Saturday, July 16, 2016

Uusimäki, Turning Proverbs towards Torah

Turning Proverbs towards Torah: an Analysis of 4Q525

By Elisa Uusimäki, University of Helsinki
In Turning Proverbs towards Torah, Elisa Uusimäki offers the first monograph on the early Jewish wisdom text 4Q525 from Qumran. Following the reconstruction of the fragmentary manuscript, Uusimäki analyses the text with a focus on the reception and renewal of the Proverbs tradition and the ways in which 4Q525 illustrates aspects of Jewish pedagogy in the late Second Temple period. She argues that the author was inspired by Proverbs 1-9 but sought to demonstrate that true wisdom is found in the concept of torah. He also weaved dualistic elements and eschatological ideas into the wisdom frame. The author's intention, Uusimäki argues, is to form the audience spiritually, encouraging it to trust in divine protection and blessings that are bestowed upon the pious.

Gmirkin, Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible

Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible
By Russell E. Gmirkin

© 2017 – Routledge

320 pages

Hardback: 9781138684980
pub: 2016-09-16
Available for pre-order

Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible for the first time compares the ancient law collections of the Ancient Near East, the Greeks and the Pentateuch to determine the legal antecedents for the biblical laws. Following on from his 2006 work, Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus, Gmirkin takes up his theory that the Pentateuch was written around 270 BCE using Greek sources found at the Great Library of Alexandria, and applies this to an examination of the biblical law codes. A striking number of legal parallels are found between the Pentateuch and Athenian laws, and specifically with those found in Plato's Laws of ca. 350 BCE. Constitutional features in biblical law, Athenian law, and Plato's Laws also contain close correspondences. Several genres of biblical law, including the Decalogue, are shown to have striking parallels with Greek legal collections, and the synthesis of narrative and legal content is shown to be compatible with Greek literature.

All this evidence points to direct influence from Greek writings, especially Plato's Laws, on the biblical legal tradition. Finally, it is argued that the creation of the Hebrew Bible took place according to the program found in Plato's Laws for creating a legally authorized national ethical literature, reinforcing the importance of this specific Greek text to the authors of the Torah and Hebrew Bible in the early Hellenistic Era. This study offers a fascinating analysis of the background to the Pentateuch, and will be of interest not only to biblical scholars, but also to students of Plato, ancient law, and Hellenistic literary traditions.

Cohen, Matthew and the Mishnah

Matthew and the Mishnah
Redefining Identity and Ethos in the Shadow of the Second Temple's Destruction

[Matthäus und die Mischna. Die Neudefinition von Identität und Ethos im Schatten der Zerstörung des Zweiten Tempels.]

2016. XIX, 636 pages.
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 418
119,00 €
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-149960-9

Published in English.
Akiva Cohen investigates the general research question: how do the authors of religious texts reconstruct their community identity and ethos in the absence of their central cult? His particular socio-historical focus of this more general question is: how do the respective authors of the Gospel according to Matthew, and the editor(s) of the Mishnah redefine their group identities following the destruction of the Second Temple? The author further examines how, after the Destruction, both the Matthean and the Mishnaic communities found and articulated their renewed community bearings and a new sense of vision through each of their respective author/redactor's foundational texts. The context of this study is thus that of an inner-Jewish phenomenon; two Jewish groups seeking to (re-)establish their community identity and ethos without the physical temple that had been the cultic center of their cosmos. Cohen's interest is in how each of these communities (the Matthean and Mishnaic/Rabbinic-related ones) underwent a reformulation of their identity as Israel , and the consequent ethos that resulted from their respective reformulations.

Lam on Sin as Rhetoric in the HB

Sin as Rhetoric in the Hebrew Bible: The Framing Power of Metaphor

Consider the idea of sin—a notion familiar from theological discussions and often understood as a violation of divine will. No doubt for many, the (Hebrew) Bible is viewed as the source from which one might derive a definition of what constitutes sinful action. Beyond merely enumerating the individual varieties of sin, however, the texts of the Hebrew Bible also employ the language of ‘sin’ as a rhetorical mode, articulating sin’s consequences and implications, calling for urgency of action where it might otherwise be lacking, and providing ways through which to conceptualize the relationship between the human and the divine.

See Also: Patterns of Sin in the Hebrew Bible: Metaphor, Culture, and the Making of a Religious Concept (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).

