Saturday, September 10, 2016

Huqoq mosaic published

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: Explore This Mysterious Mosaic—It May Portray Alexander the Great. A decorated floor uncovered in the buried ruins of an ancient synagogue in Israel may depict a legendary meeting with the famous conqueror (A. R. Williams).
After several years of digging and study, archaeologists are revealing an extraordinary—and enigmatic—mosaic discovered among the ruins of a Roman-era synagogue at a site in Israel known as Huqoq. Nothing like it has come to light in any other building yet known from the ancient world, experts say.

The scene includes elephants outfitted for battle—a detail that immediately suggests the story of the Maccabees, Judean leaders who mounted a revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the mid-second century B.C. The Seleucids, who were descendants of one of Alexander the Great’s generals, are famed for including elephants in their armies.

But excavation director Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has a different interpretation. She believes the leader of the army is none other than Alexander the Great himself. His meeting with the high priest of Jerusalem never happened, but it was a piece of historical fiction that would have been very familiar to the residents of ancient Huqoq. ...

It's hard enough to interpret ancient inscriptions, but interpreting ancient uninscribed decorative art is a whole other level of challenge. In this case other specialists have a completely different interpretation of the mosaic:
[Karen] Britt, the art historian, agrees with Magness that the mosaic tells a story that would have held great meaning for ancient synagogue-goers. But she has come up with a different theory about what that story might be—a situation that’s not unusual as members of a research project consider the evidence from different points of view.

Britt and Ra’anan Boustan, a UCLA history of religion specialist who’s also [like Britt] a member of the excavation team, have spent the past two years consulting ancient literature, considering scenes of similar figures in ancient art, and visiting the ruins of synagogues around the Sea of Galilee.

They interpret the mosaic as the depiction of a Seleucid attack on Jerusalem led by King Antiochus VII (pronounced an-TIE-oh-cuss) in 132 B.C.

I've heard that at least one peer-review publication on the mosaic is coming, and doubtless there will be more. Meanwhile, this article provides a good photo that specialists can start working on:
“I think you could make the case for a number of different interpretations,” says Magness. With the mosaic now revealed, and the likely possibilities outlined, she expects the debates to begin.
Background on this particular mosaic from Huqoq is here and here. Follow the background links for some of the other ancient mosaics that have been found at the same site. And for a more recently discovered mosaic, again at Huqoq, see here.

Gray on charity in the rabbinic texts

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Reading Charity Texts: On Intertextuality and Social History (Alyssa Gray).
In sum, the scholar of rabbinic charity requires ongoing methodological self-awareness. Care in gathering and systematizing texts, focused and detailed analyses of discrete topics, use of source-, form-, and redaction-criticism (especially of the Bavli), attention to intertextuality and the literary nature of rabbinic texts, and drawing meaningful and restrained conclusions, are all desiderata. The reward for these methodological pains will be a better and richer understanding of this fascinating topic.

Religion before "Religion"

CONFERENCE: Religion Before "Religion." October 14 and 15, 2016, Bowdoin College, Brunswick Maine.
The overarching aims of the symposium are twofold, and participants will be invited to address one or both of the following topics: First, we will discuss how to define religion practices and understandings involving gods and similar beings that were widespread in the Greco-Roman world, and with a view to pre-Christian writings that sought to impose normative schemes upon these practices. Then, we will consider why and how Christians and Jews gave rise to entities that resemble “religions” in a more modern sense, largely through efforts of mutual differentiation and institutionalization.
Follow the link for more details, a schedule, a list of participants, and abstracts of the papers.

Ancient tattoos

SKIN ART: Tattoo Taboo? Exploring The History Of Religious Ink And Facial Tattoos (Forbes). Dr. Sarah Bond of the University of Iowa gives a brief overview of the history of tattoos in Western antiquity. The following is of interest for PaleoJudaica:
Within ancient near eastern civilizations, the body had also long served as a surface for advertising mourning and religious affiliations. As Jordan Rosenblum, a professor of religious and Jewish studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, told me, this was true within Judaism as well. He notes that despite the oft-uttered belief that tattooed Jews cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery, there is a long history of tattoos within the faith. Leviticus 19.28 indeed prohibits the “gashing of the flesh,” however, tattoos appear to have been used among some Jews in the ancient Near East as a symbol of mourning the passing of loved ones.
Relevant past PaleoJudaica posts have been mostly on modern tattoos involving ancient languages and themes. Often these do not turn out well. Background here and links.

