Saturday, March 03, 2012

More on the Enochic giants and LOTR

REMNANT OF GIANTS: Enochic Giants vs. Dr Who vs. Lord of the Rings, in which Tyrone Slothrop builds, inter alia, on my recent post, Doctor Who, the giants, and the demons.

I didn't note it in that post, but I have a web page up with a couple of lectures on The Book of Giants. Also, the various fragments, recensions, and versions of The Book of Giants are being translated for volume two of the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Second St. Andrews Graduate Conference

FOLLOWING UP last year's highly successful conference, for which a conference volume is now in the making:
The 2nd St Andrews Graduate Conference for Biblical and Early Christian Studies
Manuscripts and their Texts: Perspectives on Textual Criticism - 8-9 June 2012

St Mary's College, University of St Andrews

Call for Papers
The program thus far:
With an emphasis on textual criticism, the second St Andrews Graduate Conference for Biblical and Early Christian Studies is aimed at graduate students and early career scholars. Contributors are welcomed from the following fields of research: Old Testament / Hebrew Bible, Pseudepigrapha & Dead Sea Scrolls, New Testament, and Early Christianity.

We have four invited plenary speakers:

Prof. Kristin De Troyer (St Andrews)
Dr. Johannes Magliano-Tromp (Leiden)
Dr. Peter M. Head (Cambridge)
Prof. Karla Pollmann (St Andrews)

We will also have a special invited lecture from Dr. Grant Macaskill (St Andrews), on his edition of the Slavonic text of 2 Enoch.

Conference sessions will be chaired by plenary speakers followed by papers grouped by topic.
The deadline for paper proposals is 20 March. Follow the relevant link above for more information.

More on last year's conference here.

March Biblical Studies Carnival

THE MARCH BIBLICAL STUDIES CARNIVAL is hosted by Duane Smith at Abnormal Interests. Lots of good stuff, as usual.

A call for Hebrew and Aramaic translators

*The Hackmey Hebrew Classical Library ***
*Call for Translators - an update*

Harvard University Press and Tel Aviv University Press is about to launch a new series of bilingual editions of classical Hebrew and Aramaic texts in facing English translation (on the model of Loeb and I Tatti). The new series, made possible by a donation of Mr. Joseph Hackmey, will be named *The Hackmey Hebrew Classical Library*. The project is under the direction of Prof. Aviad Kleinberg, director of Tel Aviv University Press.

We are currently looking for high-quality translations of Hebrew and Aramaic texts in all genres - from poetry to halachic discussions and from philosophy to chronicles -from the post-biblical period to the *haskalah*. We invite scholars working in these fields to submit proposals for English translations from Hebrew and Aramaic. The translations will be accompanied by an introduction, short explanatory notes and a bibliography.*
From the H-Judaic list. Follow the link for a list of texts of particular interest to the project. Lots of halakhic and mystical texts are on the list.

The heading says "an update," but this is the first I've heard of the project. It sounds exciting.

The use of the Bible in ancient Greek inscriptions

BIBLICAL EXEGESIS AND ANCIENT EPIGRAPHY—a good combination as far as I'm concerned.
Biblical Citations in Greek, Jewish, and Christian Inscriptions of the Graeco-Roman World*

By Ekaterini G. Tsalampouni (Bible and Interpretation)
Lecturer on the New Testament
Faculty of Theology
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, GR
March 2012
Although the biblical citations in Greek, Jewish, and Christian inscriptions are a rather marginal practice within the Jewish and Christian epigraphy, they offer valuable insights into the “Sitz im Leben” of Jewish and Christian communities and their interaction in Graeco-Roman and Late Antiquity. They remain expressions of personal piety and community self-affirmation, monuments of the way ancient Jewish and Christian communities understood and adapted their scriptures in their personal and communal lives.

Ancient Greek helmet found in Haifa Bay

LOST AND FOUND, but a little late:
Found: Ancient Warrior's Helmet, Owner Unknown

Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor

Date: 28 February 2012 Time: 11:27 AM ET

A Greek bronze helmet, covered with gold leaf and decorated with snakes, lions and a peacock's tail (or palmette), has been discovered in the waters of Haifa Bay in Israel. But how this helmet ended up at the bottom of the bay is a mystery.

