Sunday, October 22, 2017

Aramaic "Pseudo-Daniel"

IN THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS: What the Bible Doesn’t Tell You About Daniel (Exclusive) (Andrew Perrin, Christian Week).
Most would know Daniel as a sage, courtier, dream interpreter, and lion tamer. If you’ve read sections of the Apocrypha you’ll also know him as a dragon slayer. Yet Daniel’s resume in the Dead Sea Scrolls was even broader. We gain glimpses of this from a newly discovered Aramaic text suitably called Pseudo-Daniel.
All of the Danielic material is pseudepigraphic, including the biblical Book of Daniel. So "Pseudo-Daniel" isn't a very descriptive title. But the text gives us some new legends about the figure of Daniel.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Provenance issues with a Coptic Galatians manuscript

THE BIBLE NATION: Is An Ancient Text In The Museum of the Bible Real Or Fake? Sketchy doesn't even begin to describe the controversy surrounding artifacts in the new Museum of the Bible, which is backed by evangelicals investigated for illicit artifacts (Candida Moss and Joel Baden, The Daily Beast).
In 2014, an exhibit of biblical artifacts was displayed with great fanfare at the Vatican. Called “Verbum Domini,” or “The Word of the Lord,” it featured items from the Green Collection, which had been amassed by the owners of Hobby Lobby, the Green family of Oklahoma City. That collection of artifacts amassed by the evangelical family is part of the controversial soon to be opened Museum of the Bible.

Along with rare fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls and a first edition of the King James Bible were lesser-­known items, including some never-­before-­seen ancient biblical manuscripts.

Among the two hundred artifacts was a papyrus fragment of the New Testament. Its edges are frayed, but it is clearly decipherable: the text is from the second chapter of the book of Galatians. It is written in Coptic, the language of Egyptian Christianity for much of the first millennium. While visually it looks like Greek, because it uses many Greek letters, the script hints at the papyrus’s origins in the arid climate of late antique Egypt. Given its small size—­about four inches by four inches—­most visitors probably gave it little more than a passing glance. But it immediately caught the eye of Roberta Mazza, a papyrologist from the University of Manchester. Although this was the first public display of the papyrus, Mazza had seen it before: it had been offered for sale on eBay less than two years earlier.

[...]
This article is adapted from the authors' new book, Bible Nation, on which more here and links. For many past posts on the Museum of the Bible, Hobby Lobby, and the Green Collection, see here and here and follow the links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

A political science professor looks at the Talmud

TALMUD WATCH: Talmud as seen by a political scientist (Ira Sharkansky, San Diego Jewish World).
JERUSALEM — For something like 15 years, I’ve been studying Talmud Shabbat mornings for an hour or so with a religious (i.e., Orthodox) neighbor. We’ve been friends for more than 40 years, since we were both at the University of Wisconsin.

I’ve commented several times, perhaps not to his delight, and to other religious friends, also not to their delight, that the experience has made me more Jewish but less religious.

The short explanation is that I perceive what is trivial and even ridiculous in the holy text, along with considerable wisdom and much to admire intellectually.

[...]
A thoughtful and wide-ranging overview of the topic by a nonspecialist.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Whales during the Flood

TALMUD WATCH: Was there room for whales in the ark? The rabbis wondered how the majestic sea-creatures survived the Flood (Rabbi Dr Raphael Zarum, The Jewish Chronicle). Noted because the article cites passages from the Babylonian Talmud and Midrash Genesis Rabbah about the fate of aquatic creatures during the Flood. The author gives specific references, which is helpful. I have not checked the references myself, but there you have them.

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

More on the recent discoveries at the Western Wall

ARCHAEOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS: As the Romans did: discoveries show Jerusalem’s transformation after destruction (Adam Abrams, JNS.org).
Israeli archaeologists this week unveiled the results of large-scale excavations that lend unprecedented insight into the transformation of Jerusalem around the time of its destruction during the Second Temple period more than 2,000 years ago.

The discoveries—including massive portions of the Western Wall unseen for 1,700 years and an ancient Roman theater—were made in excavations conducted during the past two years in Jerusalem’s Old City. The findings were disclosed at a press conference held by the Israel Antiquity Authority (IAA) beneath Wilson’s Arch in the Western Wall Tunnels.

The newly revealed eight stone courses of the Western Wall had been hidden beneath 26 feet of earth and were perfectly preserved after being excavated. The Roman theater contains approximately 200 seats and, according to archaeologists, required a “great deal” of investment in its construction.

[...]
Background here. Cross-file under Temple Mount Watch.

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Spellbinding music

VIDEO ART: Israeli video artist Victoria Hanna brings spells ancient and modern to Berkeley (Laura Paull, The Jewish News of Northern California).
Hanna today is a singer, composer, teacher and video artist who performs in Israel onstage, at schools, official ceremonies and important national occasions, and for international audiences at festivals. Her unique angle is that she creates songs from modern and ancient Hebrew texts, adapting musical styles from traditional Jewish music to new music and hip-hop.

[...]

With support from the Schusterman program, UC Berkeley students and the public will be able to participate in a collaboration that explores new territory in Jewish culture. As the Magnes’ fall 2017 resident artist, Hanna will co-teach Spagnolo’s new course, “Jewish Nightlife: Poetry, Music, and Ritual Performance from Renaissance Italy to Contemporary Israel.” The course explores the cultural impact of the arrival of both Kabbalah, a branch of Jewish mysticism, and coffee, of all things, to Venice “in the roaring 1570s,” Spagnolo said.

“Coffee allowed people to stay up at night, and propelled the invention of new Jewish rituals based on the nighttime singing of Hebrew poetry, that have impacted many ideas and practices to this very day,” he said.

As the course’s music lab component, Hanna and the students will develop a performance series that will be open to the public. It was Spagnolo’s idea that Hanna use some of the Hebrew amulets held in the Magnes collection as a creative source.

[...]
What an interesting project. Be sure and watch the video at the link.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Museum of the Bible press conference

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Museum of the Bible in the Spotlight. Washington, D.C. Bible museum invites dialogue (Robin Ngo and Megan Sauter).
Chances are you’ve heard some of the controversy surrounding the Museum of the Bible in the months leading up to its opening. Rather than hide or pretend such issues don’t exist, the museum chose to address them directly. On October 17—one month before its opening day—the Museum of the Bible held a press conference featuring a panel of the museum’s leaders and academic consultants to “outline the rigorous process used to create content displayed throughout the museum and answer questions about the museum’s collection practices, some of which have been challenged.” In the first half of the press conference, the panel members addressed a variety of topics on the museum’s approach and exhibit content.

[...]

When the panel took questions from the media, one word dominated the conversation: provenance. An artifact’s provenance is its record of ownership. Such a record can provide information on its place of origin and corroborate its authenticity.
I received an invitation to apply to attend the press conference, but I was unable to be in Washington D.C. for it. It's good to have this report from BAS.

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Review of Bible Nation

THE ETC BLOG: Brief review of Bible Nation (Peter M. Head).
Over the weekend I managed to read the new book by Candida Moss and Joel Baden called Bible Nation: the United States of Hobby Lobby.

