Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Review of "Early Jewish Literature: An Anthology"

READING ACTS BLOG: Book Review: Early Jewish Literature: An Anthology (Phil Long).
Wright, Archie T., Brad Embry and Ronald Herms. Early Jewish Literature: An Anthology. 2 Volumes. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2018. 728, 256 pp. $125.00, Hb.
The conclusion:
Early Jewish Literature is a major contribution to the ongoing study of the literature of the Second Temple period. Students and scholars alike will benefit from this collection of a wide range of material. The literature collected in these two volumes are sufficiently different from the now venerable Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the inclusion of Dead Sea Scroll material makes these useful volumes indeed.

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

New book on the scholarship of the KJV

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Labourers in the Vineyard of the Lord
Scholarship and the Making of the King James Version of the Bible


Mordechai Feingold, California Institute of Technology
The centrality of the King James Bible to early modern culture has been widely recognized. Yet for all the vast literature devoted to the masterpiece, little attention has been paid either to the scholarly scaffolding of the translation or to the erudition of the translators. The present volume seeks to redress this neglect by focusing attention on seven key translators as well as on their intellectual milieu. Utilizing a wide range of hitherto unknown or overlooked sources, the volume furnishes not only precious new information regarding the composition and early reception of the King James Bible, but firmly situates the labours of the translators within the broad context of early modern biblical and oriental scholarship and polemics.

Contributors are James P. Carley, Mordechai Feingold, Anthony Grafton, Nicholas J. S. Hardy, Alison Knight, Jeffrey Alan Miller, William Poole, Thomas Roebuck, and Joanna Weinberg.

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

Josephus and Sir Roger L’Estrange

HISTORY OF INTERPRETATION: Josephus in the hands of Sir Roger L’Estrange (Roger Pearse).
Sir Roger L’Estrange is probably mainly remembered today for his activities as a journalist and violent pamphleteer for the court during the reign of Charles II.[1] As with others of Charles’ partisans, there was a strong element of ingratitude in all this. L’Estrange had fought for Charles I in the civil war, but had received a pardon in 1653 from Oliver Cromwell, after which he had prospered under the commonwealth. He was made surveyor of the press by the king in 1662, although the king did not see any reason to pay him a salary.

But how many of us are aware that this controversial figure was also a translator, and produced a translation of the works of Josephus?

[...]
The seventeenth century was a busy time.

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Herodium architecture at the Israel Museum

AT THE HOLY LAND PHOTOS' BLOG Carl Rasmussen has a couple of posts on architecture fragments from Herodium on display at the Israel Museum:

Herodium Display in Israel Museum

King Herod’s Tomb at the Israel Museum

For many past posts on Herod the Great and Herodium, start here (cf. here) and follow the links.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Assyrian inscriptions under Jonah's (traditional) Tomb

ASSYRIOLOGY: Beneath Biblical Prophet's Tomb, An Archaeological Surprise (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
Deep inside looters' tunnels dug beneath the Tomb of Jonah in the ancient Iraq city of Nineveh, archaeologists have uncovered 2,700-year-old inscriptions that describe the rule of an Assyrian king named Esarhaddon.

The seven inscriptions were discovered in four tunnels beneath the biblical prophet's tomb, which is a shrine that's sacred to both Christians and Muslims. The shrine was blown up by the Islamic State group (also called ISIS or Daesh) during its occupation of Nineveh from June 2014 until January 2017.

[...]
Past posts on the (traditional) Tomb of Jonah and its sad fate under the regime of ISIS are here and links. This post noted the announcement of discovery of the Assyrian palace underneath the tomb. The current article gives new information on the inscriptions.

HT Joseph I. Lauer.

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Review of Goldbeck and Wienand (eds.), Der römische Triumph in Prinzipat und Spätantike

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Fabian Goldbeck, Johannes Wienand (ed.,) Der römische Triumph in Prinzipat und Spätantike​. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2017. Pp. xii, 595. ISBN 9783110445688. €99,95 (hb). Reviewed by Christian Rollinger, Universität Trier​ (christian.rollinger@uni-trier.de).
With renewed interest in the subject booming since the early 2000’s, the body of literature on the Roman triumph and its many different facets has become so vast as to be almost bloated and, at first glance, it could conceivably seem that there can scarcely be anything more to add.1 That this impression is as unfortunate as it is mistaken is clearly demonstrated by this timely book, the result of a conference held in 2012 in Berlin. With few exceptions (which look to the late republican and the early medieval period), all the papers collected in this volume concern themselves with the Roman triumph as it presented itself in many hues and variations to the contemporaries of the early, high, and late Roman empire. No fewer than eighteen chapters attempt to analyse a variety of aspects relating to the triumph ritual itself, to its literary descriptions, its representation in various media, and the concomitant architectural elements that came to litter the main metropolises of the empire. The result is a sturdy volume of almost 600 pages and a veritable kaleidoscope of different perspectives and methodologies that significantly expand our understanding of the dynamic evolution of what was and was always to remain a singularly Roman ritual.

[...]
Naturally Josephus's account of the Roman triumph over Judea receives attention.

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Another review of Graybill, Are We Not Men?

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Are We Not Men? Unstable Masculinity in the Hebrew Prophets (Sarah Fein).
Graybill, Rhiannon. Are We Not Men? Unstable Masculinity in the Hebrew Prophets. Oxford University Press: New York, 2016.
I noted another review of the book here.

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The Hexapla

THE ETC BLOG: What was the Hexapla? (John Meade).

Background here and links.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

What did the Romans do with executed bodies?

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
The Final Days of Jesus and the Realities of Roman Capital Punishment: What Happened to All Those Bodies?

What is the probability that the body of someone who had suffered capital punishment for offenses against the Roman state would be buried? The results of this inquiry indicate that the Gospel accounts of the execution and burial of Jesus comport well with Roman law and Roman practice in a time of relative peace.

See Also: The Final Days of Jesus: The Thrill of Defeat, The Agony of Victory: A Classical Historian Explores Jesus’s Arrest, Trial, and Execution (Lutterworth Press, 2018).

By Mark D. Smith
Professor of History
The College of Idaho
Board of Directors: Bethsaida Excavations Project
February 2018
Past PaleoJudaica posts on the crucified man skeleton are here and links.

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Høgenhaven et al. (eds.), Rewriting and Reception in and of the Bible

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK:
Rewriting and Reception in and of the Bible
Ed. by. Jesper Høgenhaven, Jesper Tang Nielsen, and Heike Omerzu


[Redaktion und Rezeption (in) der Bibel.]
2018. IX, 411 pages.
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 396
159,00 €
cloth
ISBN 978-3-16-155006-5

Published in English.
The contributions in this volume critically engage with Mogens Müller's work on ancient Judaism, the Septuagint, the New Testament gospels, and the reception history of the Bible, covering a variety of topics within the field of biblical rewriting and reception. Rewriting and reception are parts of a continuous process that began within biblical literature itself and have continued in the history of interpretative communities where the Bible has been received and cherished in innumerable ways until today. The present volume aims to further the scholarly debate on important topics within biblical studies. It demonstrates that the notion of reception can be addressed from very different angles and from diverse hermeneutical and methodological viewpoints, all of which offer fresh insights into ancient texts and their afterlife.

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James and Sirach (Ben Sira)

READING ACTS BLOG: James and the Wisdom of Sirach. Phil Long has an ongoing series of posts on the New Testament Epistle of James. This seems like a good opportunity to mention it.