What Larry Schiffman is reading

INTERVIEW: On the Bookshelf (Elliot Resnick, Jewish Press).
Lawrence Schiffman is a professor at New York University, an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple era, and the author and editor of over a dozen works.
He gives us an impressive lineup of books in his reading list.

Professor Schiffman is lecturing at Missouri State University this weekend.

Friday, September 09, 2016

A Jewish epitaph from third-century CE Egypt

EPIGRAPHY: BYU professor works with University of Utah library to translate 1700-year-old obituary. Ancient epitaph memorializes Helene, a woman with unique Jewish and Christian titles who loved orphans (Jon McBride, BYU News).
“I’ve looked at hundreds of ancient Jewish epitaphs,” [Professor Lincoln H.] Blumell said, “and there is nothing quite like this. This is a beautiful remembrance and tribute to this woman.”

While Helene is identified as Ἰουδαία (a Jew), she is also referred to as Ἄμα (Ama), a title that is used only for nuns and other certain Christian women in late antique Egypt.

This inscription also helps to identify the Jewish community in Egypt in the period after the deadly Jewish revolt of A.D. 115–117 when the Jewish community was decimated. It is estimated that this was written some time in the A.D. 200s.
Seen on Facebook. The provenance doesn't look very clear to me, so I would like to know more about the authentication of the object. But that doubtless is covered in the formal peer-review publication in the Journal for the Study of Judaism, which is not yet available to me. But this looks to be an important discovery that gives us some intriguing information about religious identity in Egypt after the Jewish revolt.

Review of Cronin, "Raymond Brown, ‘The Jews’ and the Gospel of John"

READING ACTS: Book Review: Sonya Shetty Cronin, Raymond Brown, ‘The Jews’ and the Gospel of John: From Apologia to Apology; LNTS 504 (Phil Long).
Cronin, Sonya Shetty. Raymond Brown, ‘The Jews’ and the Gospel of John: From Apologia to Apology. LNTS 504; London: T&T Clark, 2015. 232pp. Hb; $112.00; Pb. $39.95 (2013); PDF eBook $27.95.
In the end, Cronin shows how Brown was able to move from only the most cursory interest in anti-Judaism in the Gospel of John to a defense of John’s gospel against the charge of anti-Judaism, and ultimately to an apology for the way John’s gospel has been used against the Jewish people in both scholarship and society. Brown did this, Cronin argues, first as a Catholic and secondly as a biblical scholar. Brown was, she suggests, a leader in the Church against anti-Judaism and a “significant voice in leadership” forming official Catholic documents and statements on the Jewish people.

Video of 17th Annual Megalim Archaeology Conference

ARCHAEOLOGY: Watch: 17th Annual Archaeological conference.Leading archaeologists speak about recent findings, with special focus on attempts by various entities to erase Jewish history. Note: Video part Hebrew part English (Arutz Sheva).
This year, in addition to highlighting the newest archaeological discoveries in the City of David and ancient Jerusalem, the conference will focus on the attempt of various entities to erase ancient Jerusalem from Jewish history.

Follow the link for the video. Among the discoveries discussed are the floor-tiles attributed to the Herodian Temple courtyards which the Temple Mount Sifting Project has recently made public. Background here and links.

"The Inn at Lydda" opens

NEW TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA WATCH. The Inn At Lydda has opened at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London, to unenthusiastic reviews:

The Telegraph: The Inn at Lydda's biblical drama collapses into Carry On comedy – review (Chris Bennion).
Now, how are you on your New Testament apocrypha? Ah, good. You’ll be aware then of the fleeting reference in one such pseudo-gospel to Tiberius Caesar seeking out the healing powers of Jesus of Nazareth. Sadly for the ailing Roman emperor, Pontius Pilate’s hands were squeaky clean by this point and the two men never met.