[...]
I noted the book as forthcoming here.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Batchelder Conference for Archaeology and Biblical Studies

THE BIBLE PLACES BLOG: 19th Batchelder Conference for Archaeology and Biblical Studies (Todd Bolen). Coming in early November at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Irish "Gnostic" (?) island for sale

FOR YOU, SPECIAL DEAL: Dream of owning your own private island off Ireland? This is epic (Frances Mulraney, Irish Central).
West Skeam Island is a small 33-acre island with a monumental history from the Vikings to the Great Hunger and for a cool $2.3 million, you could own it all.

[...]

The island is home to three quaint, old Irish cottages, revamped on the interior to give you most of your mod cons, but from where you can distance yourself from the mainland and enjoy West Skeam’s four private, attractive beaches or explore the ruins of its 4th-century Gnostic Christian Church.

With a rumored Viking burial ground and an out-of-use, overgrown WWII-era landing strip, this Special Area of Conservation was first inhabited in 350 AD by early Gnostic Christian settlers escaping persecution under Pope Constantine, while the next recorded inhabitants were two families by the name of O’Regan who lived on West Skeam from the time of the Famine in the mid-19th century to the 1950s.
It sounds like a lovely island, and if I had a couple million to spare I might be tempted. But I am skeptical about this Gnostic church business. As you can see, the link leads to an article about Irish saints and it has nothing to do with Gnostics. I don't doubt that there is a ruin of an ancient church on the island, which is very cool in itself. But I don't know of Gnostic Christianity reaching Ireland with an active community and a church building in the fourth century. I can find no indication that that happened. Irish Christianity is not my area of expertise, but I do know a good bit about Gnosticism.

Still, it sounds like a nice island with its own ruin of some kind or other, if you're in the market for that sort of thing.

If any specialists in Gnosticism or Irish Christianity want to correct me and provide evidence, please drop me a note.

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The Lod Mosaic is returning to Lod to stay

MUSEUM: Breathtaking 1,700-year-old Lod mosaic to finally have a floor to call home. Decades after its discovery, country's 'finest' tile art will be displayed to the public at the central Israeli city's Mosaic Archaeological Center - when it's completed in 2019 (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
After touring the world, Israel’s most impressive mosaic will finally have a port of its own. Before dropping anchor at the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center upon its projected completion in 2019, the massive mosaic, decorated with seafaring motifs, had an adventure of its own.

[...]
PaleoJudaica followed the Lod Mosaic's travels for some year. For past posts, start here and follow the links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

What did Ham do to Noah?

DR. RABBI DAVID FRANKEL: Noah, Ham and the Curse of Canaan: Who Did What to Whom in the Tent? (TheTorah.com).
Why does Noah express such a severe curse for the seemingly minor sin of observing his nakedness? Why does Noah curse his grandson instead of his son?
This interpretation has been around for a while. For my part, I am very skeptical of exegesis that requires a major rewrite of the story as a reconstruction of a hypothetical original. But read the essay and see what you think.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fuchs, The Geonic Talmud

NEW BOOK (IN HEBREW) FROM MAGNES PRESS:
The Geonic Talmud
The Attitude of the Babylonian Geonim to the Text of the Babylonian Talmud


By Uziel Fuchs
Edited by: Amos Geula

Publisher: World Union of Jewish Studies
In collaboration with: Herzog Academic College
Series: Eshkolot – Jewish Studies Series
Categories: Talmud, Jewish Studies, Jewish Thought
Publish date: August 2017
Language: Hebrew
Danacode: 45-131148
Cover: Hardcover
Pages: 374
Weight: 1200 gr.

The Babylonian Talmud is the fundamental work of the Oral Law, both by virtue of the widespread and intensive study of it, and by virtue of reliance on it in halakhic writings, for over a thousand years. The Talmud gained much of its importance during the Geonic period. Throughout this time its transmission shifted from oral recitation to written copies, its text became standardized, and it was sent out from the Babylonian academies across the Jewish diaspora. Its intensive study and complex system of transmission both orally and in writing resulted in many variant readings between extant copies.

This book deals with questions concerning the ways in which the Babylonian Talmud became such as seminal work, and especially the Geonate’s treatment of the its textual tradition: the ways in which the Geonim related to the variant readings, how they chose between them, and according to what criteria; to what extent were its early readings preserved and to what extent was its text altered. In the second half of the book the entire corpus in which the Geonim deal with Talmudic variants is presented and discussed.
A few past PaleoJudaica posts on the subject of the book are here, here, and here.

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Review of Rapoport-Albert, Women and the Messianic Heresy of Sabbatai Zevi

YESHIVA UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR JEWISH LAW BLOG: Review of Rapoport-Albert, _Women and the Messianic Heresy of Sabbatai Zevi, 1666–1816_ (Joshua Schwartz).
Review of Ada Rapoport-Albert, Women and the Messianic Heresy of Sabbetai Zevi, 1666-1816. Oxford: Littman, 2011. 400 pp. $64.50.
Excerpt:
Rapoport-Albert now argues that the Sabbatian movement represented a bellwether moment for women’s liberation within Jewish history, a “veritable gender revolution that the Sabbatian movement envisaged, and in no small measure put into effect.”
This book review is from a few years ago, but it just came to my attention.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on Shabbetai Zvi and Sabbatianism are here, here, here, with many links. In particular, this post has some reflections on how Shabbetai can help us better understand some aspects of ancient messianism.

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Underground Roman-era stables looted in the Galilee

APPREHENDED: Family Finds Roman-era Stables Beneath Their Garden, Arrests Made Over Looting.Eilabun residents uncovered elaborate caves carved out of bedrock in ancient Galilean Jewish village, and allegedly robbed the site (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
It’s not rare in Israel to burrow in the garden, say, to plant flowers, and to find an ancient artifact. One family in the Galilean village of Eilabun found not some measly oil lamp or pagan figurine under their courtyard, but the opening to an elaborate system of underground caves dating to the Roman era, about 2,000 years ago. Earlier this week, authorities made two arrests for illegal excavation of the precious site, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday.

Back in the Roman days, the caves seem to have served for storage and stabling, over centuries.

Which begs the question: The caves are about three meters below the surface, archaeology inspector Nir Distelfeld told Haaretz. So, how did they get horses down there and why would they? Why not build a stable with walls above ground?

[...]
Neither the headline nor the article make it very clear (at least to me) who was arrested.

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Ebeling et al. (eds.), The Old Testament in Archaeology and History

NEW HEBREW BIBLE TEXTBOOK: UW Religion Today: The Ancient Israelites Through Archaeology, History and Text (Paul V.M. Flesher, University of Wyoming). Excerpt:
Does that mean we should ignore the Old Testament? By no means. Both archaeology and Scripture constitute primary sources for the study of ancient Israel. They must be used together for the most complete historical picture.

This fall sees the publication of the first introductory book that does just that -- a book suitable for both general readers and introductory college courses. It is called “The Old Testament in Archaeology and History” and is edited by a team led by Jennie Ebeling and Edward Wright, and includes Mark Elliott, a former longtime Cheyenne resident, and myself. The chapters are written by experts in archaeological research and biblical studies, and bring together the latest finds and best analyses to provide a history of ancient Israel.

The book takes a historical approach to understanding the ancient Israelites, bringing together biblical evidence and archaeological discoveries to address questions of historical analysis and understanding. Rather than pit the two kinds of data against each other, it treats all the information equally; indeed, it often finds them on the same side.

I will end with a shameless plug: Read this book! You will gain the fullest and most complete understanding of ancient Israel available.

