Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Byzantine-era lamp wick from Shivta

HANUKKAH-RELATED, NOTED BELATEDLY: Tiny 1,500-year-old flax lamp wick illuminates ancient Jewish law. Discovered in hitherto unpublished 1930s excavations in the Negev desert town of Shivta, the wick sheds light on how people banished darkness in the Byzantine era — and before (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).

The Shivta excavation has been in the news a good bit lately. See here and links.

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The Ptolemaic coins, Part 3

NUMISMATICS: CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: The Ptolemies, Part III.

So many guys named Ptolemy! But the name everyone is interested in from this dynasty, in this period, is Cleopatra VII, the Cleopatra. More on her here. Supposedly, she knew Hebrew and Aramaic.

As far as I know, no one from the Ptolemaic dynasty mentioned in this article appears in the Bible.

This series comes to an end with this installment. Part 1 was noted here and Part 2 here.

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Which Greek version did John read?

THE ETC BLOG: John’s Bible Version in John 19:37? (John Meade). Not the Old Greek at any rate.

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Browsing the Digital Syriac Corpus

THE AWOL BLOG: Browsing the Digital Syriac Corpus. The recent move of the Digital Syriac Corpus online was noted here. Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

The Gospel of Mark: a rough draft?

CANDIDA MOSS: Are the Gospels Finished Works? An explosive new book from a scholar at Princeton makes the argument that the Gospel of Mark was more like a rough draft or collection of notes than a book (The Daily Beast). That new book is Gospels before the Book (Oxford University Press, 2018) by Matthew Larsen. For more about it from the author, see here.

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Hurtado reviews Fredriksen, When Christians were Jews

LARRY HURTADO: “When Christians were Jews”: Paula Fredriksen on “The First Generation.”
Paula Fredriksen’s latest book is a readable, well-paced narrative of the first decades of what became Christianity, with lots of particular good points made: When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation (Yale University Press, 2018). Intended for a wide readership, the main emphases of the book build upon (and the notes make frequent reference to) her earlier and more detailed studies ...
But he has disagreements.

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The Israel Antiquities Authority

BACKGROUNDER: Welcome to the Israel Antiquities Authority (The Jewish News).

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Why did Genesis like Egypt?

PROF. SUSAN NIDITCH: Why the Joseph Story Portrays Egypt Positively (TheTorah.com).
In the Joseph story, the Egyptian officials, including Pharaoh, are kind and wise. Joseph himself shaves his beard, puts on Egyptian clothes, takes an Egyptian name, and marries the daughter of an Egyptian priest. Nothing in the text implies that the author thinks any of this is problematic.

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Sunday, December 09, 2018

van der Toorn, God in Context

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Karel van der Toorn God in Context. Selected Essays on Society and Religion in the Early Middle East. 2018. XIV, 380 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 123. 134,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-156470-3.
Published in English.
In this work, Karel van der Toorn explores the social setting, the intellectual milieu, and the historical context of the beliefs and practices reflected in the Hebrew Bible. While fully recognizing the unique character of early Israelite religion, the author challenges the notion of its incomparability. Beliefs are anchored in culture. Rituals have societal significance. God has a history. By shifting the focus to the context, the essays gathered here yield a deeper understanding of Israelite religion and the origins of the Bible.

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Clement's chronology of antiquity

THE SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE BLOG: An Ancient Chronology from Moses to the First Olympiad (Armand D'Angour). Clement of Alexandria tried to fit Moses into the Classical timeline. I give him points for trying.

Also, this seems to be the first time I have linked to this blog, whose purpose is "to bring you some of the most famous (and also most confounding) quotations from the ancient world."

HT AJR.

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Burke on SBL 2018

AT THE APOCRYPHICITY BLOG, Tony Burke chronicles his SBL 2018 experience:

2018 SBL Diary: Day One

2018 SBL Diary: Day Two

2018 SBL Diary: Day 3

Day four also gets a brief paragraph at the end.

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Key according to "Kennicott number" ...

IDAN DERSHOWITZ: Key according to "Kennicott number" with links to Ktiv catalog (and often digitized manuscripts) (Academia.edu). If keeping track of manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible is your thing, then this is the place for you.

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Saturday, December 08, 2018

Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day 2018

IT'S THAT DAY AGAIN: Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day. Have fun, but behave yourselves!

One of the original announcements, with some instructions, is here. The Facebook page seems to be gone, but the Twitter hashtag is #PretendToBeATimeTravelerDay.

Past posts on the day and related are here and links.

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The 50 Jewish Objects Project and Blog

ASSIMILATED TO THE BLOGOSPHERE: Welcome to the 50 Jewish Objects blog. Dr. Stefania Silvestri, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester, has an exciting project running for the next few years. Some of her fifty objects will certainly be of interest for ancient Judaism.

