Thursday, November 30, 2023

Is the Mount Ebal "curse tablet" actually a lead fishing weight?

NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY? Experts question claim of 'earliest Hebrew inscription' on Mt. Ebal. “These claims are quite dramatic and require close inspection,” wrote the doubters, covering some 21 pages in the Israel Exploration Journal. (Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Jerusalem Post).
But now, Prof. Aren Maeir – head of the Institute of Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University (BIU) in Ramat Gan, and Christopher Rollston (George Washington University), are critically considering the context and dating of the object, along with questions on the character of the site. Most importantly, the very reading that Stripling et al. suggest for the inner inscription (the outer one was not published) is seriously questioned, and it is shown to be problematic at best, and perhaps even non-existent.
The article reports that a new issue of IEJ contains three articles on the object, but I can't find the issue online yet.

For lots of PaleoJudaica posts on the Mount Ebal "curse tablet" (or whatever it is), start here and here (posts in which I give my own provisional assessment) and follow the links. I share the skepticism reported of the writers of the IEJ articles.

UPDATE: At his blog, Aren Maier explains why I can't find the IEJ issue. (HT Joseph Lauer.)

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Job: Associate Prof in OT/HB at Aarhus University

H-JUDAIC: FEATURED JOB: Associate Professor in Old Testament Studies, Aarhus University.
The position

We are seeking a talented and dedicated colleague with a strong track record and an innovative future research plan in Old Testament Studies. The successful applicant is expected to contribute to the development of the Department of Theology and its core activities in the areas of research, education, talent development and knowledge exchange. The successful applicant will play a key role in the ongoing creation of internationally recognised research areas within Old Testament Studies and take active part in the work of the research group in Biblical Studies, contributing to its current profile with new areas of expertise. The successful applicant will also develop collaborative research initiatives with other disciplines and develop projects with external financing.

We emphasise the importance of taking part in the daily life of the Department of Theology, as well as the significance of good working relationships, both among colleagues and with our students. The successful applicant is expected to be present in the department on a daily basis.

Follow the link for further particulars and application information. Also note: "Applicants must be able to teach and communicate in Danish at university level. If the successful applicant is not fluent in Danish, they will be expected to learn Danish within two years."

This quite long advert mentions an application deadline day, but I can't find a place where it gives one. In any case the post commences on "1 August 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter."

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Tenure-track OT/HB job at Sewanee: The University of the South

Assistant Professor, Old Testament/Hebrew Bible

Sewanee: The University of the South
Sewanee, TN, TN
Position Type
Tenured & Tenure-Track
Employment Type
Full Time
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution
Sewanee: The University of the South

Job Details

Position Overview
The School of Theology of the University of the South, a seminary of the Episcopal Church, invites applications for a tenure-track position in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, beginning July 2024. The successful candidate will be an effective teacher and scholar who can equip students with skills to engage critically with the texts of the Old Testament. They will teach two courses per semester in our degree programs, plus an additional course from time to time in either our summer or non-degree programs.


Follow the link for further particulars and application information. "Review of applications will commence on December 1st, with initial interviews by Zoom to follow in January." Also note: "Ordination in the Episcopal Church is preferred; affinity with the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church is required."

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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Leiden Jewish Studies Association

ANNOUNCEMENT: In-Depth Knowledge on Judaism, Jewish History Crucial Now (Mirage News).
The newly established Leiden Jewish Studies Association aims to bring together Leiden scholars working on Judaism. The first annual conference will take place in Leiden on 6 and 7 December. Leiden professors and co-organisers of the LJSA Sarah Cramsey and J├╝rgen Zangenberg talk about their plans.


Although the agenda of the Association is more general, it looks like it has a good bit of interest in ancient Judaism.

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The last of the Ptolemies—Guess who?

THE WORLD IS FULL OF HISTORY: The last of the Ptolemies. Zahi Hawass describes the life and background of Cleopatra VII, Egypt’s last and most famous Ptolemaic queen (ahram online).

This essay gives detailed information on the historical, cultural, and geographic background of Cleoptra—starting with the Pyramid Age of the Old Kingdom! Very useful in that regard. But it says little about the life of Cleopatra herself. It reads like part one of a series, but there is no other indication of that.

Dr. Hawass also published an earlier series on the world of Cleopatra but, again, the current essay is not presented as a continuation.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on Cleopatra VII (the Cleopatra), who reportedly spoke Hebrew and Aramaic, start there, plus here and here, and follow the links.