Cross-file under Old Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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Who did Jesus look like?

REMNANT OF GIANTS: Joan Taylor knows what Jesus looks like: he is basically Bret from Flight of the Conchords (Deane Galbriath). Now you know.

For more on Joan Taylor's new book, What did Jesus Look Like?, see here and links.

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

On the Israeli Academy of the Hebrew Language

LEXICOGRAPHY: THE ISRAELI ACADEMY CONTINUING THE UNPRECEDENTED REVIVAL OF THE HEBREW LANGUAGE. In Biblical Hebrew, there were approximately 7,000 words. Modern Hebrew has approximately 33,000 words (Eytan Halon, Jerusalem Post).
Established by the Israeli government in a 1953 law, the academy is split into two divisions. The first division is a scientific undertaking termed the Historical Dictionary Project, initiated soon after the academy's birth and which seeks to produce an academic Hebrew dictionary, documenting and defining every Hebrew word from all periods and evolutions of the language.

The academy’s second division has a more practical, normative role. Its task is to coin new words and inform people how to speak and write. Since its inception, the academy has published countless dictionaries of new words in different technical fields, including psychology, banking, physics and mathematics.

According to the 1953 law, all Israeli state and governmental institutions are bound by the Hebrew language decisions adopted by the academy.

The success and breadth of the academy's historical dictionary project is clear to see by looking at one of [Dr. Gabriel] Birnbaum's many bookshelves. The project, initiated by Ben-Yehuda, counted five volumes by the time of his death in 1922. Today, there are 16 volumes taking pride of place in the researcher's office.
Some past posts on the Academy of the Hebrew Language and its Historical Dictionary Project are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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Esler, God's Court and Courtiers in the Book of the Watchers

NEW BOOK FROM WIPF AND STOCK:
God's Court and Courtiers in the Book of the Watchers
Re-Interpreting Heaven in 1 Enoch 1-36


BY Philip F. Esler

Imprint: Cascade Books
Category: Biblical Studies
paperback-logo
PAPERBACK
ISBN: 9781625649089
Pages: 246
Publication Date: 11/6/2017
Retail Price: $30.00
Web Price: $24.00

About
First Enoch is an ancient Judean work that inaugurated the genre of apocalypse. Chapters 1–36 tell the story of the descent of angels called “Watchers” from heaven to earth to marry human women before the time of the flood, the chaos that ensued, and God’s response. They also relate the journeying of the righteous scribe Enoch through the cosmos, guided by angels. Heaven, including the place and those who dwell there (God, the angels, and Enoch), plays a central role in the narrative.

But how should heaven be understood? Existing scholarship, which presupposes “Judaism” as the appropriate framework, views the Enochic heaven as reflecting the temple in Jerusalem, with God’s house replicating its architecture and the angels and Enoch functioning like priests. Yet recent research shows the Judeans constituted an ethnic group, and this view encourages a fresh examination of 1 Enoch 1–36. The actual model for heaven proves to be a king in his court surrounded by his courtiers. The major textual features are explicable in this perspective, whereas the temple-and-priests model is unconvincing. The author was a member of a nontemple, scribal group in Judea that possessed distinctive astronomical knowledge, promoted Enoch as its exemplar, and was involved in the wider sociopolitical world of their time.
Professor Esler kindly gave me a copy a few weeks ago.

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Vashti's Persian insult

DR. GEOFFERY HERMAN: Ahasuerus, the Son of a Stable-Master (TheTorah.com).
Vashti insults Ahasuerus by calling him “the son of my father’s stable master” (b. Megillah 12b). Persian sources, including the story of King Ardashir I, shed light on the origin and significance of this calumny.[
A reminder that Purim is coming soon.

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The Song of Songs

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Song of Songs: Love Is Strong as Death. Philip Stern’s Biblical Views column on the Song of Songs.
The poet’s aim, I would posit, is to sing of love with all the power of the Hebrew tongue.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Review of Collins, The Invention of Judaism

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | The Invention of Judaism (Krista Dalton).
John J. Collins. The Invention of Judaism: Torah and Jewish Identity from Deuteronomy to Paul. University of California Press, 2017.
Last year I noted an essay on the book by Professor Collins himself here.

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

Brooke lecture on "Comparing Methods and Theories"

AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GRONINGEN, Dirk Smilde Research Seminar:
Professor George Brooke on "Comparing Methods and Theories."
This is a video of a recent lecture by Professor Brook. It is posted at Facebook page of the Groningen Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies. I noted awhile ago that his inaugural lecture at Groningen was upcoming. It happened at the beginning of this month and was livestreamed, but I can't find the video anywhere. If you find it, please send me the link.

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

Review of Graybill, Are We Not Men?

H-JUDAIC: Sweeney on Graybill, 'Are We Not Men?: Unstable Masculinity in the Hebrew Prophets'.
Author: Rhiannon Graybill
Reviewer: Marvin A. Sweeney

Rhiannon Graybill. Are We Not Men?: Unstable Masculinity in the Hebrew Prophets. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. 200 pp. $78.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-19-022736-4.

Reviewed by Marvin A. Sweeney (Claremont School of Theology)
Published on H-Judaic (February, 2018)
Commissioned by Katja Vehlow

Printable Version: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=51533

Rhiannon Graybill’s monograph on unstable masculinity in the prophets is based on her recent University of California Berkeley PhD dissertation supervised by Robert Alter, Daniel Boyarin, Chana Kronfeld, and Celeste Langan. I normally do not mention full committees in reviews, but this committee includes no full Bible scholars, even if some of them, for example, Alter, have extensive experience with Bible. Alter is a comparative literature scholar; Boyarin is a Talmudist; Kronfeld is a scholar of modern Hebrew and Yiddish literature; and Langan in a specialist in English literature. But Graybill’s research is frequently limited by her selection of often out-of-date scholarly literature and her failure to contextualize many of the Bible passages that she studies. Although she raises appropriate questions, her discussions often do not provide full consideration of the biblical and scholarly literature that such a project demands.

[...]

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BHD on Ein Hanya

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: A First Temple Period Palatial Estate Near Jerusalem? Discoveries at Ein Hanniya and their Iron Age palatial context (Samuel Pfister).
By the seventh century B.C.E., Jerusalem was a bustling capital city of the Kingdom of Judah. Just outside of the city limits in the Valley of Rephaim National Park, archaeologists have discovered the location of a rural estate occupied for more than a thousand years, from the seventh century B.C.E., the First Temple period, to the early Byzantine period, around 500 C.E. After six years of excavation and restoration, Ein Hanniya Park was dedicated with a festive tree-planting ceremony last week and attended by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) Director General Israel Hasson, and others.
Background on the recent discoveries at Ein Hanya (Ein Hanniya) is here and here.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Voynich Manuscript has not been deciphered

PHILOLOGOS: No, the Mysterious Voynich Manuscript Is Not Written in Hebrew Despite the silly claims of two computer scientists (Mosaic Magazine).
At this point, it must be said, Hauer and Kondrak’s paper descends into silliness. Quite apart from the unlikelihood of even the most esoteric of manuscripts beginning in such a manner, one can only compliment Google Translate on its ingenuity. She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house, and me and people? Even after “spelling corrections,” the Hebrew words in question mean no such thing. In fact, they mean nothing at all. Translating them without Google’s finessing, one comes up with something like “And he made her the priest each man to himself to his house and on me his people the commandments.” If this was the winning entry in the trial-decipherment round of competition, one can only imagine its rivals.
This is spot on, as is the rest of Philologos's analysis. I came to the same conclusion a couple of weeks ago, after reading (well, skimming) Hauer and Kondrak’s academic paper. It didn't take any more than skimming, because the supposedly deciphered (by an AI!), so-called Hebrew is simply not credible.

