Saturday, August 07, 2004

THE CURRENT EXCAVATION AT MEGIDDO is the subject of a long article in the Washington Post:
Exploring Mysteries Of Ancient History
GWU Students Take Part in Dig at Megiddo, Where King Solomon Might Have Lived

By Bill Broadway
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 7, 2004; Page B07

Five local students and their archaeology professor went to Armageddon this summer, not to search for clues to a cosmic battle yet to come between Good and Evil, but to seek understanding of civilizations past.

One of the most important issues they addressed was whether a palace attributed to King Solomon in what is now northern Israel was in fact built by Solomon, the son of King David renowned for his wise leadership and for his illicit relationship with the queen of Sheba.

It's no small question, and it has great significance for Jews and Christians alike, said Eric Cline, associate professor of ancient history and anthropology at George Washington University, who co-directed a dig on a hill about 15 miles southeast of Haifa, Israel, known as Megiddo. (Armageddon is a Greek corruption of the Hebrew word har, meaning mount, and Megiddo.)

Little evidence has been uncovered to prove Solomon's ties to a particular building -- or to prove that he existed at all. Some European scholars who call themselves "biblical minimalists" maintain that Solomon is a mythological figure, a kind of Jewish King Arthur.

"These guys are nuts," Cline said in a terse assessment of their thinking.

Cline and other archaeologists believe that the so-called Solomon's Palace at Megiddo, which some consider a cornerstone in understanding Solomon's life and times, was constructed in the 9th century B.C., a century after Solomon's reign. This conclusion is based on recent excavations at the site, which is one of the world's richest archaeological fields and has yielded the layered remains of two dozen cities over a 6,000-year period.


It's an interesting article, with interviews with a number of the student volunteers. But there is this odd paragraph:
Cline said many professional and student archaeologists are drawn to Megiddo by the Armageddon connection. Many biblical scholars believe that the Jezreel Valley will be the site of the penultimate battle between the forces of God and Satan, with the final conflict and return of the Messiah taking place in Jerusalem.

My emphasis. Rather than "many biblical scholars," it would be clearer to say "Christian dispensationalists." It's not an issue that biblical scholarship (i.e., historical-critical study, archaeology, etc.) has any bearing on.

I should warn you that for some reason, I have no idea why, this article made my Netscape 7.02 browser crash three times.

Friday, August 06, 2004

UPDATE ON JEWS IN IRAQ: Or not, as the case may be. The DARPA TIDES Iraq Reconstruction Report No. 277, 5 August 2004 reports the following:
Iraqi Official Denies Granting Passports to Iraqi Jews

Qatar: Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television in Arabic 1513 GMT 04 Aug 04 [Announcer-read report over video]

Pascal Ishu Warda, Iraqi minister of immigration and expatriates, has denied reports that the interim Iraqi Government has granted some Iraqi Jews Iraqi passports to facilitate their return to Iraq.

[Begin Wardah recording] I have described this issue as a sensitive file because it has not been decided yet. It is a sensitive file. Therefore, I strongly and plainly deny this report, which went as far as alleging that I have given passports to Jews. If we the Iraqis inside Iraq still have no documents, so is it reasonable for us to start giving documents to people outside Iraq? [End recording]

That excuse may do for a while, but I expect to hear some progress soon. And I would feel better if this official had made it clearer that getting passports to expatriated Iraqi Jews was on his agenda and would be dealt with as soon as possible. The phrase "a sensitive file because it has not been decided yet" is not encouraging, although the full context isn't clear.

(Thanks to Chuck Jones for the heads-up.)
ARABIC, SYRIAC, VIRGINS, AND GRAPES: I've been following this story for some time but haven't yet commented on it in PaleoJudaica. The gist is that someone, allegedly a German scholar, who writes under the pseudonymn " Christoph Luxenberg" ("for security reasons") has published a book saying that the Arabic of the Qu'ran is really a sort of mixture of Syriac and Arabic and that the meanings of some passages are changed as a result. The International Herald Tribune had an article on it a couple of days ago:
Nicholas Kristof Virgins or grapes? The Koran revisited
'The virgins are calling you," Mohamed Atta wrote reassuringly to his fellow hijackers just before Sept. 11, 2001.
It has long been a staple of Islam that Muslim martyrs will go to paradise and marry 72 black-eyed virgins. But a growing body of rigorous scholarship of the Koran points to a less sensual paradise - and, more important, may offer a step away from fundamentalism and toward a reawakening of the Islamic world.


