Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Report on CJH event on Goodman's A History of Judaism

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: A History of Judaism: Goodman, Reed, and Magid at the Center for Jewish History (Erez DeGolan).
On April 18, 2018, the Center for Jewish History (CJH) in New York hosted a public event in celebration of the A History of Judaism. About 40 people, academics and not, came to hear Goodman discussing his work, with a response from Annette Yoshiko Reed and Shaul Magid. The thoughtful remarks of the three and the unusual character of A History of Judaism more broadly, stimulated contemplations on the spacious, if seldom thought of, gap between academic knowledge production and its ‘public’ dissemination. In what follows I discuss the highlights of the CJH’s event and the questions it raised.
With thoughtful commentary.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on Martin Goodman's book A History of Judaism are here, here, and here.

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Review of Tugendhaft, Baal and the Politics of Poetry

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Aaron Tugendhaft, Baal and the Politics of Poetry. The Ancient Word 1. London; New York: Routledge, 2017. Pp. 166. ISBN 9781138063624. $140.00. Reviewed by Aren M. Wilson-Wright, Universität Zürich​ (aren.wilson-wright@uzh.ch).
Baal and the Politics of Poetry is a revised version of Aaron Tugendhaft’s 2012 New York University dissertation. In it, Tugendhaft argues that the Baal Cycle—an epic poem from Ugarit depicting Baal’s struggle for political dominance against Yamm (sea) and Mot (death)—represents a meditation on kingship and its limitations, rather than an unabashed celebration of royal power as usually assumed. Tugendhaft develops this argument over the course of six chapters as well as the introduction and conclusion.

[...]

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More on that tiny royal (?) head

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: An Iron Age Royal at Abel Beth Maacah? Highly crafted figurine may depict a dignitary, elite person, or even a king (Robin Ngo).

Background here.

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Barthélemy's Critique textuelle de l’ancien Testament online

THE ETC BLOG: Critique textuelle de l’ancien Testament for Free Download (John Meade). For you, special deal!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Virtual archaeology in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Archaeology Without Ruins. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ ancient Talmudic rabbis look for the First and Second Temples without stones or relics to guide them.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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More on the latest archaeological destruction on the Temple Mount

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT BLOG: Update: Waqf Uses Ramadan to Violate Antiquities Law. Excerpt:
In 2018, this should not be a problem. Taking advantage of the limited police, and ban of all non-Muslims from the Temple Mount because of Ramadan, these archaeologically rich mounds of earth have been irreconcilably damaged. This is a clear violation of the law, a violation of basic morality and respect, and an absolute destruction of the heritage of Jews as well as Christians and Muslims. This constitutes a decade’s worth of regression in the level of enforcement of the antiquities law on the Temple Mount and needs to go viral so that the world can see what the real status quo is on the Temple Mount.

Please share this information and communicate it to the media and government officials. Make this story go viral.
You should read it all.

Background here.

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Review of Kiel, Sexuality in the Babylonian Talmud

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Sexuality in the Babylonian Talmud (Noah Bickart).
Yishai Kiel’s new book Sexuality in the Babylonian Talmud analyzes Talmudic texts that deal explicitly with sex in order to situate rabbinic society at the crossroads of a number of late-antique cultures. Through convincing close readings of Jewish material alongside compelling parallels in Greek, Syriac, and Pahlavi texts, Kiel illustrates how Babylonian rabbis used the language of sexuality to negotiate their Iranian context, their Palestinian heritage, and the myriad of concomitant challenges posed by western and eastern Christian thought. This book is highly recommended for scholars and students of rabbinics, early Christianity, and Iranology, especially for those who are interested in the history of sexuality.

[...]
I noted the publication of the book here and an article by the author on the same topic here.

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The Gamla synagogue

ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORY: The 2,000-year-old synagogue at Gamla, the oldest yet found in Israel (Ticia Verveer, Times of Israel Blogs).
Archaeological excavations proved that Josephus was very precise in his description, which is remarkable, seldom do literary sources and archaeological data complement each other in such a way. The more than 2,000 basalt ballista stones and 1,600 iron arrowheads that were found are a sorrowful reminder of the aggression off the Romans. Within the settlement a concentration of several dozen ballista stones was discovered. Probably, the defenders gathered the ballista stones that had fallen on the city and hurled them back at the Romans the following day.

