Saturday, May 17, 2008

ALON GOSHEN-GOTTSTEIN gave a lecture in Ohio on sacred space in Judaism and Christianity. Rabbi Goshen-Gottstein also publishes on Merkavah Mysticism and Hekhalot literature.
"IT'S HOT, IT'S DIRTY." A Berkeley professor reflects on archaeology after Indiana Jones:
"I don't know how he stands a big heavy jacket and hat in those climates," said UC Berkeley classics professor and unabashed Indy fan Kim Shelton. "But it looks good in movies."

Shelton spent 12 years as a full-time archaeologist at Mycenae, one of the great Greek city-states and home to legendary king Agamemnon, hero of Homer's "Odyssey." These days, Shelton directs the university's dig in Nemea, a site with links to the Hercules legend and the original Olympic games.

But Shelton has fond recollections of watching "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" with fellow archaeology students back in grad school. This time, she'll share the adventure with her own students, most of whom spent the semester exploring the myths and realities of archaeology and such topics as antiquities law, Trojan gold and "Whip or Trowel? Tools of the Trade."

It's not so much that the Indiana Jones movies are wrong, Shelton said, as that they depict "an old-fashioned way of doing things, a romantic version with traps and danger. You find things easily and sell them, which we don't do. And Indiana Jones never seems to publish. He gets his tenure from his good looks."

But Indiana Jones' greatest success has been in wooing students to archaeology and classics classrooms, Shelton said. The razzle-dazzle of Nazi fortune hunters and gleaming treasure lure them in. Science and history win their hearts.
Nonsense about archaeology and history can be used to reel in potential serious students. As I've remarked before, reading Erich von Däniken as a kid got me interested in this field.

Read the rest of this article to hear about Professor Shelton's coolest find ever. And about the "sudden avalanche of voracious, enormous red fox fleas," whatever those are. Ugh!

Friday, May 16, 2008

JOB IN JUDAISM IN RABBINIC TIMES at the University of Vienna:
The Faculty of Historical and Cultural Studies of the University of Vienna announces the position of a Full Professor of Jewish History, Religion and Literature in Rabbinic Times (70-1000 CE) (full-time permanent position under private law).

As stated in its development plan ( the University of Vienna aims at strengthening its position as a major research oriented university. Key elements of this strategy include the provision of an attractive range of research-based study programmes, support for furthering the work of junior academic colleagues, and high-calibre professorial appointments.

The Faculty of Historical and Cultural Studies of the University of Vienna announces the position of a Full Professor of Jewish History, Religion and Literature in Rabbinic Times (70-1000 CE) (full-time permanent position under private law).

The University of Vienna intends to increase the number of women on its faculty, particularly in high-level positions, and therefore specifically invites applications by women. Among equally qualified applicants women will receive preferential consideration.

The successful candidate will have a research record in one of the fields of Rabbinic epoch and will be able to teach Jewish history, religion and literature in Rabbinic times (70-1000 CE) at all levels (BA, MA, PhD).

Successful candidates will have the following qualifications: - PhD and post-doctoral experience at a university or other research institution. (Austrian or equivalent international academic degree in the relevant field)
- Outstanding research and publication record, with an excellent reputation as an active member in the international academic community (Habilitation (venia docendi) or equivalent international qualification in the relevant field is desirable)
- Experience in designing, procuring and directing major research projects, and willingness and ability to assume the responsibility of team leadership
- Experience in university teaching, and willingness and ability to teach at all curricular levels, to supervise theses, and to further the work of junior academic colleagues
The University of Vienna expects the successful candidate to acquire, within three years, proficiency in German sufficient for teaching in Bachelor programmes and participation in committees.

The University of Vienna offers:
- with its unusually broad spectrum of subjects, and the city of Vienna, with its libraries, archives, museums and other institutions, provide ideal surroundings for research and teaching in the humanities.
- Attractive terms and conditions of employment with a negotiable and performance-related salary, associated with a retirement fund
- A "start-up packageı for the initiation of research projects
- An attractive and dynamic research location in a city with a high quality of life and in a country with excellent research funding provision
- Support for relocation to Vienna, where appropriate Candidates should send an application containing at least the following documents:
- Academic curriculum vitae
- Brief description of current research interests and research plans for the immediate future
- List of publications together with a) specification of five key publications judged by the applicant to be particularly relevant to the advertised professorship together with an explanation of their relevance
b) PDF versions of these five publications provided either as email attachments or through URLs of downloadable copies
- List of talks given, including detailed information about invited plenaries at international conferences
- List of projects supported by third-party funds
- Short survey of previous academic teaching and list of supervised PhD theses.