By Joseph Lam
Department of Religious Studies
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
June 2016

Barton on the HB

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS BLOG: Why read the Hebrew Bible? An interview with John Barton.
Understanding the Hebrew Bible is crucial to understanding Western literature, human nature, covenant, creation narratives, ethics, ritual and purity. In The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion, an invaluable reference book for students and teachers, John Barton outlines the endless reasons, beyond the religious, for studying The Hebrew Bible. Recently, Barton shared why this is the perfect starting place for anyone seeking a user-friendly introduction to the Old Testament.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Philology, the journal

NEW JOURNAL: PHILOLOGY: An International Journal on the Evolution of Languages, Cultures and Texts.
Francesco Benozzo
Università di Bologna
Dipartimento di Lingue e Culture Moderne
Via Cartoleria 5
I-40124 Bologna, Italy

Philology is an international peer-reviewed journal devoted to the study of human traditions as they emerge from oral, written, carved, painted, digital, performed, ancient, contemporary texts. The journal aspires to challenge and reformulate the expression of philological studies in the present day. We propose that the contemporary world be understood in its multicultural complexity, and thus that philology be re-founded as a relevant social science. To this end, we encourage constant dialogue with the methodologies of other disciplines, including linguistics, cultural anthropology, archaeology, paleoethnology, genetics and cultural biology. Philology promotes all efforts to go beyond the traditional boundaries of our habitual fields of enquiry, with the purpose of accomplishing anti-dogmatic and unprejudiced tools for facing the challenges of contemporaneity. The journal is open to a wide variety of interdisciplinary approaches, from the study of linguistic evolution to literary interpretation, from textual criticism to the investigation of texts and ethnotexts, from etymological reconstructions to the cognitive analyses of archaeological facies. Philological problems exist in the grammar of signs inscribed on a prehistoric stone or a shamanic drum no less than they do in the transmission of a text from one old manuscript to another.
Volume 1 was published in 2015. Biblical philology is represented therein. And there is more on the journal at the Peter Lang website. Excerpt:
Philology was born as a subversive discipline, one that asserts our right to read and study holy texts, despite the obscurantism of their guardians. However, the field has gradually transformed its inclination towards freedom into inflexible methods and regimes of «truth». As scholars open to questioning our own complex, ever-changing roles in the contemporary world, we must doggedly refuse to be co-opted by mainstream studies and must assert our right to be irreverent, which lies at the very root of the notion of science. In the light of the foregoing, Philology sees research first and foremost as a form of rebellion and as a defense of dissent.
I like it.

Økland, de Vos, and Wenell (eds.), Constructions of Space III

Constructions of Space III
Biblical Spatiality and the Sacred

Editor(s): Jorunn Økland, J. Cornelis de Vos, Karen J. Wenell
Media of Constructions of Space III
See larger image
Published: 02-06-2016
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 264
ISBN: 9780567115164
Imprint: Bloomsbury T&T Clark
Series: The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies
Volume: 540
Illustrations: 12 bw illus
Dimensions: 235 x 156 mm

About Constructions of Space III
Constructions of Space III engages space both as focus in the texts under discussion, but also as analytical perspective. It explores more specifically how the Bible does not contain one, or even several, notions of sacred/holy space, even if there are undoubtedly many spaces described as such. It rather tries to trace how the discourses of space and those of the sacred intersect and interact in various writings of the Bible, more like points in a diagram, resulting in highly different ways of conceptualizing the sacred.

A spatial-critical perspective can help us better understand how the relationship between notions of holiness and of space was a more dynamic one; as notions of space changed, so notions of holiness changed, and vice versa. Such a perspective also opens up further questions such as how the Temple's periphery is constructed, and how a human being can move and orient him- or herself in such a space over-loaded with meaning.
Follow the link for TOC and ordering information.

Brady, The Proselyte and the Prophet

The Proselyte and the Prophet
Character Development in Targum Ruth

Christian M. M. Brady, Pennyslviania State University

The Proselyte and the Prophet: Character Development in Targum Ruth by Christian M. M. Brady is an exegetical study of Targum Ruth with a focus upon the transformation of the biblical characters into exemplars of rabbinic piety. Ruth becomes the ideal proselyte while Boaz is presented as a judge, a scholar of the Law, and a prophet. Brady demonstrates that the Targumist follows standard Targumic practice, rendering each Hebrew word of the biblical text into Aramaic, while making additions that further his agenda of presenting Ruth as a rabbinic model to be emulated.

