any connected sense. The upper image on the right shows a circular, spiralling text with a drawing in the middle, partially obscured by the bird's head, and another drawing at the top. The script looks like Syriac and the layout makes me think it is based on a Babylonian incantation bowl. (For comparison, see the image of a Syriac incantation bowl in the article linked to in the post immediately preceding this one.) Below this image is another inscription written in the square Hebrew script with a normal page layout. What little text I can make out does look like Aramaic. On the left is another spiral inscription with an image in the center, again probably based on an incantation bowl. The inscription is too blurred to read, but it is written in the square Hebrew script.

So I see three Aramaic inscriptions here rather than just one.

The streamed songs from the album are ... vigorous.

Death and black metal bands often draw on interesting ancient traditions. Relevant past posts are here, here (near the end), here, and here. And for lots more on Aramaic incantation bowls, see here and here and links.

Syriac Symposium at the Catholic University

SYRIAC WATCH: Catholic University exhibit highlights Syriac Christian traditions (ABBEY JAROMA, Catholic News Service).
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Sitting in the May Gallery in the John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library at The Catholic University of America in Washington, one can feel immersed in 19th-century Syriac Christian life.

Held every four years since 1991, the North American Syriac Symposium brings together university professors, graduate students and scholars from around the country and abroad to discuss topics related to the language, literature and cultural history of Syriac Christianity. Catholic University is the only university to host the symposium twice.

Aaron Butts, an assistant professor in the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures, told Catholic News Service the university “has a huge collection” of artifacts from Msgr. Henri Hyvernat that makes it “a great place to have the conference. You have all these original artifacts that just add an element that if you had the conference at another university, you wouldn’t have.”

Those artifacts include manuscripts, photographs and an incantation bowl.

Sounds like a good symposium.
One item is an incantation bowl, which 19th-century Syriac Christians would use by writing a magic spell on the inside and then placing it in their doorway, believing that it would keep the evil spirits out. Such bowls were used in the same way in the Jewish tradition during the same time period.
I think there is an error here. Incantation bowls were produced and used in Babylonia in the fifth to seventh centuries CE. Although in recent years there has been some retro production of such bowls, I've never heard of one from the nineteenth century. Also, James A. Montgomery published an 11-line Syriac incantation bowl in 1918 which belonged to Hyvernat, and this appears to be it. Perhaps the mixup occurred because Hyvernat also has nineteenth-century Syriac manuscripts in his possession and all these artifacts are now in the Catholic University's collection. In any case, you can see a photo of the bowl at the first link above.

CORRECTION: There was a typo in the date given for Montgomery's publication. It is now corrected.

Reception of Zenobia in Islam

PALMYRA WATCH: Homage to Zenobia (Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker).
She was probably in her twenties when she took the throne, upon the death of her husband, King Odenathus, in 267 or 268. Acting as regent for her young son, she then led the army in a revolt against the Romans, conquering Egypt and parts of Asia Minor. By 271, she had gained control of a third of the Roman Empire. Gibbon sometimes portrays the warrior queen as a kind of well-schooled Roman society matron. “She was not ignorant of the Latin tongue,” he writes, “but possessed in equal perfection the Greek, the Syriac, and the Egyptian languages.” Palmyra’s abundant wall inscriptions are in Latin, Greek, and an Aramaic dialect, not Arabic. But to Arab historians, such as the ninth-century al-Tabari, Zenobia was a tribal queen of Arab, rather than Greek, descent, whose original name was Zaynab, or al-Zabba. Among Muslims, she is seen as a herald of the Islamic conquests that came four centuries later.

This view, popular within the current Syrian regime, which boasts Zenobia on its currency, also resonates within radical Islamic circles. Glen Bowersock, a professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, says, “I suspect ISIS believes Palmyra to be somehow a distinctively Arab place, where Zenobia stood up to the Roman emperor.” Indeed, ISIS fighters, after seizing Palmyra, released a video showing the temples and colonnades at the ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage site, intact. “Concerning the historical city, we will preserve it,” an ISIS commander, Abu Laith al-Saudi, told a Syrian radio station. “What we will do is pulverize the statues the miscreants used to pray to.” Fighters then set about sledgehammering statues and shrines.
Perhaps this is why ISIS has not (yet) destroyed the ruins of the ancient city.

Background on the history of Palmyra and its current situation is here and links. Past posts on Zenobia are here and links (although I've heard some skepticism on whether the destroyed statue was really of Zenobia).

Timuş, Cosmogonie et eschatologie

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Zoroastrian Cosmogony and Eschatology. New book: Timuş, Mihaela. 2015. Cosmogonie et eschatologie: articulations conceptuelles du système religieux zoroastrien. (Cahiers de Studia Iranica 54). Paris: Peeters Press. Follow the link for a description and ordering information.

Nabataean script

AHRAM ONLINE: Calligraphy tales at Art Corner in Zamalek. New exhibition featuring 14 artists brings a modern twist to the traditional art form of Arabic calligraphy (Hala Safwat).
During the last days of Ramadan, Zamalek's Art Corner Gallery is hosting a new exhibition that celebrates the rich history of Arabic calligraphy – with a modern twist.

'The Story of Arabic Calligraphy' features the work of fourteen artists who have been inspired by the Islamic and Arab heritage of calligraphic art. Their works draw on the elegant curves of the Arabic text in order to create new artistic pieces with a modern flavour.

This is a fascinating exhibition, but it is really outside the scope of PaleoJudaica. I mention it because the following in it caught my eye and may be of interest to readers:
A history of Arabic calligraphy

Arabic text developed from Nabataean script – a form of writing used by the Nabataeans, who lived in territory located in modern-day Jordan, north-western Saudi Arabia and the Sinai Peninsula, and centred on Petra.

Historians have demonstrated the connection between Nabataean script and Arabic, using archaeological evidence such as the Namara inscription from Syria in 328AD, which uses Nabataean script to write Arabic, and the Zabad inscription from Syria in 512AD which is in three languages, Greek, Syriac, and Arabic. In this inscription, the Arabic text is recognisable but shows Nabataean influence.

"Researchers have argued that Arabic text originated between the era of the Namara inscription and and Zabad inscription, and the Harran inscription (of 568 AD) is considered the era of Nabataean transition to the Arabic script," calligrapher Mounir El-Shaarani told Ahram Online.
If you are interested in the further history of Arabic calligraphy, keep reading. But Nabataean (Nabatean) epigraphy and Arabic calligraphy are not my areas, so I can't vouch for the specifics.

A couple of related recent posts are here and here. Cross-file under Aramaic Watch.