Saturday, June 12, 2004

THE JOURNAL NUMEN has a very interesting article on the Dead Sea Scrolls in its current issue (51.2, April, 2004):
Title: Comparing Sectarian Practice and Organization: the Qumran Sects in Light of the Regulations of the Shakers, Hutterites, Mennonites and Amish

Author(s): Eyal Regev

Source: Numen ���� Volume: 51 Number: 2 Page: 146 -- 181

DOI: 10.1163/156852704323056652

Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers

Abstract: This article tries to demonstrate that the unique regulations of the Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) sect are derived from its social character as a sect, not from scriptural exegesis or Hellenistic influence. In order to achieve this goal, the article introduces practices that are typical of introversionist sects, and shows that they can also be found in Qumran. Thus the evidence from Qumran contributes to the understanding of the sectarian practices and organization in general. The article compares the regulations from Qumran to those of the Shakers, the Hutterites, the Mennonites and the Amish and also makes inferences concerning the practices of these different sects.
The comparison pertains to the procedures of joining the sect, admission to adulthood, annual or semi-annual ceremonial communions, sanctions and punishments, confessions, economical organization and organizational patterns, especially the tendency of keeping the local community small, as well as gender relations and social hierarchy within the sect.

Requires a paid personal or institutional subscription to access.
MARK GOODACRE defends "gateway" pages as not only useful filters, but also models for students which help them learn what good academic sites are like and why. I haven't read AKMA's paper, so I won't comment on any of the criticism of it, but Marks positive comments about gateway sites seem spot on to me

Let me just develop one of Mark's points. He writes:
AKMA compliments the hard work, diligence and charity that goes into gateway resources. Given that a lot of work does indeed go into developing and maintaining a gateway, I appreciate AKMA's appreciation of that effort. But I would add that ideally the gateway resources are not simply consulted because of that diligence but also because of the perceived expertise of the authors of the gateways in question. In other words, the reason that I might be interested in what Felix Just, S. J. selects on Johannine Literature is because I respect his ability to discern higher quality resources.

This is very true: a gateway by an expert whose credentials are there for everyone to see is likely to be widely consulted by interested people once the word gets out, and that is all to the good. But better yet the Internet, and especially the Blogosphere, provide a self-correcting context that gives a thoughtful reader tools to help sort out which writers at which sites know what they're talking about. Even anonymous sites can often be evaluated using these tools.

Last July the Council of Europe (which, incidentally, can still go to hell), put out an idiotic proposal that all websites should be required by law to grant equal space to or link to anyone they criticize. What they don't realize is that the Internet already allows anyone to check whatever anyone else is saying about a given website or blog. In effect, the technology already available does grant a "right of reply" to any web author, without the intrusive and ham-fisted legislation. Both Mark and I have mentioned Technorati, a site that many bloggers use to keep track of who links to them. But Technorati can be used by anyone to see the links that bloggers make to any website: all you have to do is put in the URL and press the GO! button. You can check all the links to a whole blog (here is PaleoJudaica's current entry) or to a single post. For example, Mark's "Throttle to Knowledge" post has the following Technorati links profile. This can tell you what any blogger has said recently about any website. The only limits are that Technorati seems not to keep the links on file for more than a few weeks, and that sometimes it can take a few days for their spiders to update new links.

Another useful tool is the Google Advanced Search which allows you to see who is linking to a given web page. All you have to do is insert the relevant URL (see the section under "Page-Specific Search"). This is the result for and this is the result for my Divine Mediator Figures course page. It includes links to blogs and other web pages, but not, it seems, links to individual blog postings.

Both Technorati and Google give users the tools to find out what others are saying about a website or blog. This has two positive effects. First, the user can get a sense of what others make of the site. If people who seem well informed say good things about it, that's a good sign. If not, not. Second, this transparency of criticism encourages the author of the site to keep track of criticisms and to make corrections when appropriate. If others can point out where you're wrong whether you like it or not, it makes sense to make a virtue of necessity and use their criticisms to improve the site. Good bloggers generally do this anyway, but a little incentive never hurts. I've gotten lots of useful feedback and corrections both from reader e-mail and from other blogs (such as here). This is a good example of the sort of emergent order that arises on the Internet as long as we can keep bureaucrats from meddling with it.

