Wednesday, November 14, 2018

New bit of ancient astronomical computer recovered

MARINE ARCHAEOLOGY: Missing Piece of Antikythera Mechanism Found on Aegean Seabed. Bronze disk unearthed by archaeologists in same wreck where original 2,200-year-old computer had been found; also located bits of the ship that Jacques Cousteau and looters hadn't destroyed (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz premium).
More than 2,200 years after it sank beneath the waves, diving archaeologists have possibly found a missing piece of the Antikythera Mechanism, the fantastically complicated, advanced analog "computer" found in a shipwreck off a Greek island. Scanning shows the encrusted cogwheel to bear an image of Taurus the bull.

The Antikythera Mechanism was discovered in 1901, technically speaking. An encrusted lump was salvaged by Greek sponge divers in clunky metal diving suits from the Mediterranean seabed. Not that anybody realized what it was at the time. It would take decades and advanced x-ray technology for scientists to realize that the "rock" was a wondrously advanced sophisticated analog calculator consisting of dozens of intermeshed gears.

The Mechanism could do not only basic math: with dozens of exquisitely worked cogwheels, it could calculate the movements of the sun and moon, predict eclipses and equinoxes, and could be used to track the solar system planets, the constellations, and much more.

[...]
Past PaleoJudaica posts involving the Antikythera Mechanism are here and here. Like the Gozo shipwreck on the coast of Malta, the Antikythera shipwreck just keeps on giving. Even after more than a century.

This story isn't directly connected to ancient Judaism. But circles in Second Temple Judaism were quite interested in science, especially astronomical science. I still wonder if the Enochian astronomers would approve or disapprove of the Antikythera Mechanism.

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

Report on Syriac "Crossroads" Conference

SYRIAC WATCH: International conference explores Syriac Christianity. Professor Sebastian Brock speaks about St. Ephrem the Syrian’s contribution to Syriac Christianity. (Vatican News).
A two-day conference entitled “Syriac Christianity at the Crossroads of Cultures” gathered researchers from all over the world at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome last week.

[...]
That's a good photo of Professor Brock.

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

Larsen on Gospels Before the Book

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Gospels Before the Book (Matthew Larsen). This is the title of a new book by Dr. Larsen. In this essay he adapts material from it. Excerpt:
The evidence, I argue, suggests a first- or second-century reader of the textual traditions we now call the Gospel according to Matthew and Gospel according to Mark would not have thought of them as two separate books by two different authors. Rather they would have regarded them as the same open-ended, unfinished, and living work: the gospel—textualized. Thus, the validity and utility of source-, redaction-, and textual-criticism as traditionally practiced are called into question. For example, what does it mean to talk about the “Synoptic Problem” without recourse to ideas like books, authors, and textual finality?
Interesting.

For a rather different view of such matters, see this recent blog post, with links, by Larry Hurtado: More on Rethinking the Textual Transmission of the Gospels.

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

Is the U.K. leaving UNESCO too?

DOMINOES FALLING? UK to quit Unesco? Proposals for Britain to follow Israel and US in leaving the UN body (The Week).
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt is urging fellow Cabinet ministers to back plans to withdraw the UK’s £11.1m funding from Unesco, according to reports.

“Mordaunt’s department ranks Unesco as its worst-performing multilateral agency,” says The Times. “She believes that its work does not meet her spending criteria for international aid.”

[...]
This article also gives an update on the current state-of-play regarding the plans of Israel and the United States to withdraw from UNESCO as of 31 December 2018.

I hope this does not happen. Since Audrey Azoulay took over as UNESCO chief, she has been making a real effort to reach a better understanding with Israel and the U.S.A. But paradoxically, this new move by Secretary Mordaunt may strengthen Ms. Azoulay's hand, since it puts UNESCO under yet more pressure.

It would not surprise me if a deal emerges just before the end of the year which keeps all three countries in UNESCO. Let's hope so. But I think we'll be seeing some brinksmanship before that happens.

For background of the falling out of Israel and the United States with UNESCO, start here and follow the links.