The most exciting discovery of the excavation, and the reason why I am here, is a large public building, with benches intended for public gatherings, the amazing remains of an ancient synagogue, the oldest yet found in Israel.
An impressive photo essay by an archaeologist working at the site.

Some past PaleoJudaica posts on the site of Gamla, its archaeology, and its history, are collected here.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

A 1 Samuel LXX manuscript in the Green Collection

AT THE VARIANT READINGS BLOG, Brent Nongbri has been following up indications that the Green Collection includes a fragmentary Greek manuscript of 1 Samuel (possibly containing nine chapters).

The Green Collection 1 Samuel Papyrus and Mummy Cartonnage. Incidentally, per Scott Carroll's quoted comment, this is not "the earliest text of 1 Samuel in the world." Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, 4QSamuelb (4Q52) is dated by Cross to c. 250 BCE and 4QSamuela (4Q51) and 4QSamuelc (4Q53) to the first century BCE. This Greek papyrus seems to be from the early third century CE (or later? - See the second post below). That is still very early. It may be the earliest surviving papyrus copy or Greek copy or both. I don't know.

1 Samuel and the Green Collection’s “Cartonnage”

There are lots of unanswered questions about this manuscript.

For the Samuel manuscripts from Cave 4 Qumran, see Frank Moore Cross et al., Qumran Cave 4 XII 1-2 Samuel. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert XVII. Oxford, Clarendon, 2005.

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The Russians may excavate Palmyra

PALMYRA WATCH: Russian archaeologists eyeing excavations in Palmyra after restoration of Tadmor. Russian experts have already submitted proposals on restoring the Temple of Baal Shamin, one of the main relics of the place.
KRASNODAR, June 9. /TASS/. Russian archaeologists hope to continue archaeological excavations in ancient Palmyra after rehabilitation of the Syrian city of Tadmor, on the territory of which the historical marvel is located, a leading Russian expert said on Friday.

Dr. Natalya Solovyova, a Deputy Director of the St. Petersburg-based Institute for the History of Material Culture said this on the sidelines of the festival titled ‘Russia’s Antique Heritage’ in the southern city of Krasnodar where she did a public presentation of the 3D model of Palmyrene monuments.

"We hope we’ll manage to do some archaeological excavations there because our Institute made an arrangement on them with the Syrian government in spring 2015, several days before the start of combat actions [in the Palmyra area]," Dr. Solovyova said. "We didn’t sign the documents then, however, because armed fighting began."

[...]
For many other past posts on Palmyra, its history, the ancient Aramaic dialect spoken there (Palmyrene), and the city's tragic reversals of fortune, now trending for the better, start here and follow the links.

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Repatriating Ethiopic manuscripts?

ETHIOPIC WATCH: British Exhibitions of Ethiopian Manuscripts Prompt Questions About Repatriation. Exhibitions at British cultural institutions have lately underscored the artistic output of Ethiopian scribes, and in the process, have also renewed questions around whether museums that have benefitted from acts of imperialism and colonialism should now return looted objects (Sarah E. Bond, Hyperallergic).
A recent display at the British Library, African Scribes: Manuscript Culture of Ethiopia put the institution’s impressive collection of Ethiopic manuscripts on display. Online, the library has also highlighted efforts to digitize these ancient works and make them accessible to the public. Exhibitions at the British Library and other cultural institutions within Britain have worked to underscore the artistic output of Ethiopian scribes and the literature connected to the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church. In the process, these special exhibitions have also renewed questions of provenance and the issue of whether museums that have benefitted from acts of imperialism and colonialism should now return looted objects — even centuries after the fact.

[...]
I don't have a view on the merits of repatriating these particular artifacts, because I don't know enough about the local situation. But my general position is that antiquities and cultural artifacts are the heritage of humanity, not just of the descendants of their culture of origin. They should be kept where they are safest.

I noted a recent article that discusses the importance of the Ethiopic Church for the transmission of the Book of 1 Enoch here. Also, back in 2004-2005, the Ethiopic manuscripts taken (i.e., looted) by Britain after the Battle of Maqdala were in the news. See here, here, and here.

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Korah and the fire-pans

REDACTION CRITICISM: Why the Fire-Pans Were Used to Plate the Altar (Dr. Rabbi David Frankel, TheTorah.com).
After the two hundred and fifty tribal leaders, led by Korah, were burnt, God tells Elazar to use the fire-pans to plate the altar to remind Israel that only priests may offer incense (Num 17:5). But is this the original reason for the plating? A redaction-critical analysis shows that the story once had a different purpose in mind.
Could be.