The helmet dates back around 2,600 years and likely belonged to a wealthy Greek mercenary who took part in a series of wars, immortalized in the Bible, which ravaged the region at that time. Archaeologists believe that he likely fought for an Egyptian pharaoh named Necho II.

It's something of a mystery how it was lost. Losing a gold earring is bad but, for a warrior, this would be worse.

Professor Tabor replies

ASOR BLOG: A Reply from Prof. Tabor—A Jonah Fish Image or a Tower Tomb Monument?

UPDATE: James McGrath: Today’s Round-Up of Talpiot Tomb Posts (for yesterday, 1 March).

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Jesus Discovery latest at ASOR blog

THE ASOR BLOG: Comments from Prof. Steven Fine on the “Jesus Discovery”. In short, the Jonah "icon" is a drawing of a tomb.

Professor Fine concludes:
I, for one, am wearied by the almost yearly “teaching moment” presented by these types of “discoveries.” I am hopeful, however, that—this time—a forceful and quick display of unanimous dissent by the leading members of the academic community will be taken seriously by the media and the public at large.
There are signs that that may happen this time.

Background here and links.

The million dollar shekel

A SLIVER SHEKEL FROM THE GREAT REVOLT OF 66 CE is profiled in a press release taken up by Art Daily, along with a nice close-up photo:
Million dollar ancient silver shekel highlights world's greatest private Jewish coin collection

NEW YORK, NY.- The first silver shekel struck in Jerusalem by Jewish forces rebelling against Roman oppression in the first century CE, one of only two specimens known, will be auctioned as part of The Shoshana Collection of Ancient Coins of Judea, March 8-9, at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion (Ukrainian Institute of America) at 2 East 79th St (at 5th Ave.). The auction begins on March 8 at 6 p.m. ET.

The Shoshana Collection, assembled over the course of four decades by an American collector of Judaean coins, is perhaps the greatest assembly of ancient coins related to the foundation of ancient Israel ever offered, with more than 700 coins spanning more than 11 centuries. Auction estimates on the coins range from $200 to $950,000.

“This Year 1 silver shekel, struck shortly after the Jewish War began in May of 66 CE, is the prototype for all subsequent shekels,” said Cris Bierrenbach, Executive Vice President of Heritage Auctions. “Only a handful of coins were struck from this first set of dies before the design was radically changed. Only two ‘prototypes’ have survived to the present day, with the only other known specimen in the Israel Museum’s collection.”

In fact, the Israel Museum has stated that it would like to acquire many of the coins from The Shoshana Collection and has a “wish list” available to potential bidders interested in purchasing coins from the auction and donating them to the museum’s collection, or in making them available on long-term loan. This can be done through the American Friends of the Israel Museum, a tax-exempt organization.

Philanthropists take note! And if you know of buyers who do buy some or all of these coins and donate them to the Israel Museum, please let me know so I can praise them here, either by name or anonymously, as they wish.

Background here and links.

UPDATE: Dead link fixed. Sorry!

More on that Turkish Aramaic "Bible"

THE STORY OF THE ANCIENT ARAMAIC APOCRYPHAL GOSPEL supposedly recovered from smugglers in Turkey is taken up and taken apart by Peter BetBasoo and Ashur Giwargis in AINA, based on their knowledge of Modern Assyrian (Syriac):
The 1,500 Year Old 'Bible' and Muslim Propaganda

Posted GMT 2-29-2012 22:56:9

(AINA) -- Much has been made of the recent discovery in Turkey of a Bible purported to be written in the Aramaic language, 1,500 years ago. The Muslim media, as well as Western media outlets, quickly pounced on this, claiming this Bible contains verses attributed to Jesus Christ, in which Christ predicts the coming of Muhammad. No media outlet has published a facsimile of these verses.

This "Bible" is written on leather in gold letters. The picture of the front cover show inscriptions in Aramaic and a picture of a cross.

For any native speaker of Modern Assyrian (also known as neo-Aramaic), and that would be your average Assyrian today, the inscription is easily read. The bottom inscription, which is the most clearly visible from the published photos, says the following:

Transliteration: b-shimmit maran paish kteewa aha ktawa al idateh d-rabbaneh d-dera illaya b-ninweh b'sheeta d-alpa w-khamshamma d-maran

Translation: In the name of our Lord, this book is written on the hands of the monks of the high monastery in Nineveh, in the 1,500th year of our Lord.