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Mastnjak, Before the Scrolls (OUP)

Before the Scrolls

A Material Approach to Israel's Prophetic Library

Nathan Mastnjak


Published: 29 August 2023
264 Pages
ISBN: 9780190911096


Before the Scrolls traces the media history of the biblical prophetic corpus to propose a material approach to biblical literature. Although scholars understand that the material of composition was the scroll rather than the codex, they persist in imagining the form as a single textual object. This assumption pervades centuries of scholarship and drives many of the questions asked about biblical composition. Nathan Mastnjak raises the question of the original physical format of biblical texts and argues that many of the literary works that would eventually become the Bible's prophetic books were not written initially as books. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel were originally composed on loosely organized collections of multiple short papyrus scrolls and sheets. Though rarely considered in scholarship, the realia of a text's form, format, production, and material substance have a profound influence on the meaning of the text. Unlike works committed to single book-scrolls, these collections did not have predetermined orders of reading and were susceptible to multiple arrangements. Only in the Hellenistic era were these compositions edited, organized, and copied into single volume book-scrolls such as those known from the Dead Sea.

By investigating the relationship between form and meaning and the transition from the collection to the book, Mastnjak suggests novel solutions to classic problems in biblical scholarship, such as the relationships between the MT and LXX of Jeremiah and that between First and Second Isaiah. The failure to account for the materiality of the prophetic corpus has led scholarship to occasionally ask the wrong questions of these compositions and has blinded it to the vital role that Hellenistic bookmakers played in the creation of the Bible as we know it. Reconceiving much Judean literature on a collection-model rather than book-model has significant implications for our understanding of how the Bible itself was composed and read.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Schiffman: No, the Vatican doesn't have the Temple treasures


Professor Schiffman explains why he concludes that the Vatican does not, and indeed could not, have the Temple treasures.

I've also seen some of these recent claims about the Vatican having these artifacts, but I did not post on them. I tend to ignore such stories and the related ones on how the Ark of the Covenant has been located and is about to be revealed. If someone wants to produce some actual authenticated artifacts, I will be happy to reconsider.

Background here and many links. I have commented on the matter here and here.

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The West Semitic Research Project

THE AWOL BLOG: West Semitic Research Project.
The West Semitic Research Project is an academic project affiliated with the University of Southern California School of Religion and directed by Professor Emeritus Bruce Zuckerman. For the past 40 years WSRP has used advanced photographic and computer imaging techniques to document artifacts and texts from the ancient Near East and Mediterranean worlds. In doing this we have built a vast collection of images that are available to scholars, students, educators and the general public through the USC Digital Library.
It's always good to have an excuse to mention the West Semitic Research Project. Jeepers, has it really been 40 years since I was its first research assistant?

For many past posts on it, see here and links, plus, here, here, and here.

UPDATE: Broken link fixed!

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Burr, Authenticating Criteria in Jesus Research and Beyond (Brill)

Authenticating Criteria in Jesus Research and Beyond

An Interdisciplinary Methodology

Series: Biblical Interpretation Series

Author: Kevin B. Burr

Are the criteria of authenticity of Jesus research idiosyncratic to New Testament studies, vehicles of subjectivity, and fundamentally flawed vestiges of form criticism as some claim today? If so, why do opponents of the criteria-approach still use them? Or, are the criteria the tools of general historiography as others assert? If true, none have adequately demonstrated where and how principles such as multiple attestation, general and historical coherence, dissimilarity and embarrassment feature in general historiographic method—until now. This study analyzes the methods of general historians and Jesus researchers (who favor or oppose the criteria) and demonstrates that, regardless of sub-discipline, authenticating criteria are inherent to the practice of historiography.

Prices from (excl. shipping): €109.00

Copyright Year: 2024

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-54902-9
Publication: 16 Oct 2023
EUR €109.00

Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-54901-2
Publication: 19 Oct 2023
EUR €109.00

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Monday, November 27, 2023

Review of Nutzman, Contested Cures

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Contested Cures: Identity and Ritual Healing in Roman and Late Antique Palestine (Mika Ahuvia).
Megan S. Nutzman. Contested Cures: Identity and Ritual Healing in Roman and Late Antique Palestine. Edinburgh Studies in Religion in Antiquity. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2022. Pp. xvii + 272.

A gift to those of us in Jewish and Christian Studies, Nutzman presents a regional study of Roman Palestine that focuses on its non-Jewish and non-Christian populations and their shared ritual practices. ...

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The latest on Christian Apocrypha studies

THE APOCRYPHICITY BLOG: What More Do You Need? The Next Wave in Christian Apocrypha Texts and Translations. The following paper was presented at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (Tony Burke).

