Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review of Stone, Ancient Judaism: New Visions and Views

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.03.38
M. E. Stone, Ancient Judaism: New Visions and Views. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011. Pp. xiv, 242. ISBN 9780802866363. $30.00.

Reviewed by Juan Carlos Ossandón, Pontificia Università della Santa Croce (


In the field of ancient Jewish literature, few authors can display such an impressive list of publications as Michael Edward Stone.1 Despite the title his latest book is not an overall presentation of Second Temple Judaism but rather a collection of specialized studies, with some relationship to each other. Most of its seven chapters deal with aspects that Professor Stone has addressed previously and to which he returns with “new visions and views” written in dialogue with the latest research. Accordingly, the bibliography is extensively updated and the book contains unpublished material, with the exception of chapter 4.


Friday, March 23, 2012

DSS/OT postdoc at the University of Agder, Norway

JOB: Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University og Agder, Faculty of Humanities and Education Ref. 18/12.
The postdoctoral position is a part of a four-year project, jointly sponsored by UiA and the Norwegian Research Council, entitled “Biblical’ Texts Older than the Bible” (the project description may be obtained by contacting Examples of thematic fields relevant for the project include the interplay between so-called ”authoritative” writings, other texts and the social context in the second temple period, ”biblical” diversity in the second temple period (different recensions and reworked ”scripture”), or use of new/material philology in text editions of and interpretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Other desiderata in Qumran research with relevance for the project will also be considered.
This is a three-year full-time post and the application deadline is 25 April. Background on the project is noted here.

New book: Golb Festschrift

AWOL: New Book from the Oriental Institute: Pesher Nahum: Texts and Studies in Jewish History and Literature from Antiquity through the Middle Ages Presented to Norman (Nahum) Golb.

New book: Goodacre, Thomas and the Gospels

MARK GOODACRE has a new book out forthcoming, which is noted and briefly reviewed by Larry Hurtado: Gospel of Thomas and the Synoptic Gospels.

Another Joseph Cedar interview

THE REVIEWS OF FOOTNOTE keep pouring in, and I'm no longer going to try to note them all. But I will try to mention reviews etc. that have something new to say. This interview with Joseph Cedar shows that he has quite an insightful grasp of the academic world: Footnore director can't ignore success (Toronto Sun). Excerpt:
"In a way, Talmudic scholars are like some film crew," Cedar said in an interview during the Toronto International Film Festival. "They devote their lives in an obsessive way to something that no one will ever notice as theirs, and that requires an expertise that is narrow and specific.

"And that's their pride, the narrowness of it. There's an integrity to that, which I don't have."
Background here and links.

New book on the Book of Revelation

ETC: New Book: Die Johannesoffenbarung: Ihr Text und ihre Auslegung. Follow the link for details.

This one won't get the same attention as Revelations by Elaine Pagels. But it's this sort of work that makes her more synthetic research possible.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Elaine Pagels meets Buffy

ELAINE PAGELS'S REVELATIONS receives an enthusiastic review by Dwight Garner in the NYT: Into the Apocalypse With an Unruffled Tour Guide. How unruffled?
The cool authority of Ms. Pagels’s voice serves her almost too well in her new volume, “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation.” She surveys this most savage and peculiar book of the New Testament — an ancient text that is nonetheless, as the novelist Will Self has put it, “the stuff of modern, psychotic nightmares” — as if she were touring the contents of an English garden. She’s as unruffled as the heroine of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” who declared in one of that excellent television show’s best episodes, “If the apocalypse comes, beep me.”

Background here and links.

Greatest archaeological finds in Israel

TODD BOLEN blogs on a recent article on Greatest Archaeological Finds in Israel. I've been meaning to get to it ever since the article came up on Joseph Lauer's list, but now I'll just refer you to Todd's discussion.

Jesus Discovery/Talpiot (Talpiyot) tombs latest

JAMES MCGRATH: The Talpiot Tomb Jumps the Tropical Fish.

Background here and links.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review of Kampen, Wisdom Literature

John Kampen. Wisdom Literature. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2010. xiii + 390 pp. $36.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8028-4384-5.

Reviewed by Matthew Goff (The Florida State University)
Published on H-Judaic (March, 2012)
Commissioned by Jason Kalman

A Sage Study

John Kampen, a senior scholar who teaches at Methodist Theological School in Ohio, has written the first commentary on the wisdom literature of the Dead Sea Scrolls. As such, this is an important book that will prove very useful to scholars and students who work on the subject.

This is the second published volume in the Eerdmans Commentaries on the Dead Sea Scrolls series. The first was my volume, Liturgical Works, published back in 2001. I am delighted that another volume is finally out.