Note: “The Old Testament in Archaeology and History,” edited by Jennie Ebeling, J. Edward Wright, Mark Elliott and Paul V. M. Flesher. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

More on the UNESCO withdrawal

MORE ON THE U.S. AND ISRAELI DECISION TO WITHDRAW FROM UNESCO: Scolding UNESCO, GOP lawmakers introduce resolution on Jewish ties to Jerusalem. After Trump administration announces it will withdraw from UN cultural body over anti-Israel votes, Sen. Cruz and Rep. Gaetz accuse agency of 'trying to rewrite history' (ERIC CORTELLESSA, Times of Israel).
On Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, followed up on the move by authoring a resolution that “recognizes and affirms the historical connection of the Jewish people to the ancient and sacred city of Jerusalem.”

It goes on to cite archaeologically excavated sites, like the City of David, that contain vast quantities of antiquities from the ancient Jewish and Christian presence in the city.
This Opinion piece is also of interest:

Alan Dershowitz: Trump was right to walk away from UNESCO -- for now (Wathington Examiner).
Background here and here and many links.

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Sefer Yetsira

KABBALAH WATCH? ‘Sefer Yesira,’ the Story of a Text in Search of Commentary. An ancient, tiny book cataloging the components of the cosmos: was it magic, Kabbalah, a philosophical treatise, or something else? (Tzvi Langermann, Tablet Magazine).
The minuscule composition known as Sefer Yesira (SY), so tiny some thought it to be meant as an amulet, is a challenging text, begging for commentary. Though the Hebrew text is very short (about 1,000 words), it has played an important role in Jewish thought, and in more recent times, in the academic study of Jewish thought. The “book” itself contains very little prose; it consists mostly of catalogs of the components of the cosmos, in groups of two (pairs of opposites), three, and seven, and their sums—10, 12, 22, and 32. The cataloged components are those making up the physical universe, the human body, and time. The 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are very significant as well and are matched to the other components of the universe. The original intent of the author or authors is not known.

A book of this sort cannot be understood without commentary, and SY has been interpreted in very different ways. Some claim that it was originally meant to be a work of mystical magic, but this reading is clearly prejudiced by the kabbalistic appropriation of the text, a process which began in the 12th century, and, even more so, by a fierce turf defense by academic specialists in the Kabbalah.

I do not know if at it is at all possible to assert anything about the original authorial intent behind the text. One can, however, speak with a great deal of certainty about the way the first interpreters of SY read the book. We possess extensive commentaries, in Judaeo-Arabic and in Hebrew, written by individuals throughout the Jewish diaspora in the early medieval period. Some are famous, others are familiar mainly to specialists. Each of the following glossed Sefer Yesira, reading it as a book of science: ...
Sefer Yetsira is indeed a mysterious text, more so even than is indicated in this article. There is no agreement on its original date of composition or what the original text looked like. Some years ago I comment briefly on it and gave some bibliography here. It is foundational to the mystical traditions of Kabbalah and the Zohar, whether or not it is itself a mystical text.

Variant English spellings include Sepher Yetsirah, Sefer Yetzira, and Sefer Yesira.

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Birds in the Flood Story

DR. GUY DARSHAN: The Motif of Releasing Birds in ANE Flood Stories (TheTorah.com).
The ancient Near East had many versions of the flood story, such as Atrahasis, Ziusudra, Utnapishtim, etc., most of which predate the Torah’s account of Noah’s flood. But what is the earliest extant version of the releasing birds motif?
The answer may surprise you.

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Festschrift for Michael Stone

FORTHCOMING (IN NOVEMBER) BOOK FROM BRILL:
The Embroidered Bible: Studies in Biblical Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha in Honour of Michael E. Stone

Edited by Lorenzo DiTommaso, Concordia University Montréal Matthias Henze, Rice University and William Adler, North Carolina State University
This Festschrift contains forty-one original essays and six tribute papers in honour of Michael E. Stone, Gail Levin de Nur Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies and Professor Emeritus of Armenian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The volume’s main theme is Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, envisioned in its broadest sense: apocryphal texts, traditions, and themes from the Second-Temple period to the High Middle Ages, in Judaism, Christianity and, to a lesser extent, Islam. Most essays present new or understudied texts based on fresh manuscript evidence; the others are thematic in approach. The volume’s scope and focus reflect those of Professor Stone’s scholarship, without a special emphasis on Armenian studies.
Congratulations to Professor Stone!

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Jerusalem's lost theater found

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: 'JERUSALEM’S LOST THEATER’ AND 8 ANCIENT STONE COURSES DISCOVERED UNDER WESTERN WALL (Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post).
A rare 200-seat theater from the Roman period and eight large ancient stone courses have been unearthed under the Western Wall’s Wilson’s Arch by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

[...]

“This is a relatively small structure compared to known Roman theaters, such as at Caesarea, Beit She’an and Beit Guvrin,” said [excavator Tehillah] Lieberman. “This fact – in addition to its location under a roofed space, in this case under Wilson’s Arch – leads us to suggest that this is a theater-like structure of the type known in the Roman world as an odeon.”

“In most cases,” he continued, “such structures were used for acoustic performances. Alternatively, the structure might have been what is known as a bouleuterion, the building where the city council met – in this case, the council of the Roman colony of Aelia Capitolina.”

Interestingly, the archeologists believe the theater was never used.

[...]
Also, over at the Bible Places Blog, Todd Bolen has some commentary on the find.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

The rebellious elder in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Rebellious Elders. Daf Yomi: Why heresy is rare in Talmudic law, where judicial dissent and tiered courts institutionalized freedom of thought.
In Chapter Eight of Tractate Sanhedrin, we saw how the rabbis dealt with the case of a “stubborn and rebellious son,” ben sorer u’moreh. Such a wayward youth is condemned to stoning by Torah law, yet the rabbis interpreted the law so strictly as to render its application virtually impossible. This week, in Chapter 10, the rabbis dealt with the complementary case of a “rebellious elder,” zaken mamre; but in this case, it was interesting to see, they make no such effort at extenuation. It seems as if the rabbis are harsher on rebellion when it comes from an elderly and respected member of the community than when it comes from a gluttonous and drunken youth. But why should this be so? After all, the punishment for the elder is strangling, which is considered a lesser sanction than stoning; this might suggest that his crime is less severe.

[...]
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Review of Burns, The Christian Schism in Jewish History and Jewish Memory

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | The Christian Schism in Jewish History and Jewish Memory (Joshua Blachorsky).
Joshua Ezra Burns. The Christian Schism in Jewish History and Jewish Memory. Cambridge University Press, 2016.
Excerpt:
Joshua Burns, in The Christian Schism in Jewish History and Jewish Memory, has offered a fresh new foray into this conversation, which he describes as a “Jewish history of the Christian schism” (p. 12). Burns continues the trend of eschewing the traditional parting model and envisioning a split only after the beginning of the 4th century. But he does so with a novel lens, focusing on the rabbinic evidence. In Burns’s interpretation, Tannaitic texts, c. 200 CE, view Jewish Christians as those who practice incorrectly but are wholly Jewish, indicating that the rabbis did not see any decisive split as having yet occurred. However, due to social and religious changes over the next few centuries in Roman Palestine, whereby a wholly gentile Christianity won the day, Amoraim knew only of this later group. Thus later, Amoraic texts speak of gentile Christians, and do so as total others. Burns, accordingly, locates the rabbinic perception of what he calls a “schism” in this later, Amoraic period.

