Saturday, September 01, 2012

New book: Alexander Histories and Iranian Reflections

Alexander Histories and Iranian Reflections
Remnants of Propaganda and Resistance

Parivash Jamzadeh

Alexander the Great’s military campaign to conquer the Achaemenid empire included a propaganda campaign to convince the Iranians his kingship was compatible with their religious and cultural norms. This campaign proved so successful that the overt display of Alexander’s Iranian and Zoroastrian preferences alienated some of his Greek and Macedonian allies. Parivash Jamzadeh shows how this original propaganda material displayed multiple layers of Iranian influences. Additionally she demonstrates that the studied sources do not always offer an accurate account of the contemporary Iranian customs, and occasionally included historical inaccuracies.
One of the most interesting finds in this study is the confusion of historical sources that arose between the opponents Darius III and Alexander. Jamzadeh argues that the Iranian propaganda regarding Alexander the Great has contributed to this confusion.

Friday, August 31, 2012

New issue of Review of Rabbinic Judaism

H-JUDAIC: TOC: Review of Rabbinic Judaism, 15.2 (2012).

More on Rav Hisda's Daughter

MAGGIE ANTON is speaking in Laguna Beach: Historical novelist to speak at bookstore. Author Maggie Anton latest book, 'Rav Hisda's Daughter, Book I: Apprentice,' goes on sale Friday at Laguna Beach Books (Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot).

And here's some background about the author:
Magic is still a part of modern culture, according to Anton.

"A quick Internet search will turn up a wide variety of amulets for sale, some quite similar to those of Rav Hisda's time," she said.

Does St. Christopher ring a bell? A pinch salt tossed over one's shoulder. A rabbit's foot? A four-leaf clover?

"Should my novel become popular, I wouldn't be surprised if Jewish artisans started manufacturing modern incantation bowls," Anton said.

Anton owns two incantation bowls — one in perfect condition, the other broken and repaired — which she bought on a trip to Israel to visit her son who was a student there at the time.

"I sometimes take the broken one to speaking engagements," Anton said.

She is not willing to risk the perfect one.
Modern incantation bowls are already being manufactured.

Background on Anton's novels, including the Rashi's Daughters trilogy, is here and links.

Maronite Aramaic revival

ARAMAIC WATCH: More on the revival of Aramaic among the Maronites of Jish: A Maronite revival in Israel (Judith Sudilovsky, Jerusalem Post).

Background here and links.

Bone-digger arrest update

MORE ON THAT ARREST for attempting to steal human bones from the Beit Shemesh excavation: Police accuse U.S.-Israeli rabbi of robbing graves: Chizkiya Kalmanowitz was in custody for three days after police accused him of trying to steal bones on July 26 from a contested archaeological site along Route 38 near the community of Eshtaol, some 30 kilometers outside of Jerusalem (Mordechai I. Twersky, Haaretz).

The case sounds complicated. Background here.

Reflections on circumcision and Germany

RABBI MICAH PELTZ: Why Jews hold circumcision so dear, and what Germany has to fear: Ever since Abraham and Isaac, the brit milah has recognized our partnership with God doesn’t happen automatically; we must constantly uphold our end of the covenant. So too must Germany uphold its promise of religious freedom to Jews and Muslims alike. (Haaretz).
And it’s this lesson that the courts that outlawed non-medical circumcision in Germany need to learn. Restricting minority groups' religious rituals harms the whole society, especially one with a history such as Germany's. It’s time for Germany, and the other countries in Europe who have prevented circumcisions, to uphold the principle of religious freedom and stop outlawing this important Jewish and Muslim ritual. Doing so not only ensures the legal practice of this religious tradition, it also affirms the principles of freedom, tolerance, and respect for all peoples, which any democracy must hold dear.
Background on the German decision to ban circumcision is here and links.

Forgery trial appeal

Normally someone who appeals asks the upper court to decide in the appealing party’s favor. But that’s not the case. The government is not asking the Supreme Court to convict the defendant after the trial court acquitted him.

The government contends only that the judge could not decide whether the patina on the “Jehoash” tablet was genuine (proving that the inscription was authentic) unless a chemical analysis was made of what appeared on photographs to be genuine patina. (The photographs, incidentally, showing patina were made by the government’s expert, Yuval Goren.)
Background on the Israel forgery trial is here with endless links.

Review of The Possession

THE POSSESSION is reviewed by Jim Dooley in BigPictureBigSound and gets 2.5 of 4 stars: Crazy Like a Box. Excerpt:
The acting is excellent, especially given the genre. The script is promising, if not inventive. There is also balance between the horror and the family wish fulfilment narratives. But with the execution, scenes are episodic. Some are deliciously cringe-worthy, but they do not hang together.