Nineveh is the ancient Assyrian capital and is located in present-day north Iraq, near Mosul.

There are spelling errors that are immediately noticeable.
Specific follow.
Most significantly, this writing is in Modern Assyrian, which was standardized in the 1840s. The first bible in Modern Assyrian was produced in 1848. If this book were written in 1500 A.D. it should have been written in Classical Assyrian.

It is highly unlikely for monks to make such elementary mistakes. It remains to be seen whether this book is a forgery, or even what kind of book it is.

As noted earlier, Peter Williams says the final page contains the end of the Peshitta of the Gospel of Matthew.

So instead of being a pre-Islamic copy of The Gospel of Barnabas with predictions of Muhammad in the mouth of Jesus, the manuscript dates itself to 1500; it appears to contain a canonical Gospel; it is suspiciously poorly copied; and paleographic concerns indicate it may be much later than even 1500.

The weird thing is that the manuscript itself does not seem to be promoting the narrative being circulated about it. If it is a forgery, it's a forgery of a 600-year-old manuscript of a canonical book, not of an an ancient copy of an apocryphal one. What is going on?

I look forward to all the updates and corrections that I'm sure the mainstream (and other) media who have been spreading this story will publish.

Background here and links.

The Afghan manuscripts again

THE AFGHAN MANUSCRIPTS are covered in an article in Tablet Magazine:
War Papers

A trove of medieval scrolls, smuggled out of Afghanistan into the hands of London art dealers, could shed new light on a once-vibrant Jewish heritage

By Jonathan Lee|February 29, 2012 7:00 AM|6comments

Afghanistan for many people is synonymous with the War on Terror, radical Islamic movements such as the Taliban and al-Qaida, and a state of almost perpetual instability. However, recent reports of the discovery of some 150 medieval Judaeo-Persian manuscripts purporting to be from Afghanistan, possibly worth several million dollars on the open market, open a window to a very different place. At the same time, they offer scholars a chance to learn more about a little-known Jewish heritage. Though they cannot compare to the thousands of works of the Cairo Geniza or the Dead Sea Scrolls, these manuscripts are the most important cache of Jewish documents ever to have been found in Afghanistan.

There's nothing much new about the manuscripts themselves, but the article has a lot of background on Jews in Afghanistan at the time the manuscripts were produced, as well as later.

Background here and links.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More on Jacobovici, Tabor, and that Talpiot tomb

THE ASOR BLOG has three new posts on Jacobovici's and Tabor's book, The New Jesus Discovery, and their theories about Talpiot Tomb B:

Reflections of an Epigrapher on Talpiyot Tombs A and B: A Detailed Response to the Claims of Professor James Tabor and Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici (Christopher A. Rollston);

Jodi Magness responds to the “New Jesus Discovery”;

On ‘Absalom’s Tomb’ in Jerusalem and Nephesh Monument Iconography: A Response to Jacobovici and Tabor by Robert Cargill.

Bottom line: the specialists find their theories sensationalist and unpersuasive.

Happily, the mainstream media is taking some notice of the specialist response:

Alan Boyle, Cosmic Log (MSNBC): Doubts about 'the Jesus Discovery'.

Michael Gordon, Professor's discovery resurrects debate over 'Jesus tomb' (Kansas City Star/McClatchy Newspapers):
Most of Tabor's peers dismissed his "Jesus Tomb" hypothesis, saying it lacked proof.

That said, John Dominic Crossan, an expert in first century Christianity and professor emeritus at DePaul University in Chicago, called Tabor's latest find "a stunning discovery," which he hopes doesn't get diminished by renewed debate over the "Jesus Tomb."

"As a scholar, I really don't want to get lost in saying, 'Oh come on, it's off the wall,'" Crossan told MSNBC. "Yeah, it's off the wall, but look at the wall!"

The research, and the stories behind it, are included in Tabor's and Jacobovici's new book, "The Jesus Discovery." A documentary will follow this spring.

Duke University archaeologist Eric Meyers lacerated Tabor's claims Tuesday on a blog for the American Schools of Oriental Research. He called Tabor's book sensationalistic, predicting it may end up "on a long list of presentations that misuse not only the Bible but also archaeology."

He even questioned Tabor's central image, the whale, saying it may instead be a nephesh, a common symbol found on first century tombs.

