Sunday, February 28, 2021

Knauf & Niemann, Geschichte Israels und Judas im Altertum (De Gruyter)

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
Ernst Axel Knauf and Hermann Michael Niemann
Geschichte Israels und Judas im Altertum

The History of Israel and Judah in Antiquity

In: De Gruyter Studium

De Gruyter | 2021
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110411683

ABOUT THIS BOOK

The authors develop a new viewpoint on the ancient history of Israel and Judah by examining social and economic conditions, contemporary inscriptions, and archeological and iconographic sources as a basis for biblical exegesis and theology. In this way, the authors uncover the backdrop for the great biblical narrative, created as a collective memory since Persian period in Jerusalem, Babylonia, and the sanctuary on Mount Gerizim.

  • Methodische Verbindung von Historischer Anthropologie, (biblisch-)literarischer und religionsgeschichtlicher Analyse
  • Intensive Einbeziehung neuester archäologischer Ergebnisse
  • Darbietung relevanter zeitgenössischer Texte neben der Bibel
FROM £27.00

FORMATS

Electronic
Published: January 18, 2021
ISBN: 9783110411683

Paperback
ISBN: 9783110145434

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Top Lebanese archaeological sites

PHOENICIAN WATCH: Top 5 Archaeological Sites in Lebanon (Carole Raddato, Ancient History Encyclopedia). Four of them are Phoenician sites. Baalbek, Byblos, and Tyre are familiar. I did not know about Faqra.

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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Biblingual

THE AWOL BLOG: Biblingual: Biblical Languages and Linguistics. A series of YouTube videos by Cambridge University PhD student "Travis," who LOVES the biblical languages. Looks like fun.

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

Genderbending Jael and Judith

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: Genderbending Performances in Wartime: From Judges to Judith (Jacob Wright).

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

Ancient Jewish funerary inscriptions in Rome

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Last Words. Gravestones from the Jewish Catacombs of Rome (Marek Dospěl).
To learn more about the funerary inscriptions from Rome and what they tell us about the social and religious world of ancient Jews, read Megan Nutzman’s column “Jewish Epitaphs from Ancient Rome,” published in the Winter 2020 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
The full column is behind the subscription wall, but this essay provides a summary.

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

Review of Clark, Achilles beside Gilgamesh

BRYN MARY CLASSICAL REVIEW: Achilles beside Gilgamesh: mortality and wisdom in early epic poetry.
Michael Clarke, Achilles beside Gilgamesh: mortality and wisdom in early epic poetry. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019. Pp. xxvi, 385. ISBN 9781108481786 $39.99.

Review by
Kyle Bonnell, Oriel College, Oxford. kyle.bonnell@classics.ox.ac.uk

[...]

Overall, Clarke’s book proves the value of reading these poems together, though it may struggle to convince sceptics about direct influence. Its layout and style will make it particularly suitable for non-expert readers. While Clarke’s pessimism about heroism and divine justice occasionally seems excessive (and characteristically modern), the vision animating his work is clear, insistent, and above all humane.

For many PaleoJudaic posts on Gilgamesh, his Epic, and his importance for the study of ancient Judaism, see here and links, here, here, and here. For the wall of the city of Uruk, which is still there today, see here.

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Antiochus and Stratonice: an awkward love story

VISUAL ART: Antiochus Yearning for Stratonice, Painted By Stefano Pozzi (c. 1699-1768) (C. Keith Hansley, The Historian's Hut). King Seleucus I Nicator is mentioned in the Bible in Daniel 11:5 as one of the princes of the king of the south. For more on him and his coins, as well as the coins of his love-besotted son, Antiochus I Soter, see here. For more on Queen Stratonice of Syria, wife first of Seleucus and then Antiochus, see here.

HT Rogue Classicism.

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Friday, February 26, 2021

Idolatrous images on Temple tax coins

NUMISMATICS: Graven Images and the Coins of Ancient Tyre (David Hendin).
One of the most common questions I have been asked over the years is why the Tyre shekels were chosen to be used for such holy use in the Temple. The issue that confuses people the most has to do with the graven image of the Tyrian god Melqarth (a local adaptation of Herakles) on the obverse, which surely represents a pagan deity, abhorrent to the Jews.
For more on the half-shekel Temple tax, including a modern effort to revive it, see here and links. Cross file under Phoenician Watch.