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

More on the supposed lost Jobar Synagogue scrolls

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jewish artifacts disappear from Damascus in fog of Syria war. Jewish artifacts, including ancient parchment torahs from one of the world's oldest synagogues, have gone missing from the Syrian capital amid the tumult of ongoing civil war (AP). That synagogue is, of course, the synagogue of Jobar. Earlier this year I noted reports that ancient artifacts, notably Torah scrolls, had been removed from the Jobar Synagogue during the war. The posts are here and here. Some of the reports claimed the removals were connected with "terrorist groups" and/or Israeli and Turkish intelligence and/or (indirectly) the Syrian Army. None of the reports seemed especially credible, although they could not be disproved either.

Now this AP report weighs in with much more detail from "activist sources." The artifacts were taken by rebels for safe keeping, but some artifacts (notably Torah scrolls written on gazelle hides) have since disappeared. Some of the missing artifacts may have surfaced in Turkey. Some of the missing artifacts, it is claimed, may themselves have been fakes. Again, an Israeli connection is hinted at.

This is a convoluted story that is very short of verification. I emphasize that I take no position on whether any of it is true. But I am keeping an eye on it to see if anything develops from it.

For what it's worth, there have been many reports over the years of artifacts being seized by the authorities in Turkey. Some of these artifacts have turned out to be obvious fakes or relatively recent objects that were not as important as the initial reports claimed. I collected links to these stories in this post last October. There was a report on December of a 700-year-old Torah scroll being seized in Turkey, but this turned out to be bogus.

Perhaps of more interest is a report from April of 2017 that Turkish authorities seized a "gold-plated" Torah scroll written on gazelle skin. This Torah (I think it was the same one) was also reported to be 1,500 years old. I explained my reasons for some skepticism of the stories at the links.

The Jobar scrolls were supposed to be on gazelle skins too and some of them seem to stored in a silver receptacle at some point. But those are very tenuous possible links to the scroll in Turkey.

In short, right now we have a bunch of unverified stories. Maybe some of them are real and, if so, maybe some of the real ones are connected. We'll just have to see if any verification turns up. Watch this space.

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Unsifted dirt disturbed on the Temple Mount

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT BLOG: More Archaeological Destruction on the Temple Mount and Damage to Dirt Mounds that Should be Sifted.
Now, under the auspices of the last days of the month of Ramadan, when the Temple Mount is closed to none-Muslim visitors and the police presence is limited, over than a thousand people carried out excavation work, stone clearance and the creation of terraces in these piles of earth!

This is a clear violation of the High Court’s order and shows – this constitutes decade’s worth of regression in the level of enforcement of the antiquities law on the Temple Mount.
This blog is run by credible archaeologists and I would take the report seriously. It doesn't sound good.

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Index of online books on Classics and ancient Judaism

THE AWOL BLOG: CLASSICSINDEX: Links to Online Books (Google Books, Archive.org, etc.) FOR THE STUDY OF GREEK AND ROMAN CLASSICS, EARLY JUDAISM, AND CHRISTIANITY. There are lots of good things here. Note in particular the section on "JUDAISM [2ND TEMPLE : RABBINIC]."

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Who Wrote the Torah?

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS (REALLY): Who Wrote the Torah? Textual, Historical, Sociological, and Ideological Cornerstones of the Formation of the Pentateuch (Konrad Schmidt, Institute for Advanced Study).
Who wrote the Torah? In light of more than two hundred years of scholarship and of the ongoing disputes on that question,[1] the most precise answer to this question still is: We don’t know. The tradition claims it was Moses, but the Torah itself says otherwise. Only small portions within the Torah are traced back to him, but not nearly the whole Torah: Exodus 17:14 (Battle against Amalek); 24:4 (Covenant Code); 34:28 (Ten Commandments); Numbers 33:2 (Wandering Stations); Deuteronomy 31:9 (Deuteronomic Law); and 31:22 (Song of Moses). Despite all disagreement in current scholarship, however, the situation in Pentateuchal research is far from desperate, and there are indeed some basic statements that can be made regarding the formation of the Torah. This is what this contribution is about. It is structured in the following three parts: the textual evidence of the Pentateuch; the socio-historical conditions for the development of the Pentateuch, and “Ideologies” or “Theologies” of the Pentateuch in their historical contexts.