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Jesus on an ancient church wall in the Negev

DECORATIVE ART: 'Suddenly I Saw Eyes': Jesus’ Face Discovered in Ancient Israeli Desert Church. Very little early Christian art has survived the centuries in the Holy Land – but then an Israeli art historian looked at the apse of a ruined Byzantine church in Shivta, and saw Jesus’ face and short curly hair (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz premium).
Precious little early Christian art has survived in the Holy Land, though this is where the religion itself was born. But now, an extremely rare depiction of Jesus from the early Christian era has been found in the ruins of Shivta, a large Byzantine farming village in the heart of Israel’s Negev desert.

“His face is right there, looking at us,” says Dr. Emma Maayan-Fanar, the art historian who finally noticed the wall painting a century after it was uncovered.

A first painting found by others in Shivta last year turned out to show Jesus’ transfiguration: the present team was the one to realize what the painting showed, but the drawing of his face did not survive the centuries. The second one shows his baptism and his face. Maayan-Fanar and the team – Dr. Ravit Linn, Dr. Yotam Tepper and Prof. Guy Bar-Oz of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa – described the find in the world archaeological journal Antiquity: "Christ's face revealed at Shivta".

[...]
To my unpracticed eye the new wall depiction of Jesus looks like one of those "Jesus on a piece of toast" pictures that surface constantly on the internet. But I'm sure the art historians looking at the original wall can see it better than I can. I'm happy to take their word for it.

The article also reports that the earliest surviving drawing of Jesus is from a third-century church at Dura Europos. There is a photo.

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

The Talmud on the Temple's measuring cups

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Vesselmania. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic scholars grapple with the number of sacrificial measuring cups in the First Temple.
In Chapter Ten of Menachot, the rabbis ask how these precise measurements were actually made in the Temple. It stands to reason that there must have been measuring bowls or cups—but how many, and in what denominations? This is one of those prosaic questions that brings home the magnitude of what was lost with the destruction of the Temple. Precisely because measuring cups were such humble, ordinary tools, there is no record of them anywhere for the rabbis to rely on. Instead, here as with many other facets of Temple ritual, they must recreate the past using the only resources available to them: oral tradition, which is full of disagreements and contradictions, and the text of the Torah, which is often silent about matters of detail. Finding or inventing an answer out of these meager resources is what the Talmud is all about.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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

Review of Elledge, Resurrection of the Dead in Early Judaism

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Resurrection of the Dead in Early Judaism (Karen Connor McGugan).
C. D. Elledge, Resurrection of the Dead in Early Judaism, 200 BCE—CE 200. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.
Excerpt:
While early Jewish evidence for resurrection is often considered primarily as a stage in the linear development of resurrection belief as it eventually emerged in Rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity, Elledge provides in-depth analysis of this evidence in its own right; later evidence is considered largely as it illuminates the early Jewish materials.
I noted the book and a related essay by the author here.

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

Does one letter show that John used an apocryphal gospel?

THE ETC BLOG: Apocryphal Gospels and Textual Criticism: An Interesting Case of P.Egerton 2 + P.Köln VI 255 (Peter Malik). Paleography is important. Sometimes a single letter can make a big difference.

For a similar story involving one Hebrew letter in a Dead Sea Scroll, see here.

Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Nazareth inscription, the collector, and the empty tomb?

GREEK EPIGRAPHY: The Emperor and the Empty Tomb: An Ancient Inscription, an Eccentric Scholar, and the Human Need to Touch the Past (Kyle Harper, LA Review of Books).
The Nazareth inscription is a block of marble, about two feet tall, a foot wide, and two inches deep. The first of its 22 lines of text, carved in slightly irregular Greek letters, announces an “Edict of Caesar.” The text itself bears telltale signs of translation from the original Latin, the language of Rome’s empire. In the body of the law, the emperor demanded that tombs and graves remain forever undisturbed. No one was permitted to remove a buried body. The emperor warned that anyone removing a corpse from the grave would be charged with tomb robbery, to be treated as a capital offense equal to public sacrilege. Judged only by its content, the inscription would be an interesting enough document in the history of Roman rule. But in Froehner’s private inventory, he noted that the inscription was “sent from Nazareth in 1878.” The intrigue is obvious. Nazareth is famous for only one thing. Did the inscription have something to do with the controversy over that empty tomb? Could it suggest that a Roman emperor was aware, however dimly, of unsettling claims about a crucified man rising from the dead in a remote province of his far-flung empire? If so, the inscription might stand as the oldest physical trace of the world’s largest religion — an echo of the early Christian story, bouncing off the hard surface of Rome’s power.
Or maybe not. Who knows?