But now the same tools that historians, linguists and archaeologists have applied to the Bible for about 150 years are beginning to be applied to the Koran. The results are explosive.

The Koran is beautifully written, but often obscure. One reason is that Arabic was born as a written language with the Koran, and there's growing evidence that many of the words were Syriac or Aramaic.

For example, the Koran says martyrs going to heaven will get "hur," and the word was taken by early commentators to mean "virgins," hence those 72 consorts. But in Aramaic, hur meant "white" and was commonly used to mean "white grapes."

Some martyrs arriving in paradise may regard a bunch of grapes as a letdown. But the scholar who pioneered this pathbreaking research, using the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg for security reasons, noted in an e-mail interview that grapes made more sense in context because the Koran compares them to crystal and pearls, and because contemporary accounts have paradise abounding with fruit, especially white grapes.

Luxenberg's analysis, which has drawn raves from many scholars, also transforms the meaning of the verse that is sometimes cited to require women to wear veils. Instead of instructing pious women "to draw their veils over their bosoms," he says, it advises them to "buckle their belts around their hips."

But Muslim fundamentalists regard the Koran - every word of it - as God's own language, and they have violently attacked freethinking scholars as heretics. So Muslim intellectuals have been intimidated, and Islam has often been transmitted by narrow-minded extremists.
Still, there are encouraging signs. Islamic feminists are arguing for religious interpretations leading to greater gender equality. An Iranian theologian has called for more study of the Koran's Syriac roots. Tunisian and German scholars are collaborating on a new edition of the Koran based on the earliest manuscripts. And just last week, Iran freed Hashem Aghajari, who had been sentenced to death for questioning harsh interpretations of Islam.


I haven't read the book myself yet and don't expect to have time to in the near future, so I can't make any very useful comments. It was reviewed very positively by Robert R. Phenix Jr. and Cornelia B. Horn in Hugoye last year, but quite negatively by Fran�ois de Blois in the Journal of Quranic Studies . If anyone who specializes in both Syriac and Arabic has read it and has a view on it, please drop me a note.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

AN AUGUST MORNING IN ST. ANDREWS: At least I'm not tempted to ditch work and go to the beach.

I took the photo this morning. The gray building on the right side of the street with the red car in front of it is St. Mary's College.

UPDATE (6 August): In case the photo isn't clear (or in case you can't believe your eyes), that really is thick fog and those cars really do have their lights on. But there's much less fog today and it's considerably warmer, so maybe, just maybe, there's some hope for the weekend.
THE JOURNAL BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION has a new issue out (12.3, 2004) and it appears I missed the previous issue as well (12.2, 2004). So here are the tables of contents for both. (They require a paid personal or institutional subscription to access them.)

ISSUE 12.2, 2004:
Matters of Life and Death: The Story of Elijah and the Widow's Son in Comparative Perspective 117
Stuart Lasine

What was the Victim Wearing? Literary, Economic, and Social Contexts for the Parable of the Good Samaritan 145
Michael P. Knowles

In Memory of Jesus: Grief Work in the Gospels 175
Kari Syreeni

Book Reviews 198

List of Books Received 228

Errata, BibInt 11, 3/4 (2003) 231

ISSUE 12.3, 2004:
Job's Fifth Friend: An Ethical Critique of the Book of Job 233
David J.A. Clines

Early Encounters with the Bible Among The Batlhaping: Historical And Hermeneutical Signs 251
Gerald O. West

Don't Touch This Book!: Revelation 22:18-19 And the Rhetoric of Reading (in) The Apocalypse of John 282
Robert M. Royalty

Book Reviews 300

List of Books Received 348

I'm behind on these, so here are the last two weeks' worth in a mass. As usual, I include those on the Hebrew Bible and Judaism, as well as such on the New Testament and early Christianity which spark my interest.

