Saturday, July 03, 2004

"PEELING THE LAYERS OFF THE MASADA MYTH": Dr. Tamar Landau reviews "Ani, Shalom Bat Shmuel" ("I Am Shalom Bat Shmuel") for Ha'aretz. Excerpt:
The inspiration for Myno Ben-Guigui Yeger's book is a short passage from Book 7 of the "The Jewish War," which has fired the imaginations of many. Another novel inspired by this same passage is Yoram Avi-Tamar's "Life of Joseph: An Unpublished History." The tragedy has reached a peak: The Jews on Masada have committed mass suicide and everything has gone up in flames. There seems to be no hope. But then it turns out that there are survivors: "Yet was there an ancient woman, and another who was of kin to Eleazar, and superior to most women in prudence and learning, with five children, who had concealed themselves in caverns under ground, and had carried water thither for their drink, and were hidden there when the rest were intent upon the slaughter of one another. Those others were 960 in number, the women and children being withal included in that computation. This calamitous slaughter was made on the fifteenth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan] - The women heard this noise [of the Romans coming up the mountain] and came out of their underground cavern, and informed the Romans what had been done, as it was done; and the second of them clearly described all, both what was said and what was done, and this manner of it; yet did they not easily give their attention to such a desperate undertaking, and did not believe it could be as they said, that they went through with such an action as that was."

There is no historical proof of this incident, and no way of knowing whether Josephus was telling the truth or merely embroidering a dramatic ending for his story. One way or the other, our curiosity is piqued: Who was this woman? How did she save herself? What made her disobey Eleazar and run away instead of committing suicide? Where was she educated? What happened to her afterward?

Myno Ben-Guigui Yeger tries to answer these questions in her novel, and does it with great charm and delicacy. The heroine of this beautiful book is Shalom, the daughter of Shmuel, from the house of Eleazar. She is a young Jerusalemite from an aristocratic family, as one might guess from her learning, beauty, political awareness and knowledge of languages.

Friday, July 02, 2004

EXCITING NEWS ABOUT THE COPTIC GOSPEL OF JUDAS � Pierluigi Piovanelli (University of Ottawa) e-mails the following:
. . . I attended the Annual Meeting of the AELAC in Dole (France), together with Francois Bovon, Stanley Jones, Nicole Kelly, Stephen Shoemaker, as well as many French, Italian, and Swiss colleagues.

The AELAC meeting was, as usual, very interesting, but it was today [Thursday], during the 8th International Congress of Coptic Studies, here in Paris, that I heard of a new and exciting "apocryphal" discovery, that I would like to share with you.

Rodolphe Kasser (University of Geneva) announced that he is going to publish a Coptic papyrus codex of 31 folios (62 pages). The manuscript is written in Sahidic and can be dated, on paleographical grounds, to the 4th/5th century. It is rather damaged and in poor and fragmentary conditions. It comes from Muhazafat Al Minya, in Middle Egypt, and is presently hold by a Swiss Foundation.

The codex contains three "treatises": (1) the Epistle of Peter to Philip, (2) the First Apocalypse of James (both of them are also present among the NHC [Nag Hammadi codices] but, according to Kasser, in a "different version"), and (3) ca. 31 pages of the previously unknown Gospel of Judas!

For Kasser there are no doubts that we have here the text of the "blasphemous" work bearing the same title that Irenaeus criticized in his Refutation of All the Heresies.

Kasser's publication is (hopefully) scheduled for the end of 2005.

In the discussion, James Robinson pointed out that, some years ago, Stephen Emmel had already seen such a codex and made a brief mention of it. Could it be a new and previously unknown NHC?

In any case, this is a major discovery not only for Coptic, Gnostic or apocryphal studies, but also for ancient Judaism and early Christianity.

UPDATE: Stephen C. Carlson at Hypotyposeis comments.

UPDATE (5 July): Wieland Willker comments on the Textual Criticism list.