[...]
HT AJR.

This essay is a very good account of the state of the question by a prominent specialist in the area. It moves from first principles to cautious and circumscribed conclusions. Nevertheless, some of it would be disputed by other specialists. It touches here and there on the traditional JEDP sources, mostly in the notes. But its main interests are elsewhere. That's all to the good.

This is the first time I have seen anyone claim that the Ketef Hinnom silver amulets (containing the text of the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:24-26) could be from as late as the second century B.C.E.

For some more thoughts on the origins of the Pentateuch, see here and links, and here, here, and here.

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Hebrew acronyms

PHILOLOGOS: Where Do Hebrew Acronyms Come From? Medieval and modern Hebrew are unusually rich in abbreviations, but in a manner that is the reverse of English (Mosaic Magazine).
Clearly, then, acronyms were first developed by ancient Greek and Latin stenographers and, though known to the rabbis of the Talmud, adopted by Hebrew only in a subsequent age. The fact that they are found in abundance in ancient midrashic texts like Genesis Rabbah, whose composition is contemporaneous with the Talmud’s, does not prove otherwise. ...
Acronyms are one of the banes of working with medieval Hebrew manuscripts. And it scarcely helps when the text of the manuscript is also full of copyist errors. It can be hard to tell whether you're dealing with a corrupt and meaningless word, an obscure technical term, or an acronym.

Incidentally, the best source I have found for deciphering Hebrew acronyms is Dalman's old German dictionary of Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic. The full reference is Gustav H. Dalman, Aramäisch-Neuhebräisches Handwörterbuch zu Targum, Talmud und Midrasch. The original publication was in Göttingen in 1938. The reprint edition I have on my bookshelf is by Olms in 1987. At the end it has a 120-page lexicon of abbreviations. You will find pretty much everything there.

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Arabic amulet excavated near Temple Mount

APOTROPAIC ARTIFACT: 1,000 Year Old Clay Amulet with Arabic Blessing Discovered in City of David (JNi.Media).
The tiny amulet constitutes direct testimony of the everyday life in Jerusalem during the early Islamic period. At this time, it is unclear whether it was intentionally placed underneath the flooring during construction or whether the tiny object was carried by a man named Kareem and lost. It seems that it was an amulet whose inscription – praising God, was supposed to bring blessing to its bearer.
This is from a little later that PaleoJudaica's usual period of interest. But it is too cool not to mention.

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Bibliographia Manichaica Selecta

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Bibliographia Manichaica Selecta: Selected Works for Manichaean Studies. Notice of a new book: Šokrī-Fūmešī, Moḥammad. 1397 [2018]. ketābšenāsī-ye moṭāleʿāt-e mānavī: šenāḫt-e możuʿī-ye manabeʿ-o maʾāḫeẕ [Bibliographia Manichaica Selecta. Selected Works for Manichaean Studies]. Teheran: Ṭahūrī.

It looks as though it is in both Persian and English.

Cross-file under Manichean (Manichaean) Watch.

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Report on DSS at 70 conference

PROF. LAWRENCE H. SCHIFFMAN: THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS AT 70. EXCITING NEW DEVELOPMENTS POINT TOWARD FUTURE PROGRESS.
The field of Dead Sea Scrolls is never without important new developments. At the recent conference, “The Dead Sea Scrolls at Seventy: Clear a Path in the Wilderness,” there was exciting news about the ongoing development of technological tools for reading and identifying the remaining small scraps or wads (several layers of fragments stuck together) that did not find their place in the amazing jigsaw puzzle that had to be assembled to decipher the scrolls.

The announcement was made by Pnina Shor, curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), at a public session conducted in Hebrew at which I had the honor of being a speaker. The conference was organized by the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Hebrew University, the IAA, the Israel Museum, New York University, and the University of Vienna — all major players in scrolls research.
This is the opening of Professor Schiffman's recent article in the Jewish Tribune. Follow the link for a full reprint.