In addition to the character analysis Brady provides a transcription of the manuscript Valmadonna 1, a new translation into English, and a verse-by-verse commentary of Targum Ruth.
Chris Brady's Targum Ruth Project has been mentioned by PaleoJudaica here and links.

Ábel, The Psalms of Solomon and the Messianic Ethics of Paul


The Psalms of Solomon and the Messianic Ethics of Paul

[Die Psalmen Salomos und die messianische Ethik des Paulus.]
2016. XV, 355 pages.
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 416

89,00 €
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-153991-6

Published in English.
František Ábel explores one of the topical issues of Paul's theology, namely the role and influence of the Jewish Pseudo-epigraphs, literature written during Greek and early Roman periods (4th century BCE to the 2nd century CE), on Paul's theological thinking. Within this corpus the idea of eschatological concepts, such as the concept regarding the coming of the Messiah and the Last Judgment in particular, arises frequently. It is similar in the case of the Psalms of Solomon with the Last Judgment as the main topic of this pseudepigraphon. Through close analysis and exploration of particular parts of this work, the author proposes that this deuterocanonical writing could form a considerable background for the proper understanding of Paul's messianic ethics. From this point of view, Paul's teaching on justification should be understood as one that is reflective of God's grace, while at the same time expressing faith and deeds as necessary for salvation.

Biblical Hebrew eZine

AWOL: Open Access Journal: Biblical Hebrew eZine. Somewhat similar to Yona Sabar's Hebrew Word of the Week column, but focusing on biblical Hebrew.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ge'ez Grammars Online

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Ge'ez Grammars Online (James Hamrick, The Ancient Bookshelf).
One can easily fit all of the Ge'ez grammars that have ever been published in European languages on one shelf. Or, if you want to save some of that shelf space for your Wheel of Time novels, you can put most of those grammars on a flash drive/memory stick instead. Here are some of the Ge'ez grammars that are available as PDFs (or in the google books reader) online ...
Ge'ez, you will remember, is the old Ethiopic language in which the only complete versions of 1 Enoch and Jubilees survive in translation. HT James McGrath on Facebook.

Aramaic Studies Today

ARAMAIC WATCH: New posts by Steve Kaufman at the Aramaic Studies Today blog:

A new Dictionary of Qumran Aramaic (Ed Cook responds here)

What’s the Matter with Babylonian Talmudic?

What’s the Matter with Samaritan?

The blog was noted last year here. All three posts above have been put up since then.

Sasson, The Arabic Translation and Commentary of Yefet ben ‘Eli on the Book of Proverbs

The Arabic Translation and Commentary of Yefet ben ‘Eli on the Book of Proverbs
Volume 1: Edition and Introduction. Karaite Texts and Studies Volume 8

Ilana Sasson, Sacred Heart University
This volume contains a critical edition and an introduction to the Arabic translation and commentary on the book of Proverbs by one of the most acclaimed, innovative, and prolific exegetes of the Karaite “Golden Age” (10th-11th centuries), Yefet ben ‘Eli ha-Levi. Yefet’s commentary on Proverbs attests to his rationalistic and revisionist ideology and to his egalitarian approach. His work is an invaluable link in the history of interpretation of the book of Proverbs. This edition is accompanied by an introduction including a thorough study of Yefet’s style of writing compared with the Arabic model of his time, his hermeneutic devices contrasted with those of Saadiah Gaon and midrash, his theology in light of the doctrines of Islamic Mu‘tazila, and his polemics against various groups.
More on the Karaites and on Saadiah Gaon in relation to them is here and links.

Harris, The Davidic Shepherd King in the Lukan Narrative

The Davidic Shepherd King in the Lukan Narrative

By: Sarah Harris

Published: 19-05-2016
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 192
ISBN: 9780567667342
Imprint: Bloomsbury T&T Clark
Series: The Library of New Testament Studies
Volume: 558
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £65.00
Online price: £58.50
Save £6.50 (10%)

About The Davidic Shepherd King in the Lukan Narrative
In Luke-Acts, Jesus can be seen to take on the attributes of the Davidic shepherd king, a representation successfully conveyed through specific narrative devices. The presence of the shepherds in the birth narrative can be understood as an indication of this understanding of Jesus. Sarah Harris analyses the multiple ways scholars have viewed the shepherds as characters in the narrative, and uses this as an example of how the theme of Jesus' shepherd nature is interwoven into the narrative as a whole.