Friday, June 11, 2004

THE JOURNAL OF SEMITIC STUDIES has a new issue (49.1, Spring 2004) online. Here's the table of contents:
Final Vowels of Pronominal Suffixes and Independent Personal Pronouns in Semitic*
R. Hasselbach
pp. 1-20
Abstract Full-Text PDF�(138�KB)

Variation in Grammatical Gender in Biblical Hebrew A Study on the Variable Gender Agreements of [garbled Hebrew here], 'Way'*
Markus Zehnder
pp. 21-45
Abstract Full-Text PDF�(164�KB)

'You Shall Cut off Her�Palm'? A Reexamination of Deuteronomy 25:11-12
Jerome T. Walsh
pp. 47-58
Abstract Full-Text PDF�(89�KB)

The Meaning of {pqdwn} in the Nabataean Inscription of Qabr at-Turkm[amacr]n*
Blane W. Conklin
pp. 59-70
Abstract Full-Text PDF�(105�KB)

Terminology for Plough Cultivation in Yemeni Arabic*
Daniel Martin Varisco
pp. 71-129
Abstract Full-Text PDF�(271�KB)

There are also lots of reviews, a number of which pertain to ancient Judaism. I'll just note one, for obvious reasons:
James R. Davila: Liturgical Works
Reviewed by Daniel K. Falk
pp. 164-165
Details Full-Text PDF�(30�KB)

Requires a paid personal or institutional subscription to access.
THE POOL OF SILOAM has been uncovered, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority:
2nd Temple pool found (Jerusalem Post � which is obviously on a roll � via Archaeologiy Magazine News)

A pool that served as a main water reservoir for Jerusalem residents 2,000 years ago has been uncovered, the Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday.

The Pool of Siloam was uncovered last week by chance at the southern end of the City of David � in what today is Silwan � while the city was carrying out infrastructure work for a new sewage pipe.

Archeologist Eli Shukrun said that two millennia ago, Jewish residents would use the pool to gather water for their homes, as a meeting place, and also possibly as a mikve.

THE SHRINE OF THE BOOK has been reopened:
Dead Sea Scrolls again on view (Jerusalem Post)

The Israel Museum has reopened the Shrine of the Book, the architectural complex that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, following a three-year architectural restoration and installation redesign.

Built in 1965, the Shrine's holdings include eight of the most complete scrolls discovered, as well as one of the most famous handwritten Bibles - the 10th-century CE Aleppo Codex.

The Codex was written in Tiberias and since the 14th century was preserved by the Jewish community of Aleppo until it was brought here in the 1950s. On view in the lower level of the shrine, the Codex is accompanied by biblical manuscripts from both the Late Second Temple Period and the Middle Ages, as well as related Jewish and Muslim objects.

Jordanian team to fix eastern Mount wall (Jerusalem Post)

A team of Jordanian engineers which has been repairing the bulge on the southern wall of Jerusalem's Temple Mount will be in charge of repair work on hundreds of small holes uncovered in the adjacent eastern wall, a senior Jordanian official said Thursday.

A joint Egyptian-Jordanian report on the stability of the eastern wall issued this week tells of hundreds of small cavities all over the eastern wall, the head of the Jordanian team, Dr. Raief Najim, told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview from Amman.

The report cites the natural flow of rainwater over the years � not a winter earthquake in the region � as the cause of the damage, which Najim said is particularly serious in two areas of the eastern wall.


Thursday, June 10, 2004

Byzantine artifact stolen in Israel


JERUSALEM -- A priceless 1,500-year-old Byzantine era artifact was stolen early Wednesday from an archaeological park near Tel Aviv, police said.

The thieves took a part of the floor of a glass kiln, one of only three still in existence in Israel, police said. They suspect the theft had been commissioned by a private antiques collector.

"This was a part of the glass kiln that served the Byzantine city of Apolonia 1,500 years ago," said archaeologist Hagi Yohanan, director of the Apolonia park built over the ruins of the city.


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

MORE ON DOUDNA'S PAPER: Stephen C. Carlson over at Hypotyposes has some comments and queries. And the discussion continues at g-Megillot.