In any case, this is a fascinating story about collectors in the nineteenth century and one of their more interesting finds. Also, Charles Clermont-Ganneau, the French Indiana Jones of that century, makes an appearance. Of course he does.

Worth reading in full.

For the Rylands Papyrus P52 of the Gospel of John, see here and links. It is questionable that it is as early as the early second century, although that remains a possibility. There are many, many past PaleoJudaica posts on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife. You can find them in the archives. For key posts, see here, here, and here, and links. And for many posts on the James Ossuary, again see the archives, or start here and follow the links.

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

Publisher's takeaways from Septuaginta

HENDRICKSEN PUBLISHERS BLOG: Five Takeaways from Septuaginta: A Reader’s Edition (Tirzah Frank). More on the recently released book, Septuaginta: A Reader’s Edition, edited by Gregory R. Lanier & William A. Ross.

Background here and links.

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

Zohar book panel discussion

H-JUDAIC: The Art of Mystical Narrative: A Zohar Symposium.
The Art of Mystical Narrative: A Zohar Symposium

The Jewish Theological Seminary
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
7:30–9:00 P.M.


Join us for a panel discussion, marking the publication of Dr. Eitan Fishbane’s new book The Art of Mystical Narrative: A Poetics of the Zohar<(Oxford University Press, 2018), in conversation with ...


Attendance is free, but advance registration is required.

Cross-file under Zohar Watch and New Book.

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

Klawans, "After the Pittsburgh Tragedy"

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: After the Pittsburgh Tragedy. Like any other week (Jonathan Klawans).

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

How to Make a Mudbrick

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: How to Make a Mudbrick. Get a step by step look at the process. With lots of photos from the Tell Timai excavation. Cross-file under News You Can Use.

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

Festschrift for Aren M. Maeir

NEW BOOK FROM ZAPHON PRESS:
Tell it in Gath
Studies in the History and Archaeology of Israel
Essays in Honor of Aren M. Maeir on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Birthday


Edited by Itzhaq Shai, Jeffrey R. Chadwick, Louise Hitchcock, Amit Dagan, Chris McKinny, and Joe Uziel

Ägypten und Altes Testament 90
2018
ISBN 978-3-96327-032-1
XVI + 1093 pages / DIN A4 / hardcover, thread stitching
book + e-book (ISBN 978-3-96327-033-8): 250,00 €, on request
Follow the link for TOC and ordering information. More on Professor Maeir here.

HT Jim West.

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

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Ancient coins seized at Gaza border

APPREHENDED: Smuggler caught at Gaza border with coins from time of Alexander the Great. Palestinian man was attempting to take two ‘rare, highly prized’ tetradrachm coins, imprinted in Babylon and northern Greece between 323 and 325 BCE, out of territory (Times of Israel). There was another report of foiled coin-smuggling, this one at the Allenby Bridge crossing, earlier this week.

Cross-file under Numismatics.

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

Interview with Jacob Neusner's son

THE LOGOS ACADEMIC BLOG: A Son’s Perspective on a Scholar Father: Interview with Noam Neusner (Tavis Bohlinger).

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

Greer, Hilber, and Walton (eds.), Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament

NEW BOOK FROM BAKER ACADEMIC PRESS: Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament (New Book) (A.D. Riddle, The Bible Places Blog).
Available beginning today is an impressive-looking title published by Baker Academic, Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts, edited by Jonathan S. Greer, John W. Hilber, and John H. Walton.
Follow the link for details and the TOC.

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

Did the Carthaginians bring the mongoose to Spain?

PUNIC WATCH? How the mongoose got to Spain. Not all introduced species are unwelcome ("Rikkus Tikkus Tavius," The Economist). Just for fun.

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

How did Esau become the ancestor of Rome?