From the starting point of Jesus' human life, Harris moves to later events portrayed in Jesus' ministry in which he is seen to enact his message as God's faithful Davidic shepherd, in particular, the parable of the Lost Sheep and the Zacchaeus pericope (19:1-10). Harris uses this latter encounter to underline that Jesus may be hailed as a King by the crowds as he enters Jerusalem, but he is not simply a king. He is God's Davidic Shepherd King, as prophesied in Micah 5 and Ezekiel 34, who brings the gospel of peace and salvation to the earth.
Follow the link for TOC and ordering info.

Adelman, "The Role of Women in the Making of the Messianic Dynasty"

The Role of Women in the Making of the Messianic Dynasty

The episode and David and Bathsheba (1 Sam. 11-12) marks the pivotal point of decline in the king’s reign; its sequel (2 Kgs. 1-2), the accession of their Solomon to the throne, suggests a redemptive turn. Bathsheba plays a bivalent role in both the making (and breaking) of the king. In the narrative paradigm of the “female ruse” that lead up to the establishment of David’s kingship (the daughters of Lot, Tamar, and Ruth), Bathsheba is unique in that she does not play the seductress; she does however ensure Solomon becomes heir to throne, and in her subtle invocation of an oath (in the name of God) affirms David’s return to grace.

See Also: The Female Ruse: Women’s Deception and Divine Sanction in the Hebrew Bible (Sheffield Phoenix Press 2015).

By Rachel Adelman
Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible
Hebrew College, Newton Center, MA
June 2016
The article is about the Davidic dynastic. Whether it counts as "Messianic" depends on your viewpoint and how you are using the term.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Stuckenbruck and Gurtner, T&T Clark Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism

T&T Clark Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism

Length: 2 volumes; 600,000 words Publication date: November, 2017
Loren T. Stuckenbruck, Ph.D. Professor New Testament and Second Temple Judaism (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany)
Daniel M. Gurtner, Ph.D. Ernest and Mildred Hogan Professor of New Testament Interpretation (Southern Seminary, USA)
Follow the link for the description, which I cannot get to format intelligibly from the PDF. (Requires access to Looks like a large and important undertaking.

Keith and Stuckenbruck (eds.), Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity

Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity
Ed. by Chris Keith and Loren T. Stuckenbruck

[Das Übel im Judentum des Zweiten Tempels und im frühen Christentum.]
2016. VIII, 417 pages.
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 417

94,00 €
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-153299-3

Published in English.
This collection of essays originates from the 2014 Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity conference hosted by the Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible at St Mary's University, Twickenham. Featuring an international collection of senior and junior scholars, it represents the cutting edge of scholarship on portrayals of evil in the Second Temple period and the earliest centuries of Christianity. The individual essays consider the significance of “evil” as it relates to a diverse set of topics, including Qumran and its texts, images of disability in 2 Maccabees, dissociations of Jesus from evil in early Christian manuscripts, the “apocalyptic Paul,” Jesus' exorcisms, Gospel cosmologies, the epistle of James, 4 Ezra, the Ascension of Isaiah, Marcion, John Chrysostom, and the Acts of the Martyrs.
Past posts on the Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity conference are here, here, and here.

Burge, A Week in the Life of a Roman Centurion

BIBLE PLACES BLOG: Recommended: A Week in the Life of a Roman Centurion (Todd Bolen).
If you’re looking for an enjoyable read that takes you into first-century Israel, I recommend A Week in the Life of a Roman Centurion, by Gary M. Burge. The story follows the familia of a Roman centurion as he moves from Syria to Caesarea to Capernaum, intersecting with scenes and events from the Gospels. I would highlight two strengths of the book.


Davies, Paul Among the Apocalypses?

Paul Among the Apocalypses?
An Evaluation of the ‘Apocalyptic Paul’ in the Context of Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic Literature

By: J. P. Davies

Published: 16-06-2016
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 240
ISBN: 9780567667281
Imprint: Bloomsbury T&T Clark
Series: The Library of New Testament Studies
Volume: 562
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £70.00
Online price: £63.00
Save £7.00 (10%)

About Paul Among the Apocalypses?
A vibrant and growing field of discussion in contemporary New Testament studies is the question of 'apocalyptic' thought in Paul. What is often lacking in this discussion, however, is a close comparison of Paul's would-be apocalyptic theology with the Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature of his time, and the worldview that literature expresses. This book addresses that challenge.