UPDATE (9 July): Welcome Instapundit readers. If you're interested in ancient history, critical historical study of the Bible and ancient Judaism and early Christianity, new discoveries like the Gospel of Judas, etc., please have a look at the "About" link and the "Home" (main page) link to the right. I also try to keep up in a general way with the current situation with antiquities, museums, etc. in Iraq.
WHEN SCRIPTS DIE: Science Magazine has a report on an Oxford conference that explored the reasons why ancient scripts vanished.
The Slow Deaths of Writing
Andrew Lawler

A diverse group of scholars ponders not just why scripts vanish, but why they sometimes survive so long
OXFORD, U.K.--The biblical God punished humanity for its arrogance by creating innumerable languages--nearly 7000 at latest count. Writing systems, however, escaped the curse. During the 5 millennia since writing first emerged on the same Mesopotamian plain as the legendary Tower of Babel, fewer than 100 major scripts have appeared. But once born, they can be surprisingly durable. A handful of researchers are now taking a closer look at how scripts vanish to glean insight into how and why cultures disintegrate. They have found that writing systems show an amazing tenacity, even in the face of invasions, language changes, and religious upheavals. Ironically, the more cumbersome systems often prove the hardiest. "There is so much intense emotion invested in scripts, they tend to live longer than they have any right to do," says Mayan anthropologist Stephen Houston of Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Houston was part of an unusual collection of scholars who met this spring at the University of Oxford* to hash out a wide variety of script deaths and their meanings. Anthropologists and philologists presented case studies of more than a dozen scripts, including Egyptian hieroglyphics, Mayan glyphs, and Sumerian cuneiform, plus some less traditional recording systems (see sidebar, p. 32), in order to discern larger patterns in the scripts' last gasps. "Their decline is as worthy of investigation as their origin," says Oxford Egyptologist John Baines. He and his colleagues believe that the death of scripts can provide new insight into cultural collapse and the relationship between a script and its culture. But they also differ in how far to go in comparing script disappearance.

The 2-day meeting exploded some general assumptions about the way scripts live and die. Although in some cases a script and its culture slowly degraded in tandem, in other instances writing systems were decoupled from cultural crises and persisted in the face of natural or political disasters. Nor did scripts inevitably disappear when people began to speak a new language. "Scripts and language don't correlate in any simple way," notes Baines; in some instances a script kept alive a language not spoken by the general population for 1000 years. And in case after case, scripts survived in pockets long after their culture was all but dead.


The piece deals mainly with ancient cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and the Maya language, but Aramaic, Greek, and other languages come up as well.

My favorite fun fact (or, better, fun theory) in the article is the following:
[UCL philologist David] Brown proposes that a boom in astrology --essentially a niche market for the script--kept cuneiform alive for the last few centuries of its existence. Around 200 B.C.E., he notes, there was a great flowering of astronomical texts. "This was a spinoff product of temple culture," he says, because the Babylonian temples were long famed as centers of astronomical observations. "Elite scholars made money doing astronomy," he suggests. Although the direct evidence for this is lacking, he argues that the prevalence of astrological tablets in these later years hints strongly at an economic basis for the continued existence of cuneiform guilds, or families of scholars. But 2 centuries later, Babylon's monopoly over the astronomy- astrology business weakened, Brown says, as more accessible Greek horoscopes spread through the Roman Empire. That shift, he suggests, pulled the rug out from under cuneiform's economic basis, although the system's existence may have continued for another century or two.

Never underestimate the importance of the astrology column in the newspaper.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

PHILOLOGOS picks up the thread from last week on the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (in the Forward) and concludes that the Arabic was botched but the writer had some help with the Hebrew from an anonymous rabbi. Excerpts:
The Hebrew inscriptions tell a different story. Gloria Dei is felicitously translated astif'eret ha-el and Gloria Mundi as tif'eret ha-olam. The only unusual thing is the Hebrew of the middle portal � which, as we said last week, leads to the abode of Venus, the goddess of love. Although every educated Italian in Renaissance times knew Latin, few knew Greek; yet the Hebrew over this portal, gidul ha-ahavah, is translated not from the Latin Materamoris but from the Greek Erototrophos. Moreover, the translation itself is inexact, since gidul ha-ahavah means "the nourishment [or cultivation] of love," not "the nourisher of love." How are we to account for this?


