Monday, May 21, 2018

The Sifting Project has found some cool coins

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: 5 rare Jewish coins discovered by Temple Mount project. Coins, minted by autonomous Jewish province of the First Persian Empire in late 4th century BC, attested to existence of commercial, administrative life in and around Second Temple and Temple Mount; 'These were the first coins ever minted by Jews,' says project's co-director, adding pilgrims would convert their tithes into these coins. (Itzchak Tessler, Ynet News).

The "Project" is, of course, the Temple Mount Sifting Project, on which more here and oh so many links.

This article has lots of background on the YHD coins, including that they apparently have been used as partial inspiration for the design of the new Israeli shekel. Cross-file under Numismatics.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project is still looking for funding!

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

Was the Priestly writer anti-Temple?

DR HACHAM ISAAC S. D. SASSOON:The Tabernacle: A Post-Exilic Polemic Against Rebuilding the Temple (TheTorah.com).
The Priestly Torah discusses the Tabernacle at extraordinary length, emphasizing its portability. Nothing in P ever says this structure was meant to be temporary. P’s Tabernacle was not foreshadowing the Temple, but was a polemic against Haggai and Zechariah’s agitation to build the Second Temple.
Surprisingly, P never tells the Israelites to build a Temple when they reach the Promised Land.

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4 Baruch

READING ACTS: What is Fourth Baruch? Another in Phil Long's current summer series of blog posts on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.

For past posts in this series over the last couple of years, see here and links.

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

The royal wedding had a Coptic connection

COPTIC WATCH: Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London gives prayer at UK's royal wedding. Anba Angaelos is the first Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, having served as General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom since 1999 (Ahram Online). Sadly, the prayer was not in Coptic.

But never mind. Congratulations and all best wishes to the newlywed royal couple.

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

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The vision of Ezekiel

EZEKIEL CHAPTER ONE, the Merkavah vision of Ezekiel, is the haftarah (reading from the prophets) for the first day of Shavuot (which started yesterday at sundown). This chapter is the foundation for both Jewish and Christian mysticism and its traditions have also been influential on Islamic mysticism. For some comment on the influence of the passage on Jewish tradition, see Why Read Ezekiel on Shavuot? Tradition connects the prophet's vision to the revelation at Sinai by Michael Fishbane at My Jewish Learning.

In Christian mysticism, Ezekiel's vision was to a large degree mediated through the work of Pseudo-Dionysius the Aeropagite, a late-antique Neoplatonist philosopher and mystic. For more on those traditions, see the Wikipedia article on Christian angelology.

And for more on Ezekiel's Merkavah vision, see here and here and links.

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Judges in Pseudo-Philo

READING ACTS: The Book of Judges in Pseudo-Philo (LAB) (Phil Long). Phil's opening post on this book was noted here. His series on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha continues.

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Why does the Torah come in five books?

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Why Is the Torah Divided into Five Books? (Dr. Elaine Goodfriend, TheTorah.com).
The division of the Torah into five books is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, yet this division may be ancient and inherent. Already in Second Temple times, Philo speaks of it, and by the early first millenium C.E., the Torah became known by the Greek name, Pentateuch, literally, “five scrolls.” Is this division due to practical, thematic, or symbolic considerations?
Fun fact: the first recorded person to use the term "Pentateuch" for the Torah of Moses was a Gnostic Christian. He said that Moses only wrote part of it.

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Archaeology and Virtual Reality

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Virtual Reality in Archaeology. Visualizing antiquity through modern lenses (Abby VanderHart). Past posts on Lithodomos and similar technologies are here and links. And here's an older post on the prospect of such technologies — a prospect that today is partially realized.

Cross-file under Technology Watch.

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Shavuot 2018

THE FESTIVAL OF SHAVUOT (Weeks, Pentecost) begins tonight at sundown. (For real this time!) Best wishes to all those celebrating. Last year's post gave links with biblical background.

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Mobile sifting update

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Archaeologist for a day: Find Temple Mount treasures — at a school near you. The Temple Mount Sifting Project takes its show on the road with a pilot program in which it uses dirt to connect students to the past and future of the Jerusalem holy site (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
Petah Tivka high school pupils got their hands dirty on Wednesday and Thursday this week when the Temple Mount Sifting Project’s new mobile unit paid a visit.

The Yeshurun High School’s hands-on experience was the second of the pilot project’s pit stops in an effort to “bring the mountain to Muhammad.” Previously, elementary school pupils in Tekoa also had the opportunity to sift for treasure during a special session with the Temple Mount Sifting Project’s staff using wet-sifting apparatus.

Students are given a presentation by an archaeologist on the history of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in particular, and are then trained on how to search to artifacts among the dirt. Using water, they “wet-sift” batches of dirt, and sort out the various rocks, pottery and other debris.

So far the pupils in Petah Tikva have found huge amounts of pottery, mosaic tiles, glass and metal. Luckier students have discovered a Crusader coin, a 1st century CE coin, a partial 3rd century CE oil lamp, an iron hook, a leg of an unidentified, potentially First Temple period cultic clay object, all of which will be cleaned and analyzed at the Sifting Project’s Jerusalem lab.

[...]
I noted the new mobile sifting project here. This article gives details about how it's going.

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Philo at Oxyrhynchus

NEWS YOU CAN USE: The Oxyrhynchus Codex of Philo of Alexandria (Brent Nongbri, Variant Readings). And don't forget to read his follow-up post on the archaeology of the Philo codex: Excavating the Oxyrhynchus Philo Codex.

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Krul, The Revival of the Anu Cult ...

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
The Revival of the Anu Cult and the Nocturnal Fire Ceremony at Late Babylonian Uruk

Series:
Culture and History of the Ancient Near East, Volume: 95

Author: Julia Krul

In The Revival of the Anu Cult and the Nocturnal Fire Ceremony at Late Babylonian Uruk, Julia Krul offers a comprehensive study of the rise of the sky god Anu as patron deity of Uruk in the Late Babylonian period (ca. 480-100 B.C.). She reconstructs the historical development of the Anu cult, its underlying theology, and its daily rites of worship, with a particular focus on the yearly nocturnal fire ceremony at the Anu temple, the Bīt Rēš.

Providing the first in-depth analysis of the ceremony, Julia Krul convincingly identifies it as a seasonal renewal festival with an important exorcistic component, but also as a reinforcement of local hierarchical relationships and the elite status of the Anu priesthood.

Publication Date: 26 April 2018
ISBN: 978-90-04-36493-6
As I've said before, I like to keep track of developments in the study of late ancient Babylonia, because of its background interest for Judaism of the Second Temple Period.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Archaeology, Jerusalem, and the Jewish people

DISCOVERIES: ARCHEOLOGY IS CHANGING THE (SUR)FACE OF JERUSALEM. Archaeology provides the most powerful proof of the authenticity of Jewish history and the connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, and particularly, Jerusalem (Moshe Dann, Jerusalem Post). This article has a clearly-stated agenda, and the interpretation of some of the discoveries is controversial. But it gives a nice summary of some important recent and longstanding archaeological findings associated with Jerusalem.

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Hygoye 21.1 (2018)

A NEW ISSUE: Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 21.1 (2018). It's always good to see another issue of this excellent open-access journal. It is associated with the Beth Mardutho Syriac Institute and the Hugoye e-mail list. For more on both of those, see here. Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

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The Canaanite alphabet in Egyptian?

THE HISTORY OF THE ALPHABET? Earliest Version of Our Alphabet Possibly Discovered (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
The earliest example of our alphabet — a possible mnemonic phrase that helped someone remember "ABCD" — has been discovered on a 3,400-year-old inscribed piece of limestone from ancient Egypt, a scholar believes.