Covering four key theological themes (epistemology, eschatology, cosmology and soteriology), J. P. Davies places Paul 'among the apocalypses' in order to evaluate recent attempts at outlining an 'apocalyptic' approach to his letters. While affirming much of what those approaches have argued, and agreeing that 'apocalyptic' is a crucial category for an understanding of the apostle, Davies also raises some important questions about the dichotomies which lie at the heart of the 'apocalyptic Paul' movement.
Follow the link for TOC and ordering info.

Review of Knight, Magic in Islam

BLOGCRITICS: Book Review: ‘Magic In Islam’ by Michael Muhammad Knight (Richard Marcus).
Knight has gone from being an outside the box, iconoclastic, but always reverent, convert to Islam to an academic teaching and writing about his chosen faith. However, this doesn’t mean he no longer pushes the definition of Islam beyond what most, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, are willing to accept. What he sets out to prove in this new book, via his examination of magic in Islam, is how there is no definitive version of Islam which can be used as the basis for saying this is right and this is wrong.

In order to prove his thesis Knight takes us on a history of not only Islam, but the region in which the religion was born. This enables him to show us how the faith did not grow in a vacuum but was influenced by everybody from mythological figures in ancient Egypt (Thoth) and Greece (Hermes). The prophet Enoch of the Jewish/Christian bible evolved into Idris in the Qur’an and Knight traces this figure back to ancient times.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

On Holiday

I'M TAKING THE REST OF THE WEEK OFF WORK. I have plenty of things pre-posted and there will be something new for you every day, so do keep visiting PaleoJudaica as normally. I don't, however, plan to make much effort to keep up with news stories this week. But I will be reading my e-mail reasonably regularly, so if someone finds the Holy Grail while I'm away, feel free to drop me a note so I'm aware of it. Otherwise, have a good week.

Muraoka, A Syntax of Septuagint Greek

NEW BOOK: MURAOKA’S LXX GRAMMAR IS AVAILABLE (Mike Aubrey, Koine Greek blog). Just published by Peeters Publishers.

A review of Muraoka's A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint was noted here.

The Hachi Garsinan Talmud project

It is not, however, an “edition.” Although it presents variants, and has mechanisms in place to separate significant from insignificant variants, it does not establish a text. It is an impressive and powerful tool for comparing texts, one that can help us do scholarship (and maybe prepare that critical edition!) much faster, and with fewer hassles and errors. It is an invaluable desktop for the professional but it does not offer much for the unskilled, who will not be able to use the variants or make sense of them this way.
I mentioned the Hachi Garsinan Talmud project last month here.

Another review of Spiró, Captivity

Captivity: A Novel
by György Spiró
New York: Restless Books, 864 pages, $29.99

Michael Chabon once wrote a novel titled Jews with Swords, then re-titled something tamer (Gentlemen of the Road). Explaining his initial choice, he said: “The story of the Jews centers around—one might almost say that it stars—the hazards and accidents, the misfortunes and disasters, the feats of inspiration, the travail and despair, and intermittent moments of glory and grace, that entail upon journeys from home and back again.” From Abraham’s first encounter with God and his reception of the First Commandment (which Chabon renders, “Thou shalt get lost”), Jewish history has been an epic adventure. When Chaim Potok came to write his history of the Jewish people, he titled it Wanderings: God’s chosen ones, whose promised land is lodged permanently in their hearts, are as much nomads as settlers. Well before Tolkien’s sojourning hobbits, the life of the Jewish people was the ultimate tale of “there and back again.”

Or so contends Captivity, the Hungarian Jewish novelist György Spiró’s 800-page-plus chronicle of the wanderings of a first-century Jew named Uri. ...
For earlier reviews, see here and links.