John Wolfson, playwright and, perhaps more importantly, the Curator of Rare Books at the Globe, has imagined that the meeting took place. It is a crackerjack set-up: Jesus, fresh from the cross, must decide whether to save the life of the Emperor under whose vicious tyranny he has just been executed. Would he “heal Caesar”?

While there is much invention, humour and good intention in Andy Jordan’s production, what we are served up is a haphazard mishmash of droll Bible history, quasi-Shakespearean high drama and Carry on Cleo.

Plus the reviewer didn't like the hand puppet.

The Guardian: The Inn at Lydda review – Christ is risen for a showdown with Caesar (Michael Billington).
The play is deeply flawed but, at a time when drama is monotonously secular, it at least has the courage to remind us there is a world elsewhere.
The Financial Times: The Inn at Lydda, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London — review. An audacious, fitfully successful staging of a New Testament story (Sarah Hemming).
But, for all this, the play’s idiosyncratic approach doesn’t really gel and ultimately, frustratingly, undermines the potential scope of the subject.
The Arts Desk: The Inn At Lydda, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. A clever concept loses its way in this uneven new play (Alexandra Coghlan).
Wolfson wants to use his material to discuss a number of big questions. The nature of history and history-writing, the Bible as literature, the corrupting influence of power and the philosophy of governance all come in for comment, and in the encounter between Caesar and Jesus we do start heading towards some interesting conclusions. But no sooner has the play chosen a compelling path than it abandons it, leaving us lost and languishing at a second-rate inn somewhere in the Judean desert.
Background here. Cross-file under Theatre.

The Shohet Scholars Program

INTERNATIONAL CATACOMB SOCIETY: Research Fellowship Opportunity: 2017-2018 Shohet Scholars (Deadline 15 January 2017).
The Shohet Scholars Program desires to support scholars of demonstrated promise and ability who are judged capable of producing significant, original research in the fields of archeology, art history, classical studies, history, comparative religions, or related subjects. The work need not focus explicitly on the Roman catacombs, but it should be within the sphere of the Mediterranean world from the late Hellenistic Period to the end of the Roman Empire. Of special interest are interdisciplinary projects that approach traditional topics from new perspectives.
Seen on Facebook. Follow the link for further particulars.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Pehlivanian et al. (eds.), Orientalische Bibelhandschriften aus der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Pahlavi and Judeo-Persian Bible Manuscripts. Notice of a new book: Pehlivanian, Meliné, Christoph Rauch & Ronny Vollandt (eds.). 2016. Orientalische Bibelhandschriften aus der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – PK. Eine illustrierte Geschichte. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag.

For past PaleoJudaica posts on Judeo-Persian, see here and links. The scope of this volume seems to be considerably wider, though. See the description at the link.

On linguistic dating of biblical Hebrew

Biblical Hebrew Changed, but How?

In a hot-off-the-press popular article in Biblical Archaeology Review (September/October 2016), Avi Hurvitz discusses “How Biblical Hebrew Changed.” It is certainly true that Biblical Hebrew evolved over time, but the particulars of how that happened are more complex and debated than Hurvitz acknowledges. The example that he discusses, ʾiggeret and sēfer for “letter,” is a case in point.

See Also: Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts

A Very Tall “Cautionary Tale”: A Response to Ron Hendel

An Unsettling Divide in Linguistic Dating and Historical Linguistics

By Robert Rezetko
Research Associate
Radboud University Nijmegen & University of Sydney
September 2016
The BAR article by Hurvitz, which is behind a subscription wall, was noted here last week.