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Swartz, The Mechanics of Providence

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Michael D. Swartz, The Mechanics of Providence. The Workings of Ancient Jewish Magic and Mysticism 2018. XVI, 333 pages. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 172. 139,00 € including VAT cloth. ISBN 978-3-16-155002-7.
Published in English.
The phenomena we call magic and mysticism had a profound effect on the shaping of Judaism in late antiquity. In this volume, Michael D. Swartz offers a wide-ranging study of the purposes, world-views, ritual dynamics, literary forms, and social settings of ancient Jewish magic and mysticism and their function in religion and history. Based on the author's studies over the past few decades, he proposes innovative methods for the study of these two phenomena. The author focuses especially on the rituals of early Jewish magic and mysticism, their social contexts, and the textual dimension of this complex literature. He also offers introductions to these phenomena. Michael D. Swartz argues that the authors of these texts employed intricate technologies, literary and artistic forms, and physical practices to negotiate between the values and world-views of their cultures and the texture of everyday life.

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Review of Shahin (ed.), Fragmente der Historiker: Nikolaos von Damaskus

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Tino Shahin (ed.), Fragmente der Historiker: Nikolaos von Damaskus. Bibliothek der Griechischen Literatur 84. Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 2018. Pp. 127. ISBN 9783777218045. €158.00. Reviewed by Benedikt Eckhardt, University of Edinburgh (b.eckhardt@ed.ac.uk).
A review should not be pedantic, but as the book offers little apart from a translation, there is not much else to discuss (and the above is only an extract from a longer list of errata). It is good to have Nicolaus in German, but more care should have been given to this project at all stages of production.
Ouch.

Nicolaus of Damascus was an associate of Herod the Great. Most of his works are lost, apart from fairly extensive quotation fragments. Josephus made use of his work.

Cross-file under Lost Books.

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Friday, December 07, 2018

Selecid Coins Online (v.2)

NUMISMATICS: Ancient Coin News – ANS Releases Seleucid Coins Online Version 2 (CoinWeek).

I am not sure of the relationship, if any, between this project and SCADS: Seleucid Coins Addenda System. The American Numismatic Society is involved with both.

For PaleoJudaica's interest in the Seleucid Period, see here and links (cf. here). And for an ongoing CoinWeek series on the Ptolemaic coins, see here and here.

I suppose we can find a Hanukkah connection here too, just to round things out today. (Antiochus IV was a Seleucid.) But in any case, this looks like a useful resource.

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Review of Hau et al. (eds.), Diodoros of Sicily

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Lisa Irene Hau, Alexander Meeus, Brian Sheridan (ed.), Diodoros of Sicily: Historiographical Theory and Practice in the «Bibliotheke». Studia Hellenistica, 58. Leuven: Peeters, 2018. Pp. x, 612. ISBN 9789042934986. €115,00. Reviewed by W. P. Richardson, University of Otago (bill.richardson@otago.ac.nz).
Diodoros of Sicily: Historiographical Theory and Practice in the «Bibliotheke» contains a variety of contributions on this influential ancient historian, based on a 2011 conference at the University of Glasgow. Broad topics include, but are not limited to, Diodoros’ context within the first century B.C.E., the composition of the Bibliotheke, Diodoros’ depiction of mythology, and the concept of New Quellenforschung. The term New Quellenforschung is the name suggested by the editors (p. 8) for a more recent development in the scholarship, the revival, albeit in a moderated form, of the traditional view of Diodoros, which argued that his work was largely restricted to being a copyist of earlier writers and included limited original content.

[...]
Past PaleoJudaica posts on Diodorus Siculus and his work are here and here with many links. Diodorus's history provides important background material for the study of Second Temple Judaism, notably his contribution to the perspective I call "Greek Fantasy Babylon" and his independent account of the Maccabean Revolt.

So, I didn't plan it, but this post is Hanukkah-related too.

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The editing of Daniel 2

HANUKKAH-RELATED: Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream: The Revision of Daniel’s Role During Antiochus’ Persecution (Prof. Michael Segal, TheTorah.com).
The first section of Daniel (chs. 2-6) is a collection of quasi-independent court tales. Once they were combined into the book of Daniel in its current form, the story of Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, which parallels Pharaoh’s dream in the Joseph story, was revised. It was further supplemented with Daniel’s prayer which creates a contrast between the power of God and that of Antiochus IV.
This is a case in which the application of redaction criticism produces convincing results.

One of the fun things about the Book of Daniel is that comparison of the Old Greek version with the Hebrew Masoretic Text allows us to watch the process of redaction happening. The Old Greek translates an earlier draft than the MT. Not in chapter two, but certainly in chapters four through six.

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The synagogue at Modi'in

FOR HANUKKAH: The Earliest Synagogue in Israel? Used by the Maccabees? (Carl Rasmussen, HolyLandPhotos' Blog). With photos, of course.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on the archaeology of Modi'in (?) (Umm el–’Umdan/Umm el–Umdan) are here and links.