Background here.

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Ancient cupids in Israel

BELATEDLY FOR VALENTINE'S DAY: When Cupid paid Israel a visit, 2,000 years ago. The mischievous imp keeps popping up throughout the Holy Land (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).

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

Laughter in the Bible

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Laughter in the Bible? Absolutely! (Robin Gallaher Branch).
As I study and teach, I find I read the Bible ever more slowly, and as I do, I smile more and more frequently. I listen for its humor. My emotions span sorrow, understanding or joy as I empathize with the characters who cross its pages. I chuckle at many passages, even while acknowledging the sadness they may contain. Consequently, I believe it’s possible to read many verses, stories and even books through the lens of humor, indeed to see portions of the Bible as intended to be very funny. An appropriate response is laughter. I’ve come to this conclusion: Humor is a fundamental sub-theme in both testaments.
Probably, although it's hard to tell. This is a good bit of laughter in the Bible, but people can laugh out of scorn, nervousness, delight, etc., and not just because they think something is funny. And humor is very difficult to detect cross-culturally. Even within the same culture, one person's joke is often not funny to someone else. Still, I would say that Dr. Gallaher Branch's first example, 2 Chronicles 21:20, is a clear example of humor in the Bible.

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Qumran anniversary

TODAY IN HISTORY: Feb. 15 (Robert Joseph Baker, Manning Live).
1949 – Gerald Lankester Harding and Roland de Vaux begin excavations at Cave 1 of the Qumran Caves, where they will eventually discover the first seven Dead Sea Scrolls.
Bonus anniversary:
590 – Khosrau II is crowned king of Persia.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

February 14th

OLD CHURCH SLAVONIC WATCH: Today is the Feast Day of Saints Cyril and Methodius as celebrated by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion: Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Feb. 14 (Catholic News Service). They lived in the ninth century and were the creators of the Cyrillic alphabet. Their work is of interest to PaleoJudaica because many Old Testament pseudepigrapha survive in Old Church Slavonic or Church Slavonic. This is just the first round of celebration. Their day is also celebrated on 24 May in Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Russia, and on 5 July in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Background on Cyril and Methodius, their alphabet, and Slavonic pseudepigrapha, is here and links.

Oh, and if you must have something for that other celebration today, see this post from a couple of years ago: Solomonic Valentine's Day cards.

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

Monerie, L’économie de la Babylonie à l’époque hellénistique

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
Monerie, Julien
L’économie de la Babylonie à l’époque hellénistique (IVème – IIème siècle avant J.C.)


Series:Studies in Ancient Near Eastern Records (SANER) 14

Aims and Scope
Despite the interest that has been shown by classicists and assyriologists in the economy of Lower Mesopotamia during the two centuries of Macedonian rule over the region (331-129 B.C.), no synoptic study has previously been published, even though abundant sources are available: several thousand cuneiform tablets survive from this period, as well as more than 25,000 Greek seals, not to mention the testimony of classical sources and rich numismatic and archaeological materials. This book aims to present an accessible synthesis of the topic, in the form of a regional study that takes into account all available sources as well as the weight of Mesopotamia’s heritage. The reader will find not only clear overviews of complex questions (including the impact of Alexander’s reign, the nature of Seleucid policy, the evolution of prices, and the development of banking) but also new research on issues such as the 'Diadochi crisis', the introduction of coinage, the evolution of the prebendary system, and the disappearance of local temples, shedding new light on the economy of one of the most richly documented parts of the Hellenistic World.
Some past PaleoJudaica posts on why knowledge of late ancient Babylon is important for understanding ancient Judaism are here, here, here, and links.

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De-mining Qasr al-Yahud

PILGRIMAGE MINEFIELD: Israel will soon clear 4,000 landmines at Qasr al-Yahud baptism site. (MELANIE LIDMAN, Times of Israel).
Christians believe that Qasr al-Yahud, located about 10 kilometers east of Jericho, is the spot on the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized. But there are an estimated 4,000 landmines in the area, which contains seven churches along with chapels and monasteries, each belonging to a different denomination of Christianity. For decades, these bullet-pocked churches have remained abandoned, as some are booby-trapped.

[...]

The Qasr al-Yahud site is also holy to some Jews. Qasr al-Yahud translates as “The Castle of the Jews,” and some believe was the spot where the Jewish people crossed into Israel for the first time after leaving Egypt. It is also believed to be the site of Elijah’s ascent into heaven in a “chariot of fire” and the place where Elisha performed miracles.
This is one possible site for Jesus' baptism. As the article notes, and as PaleoJudaica noted here, the plans to de-mine the area go back to 2016. Other past posts on Qasr al-Yahud are here, here, and here.

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Looted ancient millstones

APPREHENDED: Police find antiquities worth NIS 200,000 in Palestinian man’s home. Raid on house in northern West Bank turns up ancient millstones (Stuart Winer, Times of Israel). The one in the photo has Greek letters inscribed on it.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Maltese coin exhibition

AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ARCHAEOLOGY IN MALTA: Counting on 16,000 coins for a historic exhibition. Coins from every era have gone on permanent display (Times of Malta).
The National Numismatic Collection consists of over 16,000 coins and medals, the earliest of them dating back to the Punic period in the fifth century BC.

Other sections of the display include the Romans, the Medieval Millennium, the Order of St John and the French and the British, as well as parts of the exhibition featuring medals, dies, proofs and an audio-visual explanation of the minting process.
The article has a nice photo of some coins of Marcus Aurelius. Cross-file under Numismatics and Punic Watch.

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The Talmud on pagan gentiles

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Immoral, Weak, Abusive, Untrustworthy, and Murderous. What Talmudic sages thought of the pagan gentiles of their day is disturbingly paranoid and hostile.
Should Jews be afraid of non-Jews? To the rabbis of the Talmud, the answer was obvious: They should be very afraid, since every pagan could be expected to seize any opportunity to harm a Jew. For instance, in Avoda Zara 25b, the Gemara says that, if a Jew encounters a gentile on the road, he should make sure to walk on the gentile’s left side. This way, the Jew’s right hand is closer to the gentile, so he can more easily draw a weapon to defend himself if necessary. In addition, the Jew should never “bend down before him,” because this would give the gentile the chance to “break his skull.”

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

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

Variant Readings

ASSIMILATED TO THE BLOGOSPHERE: Dr. Brent Nongbri, whose work on paleography I have noted here and links, has a new blog, Variant Readings. It has been running since July of 2017. Here are some interesting posts in it:

Provenance and The Oxyrhynchus Papyri. This in response to a post by David Meadows at the Rogue Classicism blog, which I noted here.

The Yale Genesis
Among the ancient Greek manuscripts in the Beinecke Library at Yale University is a fragment of a leaf of a papyrus codex containing the book of Genesis. It constitutes another interesting case of palaeographic analysis, both for the variety of opinions among experts and the changing of opinions by individual palaeographers. Yale purchased the piece (P.CtYBR inv. 419, LDAB 3081) as part of a lot of a few hundred papyri in February of 1931 from the Cairo dealer Maurice Nahman, but it was not published until the 1960s.

