Saturday, August 08, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Barack Obama is not the Antichrist.
CONGRATULATIONS TO BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW, which is publishing its 200th issue this month.
THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE EMPEROR VESPASIAN may have been discovered in Italy:
'Roman emperor's villa' unearthed


Archaeologists at a villa in Italy believed to be the birthplace of the Emperor Vespasian, 5 August 2009

Archaeologists in Italy say they have unearthed the remains of a sumptuous villa thought to be the birthplace of the Emperor Vespasian.

The ruins were found in the Roman city of Falacrine, about 80 miles (130km) north-east of Rome.

The villa's location and luxury suggest it was probably Vespasian's birthplace, an archaeologist said.

Vespasian lived from AD9-79. He was emperor from AD69-79, restoring peace after a period of civil war.

He was also proclaimed to be the messiah by Josephus.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Gesa Schenke (mit Beitragen von Gesine Schenke Robinson), Der Koptische Kölner Papyruskodex 3221: Teil I: Das Testament des Iob (Abhandlungen der Nordrhein-Westfälischen Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Künst, Sonderreihe Papyrologica Coloniensia 33; Paderborn, Germany: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2009)
The long-awaited edition of the Coptic fragments of the Testament of Job. An English translation of the fragments will be included in the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project.
THE BYU-CUA SYRIAC REFERENCE LIBRARY has been updated with some 35 additional PDF resources. Note also the article and lectures on Syriac and the smaller collection of Coptic resources.

Via Kristian Heal on the Hugoye list. Mentioned earlier at PaleoJudaica here.
ROBERT CARGILL responds at the Bible and Interpretation website to Palestinian protests of the ROM Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition:
On the Curious Protests of the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition in Toronto

By Robert R. Cargill

Center for the Digital Humanities,
Qumran Visualization Project


August 2009
The pro-Palestinian protesters outside the ROM claim that the Dead Sea Scrolls were “illegally moved” from the Rockefeller Museum to the Israel Museum. The PNA claims the scrolls are looted “Palestinian” artifacts. However, this claim intentionally overlooks the fact that prior to 1967, the Kingdom of Jordan controlled east Jerusalem and the West Bank, not the PNA, which wasn’t officially formed until the Oslo Accords of 1994. Thus, there could be no realistic “Palestinian” claim to the Dead Sea Scrolls, since they were discovered prior to the existence of any recognized Palestinian governmental body. If anyone other than Israel can make a claim on the scrolls, it is Jordan, not the PNA. The PNA’s claim that the scrolls belong to them is a creative attempt to politicize archaeology and interject an anachronous revision of history into the present day dispute between Israel and Palestine.

Further evidence that the Toronto ROM protests are not about archaeology, but rather politically motivated attempts to unfairly chastise Israel is the fact that there have been no such protests against the Jordanian government. The Copper Scroll is presently on display in the Jordan Archaeological Museum in Amman. Yet, we do not see pro-Palestinian protests against the Jordanian government across the street from the Jordan Archaeological Museum demanding the return of the “looted” Copper Scroll to the PNA. The PNA vociferously demands the return of scrolls in Jewish hands, but not of those in Arab hands. This double standard betrays the underlying reality that the Toronto protests are nothing more than a hypocritical attempt to use archaeology to advance the PNA’s agenda against Israel.
One small point: the bulk of the Dead Sea Scrolls remained at the Rockefeller Museum at least until the early 1990s, when I worked there on the ones I was editing.

Background to the protests is here.

For more background to the exhibition, see here, here, and here.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: More on that new scale model of the Jerusalem Temple, with video:
World’s Largest Temple Model Inaugurated next to Temple Mount

by Yehudah Lev Kay

( The world’s largest model of the Holy Temple was inaugurated Wednesday only a few hundred meters away from the Temple Mount, the site where the Temple existed up until 70 CE.

The model, built at a scale of 1:60, was built by Michael Osanis for the Aish HaTorah Yeshiva in Jerusalem’s old city, and is displayed on the roof of its new museum, which at seven stories above the Western Wall plaza has a breathtaking view of the Temple Mount.

Do keep in mind that our information about the architecture and appearance of Herod's Temple is limited and that a project like this would involve a considerable amount of inference and guesswork.

Background here.
UPDATES on the ROM Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition:

A scroll of the Ten Commandments is going on display for a short time in October:
ROM shalt not display it for longer than a week
Fall showing set for copy of 10 Commandments

Aug 06, 2009 04:30 AM

Adrian Morrow
Staff reporter (The Star)

It is older than the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta. It was written by hand before the printing press was invented. It is even thought to pre-date Jesus Christ by a few years.

For a single week, Torontonians will get a glimpse of one of the oldest copies of one of the most ancient sets of laws in existence.