Three of the words start with the ancient equivalent of B, C and D, creating what may be a mnemonic phrase.

Thomas Schneider, a professor of Egyptology and Near Eastern Studies at the University of British Columbia, reported the discovery in a paper published recently in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. This discovery "would be the first historical attestation of 'our' alphabet sequence," he told Live Science in an email.

[...]
This is a different — and more credible — story than the one a couple of years ago about an Egyptian inscription containing Semitic words. Thomas Schneider also figured in that one, but as a skeptic.

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Mobile sifting

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT BLOG: Restarting the Sifting!!
Hello everyone, we have some HUGE news to share with you. The Temple Mount Sifting Project is renewing its activity outside the lab! For the first time in the history of archaeological research in Israel –the site will be coming to you. We will be bringing the antiquities-rich soil that was illegally removed from the Temple Mount in the late 90s to various communities and institutions throughout Israel. Students and volunteers will be able to sift through this material and take part in the important work of recovering the ancient artifacts within. A sifting activity was undertaken yesterday in the Yeshurun School in Petach Tikva – but this is just the beginning! We’ve already started taking requests from other communities throughout Israel.
Follow the link for details. The post also has a bonus section with discoveries in honor of Jerusalem Day.

For many, many past posts on the Temple Mount Sifting Project, start here and follow the links. They are still looking for funding!

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Geniza Fragments 75

GENIZA FRAGMENTS, the Newsletter of the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, Cambridge University Library has published its April 2018 Issue. Some topics are a new novel about the Cairo Geniza, the Bible scribe Samuel ben Jacob, and a Festschrift for Geoffrey Khan (congratulations!).

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Correction! Shavuot starts on Saturday evening.

SORRY ABOUT THAT. Please ignore the deleted post. It was meant for Saturday. I pushed the wrong button somewhere.

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

A horse-racing curse in an Aramaic amulet

ARAMAIC WATCH: Ancient Jewish gambler’s chariot race curse found in decoded 5th Century scroll. A nailed-shut amulet uncovered in Turkey in the 1930s, written in Jewish Aramaic and newly translated, pleads for help from Balaam's ass at the track (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
When a typical nailed-shut 5th century curse scroll was uncovered by the University of Princeton in a 1930s excavation under the hippodrome in the city of Antioch (now in Turkey), the team of archaeologists didn’t realize what a unique find they had in hand.

It would take almost another 90 years to discover that the amulet, made of thin lead, is the only known example of a curse written by Jews against a chariot horse racing competitor.

In the curse, written in a Jewish dialect of Aramaic in Hebrew lettering, the gambler beseeches God and his panoply of angels to thwart the competing horse and cause him to “drown in the mud,” said Tel Aviv University doctoral student Rivka Elitzur-Leiman, who recently deciphered the miniature 8.8 x 2.1 cm lead tablet.

[...]
I am currently working on a new English translation of the late-antique Hebrew magical tractate Sefer HaRazim ("The Book of the Mysteries"). It includes a magical rite for making race horses swift. But I agree that (as far as I know) this new Aramaic amulet is the only surviving ancient Jewish cursing rite that involves horse racing.

This discovery is also covered in an article in Haaretz by Ruth Schuster: Ancient Scroll Shows Jews Tried to Hex Chariot Races in Turkey 1,500 Years Ago. Ancient Greeks and Romans were notorious for their elaborate curses but a metal tablet with a hex in Aramaic is the first evidence that the Jews indulged too, Israeli researchers say.

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Pseudo-Philo's LAB

READING ACTS: Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum (LAB) (Phil Long). A good quick overview of this book.

This is the first text covered in Phil's new OT Pseudepigrapha series for summer, 2018.

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Festscrift for Leonard Greenspoon

FORTHCOMING BOOK FROM PURDUE UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Found in Translation: Essays on Jewish Biblical Translation in Honor of Leonard J. Greenspoon (Hardback)

James W. Barker (Editor) Anthony LeDonne Editor) Joel N. Lohr Editor)
format: Hardback
publisher: Purdue University Press
pub. date: 07/15/2018
page count: 317pp
subject(s): Language Arts & Disciplines, Jewish Studies, Global Languages and Literatures
language: English
dimensions: 6.00" x 9.00"
ISBN 10: 155753781X
ISBN 13: 9781557537812
status: Awaiting Publication

Book Description
Found in Translation is at once a themed volume on the translation of ancient Jewish texts and a Festschrift for Leonard J. Greenspoon, the Philip M. and Ethel Klutznick Professor in Jewish Civilization and professor of classical and near Eastern studies and of theology at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Greenspoon has made significant contributions to the study of Jewish biblical translations, particularly the ancient translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, known as the Septuagint. This volume comprises an internationally renowned group of scholars presenting a wide range of original essays on Bible translation, the influence of culture on biblical translation, Bible translations’ reciprocal influence on culture, and the translation of various Jewish texts and collections, especially the Septuagint. Volume editors have painstakingly planned Found in Translation to have the broadest scope of any current work on Jewish biblical translation to reflect Greenspoon’s broad impact on the field throughout an august career.
Congratulations to Professor Greenspoon!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Back to the OT Pseudepigrapha

READING ACTS: Summer Series: (Even More) Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Regular readers will be familiar with Phil Long's series on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, which he ran in the summers of 2016 and 2017. He's back to it now for the coming summer.

He promises to continue with the Charlesworth edition, covering biblical expansions and sapiential and poetic texts. He hopes to move on to Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures vol. 1 (ed. Bauckham, Davila, and Panayotov; Eerdmans, 2013) (a.k.a. MOTP1).

Phil's opening post above includes a very useful index of his past pseudepigrapha posts.

I look forward to this new installment of the series.

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On the Sogdian language and its decipherment

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: The discovery and decipherment of Sogdian. Sogdian is a Middle Iranian language. It has come up on PaleoJudaica occasionally because it sometimes preserves translations of material important for ancient Jewish studies, notably fragments of The Book of Giants. Sogdian was first identified and translated from manuscripts excavated in Turfan in (modern day) China. Other past posts involving the Sogdian language and the discoveries at Turfan are here and links, and here and here, and here and links.

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The Pool of Siloam

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY has a couple of recent essays on the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem, famous as the site of one of Jesus' healing miracles according to the Gospel of John. It is also associated with Hezekiah's Tunnel, the original location of the important Siloam Inscription from the reign of Hezekiah.

The Siloam Pool: Where Jesus Healed the Blind Man. A sacred Christian site identified by archaeologists.

Where Is the Original Siloam Pool from the Bible? Hunting for the Biblical Pool of Siloam from Hezekiah’s time.

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AJS Review 42.1 (2018)

A NEW ISSUE OF AJS REVIEW IS OUT (Volume 42 - Issue 1 - April 2018). It has, intera alia, some articles and lots of book reviews of interest for ancient Judaism. It's a paid subscription site, but even if you're not a subscriber you can read the TOC and the abstracts at the link.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Talmud on invalidated sacrifices

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Blood of the Soul. This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study continues to explore the real—and hypothetical—practicalities of ritual animal sacrifice.
This week’s Daf Yomi reading introduced us to a crucial concept in the law of sacrifice: piggul, which literally means “a vile thing” or “an abhorrent thing.” According to Leviticus 7, the meat of a sacrificed animal is strictly required to be eaten either on the day of the sacrifice or the following day. If it is eaten on the third day, “it shall be piggul and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity.” The rabbis explain that eating piggul carries the harshest punishment in Jewish law: karet, the divinely inflicted “separation” of the soul from God after death.

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

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Where did John get "Armageddon?"