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The Te’omim Cave

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Te’omim Cave: Rebel Hideout and Cult Site. Jerusalem hills cave reveals layers of history (Robin Ngo).
During the Bar-Kokhba Revolt (132–136 C.E.), Jewish rebels sought refuge from the Roman army in secret hideouts throughout Judea. One such hideout was the Te’omim Cave, a massive cave complex in the Jerusalem hills west of the city. There, within the innermost chambers of the cave, archaeologists discovered three hoards of Roman, Judean and revolt coins, weapons and pottery evidently hidden by the rebels.

[...]
As usual, this column is a summary of a BAR article that is behind the subscription wall. But the column is interesting in itself.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Reynolds on Jewish apocalyptic and the NT

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION: Jewish Apocalyptic Tradition in the New Testament.
It has been noted on numerous occasions by scholars that the term “apocalyptic” may be used to refer to three distinct aspects. The first is the apocalyptic genre, i.e., apocalypses, which I will discuss more fully below. The second is apocalyptic worldview, i.e., apocalypticism. This term is used to describe the viewpoint evident in apocalypses and that was held by those who wrote apocalypses. Finally, apocalyptic eschatology refers to the eschatology present in some apocalypses, which is often concerned with the end of the world. Apocalyptic eschatology usually presents history as a series of stages with the present stage preceding the final, climactic stage. This final stage of history often includes the judgment of the wicked and the vindication of the righteous. The wicked may be judged by a messiah figure who will then gather the vindicated righteous to God.

See Also: Reynolds, Benjamin E. and Loren Stuckenbruck, eds. The Jewish Apocalyptic Tradition and the Shaping of New Testament Thought (Fortress, 2017).

By Benjamin E. Reynolds
Associate Professor of New Testament
Tyndale University College
Toronto, Canada
October 2017

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Hershel Shanks is retiring as BAR editor

BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW: First Person: My Final “First Person” (Hershel Shanks).
In the next issue of BAR, I will have a new title: Editor Emeritus. Yes, after 42 years I will be retiring. I will still be around—putting in my two cents. But I will not have the responsibility for making sure it is all there and putting it all together.

That will be the job of the new editor, Robert (Bob) Cargill. He is young, and he is smart. In some ways, under his editorship BAR will be the same magazine; in other ways, it may be new and different. I am confident you will continue to be enthralled with the magazine, and I think you will like Bob.

[...]
Bob Cargill has been mentioned often at PaleoJudaica. He will do a great job as the new editor of BAR. I look forward to following the publication under his leadership. And all best wishes to Hershel, who has devoted himself faithfully to making BAR an informative and stimulating popular source for biblical scholarship for more than a biblical generation.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Rohr Institute course on Great Debates

ADULT EDUCATION: Rohr Jewish Learning Institute Launches Great Debates: 6-Part Course on Dead Sea Scrolls (Hana Levi Julian, The Jewish Press).
Seventy years after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute is poised to launch a course that examines the historical debates about Jewish philosophy and practice that were brought to light by those texts.

Some 20,000 participants who are part of what a JLI spokesperson called “the largest Jewish education network in the world” will be studying the six-part course in 400 different locations around the globe, beginning at the end of October. The course was created under the guidance and direction of Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman, the Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University and a leading expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Schiffman, born in 1948, has been working on the Scrolls for nearly 50 years.

[...]
The website for the course is here. The headline is a little confusing. The Dead Sea Scrolls are covered only in the first of the six units. The second unit will be on the fall of Masada. There are more modern topics as well. See the details at the link.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Septuagint Studies Supervision (2)

WILLIAM ROSS: SUPERVISORS & PROGRAMS FOR SEPTUAGINT STUDIES – PART II. Part two in a three-part series. Part one was noted here.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Langlois on those 9 dubious DSS fragments

MICHAEL LANGLOIS: Nine Dubious “Dead Sea Scrolls” Fragments from the Twenty-First Century. Professor Langlois gives some background to the recent Dead Sea Discoveries article on the same topic, which I noted here.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Jenkins on historical amnesia

THE ASOR BLOG: Revolutionary Biblical Discoveries and the Need for Historical Amnesia (Philip Jenkins).
The Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife… every few years, the media report new finds of ancient texts that supposedly throw revolutionary new light on the Biblical world, and (commonly) on Christian origins. In reality, such finds rarely tell us much that is new or unexplored, and are mainly of use to hardcore specialists. In most cases, the claims that are made are actually quite familiar, and have been made on many previous occasions. Any kind of historic perspective shows that even what initially look like the most radical ideas in this field have a long prehistory. Successive claim about new and explosive discoveries rely on a process of recurrent public amnesia.

[...]
This essay summarizes material that Professor Jenkins covered in more detail in posts at The Anxious Bench blog. I have noted them here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Frey and Jost (eds.), Gottesdienst und Engel im antiken Judentum und frühen Christentum

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Gottesdienst und Engel im antiken Judentum und frühen Christentum. Hrsg. v. Jörg Frey u. Michael R. Jost. [Liturgy and Angels in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity.] 2017. VIII, 447 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 446.
99,00 €
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-154195-7

Published in German.
Some Second Temple Judaism and New Testament texts describe or presuppose heavenly and earthly communities interconnected in prayer and liturgy. The motif has been discussed especially in view of the Dead Sea discoveries. But it is also of interest to general discussion on the character of liturgy, as well as the ecumenical debate with Orthodox churches in whose form of worship angels play a particularly significant role. In the field of systematic theology, the issue was Roman Catholic theologian and historian Erik Peterson's central focus and subject of debate with Karl Barth. This volume presents the multidisciplinary contributions of a symposium held in Zürich on the interrelation of earthly worship and the heavenly host.

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Documentary on the Ritman Library

BOINGBOING: New documentary is a magic portal into a weird and wonderful library (FERDINANDO BUSCEMA).
The Hermetic Philosophy

There is an underground current of thought beneath Western culture, running quietly like a vein of quicksilver: The Hermetic Philosophy. This ancient and multifaceted phenomenon is often found rising up from the shadows during times of intense cultural transition and upheaval.

[...]

The Ritman Library

For those of us enthralled by such ideas – and the wondrous, precious tomes expressing them – the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica (BPH) is a must-see. Also known as The Ritman Library, it is aptly located in Amsterdam, a city historically known for freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of printing.

[...]
The early Hermetic literature was mainly Greco-Egyptian popular Platonism, but it also had some interaction with ancient Jewish traditions. Most of the holdings of the Ritman Library seem to be of the Hermeticism of a later period.

A while ago I noted another story about the Ritman Library here.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Herodotus and the Persian Empire

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Herodotus and the Persian Empire. This is the subject of a new issue of the journal Phoenix. One of the articles, by Karel van der Toorn, is on the Judean community at Elephantine.

For many past PaleoJudaica posts on Elephantine and the Elephantine Aramaic papyri, start here and follow the links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

On the Golb impersonation case

ANALYSIS: Raphael Golb Is Facing Jail Time — For Parodying a Dead Sea Scrolls Scholar (Arthur S. Hayes, The Forward). One law professor's view on the merits of the case and where it should go from here. So far the appeals courts have not agreed, at least fully, but we'll see what happens.

Again, I have been following this case for years because of its connection with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Background here and many links.