If you are interested in ancient Christian Apocrypha, or the heavily overlapping category New Testament Apocrypha, read this paper. It has the latest news on both from an immensely authoritative expert on the subject.

I was at that historic 2006 meeting, held at a conference organized by Pierluigi Piovanelli at the University of Ottawa. I reported on the conference here, here, and here. The end of the third post has my notes on the meeting.

Tony kindly mentions the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project, which was the inspiration for his More New Testament Apocrypha Project. MOTP volume 2 is in the hands of the publisher, Eerdmans. It should be out by early 2025.

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National Library of Israel's new building opens

RENOVATED: Unveiling the new National Library of Israel's building. About a month after the postponement of the official opening date, most of the people who used to spend hours in the old building are going to National Library of Israel in its new building (Peggy Cidor, Jerusalem Post).
Founded in Jerusalem in 1892, NLI serves as the major institution of national memory for the Jewish people worldwide and Israelis of all backgrounds and faiths. Its collection includes handwritten works by Maimonides and Sir Isaac Newton, Islamic manuscripts dating back to the 9th century, and the personal archives of leading cultural and intellectual figures such as Gershon Sholem, Martin Buber, Natan Sharansky, and Naomi Shemer. The NLI also holds the world’s largest collections of textual Judaica, Jewish and Israeli music, and maps of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, as well as world-class collections of manuscripts, ancient maps, rare books, photographs, and communal and personal archival material.
Background on the renovation of the Israel National Library is here and links.

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Sunday, November 26, 2023

The Medinet Madi Library of Manichaean Codices at 90 (Brill)

The Medinet Madi Library of Manichaean Codices at 90

Papers from the Symposium at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, 18-19 October 2019

Series: Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies, Volume: 104

Volume Editors: Jason D. Beduhn , Paul Dilley , and Professor Iain Gardner

The Medinet Madi Library comes of age in this landmark volume as one of the 20th century’s major finds of religious manuscripts. Discovered in Egypt’s Fayum region in 1929, these Coptic codices contain a cross-section of the sacred literature of the Manichaean religion. Early work on the collection in the 1930s was cut short by the ravages of the second world war. Recent decades have brought multiple new editorial projects, on which this volume offers a comprehensive set of status reports, as well as individual studies on aspects of the Manichaean religion informed by the library’s contents.

Prices from (excl. shipping): €124.00

Copyright Year: 2023

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-54293-8
Publication: 26 Jun 2023
EUR €124.00

Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-53982-2
Publication: 04 Jul 2023
EUR €124.00

Cross-file under Manichean (Manichaean) Watch.

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T&T Clark Handbook of Food in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel

T&T Clark Handbook of Food in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel

Janling Fu (Anthology Editor) , Cynthia Shafer-Elliott (Anthology Editor) , Carol Meyers (Anthology Editor)

$54.95 $49.45

$175.00 $157.50

Ebook (Epub & Mobi)
$49.45 $39.56

Ebook (PDF)
$49.45 $39.56

Product details

Published Aug 24 2023
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 640
ISBN 9780567702913
Imprint T&T Clark
Illustrations 39 bw illus
Dimensions 10 x 7 inches
Series T&T Clark Handbooks
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing


Food and feasting are key themes in the Hebrew Bible and the culture it represents. The contributors to this handbook draw on a multitude of disciplines to offer an overview of food in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Israel. Archaeological materials from biblical lands, along with the recent interest in ethnographic data, a new focus in anthropology, and emerging technologies provide valuable information about ancient foodways.

The contributors examine not only the textual materials of the Hebrew Bible and related epigraphic works, but also engage in a wider archaeological, environmental, and historical understanding of ancient Israel as it pertains to food.

Divided into five parts, this handbook examines and considers environmental and socio-economic issues such as climate and trade, the production of raw materials, and the technology of harvesting and food processing. The cultural role of food and meals in festivals, holidays, and biblical regulations is also discussed, as is the way food and drink are treated in biblical texts, in related epigraphic materials, and in iconography.

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Saturday, November 25, 2023

Fried, Ruth: A Commentary (Sheffield Phoenix)

Ruth: A Commentary
By Lisbeth S. Fried
£58.00 £25.00

After the significant and ground-breaking commentaries on Ezra and Nehemiah by Lisbeth Fried, she now turns her attention to a different genre of biblical literature and to the book of Ruth. Fried approaches Ruth as folktale, specifically, a fairy tale. This new reading of Ruth allows the book to be experienced in a new way, a way infrequently recognized, that provides novel but compelling insights into the author’s intentions and goals.