Applications in English or German should be sent to:
The Dean of the Faculty of Historical and Cultural Studies of the
University of Vienna
Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1
A-1010 Vienna

and submitted by e-mail to, no later than June 15th, 2008 with reference 14/24-2007/08.
(From the Agade list.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

MORE ON THE ISAIAH SCROLL EXHIBITION: Art Daily has an article with a nice photograph.
Israel Museum Presents Great Isaiah Scroll For the First Time in Over Forty Years

TEL AVIV.- On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, the Israel Museum presents two major sections of the Great Isaiah Scroll – the most complete biblical Dead Sea Scroll document ever found and one of the world’s greatest archaelogical treasures – in a special installation in the Shrine of the Book. For the first time in over forty years, the public will have the rare opportunity to view the two longest sections of the Scroll, featuring Isaiah’s celebrated message of peace: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares…" (Isaiah 2:4). In order to illustrate this important message, artifacts from the days of the prophet Isaiah (8th century BCE), including a bent scimitar and agricultural tools, will be displayed together with the Scroll as part of this special exhibit. Swords into Plowshares: The Isaiah Scroll and Its Message of Peace will be on view in the Shrine of the Book at the Museum from May 19 through August 30, 2008.

“This special installation, held in celebration of Israel’s 60th anniversary, provides visitors with a rare opportunity to view one of the oldest, most complete, and best preserved of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “The Isaiah Scroll, housed at the Israel Museum in the Shrine of the Book, with its timeless message of peace, is one of the most important ancient biblical documents ever discovered.”

Swords into Plowshares presents the longest sections of the complete Isaiah Scroll: a 2.60 meter-long section comprising chapters 1-28, and a 2.38 meter-long section comprising chapters 44-66. Contextualizing the scroll, the Museum will also display ancient archaeological tools, including a bent scimitar and a newly excavated and never before displayed early Roman seal, depicting a dove-like bird carrying an olive branch. The exhibit is curated by Michal Dayagi-Mendels, Chief Curator of Archaeology, and Adolfo Roitman, Head of the Shrine of the Book and Curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

There will also be a conference in July to go with the exhibition and the sixtieth anniversary of the discovery of the Scrolls.

Don't get me started.
PRESIDENT BUSH visited Masada yesterday. And Mrs. Bush visited the Western Wall tunnels.

UPDATE: Here's a Masada Factbox from Reuters. Looks accurate, except it should note that Josephus's account is viewed with skepticism by some modern scholars.
VISION OF GABRIEL UPDATE: Earlier I noted Israel Knohl's English article "'By Three Days, Live': Messiahs, Resurrection, and Ascent to Heaven in Hazon Gabriel" in the Journal of Religion, accessible only by subscription. Now Professor Knohl has posted it for free at the website of the Shalom Hartman Institute.

UPDATE: The link has gone dead. I've e-mailed Professor Knohl and will keep you posted.

UPDATE (18 May): Problem fixed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


(Via the Agade list.)
Israel Museum puts Dead Sea scroll on rare display

By MATTI FRIEDMAN – 13 hours ago

JERUSALEM (AP) — One of the most important Dead Sea scrolls is going on display in Jerusalem this week — more than four decades after it was last seen by the public. The 24-foot scroll with the text of the Bible's Book of Isaiah had been in a dark, temperature-controlled room at the Israel Museum since 1967. It went on display two years earlier, but curators replaced it with a facsimile after noticing new cracks in the calfskin parchment.

The museum decided to put the scroll back on show for three months as part of Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations.

Yesterday's article said only two months. The Jerusalem Post had some photos to go with today's article. (Click on first link above.)
A far smaller fragment of another Dead Sea scroll will be on display at the Jerusalem convention center where Bush will be speaking along with other dignitaries.

The segment, also rarely shown, contains the text of Psalm 133, which reads: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

INDIANA JONES GALLERY: Lots of Crystal Skull photos here.