Unfortunately, Bornedal front-loads the most violent and disturbing scenes. He presents an evil whose agency seems unlimited from the start. He has repressed the child sexuality that should terrorize the family. The father's authority is never questioned by Em; Daddy is infallible. In the end, "The Possession" neatly reinscribes the family. The brush with pure evil seems to have left no scars on any of the family members. As a result, neither will the film.
Background here and links.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

AWOL latest

Online Atlas of Old Iranian Inscriptions

Forum for Classics, Libraries, and Scholarly Communication


Online Resources for Peshitta

e-Ktobe: Manuscrits Syriaques

Circumcision ban update

THIS ARTICLE summarizes the current state of play regarding the circumcision ban in Germany:
Circumcision ban ignites a religious battle in Germany

By Janelle Dumalaon - Special to The Washington Times

Read more: Circumcision ban ignites a religious battle in Germany - Washington Times

BERLIN — A German court decision to criminalize religious circumcisions has turned into an international spat, as Israeli leaders urge Germany to protect the ancient rite and local Jewish and Muslim groups vow to continue the practice.

This in particular seems like an interesting development, although what exactly it means is not clear:
The German government has already announced its intention to draft a law this fall that will protect Jews and Muslims from prosecution over circumcisions.

“The Ministry of Justice is consulting with religious and medical experts among others, to ensure that the legal question be clarified on as many levels as possible,” said ministry spokesman Anne Zimmermann.

“[But] it’s not a simple issue. Even the religious dimension itself has other layers, such as the fact that Muslim and Jewish circumcisions are performed differently from one another and such facts also have to be taken into consideration.”
Background here.

More on The Possession

The Jewish 'Exorcist'? Sam Raimi on 'The Possession'

08/29/2012 12:55

The producer's new horror flick starring Matisyahu is inspired by an account of a family fighting a Dibbuk.

LOS ANGELES - Film director and producer Sam Raimi, for the first time in a long career of spooking audiences with his horror films, has turned to real-life events for supernatural thriller The Possession, opening in the United States on Friday.

Raimi, whose credits range from directing 2002's Spider-Man to producing horror flicks such as The Grudge and The Grudge 2, produces The Possession. The movie, directed by Ole Bornedal, is inspired by a newspaper account of a family that fights a demon known as a Dibbuk in ancient Yiddish folklore.

The spirit, which resides in a Dibbuk box, is said to possesses the bodies of people with the intention of devouring them. In The Possession, the Dibbuk enters the body of a young woman and her parents must figure out how to stop it.

The article interviews Sam Raimi and links to the trailer for the film.

Background here and links.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Notes on Secret Scriptures Revealed!, cont'd

TONY BURKE: Secret Scriptures Revealed! Thoughts on Writing for Non-specialists, part 2 (Apocryphicity).

For part one, see here.

Foundation stone lawsuit

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Supreme Court Rejects Temple Faithful Suit. Rejects—or deflects—but does not find against.

I don't remember reading about this particular lawsuit before, but background on the situation regarding the foundation stone is here and links.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Talmud's favorite Bible books

MICHAEL SATLOW: Bible in the Bavli: The Bavli’s Citation of Biblical Books.

(Via The Talmud Blog on Facebook.)

Related posts here and here.

Coptic bibliographies

ALIN SUCIU: Provisional Bibliographies for the Coptological Congress.

Another Christian Apocrypha symposium

TONY BURKE: 2013 York Christian Apocrypha Symposium.

Bone diggers?

AT BEIT SHEMESH: Suspected of Trying to Steal Bones from Archaeology Dig (Arutz Sheva).

New book on Turkish Syriacs

ON MOR GABRIEL MONASTERY AND MORE: New Book Published on Embattled Assyrian Monastery in Turkey (AINA).
The book discusses the slow and nearly complete disappearance of the Syriac (also known as Assyrian and Chaldean) community form Turkey, the history and importance of the St. Gabriel Monastery and the ways the Turkish state expropriates the monastery's land.

The treatment of the St. Gabriel monastery is a the litmus test of freedom of religion in Turkey and has already been debated the parliaments from the Netherlands, Germany, the US and the European parliament.
Famed Syriac researcher Dr. Sebastian Brock is the author of a chapter.

Background on the Mor Gabriel Monastery controversy is here and links.

Talmudic resources

FOR STUDY OF THE BAVLI: Tackling the Talmud: One Daf at a Time: With the historic Siyum HaShas a few weeks behind us, Jewish Action surveys some of the resources and aids—both print and electronic—available to the Daf Yomi learner.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Another Meyer obit

AN OBITUARY FOR MARVIN MEYER has been published by the AP: Marvin Meyer, 'Gospel of Judas' translator, dies. It is quite brief and focuses on his work on the Gospel of Judas and Gnosticism. I don't see any obvious errors.

Background here and links. The Telegraph has been informed by Mark Goodacre and many tweeters of its plagiarism and errors in its obituary of Prof. Meyer, but I have heard no word of any apology or correction.