The Royal Ontario Museum has scored the rights to add one of the earliest existing copies of the Ten Commandments to its Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition, the museum announced yesterday.

Dr. Hindy Najman is interviewed about the exhibition in the Jewish Tribune:
Similarities between ancient and modern Jewish communities evident at Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit U of [Sic]
Written by Atara Beck
Wednesday, 05 August 2009

TORONTO – The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) “shows that Judaism was as varied in its prayer, its interpretations and its politics then as it is now,” stated Professor Hindy Najman, director of the Centre for Jewish Studies at University of Toronto (U of T) and a scholar of ancient Judaism.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

THE IAA is registering private antiquities collections:
Israel Antiquities Authority to register antiquities collections held by the general public in Israel
4 Aug 2009

Estimate: In Israel there are at least 100,000 people who can be considered ‘collectors of antiquities’.

(Communicated by the Israel Antiquities Authority Spokesperson)

The Israel Antiquities Authority is embarking on a first of its kind campaign to register the antiquities collections that are held by the general public in Israel. An individual that is listed in the state’s databank as the owner of an antiquities collection will be recognized by the state as a “collector of antiquities”.

Israel is one of the world’s richest countries in archaeological artifacts. As such, over the years private individuals have discovered thousands of archaeological finds during the course of development work, agricultural work, etc.

In 2002 the legal status of a collector of antiquities in Israel was regulated, which is defined as “one who collects antiquities otherwise than for the purpose of trading therein”. The law defines an antiquities collection as: “an assemblage of fifteen antiquities or more.” It is estimated that there are at least 100,000 people in Israel who can be considered by definition “collectors of antiquities”, but only several hundred of them are recognized by the state.

In February 2009 regulations took effect that will enable enforcing the law which was passed in 2002. The IAA is now calling on the public to comply in accordance with the law and report any antiquities they possess. An individual doing so will be granted the status of collector according to law and will be issued a certificate. The antiquities will be registered as the property of the collector and anyone who wishes to sell the collection they own can receive permission from the IAA to do so. Thus on the one hand, the collector can sell the antiquities he possesses, and on the other, the state will know to whom the object was transferred.

Overall, this sounds like a very positive development to me. I would, however, like to have a clearer idea how the new regulations have been formulated to avoid encouraging people to buy looted artifacts and then register them. Or is that battle now a lost cause?

(Via Joseph I. Lauer's list.)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

LOST BOOKS MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE are noted by Daniel Hopkinson, the "Knoxville Evangelical Examiner" for The Examiner:
The other books mentioned within the Bible pages:
August 3, 5:07 AM

The very King James Bible (among other translations as well) that so many insist is complete and having no need of other books to be included in it, mentions several other books over the course of the 66 books contained in the official canon that at one time were evidently prominent in that particular author’s thought that mentioned it, a few of which may actually refer to books already included in the canon.

Mr. Hopkinson has been writing a lot lately about apocrypha and pseudepigrapha -- apparently unaware of even the most basic and foundational secondary literature (e.g., the Charlesworth edition of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha), so I haven't been noting his articles. But this one interests me particularly, since I've done a lot of research on these lost books and am publishing a translation of their surviving fragments for the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project ("Quotations from Lost Books in the Hebrew Bible").

His list is fairly complete, but leaves out some things, such as the other two quotations in Numbers 21:16-18, 21-25; another possible quote from the Book of Jashar in the LXX of 1 Kings 8:53 (cf. 1 Kings 8:12-13 MT); a book by Samuel on the conduct of kingship in 1 Samuel 10:25; the Book of the Acts of Solomon in 1 Kings 11:41; the Book of the Chronicles of King David in 1 Chronicles 27:23-24; King David's plan from YHWH for the Temple in 1 Chronicles 28:19; and the Laments (over King Josiah) attributed to the prophet Jeremiah in 2 Chronicles 35:25. It is likely on various contextual grounds that the apparent prophetic books quoted in 1-2 Chronicles are actually references to passages in the Chronicles of the lost Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah, which in turn is likely a digest of the lost Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel and the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah cited in 1-2 Kings. It is interesting also that Ezra 6:18 attributes material to "Moses" which is not found in our Pentateuch.

There are also other references to lost OT pseudepigrapha in the New Testament: the Testament of Moses in Jude 9, and perhaps the Apocalypse or Apocryphon of Elijah in 1 Corinthians 2:9 and the book of Eldad and Modad in James 4:5. Richard Bauckham will be providing contributions dealing with all three of these in MOTP. The quote in Ephesians 5:14 may also be of a lost apocryphon. (There are other NT quotes of OT pseudepigrapha that are not lost, or not entirely so: 2 Timothy 3:8 refers to Jannes and Jambres and Jude 14-15 quotes from the Book of Watchers [1 Enoch 1:9]).