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A new leader for UNESCO

POLITICS: UNESCO selects France's Azoulay as new chief (John Irish).
PARIS (Reuters) - The United Nations’ cultural agency selected former French culture minister Audrey Azoulay as its new chief on Friday, handing her the keys to revive UNESCO’s fortunes after the United States pulled out.

[...]
This is a somewhat surprising result. She was not the front runner in the first rounds of voting. It's possible that the announced withdrawal of the U.S.A. and Israel from UNESCO influenced matters. In any case, congratulations to Ms. Azoulay. She has lots of work ahead of her.

Background on the appointment of a new UNESCO leader, and on criticisms of UNESCO resolutions involving Israel and the Temple Mount, is here and many links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

"The Concept of Our Great Power" translated

ALIN SUCIU: Guest Post: Anthony Alcock – The Concept of Our Great Power: Annotated Translation. The Concept of Our Great Power is a Coptic text from the (sort of) Gnostic library from Nag Hammadi.

Cross-file under Coptic Watch.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Talmudic medical discourse

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: “Curiosity Cures the Reb:’” Studying Talmudic Medical Discourses in Context.
Dr. Lennart Lehmhaus shares a rabbinic case study in order to reflect upon the history of science and rabbinic texts: "A careful study of the discursive strategies and the embeddedness of such medical knowledge within their broader contexts of theology or religious law (Halakhah), allows one to highlight the differences in form and content in the variants of this narrative."

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On names and Greek breathings

THE ETC BLOG has a couple of posts about biblical names in Greek and whether they have a rough or a smooth breathing:

Why give Abraham a rough breathing? (Dirk Jongkind)

Isaiah: rough or smooth? (Peter Williams)

The takeaway is that in the Greek manuscript tradition the name Abraham sometimes has a rough breathing and the name Isaiah always (in the manuscripts consulted) does. That means that in the mind of the scribe, both were pronounced with an initial aspiration or "h" sound. A smooth breathing would be silent.

I would not expect this result from the Hebrew forms of the names, but the Greek scribes probably didn't know Hebrew. Who knows where they got the idea? And who knows how the names were actually pronounced in Greek when the Septuagint and the New Testament were written? But, as Dirk Jongkind observes, modern editions have to include a breathing for any Greek word that begins with a vowel. The manuscripts can at least offer some guidelines on which to use.

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The Firmament

OREN FASS M.D.: My Encounter with the Firmament (TheTorah.com).
The Torah describes God’s fashioning the firmament (רקיע) on the second day of creation. This piece of the universe, however, doesn’t actually exist—a problem obfuscated in my yeshiva education.
For more on ancient Hebrew cosmology, see here. Also somewhat related is this post, which deals with one mystical understanding of the firmament. Encounters with that one are perilous.

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U.S. and Israel give notice to withdraw from UNESCO

POLITICS: ISRAEL, US TO QUIT UNESCO CITING 'ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS'. President Donald Trump has in general been critical of the United Nations and complained about the cost and value to the United States (MICHAEL WILNER, HERB KEINON, TOVAH LAZAROFF, Jerusalem Post).
Hours after the US’s dramatic decision to withdraw from UNESCO, citing anti-Israel bias, Israel stated that it also planned to leave the education, scientific and cultural body.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night directed the Foreign Ministry to “prepare Israel’s withdrawal from the organization in parallel with the US.”

[...]
This is one of President Trump's favorite strategies: walk away from the negotiating table. He has used it again and again throughout his career. It motivates the other party to rethink and offer the best deal possible. This move comes at a particularly sensitive time, with a new UNESCO leader about to be appointed.

The withdrawal does not take effect until the end of 2018, so there is plenty of time for things to change. But the next move is UNESCO's.

Background on concerns about bias against Israel in various recent UNESCO resolutions is here and many links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Conference on the Arch of Titus

H-JUDAIC: CONF: The Arch of Titus – from Jerusalem to Rome, and Back, Sun. Oct. 29th, New York City.
The Arch of Titus – from Jerusalem to Rome, and Back

A Conference Organized by
The Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies
and Yeshiva University Museum

co-sponsored by the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies

Sunday Oct 29th 9:00am - 5:00pm
Yeahiva University Museum at the Center for Jewish History, 15 W 16th St, New York, NY 10011
Follow the link for registration information and the conference schedule. I noted that the conference was upcoming here. Follow the links there and here for much more on the Arch of Titus.

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On the gender of God

PROF. MARC ZVI BRETTLER: The Gender of God (TheTorah.com).
What is the gender of the God of creation? Of YHWH in general?
In the Hebrew Bible, that is.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Dancing Judith

PERFORMANCE ART: Judith Revisited. Artifact takes on timeless story of biblical heroine in concert of dance and music (Margaret Regan, Tucson Weekly).
The Caravaggio painting—and the story it tells—has led to a new evening-length dance by Ashley Bowman, co-artistic director of Tucson's Artifact Dance Project. The narrative dance Judith, performed by a dozen dancers and an equal number of musicians, makes its debut Thursday night at Stevie Eller.

"The dance was inspired by the Caravaggio painting," Bowden says. "I saw it many years ago."
Cross-file under Old Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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Job in Classical and Mediterranean Studies at Vanderbilt.

H-JUDAIC: JOB: Vanderbilt University, Program in Classical and Mediterranean Studies, Tenure-track Assistant Professor.
The Program in Classical and Mediterranean Studies invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position starting fall 2018.

We seek an outstanding researcher and teacher of the ancient Greek world broadly defined. We welcome applications from scholars in related fields (history, material culture, language and literature, philosophy, religion) whose work interrogates or challenges traditional disciplinary boundaries. Competitive candidates are expected to be able to contribute across the curriculum by teaching Greek at all levels as well as courses in Mediterranean Studies and by developing courses in their own area of specialization. The successful candidate will enhance the growing, energetic community of a new program dedicated to studying and teaching the ancient world in comparative perspective across cultures, regions, and periods (https://as.vanderbilt.edu/classics/).
Follow the link for application information and further particulars. The closing date is 15 November 2017.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Shemeni Atzeret and Simchat Torah 2017

SHEMINI ATZERET begins tonight at sundown. In Israel, this is also the holiday of Simchat Torah (Simhat Torah). Outside of Israel, the latter holiday begins tomorrow at sundown. Best wishes to all those celebrating!

The biblical and other background is noted here. And there's more on the term ‘atseret here.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Funding for Solomon's Pools

CONSERVATION: Temple-era pools near Jerusalem set for renovation. US Consulate funds $750,000 restoration of 2,000-year-old Solomon's Pools near Bethlehem with hopes of making it a tourist site (AFP/Times of Israel).

The conservation of Solomon's Pools (a Second Temple-era site in the region of in Gush Etzion) has been needed for some time. I'm glad some funding has become available.

Background here and here.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Deuteronomy and the senses

PROF. STEVEN WEITZMAN: Deuteronomy on the Problem of Using the Senses to Experience God (TheTorah.com).
“God has not given you a mind to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear until this very day”(Deut 29:3).

In contrast to the first four books of the Torah, Deuteronomy is largely narrated from a first person perspective—from the “I” perspective of Moses who recounts the experiences of Israel from his particular angle of vision. The decision to tell its story from a subjective and personal perspective may be related to another distinctive quality of Deuteronomy: its interest in the subjective dimensions of religious experience.

[...]