CFP: 17th World Congress of Jewish Studies

H-JUDAIC: CFP: The Seventeenth World Congress of Jewish Studies.
Call for Papers

The Seventeenth World Congress of Jewish Studies

We are happy to announce that the SeventeenthWorld Congress of Jewish Studies will take place at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, August 6 - 10, 2017. The Congress will mark 70 years since the First World Congress of Jewish Studies. Scholars from all fields of Jewish Studies are invited to submit proposals for papers and sessions to be presented at the Congress. We particularly encourage proposals for complete sessions.

The Congress program has six divisions:

The Bible and Its World; History of the Jewish People; Rabbinic Literature, Jewish Law and Jewish Thought; Languages, Literatures, and the Arts; Contemporary Jewish Society; Research Projects and Technology.

The Academic Committees of the Congress divisions are responsible for accepting or rejecting the proposed lectures and sessions.

The deadlines are in November of 2016. Follow the link for further particulars.

Anton event in Santa Monica

FIFTY SHADES OF TALMUD: Iconic L.A. Author to Discuss Sex and the Talmud at Jewish Women's Theatre on September 25 (
Maggie Anton, author of the popular Rashi's Daughter series, will discuss her latest book, 50 Shades of Talmud: What the First Rabbis Had to Say about You Know What, at Jewish Women's Theatre's popular Bagels & Bestsellers author-brunch series on Sunday, September 25 at 10:30 a.m. @ The Braid, 2912 Colorado Avenue #102 in Santa Monica.

Maggie Anton's latest book mixes Talmudic discussions with cartoons and observations by both serious and comedic thinkers, to provide audiences with a new and rather shocking perspective on what the Talmudic sages have to say about the most intimate of human experiences.

There's lots more on Maggie Anton and her books here and links.

Ancient stable excavated at Ovdat

ARCHAEOLOGY: 1500 year old stables discovered at Ovdat National Park. In archaological excavations at Ovdat National Park an ancient animal stable has been uncovered (Yoel Domb, Arutz Sheva).
In archaeological excavations at Ovdat conducted by the Antiquities authority and DePaul University and funded by a Fulbright scholarship, members of the Negev Mountain Field School discovered a meter-thick layer in a structure which confirmed unequivocally that sheep and donkeys had existed here in ancient periods.

A layer of animal dung, that is. That's pretty unequivocal.

The site of Ovdat (Avdat) has been mentioned before at PaleoJudaica here and links.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

More on those floor tiles

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Yesterday the Temple Mount Sifting Project announced that they have recovered and reconstructed ancient tiles which they are confident paved the courtyards of the Herodian Temple. This story has received some attention from the media. Here are some of the articles:

Jerusalem Biblical Temple floor designs 'restored' (BBC)

Archaeologists Restore Second Temple Flooring From Waqf's Trash (Nir Hasson and Ruth Schuster, Haaretz)

Archaeologists restore ancient tiles from Second Temple in Jerusalem (Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post)

Reader Yoel also has pointed me to this video on the story (in Hebrew).

Also, the Temple Mount Sifting Project Blog notes the following: The Sifting Project and the Temple Denial at Megalim Conference.
On Thursday, September 8th, our project is making a splash at this year’s Megalim Conference focusing on Temple Denial. This is followed by a sifting demonstration and the opportunity for conference participants to sift buckets of earth from the Temple Mount. Afterward, Zachi Dvira will lecture about the archaeological evidence from the Temple Mount from the First and Second Temples and Frankie will speak about her research about the Herodian Temple Mount floors.
The conference will be live-streamed with English translation. Follow the link for details.

Background to the story is here. There are many, many past posts on the Temple Mount Sifting Project. Start here and just keep following those links, or run the phrase through the blog search engine.

Coptic post

ALIN SUCIU: Job Opening for the Project Katalogisierung der Orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland/Cataloguing of Oriental Manuscripts in Germany. The fixed-term job involves: "Catalogisation of Coptic manuscripts, ostraca and papyri from German collections, chiefly from the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection Berlin, in an online database." The application closing date is 30 September 2016 and they aim to have someone in the post by 15 October 2016 or as soon as possible thereafter. Follow the link for further particulars. Don't dawdle!