Kreuzer et al. (eds.), Die Septuaginta – Orte und Intentionen

Die Septuaginta – Orte und Intentionen
5. Internationale Fachtagung veranstaltet von Septuaginta Deutsch (LXX.D), Wuppertal 24.-27. Juli 2014
Hrsg. v. Siegfried Kreuzer, Martin Meiser u. Marcus Sigismund, in Verb. m. Martin Karrer u. Wolfgang Kraus

[The Septuagint – Places and Intentions. 5th International Conference held by the Septuaginta Deutsch Project (LXX.D), Wuppertal July 24–27, 2014.]
2016. XVI, 923 pages.
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 361

214,00 €
ISBN 978-3-16-153832-2

Published in German.
The Septuagint is a Jewish Bible translation which came into existence in the 3rd century BC and became Judaism's basis in the Greek-speaking world. From a historical textual perspective, it is the most important source for the Old Testament besides the Hebrew-Masoretic text and the only very partially preserved biblical Qumran texts. This volume's contributions cover a wide spectrum of this discipline's themes – Septuagint Studies is a separate field lying at the interface of ancient Judaism and the historical-exegetic orientated theological disciplines – and arose from the Septuagint Deutsch Project's 5th International Conference.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Anniversary of Ezekiel's Merkavah vision

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! This Day In History 5 Tamuz/July 11 (Hamodia).
In 3333/428 B.C.E., Yechezkel Hanavi received a nevuah at the river of Chebar about Maaseh Merkavah. That perek is read as the haftarah on Shavuos.
Let me unpack that a bit. Tammuz is the fourth month of the Jewish calendar and the fifth day of that month varies from year to year in the secular Gregorian/civil calendar, but this year it happens to be today. On that date Ezekiel the prophet received a prophecy at the river of Chebar about "the working of the Chariot." That section is read as the synagogue reading from the prophets on the Sabbath of the relevant week — i.e., this week.

The passage in question is Ezekiel chapter one.

The phrase Ma'aseh Merkavah means "the working of the Chariot" or "the matter of the Chariot," or the like. The "Chariot" is God's throne, which also has wheels according to Daniel 7:9 and related Second Temple Jewish visionary literature, including 1 Enoch (the Book of the Watchers) 14:18 and the Book of Giants (see A.12). These texts are inspired by Ezekiel's Merkavah vision, but the placement of the wheels in it is ambiguous. Ezekiel's vision, at least in the Hebrew text, does not use the term "merkavah"/"chariot."

The dating of the event in the quote above follows the traditional Rabbinic chronology, which at that point is off by about a century and a half from the modern scholarly reconstructed chronology (which is based on excavated cuneiform material and is highly reliable). Ezekiel's vision actually took place in 593 BCE on the fifth of Tammuz.

Ezekiel's Merkavah visions in the Book of Ezekiel chapters one and ten were fundamental inspirations behind much of Western mystical literature, the best-know example of which is perhaps Revelation 4 in the New Testament. But they also heavily influenced the mystical work of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, which was a major wellspring of subsequent Christian mysticism. Ezekiel's visions are also the fundamental inspiration of Jewish Merkavah mysticism as found in the Hekhalot literature, on which much more here, here, here, here, here, and links. Merkavah mysticism was in turn a major influence on the medieval Jewish mysticism of the Kabbalah.

Attention open-access journal editors: survey

AWOL: Please participate in the Open Access Cooperative Publishing Study.
While subscription journals are the principal focus of this study, this cooperative includes a place for existing open access journals, and their editors and publishers are welcome to participate in this survey as well.

Hurtado on Jesus devotion

LARRY HURTADO: Jesus-Devotion and YouTube.
For those who prefer YouTube to reading books (or at least might want to judge first whether to read them), I note again that on YouTube you can find some videos in which I sketch my findings on the origins of Jesus-devotion, for example, here.

This is one of Larry's central area of interest and expertise and it's good to see that some of his thoughts on it are available in multiple media.

2 Enoch 38-63

READING ACTS: 2 Enoch and the Sermon on the Mount – 2 Enoch 38-63. Past posts in the series on the ancient books of Enoch, plus on related matters, are noted here and links.

A Philistine cemetery at Ashkelon

ARCHAEOLOGY: Discovery of Philistine Cemetery May Solve Biblical Mystery. An unprecedented find in southern Israel may finally reveal the origins of one of the Hebrew Bible's greatest villains (Kristin Romey, National Geographic).
An unrivaled discovery on the southern coast of Israel may enable archaeologists to finally unravel the origins of one of the most notorious and enigmatic peoples of the Hebrew Bible: the Philistines.

The discovery of a large cemetery outside the walls of ancient Ashkelon, a major city of the Philistines between the 12th and 7th centuries B.C., is the first of its kind in the history of archaeological investigation in the region.