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Sukkot priestly blessing at the Temple Mount 2017

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: 50,000 Gather for Priestly Blessing on Sukkot as Jerusalem Becomes Heart of World Prayer [PHOTOS] (Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News).
Echoing the past glory of what used to occur in the Temple, approximately 50,000 people gathered at the Kotel (the Western Wall) on Sunday to receive the priestly blessing from hundreds of Kohanim (Jewish men of the priestly caste) during the festival holiday of Sukkot. Jews and non-Jews, religious and secular, people from all over the world, filled Jerusalem for the holiday that, in Temple times, was a universal celebration honoring the God of Abraham.

[...]
This is an annual event that I have noted before here, here, and here.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

More on that supposed Seal of Solomon

I HAVE ADDED ANOTHER UPDATE TO LAST WEEK'S POST ON THE METAL CODICES SEIZED IN TURKEY. The image on the supposed Seal of Solomon has now been identified. Guess what? It has nothing to do with Solomon. And guess what the source of the image was. If you've been following the story, I bet you will guess right.

Yesterday's update to the same post was noted here.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

The Talmud and the penalty for murder

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Are Jews Exempt from Capital Punishment?. Talmudic rabbis’ lenient interpretation of Biblical laws made the death penalty difficult to impose, even in cases where murder was clearly the intent.
As we have seen over the last several weeks, however, the rabbis are reluctant to shed any blood, guilty or innocent. They consistently interpret the Torah in such a way as to make the death penalty difficult or impossible to carry out. That pattern continues when it comes to murder, where the rabbis adopt an extremely stringent definition of what it means to cause the death of another person. Only direct, premeditated, and instantaneous killing qualifies as murder under rabbinic law; causing another person’s death in a more indirect or ambiguous fashion is exempt from capital punishment. This principle is carried so far as to result in the acquittal of many defendants who, in American law, would be clearly guilty.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Revival of the Sukkot water-libation

BREAKING ISRAEL NEWS: PHOTOS: Sanhedrin Revives Ancient Temple Water Libation Ritual in Shiloah Valley (Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz).
On Monday afternoon, a group of approximately 500 set out from the Dung Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, singing and dancing as they descended into the valley below Jerusalem with one goal in mind: to draw one small jug of water from the Shiloah Pool in order to reenact the Temple water ceremony.

[...]
I am not a specialist in the Mishnah, so check anything I say about it with an expert. But I'm pretty sure that it is this ritual that is described in m. Sukkah 4.9.

Sukkot (Tabernacles, Booths) is, of course, prescribed in the Bible (I have collected all the references here), but this particular Sukkot ritual is not mentioned there. We have no way of knowing whether it actually took place in Temple times, but that's what the Mishnah says.

UPDATE (11 October): Richard Bauckham e-mails: "It is often said that the account of Jesus at Sukkot in John reflects the two themes of Sukkot in the Mishna: water (7:37) and light (8:12)."

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Second Temple-era Hebron

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Second Temple Period Discoveries at Biblical Hebron. Legendary home of the Cave of the Patriarchs.
The site of Tel Hebron resides 3,000 feet above sea level in the Judean hill country, about 20 miles south of Jerusalem. Excavations conducted in 2014 by David Ben-Shlomo and Emanuel Eisenberg revealed four occupational phases at Hebron during the Second Temple period, from the time of the late Hasmoneans (c. 100–37 B.C.E.) to the Bar-Kokhba Revolt (132–135 C.E.). Residential houses, pottery workshops and wine and oil presses were uncovered. Who lived at Biblical Hebron during the Second Temple period? Jewish, Edomite or pagan residents?
As usual with BHD, the complete article, “Hebron Still Jewish in Second Temple Times” by David Ben-Shlomo, is behind the subscription wall. But this summary is interesting nonetheless.

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Monday, October 09, 2017

Update on that golden bee codex

FURTHER TO LAST WEEK'S POST ON THE METAL CODICES SEIZED IN TURKEY: I have updated the post with some information on that image of a bee on one of the gold codices.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

CFP: Atonement Symposium at St. Andrews

CALL FOR PAPERS: The St Andrews Symposium for Biblical and Early Christian Studies. Atonement: Sin, Sacricifice, and Salvation in Jewish and Christian Antiquity. 4-6 June 2018, St Mary's College, University of St Andrews.

Click on the image for a larger version.


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Tenured Hebrew Bible post at Harvard NELC

ANNOUNCEMENT:
TENURED PROFESSOR IN HEBREW BIBLE
Harvard University
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Position Description: The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations seeks to appoint a tenured professor of Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew Bible should be the focus of a candidate’s research and teaching. Candidates are expected to be able to situate the Hebrew Bible within its Ancient Near Eastern context as well as treat post-Biblical Scriptural tradition in Judaism and Christianity. The professor of Hebrew Bible will be appointed in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and will work with colleagues in the Committee on the Study of Religion, the Harvard Divinity School, and other departments in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
The appointment is expected to begin on July 1, 2019. The professor will teach and advise at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Basic Qualifications: Candidates are required to have a doctorate or the equivalent.

Additional Qualifications: Demonstrated excellence in teaching and research is desired. Candidates should evince intellectual leadership of, and high impact on, the field, and should show potential for significant contributions to the department, University, and wider scholarly community in the future.

Special Instructions: Please submit the following materials through the ARIeS portal (https://academicpositions.harvard.edu). Applications will begin to be reviewed on November 15, 2017 until the position is filled.

  • 1. Letter of interest
  • 2. Curriculum Vitae
  • 3. A recent publication [article(s) or book chapter] not more than 50 pages in length.
Harvard is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Contact Information: Soma Roy, Assistant to the Search Committee, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138; or roy@fas.harvard.edu.

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On the possible origins of Sukkot

DR. RABBI ZEV FARBER: The Origins of Sukkot (TheTorah.com).
The connection between the Israelite festival of Sukkot in the temple and the Ugaritic new year festival and its dwellings of branches for the gods.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

September 2017 Biblical Studies Carnival

BELATEDLY NOTED: Biblical Studies Carnival for September 2017 (Phil Long, Reading Acts Blog).

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

A new leader for UNESCO

POLITICS: Troubled UNESCO begins picking new leader. Key task for new head of UN cultural body is to regain US funding, suspended over perceived anti-Israel bias (AFP and Times of Israel staff). The current director-general, Irina Bokova, has come across as wanting a good relationship with Israel. We'll see what happens when she steps down and a new leader is elected.

Past posts on the various concerns about UNESCO resolutions relating to Israel and the Temple Mount are here and links. Ms. Bokova figures in some of them.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

On the recovery of cuneiform

AKKADIAN STILL MATTERS: Friday essay: the recovery of cuneiform, the world’s oldest known writing (Louise Pryke, The Conversation). A long, informative, and entertaining essay. Worth reading in full.

Related posts here and links. There's more on Saddam and cuneiform here (PaleoJudaica's first substantive post!). And here is a notice from some years ago of a book about Henry Rawlinson and the Behistun inscription.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Cartagena report

PUNIC WATCH: Carthaginians crushed as Romans invade Cartagena. Locals say Hannibal has let them all down by chasing off across the Alps to attack Rome (Murcia Today). A photo-essay report on last month's Punic Festival in Cartagena, Spain.