I noted the story of the newly deciphered Dead Sea Scrolls fragments announced at this conference here and here

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Friday, June 15, 2018

More on the Oklahoma bullae exhibition

STILL MORE: Why the world premiere of precious biblical artifacts is in quiet Oklahoma. Through August 19, a select few in the middle of America's vast Bible Belt can see rare First Temple objects -- that most may only ever see online (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel). This is a wide-ranging and informative article. The most interesting part to me was the background on the relationship of Armstrong College with the Mazar family and their archaeological work in Jerusalem. Excerpt:
An unlikely 50-year partnership

Mazar takes the podium at the posh King David Hotel on Sunday evening, addressing a crowd well beyond its walls.

“This is a celebration day for all our friends and especially for the lovers of Israel and the Bible,” she says, before quickly outlining the greatest hits of the 5,000 years of Jerusalem’s history. She touches on a clear record of the name of “Yerushalem” on Egyptian papyrus from 4,000 years ago and King Herod’s renovation and expansion of Solomon’s Temple 2,000 years ago.

And then she turns to another historic event: The decades-old partnership between the Mazar family and this group of Sabbath-observant Christians.

“Exactly 50 years, right after the unification of Jerusalem, in February 1968, Prof. Benjamin Mazar, my grandfather, started archaeological excavations on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem right at the foot of the walls of that 2,000-year-old Temple Mount compound. At the end of that year, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, the founder of the Ambassador Cultural Foundation, became the most significant financial supporter of the excavations,” said Mazar.
And please permit me one niggle:
“We teach the Bible, from Genesis to Revelations,” says [Gerald] Flurry, “and a lot comes from the Hebrew Bible.”
I am absolutely certain that Mr. Flurry said "Revelation," not "Revelations." That is not a mistake he would have made. Amanda, you do great work, but you and your fellow journalists need to make an effort to get this detail right. It matters to many of your readers who share your interests.

For background on the Armstrong College exhibition, as well as on the bullae of Hezekiah and Isaiah, start here and follow the links.

UPDATE (20 June): I see that the error noted above has been corrected. Thanks, Amanda. Much appreciated.

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Bridegroom of blood

THAT'S IN THE BIBLE: The Bible Says What? God tried to kill Moses. Rabbi Aaron Goldstein reflects on a controversial subject in the Torah (Jewish News/Times of Israel). You'd be surprised what's in the Bible.

The reference is to Exodus 4:24-26. No one knows what it means. It's not even clear who is doing what. Did YHWH try to kill Moses or his son? Did Zipporah touch Moses or her son or YHWH with the foreskin? And the big question for what everyone does is: Why?

The interpretation in this essay has the merit of being original.

For more on Zipporah, see here (immediately preceding post).

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Moses' Kushite wife

DR. ELAD FILLER: Moses and the Kushite Woman: Classic Interpretations and Philo’s Allegory (TheTorah.com).
Ancient interpreters debated the identify of Moses’ Kushite wife and the nature of Miriam and Aaron’s complaint. Philo allegorizes her as an eye’s perfect focus, reflecting Moses’ direct perception of God. Reading this together with Philo’s allegorical understanding of Zipporah as a “bird” with direct access to heaven highlights the greatness of Moses’ wife as the fourth matriarch of Israel.

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More on the Hezekiah-Isaiah bullae exhibition

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: On View: Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah Discovered. Bible and archaeology news (Robin Ngo). More on the Armstrong College exhibition in Edmond, Oklahoma. More on that here and links

For some archaeological background on the reign of King Hezekiah, see this other recent BHD essay: Hezekiah’s Religious Reform—In the Bible and Archaeology. What was King Hezekiah’s reform like on the ground? (David Rafael Moulis).
Excerpt:
Despite what the Bible says in 2 Kings 23, cultic changes during Hezekiah’s reign were absolute and left nothing to be centralized by King Josiah at the end of the seventh century. Indeed, only one phase of Judahite religious reform is visible in archaeological record, and that one is Hezekiah’s.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

More on formerly "first-century Mark" and related matters

VARIANT READINGS: “First Century” Mark and “Second Century” Romans and “Second Century” Hebrews and “Second Century” 1 Corinthians. Brent Nongbri collects and discusses what we currently know about the background of the early Mark fragment from Oxyrhynchus and also about some other supposedly early New Testament fragments in the Green Collection. Dr. Nongbri links to an ETC post by Elijah Hixton. And James McGrath has a recent roundup post here.