And yet, Colonna's Hebrew helper, who could have chosen between em ha-ahavah, "the mother of love," and megadelet ha-ahavah, "the nourisher of love," opted for a third, less literal alternative. There only could be one reason for this: the fact that he was a rabbi! In other words, while as an Italian Jew he was a man of the Renaissance, too, and had no objection to assisting a Christian in publishing a book containing nude and erotic illustrations, he drew the line at polytheism. If Colonna wanted to invoke the ancient Greek and Roman gods as part of his allegory of love's progress, that was his affair, but our rabbi was not about to desecrate the Holy Tongue by following suit. Possibly without even telling the author what he was doing, he therefore substituted "the nourishment of love" for "the nourisher of love" and kept the Hebrew free of pagan allusions.

HERE'S AN IRAQI JEWISH ARCHIVE UPDATE from the Forward (requires free registration to access):
Fate of Rare Document Trove Remains
Unclear as Iraq Regime Takes Charge

July 2, 2004

With political authority in Iraq now formally turned over to a fledgling local government, the fate of a cache of rare and historic Jewish documents rescued by American soldiers from destruction in Baghdad remains up in the air.

"The final disposition is to be determined," said Doris Hamburg, director of preservation programs at the U.S. National Archives & Records Administration in College Park, Md.

Hamburg reported last week on the status of the treasure trove of communal records and Jewish holy books at a panel at the 39th annual convention of the Association of Jewish Libraries held at the Marriott hotel in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Included in the collection are parts of a Bible printed in Venice in 1568, pieces of a damaged Torah scroll and rare books on rabbinic law. A 1,400-year-old Talmud, thought to be one of the oldest in the world and believed to have been part of the cache, is missing.

Hamburg told the Forward that the ultimate significance and value of the documents � rescued last year from the flooded basement of Saddam Hussein's secret police headquarters � can be determined only after a thorough analysis by scholars.

To perform this, the National Archives is looking to find between

$1.5 million and $3 million in private donations, she said.

"There are still a lot of things we don't know" about the documents, she said. The trove represents the legacy of Iraq's storied Jewish community, which dates to 586 BCE.

The question of whether the trove will be declared Jewish patrimony or will be claimed by an independent Iraq has discouraged potential donors from coming forward, sources close to the project said.

"Until a decision is made on where it's going to go, it's unlikely American Jewish philanthropists are going to give money," said one project source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


The article is mostly a rehashing of the previously reported story, but it does contain some new details. As I've said before (see first link, above), I'm skeptical about there ever having been a seventh-century Talmud in the collection.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

THE ST. ANDREWS CONFERENCE ON OLD TESTAMENT INTERPRETATION AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES, held by my colleague Professor Philip Esler, begins this evening. I am not directly involved, but I do plan to drop in on some of the papers. The conference schedule follows.


noon � 7.00 p.m. Registration at St Salvator�s Hall, North Street, St Andrews

6.00 � 6.30 p.m. Dinner in St Salvator�s Hall

7.30 � 9.00 p.m. Opening Function in Parliament Hall


7.45 � 8.30 a.m. Breakfast in St Salvator�s Hall

8.45 � 9.45 a.m. Marvin Chaney, �Models Matter: Some Implications of Political Economy for the Textual Exegesis of Micah 6:9-11�

9.45 � 10.45 a.m. Lester Grabbe, �Prophets Ancient and Modern: Anthropological Insights on Israelite Prophecy�

10.45 � 11.15 a.m. Morning Tea

11.15 - noon John H. Elliott, �Euphemism and Dysphemism in the Biblical Communities and Their Cultural Roots: A Social-Scientific Study of Deut 25:11-12�

Noon � 12.45 p.m. Philip F. Esler, �What Solomon�s Father Did in the Ammonite War: A Narrative and Social-Scientific Study of 2 Samuel 10-12�

1.00 � 1.30 p.m. Lunch in St Salvator�s Hall

1.45 � 3.30 p.m. Guided tour of ruins of Castle, Cathedral and Chapter House (or free time)

3.30 � 4.00 p.m. Afternoon tea at St Mary�s

4.00 � 5.00 p.m. Mario Aguilar, �Symbolic Wars, Age-Sets and the Anthropology of War in 1 Maccabees�

5.00� 6.00 p.m. Jutta Jokiranta, �The Prototypical Teacher in the Qumran

6.30 � 7.00 p.m. Dinner in St Salvator�s Hall


7.45 � 8.30 a.m. Breakfast in St Salvator�s Hall

8.45 � 9.45 a.m. Robert Coote, �Tribalism in Ancient Palestine and the Hebrew Bible�

9.45 � 10.45 a.m. Adriana Destro and Mauro Pesce, �Levitical Sacrifice in Anthropological Perspective�

10.30 � 11.00 a.m. Morning Tea

11.00 � 11.45 a.m. Zeba Crook, �Modelling Exchange in the Biblical Era�

11.45 � 12.30 p.m. Gary Stansell, �Wealth in Ancient Israel: or, How Abraham Became Rich�

1.00 � 1.30 p.m. Lunch in St Salvator�s Hall

2.00 � 3.00 p.m. Richard E. DeMaris and Carolyn Leeb, �(Dis)honor and Ritual Enactment in the Jephthah Story�

3.00 � 6.00 p.m. Tour of Falkland Palace and Gardens (summer palace of the Stewart kings), or golf or free time

6.30 � 7.00 p.m. Dinner in St Salvator�s Hall


7.45 � 8.30 a.m. Breakfast in St Salvator�s Hall

8.45� 9.45 a.m. Carolyn Leeb, �Polygyny in the Biblical World: Insights from Haiti�

9.45 � 10.45 a.m. Dietmar Neufeld, �Body, Ritual and States of Ecstasy in the Old Testament�

10.45 � 11.15 a.m. Morning Tea

11.15 � noon John Pilch, �Altered States of Consciousness and Visions in Ezekiel�

Noon � 12.45 p.m. Anselm Hagedorn, �Ethnicity and Stereotypes in the Book of Nahum: Social-Scientific Insights into the Literary History of a
Prophetic Book�

1.00 p.m. Lunch in St Salvator�s Hall

2.00 � 2.45 p.m. Andrew Mayes, �Freud, Moses and Monotheism�

2.45 � 3.30 p.m. Bruce J. Malina, �Identity Theory, Politics and the Pontifical Biblical Commission�s The Jewish People and Its Scriptures in the Christian Bible �

3.30 � 4.00 p.m. Afternoon Tea

4.30 � 5.30 p.m. Douglas E. Oakman, �Marcion's Truth: Biblical Hermeneutics in Developmental Perspective�

8.00 for 8.30 p.m. Conference Dinner at Rufflets Restaurant

SUNDAY 4 July 2004

8.00 � 8.30 a.m. Breakfast in St Salvator�s Hall

9.00 � 10.00 a.m. Conference liturgy in St Leonard�s Chapel

10.00 a.m. & after Departures

Noon St Salvator�s to have been vacated (but we can arrange other accommodation for those wanting to stay on)
NEW BOOK REVIEWS from the Review of Biblical Literature:

Cazeaux, Jacques
Sa�l, David, Salomon: Le Royaut� et le destin d'Isra�l
Reviewed by John Engle

Futato, Mark D.
Beginning Biblical Hebrew
Reviewed by Steven Mason

Garbini, Giovanni
Myth and History in the Bible
Reviewed by Meir Malul

Green, Barbara
How the Mighty are Fallen?: A Dialogical Study of King Saul in 1 Samuel
Reviewed by Serge Frolov

Kessler, Martin
Battle of the Gods: The God of Israel Versus Marduk of Babylon: A Literary/Theological Interpretation of Jeremiah 50-51
Reviewed by Alice Ogden Bellis

Park, Eung Chun
Either Jew or Gentile: Paul's Unfolding Theology of Inclusivity
Reviewed by Alan Segal

De Troyer, Kristin, Judith A. Herbert, Judith Ann Johnson and Anne-Marie Korte, eds.
Wholly Woman, Holy Blood: A Feminist Critique of Purity and Impurity
Reviewed by Carole R. Fontaine

Wright, Melanie J.
Moses in America: The Cultural Uses of Biblical Narrative
Reviewed by Mark McEntire

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

BUDGET CUTS for the Israel Antiquities Authority are leading to layoffs at the Beit She'an and Ad Halom excavations. But President Katsav is showing the workers at the latter some support.
WHOLLY MOSES, the 1980 biblical spoof, is now available on DVD. Quote from the DVD Talk review: "No collection of the unfunniest comedies of all time could be complete without this DVD, since it surely ranks in the top ten."

