First, belated happy Shavuot to all those celebrating. It began on the evening of the 26th while I was in transit. More here.
The Steinsaltz Talmud is being translated into English: Steinsaltz Talmud available in English. The first volume of Steinsaltz’s Koren Talmud Bavli is being launched in conjunction with Shavuot (JTA/Times of Israel). Background here and links.
Canaanite bling: Archaeologists find rare trove of 3,000-year-old jewelry near the ancient city of Megiddo (AP). People sure liked gold earrings in ancient Palestine. Lots more ancient bling here and links.
A Hebrew inscription from 390 CE in Portugal: Evidence of early Jews in Portugal found. It is reportedly the earliest surviving remnant of Jewish culture in the Iberian Peninsula and the earliest Hebrew inscription from the area by two or three centuries.
An Iron Age II extrabiblical reference to Bethlehem: Ancient Bethlehem seal found; first reference to city outside Bible. Reservations about the reading were initially expressed by George Athas (et al.), but (see update to the post) he has provisionally withdrawn them and I am not currently aware of any other epigraphers who question the reading.
A project to digitize Samaritan manuscripts is covered in detail by Ofer Aderet in Haaretz: Using cutting-edge technology, researchers unearth the history of Israel’s Samaritan community. A pioneering digitizing project led by American experts will now enable members of the community – numbering just 750 – to glance at their past.
Financial problems in the small Samaritan community in Palestine in the 19th and early 20th centuries forced its members to sell their ancient texts to buyers in Europe and the United States. A pioneering digitizing project, developed by Dr. Jim Ridolfo from the University of Cincinnati, will now enable members of the community - 750 people, who live in Holon and on Mount Gerizim, near Nablus - to see what they have been missing.Cool. For many more manuscript digitization projects, see here and links.
Ridolfo is collaborating with a team of researchers from Michigan State University, as well as several other academic institutions.
The 32-year-old American scholar, who is in Israel conducting research at Tel Aviv University and visiting the Samaritan community, explained the vision behind the project, which he says goes beyond the boundaries of academia.
"Our goal is to enable the Samaritan community in Mount Gerizim and Holon to have access to ancient Samaritan manuscripts in libraries, archives and museums abroad," explains Ridolfo, an assistant professor of composition and rhetoric, who is writing a book on the project. "This project differs from similar digitization projects, in that we're primarily interested in tailoring the archival interfaces not just to scholars but also to the Samaritan community."
Efforts to revive spoken Aramaic in the Holy Land: Christian villages attempt to revive ancient Biblical language. In both the Galilee and the West Bank, Christian communities are putting a new focus on Aramaic, with a little help from a Swedish television channel. (AP). Somewhat related story here.
Temple Mount Watch: Netanyahu - "Fatal mistake" to concede sacred sites.
(Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday it would be a "fatal mistake" ever to give up control over Jerusalem's holy sites.And finally, the Daily Mail is trying to flog the story of that bogus Gospel of Barnabas manuscript back to life: Seized from smugglers, the leather-bound 'gospel' which Iran claims will bring down Christianity and shake world politics. Background here and links.