ETYMOLOGY: Armageddon 101: The True History of the End of the World. Revelations associates Megiddo in northern Israel with the end of days, but as the struggle over Jerusalem threatens to bring the apocalypse closer, we may want to revisit that assumption (Elon Gilad, Haaretz).
Revelations consists of a prophetic description of how the world will end. Its writer identifies himself as John, but other than his name, nothing is known of him, and the traditional identification of him with John the Apostle is likely not true.

Yet whoever this John was, he played a decisive role in molding the Christian conception of the eschatological end of days. John, who wrote Revelations in Greek, also bestowed upon the English language two words for the end of the worlds: apocalypse and Armageddon. The origin of the first is clear, but the latter is puzzling.
Revelation, dang it! It's the Book of Revelation, singular.

Elon, I expect better from you. But otherwise, nice article on a challenging topic.

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Review of Hezser, Rabbinic Body Language

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Rabbinic Body Language: Non-Verbal Communication in Palestinian Rabbinic Literature of Late Antiquity (Erez DeGolan).
Catherine Hezser. Rabbinic Body Language: Non-Verbal Communication in Palestinian Rabbinic Literature of Late Antiquity. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2017.
Excerpt:
There is something counterintuitive in a study of body language and non-verbal communication in Palestinian rabbinic literature. For one thing, non-verbal communication is instinctively associated with living, visible, bodies. Such a study, therefore, may appear relevant to ethnographers who immerse themselves in fieldwork but not to scholars whose primary sources are silent and unmoving texts. Moreover, assuming an inquiry of literary portrayals of non-verbal communication is possible, rabbinic discourse may be problematic due to the fact that the voices of the rabbinic documents are generally perceived as coming out of, literally, talking heads. At first glance, then, the data seems resistant to a meaningful analysis of rabbinic body language.
But ...

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No Chamber of Secrets in Tut's tomb

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Third Scan Searches for Queen Nefertiti’s Tomb. The verdict is in for what’s behind King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber (Robin Ngo). Oh well, it wasn't looking very promising. But as I have said before, the exciting thing about this story is that our technology is now advanced enough that we can have this conversation at all.

Background here and links.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

More on the big house at Tel ‘Eton

ARCHAEOLOGY: Proof of King David? Not yet. But riveting site shores up roots of Israelite era. Based on controversial carbon dating, Prof. Avraham Faust's Tel 'Eton excavation offers up startling look at a settlement formed at the foundation of the United Monarchy (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
Standing next to his Tel ‘Eton excavation on a straw-covered hill in the southeastern part of Israel’s Judean Shephalah (lowlands), a little over 20 miles southeast of Ashkelon, Bar-Ilan University Prof. Avraham Faust describes with disbelief the media storm of misquotes and half-understood facts surrounding him for the past two weeks. “It’s been a real learning moment,” said archaeologist Faust.

The eye of the tornado? The publication of results garnered from carbon-dating a few olive pits and charcoal uncovered in the foundations of a rare complete massive Israelite building that once towered over the hilltop.

Even today, under a deceptively hazy sky where a welcome breeze blows occasionally during our three hours at the hill’s lookout, the outline of the 225 meter squared structure is readily impressive, with its 750 kilo sophisticated chiseled “ashlar” cornerstones, to its skeletal, multi-room divisions that illustrate the practical uses of its stone-walled spaces.
Background here. Regular PaleoJudaica readers are familiar with the story, but this article has more details. An earlier story on Tel ‘Eton (Tel Eton) was noted here. And past posts on Khirbet Qeiyafa are collected here.

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Review of Milstein, Tracking the Master Scribe

MARGINALIA REVIEW OF BOOKS: Authorship and Ownership: Whose Bible Is It Anyway? Michael Hundley Reviews Sara Milstein’s Tracking the Master Scribe (OUP, 2016). Excerpt:
Milstein’s Mesopotamian analysis is immensely helpful for both Assyriology and Biblical Studies. Since Assyriology generally eschews diachronic analysis, her study helps us to better understand textual (re)production in ancient Mesopotamia as well as gives the reader a fresh reading of the different versions of the stories. It also offers important comparative data from the world in which the Hebrew Bible was written. Her work is especially helpful in demonstrating that the Bible is not unique in its inclusion of inconsistencies (an assumption that many have come to largely because of a general lack of diachronic studies of other ancient Near Eastern texts). Rather, inconsistencies are part and parcel of the production of texts in the ancient Near East, including in Mesopotamia and the Hebrew Bible. Studying the introduction and conclusion as loci of editorial activity likewise indicates that the tendency to preserve tensions may go well beyond the desire to preserve different voices. One could even argue that, at least in some cases, the different voices are not meant to be highlighted; rather, they are allowed to remain because they have been suitably reframed by a new narrative framework. Leaving behind portions of the old also allows the master scribe to borrow the authority of the original while reframing or even subverting its message.

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Report on the Temple Mount Sifting Project

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: What We Learned from Sifting the Earth of the Temple Mount (Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira (Zweig), TheTorah.com).
The founders and directors of the Temple Mount sifting project explain the origin of the project, its goals, and highlight some of its important finds.
PaleoJudaica has been follow the progress of the Temple Mount Sifting Project since its inception. They are about 70% done and are currently on hiatus until they can raise more funding. Wealthy philanthropical PaleoJudaica readers take note!

For many, many past posts on the Project, start here and follow the links. And also have a look at their blog, listed in the Blogroll to the right––>.

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

Talmud and the working Mom

FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S TALMUD DAY: How Daf Yomi Became Part Of This Working Mom’s Routine (CAROLINE MUSIN BERKOWITZ, JOFA Blog).

Background here. And there's more on Ilana Kurshan's book, If All the Seas Were Ink, here and links.

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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Today is International Women's Talmud Day

TALMUD WATCH: Women encouraged to study Talmud with launch of international day of learning. International Women’s Talmud Day will take place on Sunday, May 13 (Simon Rocker, The Jewish Chronicle).
Running in Australia, France, Israel and the United States and backed by the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance and its British branch as well as the New York women’s seminary Yeshivat Maharat, the event is designed to encourage woman to study a text which is still regarded as for men only among the most conservative religious circles.
Related: Why I Started International Women’s Talmud Day (Shayna Abramson, JOFA Blog/The New York Jewish Week).

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Quinn on the Phoenicians and British nationalism

PHOENICIAN WATCH: Phantasmic Phoenicia. The British, Irish and Lebanese have all claimed descent from the ancient Phoenicians. But ancient Phoenicia never existed (Josephine Quinn, Aeon).
Take the ancient Phoenicians, enlisted in support of the nationalist histories of Lebanon, Britain and Ireland, and in some cases seriously distorted by them. Despite claims by various partisans of Lebanese, British and Irish nationalism to enlist the Phoenicians as their ancient progenitor, the Phoenicians never existed as a self-conscious community, let alone a nascent nation.
A full account of the little-remembered contribution of pseudo-scholarship on the Phoenicians to early British and Irish nationalisms. Along the way, Professor Quinn argues, the concept of nationalism was applied retroactively to the Phoenicians.

Professor Quinn is the author of the recent book In Search of the Phoenicians. There's more on it here and links.

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Coins of the Second Punic War

NUMISMATICS: NGC Ancient Coins: The Second Punic War (CoinWeek).
One of the most interesting and most challenging themes in the world of ancient coins is the Second Punic War, a monumental conflict in which Romans and Carthaginians battled each other for nearly two decades. At stake was supremacy over the Western Mediterranean. After its hard-won victory over Carthage in 201 BCE, Rome had established its regional authority beyond question.

[...]
Quite a nice collection. Cross-file under Punic Watch.

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Deane has found some giant Cainites

REMNANT OF GIANTS BLOG: Al-Kisāʾī on the Giant Cainites (Deane Galbraith). Discovered in the new volume edited by John Reeves and Annette Yoshiko Reed, Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, on which more here.