Background here and links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Festschrift for George Brooke

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Is There a Text in this Cave? Studies in the Textuality of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Honour of George J. Brooke

Edited by Ariel Feldman, Texas University Maria Cioată, University of Manchester and Charlotte Hempel, University of Birmingham
This volume is offered as a tribute to George Brooke to mark his sixty-fifth birthday. It has been conceived as a coherent contribution to the question of textuality in the Dead Sea Scrolls explored from a wide range of perspectives. These include material aspects of the texts, performance, reception, classification, scribal culture, composition, reworking, form and genre, and the issue of the extent to which any of the texts relate (to) social realities in the Second Temple period. Almost every contribution engages with Brooke’s own remarkably wide-ranging, incisive, and innovative research on the Scrolls. The twenty-eight contributors are colleagues and students of the honouree and include leading scholars alongside promising new voices from across the field.
Congratulations to Professor Brooke! Very well deserved.

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Newman, Davila, Lewis (eds.), The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism

IN THE MAIL:
The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism: Papers from the St Andrews Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus (Library of Early Christology) Paperback – August 28, 2017 by Carey C. Newman (Editor), James R. Davila (Editor), Gladys S. Lewis (Editor). Baylor University Press, reprint 2017.

Second Temple Judaism exerted a profound and shaping influence upon early Christianity. The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism documents this influence by exploring the ways in which the Christian praxis of Christ-devotion in the first two centuries of the Common Era can be understood as a manifestation of Jewish monotheism.

The volume approaches this phenomenon along four distinctive lines of inquiry: (1) reexamining (and problematizing) the theological force of monotheism during the Second Temple period; (2) retracing the historical steps of Christianity's adaptation, mutation, and/or redefinition of Jewish monotheism; (3) exploring and debating the influence of non-Jewish traditions on this process; and (4) mapping how Christianity's unique appropriation of Jewish monotheism helps explain the intriguing relationships among emerging Christian, Jewish, and gnostic communities.

Eighteen chapters, each from an expert in the study of early Judaism and Christianity, comprise the volume. The chapters collectively demonstrate how the creation of new mythic narratives, the revelatory power of mystical experiences, and the sociology of community formation capitalized on Jewish mediator traditions to initiate the praxis of Christ-devotion.
This volume was originally published by Brill in 1999. I am very pleased that it continues to be useful enough for Baylor to reissue it a paperback edition.

I have mentioned Baylor's new Library of Early Christology reprint series here and here and I commented, "This new series reprints some excellent, classic works of scholarship." I'll leave it at that.

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Yet another review of Fine, The Menorah

BOOK REVIEW: The Menorah: From the Bible to Modern Israe (Jenna Weissman Joselit, Material Religion). You may need a paid subscrition to access this journal review. I'm not sure.

Past posts on Steven Fine's book, The Menorah, are here (cf. here) and links.

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The discovery of the DSS 70 years ago

IT'S STILL QUITE A STORY: The Dead Sea Scrolls discovery — still riveting after 70 years (A. James Rudin, Religion News Service).
(RNS) — For many people, biblical scholarship — with its archaic languages and ancient texts — is boring stuff.

But that’s not true of the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered by Bedouin shepherds in 1947 in Judean wilderness caves near Jerusalem. The discovery of the ancient Jewish religious texts 70 years ago created an immediate public sensation and an international tale of secrecy and intrigue rivaling the exploits of two fictional super sleuths: Ian Fleming’s James Bond and Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon.

[...]

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Hebrew Bible job at St. Andrews!

THE UNIVERSITY OF ST. ANDREWS: Lecturer in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible - AC2050ML School of Divinity.
We wish to appoint a Lecturer (equivalent to a US ‘assistant professor’) within the School of Divinity. You will be a scholar with a growing international research reputation in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and commitment to delivering high quality teaching within the broad field of Biblical Studies. The successful candidate will be expected to have a range of interests that strengthen or complement those in the School, to be active in research publication, and to be capable of teaching the subject to undergraduate and taught postgraduate students from a wide range of backgrounds.

Candidates should hold a PhD in a relevant discipline. Excellent teaching skills and an interest in promoting knowledge exchange are essential. You should also have some familiarity with grant seeking processes in relation to research councils and other sources.

Informal enquiries can be directed to Steve Holmes, Head of School (divhos@st-andrews.ac.uk) or Judith Wolfe, Deputy Head of School (jw240@st-andrews.ac.uk).

Applications are particularly welcome from women who are under-represented in Arts posts at the University.

The University is committed to equality for all, demonstrated through our working on diversity awards (ECU Athena SWAN/Race Charters; Carer Positive; LGBT Charter; and Stonewall). More details can be found at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/hr/edi/diversityawards/.
Follow the link for further particulars. The closing date for applications is 6 November 2017. Dr. Madhavi Nevader, Dr. Bill Tooman, and yours truly are (if I may say so) great colleagues. We look forward to a fourth colleague joining us soon to complement our work and enhance our program on the Hebrew Bible and related matters.

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Metal codices seized in Turkey

MORE METAL CODICES ETC.: Seal of Solomon may have been found in Amasya (AMASYA – Anadolu Agency/Hurrieyet Daily News).
During an operation conducted in the northern province of Amasya on Oct. 3, 11 pieces of historic artifacts were seized. One of the artifacts is a bronze seal, believed to belong to King Solomon (known as Prophet Suleiman by Muslims). It is a symbol attributed to the ancient Israeli King Solomon in medieval Jewish tradition.

[...]

The gendarmerie found a bronze seal, two five-page tablets and three four-page golden tablets with Hebrew writing and symbols, a gold-like bull figurine with Hebrew writing and symbols, a two-centimeter tablet and some six-page metal tablets, thought to be the Torah, a bronze amulet box with Hebrew writing and two metal tablets, thought to be spell books.

[...]
This is an intriguing little collection of goodies. The photo is from the article. Click on any of the following photos for a larger image.



This report came to my attention yesterday and I started a blog post on it, but had to go do some actual work before I was able to finish it. My observations were:

There are several points to note. First, the ring-bound metal book in the left foreground looks very much like one of those Jordanian lead codices. Second, some gold codices with Jewish imagery are already known. Some are in the possession of a dealer in Karak, Jordan. The gold books in the photo look to be about the same size. (My scale is the tiny codex between the seal stamp and the calf. It is reported to be about two centimeters long.) None of the photos are clear enough for me to identify the image. For the Karak books, see Samuel Zinner's online report on the Jordan codices, Son of the Star: Bar Kokhba and the Jordanian lead books, pp. 754, 987-992, 997, 1098, plus, in general, chapter 9 and Appendix III.

Third, the "seal of Solomon" looks like a medieval or modern artifact to me. There is a Talmudic legend about a ring that Solomon used to control demons, but I am not aware of any objects like this one from antiquity.

Fourth, the golden calf has obvious resonances with the biblical golden calf, but this one has a menorah stamped on it. What on earth does that mean? The only comparable object I know of is a bronze and silver bull statue excavated at Ashkelon. It dates to the first half of the second millennium BCE and it is about the same size as the gold one in the photo. I don't think there is any direct connection.

That was as far as I got yesterday. Today, a couple of new articles have new information.

The Daily Sabah: Artifacts hoped to include Seal of Solomon date back to Middle Ages, experts say.
The examination by experts on the historical artifacts seized in an operation on Tuesday in central Turkey concluded that they date back to the Middle Ages, wrecking hopes that the legendary seal of the ancient Israelite King Solomon, who is regarded as a prophet in both Judaism and Islam, may have been found.
I don't think hopes should have been very high in the first place, but let that go. The Daily Sabah article also has a photo.