Blenkinsopp, Joseph
Isaiah 40-55: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary
Reviewed by Francis Landy

Borgman, Paul
Genesis: The Story We Haven't Heard
Reviewed by Jan Lion-Cachet

Kaltner, John
Inquiring of Joseph: Getting to Know a Biblical Character through the Qur'an
Reviewed by Rudolph De Wet Oosthuizen

Pleins, J. David
The Social Visions of the Hebrew Bible: A Theological Introduction
Reviewed by Mark Boda

Sharp, Carolyn J.
Prophecy and Ideology in Jeremiah: Struggles for Authority in the
Deutero-Jeremianic Prose

Reviewed by Kathleen Mary O'Connor

Ehrman, Bart D.
Lost Scriptures: BooksThat Did Not Make It into the New Testament
Reviewed by Michael Kaler

McLay, R. Timothy
The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research
Reviewed by Robert Hiebert

McLay, R. Timothy
The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Goodman, Martin, Jeremy Cohen, and David Sorkin, eds.
The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies
Reviewed by Hanna Liss

Ben Zvi, Ehud
The Signs of Jonah: Reading and Rereading in Ancient Yehud
Reviewed by Aaron Schart

Ben Zvi, Ehud
The Signs of Jonah: Reading and Rereading in Ancient Yehud
Reviewed by Kenneth Craig

Cross, Frank Moore
Leaves from an Epigrapher's Notebook: Collected Papers in Hebrew and West Semitic Palaeography and Epigraphy
Reviewed by Joseph R Cathey

Peri, Chiara
Il regno del nemico
Reviewed by Michael Duggan

Shachter, Jay F., translator
The Commentary of Abraham Ibn Ezra on the Pentateuch: Volume 5: Deuteronomy
Reviewed by Mayer Gruber

Gillman, Florence Morgan
Herodias: At Home in That Fox's Den
Reviewed by Donna Wallace

Hurtado, Larry W.
Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity
Reviewed by Moschos Goutzioudis

Hurtado, Larry W.
Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Lieu, Judith
Image and Reality: The Jews in the World of the Christians in the Second Century
Reviewed by Russell Arnold

Neusner, Jacob, ed.
Dictionary of Ancient Rabbis: Selections from The Jewish Encyclopedia
Reviewed by Joshua L. Moss

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

KEN RISTAU gives a candid, student's-eye-view, account of the International SBL/IOQS conference (via New Testament Gateway). Note the immediately preceding post in his Anduril blog as well.
Shrine of the Book reopens after redesign (Jerusalem Post)

The Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum, which holds the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest surviving biblical texts, was officially reopened to the public in a ceremony Tuesday night after undergoing three years of restoration and redesign.


Actually, I thought this happened a couple of months ago.

The Forward also has an article on the reopening:
Iconic Monument of Jerusalem Skyline Shines a Bit Brighter
By EetTa Prince-GIBSON
July 30, 2004

In 1965, the Israel Museum's Shrine of the Book, with its signature white-tiled dome, first graced Jerusalem's skyline. The center was built to hold the Dead Sea Scrolls, the world's earliest evidence of biblical texts and sectarian and apocryphal manuscripts. The scrolls were found in 11 caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, only 40 kilometers due east from Jerusalem, between 1947 and 1956, and the Shrine was designed to evoke the discovery. Its dome was meant to look like the lid of the jars in which the Scrolls were first discovered; the contrast with the free-standing black basalt wall was intended to recall "The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness," a central theme in the narrative; and visitors passed through a series of openings reminiscent of the deep caves in which the Scrolls were found. Almost immediately, the complex became an iconic monument.

This summer, the shrine reopened after more than a year of extensive refurbishment and renovations. In addition to the physical restoration, which included replacement of the dome's tiles, repaving the entrance plaza and resurfacing the black granite wall, the showcases have been redesigned and rebuilt by a firm in Milan, Italy, utilizing the latest techniques in preservation and climate control.

Museum officials also decided to rotate the scrolls on display � three months on, six months off. In the main center hall, under the dome, a scroll is displayed prominently, wound around a large central column, like a Torah scroll. Visitors can encircle the column to read it. Fragments of other scrolls are displayed along the circular walls. Most of the scrolls were written on parchment, with a few rare examples of papyrus.


The Aleppo Codex (see also here) is on display there too.
"THE CLAY MAN COMETH": Philologos takes on the golem in the Forward. Excerpt (but worth reading in full):
It is only in early rabbinic times that one meaning of golem takes on a legendary cast, although this is still not the legend of the golem as we know it; rather, it occurs in a fable of Adam's first 12 hours on earth, in the second of which, so we are told by the Talmud, in tractate Sanhedrin, before God formed Adam's limbs and breathed life into him, "he was made a golem." And at the same time, golem in early rabbinic Hebrew simply can mean a thoughtless person or an idiot. Thus, we read in the Mishnaic tractate Pirkei Avot or "The Ethics of the Fathers" that "Seven traits characterize the golem and seven the wise man."