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

On Satan

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Who Is Satan? The many forms of the devil in the Bible (John Gregory Drummond). This is a good brief treatment of the topic.

There are many past PaleoJudaica posts on Satan/the Devil. Start here and follow the links. He is also sometimes known as Azazel or Belial.

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

Miller, The dragon, the mountain, and the nations

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: The Dragon, the Mountain, and the Nations. Notice of a new book: Miller II, Robert D. 2018. The dragon, the mountain, and the nations: An Old Testament myth, its origins, and its afterlives. Eisenbrauns. Follow the link for a description and ordering information.

Fun fact: "The dragon is always conquered."

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Neis on likeness and reproduction in the Mishnah

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: When Species Meet in the Mishnah (R.R. Neis).
In what follows, I highlight several sources that point to a rabbinic theory of reproduction that has a weak commitment to the dictates of mimetic resemblance. This theory accommodates -- if uneasily-- non-like progeny as members of their parents’ kind. It does this, in part, by recognizing likeness across kinds. Moreover, it embeds humans among other kinds, not only conceptually or comparatively but also gestationally, into the heart of the reproductive process.
This is the first essay in the new AJR Animal Forum.

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Dangerous old books

THE NSEA BLOG: DANGER! BOOKS! Notice of a new thematic issue of the journal Henoch on the subject of "Dangerous Books."

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Mary Douglas and Leviticus

PROF. GARY A. RENDSBURG: Leviticus as a Literary Tabernacle (TheTorah.com).
The late British anthropologist Mary Douglas proposed that Leviticus was designed to reflect the structure of the Tabernacle, which in turn reflects the division of space during the revelation at Mount Sinai. In this reading, the two screens or curtains that divide the Tabernacle are represented by Leviticus’ only two narratives.
I have a couple of posts on the work of Dame Mary Douglas here and here.

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Josephus and the archaeology of Jerusalem

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
New Archaeological Data from The Great Revolt in Jerusalem Raise New Questions on Josephus

The last decades yielded many new findings from the First Jewish Revolt in Jerusalem: rebels’ coins of “year 4”, water systems installed by the defenders, broken flagstones that testify for Romans hunting Jewish refugees, and even a battle scene that recorded the use of ballistae. Today we know much more than we did thirty years ago. It is the time to raise new questions on the correlation between Josephus and archaeology.

By Dr. David Gurevich
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem;
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, Bar-Ilan University
Research Fellow, The Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, Hebrew Union College Jerusalem
May 2018
This essay flags the questions, and advertises for financial backing, rather than attempting to answer them. But they are important questions.

For more on those bronze coins from the Great revolt which were found recently in Jerusalem, see here. For the excavation that possibly involves Jerusalem's ancient "third wall," see here. For the excavation of that Jerusalem drainage canal used at the end of the revolt as a hiding place, see here. And for some additional thoughts on Josephus and archaeology, see here and links.

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

Schiffman on the Hezekiah and Isaiah bullae

PROF. LAWRENCE H. SCHIFFMAN: JEWISH CONNECTION TO JERUSALEM.
The ongoing excavations of Jerusalem never seem to stop yielding amazing treasures that bring to life the Bible and the history of the Jewish people in its holiest of cities. This latest discovery comes on the heels of the disgraceful UNESCO resolution that by implication seeks to deny the historic relationship of the city to the Jews and their history.

The recent discovery of what may be the personal seal impression of Isaiah the Prophet, coming soon after the discovery close by of the seal impression of Hezekiah the King, serves as a welcome affirmation of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, something we thought would have been self-evident to Jews, Christians, and even Muslims.
Follow the link for the rest of this article reprinted from the Jewish Tribune.

For more on the Hezekiah and Isaiah bullae, see here and links. I am still skeptical that the Isaiah on the bulla was the prophet. But the connection Prof. Schiffman mentions remains self-evident either way.

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

Xena and Goliath

REMNANT OF GIANTS Xena, Warrior Princess and Goliath (Deane Galbraith). It seems they were old friends.

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

Thursday, May 10, 2018

NIS 60 million for the archaeology of Jerusalem

ARCHAEOLOGY, POLITICS, AND MONEY: Culture Ministry earmarks NIS 60m for Jerusalem archaeology digs, preservation. Excavations in and around the City of David to be bolstered by two-year government grant (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
According to the Israel Hayom report, the Culture Ministry says it aims, with this grant, to “empower Jerusalem as an international center of religion, heritage, culture and tourism” through the excavation, research and development of ancient Jerusalem archaeology.

“For the first time in decades, the Israeli government has initiated excavations that will expose ancient Jerusalem’s antiquities and will express the history of the Jewish people 3,000 years ago,” said [Cultural Minister Miri] Regev.
Reportedly, the Israel Antiquities Authority is pleased.

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

A late-antique Aramaic funeral liturgy

GENIZA FRAGMENT OF THE MONTH (APRIL 2018): Mourning in Late Antiquity: T-S NS 148.58 (Laura Lieber).
We know little of the lived experiences of the majority of Jews in the world of Late Antiquity. The Genizah can however provide a glimpse, albeit partial and blurry, of Jewish life in the Land of Israel in the 4th to the 7th centuries CE. This period, which encompassed the consolidation of Jewish textual traditions, the rise of imperial Christianity, and the arrival of Islam, also witnessed the birth of a literary tradition that crossed many of the boundaries of the period: religious, or liturgical, poetry. Alongside this body of work is a small, precious collection of poems in the vernacular of the Jews of Late Ancient Palestine: Jewish Palestinian Aramaic (JPA) poetry. These poems are of a popular character and were composed not only for holidays but also lifecycle events, and so they offer a rare window through which Jews’ routine, lived experience during this obscure time can be perceived.

This fragment, T-S NS 148.58 folio 1v, illustrates one way in which the death of an individual was marked by the community. ...
Cross-file under Aramaic Watch.

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Review of Wilson, Kingship and Memory in Ancient Judah

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Kingship and Memory in Ancient Judah (Chance McMahon).
Just as the memorialization of figures in U.S. history speak to larger social issues in the present, Ian D. Wilson’s Kingship and Memory in Ancient Judah argues that the Judean literati during the Persian Period negotiated various viewpoints about kingship in Israel’s past.

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A Coptic fragment of Genesis

ALIN SUCIU: High-Resolution Images of London, BL Or. 5287(3) = Genesis 3:16-4:4 (Sahidic version). The fragment was recently published in the Journal of Coptic Studies.

Cross-file under Coptic Watch.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Of Chinese gruel and Byzantine parrotfish

MORE CULINARY ARCHAEOLOGY! The Archaeologists and Chefs Recreating the World's Oldest Recipes. In Byzantine times, parrotfish was considered was considered a great delicacy from Constantinople to the Negev. Scholars and chefs are trying to learn why (Ronit Vered, Haaretz). The first half of the article, quite interesting in itself, is about cooking in ancient China. It take to the second half to get to the parrotfish, in relation to a recent conference at NYU:
The first day of the conference was devoted to lectures, and the second day to the cooking and tasting of the recipes and the ancient foods. A delegation from Yale University – which included the curator of the university museum, an expert on hieroglyphics, a chemist and a culinary historian – looked for the origin of the cooking techniques that have been preserved to this day in an ancient Babylonian codex of recipes, which is considered the oldest cookbook in the world.

A group of British, Spanish and American scholars examined garum sauce – a fermented fish sauce that was one of the most important cooking ingredients of the ancient world – was served. Someone studied the origin and evolution of blancmange, a dairy dessert based on almonds and spices, in medieval Europe. The Israeli delegation from the University of Haifa presented the story of the parrotfish, the caviar of the Byzantine era, in the ancient cities of the Negev.
Cross-file under Osteology.