Me, I'm staying out of this one. It doesn't matter for the purposes of any research I plan on doing in the near future whether the Dead Sea Scrolls were deposited in 68 C.E. or the first century B.C.E. I do intend to get around to reading Ian Young's article, but I'm not an expert in archaeology or radiocarbon dating and I'm not all that interested in paleographic dating of scripts. I have enough other things on my plate to keep me busy (very, very, busy), so, unless something strikes me as worth a comment, I'll leave this discussion to those who know more about and have more interest in such matters and just listen to what they say and forward it to you. Enjoy!
THERE WERE GIANTS ON THE EARTH in those days, and here's proof. (Via Rogue Classicism and Cronaca.)
THE ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE is protesting Vatican plans to beatify Anne Catherine Emmerich:
ADL against sainting nun that inspired 'Passion' (Jerusalem Post)

The Anti-Defamation League is protesting Vatican plans to beatify the German mystic nun Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), whose visions of Jesus's last hours served as the source for beyond-the-Gospel details in the controversial hit film, The Passion of the Christ.

Director Mel Gibson has cited Emmerich as his inspiration, in particular for those scenes termed most "troubling" by the ADL. Beatification is the penultimate step before a deceased figure is proclaimed a saint.

"The disturbing conclusion that could be drawn from this beatification is that her anti-Semitic views, even if only attributed to her, are being discounted," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Palestinians Move To Preserve Identity

RAFAH, June 4 ( & News Agencies) � Seeking to reserve the Palestinian identity in the face of Israeli attempts, the Parliament of the southern Gaza town of Rafah called upon the media not to use the " Philadelphi Route " term adopted by the Israeli occupation troops for Saladin Route , a borderline between Palestinian and Egyptian territories.

In a statement released by the London-based Middle East newspaper Thursday June3 , the Parliament said that the Israeli occupation still targets the history and culture of Palestine and works to obliterate the name of the southern entrance into Palestine , through changing the Saladin Route into Philadelphi Route .

I don't know the history of these names, so I won't comment on this issue. If anyone can enlighten me, please do. But it was the following that caught my eye:
Imposing Media Language

Israel seeks to impose its own terms on the mass media, as it has repeatedly sought to change the name of Al-Aqsa Mosque into "Temple Mount" and the Boraq Wall into the "Waling Wall".

This is shameless historical revisionism. They're called the "Temple Mount" and "Wailing Wall" (or "Western Wall") because the Jewish Temple was there centuries before Muhammad had his vision of Jerusalem or a mosque was built on the spot. The story of Muhammad's ride on the creature called "Al-Boraq" (various spellings) goes back to the earlier extra-Qur'anic traditions about his life, but I never heard the term "Al-Boraq Wall" until the last year or two. You'll notice that when it's used, it generally has to be explained, which makes me wonder if it isn't a recent coinage. The Western Wall was, of course, there at the time of Muhammad (I would guess it was underground at that point - the Romans leveled what was above ground) and for centuries before, but it was the remnant of the retaining wall of Herod's Temple platform, not part of a mosque.

Of course, what follows in the article is even more Orwellian:
As for the term "terrorist", used by Israeli newspapers and a large number of western papers to describe Palestinians who carry out resistance attacks against Israel , several mass media have previously called for not using it and using "patriot" and "martyr" terms instead.

UPDATE 9 June): Menachem Brody e-mails:
As a result of much too many dusty hours I have spent riding up and down the "Philadelphia Route", let me assure you that not only are both the names absolute fabrications, but even the road itself was created from nothing, in our generation, [and hopefully will return to nothing as soon as possible...]

This runs down an artificial straight-line boundary drawn on a map between the British interests in the South [Egypt] and the Turkish in the North [Palestine] in 1906.

Lord Cromer, Britain's agent in Egypt, wanted to change the border between the Ottoman Empire, which was under strong German influence, and Egypt, in order to push the Ottomans further away from the Suez Canal. In 1892, the Turks agreed to allow Egyptian guard stations near the Gulf of Eilat; in 1905, Lord Cromer tried to move the border. In April 1906, the Turks were given an ultimatum - to set the border between Aqaba and Rafah. They proposed a compromise (El Arish - Ras Muhamed) but finally gave in to British pressure. The firm stand of the commander of the Turkish police station at Um Rashrash (today, Eilat) changed the starting point of the border from Aqaba to Taba, which became the international border between Israel and Egypt.

There was never a road down the border line [there was nothing to connect or drive to in the vicinity, and the terrain is very challenging] , and the border itself was obliterated by the 1967 6-day war which joined the Sinai to Israel. Only after the Begin-Sadat peace agreement of 1979 was the border re-established, and marked by a 3 strand barbed wire fence [which wasn't enough to keep tourists from wandering over the line by mistake]. New border markers were then placed along the line by helicopters, and we [Israeli reservists] began the incredibly tedious [and dusty] work of guarding the border.