This gives a better view of two of the gold books. The one in the left corner has an image of a bearded man, with some Paleo-Hebrew on the right side and a menorah in the bottom right corner. It is identical to an image on a lead codex also in the hands of that dealer in Karak. (See Zinner, "Son of the Star," p. 1119). The codex to its right bears an image of what looks like a wasp or a bee. I know of no parallels to it. I cannot make out the images on the fronts of the two other gold codices.

In the lower right there is also a (lead?) object that looks like an envelope with a menorah stamped on it.

The Daily Star has also published a sensationalist article on the seal: Biblical relic ‘engraved by God’ lost for at least 500 years FOUND

The article itself has no merit. If you decide to read it, be forewarned that some of the headlines and photos on the same page are likely to offend many readers.

The article does have a (poor) image of the front of the seal.

.

I can't make out what is embossed on the front. I need a clearer photo. So I can't tell if it shares design motifs with any of the codices. But I include it for the sake of completeness. I see no evidence that it is a seal particularly associated with Solomon, and none of the articles offer any evidence for the assertion. I don't know whether it is correct or not.

Where does that leave us? In recent years the Turkish authorities have diligently seized many supposed artifacts from smugglers. But I cannot recall any of them being convincingly ancient. I would not say that they are necessarily all forgeries, but rather that the Turkish authorities and media sometimes assumed they were ancient before they had been fully evaluated. See past stories here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. The last two links do refer to a "gold-plated ancient Torah," which conceivably could involve a discovery like the latest one.

This latest group of seized objects has clear connections with some of the Jordanian metal codices, particularly a group know from Karak and Shobak in Jordan. Dr. Zinner seems inclined to think this group originated in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, or even later (see his report, p. 1041). I see nothing in the current group to indicate a different conclusion. Nor do I see anything that points to them being ancient.

For my four-part review of Dr. Zinner's report on the Jordanian codices, start here. Follow the relevant links for previous posts on the codices, going back to the first announcement about them in March of 2011.

Cross-file under Fake Metal Codices Watch. I acknowledge that various elements of the current discussion may point to some of the Jordanian codices being something other than fake, although nothing I have seen adds up to a persuasive case. In particular, I have reviewed the evidence carefully and I am unconvinced that they are ancient artifacts. In any case, I continue to include this cross-file rubric so that readers can search it to find all my posts on the subject.

UPDATE (9 October): My Facebook friends David Meadows and Roy Kotansky have pointed out that the bee design is based on the ancient (pre-Christian-era) Ephesus Bee coin motif. There is discussion with examples here.

Regular readers will recognize a pattern we have already seen with the other metal codices. Someone with access to some ancient coins, and apparently not much else, used the coin images and inscriptions in a poor effort to construct objects that looked like ancient artifacts. All the indications from text and iconography point to the fabricator operating relatively recently. Notice that here, as before, we have ancient Jewish motifs mixed with a pagan motif. That's not unprecedented for antiquity, but the pervasive use of an eclectic mixture of coins as source material points to someone who was working with little information from antiquity and therefore from a more recent period.

ANOTHER UPDATE (10 October): On Facebook, Yuval Goren has commented:
BTW, "the seal of Solomon" looks to me like the Prutah of Herod Archelaus, framed in a brass seal-like holder with the obverse side up. These coins can be purchased for modest prices in the antiques market or even on eBay. See it here: http://www.wildwinds.com/.../judaea/herod_archelaus/i.html
That looks right to me. Here is the coin, with the images reversed and rotated 90 degrees, so that they correspond to the alignment of the negative image on the seal. The bottom image on the coin looks to be the same as the image on the seal.



So this "Seal of Solomon" has nothing to do with Solomon. The image is taken from a Herodian coin.

Once again, the person(s) who manufactured these codices had an eclectic collection of ancient coins, but little else, and they did the best they could to make ancient-looking objects using the images and inscriptions from the coins as templates.

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On the Temple Mount Sifting Project

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: DISPROVING 'TEMPLE MOUNT DENIAL' ONE BUCKET AT A TIME (Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post).
When Wakf bulldozers illegally ascended the Temple Mount in 1999 to surreptitiously remove thousands of tons of ancient soil to make way for a subterranean mosque, two archeologists found hope in recovering some of the Jewish heritage that crime destroyed.

As countless invaluable artifacts dating from the First Temple period at Judaism’s holiest site were dumped in a garbage heap in the capital’s Kidron Valley, Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira saw an opportunity.

Five years later, under the auspices of Bar-Ilan University, the two archeologists procured a government license to have the ancient debris transferred to Emek Tzurim National Park on the western slope of Mount Scopus, where they established the headquarters of the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

[...]
There follows a history of the project. Also, they still need funding!

Background here and oh so many links.

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On the real Bethsaida again

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
Has Bethsaida-Julias Been Found?

While our efforts at el-Araj are young, we have been struck by how closely the archaeological finds at el-Araj follow the contours of history recorded by those who walked the streets of Bethsaida-Julias in the Roman and Byzantine periods. No one on our team has suggested that the matter is settled with finality, but we are of the opinion that in light of this season’s discoveries, el-Araj must now be considered the leading candidate for the location of Bethsaida-Julias.

See Also: Bethsaida Controversy


By Mordechai Aviam
Senior Lecturer
Institute for Galilean Archaeology
Kinneret College, Israel

R. Steven Notley
Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins
Nyack College
New York City, New
The debate continues. I assume it is also moving into the peer-review literature, although I have not checked.

Background here and links

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Thursday, October 05, 2017

NYU DSS conference

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR ANCIENT STUDIES: THE ROSE-MARIE LEWENT CONFERENCE - THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS AT 70. November 16-17, 2017. Follow the link for the conference program.

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Jonah and Yom Kippur

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Jonah and the Whale. Why the Book of Jonah Is Read on Yom Kippur (the late Nahum Sarna).
The Book of Jonah is read in the synagogue on the afternoon of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, the sacred Day of Atonement. Why, of all books in the Bible, this book this most holy day?

The answer is clear. The major themes of the book are singularly appropriate to the occasion—sin and divine judgment, repentance and divine forgiveness.

[...]

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CFP: Panel for Young Genizah Researchers

H-JUDAIC: CFP: Panel for Young Genizah Researchers and those Interested in the Field. At the XIth Congress of the European Association for Jewish Studies Kraków, Poland, July 15-19, 2018.
Even with the essential tools that have been established over the last few decades to facilitate Genizah studies, gaining access to this vast field with its very specialized material is still a challenge to young researchers and thus calls for special training. Our panel is therefore intended as a platform for advanced MA-students, PhD-candidates and Post-Docs, who are interested in the field of Genizah Studies and wish to venture further into it. Every participant will have the opportunity to present a paper on her/his topic of research. Senior scholars will present their own work and offer hands-on training, as well as provide feedback on the participants' projects.
Follow the link for further particulars and instructions for submitting a paper proposal. The proposal deadline is 15 November 2017.

There are endless past PaleoJudaica posts on the Cairo Geniza. Start here, here, and here, and just keep following those links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Swastikas at Susya

VANDALISM: Swastikas found spray-painted outside settlement archaeology site. Incident is the third such defacement in the past four years near ruins of ancient Jewish city of Susya (Jacog Magid, Times of Israel). Past posts involving Susya, which was caught up in a political controversy a couple of years ago, are here and links.

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