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Israel's biblical diet

CULINARY ARCHAEOLOGY: Israel's Millenia-Old Biblical Diet. A new generation of academics and chefs are cooking with ancient grains and herbs, using ‘original recipes’, to help work through Israel’s long-unresolved legacy of trauma. (Shira Rubin, BBC).
Between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv lies a man-made Garden of Eden, dotted with imported Lebanese cedar trees, reconstructed olive and wine presses and reproduced ancient gardens of wild sage and edible flowers. But the nature reserve, known as Neot Kedumim, is more than just a recreation of the landscape of biblical times. Since the 1990s, Israel’s foremost food archaeologist Tova Dickstein has been cultivating it as an open-air laboratory to examine the millennia-old ‘biblical diet’ and the ingredients that are making a comeback in Israeli nouvelle cuisine.

[...]
This article has lots of details about biblical food and the history behind the modern Israeli diet. For example:
But Dickstein says that while hummus was compelling and convenient for the early Israeli narrative, because it tied an already-popular dish to the supposedly ancient Jewish tradition of hummus consumption, the Bible does not actually depict the ancient Israelites as hummus enthusiasts. She estimates that hummus in its current form was likely popularised during the Crusader period from 1099 to 1291 AD, as consequent Holy Land conquerors continued traditions of cultural exchange between the country’s many ethnic groups. But for her, correcting anachronisms, such as hummus’ exclusively Israeli origins, is not meant to change Israeli eating habits, but rather demonstrate their evolutions.

To make her case, Dickstein relies on the Hebrew Bible, a labyrinthine piece of literature teeming with ambiguity. To interpret the recipes, she cross-checks the Bible with modern people who are replicating or producing some version of the biblical diet. For example, Ezekiel bread features as a rare example of a biblical recipe, in the Book of Ezekiel. There, God instructs the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel: “Take you also to you wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make you bread thereof...”
In context, I think "Ezekiel bread" was a prophetic statement rather than a real recipe. At least I hope no one followed the original baking instructions.

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Novenson on discussion of The Grammar of Messianism

THE CSCO BLOG: The Grammar of Messianism in Recent Discussion. Matthew Novenson responds to reviews of his 2017 book. Past PaleoJudaica posts on the book are collected here.

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Is a festival in Nehemiah's Torah missing in ours?

DR. ALEX P. JASSEN: The Wood Offering Celebration – “As Written in the Torah” (TheTorah.com).
Bringing wood for the altar was an important celebration in Second Temple times. To ground this practice in the Torah, Nehemiah (10:35) describes it as a Torah law, while the Temple Scroll (11Q19) and the Reworked Pentateuch (4Q365) include it in their biblical festival calendar.
This is one of the times that the Hebrew Bible cites a passage in the Torah of Moses that isn't in our version. Another is Ezra 6:18, concerning the priestly divisions and the Levitical courses. Did the writers cite nonexistent passages to lend authority to the topic? Or were they working with a Pentateuch that contained material not in ours? Either is possible. I blog, you decide.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2018

The Talmud on the bygone priesthood

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: On Priestly Perfection. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ how ancient Talmudic rabbis recreated and understood the lost religious culture of the First Temple.
The priesthood, like animal sacrifice, is one of those Jewish institutions that were once centrally important, but have been basically defunct for the last 2,000 years. People of priestly descent—often designated by the last name Cohen, which is the Hebrew word for priest—still offer a special benediction for the congregation on certain Jewish holidays. But this is a mere relic of the glory that belonged to the priesthood in Temple times. In the Torah, it is clear that only the correct performance of sacrificial rites by the priests—the descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses—allows the Jewish people to enjoy God’s favor.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Big bucks (£££) for the Qur'an-Coptic palimpsest

SOLD! Outstanding Auction Result for an Unrecorded Qur’an Palimpsest Copied on an Earlier Coptic Bible (Fine Books & Collections).
London--Christie’s is pleased with the results achieved for the palimpsest of a Qur’an copied onto a Christian text, realising £596,790 during the Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds Including Oriental Rugs and Carpets auction, which is still ongoing. ...
Background here and here. Cross-file under Coptic Watch.

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The Wisconsin Palmyrene Aramaic Inscription Project (update)

PALMYRA WATCH: Blog: Preserving The Words Of Ancient Palmyra Through Digital Humanities (Catherine Bonesho, Society for Classical Studies Blog). I noted this project a few years ago here. But this blog post gives a good, updated overview, with a detailed description of the cutting-edge RTI technology they are using. So cross-file under Technology Watch and Digitization.

HT AJR.

For many other past posts on the site of Palmyra, its Aramaic language, its artifacts, and its tragic fate while in the hands of ISIS, start here and follow the links. And this post (and links) is also relevant to ancient Palmyra (but you have to follow the link there for details).

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Altered festivals in the Temple Scroll

PROF. MARVIN A. SWEENEY: How the Temple Scroll Rewrote the Festival of Bikkurim (TheTorah.com).
Throughout the Bible, we find that the land of Israel is blessed with grain, wine, and oil (דגן, תירוש, ויצהר). In the Torah, however, the festival of Bikkurim, “First Produce,” only celebrates the wheat harvest. In Qumran, the Essenes rewrote the biblical festival calendar to include two further bikkurim festivals to celebrate wine and oil.

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Monday, May 07, 2018

When does Counting the Omer begin?

NOTED BELATEDLY FOR LAG B'OMER: When Does Counting the Omer Begin? (Prof. Marvin A. Sweeney and Dr. Rabbi Zev Farber, TheTorah.com).
The omer or “sheaf” offering takes place ממחרת השבת, “after the Shabbat” (Leviticus 23:15). Jewish interpreters have debated the exact meaning of this phrase for two millennia, resulting in all four possible dates being adopted by one Jewish sect or another.

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Forthcoming: "Septuaginta: A Reader's Edition"

WILLIAM ROSS: BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT – SEPTUAGINTA: A READER’S EDITION.
The basic idea behind a reader’s edition is to provide an edition of the ancient text – in our case Rahlfs-Hanhart’s – annotated with running footnotes with lexical information. Since most students and scholars of biblical studies are most familiar with New Testament vocabulary, picking up a Septuagint can make for a challenge. Our reader’s edition seriously reduces that challenge by providing the footnotes for rarer vocabulary, thereby making the reading experience much more seamless and less intimidating.
This sounds extraordinarily useful. Look for it in November.

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Review of Drake, A Century of Miracles

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: H. A. Drake, A Century of Miracles: Christians, Pagans, Jews, and the Supernatural, 312-410. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xvi, 312. ISBN 9780199367412. $35.00. Reviewed by Michael Stuart Williams, Maynooth University (Michael.Williams@mu.ie).
his book by H. A. Drake is aimed at a semi-popular audience, and is a showcase for his most valuable qualities: an engaging style, a patient awareness of the complexity of the evidence, and a desire to recapture the human element of late-antique Christian belief. It will appeal to anyone wanting to know why fourth-century Christianity is worth studying. Drake does an excellent job of showing how Christianity was remade in this period by the pressures of imperial and episcopal politics. His focus is on a particular Christian rhetoric of legitimation which explained the achievements of Constantine and his successors by the interest of God in their affairs; which permitted the apostate emperor Julian to be written off in hindsight as no significant threat; and which proffered the minor miracles performed by ascetics as proof of God’s presence in the world. But it is not strictly a book about miracles; and for me it fails to capture what is distinctive about miracles in the fourth century.

[...]

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Biblical Studies Carnival 146

AYUDA MINISTERIAL BLOG: Biblical Studies April Carnival (Rubén de Rus).

