Saturday, May 14, 2011

Magdala Synagogue Gala

Religious, political luminaries gather to raise money for Magdala Center in Israel

By Electa Draper
The Denver Post
Posted: 05/12/2011 05:21:17 PM MDT

A Holy Land archaeological discovery will bring together some of Denver's biggest names in politics and religion for a Galilee Gala June 8 at The Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

A first-century synagogue, uncovered in 2009 in Magdala — Mary Magdalene's hometown in the region of Galilee — holds the oldest known depiction in stone of a menorah.

Jesus lived most of his life, conducted most of his ministry and performed most of his miracles in the region of Galilee. And so the area was chosen by the Legionaries of Christ, a Catholic order of priests seeking to promote Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land, as the site for a $100 million building project.

Plans encompass a 300-bed hotel, educational center dedicated to Jesus called "Walk With Me," and, acknowledging the Mary Magdalene connection, a cultural center for women.

The project began purchasing land in Magdala in 2006, eventually acquiring more than 20 acres on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

As providence would have it, project spokesman Father Eamon Kelly said, workers soon discovered, in the very footprint set aside for an ecumenical chapel for Christians, a 2,000-year-old Jewish place of worship.

This is not "the most important archaeological discovery ever related to the 2nd Temple," and I kind of doubt that that's exactly what the IAA said, but it is an important site and I wish them well in their fundraising.

Background here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Latest on the fake metal codices

FAKE METAL CODICES WATCH: Another article in a small local press: Are rusty books Christ's chronicle? by Sholeh Patrick in the Coeur d'Alene Press. The piece summarizes the misinformation already circulated by the media. I have written to the author. We'll see if anything comes of that.

Background here.

NT job at University of Edinburgh

Divinity: Lecturer in New Testament and Christian Origins

We are seeking an outstanding researcher/lecturer to join the Biblical Studies subject area in the School of Divinity (New College). The candidate can be a specialist in any area of NT study, but applicants whose field is Pauline studies or the use of the Old Testament in the New are particularly encouraged to apply.

The successful candidate will be expected to engage actively in research, teaching and administration and play a full part in the collegiate life of the Biblical Studies subject area and the School of Divinity.

Candidates are expected to have a relevant doctoral degree, and to have demonstrable achievements in research, publication, and teaching. The School has plans to develop PGT programmes delivered via distance learning, experience and/or an interest in this area would be advantageous.

The post is available from 1st September 2011, however the start date is negotiable.
The deadline is 29 June. Follow the link for full details.

UPDATE: Bad link now fixed. Sorry about that!

Blogger down

BLOGGER WAS DOWN all day, so I and many others had an enforced blogging fast. Glad to be getting back to it.

UPDATE: I did put up a post on Thursday, but the Blogger debacle seems to have eaten it. They say deleted posts will come back. We'll see.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Isaac Casaubon as a Hebraist

BMCR BOOK REVIEW on the 16th/17th-century Christian Classicist and Hebraist Isaac Casaubon:
Anthony Grafton, Joanna Weinberg, "I have always loved the holy tongue": Isaac Casaubon, the Jews, and a Forgotten Chapter in Renaissance Scholarship. Cambridge, MA/London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011. Pp. x, 380. ISBN 9780674048409. $35.00.

Reviewed by Pieter W. van der Horst, Utrecht, The Netherlands (

This is an extraordinary book about Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614), a man who is well known for his fine editions of and commentaries on classical Greek and Latin authors (Theophrastus, Strabo, Diogenes Laertius, Persius, among others). What is little known, however, and what is revealed in this book by Grafton and Weinberg, is that, apart from his work as a classical philologist, Casaubon was also an ardent student of ancient and medieval Jewish literature in Hebrew and Aramaic. The evidence for this is found not so much in his published work as in the copious marginal notes Casaubon jotted down in the books he read, in his separate notebooks, in his diary, in his many letters, and in other material most of which is unpublished. ...