Naturally, the key discovery was made on the last day of an excavation season (2013). That's what always happens.

Long, informative article. Read it all.

As I've mentioned before, I was a lowly staff member at the Ashkelon excavation way back in the 1987-88 seasons, when I was a doctoral student.

Related: Philistines Were More Sophisticated Than Given Credit For, Say Archaeologists (Reuters/The Forward).
ASHKELON, Israel, July 10 (Reuters) - Philistines were no “philistines,” say archaeologists who unearthed a 3,000-year-old cemetery in which members of the biblical nation were buried along with jewelry and perfumed oil.


We may need to rethink today’s derogatory use of the word philistine, which refers to someone averse to culture and the arts, said archaeologist Lawrence Stager, who has led the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon since 1985.

“The Philistines have had some bad press, and this will dispel a lot of myths,” Stager said.

And then there's this: Philistine cemetery uncovered in archaeological dig in Israel, Goliath's people were 'normal sized' (AFP). No giants! Deane Galbraith, call your office.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Ritmeyer, The Quest (2006)

LEEN RITMEYER: 10th Anniversary of The Quest.
In July 2006, my book The Quest: Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem was published. The launch of The Quest took place at the International Christian Retail Show in Denver, USA.

Not a new book, but not noted before by PaleoJudaica. Cross-file under Temple Mount Watch.

Lemaire, Levantine epigraphy and history in the Achaemenid period

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Levantine Epigraphy from the Achaemenid Period. Notice of a newish book (but not noted here before): Lemaire, André. 2015. Levantine epigraphy and history in the Achaemenid period (539-332 BCE). First edition. (Schweich Lectures on Biblical Archaeology 2013). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cross-file under Northwest Semitic Epigraphy Watch, Aramaic Watch, Phoenician Watch, etc.

Review of Fiensy and Strange, Galilee in the Late Second Temple and Mishnaic Periods , vol. 1

EXPLORING OUR MATRIX: Galilee in the Late Second Temple and Mishnaic Periods Volume 1 (James McGrath).
For anyone interested in the history of the ancient Mediterranean world, this book will be a rewarding read. For those seeking to understand the New Testament, I would say that it is absolutely essential. There is more work being done about ancient Galilee than a New Testament scholar is likely to be able to keep up with unless their research focuses exclusively on that aspect. For the rest of us, this distillation is a godsend, and I highly recommend it.

2 Enoch 23-37

READING ACTS: Enoch and the Mysteries of God – 2 Enoch 23-37. Oops! I had missed this one. Past posts in the series on the ancient books of Enoch, plus on related matters, are noted here and links.

Qur'an translations

SYRIAC (AND ARMENIAN) WATCH: Quran in Armenian translation in high demand in Lebanon (Daily Sabah).
Turkish publisher says an Armenian translation of the Quran has drawn attention in Lebanon where a sizeable Armenian community lives. The publisher plans to deliver 1,000 books in the coming days to the country.

Murat Rumevleklioğlu, who runs BM-AR, said the translation, in the eastern and western dialects of Armenian, was based on two separate Turkish translations of the book. He said they donated 1,400 Qurans in Armenian to Aram Ateşyan, the acting patriarch of the Armenian Orthodox Church in Istanbul. "We want to deliver it for free so that Armenians can learn about Islam and appreciate that Ateşyan consented to deliver it to his community interested in learning about Islam," he said.
Historically, translation of the Qur'an into other languages has been discouraged, since the understanding has been that the original Arabic text is the text inspired by God and any translation is only an imperfect interpretation. So Muslims were expected to learn Arabic and read the Qur'an in the original. But this translation project, which goes far beyond Armenian (see at the link above), seems to be aimed at non-Muslims to spark interest in Islam.
Rumevleklioğlu said word of mouth helped their campaign deliver the Qurans in Armenian to spread to other countries and this led to increased interest from Lebanon. He said they are now working on Hebrew and Syriac translations. "There isn't any comprehensive translation of the Quran in these languages. We are now meticulously working on providing good translations," he said.

There area already translations of the Qur'an into Hebrew, but as far as I know, it has not been translated before into any form of Aramaic. There is, of course, Christoph Luxenberg's theory that the Qur'an was substantially translated from Aramaic (Syriac), but this is controversial. And, in any case, it is another matter.

Background on the possible connections of the Qur'an with Aramaic is here and links.