JSS current issue

THE JOURNAL OF SEMITIC STUDIES has a few articles of interest in its current issue (57.1, Spring 2012):
Yoo-Ki Kim

The Origin of the Biblical Hebrew Infinitive Construct
J Semitic Studies (Spring 2012) 57(1): 25-35 doi:10.1093/jss/fgr031

Grammarians have long assumed that the Biblical Hebrew inf. cst. has an origin different from that of the inf. abs. They generally suppose that the inf. cst. has come down from the same origin as the imperative and imperfect, while seeking the origin of the inf. abs. in a verbal noun. This article looks into this traditional hypothesis held by most scholars along with the alternative hypothesis that posits shared origin of the inf. cst. and inf. abs. For internal evidence, it will concentrate on morphological features of the Biblical Hebrew inf. cst., while examining other Semitic infinitives for comparative evidence. Based on these examinations, I will show that Hebrew originally knew only one infinitive and that the inf. cst. is an innovation through conditioned phonological change and subsequent analogy.

Zeyad Al-Salameen and
Hani Falahat

Two New Nabataean Inscriptions from Wādī Mūsā, with Discussion of Gaia and the Marzēaḥ
J Semitic Studies (Spring 2012) 57(1): 37-51 doi:10.1093/jss/fgr032

This paper presents two new Nabataean inscriptions, which have come to light from Wādī Mūsā near Petra. They were found accidentally in September 2009 by the writers of the article. Both mention the ancient Nabataean name of Wādī Mūsā and one of them refers to the existence of a rb mrzḥ', ‘Head of the Symposium’, there during the Nabataean period. The texts may be considered an important addition to the small gazetteer of Nabataean remains in Wādī Mūsā, whose most important Nabataean remains are hidden beneath the modern village.
Select this article

J.N. Ford and
Dan Levene

‘For Aḥata-de-'abuh daughter of Imma’, Two Aramaic Incantation Bowls in the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin (VA 2414 and VA 2426)
J Semitic Studies (Spring 2012) 57(1): 53-67 doi:10.1093/jss/fgr033

This article comprises a new edition of two incantation bowls in the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin originally published by J. Wohlstein in 1894. The bowls were written for the same client and appear to have originally been bound together. Both are directed against various types of malevolent forces, but each formula is otherwise distinct. The bowls contain a number of non-standard phonetic spellings, including אתאדאבה for אחתאדבוה ‘A.ata-de-'abuh’, ארדי for ערדי ‘wild asses’, בסי for בסים ‘savoury’, שקוה for שבקוה ‘leave her alone’, and ודלאת for ודלא את ‘and that are not’. Both elements of the phrase זיפו ואזיפו ‘be exorcized and rebuked’ appear to derive from the root זו″ף / זע″ף ‘to be angry; to threaten, rebuke’. VA 2414 is remarkable in that the demon is told to leave the client in favour of the flesh and blood of gazelles and wild asses and, surprisingly, flesh-eating maggots.
UPDATE: There are some relevant reviews too, so be sure and have a look at them. James McGrath notes one on a book on Neo-Mandaic here.

Join Bnay Beth Mardutho

FOR YOU, SPECIAL DEAL: Join Bnay Beth Mardutho. And get free stuff! Well, free-ish.

Did Jesus exist?

BART D. EHRMAN: Did Jesus Exist? (Huffington Post). The short answer is yes. The long answer is still yes, but it takes up not only this whole essay, but also Professor Ehrman's new book with the same title.

Talpiot Tombs update


Background to the Talpiot (Talpiyot) Tombs discussion here and many links.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New book on Oxyrhynchus Papyri

NEW BOOK (noted by G.W. Schwendner at What's New in Papyrology): L.H. Blumell, Lettered Christians : Christians, letters, and late antique Oxyrhynchus.

DSS coming to Philadelphia

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS EXHIBITION coming in May to Philadelphia is noted by the Philadelphia Inquirer: Franklin Institute exhibit to feature fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls. Those controversial Talpiot (Talpiyot) Tomb ossuaries are also part of the exhibition and receive their share and more of attention in the article, but at least with a properly critical context for the theories about them.

Background on the exhibition is here and links. Background on the Talpiot tombs is here with numerous links.

Another Footnote review

FOOTNOTE is reviewed in Vogue: Middle Eastern Follies: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Footnote (John Powers). Excerpt:
If you asked me to dream up the unsexiest-sounding movie plot imaginable, I’d be hard-pressed to top the one in Footnote—it’s about the oedipal rivalry between two Talmudic scholars at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Sounds dreary, right? Wrong. The crack Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar (Beaufort) has taken a subject that sounds dauntingly arcane and turned it into a rich, smart, extremely funny tragicomedy about fathers and sons, morality and selfishness, the old Israel and the new.
(HT Dorothy Lobel King.)

Background and many more reviews here and links.

Monday, March 19, 2012

New book: Pentateuchal Traditions in the Late Second Temple Period

Pentateuchal Traditions in the Late Second Temple Period
Proceedings of the International Workshop in Tokyo, August 28-31, 2007

Ed. Akio Moriya and Gohei Hata (Brill)

The main theme of the collected essays is expressed clearly in the following statement by Eugene Ulrich in the beginning of his article: What was the state of the Pentateuch during the Second Temple period? Was it basically complete and static at the time of Ezra, or was it still developing in substantial ways? To pursue this main theme, the International Workshop on the Study of the Pentateuch with special emphasis on textual transmission history in the Hellenistic and Roman period was held on August 28-31, 2007 in Tokyo. Fifteen papers were read and discussed enthusiastically in the workshop, and they were later revised based on the discussion for this volume. Those who are interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls will find the recent scholarly trend in this volume.
(HT Christopher Rollston on FB.)