DR. MALKA Z. SIMKOVICH: Esau the Ancestor of Rome (TheTorah.com).
In the Bible, Esau is the ancestor of the Edomites who live on Mount Seir, southwest of Judah. So how did the rabbis come to associate Esau and Edom with Rome? Two main factors are at work here: Christianity and Herod.
For more on Dr. Simkovich's work, see here and links.

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

Allen and Dunne (eds.), Ancient Readers and their Scriptures

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Ancient Readers and their Scriptures
Engaging the Hebrew Bible in Early Judaism and Christianity


Series:
Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, Volume: 107

Editors: Garrick Allen and John Anthony Dunne

explores the various ways that ancient Jewish and Christian writers engaged with and interpreted the Hebrew Bible in antiquity, focusing on physical mechanics of rewriting and reuse, modes of allusion and quotation, texts and text forms, text collecting, and the development of interpretative traditions. Contributions examine the use of the Hebrew Bible and its early versions in a variety of ancient corpora, including the Septuagint, Dead Sea Scrolls, New Testament, and Rabbinic works, analysing the vast array of textual permutations that define ancient engagement with Jewish scripture. This volume argues that the processes of reading and cognition, influenced by the physical and intellectual contexts of interpretation, are central aspects of ancient biblical interpretation that are underappreciated in current scholarship.

Publication Date: 8 October 2018
ISBN: 978-90-04-38337-1
This is a volume of essays from a conference that was held at the University of St. Andrews in 2014. I noted it here and here. The two editors are PhD alumni of the Divinity School of the University of St. Andrews.

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

Friday, November 09, 2018

Shoemaker, The Apocalypse of Empire

NEW BOOK FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA PRESS:
The Apocalypse of Empire
Imperial Eschatology in Late Antiquity and Early Islam


Stephen J. Shoemaker


272 pages | 6 x 9
Cloth Nov 2018 | ISBN 9780812250404 | $59.95s | Outside the Americas £46.00

In The Apocalypse of Empire, Stephen J. Shoemaker argues that earliest Islam was a movement driven by urgent eschatological belief that focused on the conquest, or liberation, of the biblical Holy Land and situates this belief within a broader cultural environment of apocalyptic anticipation. Shoemaker looks to the Qur'an's fervent representation of the imminent end of the world and the importance Muhammad and his earliest followers placed on imperial expansion. Offering important contemporary context for the imperial eschatology that seems to have fueled the rise of Islam, he surveys the political eschatologies of early Byzantine Christianity, Judaism, and Sasanian Zoroastrianism at the advent of Islam and argues that they often relate imperial ambition to beliefs about the end of the world. Moreover, he contends, formative Islam's embrace of this broader religious trend of Mediterranean late antiquity provides invaluable evidence for understanding the beginnings of the religion at a time when sources are generally scarce and often highly problematic.

Scholarship on apocalyptic literature in early Judaism and Christianity frequently maintains that the genre is decidedly anti-imperial in its very nature. While it may be that early Jewish apocalyptic literature frequently displays this tendency, Shoemaker demonstrates that this quality is not characteristic of apocalypticism at all times and in all places. In the late antique Mediterranean as in the European Middle Ages, apocalypticism was regularly associated with ideas of imperial expansion and triumph, which expected the culmination of history to arrive through the universal dominion of a divinely chosen world empire. This imperial apocalypticism not only affords an invaluable backdrop for understanding the rise of Islam but also reveals an important transition within the history of Western doctrine during late antiquity.

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

Supernatural conference CFP

THE ESEA BLOG: CFP: THE SUPERNATURAL FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD.
Not Yet Understood:
The Supernatural from Antiquity to the Medieval Period

*Graduate Student Conference*
Where: Brandeis University (Massachusetts)
When: April 13, 2019
Deadline for submissions: January 31, 2019.
Follow the link for details.

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

Bibliography of the Arabic Bible

THE AWOL BLOG: Bibliography of the Arabic Bible: A Classified and Annotated History of Scholarship. This is associated with the Biblia Arabica project, which I mentioned a while ago here.

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

Silver as money before coins

TZILLA ESHEL: How Silver Was Used for Payment (TheTorah.com).
Abraham purchases the cave of Machpelah for 400 silver shekels. Biblical phrases, archaeological finds, and chemical analysis come together to paint a portrait of how early trade using silver functioned before the invention of coins.