Tabor's response: "Ridiculous."
Adrian Blomfield in the Telegraph also sounds a note of skepticism: Christ's disciples' remains 'discovered':
But the Israeli archaeologists who discovered the ossuaries dismissed Mr Jacobovic's conclusions as nonsense, saying such names were common at the time.

Biblical scholars have also pointed out that, as a Galilean, Christ would not have been buried in Jerusalem, particularly not in a tomb that suggested considerable wealth given His humble origins.

Israeli archaeologists, who jokingly refer to Mr Jacobovic as "Indiana Jones", point out that he is a film maker with no academic qualifications beyond a bachelor's degree and say he has "cherry-picked" findings from experts on his team to create the flimsiest of cases.

"His Jesus theory is conjecture built upon deception built upon wilful misinterpretation in order to spin a moneymaking yarn and garner publicity," said one archaeologist who asked not to be identified in order not to link his name to the claims
But many other mainstream media articles just report the story without taking note of the critical evaluation by scholars.

Also, Tom Verenna has a Roundup of Biblioblogger Comments on the New Jacobovici Claims as of yesterday. I'm sure there will be more coming.

Two observations. First, as the scholarly commentators have already said, the technology used to get at Tomb B is really cool and the tomb itself is not unimportant. No one has been convinced that it contains earthshattering discoveries, but there are new data that will contribute a little to our knowledge of first-century Judea and that is all to the good. There is a real story here and it's too bad that it is being overshadowed by sensationalist claims that specialists find unconvincing.

Second, for a change the scholarly response has been swift and well organized, and the media seem to be taking some notice of it. Earlier stories such as the fake metal codices seem to have helped us set up lines of communication among ourselves and with the media, and this is also all to the good. Well done!

It will be interesting to see if other major media take any notice of the ASOR blog.

UPDATE: Another post on the ASOR blog: Prof. Robin Jensen Refutes Any Claim that She Concurs with the Interpretation in “The Jesus Discovery.”

UPDATE: James McGrath: Is the New Testament Evidence Compatible with Jesus having been Buried in Talpiot?. He thinks not. The post also has a list of the latest blog posts on The Jesus Discovery-related matters.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jacobovici and Tabor and a burial cave

AND THE BURIAL CAVE had Jesus in it, of course. This sounds kind of interesting, but I don't have time to think about it right now. Mark Goodacre has a summary post on the current state of play: Jacobovici and Tabor link burial cave to Jesus' disciples. James McGrath also notes their forthcoming book and seizes the opportunity to plug his own book as well: The Jesus Discovery and The Burial of Jesus. Mark and James have put much more effort into following such things than I have, so I will just echo their very sensible wait-and-see attitude, and keep an eye on how the story develops.

UPDATE: That was quick: Eric Meyers’ review of “The New Jesus Discovery” (ASOR blog). Excerpt:
The book is truly much ado about nothing and is a sensationalist presentation of data that are familiar to anyone with knowledge of first-century Jerusalem. Nothing in the book “revolutionizes our understanding of Jesus or early Christianity” as the authors and publisher claim, and we may regard this book as yet another in a long list of presentations that misuse not only the Bible but also archaeology.
(HT Robert Cargill on FB.)

Also, James Tabor has posted a related essay at the Bible and Interpretation website: A Preliminary Report of a Robotic Camera: Exploration of a Sealed 1st Century Tomb in East Talpiot, Jerusalem.
It seems very likely that followers of Jesus were moved to do what other Jews eschewed—in testimony to their faith in Jesus’ resurrection. Clearly the Jonah image and the Greek inscription, in such close proximity to a tomb with names corresponding to Jesus and his family, should cause us to reexamine some of the other ossuary inscriptions that Eliezar Sukenik, Bellarmino Bagatti, and others have identified as Christian—some of which are in the close geographical proximity to the Talpiot tombs.
I'm too busy to do more that sit back and watch this one.

UPDATE: Keep an eye on the ASOR blog, which seems to have become the informal central clearinghouse for scholarly responses to The New Jesus Discovery and related matters.

New Survey of ancient tabulae

A NEW ONLINE PUBLICATION noted by G.W. Schwendner at the What's New in Papyrology blog: K.A. Worp, A New Survey of Greek, Coptic, Demotic and Latin Tabulae preserved from Classical Antiquity.

