Friday, June 01, 2012

Ancient synagogues vandalized

TWO ANCIENT SYNAGOGUES have been vandalized in recent days, one in Jericho and one in Tiberias:

Jewish worshipers: W. Bank synagogue vandalized
Police dispatch unit to area to investigate reports of Nazi swastika symbols and Arabic writing scrawled on ancient synagogue.

Vandals damage mosaic floor at ancient synagogue
Oldest known synagogue mosaic at Hamat Tiberias National Park damaged, walls spray-painted, apparently in protest of archaeological digging at Jewish grave sites.

Both articles are from the Jerusalem Post. More on the Na'aran synagogue in Jericho here and links. The Tiberias synagogue has been mentioned here and here.

Coptic biblical and apocryphal manuscripts to be auctioned

ALIN SUCIU notes an upcoming auction of Coptic manuscripts: Christie’s Auction of an Early Christian Papyrus Document. They include fragments of 1 Kingdoms/1 Samuel and of a psalmic work that may be a biblical apocryphon and which may or may not be Manichean (Manichaean). Both manuscripts have been published previously.

As always, the ideal would be for a philanthropist to buy the manuscripts and donate them to a museum. But if that is too much to hope for, I do encourage any buyer to make the manuscripts available for scholars like Alin to study.

The 7 Most Terrifying Archaeological Discoveries

CRACKED.COM has produced another archaeological list: The 7 Most Terrifying Archaeological Discoveries.

Stories previously covered by PaleoJudaica include the dead babies at Ashkelon and chemical warfare at Dura-Europos. The Buckinghamshire dead-baby cache is just as horrifying as the Ashkelon one.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tony Burke awarded F. W. Beare Prize

CONGRATULATIONS TO TONY BURKE: Infancy Gospel of Thomas Edition Wins Book Prize.

Review of Bagnall (ed.) Oxford Handbook of Papyrology

THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF PAPYROLOGY, edited by Roger Bagnall, is reviewed by Edgar Ebojo at the Reviews of Biblical and Early Christian Studies website. Excerpt:
This magnificent Handbook is a very rich resource for those who are interested in the science and art of papyrology. Closer to home, this will definitely be a “textbook” for many years to come that will be constantly consulted by postgraduate researchers dealing particularly with biblical manuscripts, either in a roll or codex format, or whether written on a papyrus or parchment. This Handbook is definitely for everyone who recognizes that the past is a very certain guide for the future. Let me end this humble review with how I would like to see the future of papyrology–similar to how Peter Van Minnen (p. 659) ends this Handbook–with a high sense of optimism, “The past will continue to surprise into the distant future as far as the eye can see”.

Bird, Jewish Jesus discussion

MICHAEL BIRD responds to James Crossley: James Crossley on Mike Bird’s Jewish Jesus. Nazis are involved, or, more precisely, not involved. Alcoholic content comes up too.

A new boundary inscription at Gezer

BIBLE PLACES BLOG: New Gezer Boundary Inscription. That makes 13, plus the same expedition rediscovered the lost number 4.

Monday, May 28, 2012

One more time: PaleoJudaica miscellenea

I'M BACK IN MY OFFICE and trying to catch up with everything. Here, briefly, is what I have found from the last five days or so which seems blogworthy.

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.

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."
Cool. For many more manuscript digitization projects, see here and links.

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.

Sunday, May 27, 2012