Monday, June 28, 2004

JEWISH SCHOLARS IN IRAQ: I've posted the following e-mail to the IraqCrisis list.
I am surprised and rather concerned that there has been no reply to the query below from 4 June by Arthur Houghton. I would think that the second question, and that's the one that really concerns me, ought to be easy to answer, i.e., "Of course Jewish scholars will be able to work in Iraq on the same basis as anyone else." I don't care what past policies were under the Baathists, but I do care that they be gotten right now.

I realize that things must be hectic at present, especially with the transfer of sovereignty bumped up to today without warning. But perhaps Zainab Bahrani could make inquiries and get us an official answer to the question as quickly as possible? This is an issue that should not be lost sight of.


Jim Davila

Would anyone be able to comment on the accuracy of the allegations that underlie this article, in particular a) whether the letter cited exists in fact and b) that Jewish scholars may not be permitted to work in Iraq?

Thank you.

Arthur Houghton

Regular readers will recall that this issue was discussed on PaleoJudaica earlier in the month in this post. I'll let you know when I get a response.
HOW EVIL WAS PONTIUS PILATE? This brief Associated Press article, "�Passion� sparks new Pilate debate" summarizes a Bible Review discussion between New Testament scholars Paul Meier and Stephen J. Patterson.
ALEXANDER H. JOFFE has just published two articles online that ought to generate some controversy. One, "Are Fakes So Bad?" has recently been posted at the Bible and Interpretation website. Excerpt:
Therefore the fear expressed by Israel Antiquities Authority director Shuka Dorfman regarding the commodification of archaeology, in response to an interesting proposal to sell surplus sherds, is entirely correct and entirely besides the point. In the real world money makes everything go, and commodification has been there all along; archaeology could not exist without it, since at the very least we sell an image of ourselves as romantic explorers or dispassionate scientists to an unsuspecting public and expect them to pony up their gift or even tax dollars. Commodification is a means of disseminating the real, and what could be more real than a body sherd in lucite. Reality could thus be disseminated in bite sized pieces. If we don�t entertain such notions seriously, then we become much like ancient Egyptian mortuary temples, or the modern European social welfare system, condemning future generations to care in perpetuity for body sherds that we excavated without a clue as to how or why.

For those who pronounce categorically on the problem, to the effect that sales are anathema, a small comparison might be in order. In one season at Megiddo I would reluctantly throw away more Early Bronze Age sherds from bad contexts than have been collected in 150 years of New York State archaeology, sherds numbering in the thousands or tens of thousands. There was no place to put them, nothing to do with them, and it pained me to do it. In the New York State Museum, however, every prehistoric sherd has its own custom fitted foam slot in custom made metal shelving, and to examine these sherds one must run a gauntlet of curators and don white cotton gloves in the presence of watchful minders . Now, there is not enough shelving in the known world to hold even one season�s sherds from one decent sized site in Israel, much less a sherd hell like Rome. And there are not enough graduate students in this quadrant of the galaxy to lock in basements with orders to analyze even the sherds from good contexts.

We should therefore be realistic about our embarrassment of riches. A legalized lucite sherd paperweight trade would share the wealth, provided that the absurd fiction of a legalized market in complete items were eliminated, at the pinnacle of which are the beautiful, the rare, and the fake, things seen only by collectors, their fences, and compliant scholars. Opening up the bottom would only work if the top were shut down, something that might be a political impossibility. In that case the entire market should be shut down. That too is an impossibility, given political realities, not least of which being that Israel is an open rather than a closed society like its neighbors. But professionals must realize that by making idealistically sweeping and categorical judgments such as these, that have no bearing on the real politics much less the economics of things, our viewpoints are going to be immediately dismissed.

If the only choices we can come up with for our excess body sherds are for them to be recycled as road fill, reburied in the manner of sacred objects, or treated like drugs � pick up a sherd, go to jail - then we have reached a laughable point. If we can�t even figure out what to do with the real stuff, then we should stop excavating so damn much of it and worry about the fake stuff later. If cannot even slow the destruction of archaeological sites, most supremely the continuing evisceration of the Temple Mount/Haram el-Sharif in Jerusalem by the Waqf, then we should not waste what energy we have kvetching about fakes. The 21st century will see an unprecedented global archaeological extinction event, especially in the Middle East. In the real world, fakes are a red herring.