[...]
Codices Made from Reused Documents
In the case of the Chester Beatty tax codex, the reuse of the codex was of a documentary nature. There are, however, some examples of Christian literary works that were preserved in this type of codex composed of reused documentary materials. I will discuss them in future posts.
Periodically I hear people say that blogging is an outdated medium that is on its way out. I don't believe it. In any case, PaleoJudaica's fifteenth anniversary is coming soon. More on that in due course.

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

Syriac exhibition at Vanderbilt

SYRIAC WATCH: Role of Syriac culture in religious history focus of exhibit (Ann Marie Deer Owens, Research News @Vanderbilt).
Syriac: Preserving an Endangered World Culture' on display through March 2 at Cohen Hall
Family collection of priest of first Indian Orthodox parish in Tennessee part of Syriac exhibit


The rich Syriac culture, which has faced continued threats of extinction due to ongoing strife in countries such as Syria and Iraq, is featured in an exhibit at Vanderbilt’s Cohen Memorial Hall.

“Syriac: Preserving an Endangered World Culture,” which is free and open to the public through March 2, showcases the presence of Syriac culture around the globe.

The Syriac language is a dialect of Aramaic used extensively by Christians in the Middle East.

[...]

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

Monday, February 12, 2018

Review of Knapp, The Dawn of Christianity

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Robert Knapp, The Dawn of Christianity. People and Gods in a Time of Magic and Miracles. Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2017. Pp. xvi, 303; 16 p. plates. ISBN 9780674976467. $29.95 (hb). Reviewed by Giovanni Alberto Cecconi, Università degli Studi Firenze (giovannialberto.cecconi@unifi.it).
Already the author of a volume on the lives of ordinary people and those in the lowest social ranks during the Empire from Augustus to Constantine (Invisible Romans, Cambridge MA), Robert Knapp continues to examine ordinary people, refocusing his attention on a completely different historical topic. Here he sketches a broad outline of religious life and attitudes toward the divine in Jewish, Christian, and polytheist individuals and communities (Knapp opts for the systematic use of the word “polytheists”, cf. especially chap. 5 "Polytheists in their World", 59-87; 59: “Polytheists… had a panoply of attitudes and approaches to the supernatural which the term ‘polytheism’ encapsulates”). The book considers the preexisting conditions for the formation and spread of Christianity from the Late Hellenistic period to the 1st century C.E. The author highlights common ground and points of divergence between the various contexts and traditions mentioned above, laying the basis for a more suitable knowledge and a clearer interpretation of the first “dawn of Christianity” and equally of historical-religious processes that are chronologically later, and which in this book are left undertreated or not treated at all, e.g., Christianization after Constantine (defined as “top down”).

[...]

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Nabatean seafaring

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: Echoes of Nabataean Seafaring (Ralph Pedersen).
When one thinks of the Nabataeans, the desert comes to mind, with wind-blown sands, the red rock-cut architecture of their capital of Petra, and trade routes carrying incense from Arabia to the Mediterranean. There is, however, another aspect of the Nabataeans, one that is only now coming into focus: Seafaring.

[...]
I didn't know that seafaring was so important for the Nabateans. In fact, it seems they were also pirates:
Examining the literary sources, we find that the Greek geographer Strabo (XVI.4, 18) states that the Nabataeans used crude rafts in their initial maritime activities. But the Greek historian and geographer Agatharchides (5.90), writing in the mid-second century BCE, stated that Nabataeans were known for attacking passing ships. Clearly, their piratical ventures quickly earned the Nabataeans a sordid and dangerous reputation.
Does that mean they spoke pirate Aramaic?

Cross file under Nabatean (Nabataean) Watch. The Nabateans actually spoke Arabic but wrote in a dialect of Aramaic. For many past posts on the Nabateans and their language, start here and follow the links or search the PaleoJudaica archive.

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

No Ten Commandments on the tablets of stone?

DR. RABBI DAVID FRANKEL: What Did God Write on the Tablets of Stone? (TheTorah.com).
“YHWH said to Moses: ‘Come up to me on the mountain and stay there so that I might give you the tablets of stone and the teaching and the commandment that I have written to teach them.’”—Exodus 24:12

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"The multiplicity of voices in our sources"

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Voices, Fragments and Selves: Preserving Ancient and Contemporary Multi-vocality in Our Classrooms (Sarit Kattan Gribetz).
The underlying lessons of this opening exercise – about the fragmentary nature of our sources, about the voices that are present and absent, about the methods we can use to answer important questions about the past, about the impact of our own perspectives and biases on our interpretation of this material – then guide our subsequent study for the remainder of the semester, as my students learn to analyze ancient sources both for what they reveal and what they conceal about the past, and as they learn to listen to the voices from the past as well as the voices of their classmates.
Cross-file under Pedagogy.

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

What did Jesus ...?

PROFESSOR JOAN TAYLOR has published a couple of popular articles to publicize her new book, What did Jesus Look Like (Bloomsbury/T&T Clark), which came out last week:

What did Jesus really look like, as a Jew in 1st-century Judaea? We don’t notice the Gospels’ failure to describe Jesus because we ‘know’ what he looked like thanks to all the images we have. But how accurate is that depiction? (Irish Times)
With a close reading of the Gospels, it turns out that Jesus’s appearance coheres perfectly with his teaching. In advocating his disciples give away all but their essentials to the needy (Matt. 19:20-22), he practised what he preached. I wonder if we would recognise him, as he really looked, if we met him on the way.
What did Jesus wear? (The Conversation)

Background here and links.

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The Torah on charging interest

PROF. MICHAEL L. SATLOW: What Is Wrong with Charging Interest? (TheTorah.com).
The Torah prohibits lending to poor people with interest. Why did Jewish law include business loans and how did this effect the law’s original purpose?
Some blog posts etc. by Professor Satlow on related topics are noted here, here, and here.

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Ritmeyer on the Antonia Fortress

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: The Antonia Fortress. A guard to the real Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Leen Ritmeyer).
... As promised, I now hope to deal with yet another aspect of the Temple Mount that proponents of the City of David location often bring up in support of their theory, i.e. the Antonia Fortress.

These theorisers have a problem with the existing walls of the Temple Mount and have therefore suggested that they must have belonged to the Antonia Fortress that stood north of the Temple. Such a suggestion shows ignorance of and contradicts the historical sources and archaeological evidence. ...
Background here. Jerome Murphy O'Connor agreed with Dr. Ritmeyer about the Antonia Fortress. The Fortress has been in recent news noted here and here.

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Excavating children's toys

ARCHAEOLOGY: Ancient kids’ toys have been hiding in the archaeological record (Bruce Bower, ScienceNews). Real, ancient toys, not like this and this.
Unusual finds in Israel dating to around 3,000 years ago also represent children’s early attempts to mimic adult craftwork, Garroway said in a November 18 presentation in Boston at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Numerous rounded clay disks, each pierced with two holes, have mystified investigators for nearly a century. As early as 1928, an archaeologist suggested that these button-sized objects were toys.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

More for International LXX Day

THE 2018 INTERNATIONAL SEPTUAGINT DAY (8 FEB) CELEBRATIONS CONTINUE with some more blog posts:

Interview with Dr James K. Aitken (Srecko Koralija, Interaction of Traditions Blog)

The Origin of the LXX (Tavis Bohlinger, The Logos Academic Blog)

The Influence of the LXX (Tavis Bohlinger, The Logos Academic Blog)

LXX Day Treat (Peter M. Head, ETC Blog)

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Tanit on a Carthaginian electrum coin

NUMISMATICS: Ancient Coin Profiles – Goddess Tanit on Carthaginian Gold & Silver 1 1/2 Shekel (Coin World). The name of this Punic goddess can also be spelled Tannit. Her name seems to be the feminine form of the word tannin, found in the Hebrew Bible with the meaning "sea monster."