2 Baruch 52-73, 73-76 (77-87)

READING ACTS continues its series on 2 Baruch, with two more posts:

A Vision of Many Waters – 2 Baruch 52-73
Eternal Peace – 2 Baruch 73-76
Despite it's title, the latter post also summarizes most of the rest of the book (chapters 77-87, the Epistle of Baruch). I do not know whether that is the final post in the series on 2 Baruch.

Past posts in the series are noted here and links.

Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

Schiffman lecturing at Missouri State

MISSOURI STATE NEWS: Prominent Jewish studies professor to deliver free public lecture. Plenary speech to discuss the Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls.
Missouri State University will get a glimpse into the world of Biblical archaeology with an “Indiana Jones flair” when Jewish studies scholar Dr. Lawrence H. Schiffman visits campus later this month.

Schiffman, one of the most prominent and influential experts on the Dead Sea Scrolls, will give a free public lecture as part of the Midwest Jewish Studies Association Conference on Sept. 11.

Schiffman is currently the Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University and serves as the director of the Global Institute for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies. He has previously served as the vice provost for undergraduate education at Yeshiva University and has been featured in multiple PBS, BBC and Discovery documentaries.

The article includes an audio interview with Dr. Vadim Putzu, assistant professor of religious studies at Missouri State University. PaleoJudaica frequently links to posts at Professor Schiffman's blog.


YONA SABAR: Hebrew word of the week: qayits.
The Hebrew names of the seasons are associated with farming life, as aviv “spring” originally meant “green ears of corn” (Leviticus 2:14) and qayits “summer” meant “cutting, harvesting ripe fruits,” especially figs (Jeremiah 40:10, 12; Isaiah 28:4).


Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Floor tiles from the courtyard of Herod's Temple?

TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT BLOG PRESS RELEASE: For the First Time, Archeologists Restore Flooring from Second Temple Courtyard in Jerusalem.
JERUSALEM, September 6th, 2016 — Archeologists from the Jerusalem-based Temple Mount Sifting Project are confident that they have successfully restored a unique architectural element of the Second Temple. Namely, a series of regally decorated floor tiles that adorned the porticos atop the Temple Mount, and which likely featured prominently in the courtyards of the Second Temple during the period that King Herod ruled (37 to 4 BCE) in Jerusalem.

“It enables us to get an idea of the Temple’s incredible splendor,” stated Dr. Gabriel Barkay, co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. The restored tiles will be presented to the general public on September 8th, at the 17th Annual City of David Archaeological Conference. “This represents the first time that archeologists have been able to successfully restore an element from the Herodian Second Temple complex,” stated Zachi Dvira, co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project.


Frankie Snyder, a member of the Temple Mount Sifting Project’s team of researchers and an expert in the study of ancient Herodian style flooring, succeeded in restoring the ornate tile patterns “using geometric principles, and through similarities found in tile design used by Herod at other sites,” said Snyder, who has an academic background in mathematics and Judaic Studies. “This type of flooring, called ‘opus sectile,’ Latin for ‘cut work,’ is very expensive and was considered to be far more prestigious than mosaic tiled floors.”

“So far, we have succeeded in restoring seven potential designs of the majestic flooring that decorated the buildings of the Temple Mount,” said Snyder, explaining that there were no opus sectile floors in Israel prior to the time of King Herod. “The tile segments were perfectly inlaid such that one could not even insert a sharp blade between them.”

To date, approximately 600 colored stone floor tile segments have been uncovered, with more than 100 of them definitively dated to the Herodian Second Temple period. This style of flooring is consistent with those found in Herod’s palaces at Masada, Herodian, and Jericho among others, as well as in majestic palaces and villas in Italy, also attributed to the time of Herod. The tile segments, mostly imported from Rome, Asia Minor, Tunisia and Egypt, were created from polished multicolored stones cut in a variety of geometric shapes. A key characteristic of the Herodian tiles is their size, which corresponds to the Roman foot, approximately 29.6 cm.