For more on all of this, see the relevant MOTP chapters, which should be going to press soon.

I am not a specialist in the Pauline letters or the NT Apocrypha, but those who are agree unanimously that the Epistle to the Laodecians is a forgery from well after Paul's time. As Mr. Hopkinson says, you can make up your mind for yourself.

For more on lost books, see here and follow the links.

Monday, August 03, 2009

THE ROM DEAD SEA SCROLLS EXHIBITION is reviewed in the Democrat and Chronicle:
Rare look at Dead Sea Scrolls in Toronto
Toronto museum offers rare look at the biblical writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Mary C. Kenessey • Contributing writer • August 2, 2009

The Dead Sea Scrolls bring us the earliest recorded writings of the Bible, as well as of the prophets and patriarchs revered by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. So this major exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum, which runs through Jan. 3, affords us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view, firsthand, words that changed the world.


Located in the spectacular Lee-Chin Crystal extension, this important exhibit first takes the visitor on an absorbing and informative journey through the exotic sites and history of the Holy Land. It's a journey enriched by displays of jewelry, exquisite glassware, pottery, ossuaries, genuine silver shekels — and a breathtaking video re-creation of the magnificent Temple Mount.

Inside the actual scroll exhibition area, the ROM has taken extraordinary security and temperature-monitoring measures to ensure the protection and well-being of these delicate treasures, as evidenced by the controlled and dimmed lighting. Each scroll segment is ensconced in its own deeply recessed and specially illuminated case, backed by tall display stands clearly outlining the translated text. However, the truly amazing aspect of this exhibit is the tiny size and fragility of these remnants of writing, causing one to marvel how they ever managed to survive for so many centuries.

Unique Temple Model to Overlook Kotel

by Maayana Miskin

( On Wednesday this week, the Aish HaTorah center in Jerusalem's Old City plans to unveil a one-of-a-kind model of the Temple. The model will be located in the Aish headquarters, overlooking the Kotel (Western Wall) and the Temple Mount.

The model will be unveiled at 11 a.m. It will be the focal piece in a museum dedicated to Judaism and the Jewish idea, "Aish" directors said. The museum will be open to all.

The model is unique in two ways, its designers say. For one thing, it is the largest of its kind. In addition, it will be the first to provide a view inside the Outer Sanctuary. An elevator system will move parts of the model, allowing visitors to view depictions of the Holy of Holies, the menorah and the Ark of the Covenant.

Other scale models of the Jerusalem Temple are noted here.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

BIBLICAL STUDIES CARNIVAL 44 ("the Funhouse Edition") has been published this month by Jim West.
JOSEPHUS AND HIS MASADA NARRATIVE are the subject of an essay at the Bible and Interpretation website:
"The Irony of Masada"

These last Judean rebels were either very brave to take their own lives or cowards in doing so. They acted irrationally or as those who carefully deliberated the best course of action. Their action was either a horrendous crime or a noble plan. Such effective use of irony allows Josephus to loudly proclaim at Masada that the Roman “victory” was after all not really their victory but God’s punishment upon the Judean stasis and that these Judeans have a nobility that even surpasses that of the Romans.

Essay based on The Sicarii in Josephus's Judean War (Society of Biblical Literature, 2008).

By Mark Andrew Brighton
School of Theology,
Concordia University at Irvine
August 2009
PHOENICIAN WATCH: Augustine of Hippo was a native speaker of Punic, as the late Henry Chadwick reminds us in an about-to-be-published-posthumously biography:
Both Augustine’s parents are likely to have been of Berber stock, but Romanized and Latin-speaking. Numidian peasants of the fourth century spoke not Latin but Punic, inherited from the Phoenician settlers who came from Tyre and Sidon a millennium before to set up their trading station and maritime power at Carthage. In Hannibal they had once offered a frightening threat to Rome’s ambitions to conquer the Mediterranean. As Romans settled in their North African provinces, many took Berber- or Punic-speaking wives. In the second century ad Apuleius, of Madauros near Thagaste, author of the Golden Ass, had a Punic-speaking wife. In Augustine’s time the Punic-speakers retained a consciousness of their old Phoenician forefathers, and could manifest a lack of enthusiasm for the Roman administration of their country now established for over five centuries. Latin culture was a veneer; those who had it tended to despise those who had not. Augustine acquired a conversational knowledge of the patois, and never speaks of Punic language or culture with the least touch of scorn as the pagan Maximus of Madauros did. But his parents and nurses spoke to him in Latin, and education at the Thagaste school was principally in Latin language and literature, a subject which ancient men called ‘grammar’, taught by the grammaticus.