I noted mention of the same coin type here, but without a photo. A cache of Tanit coins was noted here (link now rotted). And there's still more on the goddess Tanit here. Cross-file under Punic Watch.

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More on that coded Qumran calendar

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Newly Deciphered Dead Sea Scroll Reveals 364-Day Calendar. Qumran calendar written in code (Robin Ngo).
Of the estimated 900 documents that comprise the Dead Sea Scrolls, two remain unpublished—until now. ...
Background here.

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VR at the Jewish Museum of Australia

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Ancient history with new virtual reality. Lithodomos VR allows visitors to the Jewish Museum of Australia to place themselves in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, says curator Eleni Papavasileiou (Neos Kosmos).
Thanks to Lithodomos VR, who have generously provided the museum with a perpetual licence, the Jewish Museum of Australia is the first to display this fascinating content, transporting visitors back through an ancient and holy landscape.
Background on the Lithodomos VR app for ancient Jerusalem is here and links.

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Friday, February 09, 2018

More on the new Caesarea inscription

EPIGRAPHY: Rare Greek inscription and colorful 1,800-year-old mosaic uncovered at Caesarea. Discovered during excavations under a commercial structure from the Byzantine period, the finding is hailed for its exceptionally high quality (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel). I noted the announcement of the discovery of the mosaic and inscription yesterday, also noting that it gave almost no information about the inscription. This article today tells us some more, although nothing is yet available about what the inscription says.
Of potentially even more interest than the beautifully formed images is a long inscription in ancient Greek. It was unfortunately damaged by the Byzantine building constructed on top of it, but is being studied now by epigrapher Dr. Leah Di Segni from the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology.

[...]

“Sadly, the inscription is very harmed [by the construction],” said Gendelman. While the team is still awaiting Di Segni’s expertise to decipher the ancient Greek text, he said that there are several visible letters of what appears to be a very long, multiword inscription.

Di Segni told The Times of Israel that she has sent a tentative reading to the excavators, but needs more information before making public any hypothetical reading.

“It is very hard to read the inscription, for lots of letters are missing and many of those that are not, are unclear,” said Di Segni.
Many years ago Carol Newsom suggested (humorously) in an article that there was an angel whose job it was to damage the really interesting readings in the Dead Sea Scrolls. She named the angel Lacunael. It looks like Lacunael has been at work here.

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Review of McKenzie and Watson, The Garima Gospels

MARGINALIA REVIEW OF BOOKS: Discoveries in the Ethiopian Desert: Exploring the Ancient Gospels of Ethiopia
It’s not every day that scholars discover new Bible manuscripts from the ancient world. It’s even rarer to discover ones endowed with luxurious painted images. Yet this is precisely what has happened over the past decade thanks to groundbreaking research into three ancient codices from Ethiopia, the earliest surviving copies of the Gospels in Ethiopic.

The manuscripts, which were produced and are still housed at the Monastery of Abba Garima in Ethiopia’s northern highlands, were not completely unknown to experts before, having been published for the first time in the 1960s. But recent work by Judith McKenzie and Francis Watson—published in a spectacular new book—has led to a radical reassessment of their dates and significance. Through radio-carbon testing and fresh analysis of their iconography and texts, we now know that the three Abba Garima Gospels were copied not in the tenth or eleventh centuries, as once thought, but between the fifth and seventh centuries at the zenith of Ethiopia’s ancient Christian civilization. For anyone interested in the history of the Bible, late antiquity, or Ethiopia itself, this is very big news.

[...]
The book under review is:
Judith S. McKenzie and Francis Watson. The Garima Gospels: Early Illuminated Gospel Books from Ethiopia. Oxford: Manar al-Athar, 2016. ISBN: 978-0-9954946-0-2. £49.95
For past PaleoJudaica on the Garima Gospels, see here, here, and here. For some past posts on ancient Ethiopic (Ge'ez), see here and links. And for past posts on the ancient Ethiopian Kingdom of Axum (Aksum) see the posts collected here.

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Haaretz reviews the Museum of the Bible

MUSEUM REVIEW: Bible Museum in D.C.: Less Science, More Indiana Jones. A tour of the Museum of the Bible, which experts say is turning theology into history (Moshe Gilad, Haaretz). Some of the usual suspects appear and present views already well known to PaleoJudaica readers. But I thought the most interesting part was the interview with Dr. Miki Saban, who worked on the exhibition by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Museum.

And finally, there's this:
In the museum store, on the way to the exit, a boy about 6 years old sat on the floor and screamed: “I want a Bible! I want a Bible!” His mother mumbled something in an attempt to calm him down but he continued shouting, “I want a Bible! Nowwww!”
For other past PaleoJudaica posts on the Museum of the Bible and related matters, including many reviews of the Museum, start here and follow the many links

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Yemenite temple endangered

THIS IS WAR: Ancient temple left neglected as Yemen war threatens history. Amid bloody battles in war-torn country, experts say heritage sites at risk include Awwam Temple, linked to pre-Islamic past and to Queen of Sheba (JON GAMBRELL, AP). I would take (and the article does take) any connection with the Queen of Sheba with a grain of salt. But the temple has inscriptions in ancient South Arabian and is of considerable interest for background on pre-Islamic Arabian religion.

For many past posts on the Queen of Sheba, the legends about her, and proposed connections between her and Yemen or Ethiopia, see here (cf. here and here) and follow the links.

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Thursday, February 08, 2018

International Septuagint Day 2018

THE ETC BLOG: Happy International Septuagint Day! (John Meade). The post at the link also flags an important 50th anniversary. Congratulations to the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies!

Past posts on International Septuagint Day are collected here (cf. here).

UPDATE: William Ross: INTERNATIONAL LXX DAY: AN INTERVIEW WITH T. MURAOKA.

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Roman-era mosaic and inscription uncovered at Caesarea

ARCHAEOLOGY: WATCH: RARE ROMAN MOSAIC FROM 2ND - 3RD CENTURIES CE UNCOVERED IN CAESAREA. Discovery of 1,800-year-old antiquity part of largest conservation and reconstruction project ever undertaken in Israel (Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post).
A rare 1,800-year-old Byzantine-era Roman mosaic from the 2nd-3rd centuries CE bearing an inscription in ancient Greek was recently discovered at Caesarea National Park, on the coast of Central Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Thursday.

[...]
There's a description of the mosaic, which was under a Byzantine-era building. The article gives no further details about the inscription. The video gives a drone's-eye-view of the excavation.

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Jewish Studies chair at College of Idaho

H-JUDAIC: College of Idaho, History: Howard Berger-Ray Neilsen Endowed Chair of Judaic Studies.
Research specialization for this position is open, but candidates should be able to teach at least one course on modern Israel broadly defined. Preference will be given to candidates who can offer engaging undergraduate courses on various topics of Jewish history, religion, and/or foundational texts (Tanakh, Mishnah, and Talmud). The ideal candidate would also be able to teach courses that would be accessible to a broad range of undergraduate students (e.g., courses on modern Middle East, north Africa, greater Mediterranean, and so forth). Candidates must have PhD in hand at the time of appointment in August 2018.
This is an open-rank, tenure-track position. The closing date for applications is 1 May 2018. Follow the link for further particulars.