“Now, as a result of Frankie Snyder’s mathematical skills, we have succeeded in recreating the actual tile patterns. This represents the first time that we can see with our own eyes the splendor of the flooring that decorated the Second Temple and its annexes 2,000 years ago,” stated Dr. Gabriel Barkay, co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. “Referring to the Temple that Herod built, the Talmud says that ‘Whoever has not seen Herod’s building has not seen a beautiful building in his life’. Though we have not merited seeing the Temple in its glory, with the discovery and restoration of these unique floor tiles, we are now able to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Second Temple, even through this one distinctive characteristic.”

These tiles have come up before from time to time and I discussed them a bit in 2010 in the post Temple Mount denial and Terrible Ice. But the work on them now seems to be more advanced and potentially very important. As always with such things, the results still need to be fully published in a peer-review venue with a clear account of how the fragments were recovered and of the methodology used to reconstruct them. It's a truism that the architecture of the Jewish temples on the Temple Mount has virtually entirely been destroyed (although the Temple Platform does survive). Although reconstructing the tiles that decorated the Temple courtyard is not reconstructing the architecture, it would be at least moving in that direction. Exciting times.

Cross-file under Temple Mount Watch. And watch this space.

The press release includes the following photographs, with the indicated captions. Click on any image for a larger version.

Herodian Opus Collection

איור [UPDATE [7 September]: The woman in the photo is Frankie Snyder.)

8-Pointed-Star Module no border

Banias 8-pt-star Module no border

Q2SQ Module

Q3SQ Module

Q4 Module

QOM Module no border

Zigzag Module

HT to Joseph Lauer for alerting me to the story when it was upcoming.

UPDATE (7 September): More here.

Italian AISG Conference

CONFERENCE: Program of the international conference of the Italian (AISG) Association for Jewish Studies, on the Discovery of the Qumran scrolls on the coming 70 anniversary (1947-2017) and on the Torah Scroll of Bologna, Biblioteca Universitaria, September 20 (Ravenna) and 21-22 (Bologna) (Mauro Perani,

Babelao latest

ETC BLOG: 3 new articles in BABELAO 5 (2016) (Peter Williams). The articles involve biblical manuscripts in Greek, Ethiopic, and Hebrew, and related scribal activity.

The newish free electronic journal Babelao has also been mentioned recently by the AWOL Blog, and I noted it back in 2015.

Zürich New Testament Blog

ASSIMILATED TO THE BLOGOSPHERE: Zürich New Testament Blog. The first post is Bridging the German-English Divide. Christoph Heilig received a Master's degree here at the Divinity School of the University of St. Andrews some years ago. His recent book with Mohr Siebeck, Hidden Criticism? The Methodology and Plausibility of the Search for a Counter-Imperial Subtext in Paul, was noted here.

Weni Widi Wiki!

NATIVLANG: What Latin Sounded Like - and how we know.

HT James McGrath. Entertaining and informative, if sometimes a bit technical for non-specialists. This looks like an interesting YouTube channel worth keeping an eye on.

As with Latin, we know a fair bit through various indirect means about the original pronunciation of Hebrew. It was quite different from both the medieval Masoretic pronunciation and the modern Israeli pronunciation. Philologists have even been able to reconstruct a good bit of information about the pronunciations of ancient Phoenician and Ugaritic, again by means of indirect inferences like the ones mentioned in the video for Latin. These include comparison with the pronunciations of later Semitic languages, hints within the phonology inherent in the ancient alphabets, and transliterations in other languages such as Akkadian, Greek, and Latin. Reconstructions of ancient Northwest Semitic languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Phoenician, Ugaritic) are especially challenging because their alphabets gave little to no information about the vowels of the languages.