The publication, which has brief descriptions of a long list of tabulae (inscribed wooden boards), is downloadable for free as a pdf file. Many of these texts include quotations from the Old Testament, New Testament, and other early Christian and Manichean (Manichaean) documents. The editor does not include Hebrew, Aramaic, or Arabic texts, but some of the Demotic ones have an Aramaic component.

Looters using the Copper Scroll?

BUSTED! Antiquities officials catch thieves in ancient cave: Five would-be tomb robbers apprehended at a 2,000-year-old site near the city of Modi’in. I'm glad they were caught, but this is disquieting:
The men, West Bank Palestinians, were apprehended after a scuffle with antiquities inspectors early Saturday, according to the statement. They had been spotted scouring the site with a metal detector, and are suspected of looting other sites in the same area near the city of Modi’in.

Among those sites was one given a cryptic mention in the Copper Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as a possible location for the burial of the treasures of the Jewish Temple. According to the Antiquities Authority, that mention has made the site a popular target for thieves.
I don't know why I'm surprised that looters would try using the Copper Scroll to locate treasure, but I am. It's not going to help them any, but the problem is the damage they do to sites while trying.

Another dubious use of the Copper Scroll was noted here last year. And for more serious discussion of the Scroll and some related material, see here and here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Galatians conference in St Andrews

AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON PAUL'S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS & CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY is being held at the University of St. Andrews on 10-13 July 2012. Follow the link for details and registration information.

Footnote lost

CLOSE, BUT NO OSCAR: Iranian film beats Israel's 'Footnote' at Academy Awards (Reuter/AP).

More on the Turkish Aramaic "Bible"

THAT ARAMAIC "BIBLE" that is causing so much fuss in Turkey is analyzed by Peter Williams at ETC: The antique Syriac Bible. Guess what? The text is of Matthew, the colophon does date it to 1500, the gold ink has been seen before in suspicious circumstances, and Peter suspects a forgery. No Gospel of Barnabas after all.

And if it's from Matthew, it doesn't even get to be an apocryphon. Oh well.

Background here and here.

Display of Judean coins to be auctioned

THE ANCIENT JUDEAN COINS coming up for auction were on display in Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday: Ancient coins from 66 AD displayed in LA before auction. The article has photos of some of the more valuable ones.

The auction is in New York on 8-9 March (details here. If there are any philanthropists out there who would like to invest a few million on them to make sure they are not lost for scholarly study, now's your chance.

Background here.

More on the Temple Mount

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Archaeology Holocaust on Temple Mount: The Unpublicized Report: Unsurprisingly, the UN has not said a thing. But why is the Israeli ombudsman's report on the Temple Mount still hidden from the public? (Guilio Meotti, Arutz Sheva).

I would save the term "holocaust" for other things (but note that the author is probably not responsible for the headline). And bad as it is, I would not say that the archaeological desecration of the Waqf on the Temple Mount is "the greatest crime of all." But it's bad enough.

Lots more on that suppressed Comptroller's report on the Temple Mount here and links.

New book: Wright, How God Became King

IN THE MAIL: Well, in my mailbox, from the author:
N. T. Wright, How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels (HarperOne, 2012)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

More on Footnote

FOOTNOTE continues to get renewed attention with its Academy Award nomination.
Will Cedar’s ‘Footnote’ take home an Oscar?

By HANNAH BROWN 02/26/2012 01:06 (Jerusalem Post

It’s the tenth nomination for an Israeli film in this category, and the fourth in five years. But no Israeli film has ever won the award.
Interesting analysis of the film's chances. Excerpt:
At the symposium for the directors of the movies nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in Los Angeles on Saturday morning, Cedar was asked about how he got the idea for Footnote. Reminded that he had been nominated for an Oscar before, he smiled and said, “I want to say that it originated here.”

But, he explained that although “it’s about recognition and awards and all the conflicting emotions that go along with needing to stand up on the podium,” the idea came to him when he was at a low point in his career. He was notified that he had won an unexpected honor, and assumed that it was intended for his father, Howard Cedar, an Israel Prize-winning scientist. As he waited to hear whether it was him or his father who was getting the honor, the idea for the film was born.
Also, Jonathan Poritsky interviews Cedar in Heeb Magazine: Filmmaker Joseph Cedar Talks Movies, Talmud and Committees. Excerpt:
The opening of the film is very fast. A lot of quick cuts, a lot of jumping through time and a lot of neat uses of editing and graphics.