Archaeology, particularly in the Near East, has no moral standing because of its wretched record of tolerating and embracing genocide and totalitarianism in the present, from Sudan to Syria, and most lately in the form of Saddam Hussein, as a means of facilitating its own petty prerogatives. We should not happy about having benefited from the more dreadful consequences of colonialism, which in a few places included mass murder. But that was then and this is now. Our present complicity in the murder of between 300,000 and 1.3 million Iraqis taints, or should taint, any claims to moral standing and practical funding made by the profession as a whole, on questions of funding, looting, markets, fakes, and to be sure, culture, society and politics at large. Not a peep of protest, indeed, the most shameful excuses and justifications were offered, CNN-like contortions were employed to maintain or regain access, and the global profession looked the other way as people were slaughtered.


The other, "Museum Madness in Iraq," was published in the spring issue of the Middle East Quarterly. It concludes:
Ethical Lapse

Western archaeologists speak the language of scholarly authority, pacifism, and universalism. Stone's statement revealed an underlying truth: the profession only values high culture in its most rarified form and is entirely possessed with its role of mediating the meaning of objects to a high-brow Western audience.

Working in a wretched totalitarian country was a conscious choice for archaeologists as it was for businessmen. Iraq purchased most of its weapons from Russia and France, sophisticated electronics from the United States, and germ samples from all over the world. Profit is its own excuse, and those who armed and supported Iraq have much for which to answer. But archaeologists submitted paperwork to the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, knowing full well that staff lists would be vetted by Iraqi intelligence. European and American Jews, among the pioneers of Mesopotamian archaeology during the first half of the twentieth century, were systematically excluded from participation, as they still are in Syria and Saudi Arabia. No one protested.

The teams did their fieldwork under the watchful eye of government minders, came back, kept their mouths shut about whatever they might have seen or heard, and not infrequently sang the praises of Hussein, at least his treatment of archaeology. Access was everything. The situation is uncannily similar to that finally admitted by the president of CNN, Eason Jordan. Even the regime's torture of CNN employees was hushed up, lest it jeopardize CNN's access to reporting from Baghdad. John Burns of The New York Times has expanded this indictment, graphically pointing out the mutual lies, collusion, and bribery that kept the Western press working in Iraq.[58]

No such admissions have been forthcoming from archaeologists. Even today, the profession disguises its pursuit of self-interest beneath the language of service to the heritage of humankind or the Iraqi people. Only a small group of German professionals, Archaeologists for Human Rights, have taken the courageous stand of putting the archaeological focus on the calamity of Baathist rule. Their efforts to organize the excavations of mass graves have met with strong support from Kurdish authorities but clumsy indecision from the CPA. Nonetheless, they have touched a nerve, and nearly 300 archaeologists and forensic specialists have volunteered to undertake this mournful research, the only ethical type of archaeology that should be conducted in Iraq at the present time.[59]

But the archaeological establishment is already busy building a new order, which looks surprisingly like the old one. They have recently recommended that archaeology in Iraq be supported directly through the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Army Corps of Engineers, but that it come under the formal supervision of old friends at the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage.[60] With the archaeological status quo restored in Iraq, where are the incentives for moral reassessment?

Both articles are a definite Read It All.

Regarding the first, I basically agree with what he says about archaeology and capitalism, but I don't see any very good solutions to the problem. Nor, it seems, does he.

As for the second, I think all I will say is to read it yourself and make up your own mind. It will be interesting to see the response of the people he names. You can read my view on some of the same issues here and here.

I have more things on Iraq in the queue, but I'll leave them for later.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

FORMAT CHANGES: I've made two format changes to PaleoJudaica. The first is that the archive is now posted by month rather than by week, so as to save space in the links bar to the right. I don't think this should have any undesirable knock-on effects, since I assume that if people want to find a past post they use the search engine rather than the archive. But let me know if it causes any problems.

The second change is that the permalink for each post now has its own page rather than being part of the weekly archive as before. This will allow Google etc. to index the site more accurately and should eliminate referrals for things like "Iranian prostitute blogger" and "arabic� site� showing� american� b*heading". (Mark Goodacre was quite right to point to this feature as a signficant improvement offered by the new Blogger.) Should be interesting to set if the change makes a significant dent in the search engine referrals.