The longest chapter of the book (almost 70 pages) deals with the conflict between Casaubon and Baronio, a conflict that dominated the last decade of his life. Between 1588 and 1607, cardinal Cesare Baronio (1538-1607) had published his multivolume work Annales Ecclesiastici, in which he tried to demonstrate on historical grounds that the Roman Catholic Church was exactly the kind of institution that Jesus had wanted to found. Casaubon wrote a devastating review that expanded into a manuscript of more than 800 pages (it was unfinished at his death but was published posthumously as De rebus sacris et ecclesiasticis exercitationes XVI). In it he concentrated on the historical circumstances of the life of Jesus, whom he saw as a pious Jew, and he gloatingly and at great length exposed the cardinal’s glaring lack of knowledge of Jewish life and thought in first-century Palestine. Here Casaubon demonstrated that, besides being a classicist, he was also a Judaist, whose aim it was to use his Judaic knowledge for as exact as possible a historical reconstruction of the origins of Christianity. That gave him the opportunity to argue that “Baronio’s failings as a Hebraist mattered as much as his defects as a Hellenist, and that both made it impossible for him to write a scholarly study of the early church” (183). For all his hidden Calvinist agenda, Casaubon shows himself here to be a formidable philologist.

Isaac Casaubon also established that the Hermetic corpus consisted of late (i.e., Hellenistic-era) compositions and likewise reinforced the earlier conclusion by Johannes Opsopoeus that the Sibylline Oracles were Hellenistic. Earlier posts on Casaubon are here and here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Polish translations of Jewish texts

TRANSLATIONS of Torah, Talmud excerpts, and other Jewish texts into Polish:
Gained In Translation: Sacred Texts For Poles

Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Steve Lipman (The Jewish Week)

A Croatian-born college student in Prague in the late 1980s, Sacha Pecaric became interested in traditional Judaism, but no Jewish texts were available in Serbo-Croatian or Czech. He turned to English and Hebrew books.

As an Orthodox rabbi doing outreach to Krakow’s small Jewish community in the first decade of this century, he found few Jewish texts in Polish. Again, he used English and Hebrew.

Rabbi Pecaric, now 45 and a resident of Teaneck, decided to fill the literary-linguistic void. The rabbi, who moved to New Jersey with his wife Ksenija, an artist, and two young sons, in 2005, has written, edited and translated some 30 classical Jewish texts in Polish during the last decade.


His most ambitious project was his translation of the Talmud (chapters from the often-studied tractates of Berachot, Kiddushin and Baba Kama), which includes the standard Aramaic text as well as a translation, ArtScroll-style explanations, and a commentary in the guise of a teacher-student dialogue.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Apocryphal gospels in the Blogosphere

APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS in the Blogosphere:

Reports on the Secret Mark Symposium at York University:

Report on Secret Gospel of Mark Symposium Pt 1 (Ryan D. Wettlaufer)
Report on Secret Gospel of Mark Symposium Pt 2 (Ryan D. Wettlaufer, to be continued)
Thoughts on the Secret Gospel of Mark Conference (Sarah Veale)
Secret Mark in Toronto ("the_cave")
Secret Mark Symposium: A Student’s View (Calogero A. Miceli)

It seems there is no consensus on whether Secret Mark is a forgery.

Alin Suciu has identified a Coptic fragment of the Garshuni Lament of the Virgin: The Identity of a Coptic Apocryphal Fragment in the British Library (Layton no. 100).

UPDATE: Also, April DeConick has a post on Digital images of Nag Hammadi collection. The images include the apocryphal gospels in the Nag Hammadi library. Last summer I linked to the same site for an image of some Psalms material inscribed on a cave wall.

UPDATE: Tony Burke, the organizer of the Secret Mark symposium, has posted his own account at Apocryphicity:

Reflections on the Secret Mark Symposium, part 1
Reflections on the Secret Mark Symposium, part 2

Also, there's more on the images of those Nag Hammadi codices at AWOL.

UPDATE (11 May): Report on Secret Gospel of Mark Symposium Pt 3 (Ryan Wettlaufer)

Monday, May 09, 2011

Publisher's Weekly on AAR/SBL reunion

For religion publishers who do academic publishing, the November 19–22 concurrent meetings this year in San Francisco of two major professional groups of religion scholars is a felicitous remarriage after an expensive three-year divorce.
Background here.

