Wednesday, July 23, 2003

I REALLY WISH I COULD BLOG AT LENGTH on all the papers I've heard at this conference. But time and energy limits are forcing me to focus my comments on the papers I find most interesting and stimulating. I can't mention every paper I've heard and I can't comment fully on most of them, but I've heard a great many worthwhile ones and I've had to miss a number I really wanted to hear. Thanks, everyone, for all your work, and thanks especially to those who have given me permission to quote from and interact with their papers.

Some highlights from today:

Shimon Gibson spoke on "A First-Century Burial Shroud at Akeldama in Jerusalem, the Turin Shroud, and the So-Called 'James Ossuary.'" (See abstract at SBL site - see Saturday's last post for a link.) Read the abstract, but note the following additional items. Gibson reports that he has reason to believe that the "James Ossuary" was looted from this tomb in 1998. (Incidentally, I hear from more than one source that Mr. Golan, the owner, has been arrested.) He also reports that the shroud is quite different from the Shroud of Turin, but matches the description of Jesus' shroud in one of the Gospels (John, I think).

Deborah Cantrell spoke on "Ritualistic Aspects of Horses and Chariots in the Jerusalem Temple: Akitu Festival?" Again, read the online abstract. I'll just add that she referred to the many small clay horse figurines discovered in Jerusalem and other Iron-Age Israelite cities, always broken, evidently deliberately, which she thinks may have had a ritual use. I found one of these figurines at Tel Dor in around 1984 when I was a lowly assistant there.

Two papers today deal with matters related to mine. Albert Hogeterp (who was also at the St. Andrews conference a couple of weeks ago) presented on "Paul and Palestinian Jewish Culture: Semiticisms in Paul's Letters and in Greek Texts from the Judaean Desert," (no abstract, at least in the paper program book) and we had an interesting conversation on how many of his semitisms may actually be septuagintalisms. A nice tie-in with my paper. Tonight, Laurens Geeraert presents on"Semitisms in the New Testament: A Problematic Research Topic." (See online abstract.) Yep, it is. We've alread started talking.

I presented my paper this morning and got some very useful feedback and bibliography. I was asked to comment on what I mean by the "LXX," a term that tends to fall apart as soon as you poke it. Explaining what is meant by interference by THE "LXX" is not as easy to do as it might seem at first. A listener suggested that I should refer to "sub-bilingual interference" rather than "bilingual interference," since a truly bilingual writer would not show interference in his or her writings. Fair point, although another participant thought that in recent work "bilingual" could be used for a sliding scale of competency. It was pointed out that interference from the LXX could come not only in the author's work, but also in the scribal tradition: scribes could - deliberately or unconsciously - correct the language of the texts they copied toward the Greek of the LXX. Also, finding the right Semitic dialect to retrovert is not only a matter of finding the dialect of the right period, because synchronic dialect variation existed too (Qumran Hebrew, proto-Mishnaic Hebrew, Galilean Aramaic, etc.)

Tomorrow, along with more papers, is a tour of the Geniza Exhibit of the Taylor-Schechter Unit. See the Unit's web page in the links section to the right.

Incidentally, thanks to those who have e-mailed me with more information on matters I raised in the conference posts of the last few days. I will try to digest these and update the entries accordingly after I get home.

Also, a small suggestion to the conference organizers. You guys are doing a great job and we do appreciate your hard work. It has been very helpful to have a plentiful supply of water in the reception area. But having a supply of coffee there too next year would be excellent. We have to walk 20 minutes into town to find any.

Blogger already gobbled up this message once and I had to reconstruct it. So I'd better post it fast.

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