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Interview with Joan Taylor

THE TIMES HIGHER: Books interview: Joan Taylor .
The professor of Christian origins and Second Temple Judaism and author of ‘What Did Jesus Look Like?’ on puzzles, a chance encounter with ‘Jesus the Jew’ and 1st-century fashion
More on Professor Taylor's new (publication date — today!) book, What Did Jesus Look Like?," is here/

I don't think I knew that she is also a fiction writer. More on the ghost stories of M. R. James is here and links

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Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Fredriksen on Augustine and pro- and anti-Jewish rhetoric

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Augustine and “Thinking with” Jews: Rhetoric Pro- and Contra Iudaeos (Paula Fredriksen).
Christianity emerges in the second century as a family of warring sects comprised almost exclusively of ex-pagan gentiles. As they faced off against each other, each claiming to be the true community of revelation, these gentile sects derided their Christian rivals by accusing them of being “Jews,” of being “like the Jews,” or of being “worse than the Jews.”[i] It was in this period that “thinking with Jews” became hard-wired into Christian theology, thus Christian identity. The intra-Christian exchange of anti-Jewish insults became one of the drive wheels of patristic theology.

[...]

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Boyarin, The Talmud – A Personal Take

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK:
DANIEL BOYARIN
The Talmud – A Personal Take
Selected Essays


Ed. by Tal Hever-Chybowski
[Der Talmud – eine persönliche Interpretation. Ausgewählte Aufsätze.]
2017. X, 499 pages.
Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 170
169,00 €
cloth
ISBN 978-3-16-152819-4

Published in English.
This collection of Daniel Boyarin's previously uncollected essays on the Talmud represents the different methods and lines of inquiry that have animated his work on that text over the last four decades. Ranging and changing from linguistic work to work on sex and gender to the relations between formative Judaism and Christianity to the literary genres of the Talmud in the Hellenistic context, he gives an account of multiple questions and provocations to which that prodigious book gives stimulation, showing how the Talmud can contribute to all of these fields. The book opens up possibilities for study of the Talmud using historical, classical, philological, anthropological, cultural studies, gender, and literary theory and criticism. As a kind of intellectual autobiography, it is a record of the alarums and excursions of a life in the Talmud.

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Ariel Sabar lecturing in Boulder, CO

ARAMAIC WATCH: (CU Boulder Today).
The Program in Jewish Studies and co-sponsors at CU Boulder welcome award-winning author and journalist Ariel Sabar, who will host a public lecture titled “Paradise Lost and Found,” focusing on his best-selling book My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq.

[...]
The lecture is tomorrow, 8 February.

More on Mr Sabar's book is here and many links. Ariel Sabar also broke the story that proved the final undoing of the Gospel of Jesus' Wife forgery.

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More on palaeographic methodology and conclusions

THE ETC BLOG: Palaeographic Method, Comparison and Dating: Considerations for an Updated Discussion (Guest post by Pasquale Orsini) (Peter Malik). This discussion is fairly technical, but readers who have been following it will not want to miss this instalment. Background here and links.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2018

The Talmud on Jews and Gentiles

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: How Jews Should Deal With Gentiles. According to this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, as little as possible.
Things were very different in the Talmudic period, in the first centuries CE, when Jews were subject to terrible persecution by the Roman authorities. As Rabbi Chanina ben Teradyon is quoted as saying in Avoda Zara 18a, it was Rome that “destroyed God’s Temple, and burned His sanctuary, and killed His pious ones, and destroyed His best ones.” Yet somehow, “it still exists,” which suggested to Chanina that God must have “given reign” to Rome for inscrutable reasons of his own. This combination of resignation and resistance was dramatized this week in several stories about confrontations between Jewish sages and Roman power.
Also, there is a rare reference to Jesus of Nazareth in this week's Talmudic reading.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Lehmhaus on Talmudic medicine

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: PSCO 2017-18: Nurses, Midwives, Healers, and Talmudic Medical Encyclopaedism (Jillian Stinchcomb).
What did ancient Jews know? Well, they knew that according to Mishnah Avodah Zarah 2:2 “one may accept their [non-Jewish] healing related to one’s property/money, but not healing related to life/ soul.” In the third installment for PSCO 2017-8, Lennart Lehmhaus (Freie Universität Berlin) explored the category of Talmudic medicine through this passage and through rabbinic commentary on it. In the process, he invited us to take seriously the epistemological implications of discrete bits of data, especially on medicine, midwives, and healing experts, for our understanding of the context of Talmudic discourse.
A summary of the lecture follows.

Past AJR posts on the Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins 2017-18 are noted here and here.

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Leaked EU report objects to "touristic settlements" in East Jerusalem

POLITICS AND ARCHAEOLOGY: Israel using tourism to legitimise settlements, says EU report. Exclusive: European Union Heads of Mission warn ‘touristic settlements’ are being used as a political tool (The Guardian).
Israel is developing archaeological and tourism sites to legitimise illegal settlements in Palestinian neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, European Union diplomats in the city have warned.

A leaked report acquired by the Guardian cited projects in parts of East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel since 1967 – that are being used “as a political tool to modify the historical narrative and to support, legitimise and expand settlements”.

[...]
The full text of the report has not bee released.

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CFP: Religions and Medicine Conference in Rome

CONFERENCE:
Museo delle Religioni “Raffaele Pettazzoni”

Religions and Medicine

From Antiquity to Contemporary Age


June 5-6-7-8-9, 2018
Velletri (Rome)

Call for Papers

In the contemporary Western world, medicine constitutes a specific branch of
knowledge, with its own characteristics and methods of cure and research, and it’s
tendentially autonomous, not linked with religious or folklore beliefs, even though
there are still some contacts, reciprocal influences and conflicts. In the past, however,
these spheres were more reciprocally interconnected than it appears to us nowadays.
The conference aims to investigate this interconnection in a multi-disciplinary
perspective, as regards both medical procedures and the definition of human body. ...
Follow the link for further particulars. The deadline for paper proposals is 1 April 2018.

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Monday, February 05, 2018

On language and color perception

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: The Missing Shade of Blue (Shiyanthi Thavaplan).
Why did many languages only have a single word to designate both ‘green’ and ‘blue’? What does it mean when a language like Akkadian does not have an abstract word for the color ‘blue’? Could Akkadian-speakers nonetheless see and conceptualize ‘blueness’? Equally puzzling was the contrast between the ubiquitous use of colorful substances and objects and the relative dearth of terms or expressions for color. Ethnological data combined with research in cognitive sciences eventually demonstrated that color was a culturally determined and culturally constructed phenomenon. In many societies, words for things like luminosity, transparency, the contrast between wetness/desiccation, patterns and even psycho-emotional values are considered color terms. Different cultures make sense of color differently.
PaleoJudaica has noted past articles on this subject here and here. This one gives lots of illustrated examples from the ancient Akkadian language.

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Research on the Hexapla

ETC BLOG: Modern Editions of the Hexaplaric Fragments (John Meade).
Last week, I posted on a small part of Origen's Hexapla in Job 24:25, and before writing further posts on the matter, readers should be aware of the modern editions of the Hexapla. There is a lot to say about the history of the Hexapla and research into its primary sources, but the greatest benefit to the student of the Bible is access to the modern editions and collections of its fragmentary remains.

[...]
Immediate background here. Other past PaleoJudaica posts on Origen's Hexapla are here, here, here, and here.

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Would King Manasseh have liked source criticism?