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

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Achaemenid influence on the concept of Mosaic Torah?

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Reinventing Mosaic Torah in the Light of the Law of Ahura Mazdā and Zarathustra. Notice of a recent article by Yishai Kiel in the Journal of Biblical Literature, available at JSTOR.

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Two 2019 conferences on Mandaeism

RELIGION PROF: Mandaeism ARAM Conference July 2019 (James McGrath). Cross-file under Mandean (Madaean) Watch.

Who are the Mandeans, you ask? Some background is here.

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Proof of David's biblical kingdom? Not yet.

ARCHAEOLOGY: Does This 3,000-Year-Old House Confirm King David's Lost Biblical Kingdom? (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
Archaeologists have discovered a sprawling, possibly 3,000-year-old house that suggests a biblical kingdom called the United Monarchy, ruled by King David and later Solomon according to the Hebrew Bible, actually existed.

The archaeologists who excavated the house, at a site now called Tel Eton, in Israel, said in an article published online March 13 in the journal Radiocarbon that the date, design and size of the house indicates that a strong organized government existed at Tel Eton around 3,000 years ago. They added that this government may be the United Monarchy. The site is located in the central part of Israel in a region called the Shephalah.

[...]
As you might guess, it takes a lot of inference to get us from finding a big, tenth-century BCE(-ish) house to having proof of the United Monarchy. Nevertheless, this is an important discovery, even if its exact date and implications are debatable.

To my mind, the existence of the Davidic dynasty is demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt by the Tel Dan Inscription. But whether a Davidic dynasty adds up to anything like the United Monarchy of the Bible is another matter. So far the archaeological record appears to be inconclusive. I am not an archaeologist, but when I see credible archaeologists on both sides of the debate, that tells me that the evidence is inconclusive.

It would be nice to find some royal inscriptions from David and Solomon. Or any substantial Israelite documents from that period. But even those might not solve the broader question of the historicity of the biblical United Monarchy.

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Looting arrest at Akeldema

APPREHENDED: Attempted antiquities looting at site linked to blood money of Judas Iscariot. 30-year-old Jerusalem man nabbed with excavation tools at ancient Christian graveyard in Jerusalem (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
Israeli Border Police arrested a 30-year-old on suspicion of antiquities looting in the ancient Christian pilgrim graveyard at Akeldama, located in Jerusalem’s Hinnom Valley and associated with one of Jesus’s 12 apostles, Judas Iscariot.
Akeldema is Aramaic for Field of Blood. There are a couple of different stories in the New Testament which associated the site with the suicide of Judas Iscariot. More on the site:
From the 4th through 7th century, Byzantine monks and hermits lived on the site, which is still occupied by a Christian monastery built on the spot where Judas is meant to have hanged himself, the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St Onuphrius, built in 1874. The monastery includes two ancient tombs, an altered burial cave called “Refuge [or Retreat] of the Apostles” and a subterranean Second Temple-period tomb whose roots may stretch even to the First Temple, according to scholars.

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Saturday, May 05, 2018

Review of Lundhaug and Lied (eds.), Snapshots

REVIEWS OF BIBLICAL AND EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES: Snapshots of Evolving Traditions
2018.05.06 | Liv Ingeborg Lied and Hugo Lundhaug, eds. Snapshots of Evolving Traditions: Jewish and Christian Manuscript Culture, Textual Fluidity, and New Philology. TU 175. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017. xviii + 366 pages.

Reviewed by Garrick V. Allen, Dublin City University.


This collection of thirteen articles, many of which were originally presented in a workshop at the University of Oslo in 2012, is designed to stimulate new methodological approaches to ancient manuscript cultures and their products. It is “New Philology” in action.

[...]
Past posts on this book are here and links. As I've mentioned before, I have an essay in it on translating the Hekhalot literature.

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Gnosis 3.1

FORBIDDEN GOSPELS BLOG: Gnosis volume 3.1 published on Hermetism (April DeConick).
I am happy to announce that the special issue of GNOSIS 3.1 is published. Christian Bull as a guest editor put together a special collection of papers on Hermes Trismegistus. I am particularly delighted with this special collection because I have felt for a very long time that the hermetic sources often don't get the attention that they should in the study of gnostic movements and literatures.

[...]
Follow the link for more details and the TOC.

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Forbidden sex in the Holiness Code and the ANE

DR. EVE LEVAVI FEINSTEIN: Sexual Prohibitions in the Bible and the ANE: A Comparison (TheTorah.com).
How do the laws of Leviticus 18 compare to the laws and practices of the Babylonians, Hittites, and Egyptians, and to the rest of the Bible?
By the standards of other ANE societies, the sexual laws in H are exceptionally restrictive.

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Review of Cadwallader (ed.), Stones, Bones and the Sacred

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Alan H. Cadwallader (ed.), Stones, Bones and the Sacred: Essays on Material Culture and Religion in Honor of Dennis E. Smith. Early Christianity and its literature. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2016. Pp. xvii, 365. ISBN 9781628371666. $44.68. Reviewed by Bilal Bas, Marmara University (bilal.bas@marmara.edu.tr).
Stones, Bones, and the Sacred is a collection of 16 essays on material culture and ancient religion in honor of Dennis E. Smith edited by Alan H. Cadwallader. In the first essay, Hal E. Taussig presents a general evaluation of Dennis E. Smith’s scholarship and the final essay is written by Smith himself as a response to the essays. In general, the essays focus on the intersection of material culture, ancient religion, and the texts and practices of early Christianity. Many of the authors attempt to employ the interpretation of material culture in the New Testament exegesis and Christian origins (Ibita, Økland, Huber, Cadwallader, Kurek-Chomycz and Bieringer, Weima, Thompson, and Wilson). A group of scholars employ literary and material evidence in order to explore meals in Greco-Roman world and early Christianity (Ibita, Alikin, Friesen, Schowalter, Dyer, Økland).

All the essays are well-written, learned contributions to their respective fields and thus worth mentioning. However, due to the limited space allowed for a book review, there is room to review only some of them.
Also, Larry Hurtado has some critical comments on the book: “Material Culture” of Early Christianity. He is disappointed with its lack of attention to the material culture of ancient Christian manuscripts. The book is about ancient Christianity, but there is much in it relevant to ancient Judaism as well.

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Friday, May 04, 2018

Bar Kokhba coin excavated in Modi'in cave

NUMISMATICS: Unearthed Bar Kochba coin points to far-reaching support for rebels against Rome. A late revolt bronze coin discovered where rebels sought refuge in a cave near Modiin indicates geographically widespread Jewish backing of the ultimately bloody Jerusalem uprising (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
Even as the Jewish people on Lag B’Omer Thursday celebrate the heroism of Simon Bar Kochba in rebelling against the pagan ruling Roman Empire in 132 CE, a tangible symbol of the revolt — a single bronze coin — was recently discovered in a limestone cave outside of the central Israeli city of Modiin.

The discovery of a single bronze coin from the Bar Kochba Revolt so far from the Jerusalem area, until recently considered the center of the rebel’s efforts, is important evidence for historians in corroborating the broad geographical spread of the revolt and its supporters, who presumably took refuge in the new Modiin cave.

[...]
The announcement was made on the Lag B'Omer holiday, which has traditional associations with the Bar Kokhba Revolt. More on that here. For other past posts on the Revolt, start here and follow the links.

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More on those new DSS bits

UPDATE: Hidden Text Found on 'Blank' Dead Sea Scrolls (Laura Geggel, Live Science). I have already posted on this discovery, but this article covers the story very well and clearly and also has a detail that I have not seen before:
The newfound writing came from the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus, which are in the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Old Testament of the Christian Bible), and the Book of Jubilees, a text written at the same time as the Hebrew Bible that was never incorporated into the biblical books, the archaeologists said.
My emphasis. That's the first mention I recall of a Jubilees fragment among the recovered texts.