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Thursday, December 06, 2018

The Queen of Sheba and Ethiopia?

TRAVEL: In search of the real Queen of Sheba. Legends and rumors trail the elusive Queen of Sheba through the rock-hewn wonders and rugged hills of Ethiopia. (Stanley Stewart, National Geographic). This article is more of a travelogue than a report on history or archaeology. It takes a while even to get to Aksum (Axum) and its legendary connections with the Queen of Sheba (who alternatively may be associated with Yemen) and the Ark of the Covenant. But it is interesting nonetheless and, as far as I can tell, accurate in discussing the historical issues.

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Sefaria adds Jastrow's Talmud Dictionary

LEXICOGRAPHY: A Digitized Dictionary Illuminates The Talmud, Though Some Prefer To Stay Offline (Ari Feldman, The Forward).

Jastrow's iconic Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature is outdated in many ways, but remains useful if consulted judiciously. I see from the archives that I have cited it on PaleoJudaica off and on over the years. You can already find it online (e.g., here, here, and here) and it remains in print, but it sounds as though the Sefaria version has been prepared with special care.

Background on the Sefaria website is here and links.

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New edition of Genesis Apocryphon etc.

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: The Dead Sea Scrolls. Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations. Volume 8A: Genesis Apocryphon and Related Documents. 2018. XXVII, 354 pages. Edited by James H. Charlesworth, Henry W. Morisada Rietz and Loren L. Johns u.a. 189,00 € including VAT cloth. ISBN 978-3-16-156644-8.
Published in English.
The Princeton Theological Seminary Dead Sea Scrolls Project is providing the first critical edition of all the Dead Sea Scrolls which are not copies of books in the Hebrew Bible (the so-called »Old Testament«) in 10 projected volumes along with 2 concordances. The format of the series is unique; each manuscript is presented with Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek text on the left page with facing English translation on the right. The series intends to be a standard reference work; thus, only probable reconstructions are made and the English translations are as literal as possible avoiding idiomatic renderings. Where a document is witnessed by more than one manuscript, each manuscript is presented separately. Critical notes help the reader to understand the text, variants, philological subtleties, and the translation. An introduction with selected bibliography precedes each document. The documents are prepared by an international team of over fifty scholars with the editors and their assistants providing consistency.
Volume 8A brings together Dead Sea Scrolls that develop stories in Genesis along with other texts. The Genesis Apocryphon (1Q20, 3Q14 frg. 8) is a creative, interpretive, and theologically driven rewriting of a portion of Genesis. Several other documents provide traditions about Noah and his sons, including the Book of Noah, Admonitions Based on the Flood, and a composite text of the Birth of Noah manuscripts (4Q534–536). The collection also provides the manuscript witnesses to A Joseph Apocryphon found on Masada.

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Review of Niehoff (ed.) Journeys in the Roman East

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Journeys in the Roman East (Timothy Luckritz Marquis).
Brief Review of Maren R. Niehoff, ed., Journeys in the Roman East: Imagined and Real (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017).
It sounds like there are lots of good things in this book. Let me highlight just one. The psychology of imagination is still a largely untapped resource for the study of ancient literature. I'm pleased to see it put to use here.

I noted the publication of the book last year here.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Traditionalists vs. assimilationists or just politics?

FOR HANUKKAH: Chanukah and the Politics Behind the Maccabean Revolt (TheTorah.com).
The story of the Maccabees is known as a battle between traditionalists and assimilationists, the latter supported by the Seleucid kings. But what do the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees, with their elaborate descriptions of alliances and power plays, really tell us about the revolt?
For some PaleoJudaica posts that deal with the complicated politics of the Maccabean Revolt, see here and links.

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More on the Pilate ring

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Was Pontius Pilate’s Ring Discovered at Herodium? Bible and archaeology news (Robert Cargill). Professor Cargill offers a new interpretation of the ring and its inscription, but retains the possible connection with Pontius Pilate.

Background here (and note the correction).

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An Oxyrhynchus Papyrus of Exodus and Revelation, Part 2

VARIANT READINGS: Once More: An Oxyrhynchus Papyrus of Exodus and Revelation, Part 2 (Brent Nongbri). Part 1 was noted here. Cross-file under Codicology.

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Hurtado on Christians and codices

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Why Did Early Christians Prefer the Codex to the Bookroll? Early Christian manuscript books (Marek Dospěl). As usual, this BHD column is a summary of a BAR article: Larry Hurtado, “Early Christian Dilemma: Codex or Scroll?” in the November/December 2018 issue. The full article is behind a subscription wall.

For some past posts on Professor Hurtado's work on scrolls and codices, see here, here, and here.

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