Yet the concept of a man-made humanoid, although the name golem was not given to it, can be found in the Talmud, too. Again in Sanhedrin, for example, we read about how the talmudic sage Rava created a man out of clay and sent him to his friend Rabbi Zeira, who ordered him to return to dust. Such legends grew more widespread among Jews in medieval Europe � and it was then that the word golem was first attached to them. The earliest known use of the word in this sense occurs in a commentary by the Rhineland rabbi, Eliezer of Worms (1176-1238), on the proto-kabbalistic Sefer ha-Yetsirah or "Book of Creation."
TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Well, sort of.
Famed Second Temple model moving to Israel Museum
By Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondent

A famous model of Jerusalem and the Second Temple which stood at the Holyland Hotel in the capital for close to 40 years is slated to be moved to the grounds of the Israel Museum within a year.


The model, built on a scale of 50:1, shows the topography of the area as seen in that period, which was much more imposing than today. The Temple Mount was built according to exact Biblical references, and the surrounding buildings according to the understanding of its planner, archaeology professor Michael Avi-Yonah. The model was adjusted only once, following a dig in the 1970s by Prof. Binyamin Mazar which revealed that Robinson's Arch and the southern approaches to the mount looked different than the model.
SYRIAC IN TURKEY AND IRAQ figures in this Guardian article:
In the language of Jesus

Turkey's Christian revival has a message for Iraq's own communities

Martin Wainwright
Wednesday August 4, 2004
The Guardian

This week's attacks on churches in Iraq are a reminder of a small community that has lived for years with the term "beleaguered", but has the potential to re-establish a more tolerant way of life in the Middle East.

It might easily be assumed that Iraqi Christians are a colonial implant that any self-respecting nationalist would view with suspicion.

But in fact they are among the oldest religious communities in the world.

Protected for most of their long history by Islam's tradition of tolerance, they are honoured for their own great gift to mutual understanding:

Syriac, a version of Jesus's native language, Aramaic. This was the vital bridge in the transmission of Greek, Roman and Jewish thought into Arabic, from which Aristotle, Plato and company eventually returned in the Renaissance to Europe.

Its greatest stronghold is just outside Iraq, in Turkey's Tur Abdin, the "Mountains of the Servants of God", where an intriguing shift is taking place.

Pilgrims, students, and tourists of all faiths and none, are returning to nearby monasteries, which were 700 years old when the first stones were laid at Fountains or Rievaulx. Four-and-a-half centuries after the English abbeys were dissolved by Henry VIII, the cloisters still ring with Syriac chants.

Yet it is only 20 years since the pocket-sized congregations lived in terror, with bombs going off outside their walls. Almost everyone with the money to do so had fled to the west.


There's too much in it to excerpt properly and the whole thing is worth a read.

Also, British readers should note the following, which I'm going to try to listen to later this morning:
� Martin Wainwright is the Guardian's Northern editor; he presents The Tongue That Wouldn't Die, a study of Syriac, at 11am today on Radio 4

UPDATE: It was an excellent program that ranged from ancient Edessa to a modern child coining new Syriac terms for her toys and involved actual trips to modern Edessa (Sanli Urfa) and other nearby areas important for Syriac. It was the first of a three-part series, called Voices from the Dark, to be aired over three weeks. You can hear the first program by downloading this file (you have to have RealAudio installed in your system to play it).

UPDATE: Reader Harold Clumeck e-mails:
Re: your reference to Martin Wainwright's article in The Guardian. Wainwright states: "It might easily be assumed that Iraqi Christians are a colonial implant that any self-respecting nationalist might view with suspicion."

I just want to comment that this is an odd assertion indeed. Assumed by whom? Someone ignorant of the history of religion in the Middle East? Wainwright seems to presuppose here that Islam would naturally be thought of as "THE" indigenous religion, and that all others have gotten there at some later date, and by a "colonial" means. It seems a variant of the "Zionist as colonialist" prejudice. Perhaps I'm reading too much into this. But I still think it's an odd statement and consistent with Guardian bias. It reminds me of a comment made by a Western journalist about the plight of Coptic Christians in Egypt. He said something to the effect: "Why would Christians choose to live in a Muslim country?"