Photos of Gospel of Peter and 1 Enoch MS

PHOTOS of Codex P.Cairo 10759, containing the Greek text of The Gospel of Peter and much of the Book of the Watchers (in 1 Enoch) can be found here in the CSAD Photographic Archive of Papyri in the Cairo Museum.

Via Rick Brannan on Facebook.

New book: Shantz & Werline, Experientia 2

Experientia, Volume 2: Linking Text and Experience

Colleen Shantz, Rodney A. Werline

ISBN 1589836693
Status Forthcoming
Price: $26.95
Binding Paperback
Publication Date August, 2012

This collection of essays continues the investigation of religious experience in early Judaism and early Christianity begun in Experientia, Volume 1, by addressing one of the traditional objections to the study of experience in antiquity. The authors address the relationship between the surviving evidence, which is textual, and the religious experiences that precede or ensue from those texts. Drawing on insights from anthropology, sociology, social memory theory, neuroscience, and cognitive science, they explore a range of religious phenomena including worship, the act of public reading, ritual, ecstasy, mystical ascent, and the transformation of gender and of emotions. Through careful and theoretically informed work, the authors demonstrate the possibility of moving from written documents to assess the lived experiences that are linked to them. The contributors are István Czachesz, Frances Flannery, Robin Griffith-Jones, Angela Kim Harkins, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, John R. Levison, Carol A. Newsom, Rollin A. Ramsaran, Colleen Shantz, Leif E. Vaage, and Rodney A. Werline.

Colleen Shantz is Associate Professor of New Testament at St. Michael’s College in the Toronto School of Theology. She is the author of Paul in Ecstasy: The Neurobiology of the Apostle’s Life and Thought (Cambridge University Press) and the co-editor of Experientia, Volume 1: Inquiry into Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Christianity (Society of Biblical Literature). She chairs the Religious Experience section of the Society of Biblical Literature. Rodney A. Werline is Associate Professor and the Marie and Leman Barnhill Endowed Chair in Religious Studies at Barton College, Wilson, North Carolina. He is the author of Pray Like This (Continuum) and Penitential Prayer in Second Temple Judaism: The Development of a Religious Institution (Society of Biblical Literature) and the co-editor of numerous volumes including Experientia, Volume 1: Inquiry into Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Christianity (Society of Biblical Literature).

Review of Ullucci, The Christian Rejection of Animal Sacrifice

Daniel C. Ullucci, The Christian Rejection of Animal Sacrifice. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. x, 227. ISBN 9780199791705. $74.00.

Reviewed by Philippa Townsend, Ursinus College (


Sacrifice in the ancient Mediterranean has been the subject of renewed scholarly attention in recent years.1 Daniel Ullucci’s book makes a significant contribution to the debate, focusing on the fascinating issue of when and why Christians stopped participating in the previously ubiquitous practice of animal sacrifice. While much previous scholarship has interpreted the Christian rejection of animal sacrifice as the culmination of a long tradition of enlightened criticism of the practice, Ullucci argues instead that early Christians were participating in an ongoing competition between elite “cultural producers” to define what sacrifice meant and how it should be practiced (5). First through third century Christian texts display a wide variety of views on sacrifice, and it was not until the fourth century that these disparate interpretations came to be read as consistent and that a coherent Christian position on sacrifice was developed (8-9). Readers will appreciate Ullucci’s concise and sophisticated explication of theoretical issues, and his close analytical overview of a large number of Christian and non-Christian texts on sacrifice.


Background on SWBTS DSS exhibit

HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Story behind exhibit as extraordinary as Scrolls (Diane Cowen). The exhibit is the one currently running at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Excerpt:
For decades, the Pattersons have led friends and seminary patrons on tours of the Holy Land. Among the many people they got to know was William Kando Sr., a shopkeeper and antiquities dealer in Bethlehem. Kando, a Syrian Orthodox Christian, is one of the people who was approached by the Bedouins who discovered the scrolls 65 years ago.

In 2009, the Pattersons took another group to the Holy Land, and Stephanie and Gary Loveless of Houston - members of Second Baptist Church - were part of the group. Gary Loveless owns Square Mile Energy and years ago founded the Living Waters International charity that sends mission groups to dig water wells for people in underdeveloped areas around the world. He's also on the board of trustees for the seminary.

Gary Loveless said they were busy visiting the usual sights of Holy Land travelers, and the group stopped at Kando's shop, now run by his son, William Kando Jr. Stephanie Loveless purchased a small oil lamp, and the couple returned to the tour bus, with her husband thinking he'd just gotten out of a pricey store with way more money in his pocket than he expected.

Then the Pattersons waved at him to return to the shop. Kando had just made them an offer they couldn't refuse: His family had decided that their Dead Sea Scroll fragments, locked away in a Swiss vault for decades, should be on public display. And they wanted them to be exhibited with his treasured friends at Southwestern Baptist.

The Lovelesses knew it was time for the important work of Christian charity - and they ultimately became the major sponsors of the exhibit with their $1 million donation.
Background here and links.