Dr. HACHAM ISAAC SASSOON: Source Criticism Enhances Our Acceptance of the Torah (TheTorah.com).
Traditional commentators endued certain Torah references with midrashic or esoteric purport in an effort to counteract those who mocked them. But in so doing, they were conceding the mockers’ evaluation of these texts as being, prima facie, inconsequential. Fortunately, source criticism helps us accept these texts without discomfort, obviating the compulsion to interpret them away.
There is a fascinating history of midrashic discussion of the quotidian details in the Pentateuch.

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CFP (ISBL/EABS, Helsinki): The Biblical World and Cultural Evolution

H-JUDAIC: The Biblical World and Cultural Evolution.
Type: Call for Papers
Date: July 30, 2018 to August 3, 2018
Location: Finland
Subject Fields: Cultural History / Studies, Digital Humanities, Jewish History / Studies

Dear Colleagues,

We are excited to present to you a new unit: The Biblical World and Cultural Evolution which is part of the joint conference of the Internations SBL and EABS taking place in Helsinki, Finland from July 30th until August 3rd this year

The definite deadline is Feb. 14th, so don’t hesitate...

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Sunday, February 04, 2018

Who was Cain's wife?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Who Was the Wife of Cain? A closer look at one of the most enigmatic women in Genesis. This essay summarizes a BAR article by Mary Joan Winn Leith on this question that has vexed scriptural exegetes for two millennia and more. The full article ("Who Did Cain Marry?").is behind the subscription wall.

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What does "covet" mean in the Bible?

PROF. LEONARD GREENSPOON: Do Not Covet: Is It a Feelingor an Action? (TheTorah.com).
In English, to covet means to desire (someone or something) obsessively, wrongfully, and/or without due regard for the rights/feelings of others. It is a strong emotion, to be avoided. But does “covet” capture the meaning of the Hebrew verb חמד?

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Festschift for Choon Leong Seow

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRYUTER:
"When the Morning Stars Sang"
Essays in Honor of Choon Leong Seow on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday


Ed. by Jones, Scott C. / Yoder, Christine Roy

Series:Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 500

Aims and Scope
During a moment of exponential growth and change in the fields of biblical and ancient Near Eastern studies, it is an opportune time to take stock of the state wisdom and wisdom literature with twenty-three essays honoring the consummate Weisheitslehrer, Professor Choon Leong Seow, Vanderbilt, Buffington, Cupples Chair in Divinity and Distinguished Professor of Hebrew Bible at Vanderbilt University.

This Festschrift is tightly focused around wisdom themes, and all of the essays are written by senior scholars in the field. They represent not only the great diversity of approaches in the field of wisdom and wisdom literature, but also the remarkable range of interests and methods that have characterized Professor Seow's own work throughout the decades, including the theology of the wisdom literature, the social world of Ecclesiastes, the history of consequences of the book of Job, the poetry of the Psalms, and Northwest Semitic Inscriptions, just to name a few.

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Biblical Studies Carnival 143

DUST BLOG: The January 2018 Biblical Studies Carnival 143 (Bob MacDonald). PaleoJudaica is well represented.

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More on citrus in the the ancient Mediterranean

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: When Life Gives You Lemons: Tracking the Earliest Citrus in the Mediterranean (Dafna Langgut).
Citrus was first cultivated by humans at least four thousand years ago in Southeast Asia, and all cultivated species derive from a handful of wild ancestors. Several years ago I found the earliest archaeobotanical evidence of citrus within the Mediterranean in a royal Persian garden near Jerusalem dating to the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. In the course of research I traced the spread and diversification of citrus through a variety of historical information, including ancient texts, art, and artifacts such as wall paintings and coins, and by gathering all the available archaeobotanical remains: fossil pollen grains, charcoal, seeds, and other fruit remains.
Background here and links.

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Saturday, February 03, 2018

Review of Gertz et al. (eds.), The Formation of the Pentateuch

THE RELIGION AND LITERATURE OF ANCIENT PALESTINE BLOG: Review of The Formation of the Pentateuch: Bridging the Academic Cultures of Europe, Israel, and North America, ed. J. Gertz, B. Levinson, D. Rom-Shiloni, K. Schmid (Mohr Siebeck, 2016) (Ryan Thomas).
The major challenge facing current research on the Pentateuch is outlined in the introduction: “In the three major centers of research on the Pentateuch-North America, Israel, and Europe-scholars tend to operate from such different premises, employ such divergent methods, and reach such inconsistent results that meaningful progress has become impossible. The models continue to proliferate but the communication seems only to diminish” (p. 3). Thus the lofty aim of the volume, “to further the international discussion about the Pentateuch in the hope that the academic cultures in Israel, Europe, and North America can move toward a set of shared assumptions and a common discourse” (p. 4).

[...]
I noted the publication of this book here.

I agree with the reviewer that this is exactly the kind of conversation we need if Pentateuchal source criticism is to make any progress beyond its current impasse. I have posted some of my own thoughts on the subject at the links given here.

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Review of Herren, The Anatomy of Myth

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Michael Herren, The Anatomy of Myth: The Art of Interpretation from the Presocratics to the Church Fathers. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xiiii, 231. ISBN 9780190606695. $74.00. Reviewed by Matthew Kraus, University of Cincinnati (matthew.kraus@uc.edu).
Michael Herren contends that the greatest contribution of Greek thought to Christianity was not philosophical principles but the critical reading of Scripture “as a pagan Greek might read Homer” (p. viii). Central to his thesis is the claim that the transmission of myths included strategies of how to interpret them. Approaching his subject as a history of ideas, he divides myths and their interpretations into periods corresponding to three “shifting paradigms in ancient thought and culture” (p. vii): (1) the Poets (ca. 800-600 BCE), (2) Physis (600-350 BCE) and (3) Theos (350 BCE onward). Jews and Christians adopted Greek methods of criticizing myth which ultimately benefitted the reading of religious texts. “Classical exegesis” prevented fundamentalist reading of Scriptures and protected pagan Classics from overzealous Christians. Hoping to appeal to students, Herren includes a glossary of names and terms in the back and draws connections to contemporary culture wars, maintaining that the open-minded and skeptical interpretive methods of the ancient Greeks might restrain the irrational fundamentalism that tragically colors twenty-first century discourse and ideologically driven violence. The bulk of the book, wherein lies its primary value, is dedicated to tracing the treatment of myth in antiquity. These sections, in which Herren displays his learned expertise, are especially convincing. When he casts his net beyond the traditional Classical world to Jewish and Christian literature with occasional nods to our own context, the results are less satisfying. Nonetheless, this barely detracts from the work’s core elements.

[...]

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Aramaic/Syriac manual translated from Armenian

ARAMAIC, SYRIAC, AND ARMENIAN WATCH: Manual translated from Armenian is published in US for first time.
Gorgias Press academic publisher in the United States has published the English translation of the manual, entitled Introduction to Aramean and Syriac Studies, by Yerevan State University lecturer, philologist Arman Akopian.

[...]
Cross-file under New Book.

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Friday, February 02, 2018

More on those pools at Ein Hanya

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE: Mystery as archaeologists discover 1,500-year-old pools and 'magnificent' fountain adorned with images of nymphs at ancient Christian site in Jerusalem (Annie Palmer, Daily Mail).
  • Archaeologists believe the Byzantine-era pools may have been the site of a storied baptism by St. Philip the Evangelist, as described in the New Testament
  • It remains unclear why the pool was built, but researchers believe it may have been part of a royal estate and used for irrigation, washing or landscaping
  • Images of nymphs are inscribed on the fountain, making it the 'first of it's kind'
  • The site was unearthed between 2012 and 2016 but is now being made public
Yesterday's article mentioned the pools as "the most significant finding," but then said very little about them. Today's Mail article gives more details. Background here.