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The Power of Parables (Brill)

The Power of Parables

Essays on the Comparative Study of Jewish and Christian Parables

Series: Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series, Volume: 39

Volume Editors: Eric Ottenheijm , Marcel Poorthuis , and Annette Merz

The Power of Parables documents the surprising ways in which Jewish and Christian parables bridge religion with daily life. This 2019 conference volume rediscovers the original power of parables to shock and affect their audience, which has since been reduced by centuries of preaching and repetition. Not only do parables enhance the perspective on Scripture or the kingdom of heaven, they also change the sensory regime of the audience in perceiving the outer world. The theological differences in their applications appear secondary in view of their powerful rhetoric and suggest a shared genre.

Prices from (excl. shipping): €149.00 Hardback

Copyright Year: 2024

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-68004-3
Publication: 07 Nov 2023

Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-68002-9
Publication: 08 Nov 2023
EUR €149.00

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Friday, November 24, 2023

Feldman & Sandoval (eds.), Torah in Early Jewish Imaginations (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Torah in Early Jewish Imaginations. Edited by Ariel Feldman and Timothy J. Sandoval. 2023. XI, 231 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 171. 124,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-162664-7.
Published in English.
Torah is a topic of keen interest among scholars of the Bible and Second Temple Judaism. The Hellenistic age especially witnessed an undeniable textual pluriformity of not only the Pentateuch (Torah), but of a host of other works concerned with traditions of authoritative »teaching« or »instruction« (torah) that was related in complex ways to books that would become part of the Hebrew Bible. In the Second Temple period, the term torah was thus a robustly multivalent term, deployed in discourses emerging from different contexts, and toward a range of rhetorical ends. The essays in this volume employ a plethora of methodologies to offer innovative studies of a range of early Jewish literature – including texts from the Hebrew Bible, the so-called Apocrypha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Septuagint – that is concerned in different ways with Torah / torah.

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Cook, Men, Masculinities and Intermarriage in Ezra 9-10 (Routledge)

Men, Masculinities and Intermarriage in Ezra 9-10

By Elisabeth M. Cook
Copyright 2024
Hardback £130.00
eBook £35.09
ISBN 9781032342177
154 Pages
Published October 9, 2023 by Routledge


Offering a reading of the intermarriage debate and expulsion of the foreign women in Ezra 9-10, this book engages with the production and performance of masculinities in this biblical text, shifting the focus away from the 'foreign women' to the men who are the primary actors in this work.

This approach addresses the diversity of masculinities and the ways in which they are implicated in the production of power relations in the text. It explores the ‘feminized’ masculinity of the peoples-of-the-lands, the unstable masculinity of the golah, Ezra’s performance of penitential masculinity, and the rehabilitation of divine masculinity. The rejection of the marriages and the call for the expulsion of the women and children are addressed as sites on which masculinities and power relations are configured. In doing so, this book sheds light on how women and the traits and performances culturally ascribed to women, femininity and inferior masculinities, are appropriated to produce masculinities and negotiate power relations between men. It posits that the debate in Ezra 9-10 is not, ultimately, about the women themselves, but about bringing the masculinities, bodies and practices of dissenting men under the ‘management’ of those who wield the Torah in the narrative world of the text.

Men, Masculinities and Intermarriage in Ezra-9-10 is of interest for scholars and students working on the Book of Ezra specifically, as well as the Hebrew Bible and its world more broadly. It is also a valuable study for those working on masculinities and gender in the biblical world and ancient Near East.

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Like Nails Firmly Fixed (Qoh 12:11) (Gentry Festschrift; Peeters)

Like Nails Firmly Fixed (Qoh 12:11)
Essays on the Text and Language of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures Presented to Peter J. Gentry on the Occasion of His Retirement

SERIES: Contributions to Biblical Exegesis & Theology, 115
EDITORS: Marshall P.S., Meade J.D., Kiel J. M.

PRICE: 125 euro
YEAR: 2023
ISBN: 9789042949461
E-ISBN: 9789042949478
PAGES: XIV-461 p.


This Festschrift honors the life and work of Peter J. Gentry on the occasion of his retirement (2021) from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary after 22 years of faithful service. The volume includes two personal reflections by family members and a close friend, followed by nineteen essays written by an international assemblage of scholars, all of whom admire the work of Gentry, and some of whom were his own doctoral students. These essays cover several of the academic fields with which Peter Gentry’s own research and writing intersect: biblical languages and linguistics, and the translation, transmission, and reception of the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity.

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