On Israeli code maps, the jeep trail along the border received the computer assigned code name of "Philadelphia".

During the first Intifada, smuggling of arms and attacks on Israeli patrols led to strengthening the fence, widening and paving the road, etc.

Saladin must have arrived there quite recently, since up to my last reserve tour there [some 8 years ago] I never heard it mentioned by the locals.
THE MESSIANIC SECRET REVISITED: Here's the rubric for Quodlibet: Online Journal of Christian Theology and Philosophy (via Davide's Notes):
And Jesus said unto them, "And whom do you say that I am?" They replied, "You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the ontological foundation of the context of our very selfhood revealed." And Jesus replied, "What?"
THE SBL FORUM has published its crop of articles for June and, as always, they look very interesting. I haven't had the chance to look at everything yet, but for now let me just highlight David H. Aaron's article "Pre-Modern Biblical Interpretation and the Challenge of New Historicism" as a must-read. Excerpt:
Determinations as to what constitutes "significant" or "less worthy" documents are more complicated than at first apparent. It is not simply a matter of recognizing truth in the old adage that the winners of history have been those most able to dominate the writing of history. Especially when it comes to pre-printing press eras, it is also a matter of recognizing that the winners of history had extraordinary power over which documents would be preserved and which would perish (a trend that continues into our own day, albeit, with somewhat different economic causes). My concern here is quite specifically the portrayal of the history of biblical interpretation as it pertains to critical questions of composition and authenticity. To write this history based on the highly selective exegetical canon of a given era is essentially to privilege the partisan perspective of those who influenced the selection process. Can we not do better?

Even where opportunities to bring about "social rebellion on the study" of Bible interpretation avail themselves, scholars have been reticent to explore the possibilities (albeit, with some noteworthy exceptions). Despite some remarkable "new" old texts, the dominant portrait of biblical hermeneutics has remained rather static for some time. A barometer of this stasis emerges when we contrast the enthusiasm with which the Dead Sea Scrolls literature has been (legitimately) championed by biblical scholars in contrast to the relative (illegitimate) apathy toward Cairo Geniza manuscripts.

He goes on to discuss two little-know works from the Cairo Geniza (I'd never heard of them) which raise historical-critical questions about the Bible many centuries before the Enlightenment.

The problem Aaron discusses is very real. Once � in a job interview, no less � a prominent Patristics scholar who shall remain nameless suggested to me that we shouldn't be working on noncanonical and heterodox ancient literature when there were so many canonical and orthodox texts that still needed basic study. I ventured to disagree. I also didn't get the job.

Still, the situation is improving steadily. Cairo Geniza texts are being edited, translated, and studied, as are Jewish incantation bowls, Merkavah mystical texts and Kabbalah, and ancient Jewish and Christian pseudepigrapha. Our understanding of ancient Judaism, early Christianity, and the history of Western religion in general is all the richer for our better knowledge of the writings and beliefs of those whose ideas didn't win � or at least didn't become mainstream.
�Petra is all about water, both its productivity when harnessed and its power of devastation when left uncontrolled,� says Glenn Markoe, curator at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The city, which went by different names over the centuries, had �a really elaborate water management scheme that people are just understanding now,� Markoe says. However, the flash floods that created the site�s canyons millions of years ago are now threatening to destroy it, aggravated by the increasing number of humans who flock to see what remains of the ancient site.

Monday, June 07, 2004


Blenkinsopp, Joseph
Isaiah 56-66
Reviewed by Brooks Schramm

Carroll R., M. Daniel
Amos--The Prophet and His Oracles: Research on the Book of Amos
Reviewed by Mark McEntire

Gertoux, G�rard
The Name of God Y.EH.OW.AH Which is Pronounced as It is Written I_EH_OU_AH
Reviewed by John Gee

Halpern, Baruch
David's Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King
Reviewed by Michael Carasik

Lipschits, Oded and Joseph Blenkinsopp, eds.
Judah and the Judeans in the Neo-Babylonian Period
Reviewed by Bob Becking

Nelson, Richard D.
Reviewed by Jean-Daniel Macchi

Pirson, Ron
The Lord of the Dreams: A Semantic and Literary Analysis of Genesis 37-50
Reviewed by Walter Brown

Pleins, J. David
When the Great Abyss Opened: Classic and Contemporary Readings of Noah's