Robert Cargill on Simcha's nails

ROBERT CARGILL ON SIMCHA'S NAILS: A Critique of Simcha Jacobovici’s Secrets of Christianity: Nails of the Cross (Bible and Interpretation).
Simcha makes two bold claims to say the least: the first is that the lost nails of Jesus’ crucifixion have been recovered, and the second is an implicit assertion that the IAA covered it up. Unfortunately for Simcha, his theory has a problem, and its name is Legion, for they are many. Any one of these problems renders Simcha’s theory impossible, and their aggregate renders the theory preposterous.
Background here.

Davila on "The Golb Affair"

"THE GOLB AFFAIR," my article covering the story of Raphael Golb's sock puppetry, his identity-theft trial, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, has been published in Religion in the News.

Jim Caviezel interview on The Passion of the Christ

JIM CAVIEZEL is interviewed by Scott Ross about playing the role of Jesus in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ:

This via an article by Aisling Redican in Actor rejected from Hollywood for playing Jesus in Gibson’s ‘The Passion’ - VIDEO. Excerpt:
A lot of the criticism the film garnered revolved around the portrayal of Jews as being principally responsible for Christ's death. Caviezel responded to the accusations saying "we are all culpable in the death of Christ. My sins, your sins put Him on that cross. I want my Jewish brothers to see this film. I want people in my own faith who think it's anti-Semitic to see this film."

Though Caviezel praises the film for its portrayal of the last moments in Christ's life, he admits that it has hindered his career in many respects. Despite the negative effects, he asserts that he would do it again if given the chance: "This is what I feel. I believe I was called to play this role...I'm still an actor. I'll always be one, whether I get another job or not."

Sands, Invention of the Jewish People, reviewed in Al Ahram

SHLOMO SAND'S THE INVENTION OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE gets a long cheerleading review by Gamal Nkrumah in Al Ahram:
Scriptural non-sequitur
The Invention of the Jewish People, by Shlomo Sand. Translated by Yael Lotan (2009). Verso, London

Complacency and political convenience have conspired to blur the vision of Israeli historians and biblical scholars to gross factual errors unearthed by contemporary archaeology since the inception of the Zionist state. Israel is today repeating that folly. The Zionist entity is continually reinventing the wheel. Its politicians and academicians, historians and archaeologists monotonously sound like a scratched gramophone when they insist that the Jews of the world are simultaneously a race, an ethnicity and a religious community.

In harking about exile and return they do not exude a positive message about either Zionism or Judaism. Their ideas are outdated and antiquated no matter how much high-tech they smear on the ultra-modern veneer. There is a paradox in hearing this from an Israeli academician.

That gives you a sense of the tone and the political orientation. Some critical reflection about aspects of the book (e.g., theories about the Khazars or the relevance of recent developments in genetics) would have been welcome as well. For earlier reviews, etc., some of which do better on the critical reflection front, go here and follow the links back.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Review of Manning, The Last Pharaohs, 305-30 BC

Scholia Reviews ns 20 (2011) 8.

J. G. Manning, The Last Pharaohs: Egypt under the Ptolemies, 305-30 BC. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010. Pp. xvi + 264, incl. 18 black-and- white illustrations. ISBN 978-0-691-14262- 3. UK£27.95. Further Details.

John Atkinson
School of Languages and Literatures, University of Cape Town

Manning, with numerous previous publications in the field of Ptolemaic studies to his credit, here plunges straight into the issues which he proposes to address, and dispenses with the customary historical survey of the Ptolemaic period. His brief historical introduction is entitled 'Egypt in the First Millennium BC’ (pp. 19-28), and picks up the story from the end of the New Kingdom, giving more space to Persian rule than to the period of Alexander and Ptolemy. This is appropriate as he identifies with the trend in scholarship over the last three decades to lay greater stress on Egyptian culture in the Ptolemaic era, and on Persian administrative practices (p. 2).