In addition, the reference to "self-respecting nationalist" contradicts the later reference to "traditional Islamic tolerance" mentioned in the very next paragraph

I thought the comment was strange too. Perhaps it's just a lame attempt at a "hook" to catch the reader's attention, but it doesn't make a lot of sense, and I would like to think better of those "nationalists" in Iraq, who would be well aware of the ancient history of Iraqi Christianity. But regarding the last point, I wouldn't identify Arab nationalism with Islam: there is some overlap, of course, but there need not be any connection. Baathism, for example, is an entirely secular extremist Arab nationalism. And Islam is a world religion that transcends national boundaries.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

IF YOU WERE DISAPPOINTED to miss hearing about the imaginary Syriac Odes of Isaiah in my IOQS paper last week, do not despair! I have just agreed to give another paper from the same chapter of my book in the British New Testament Conference in Edinburgh at the beginning of September. I will have more time to present this one (45 minutes as opposed to 25 minutes in the IOQS meeting), so I will revert to the original planned paper and talk about the Odes of Isaiah. As usual, I intend to post the oral version of the paper here just before leaving for the conference. Meanwhile, here is the abstract:
The Odes of Isaiah: A Newly Discovered Syriac Pseudepigraphon - A Thought Experiment

Sorry, there isn't really a new pseudepigraphon called the Odes of Isaiah. Rather, this paper is a thought experiment to explore in a new way the problem of the transmission of Jewish Old Testament pseudepigrapha in Christian hands and how or to what degree we can hope to know whether such works actually originated in Jewish rather than Christian circles.

The approach is to treat demonstrably (mostly by external criteria) ancient Jewish works as if they had been transmitted as pseudepigrapha in Christian manuscripts, and to explore the implications of the "alternate histories" of these works as analogies for works whose transmission histories cannot now be reconstructed by conventional means. The method is informed by poststructuralist and reader-response concerns; the philosophy of counterfactuals and possible worlds; the exploration of counterfactual histories by science fiction writers and by historians; and some conceptual insights and categories formulated by the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum physics.

This paper postulates an "alternate history" for the Qumran Hodayot (as found in the manuscript 1QHa) in which, rather than being abandoned at Qumran, this work was transmitted outside sectarian circles, translated first into Greek and then, into Syriac, thence surviving only in a late antique or early medieval Syriac copy attributed to the prophet Isaiah. (One can point to the transmission of the Psalms of Solomon as a partial analogy.) To what degree could we show that this text was originally Jewish, and even sectarian Jewish? What literary-critical, prosodic, and linguistic criteria, if any, would be likely to be helpful in tracing its history of transmission and ultimate origin?

The abstract is slightly out of date (e.g., I'll be working with both a Greek extract and a Syriac manuscript) but it gives you the general idea.

Watch this space.
BUDGET CUTS threaten the study of ancient history in Israel:
The shaky future of higher education (Ha'aretz)
By Dvorit Peles
The threat of closure hovers over various university departments - especially the humanities.

This year the Hebrew University of Jerusalem will not be offering courses for a B.A. in Italian, Yiddish and demography. At this point it is still possible to begin a course in Ancient Near Eastern Studies - Egyptology and Assyrian Studies - but those departments are also threatened with closure, though to a slightly lesser degree than the departments of African Studies, French, German and Russian.

The threatened closure of these departments is not unique to Hebrew University, and is actually affecting all the universities in recent years, some more and some less, due to the shifting demands for courses of study, and especially because of Finance Ministry cuts in the budgets of institutions of higher education over the last four years.


The dean of the faculty of humanities at Hebrew University, Prof. Gabriel Motzkin, says that crisis periods are often actually periods of innovation, because of the need to cut back and select.

"The danger of certain areas of knowledge disappearing does exist, but sometimes instead of the disciplines that have disappeared, new disciplines emerge," he says. "It's impossible to preserve everything, even if they give me another $20 million."

Motzkin is referring to the threatened future of every discipline that has less than four positions for lecturers.

"All of the European language departments, for example, are at risk because they are small," he says. In this context, the threat to the Egyptology and Assyrian Studies departments, which each have two teaching positions and between five and 10 students each year, is the same as that facing the French department, where there are 60-80 students annually, but which also has only two teaching positions.