Time to party with the Romans and Carthaginians

FESTIVAL: ROMANS AND CARTHAGINIANS: 16 – 25 September 2016 in Cartagena, Spain. This is an annual festival, of which I was reminded by this advert for the Mediterranean Cartagena Tours Company. The historical background is summed up in this eurotourguide page on the festival, which includes this year's schedule: Cartagena Fiesta Romans & Carthaginians.
A little bit of history so it makes it easier to understand the re-enacted battles and events. From about 600BC the area was inhabited by the Carthagnians. Originally from modern day Lebanon, they fled their homeland after it was invaded, and settled in the area to become seafaring traders around the Mediterranean. The head of the main family was the Hamilcar Barca and he renamed the settlement Kart-Hardath which over time evolved into Quart-Hadast and then Cartagena. By 300BC the Romans had become very powerful and wanted to take control of these trading routes so embarked on the 1st Punic War. They didn't succeed and agreed to a truce. Peace reigned for a further 80 years, until 219BC. It was broken when the Carthagnians, lead by Hadrubal the son in law of Hamilcar Barca, decided to attack one of the Roman settlements. The Roman waited. Then Hannibal, after getting married to Himilce, departed in 217BC on his famous journey over the Alps with his 37 elephants, 100,000 infantry and 12,000 horsemen to attack Rome and claim it for the Carthagnian. The Romans took their chance, invaded and conquered a relatively undefended Cartagena during the 2nd Punic War.

Each day during the fiesta various parts of this story are re-enacted, so you'll need to visit everyday to get the whole story or return every year on a different day!! The acts for the fiesta take place in two main locations; one at the port and the other at the football ground. The 'Festival Camp' is located in the football stadium and is a great place to visit as there is lots going on. It is the site for some of the re-enactments and the headquarters for each association, the location of the artesian and craft market and the place to enjoy locally produced traditional food and drink! The port is the site for many of the battles, including the big one when the Romans arrive by boat and take control of the city.
Past PaleoJudaica posts noting the festival are here, here, here, and here. Sorry for the rotted links. Other posts involving Cartagena and its Punic history are here, here, here, and here.

Cross-file under Punic Watch.


FESTIVAL: Ethiopian Jews Mark Ancient Holiday in Israel’s Capital (Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Service/Jewish Voice).
On Thursday, October 31, thousands of Ethiopian Jews poured into Jerusalem to celebrate the Sigd holiday, a 2,500-year old tradition from Ethiopia. The date of the holiday falls exactly 50 days after Yom Kippur, and symbolizes the Jewish covenant of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai.

Every year Israel’s Ethiopian community celebrates the holiday with a mass ceremony on the Armon Hanetziv Promenade overlooking the Old City and the Temple Mount, and a procession to the Western Wall – one of the most sacred sites for the Jewish people.

In Ethiopia, the holiday of Sigd, which means “prostration” or “worship” in Amharic, was a day of fasting and repentance. Jews would climb a local mountain to pray and carry the Ethiopian Torah, known as the Orit, which is comprised of the Five Book of Moses, writings of the Prophets, Songs of Songs, and Psalms, and excerpts from the book of Nehemiah.
I first noted the celebration of Sgid, ten years ago, here. But there have been developments since then:
In Israel, the holiday has taken on new meaning with Ethiopian Jewry marking the day with prayers for the Messiah and the building of the Third Temple. The holiday was made an Israeli national holiday in 2008, when Israel’s Knesset legislated the Sigd Law, declaring the 29th of Heshvan a national holiday.


Monday, September 05, 2016

Biblical Studies Carnival, August 2016

MONDAY MORNING THEOLOGIAN: August Biblical Studies Carnival.

Result of holy-lands church survey

THE BIBLE PLACES BLOG: Favorite Church in the Holy Lands Survey Results. First place went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Follow the link for the rest of the results.

Background here. Some past posts on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Sepulchre) are here and links.

2 Baruch 22-34, 35-44, 48-51, the Messiah, and the Law

READING ACTS has continued its series on 2 Baruch. Here's where we are now:

The Anointed One Will Appear – 2 Baruch 22-34
The Consolation of Zion – 2 Baruch 35-44
Zeal for the Lord and the Anointed One – 2 Baruch and the Law
The Messianic Age – 2 Baruch 48-51

Past posts in the series are noted here and links.

Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

Documenting Jewish artifacts in Egypt

ANTIQUITIES: Egypt documenting Jewish artifacts (Khalid Hassan, Al-Monitor).
Egypt has begun registering Jewish antiquities in an attempt to protect them from theft and neglect — an important step forward in preserving history. However, the government still faces criticism for not making good on promises to renovate the country’s synagogues — or, for that matter, Egyptian historical and archaeological sites in general.

Jewish antiquities have always been part of Egypt’s cultural heritage, and government officials have said they are also part of the world’s heritage and the property of all mankind, not only Egypt. And so, Saeed Helmy, the head of the Islamic and Coptic Monuments Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, is calling on countries around the world to financially support Egypt in restoring and preserving the antiquities.

Helmy, who is in charge of the Jewish monuments in Egypt, told Al-Monitor in mid-August that the country has been unable to finance such projects because of its financial state. Egypt’s economy has suffered since the January 25 Revolution in 2011, and tourism has been decimated.

“I know very well that the Egyptian monuments — including the Jewish antiquities — capture the attention of people all around the world. Therefore, I’d like to make it clear that Egypt pays considerable attention to its monuments whether they are Islamic, Coptic or Christian, and that is what I asserted during my meeting with the [US] cultural attache at the US Embassy [in Egypt] on Aug. 2. However, we need the support of the countries that are interested in cultural heritage in order to protect these great antiquities.”
Thematically related post here. More on the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo (source of the Cairo Geniza [cf. here and links]) is here and links. The restoration of the Maimonides Synagogue, also in Cairo, was noted here and here (cf. here and here).

Gibson confirms Passion of the Christ sequel

CINEMA: Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ gets a sequel (Michael Idato, Sydney Morning Herald).
Gibson has confirmed his involvement in a sequel, and that it will focus on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

"[It is] a huge undertaking and it's not The Passion II, it's called The Resurrection," Gibson said.

"That's a very big subject and it needs to be looked at because we don't want to just do a simple rendering of it," he added.

"We can all read what happened, but in order to really experience and explore probably deeper meanings of what it's about, it's gonna take some doing."

Gibson was speaking with pastor Greg Laurie at an evangelical event in Anaheim, California on the weekend.
A while ago Randall Wallace, who was screenwriter for the first movie and who may direct the sequel, mentioned the possibility of a sequel. But this is the first confirmation from Gibson himself. Background here.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

2 Baruch 13-21

READING ACTS: A Vision on Zion – 2 Baruch 13-21. A previous post in Phil Long's series on 2 Baruch was noted here. I'm busy right now, but I need to get caught up on these!

Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

CFP: Act of the Scribe

ETC BLOG: Conference: Act of the Scribe: Interfaces between scribal work and language use (Peter M. Head).
The project Act of the Scribe (Academy of Finland) organises a workshop for scholars discussing various aspects of scribal work and how these relate to language use and language change in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. ...
The conference takes place at the Finnish Institute at Athens on 6-8 April 2017 with a TBA excursion on 9 April. The CFP closes on 31 October 2016.

Canon: The Card Game

JAMES MCGRATH: Canon: The Card Game is NOW AVAILABLE!. When can we look forward to Canon Go?

The vHMML Reading Room

MANUSCRIPTS GALORE: The Hill Museum Manuscript Library Reading Room.


Back from the BNTC

I'M BACK FROM CHESTER after an excellent 2016 British New Testament Conference. Many thanks to Paul Middleton, Matt Collins, Jessica Keady, and all their assistants for their hospitality and hard work to make the conference a success. I'm not going to post a detailed conference report, but I had a chance to visit the ancient Roman ruins in Chester and some photos are below. Click on any image for a larger version.

The Roman gardens

The Roman baths

Remains of an angle tower at the south-east corner of the Roman fortress of Deva

The amphitheatre. Alert readers may notice two BNTC delegates in the photo.

A shrine to the goddess Nemesis in the amphitheatre

The altar to Nemesis in the shrine

Some years ago I posted more photos of British Roman ruins here and here (Hadrian's Wall and Vindolanda).