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BHD reviews Fredriksen, When Christians were Jews

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Review: When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation (Zeba Crook).

For earlier reviews of the book, see here and links and here.

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

Two golden tongues

ANOTHER UPDATE: Major new discovery of mummies in Alexandria from Greco-Roman era. During the discovery of 16 burial chambers in stone-carved tombs, the Egyptian-Dominican mission found several mummies, remnants of gilded cartonnage and tongue-shaped gold foil amulets (Alaa Omran, Al-Monitor). This article is a good account of the discoveries in the tomb complex of Taposiris Magna, Egypt. And it finally relays official word on how many of the mummies there had golden tongues:
Khaled Abu al-Hamd, director general of Alexandria Antiquities, told Al-Monitor that the mission has found since the beginning of the year a number of mummies, most of them in bad condition because of their proximity to the sea and exposure to very high humidity. In addition, a female funeral mask was found, eight golden flakes, eight marble masks dating back to the Greco-Roman era, two golden tongues, gold coins and a lot of gold dust.
"Two golden tongues." There, that wasn't so hard.

Still no sign of Cleopatra though!

Background here and here.

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Punic shield excavated at Hasdrubal's wall

PUNIC WATCH: 2,300-year-old shield discovered at the Punic wall at Cartagena (Murica Today).

Cartagena, Spain, was founded as a Punic town in the third century BCE. It is very proud of its Punic heritage. It celebrates an annual Romans and Carthaginians Festival in September. For PaleoJudaica posts on Cartagena, start here and follow the links.

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

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Purim 2021

HAPPY PURIM to all those celebrating! The festival begins tonight at sundown. Stay safe!

Last year's Purim post is here, with links. Purim-related posts since then are here, here, here, and here.

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

A paleography algorithm

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: U of T researchers train AI to read difficult-to-decipher medieval texts (University of Toronto press release).
The team ran into two major problems: hyphens and abbreviations. Medieval scribes often saved valuable parchment by abbreviating words – sometimes dramatically. They would also write up to the very border of the script area before arbitrarily hyphenating whatever word they were on when they ran out of space. Since Transkribus “reads” whole words rather than individual letters, it had to learn to recognize words even when abbreviated or hyphenated.

Clearing those hurdles is now paying off. The new Latin-reading Transkribus is capable of precisely transcribing the peculiar handwriting found in 13th-century Latin legal documents.

If an algorithm can accurately transcribe 13th-century Latin handwriting without help, I'm impressed.

But wait. This article concludes with something closer to home for PaleoJudaica:

Gervers notes that Transkribus would be an ideal program for Ge’ez, an Ethiopic script he has worked with alongside Latin since the 1990s. Largely unchanged over its 2,000-year history, the Ge’ez script was used in one of the earliest known complete Gospel manuscripts and is still used in Ethiopia today.

Gervers says the script is “perfect for machine transcription.” Why? Ge’ez has no abbreviations and conveniently puts colons at the ends of words and sentences.

Regular readers will recall that the University of Toronto has an impressive program in Ethiopic (Ge'ez) studies.

For past posts on algorithms being applied to the study of antiquity, see here and links. Cross-file under Ethiopic Watch, Algorithm Watch, and The Singularity is Near.

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

Daniel and the Neo-Elamite kingdom

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Power and Politics in the Neo-Elamite Kingdom. Notice of a New Book: Gorris, Elynn. 2020. Power and Politics in the Neo-Elamite Kingdom (Acta Iranica, 60). Leuven: Peeters.

What, you ask, does ancient Judaism have to do with the Neo-Elamite Kingdom? Not much, but not nothing.

It happens that I am reading the Hebrew of Daniel chapter 8, which my honours Hebrew class will be reading in a couple of weeks. When I saw the notice of this new book, I couldn't help thinking of vv. 1-2:

In the third year of the reign of King Belshaz′zar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. 2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the capital, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision, and I was at the river U′lai. (RSV)
Daniel's vision is set in the late Neo-Elamite kingdom in the capital city Susa. The Masoretic Text implies that he was there only in his vision. The Septuagint (Old Greek and Theodotian) make it look more like he saw the vision when he really was in the city.