Another problem exists when it comes to advanced degrees. For example, in the Ancient History Department, where according to Motzkin there is an excellent teaching staff, there are no doctoral students, a fact that may place in question the continuation of the program to teach ancient Greek and Roman history.


Monday, August 02, 2004

Hanegbi: Police need money to protect Temple Mount

Minister of Internal Security Tzahi Hanegbi said that the police force is in need of tens of millions of Shekels in order to provide optimal security on the Temple Mount, noting that - most importantly - the police are lacking in technological equipment, reported Israel Radio.

IN THE WAKE OF THE DESPICABLE ATTACKS on Christian churches in Iraq yesterday, the BBC has a survey article on "Iraqi Christians' long history." Most Iraqi Christians have Aramaic or Syriac as their liturgical language, although one of the attacks was also on an Armenian church. Terrorism against local Christians has been an increasing concern in Iraq and these latest attacks show once again the utter barbarism of the insurgents.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION WEBSITE has closed down indefinitely:
Due to funding problems, Bible and Interpretation is unable to continue publishing. We hope to return in the near future.

We hope they do too!

Thanks to Chuck Jones for alerting me to this.
ARAMAIC WATCH: has a series of articles on Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, including one on "The Passion Of The Christ - Aramaic an ancient language comes alive." Looks pretty historically accurate, although Hebrew is the basis of the Talmud, not Aramaic. It also tells the story of William Fulco's involvement in providing the ancient Aramaic for the script and it gives some interesting information on the experience the cast had with Aramaic:
Ultimately, the entire international cast of The Passion of The Christ had to learn portions of Aramaic � most doing so phonetically � becoming perhaps one of the largest groups of artists ever to take on an ancient tongue en masse.

For Gibson, the film�s �foreign language� had another benefit: learning Aramaic became a uniting factor among a cast made up of many languages, cultures and backgrounds. �To bring a cast from all over the world to one place and have them all learn this one language gave them a sense of common ground, of what they share and of connections that transcend language�, he says.

It also compelled the cast to look more deeply into their physical and emotional resources above and beyond the use of words.

�Speaking in Aramaic required something different from the actors�, observes Gibson, �because they had to compensate for the usual clarity of their own native language. It brought out a different level of performance. In a sense, it became good old-fashioned filmmaking because we were so committed to telling the story with pure imagery and expressiveness as much as anything else�.

I suspect that learning it "phonetically" means not just that they didn't learn the Aramaic alphabet, but also that they mouthed the lines without any great knowledge of the grammar or vocabulary, which is not exactly "learning" a language in my book. Still, I'm sure even that was a lot of work.
Dead Sea Scrolls link up with NOBTS archaeological center (BPNews)
Jul 29, 2004
By Gary D. Myers

NEW ORLEANS (BP)--The Dead Sea Scrolls are coming to the Southeast.

The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center in Mobile, Ala., has been selected by the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) to host the traveling Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit Jan. 20 to April 24, 2005. With assistance from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, the Exploreum will display 12 authentic Dead Sea scrolls on loan from the IAA.


The exhibit includes seven 2,000-year-old biblical scrolls with the oldest surviving text of Genesis, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah and Jeremiah. The remaining fragments are from sectarian documents found at the Qumran site in Israel. One of 29 Deuteronomy fragments found at Qumran, the one that will be displayed in Mobile, is the only one to include all Ten Commandments.


While the exhibit made stops in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 2003 and will visit Houston in October 2004, the Mobile stop will be the largest display of biblical scrolls ever shown in the United States. The IAA only allows scrolls to be displayed for three to four months at a time. The scrolls must then return to Israel for 15 months of "rest" designed to preserve the fragile documents.

Biblioteque Hebrew archivist held for mass theft
By Haaretz Staff

The head of the French National Library's Hebrew-language archives has been arrested on suspicion of destroying or stealing irreplaceable books and documents he was responsible for, the French newspaper Liberation reported yesterday.

According to a prosecution source, "many dozens, perhaps hundreds, of documents were either mutilated or disappeared completely" from the shelves of the famous Biblioteque nationale de France.


The documents date back as far as the 14th century when king Charles V gave the order to begin collecting them. It is considered one of the richest Judaica collections and contains works from Yemen, Byzantium, North Africa, central Europe, France, Germany and England.

The works deal with all aspects of the Jewish religion, Hebrew language and literature, medicine as well as other philosophical and secular subjects; the collection also includes a Torah fragment from Constantinople written in 1505.