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Caviezel on the "Passion" sequel

I GUESS HE'S IN, THEN: New 'Passion of the Christ' will be 'the biggest film in history,' Jim Caviezel promises (Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY). Yesterday, he didn't sound this committed. Mr. Caviezel clearly understands his media psychology. Make a grand claim so that people will repeat it and debate it, thus getting it stuck in their heads. Nice work.

No word yet whether the sequel will also be in Aramaic and Latin. Hold onto your hats. Here we go again!

Background here and links.

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

Review of Schmidt, The Materiality of Power

RELIGION AND LITERATURE OF ANCIENT PALESTINE BLOG: Review of Brian Schmidt, The Materiality of Power: Explorations in the Social History of Early Israelite Magic (Mohr Siebeck, 2016) (Ryan Thomas).
Interest in the subject of demonology in ancient Israel-Judah/early Judaism has grown in recent years, and the present work represents the most recent monograph contribution to the conversation. In Materiality Brian Schmidt, who has already made significant forays into relevant topics such as Israelite mortuary cult and religion at Kuntillet ‘Ajrud (KA), returns to build upon and nuance his earlier work with a special focus on apotropaic magic as evidenced in archaeological, epigraphic, and biblical sources. The stated goal is ambitious, to establish based on historical and comparative analysis the “survival and viability of a previously unidentified, yet extant pandemonium in preexilic Israelite magic” (p. 13).

[...]

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Interview with Eilat Mazar

ARCHAEOLOGY: An Interview With Israeli Archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar (Stephen Flurry, The Trumpet).
Dr. Mazar is currently leading another excavation on the Ophel. As is now custom, Eilat is supported by Armstrong students and alumni: 11, to be exact. I visited Dr. Mazar and the students in Jerusalem last weekend. During the visit, we broke out the microphone and I sat down with Dr. Mazar to discuss the Ophel dig, as well as some of our fondest memories from the past 50 years.
The "Ophel" is an elevated area in Jerusalem between the City of David and the Temple Mount. The 2018 season will be fairly short and will focus on excavating a cave (date not specified), the "medallion house," and a Byzantine-era building. Dr. Mazar hopes to return to the Iron Age remains in a future season.

PaleoJudaica has noted other finds from the Ophel excavation, including a cuneiform fragment, a tenth-century BCE inscribed ostracon, and an inscribed bulla of King Hezekiah.

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

Thursday, February 01, 2018

First-Temple to Byzantine-era finds at Ein Hanya

ARCHAEOLOGY: First Temple-era relics of possible royal estate found in Jerusalem hills. Authorities inaugurate 'extraordinarily beautiful' new site at Ein Hanya, where archaeologists reveal plethora of findings (Michael Bachner, Times of Israel).
Israeli authorities inaugurated a nature park on Wednesday near Jerusalem after five years of archaeological excavations at Ein Hanya, the second-largest spring in the Judean Hills and a key site in the history of Christianity. Along with an announcement that the park will open to the public free of charge within months, the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed some major findings at the site, including a column capital typical of royal structures from the First Temple era and one of the oldest coins ever discovered in the Jerusalem area.

[...]
There is also a complex of pools from the Byzantine period, which is reportedly "the most significant finding." More on the coin:
It said that another significant find from that period was a rare silver coin, described as one of the most ancient discovered so far in the Jerusalem area. It is the ancient Greek currency drachma, with the coin “minted in Ashdod by Greek rulers between 420 and 390 BCE.”
Cross-file under Numismatics.

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Weitzman wins book award

CONGRATULATIONS TO STEVEN WEITZMAN: Penn Katz Center Director Wins Book Award (Marissa Stern, Jewish Exponent).
What is a Jew?

Where did we come from?

Who am I?

Such existential questions not only keep us up at night, they deeply interested author Steven Weitzman — so much so that he set out to research questions of identity and origin in a book.

The result was The Origin of the Jews: The Quest for Roots in a Rootless Age, which was named the winner of the 2017 National Jewish Book Award in the Education and Jewish Identity category.

[...]
For past posts on Professor Weitzman's new book and his research in general, see here and links.

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

Caviezel to reprise role as Jesus?

RESURRECTING A FRANCHISE: He is risen! Jim Caviezel set to return as Jesus in Mel Gibson's sequel to blockbuster The Passion Of The Christ (Daily Mail). Actually, "set to return" sounds premature. The article says that "the actor is in negotiations with Gibson" over the role. We'll see.

Back in 2016, Gibson confirmed "his involvement" in a sequel, but this is the first I've heard of it since. See here (with a link to my review of the first movie), here, and here.

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

Tu B'Shevat 2018, belatedly

TU B'SHEVAT, THE NEW YEAR FOR TREES was on 30-31 January and I forgot to note it. Sorry about that.

This year the holiday was on the same day as a blue blood supermoon eclipse, which caused excitement in some circles. I confess myself to be a bit confused though. Tu B'Shevat ended at nightfall on the 31st and the eclipse took place that night, so it does not look to me as though they actually coincided. In recent years there have been four "blood moons" corresponding with four successive major Jewish holidays, on which more here and links.

Some past posts pertaining to Tu B'Shevat are collected here and links.

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Still more from Mosaic on the Museum of the Bible

MOSAIC MAGAZINE wraps up its January series on the Museum of the Bible with a final response to Diana Muir Appelbaum's original essay and a last word from Ms. Appelbaum.

A Museum for the Bible in a Religiously Diverse Land. There is no neutral or “universal” way to read—or exhibit—the Bible. What, then, can an American museum of the Bible strive to accomplish? (Jon D. Levenson).
It should, in sum, be possible for a museum to promote to a high degree an understanding of the Bible as a central item in American culture, as a source of truth and authority for Christians and Jews in their different ways, and as the object of enormously productive (and, for some, challenging) academic study in the modern mode. How well the MOTB does this now, I cannot say. But Diana Muir Appelbaum’s splendid essay makes me eager to find out for myself.
The Impact of the Bible. What better explains the sudden rise of republican government in the 16th and 17th centuries than the new and widespread availability of the Bible? And that’s not all. (Diana Muir Appelbaum)

I noted the earlier Mosaic essays here and here. And for other past PaleoJudaica posts on the Museum of the Bible and related matters, start here and follow the many links.

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

Porter on the Museum of the Bible

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Incompatible Sites: The Land of Israel and the Ambulant Body in the Museum of the Bible (Sarah Porter).

This essay is a continuation of the series being published by AJR. They were originally presented as papers at the Association for Jewish Studies meeting in Washington D.C. in December of 2017. Earlier essays in the series are noted here and link. And for many more PaleoJudaica posts on the Museum of the Bible and related matters, just keep following the links from there.

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

1500-year-old jar found near Beit She'an

MORE EXCAVATION BY EROSION: Look what the rain swept in: Families find 1,500-year-old jug during hike. Discovered near the Beit She'an National Park, intact container likely used to hold wheat and legumes for burial ritual (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
According to Nir Distelfeld, head of the Israel Antiquity Authority’s theft prevention unit in the northern region, the strong weekend rains in the Beit She’an region must have turned up earth at the vessel’s site of origin.
I noted a recent similar discovery in the same region here. But that one was a case of excavation by porcupine.

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