Also, the article has a good, brief video.

Background here.

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The Hezekiah and Isaiah bullae are coming to Oklahoma

EXHIBITION: Armstrong International Cultural Foundation Announces World Premiere of Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah (Longview News Journal).
EDMOND, Okla., May 3, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Armstrong International

Cultural Foundation announces the world premiere of "Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah Discovered" June 10 through August 19 at Armstrong Auditorium.

"Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah Discovered" is an archaeological exhibition that will enable visitors to discover the history of ancient Judah's most famous king-prophet pairing-a story which illuminates how Jerusalem escaped annihilation at the hands of King Sennacherib's Assyrian army at the end of the 8th century B.C. Items on display will include nearly three dozen artifacts from the time of King Hezekiah, including the recently discovered royal seal impressions of King Hezekiah and Isaiah from the Ophel excavations, royal Judean clay vessels, and weapons used during the siege of Lachish. The exhibit will also feature key Assyrian history and will include such artifacts as the famous Annals of Sennacherib Prism (aka Taylor/Jerusalem/Oriental Prism), various other Assyrian inscriptions, and replicas of the famous Assyrian wall reliefs.

[...]
Background on the Hezekiah bulla (clay seal impression) is here and links. Background on the Isaiah bulla is here and links.

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Reeves and Reed, Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages

NEW BOOK FROM OUP: Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages: Sources From Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Volume I 1st Edition by John C. Reeves and Annette Yoshiko Reed.
Across the ancient and medieval literature of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, one finds references to the antediluvian sage Enoch. Both the Book of the Watchers and the Astronomical Book were long known from their Ethiopic versions, which are preserved as part of Mashafa Henok Nabiy ('Book of Enoch the Prophet')--an Enochic compendium known in the West as 1 Enoch. Since the discovery of Aramaic fragments among the Dead Sea Scrolls, these books have attracted renewed attention as important sources for ancient Judaism. Among the results has been the recognition of the surprisingly long and varied tradition surrounding Enoch. Within 1 Enoch alone, for instance, we find evidence for intensive literary creativity.

This volume provides a comprehensive set of core references for easy and accessible consultation. It shows that the rich afterlives of Enochic texts and traditions can be studied more thoroughly by scholars of Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity as well as by scholars of late antique and medieval religions. Specialists in the Second Temple period-the era in which Enochic literature first appears-will be able to trace (or discount) the survival of Enochic motifs and mythemes within Jewish literary circles from late antiquity into the Middle Ages, thereby shedding light on the trajectories of Jewish apocalypticism and its possible intersections with Jewish mysticism. Students of Near Eastern esotericism and Hellenistic philosophies will have further data for exploring the origins of 'gnosticism' and its possible impact upon sectarian currents in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Those interested in the intellectual symbiosis among Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the Middle Ages-and especially in the transmission of the ancient sciences associated with Hermeticism (e.g., astrology, theurgy, divinatory techniques, alchemy, angelology, demonology)-will be able to view a chain of tradition reconstructed in its entirety for the first time in textual form. In the process, we hope to provide historians of religion with a new tool for assessing the intertextual relationships between different religious corpora and for understanding the intertwined histories of the major religious communities of the ancient and medieval Near East.
I noted the book as forthcoming here. It came out at the beginning of this month.

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Thursday, May 03, 2018

PaleoJudaica has a Blogroll again!

REASSIMILATED TO THE BLOGROLLOSPHERE: In the early days of blogging many, probably most, blogs had a blogroll in their sidebar. PaleoJudaica was no exception. A blogroll is a list of linked-to blogs (or regularly updated websites) which readers of the posting blog may find interesting. I maintained PaleoJudiaca's blogroll for many years. But over time too many blogs fell away or ceased to post frequently. When I updated PaleoJudaica's template some years ago, I did not bring the blogroll forward.

But now people are realizing the value of blogs over less nutritious social media. There's a new generation of bibliobloggers, and more people are tuning in to those of us who never stopped. It's time for a new PaleoJudaica blogroll. You can find it in the sidebar to the right.

All of the blogs in the PaleoJudaica blogroll publish posts of interest for the study of ancient Judaism. Some of them do so often, others only occasionally. Many of them also publish on matters of background or cognate interest, things in which PaleoJudaica is also interested. Most of them post frequently. One or two post infrequently but are very relevant when they do post. For more on the specific interests of PaleoJudaica, see the About PaleoJudaica page.

Inclusion in the blogroll does not imply any endorsement of the full content of any blog. If there is anyone I agree with on everything, I have yet to meet that person.

Likewise, as always, my linking to a blog post doesn't necessarily mean I agree with what it says. It just means it is something I think my readers may find interesting. I blog, you decide.

If you have a blog that posts interesting things about ancient Judaism and related matters and you are not in my blogroll, please drop me a note. I would be happy to look at your blog and consider it for inclusion.

So, my faithful readers, this is for you. When you sit down daily to PaleoJudaica with your morning coffee (or whenever with whatever you drink), you can check out the latest on the biblioblogosphere too.

Happy reading!


(Like the mug? You can get one here.)

UPDATE (4 May): I should add that the blogs in my Blogroll are by no means the only ones I link to. I keep an eye on many other blogs that occasionally provide items of interest. Whether or not your blog is on my blogroll, if you have published a post you think might be of interest to PaleoJudaica, please do drop me a note and alert me to it. I will be happy to have a look at it.

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van der Toorn on Papyrus Amherst 63

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: Three Israelite Psalms in an Ancient Egyptian Papyrus (Karel van der Toorn).
Papyrus Amherst 63 is divided in sections. The first section is devoted to texts from an Aramean community from Babylonia, worshippers of Nanay and Nabu. The second section contains texts from Syrian Arameans that came from Hamath; their religion is focused on the god Bethel. The third section is Samarian and contains the three Israelite psalms. They refer to Yaho as “our Bull,” which is entirely in line with the North-Israelite practice of venerating Yaho in the form of a young bull (the “Golden Calf”). To judge by the shape of the Demotic characters of the text, the papyrus dates from the mid-fourth century BCE.
Professor van der Toorn has recently published an edition of Papyrus Amherst 63. For past PaleoJudaica posts on this difficult and fascinating document, start here and follow the links.

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Jørstad on "personalistic nature texts" in the HB

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Dissertation Spotlight | Mari Jørstad.
Mari Jørstad, The Life of the World: The Vitality and Personhood of Non-Animal Nature in the Hebrew Bible (Duke University, 2016)

The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament tells of the work of God’s hand” (Psalm 19:2[1]) – the Hebrew Bible is full of texts like this one, in which trees clap, mountains romp, lands vomit, and stars fight in wars. In my dissertation I explore such texts – what I call “personalistic nature texts” – and their potential contribution to contemporary environmental ethics. I argue that the biblical writers lived in a world populated with a wide variety of “persons,” only some of whom are human. ...