At the putative time of Daniel's vision (there was no reign of Belshazzar, who was regent for his father Nabonidus), Susa had lost much of its power. It may have been under the influence of the Neo-Babylonians. Cyrus the Great conquered Elam shortly afterwards. Susa became a royal city in the Persian Empire. Its placement in Daniel 8 may be with the latter status in mind, to underline that the vision involved the Persian Empire. The writer may not have known the exact timing of the rise of Susa as a Persian royal city. Elsewhere in the Bible (Esther 1:2 etc., Nehemiah 1:1) that's what it was.

The Ulai river was a real place in Susa. The meaning of the phrase in Daniel is uncertain. He saw the vision either at "the canal of Ulai" or "the gate of Ulai."

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A pur from the Temple Mount

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT BLOG: WILL YOU BE LUCKY ENOUGH TO FIND THE NEXT PUR?
During the month of Addar, on our very first year of sifting, we discovered our first pur – a word derived from the Akkadian word pūru, meaning “an object with which lots were cast”. The actual objects used were sometimes stones, pieces of pottery, dice or astragalus bones, usually from sheep or goat ankles.
THere is a photo at the link. Cross-file under Temple Mount Watch and Purim.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the Sifitng Project, start here and follow the links. A few months ago I noted the discovery of a Second Temple-era gaming die at Bethel.

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Late-antique Jewish and Christian dispute dialogues

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: In Others’ Words: Dialogues and Legitimation in Ancient Jewish and Christian Multivocal Texts (Michail Kitsos).
Michail Kitsos, “Speaking as the Other: Late Ancient Jewish and Christian Multivocal Texts and the Creation of Religious Legitimacy” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan, 2020)

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

How was Haman executed?

THE BOOK OF ESTHER: Was Haman Hanged, Impaled or Crucified? (Dr.Abraham J. Berkovitz, TheTorah.com).
The manner in which Haman’s execution was depicted had real world consequences.

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

Roman Roads and Milestones in Judaea/Palaestina

THE AWOL BLOG: Roman Roads and Milestones in Judaea/Palaestina. For more on such ancient milestones, see here and links.

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

The Re-Ascension of the Metatron

ARCHANGEL METATRON WATCH: Cult Classic El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron Is Coming To PC (Marcus Stewart, Game Informer).
There’s no release window for the port, but the official announcement says the game is coming "soon." El Shaddai's story follows Enoch, a scribe who tries to save humanity from a great flood by locating seven fallen angels. The story draws inspiration from the Book of Enoch, an ancient bible text that’s widely excluded from most biblical canon. ...
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron came out in 2011. I have noted many reviews here and links. It was noticed again in 2015. The producer of the game reintroduced its Enoch into another game in 2017. Now the original game is moving from PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 to PC format.

Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch and Gaming News.

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Gozo's golden calf?

ARTIFACT? The Golden Calf of Gozo (Matthew Camilleri, Malta Independent). A tragic eighteenth-century story in Malta. It involved a lost treasure, betrayal, torture, and death.

Apparently the terrible public events in the story really happened. Whether the supposed golden calf was real is another matter. According to the account given in the article there is good reason to doubt it. And prudence advises us to assume it wasn't unless other evidence, such as the actual artifact, surfaces.

Nevertheless, I would not entirely rule out the possibility that the object existed. A silver-plated bronze figurine of a calf (a bull) was discovered in Ashkelon. It dates to the sixteenth century BCE. You can see a photo here. Could the ancient Phoenicians at Malta have produced a similar object in gold or plated in gold? I doubt it. But maybe. (Cross-file under Phoenician Watch??)

Another intriguing possibility is that more recently someone produced a golden calf statuette based on the one in the biblical story. This then fell into the hands of the farmer Antonio Pace in Gozo. In 2017 I noted the apprehension of some smuggled artifacts in Turkey. They included gold and lead (?) codices of the same type as the Jordanian lead codices. There was also a miniature golden calf. Photo at the link. For reasons explained there, the Turkish objects look to me to be relatively modern attempts at producing ancient-looking artifacts. Could someone have hidden one in Malta sometime before 1729? I doubt it. But maybe.

This is just speculation for entertainment. Again, in the absence of verification, I disbelieve that Antonio Pace had a golden calf.