I wanted to feel free to tell the story in the most entertaining style. I’ve always been aggravated by the formalism of this profession that I have. In each of my previous films I would come out with a bunch of ideas that I just didn’t know how to put in that I’m sure would have helped the viewer become more involved in the story.

While I was writing this film I was looking at some Talmudic textbooks. The way these philologists write, they are extremely economic in how they phrase a sentence. You have very short sentences and then a whole page of footnotes. Because their writing is so sparse, all the things they want to put in but are afraid to put in the primary text they just throw in the footnotes. Suddenly they really go wild. They feel loose to use any style and gossip and things that aren’t necessarily true.

I like that as an idea, that a footnote is a place that can allow you to be a little less responsible and less consistent. So we’ve created footnotes in the film. Stylistic footnotes, content footnotes, informative footnotes. It was really liberating for me. Anything I wanted to say I just did as a footnote.
Background here and links.

Is Israel losing Temple Mount war?

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Is Israel losing Temple Mount war? Ynetnews special: Why is Israeli government covering up Muslim effort to erase any trace of Jewish history on Temple Mount? Archeology expert: Excavations barbaric, a crime (Amir Shoan).

Regular readers of PaleoJudaica will be familiar with many of the events and problems recounted in the article.

UPDATE: Related: Expert Warns of Waqf's Dangerous Plans for Temple Mount. Archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar warns: The Waqf is planning to unite all the mosques on the Temple Mount into one. (Elad Benari, Arutz Sheva)

Schiffman on Boteach, Kosher Jesus

LARRY SCHIFFMAN has a review of Shmuley Boteach, Kosher Jesus in Is Jesus really Kosher? Excerpt:
From the beginning, Boteach wants us to see his book as totally revolutionary. Yet parts of it are, in fact, totally unoriginal, and that those parts that are most original put forward rather questionable suggestions. One of the supposedly original theses of this volume is that Jesus can only be understood by Jews and Christians if placed in the context of Second Temple Judaism. But actually, this is an axiom of all contemporary New Testament scholarship and nothing that Boteach has just discovered.

What is unfortunate is that an entire world of scholarship on Second Temple Judaism, much of it the result of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, makes absolutely no appearance. This research has shown us the background of the apocalyptic messianism of Jesus and his disciples, and has revealed that the movement he created cannot simply be seen as a Pharisaic, proto-rabbinic movement in spite of some similarities in interpersonal ethics. The messianic teachings and numerous terms and symbols of early Christianity are derived from a world of Second Temple Judaism that included sects that followed an alternative system of Jewish law and extremely apocalyptic messianic teachings that do not accord with later rabbinic teaching.

Boteach argues that the descriptions of Jesus in the Gospels do not represent in any way an accurate picture of him. In his view Jesus was a rabbi who did not deviate from the observance of Jewish law, and was a heroic revolutionary opponent of Roman rule. This view has been suggested before, but it has failed to be accepted, precisely because there is absolutely no real evidence for it in the New Testament. Such claims represent speculation devoid of any kind of historical basis, driven by Boteach’s attempt to reconstruct history in the image of his own beliefs.
One clarification:
Boteach’s also asserts that Jesus did not consider himself divine. This is probably correct, specifically because the Gospel accounts do not in any way impute this point of view to him. However, shortly thereafter in the Pauline Epistles (c. 50-60 CE) and the Gospel of John (c. 90-100 CE), this identification is made explicitly.
The Synoptic Gospels were written some time after Paul's death, so the letters of Paul are our earliest source for information on Jesus and what the earliest Jesus community believed about him. Whether or not Jesus considered himself "divine" is a very difficult question, as is what it meant for a human being to be "divine" in first-century Judaism. I think it is likely that Jesus thought of himself as the glorified or angelic "one like a son of man" of the book of Daniel, but many New Testament scholars would disagree with me. He may have applied the angelic theology of Melchizedek to himself as well, although this too is quite open to debate. Both possibilities are compatible with the theology of the Synoptic Gospels. Schiffman's position is one that is widely accepted, although many New Testament specialists would also disagree.

Professor Schiffman is a Vice Provost at Yeshiva University and one of the premier authorities on Second Temple Judaism. His review deals both with the scholarly issues and the implications of Rabbi Boteach's book for Jewish-Christian dialogue. Read it all.

Another review is here.