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

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Nautical and animal engravings found in Beer Sheva cistern

GRAFFITI ART: ANCIENT ENGRAVINGS OF SHIPS AND ANIMALS UNCOVERED IN BEERSHEBA. Excavators discovered large cistern while preparing for a new neighborhood (Tamara Zieve, Jerusalem Post).
In the plaster covering the cistern walls, the excavators, Dr. Davida Eisenberg-Degen and Avishay Levi-Hevroni of the authority, spotted thinly engraved lines. Though many of the lines have become less visible over time, they could make out the depictions of boats, a sailor and animals. Thirteen ships were engraved in the plaster of the cistern walls.

According to Eisenberg-Degen, a specialist in rock art and graffiti at the authority, the ships include technical details and present proportions which suggest that the artist was knowledgeable in ship construction.
The cistern was constructed in the first or second century C.E. The IAA announcement implies that the graffiti are the same age as the cistern.

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

Jesus, the Essenes, and modern esotericism

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
Jesus and the Essenes: An Esoteric History

Like the historical Jesus, “the Essenes” can easily become a screen upon which one projects one’s own interests and ideological location(s), whether that be Jesus’ “hidden years,” a window into the “secret history” of early Christianity, or an historically non-existent fabrication by Philo, Josephus, and Pliny.

See Also: Jesus, the Essenes, and Christian Origins: New Light on Ancient Texts and Communities (Baylor University Press, 2018).

By Simon J. Joseph
University of California, Los Angeles
www.simonjjoseph.com
November 2018
Cross-file under New Book. For past PaleoJudaica posts on Szekely's modern apocryphal gospel, The Essene Gospel of Peace, see here and here. And for more on the use of ancient esotericism in Blavatsky's Theosophy, see here.

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

Picus on rabbinic reading practices

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Dissertation Spotlight | Daniel Picus.
“I argue that that the rabbis are deeply concerned with the form, format, and divisions of the biblical text, and that these aspects of the text have a crucial role in rabbinic understandings of the formation and transformation of the reader.”
This sounds like an interesting dissertation. It would be good to know its title too!

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

Judean and related coins going to auction

NUMISMATICS: Extremely Rare Judaean and Related Roman Coins Featured in Goldberg’s New York Sale (Goldberg Coins, CoinWeek). The auction takes place in New York on 8-10 January 2019. As always, I hope that the collectors who buy them will make them available to scholars for study. Meanwhile, this article has some excellent photos of a wide range of coins of interest for the study of ancient Judaism

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

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Hygoye 21.2 (2018)

A NEW ISSUE: Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 21.2 (2018). This is a high-quality, peer-review, open-access journal. Issue 21.1 was noted here. Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

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

Hurtado on Goodman on Paul as persecutor

LARRY HURTADO: Saul/Paul the “Persecutor” and Jewish Tolerance of Diversity.
On Monday of this week ([October] 22nd) the esteemed scholar of ancient Judaism in the Roman world, Professor Martin Goodman, delivered the 2018 Kennedy-Wright Lecture, sponsored by our Centre for the Study of Christian Origins: “The Jewish Paul and the History of Judaism.”

[...]
It's good to see Larry blogging frequently again.

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

Lectures on the Jewish communities of Qumran and Alexandria

PROF. LAWRENCE H. SCHIFFMAN: SECTS AND THE CITY: THE JEWISH COMMUNITIES OF QUMRAN AND ALEXANDRIA.
Co-sponsored by Drisha, The Jewish Publication Society and Sixth Street Community Synagogue
November 29th, 7:00 PM
Sixth Street Community Synagogue
325 East Sixth Street

$10/students free of charge.

Please join us for an evening to celebrate the publication of Dr. Malka Z. Simkovich’s new book, Discovering Second Temple Literature: The Scriptures and Stories That Shaped Early Judaism (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2018).
Follow the link for further details and registration information. And cross-file under New Book. I have noted essays by Dr. Simkovich here, here, and here.

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

‘Atiqot 92 (2018)

THE AWOL BLOG: Now online: ‘Atiqot 92 (2018). You can see the abstracts straightaway, but full access to the articles requires free registration. This issue has many articles of interest for ancient Judaism.

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