Plus, there are interesting interviews with Karen Allen here and here. Excerpt from the second:
iF: What's the biggest change that Marion has made in the new Indy?

ALLEN: Well, it's difficult to talk about that, given that we're not supposed to reveal anything about the story. And a lot of the changes in Marion’s life are connected to the plot of the film that's been kept so incredibly, incredibly secret! But I think I can say that Marion and Indy's lives over the past twenty years have diverged, and they haven't seen each other for a long time. She's been living in the world on her own terms, and has developed into an interesting, completely independent woman who can stand on her own two feet. And that’s definitely a change from the first RAIDERS. Even though she's a feisty character in that movie, I felt that Marion was a bit buffeted around by circumstance in it. She's thrown here, thrown there, dropped into a well of souls and tossed into a basket. But I feel that this time, Marion’s really taking charge of where, and whom she's going with. And it’s that level of grounding, and maturity in her character that I liked when I read the script.

The Isaiah Scroll from Qumran Cave 1 (1QISaa) is on display at the Israel Museum:
2,100-year-old Isaiah Scroll on rare public display for two months
By Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondent

Tags: Yigal Yadin, Isaiah Scroll

For the past 40 years, the 2,100-year-old Isaiah Scroll has been kept in a dark room with temperature and humidity controls, far from the public eye. A few days ago, in honor of Israel's 60th anniversary, the Israel Museum put the parchment scroll on display in the Shrine of the Book - for two months only.

And the Jewish Museum in New York is to have six unidentified Dead Sea Scrolls on display for the same reason:
Jewish Museum Celebrates Israel’s Birthday

The Jewish Museum is marking the 60th anniversary of Israel’s founding with a variety of programs featuring Israeli art and artists. Among the highlights are a panel discussion on Israeli and Jewish film on Tuesday, June 3; an exhibition of six Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum from September 21, 2008 through January 4, 2009; and several exhibitions including the work of contemporary Israeli artists.


An upcoming exhibition will feature artifacts that shed light on ancient worship and religious debates. The Dead Sea Scrolls are among the world’s most famous archaeological discoveries, and three of the six scrolls to be displayed––from September 21, 2008 through January 4, 2009––have never before been shown in New York. Part of one of the earliest copies of the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Jeremiah (c. 200), is included. Exhibition visitors will be able to explore what the scrolls tell us about ancient Judaism and early Christianity.


Monday, May 12, 2008

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Resumption of the work on the Mughrabi (Mugrabi) Gate bridge has reportedly been approved (again?).

Background here.
THE NEWARK STONES are in the news:
'Holy Stones' prompt investigation

By L.B. WHYDE • Newark Advocate • May 12, 2008

NEWARK - Trying to preserve the Union during a tumultuous time in history, several prominent local men conspired and manufactured artifacts to support an emerging anti-slavery theory.

Known as Newark's Holy Stones, the artifacts later were proven to be fake. But two local men have done extensive research to discover the reasons behind the conspiracy.

Brad Lepper, an Ohio Historical Society archaeologist, first learned of the pair of hand-carved stones found in the Newark area in 1860 while he was a graduate student working at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum in Coshocton, where the original stones are housed.

When he became the curator at the Newark Earthworks in 1988, Lepper had to learn about the fake artifacts because of the number of questions about them. But when Jeff Gill, a history enthusiast and supply preacher, moved into the area in 1989, the duo continued the research to discover the men and reasons behind the conspiracy.

"Looking into the background of what was going on at that time period, it shows us how Licking County played a role in the movement for freedom of rights," Gill said. "They (the conspirators) did it for the right reasons, but I deplore their methods."


The first stone unearthed had several flaws, including being found too close to the surface and the fact the writing was modern Hebrew for that time. Five months later, another stone, called the Decalogue Stone, was discovered much deeper, in the area of Jacksontown.

Again Wyrick found the stone, which seemed to answer all the flaws of the first stone. The stones were claimed to be conclusive proof that all men descended from Adam and Eve. After both stones later were found to be fake, and his premature death, the blame was put on Wyrick by former Newark Mayor Israel Dille.

A few years ago Rochelle Altman published an essay at the Bible and Interpretation website in which she argued that the stones were genuine Jewish artifacts from the late Middle Ages.