The story is becoming complicated and I can't say I have the details in my head clearly. But the main question at present seems to be, was the Mark fragment ever for sale, and if so, by whom? Dr. Nongbri has another questions about the other fragments:
So, now a question for the people associated with the Green Collection and the Museum of the Bible: Do we have any provenance information on these pieces? They have a similar character to the Oxyrhynchus Mark fragment, and they seem to have become a part of the Green Collection at about the same time as the Oxyrhynchus Mark fragment was alleged to have been for sale. It would be most illuminating if the Green Collection or the Museum of the Bible would provide detailed acquisition information about these pieces.
Background on the Mark fragment is here and links. A post on the announcement about the Romans fragment is here. And a related post on supposedly early New Testament fragments is here.

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Review of the Museum of the Bible

THE LATEST: Museum of the Bible finds big audience in bustling D.C. (The Washington Times). It's bee a while since we've seen a review. Here's a new one.
Thousands of people have come from far and wide — sometimes two by two — to visit the red-brick, ark-shaped building in Southwest.

The Museum of the Bible, on the 400 block of 4th Street SW, has received nearly 603,000 visitors (about 100,000 a month) since its 2-ton, 40-foot-tall bronze doors opened in November.

[...]
I will flag a couple of new details. First, an upcoming exhibition:
Next month, the museum will open new exhibits, including one focuses on women’s roles in artifact collecting.

Women comprise the majority of the museum’s visitors, and the “Noblewomen and the Bible” exhibit will tell the story of women from Germany’s House of Stolberg who amassed a collection of manuscripts and books, many of which were stolen by the Soviets during World War II. Some stolen artifacts have since been recovered.
Second, survey results:
According to post-visit surveys, more than 90 percent of the Museum of the Bible’s visitors have rated their experience as excellent or good, and most would recommend the experience to a friend or family member.
They seem to be pleasing their target audience.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on the Museum of the Bible and the controversies around it are here and links. And past posts on the repatriation of those improperly acquired (by Hobby Lobby, not the Museum of the Bible) looted cuneiform tablets are here and links.

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Review of Chrubasik and King (eds.), Hellenism and the Local Communities of the Eastern Mediterranean

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Boris Chrubasik, Daniel King (ed.), Hellenism and the Local Communities of the Eastern Mediterranean. 400 BCE—250 CE. Oxford; London: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xxii, 232. ISBN 9780198805663. $85.00. Reviewed by Peter Talloen, University of Leuven (peter.talloen@kuleuven.be).
As stated in the introduction by Chrubasik and King, the book focusses on the ways in which the relationship between local communities and Greek culture was negotiated in key areas of the Hellenistic world: Asia Minor, the Levant, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. The center stage is held by the non-Greek communities of those areas who refashioned and reshaped what they deemed to be Greek cultural forms to suit their own needs and interests. By studying different regions with different local interpretations of Greek culture, the volume aims to sketch a more nuanced cultural history of the Eastern Mediterranean. According to the editors, this focus on local interpretations of Greek cultural forms should also raise the question whether the historiographical terms Hellenism and Hellenization to describe these processes are still useful labels for the cultural processes at play in this time period—similar to questions raised about the usefulness of the term ‘Romanization’.5 The volume not only has a broad geographical scope but also a wide chronological one. The editors do not adhere to the traditional chronological boundaries of the Hellenistic period, 323—31 BCE, as they consider the interaction between Greek and non-Greek cultures not restricted to this period. The overview starts in 400 BCE, the beginning of a period of intensification of non-Greek engagement with Greek cultural forms especially in Asia Minor, as demonstrated by several contributions. Similarly, the editors rightly argue that engagement with Greek culture did not cease with the battle of Actium. Yet, why 250 CE was chosen as the end date is not clarified. Surely, Greek cultural influence did not come to an end in the middle of the 3rd century CE.
Ancient Judaism receives plenty of attention in the book. There is also coverage of Palmyra, Dura-Europos, Babylon, Egypt, and Asia Minor.

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Pig bones and archaeology

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: You Are What You Eat: The Israelite Diet and Archaeology. Pig bones as an ethnic marker? (Marek Dospěl). Apparently it's complicated. Welcome to trying to integrate archaeology with texts.

As usual, this essay (itself informative) is a teaser for a BAR article that is behind the subscription wall: Lidar Sapir-Hen, “Pigs as an Ethnic Marker? You Are What You Eat,” November/December 2016.

Cross-file under Osteology.

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