Congratulations to Elaine Pagels

LET ME ADD MY CONGRATULATIONS to those of Robert Cargill: Congrats to Elaine Pagels: NY Times Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers List. She has made the number 10 spot.

Background on her new book, Revelations, is here and links.

USA Today on Israel Forgery Trial

THE ISRAEL FORGERY TRIAL VERDICT is covered by Dan Vergano at USA Today: 'James ossuary' verdict adds to burial box furor.

Includes a brief review of the background, a summary of the current issues, and an interviewlet with Jody Magness—who is skeptical of any connection of the James Ossuary with James the brother of Jesus.

Not Footnote, but ...

New Bar-Ilan Talmud program was not approved, says Israeli higher education body

Council for Higher Education in Israel orders Bar-Ilan University to stop registering students for its graduate Talmud program.

By Talila Nesher (Haaretz)
Tags: Jewish World Israel education

The Council for Higher Education in Israel has ordered Bar-Ilan University to stop registering students for its graduate Talmud program, saying the university did not seek the necessary approval before opening the new program.

The university says the program, which was launched in its current format at the beginning of this academic year, is not actually new and is just being branded in a new way. But approval from the higher education council is still required for major changes, like shortening the Talmud curriculum so that students have class just one day a week for one year.


Bar-Ilan University's spokesman Haim Zisovitch told Haaretz: "Bar-Ilan University completely rejects the position of the Council for Higher Education. The only difference is that three classes are now available online. It's unfortunate that the council chose to ignore the university's detailed explanations. It is also strange that the council's letter was leaked to the press before the discussion in the council's plenum was completed."

Another Footnote review

FOOTNOTE is still getting a lot of reviews. This one is from
‘Footnote’ Deserves Prominence as Great Storytelling

Submitted by PatrickMcD on March 16, 2012 - 4:55pm. Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Answering the question, “Where are all the great film thrillers about Talumdic Studies?,” the awesome film “Footnote” considers that very subject, pitting the always complicated relationship between a father and son against an treasured academic prize. Even though it sounds starchy, it actually had more verve than most spy movies.

Background here and links.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Footnote director interviewed again

JOSEPH CEDAR is interviewed about his film Footnote by Angela Dawson for The Examiner: Cedar's Film is More Than a 'Footnote' to the Talmud. Excerpt:
Q: These men are caught up in their academic study, which threatens their personal relationship. Are you saying they may be devoting his life to something that is ultimately irrelevant?

Joseph Cedar: No. I’m saying the opposite. I completely identify with (both the characters). There’s nothing more that matters than the tiniest nuance of language, or it matters as much as anything grand. I can understand that something esoteric and tiny can have a personal magnitude that is equal to the most largest scale conflict in the world.

Q: Is it worth devoting your entire life to it?

Cedar: It’s not only worth it, but also satisfying. It’s easier to devote your life to something controllable and focused, rather than devoting your life to something you know you’ll never really capture or obtain. The father character is really threatened by the big picture. The tiny fragments that he is able to separate from the larger picture gives him a sense that he has some control over the world he lives in.
Background here and links.

Online journal on Classical and Byzantine studies

AWOL: Open Access Journal: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies.
GRBS is a peer-reviewed quarterly journal devoted to the culture and history of Greece from Antiquity to the Renaissance, featuring research on all aspects of the Hellenic world from prehistoric antiquity through the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods, including studies of modern classical scholarship.
The articles are mostly on Classical themes, but occasionally one deals with matters covered in PaleoJudaica. Here are some of interest from the last several years:

Vol 51, No 2 (2011)

A Mosaic of the Book of Daniel in the Ya῾amun Church
Nizar Turshan, Mohammad Nassar

Vol 51, No 1 (2011)

Divine Epiphanies of Paredroi in the Greek Magical Papyri
Eleni Pachoumi

Vol 50, No 4 (2010)

The Invention of Christian Tradition: “Apocrypha,” Imperial Policy, and Anti-Jewish Propaganda
Paul C. Dilley

The Magi: a Rare Mosaic Floor in the Ya῾amun Church (Jordan)
Nizar Turshan

Vol 50, No 1 (2010)

The Symposium of Philo’s Therapeutae: Displaying Jewish Identity in an Increasingly Roman World
Maren R. Niehoff

Vol 48, No 4 (2008)

Reading Ezekiel’s Exagoge: Tragedy, Sacrificial Ritual, and the Midrashic Tradition
Rachel Bryant Davies

Mysticism and the senses

JARED CALAWAY at Antiquitopia: God and the Senses (1): Acts of Thomas. All five senses are important in mystical visions; a point worthy of further exploration.

Pope Shenouda III, R.I.P.

SAD NEWS for Egyptian Copts: Egypt’s Coptic Pope Shenouda III dies at 88 years old (AP). He led them through many difficult times, not least during the past year.