Reviewed by Thomas Hieke

Dunn, James D. G.
Christianity in the Making: Volume 1: Jesus Remembered
Reviewed by Robert McIver

Murphy, Catharine M.
John the Baptist: Prophet of Purity for a New Age
Reviewed by James Metzger

Park, Eung Chun
Either Jew or Gentile: Paul's Unfolding Theology of Inclusivity
Reviewed by Bruce E. Shields

Abegg, Martin, Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich
The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the
First Time into English

Reviewed by Robert A. Kugler

Gruen, Erich S.
Diaspora: Jews amidst Greeks and Romans
Reviewed by Andrew S. Jacobs

Nir, Rivka
The Destruction of Jerusalem and the Idea of Redemption in the Syriac
Apocalypse of Baruch

Reviewed by Matthias Henze

Whealey, Alice
Josephus on Jesus: The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy from Late
Antiquity to Modern Times

Reviewed by Pablo Torijano Morales

Wright, J. Edward
Baruch ben Neriah: From Biblical Scribe to Apocalytic Seer
Reviewed by John Hill
PROFESSOR ZAINAB BAHRANI of Columbia University has been appointed as Deputy Senior Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, evidently replacing John Russell. This was noted a couple of weeks ago on the IraqCrisis list and I've been meaning to flag it even since. Belated best wishes to Professor Bahrani in her new and doubtless tremendously challenging job.
THE "BIBLICAL ANTIQUITIES OF PHILO" (more accurately know as Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum or Pseudo-Philo's Biblical Antiquities) has been added to the Internet Sacred Texts Archive in the old but serviceable translation of M. R. James (via this week's edition of Explorator).
THERE'S A DEBATE on Greg Doudna's paper over on the g-Megillot list. Start at the link and then just keep moving forward through the Follow Ups at the bottom of the page.

Meanwhile, Greg has e-mailed regarding the provenance of this latest paper:
. . . that was not my Brown University paper in the fall of 2002. It was
a paper delivered a month ago to ASOR at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. (at the annual regional meeting of SBL/AAR/ASOR) on May 8, 2004. (See )

Although the paper is similar to my Brown University presentation, it is not the same, and has a number of updates with rewriting, etc.

The correct attribution was in the submitted paper but was inadvertently removed during editing.

Also, while we're on the subject of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Hershel Shanks has recently given a lecture on them in Virginia at a fundraising event by the Congregation Beth Israel for the Charlottesville Community Jewish Day School. The Charlottesville Daily Progress has a summary.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

IN HONOR OF D-DAY, we just watched Casablanca with our neighbors across the street. It's a movie I never get tired of and one I find something new in every time I see it.
LINKS UPDATE: I have finally given in and adjusted the links to the new, unasked for URL that my provider, has foisted on me. All the links in the bar to the right should now work. If you have linked to either the "About" page or any of the links in the links bar (both to the right, below the Archive link), your link needs to be updated with the following directory:

Formerly it was "members4," so all you need to do is change the "4" in the old address to "5."

I am quite annoyed that Flyservers has not bothered to reply to any of my messages and that they have done this to me before: the address used to be "members3." Now I know it's true that the web page they provide me with is free, but I do give them business by keeping my domain names registered through their parent company, Unless I get a satisfactory reply from their support department, I'll be taking my business elsewhere when I need to renew again. And at present I can't recommend them: their prices are good, but I recommend you pay more somewhere else for better support. If that changes, I'll let you know.
A NEW DEAD SEA SCROLLS EXHIBITION is coming to Mobile, Alabama next year:
Gulf Coast Exploreum in Mobile plans Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit (Baton Rouge Advocate)
By Cynthia V. Campbell
Travel editor

Mobile is definitely on the move. Carnival Cruise Lines begins its first year-round cruise program from the Alabama city in October, and in January the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center will host the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition.

Exclusive to the Southeast, the exhibit will take place Jan. 20-April 24, 2005


Mobile's set of 12 scrolls are special in several ways.

Seven are biblical from the Hebrew Bible, known to Christians as the Old Testament, and the texts will be familiar to many visitors. Only two biblical scrolls are included in the Grand Rapids and Houston version of the exhibit.

This is the largest number of biblical scrolls ever to be shown in the United States in one exhibit. Among these is a Deuteronomy fragment, including text of the Ten Commandments.

Five of the scrolls have never before been shown outside of Israel.