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Controversy over the Mount Ebal cultic site

ARCHAEOLOGY AND POLITICS: Settlers take on West Bank archaeology as ancient ‘Joshua’ wall tumbles down. Destruction of barrier at Iron Age Israelite cultic site deep in PA-controlled Area B creates media maelstrom, as right-wing campaign claims Palestinians destroying heritage sites (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel). A long and characteristically thorough article.

At the Jerusalem Post, Tovah Lazaroff also covers the current situation regarding the site: Joshua’s forgotten biblical altar is now at the heart of a land battle. Israel must find a way to protect and preserve the area as an archaeological park.

Background on the recent damage to the site and the resulting political fallout is here and here.

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

Why didn't Mordechai bow to Haman?

PURIM IS COMING: Why Mordechai Refuses to “Kneel and Bow” to Haman (Rachel Friedman, TheTorah.com).
A political strategy and a religious wakeup call to Jews in the Diaspora.

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Preparing the Western Wall stones for Passover

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Kotel stones get inoculated? Antiquities Authority prepares for Passover. Among routine restoration works, limestone-based grout is injected into fissures to repair cracks (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
“Over 12 million people visit the Western Wall Plaza each year,” said the director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Mordechai (Suli) Eliav. “Although this year, in the shadow of COVID-19, people are increasingly ‘visiting’ the Western Wall virtually, we are already preparing for the return of visitors to the Wall. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is making every endeavor to preserve the Wall’s ancient stones and ensure its stability for the safety of worshipers and visitors.”

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

Monday, February 22, 2021

Rodríguez-Arribas & Greenbaum (eds.), Unveiling the Hidden—Anticipating the Future (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Unveiling the Hidden—Anticipating the Future

Divinatory Practices Among Jews Between Qumran and the Modern Period

Series: Prognostication in History, Volume: 5

Volume Editors: Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas and Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum

In Unveiling the Hidden—Anticipating the Future: Divinatory Practices Among Jews Between Qumran and the Modern Period, Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas and Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum collect ten studies based on primary sources ranging from Qumran to the modern period and covering Europe and the Mediterranean basin. The studies show Jews practising divination (astrology, bibliomancy, physiognomy, dream requests, astral magic, etc.) and implementing the study and practice of the prognostic arts in ways that allowed Jews to make them "Jewish," by avoiding any conflict with Jewish law or halakhah. These studies focus on the Jewish components of this divination, providing specific firsthand details about the practices and their practitioners within their cultural and intellectual contexts—as well as their fears, wishes, and anxieties—using ancient scrolls and medieval manuscripts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Judaeo-Arabic.

Contributors are Michael D. Swartz, Helen R. Jacobus, Alessia Bellusci, Blanca Villuendas Sabaté, Shraga Bar-On, Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas, Amos Geula, Dov Schwartz, Joseph Ziegler, and Charles Burnett.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €127.00 / $153.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-44570-3
Publication Date: 15 Feb 2021

Hardback
Availability: Not Yet Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-44506-2
Publication Date: 18 Feb 2021

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Reports of carnage at Axum

VERY BAD NEWS: Witnesses recall massacre in Ethiopia city claimed to be home to Ark of Covenant. Survivors of clashes between pro-government forces and militias in the Tigray region describe horrific war scenes; hundreds dead in city of Axum; Eritrea denies involvement (Cara Anna, AP via TOI).

In January I noted reports of fighting in the area. According to these latest reports, it was worse. The London Times cites a witness who says that people rushed to the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion to help the priests protect the artifact that their tradition identifies as the Ark of the Covenant: Ethiopian worshippers risked lives to save Ark of the Covenant from soldiers (Jane Flanagan). The eyewitness believes that some of them were killed doing so.

For background on the Ethiopian Ark and the ancient city of Axum (Aksum), follow the links at the first link in the previous paragraph.

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Zoomcast on Timna

INTERVIEW: Findings at Timna change what we know of biblical history. JPost One-on-One weekly 'Zoomcast': Rossella Tercatin with Tel Aviv University associate professor of archaeology, Prof. Erez Ben Yosef - Episode 7. There is also a full transcript of the interview at the link.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the remarkable finds at the Timna Valley excavation, see here and links and here.

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BAR Spring 2021 is imminent

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Spring 2021 Issue of BAR Coming Soon. In Homes Late February. Follow the link for a preview and the TOC.

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