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CFP: Postgraduate conference on memory and oblivion in ancient and Medieval texts

ROGUE CLASSICISM BLOG: Prolepsis Postgraduate Conference: “Optanda erat oblivio” Selection and Loss in Ancient and Medieval Literature (David Meadows).
Prolepsis Association is delighted to announce its third international postgraduate conference whose theme will be the mechanisms of selection and loss in ancient and Medieval literary and historical texts. “Optanda erat oblivio” Seneca writes in benef. 5. 25. 2, referring to Tiberius’ wish for forgetfulness. We would like to use this quotation as a starting point for a discussion on the vast number of issues related to memory and oblivion in ancient and Medieval texts. This year the conference will be particularly keen on – but not limited to – the following topics ...
The conference takes place at the University of Bari, Italy, on 20-21 December 2018. Strictly speaking it is not about ancient Judaism. But it deals with many issues of interest to PaleoJudaica. These include palimpsests, texts surviving only in translation, lost books, and pseudepigraphy. The deadline for paper proposals (from postgraduates only) is 21 June 2018. Follow the link for further particulars

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On the prohibition of male-to-male sex in Leviticus

IDAN DERSHOWITZ: How the Prohibition of Male Homosexual Intercourse Altered the Laws of Incest. (TheTorah.com).
Originally Leviticus 18 prohibited homosexual incest with a man’s father (v. 7) and his uncle (v. 14). When the prohibition of male homosexual intercourse was added, the Torah modified the aforementioned laws and consequently changed the meaning of לגלות ערוה “to uncover nakedness.”
Could be. Generally I think that semantic variability is not in itself a persuasive argument for finding redactional layers in a text. People has always used language in complicated and even inconsistent ways. But read the essay and see what you think.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Lag B'Omer 2018

LAG B'OMER, the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer, begins tonight at sundown. Best wishes to all observing it.

Last year's Lag B'Omer post is here. It discussed the biblical and rabbinic background of the holiday and collected previous posts of interest. Other posts involving Lag B'Omer from the last year are here, here, here, and here.

UPDATE: A couple of readers wrote in to point out that the wording of the opening of this post was inaccurate and confusing. I have corrected it accordingly. I am grateful for the feedback. Follow the link (now also corrected!) to last year's Lag B'Omer post for details about the holiday.

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New DSS bits

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: NASA Technology Reveals Existence of Missing Dead Sea Scroll. High-resolution photography finds writing not visible with the naked eye on fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and paleo-Hebrew writing that hints at a scroll never seen before (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
Advanced imaging technology originally developed for NASA has revealed previously unnoticed writing on fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed on Tuesday. Moreover, one of the newly discerned and deciphered passages, written in early Hebrew, hints at the existence of a scroll never found and still unknown to researchers.

[...]
This story isn't that complicated, but much of the media is having trouble figuring it out. This Haaretz article gives the best coverage I have seen.

In brief: new imaging technology was used on some apparently blank scroll fragments from Cave 11. The fragments are very small. The technology found writing on some of the fragments. The writing included a bit from the Temple Scroll, a bit from Psalm 147 from the Great Psalms Scroll, and a bit in paleo-Hebrew script which has not yet been connected with any other known text. There were also fragments with material from Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

There's nothing earthshaking on these fragments (although the one of Psalm 147 did include a variant). But I commend the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Hebrew University for their thorough work on the Dead Sea Scrolls. They are clearly determined to recover every bit of information that is on them. As I like to say ...

Bit by bit, a letter at a time, whatever it takes. Until we're done.

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The Scholem collection at the Israel National Library

INTERVIEW WITH THE CURATOR: How This Bible Got To Jerusalem — And Other Secrets Of Gershom Scholem’s Library (Aviva Kushner, The Forward).
The index cards Scholem painstakingly prepared to create his dictionary of the Zohar are here, in a wooden card catalogue, as is the Scholem family Bible, which is encased in glass. I watched, intrigued, as scholars and eccentrics from around the world got up from their spots at the tables throughout the room to take a look at a volume from Scholem’s vast collection of books on Hasidim, comparative religion, psychology and philosophy. A few looked up and smiled at me, as if we were all residents of the same home, part of the same family. On the day I visited, there was only one woman besides me in the room; all the other researchers were male — but I was assured this was just happenstance.

Scholem’s books offer clues to his thought, and his research on subjects like Shabtai Tzvi, Jewish history’s most famous false messiah. For Scholem’s many devotees, who appear to live on every point on the spectrum between deeply religious and incurably secular, the draw is not just the books in the collection, but the handwritten notes found written in them — the marginalia Scholem left behind.
The curator of the Scholem Room in the Israel National Library is Dr. Zvi Leshem. The National Library is currently undergoing renovation. The Scholem collection will be moving to a new building.

Oh, and you have to read to near the end of the article to find out about that Bible (the Scholem family Bible) mentioned in the headline.

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The Lost City of Irisagrig and Hobby Lobby

REPATRIATION: Stolen Sumerian Tablets Come from the Lost City of Irisagrig (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
Hundreds of 4,000 year old tablets that were looted in Iraq and bought by the U.S. company Hobby Lobby seem to hail from a mysterious Sumerian city whose whereabouts are unknown, a U.S. law enforcement agency just announced.

The tablets are part of a cache of thousands of looted artifacts purchased by Hobby Lobby and seized by the U.S. government. They are now set to be returned to Iraq.

[...]
They are being repatriated to Iraq today in a ceremony in Washington D.C. Not everyone is happy about this:
Not all scholars agree that the artifacts should be returned right away. "If these tablets are returned and if they are from Irisagrig, it will be a great tragedy for scholarship that they will not be published before they are returned," said David Owen, a professor of Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University. Owen has published a number of scientific papers describing tablets from Irisagrig, but has not worked with Hobby Lobby and has not studied the seized texts.

"Once they enter the bowels of the Iraq Museum, it is unlikely scholars will ever have acccess to them, nor are there any Iraqi scholars capable of publishing them given the many thousands of unpublished texts already in storage in the museum for generations and mostly inaccessible to scholars," Owen told Live Science.
He doesn't object to repatriation in principle, but he thinks that the texts should be fully published first.

Last year I noted the story of the seizure of artifacts from Hobby Lobby by the Justice Department. The story has received much coverage since then. Start here and follow the links. The story is indirectly connected (through the Green family) to the Green Collection and to the recently opened Museum of the Bible, on which more here and links.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2018

The Talmud on the logic of sacrifice

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: If A, Then B. Through Daf Yomi’s exercises in mathematical logic, Talmudic rabbis attempt to decipher the will of a reasonable God. Plus: What distinguishes guilt from sin?
At one point in this week’s Daf Yomi reading, Rabbi Yehoshua put a stop to the Gemara’s discussion by saying that it was halila, “going around in circles.” I often had the same feeling as we delved further into Tractate Zevachim, the section of the Talmud that deals with slaughtered offerings in the ancient Temple. That is because, while the subject matter of this tractate may seem highly concrete—it is all about killing animals and how to sacrifice their blood and flesh—it actually involves the kind of abstract logical reasoning you might find in a logic puzzle or LSAT question, which has never been my strong suit.

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

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Suciu on the Qur'an-Coptic palimpsest

DIGITAL EDITION OF THE COPTIC OLD TESTAMENT: Sahidic Biblical Text Found Behind Qur'an Palimpsest (Alin Suciu). Dr. Suciu is a Coptologist who usually blogs from his Alin Suciu blog, to which I link from time to time. But here we find him at another venue, sharing with us some expert commentary and correction which you haven't seen in the media coverage.

Background here.

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Review of Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Herodotus in Antiquity and Beyond (ed. Priestley and Zali)

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Jessica Priestley, Vasiliki Zali (ed.), Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Herodotus in Antiquity and Beyond. Brill’s companions to classical reception, 6. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2016. Pp. xvi, 440. ISBN 9789004272293. $194.00. Reviewed by Lorenzo Miletti, University of Naples Federico II (lorenzo.miletti@unina.it).
This companion is a generous and extremely welcome work which both widens and enriches the debate on Herodotus’ reception, a theme that has provoked wide interest in recent decades, after a long period in which scholarship consisted of a sparse list of contributions, the most famous being some essays by Arnaldo Momigliano

[...]
There is much here of potential interest for ancient Judaism, not least the chapter on Josephus's use of Herodotus.

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