Friday, December 14, 2012

Betar case ruling

THE ISRAELI HIGH COURT has issued a ruling on the Betar case regarding the security fence:
Israeli court urges reroute of planned West Bank barrier
US-ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS-BARRIER:Israeli court urges reroute of planned West Bank barrier

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's highest court has urged defense officials to reroute a barrier planned for construction on ancient farmland at a West Bank Palestinian village.

Israeli judges have ordered changes in Israel's barrier through occupied land before, but the latest decision followed a rare appeal involving support from an Israeli government environmental agency for a Palestinian challenge.

In their ruling on Thursday, judges wrote that only a 500-meter (yard) long section of the wall was under dispute at the village of Battir, known for its terraced agricultural fields, some of which are believed go back to biblical times.

Background here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nash Papyrus (etc.) now online

THE NASH PAPYRUS, along with lots of other textual goodies, has been digitized and placed online in the Cambridge Digital Library: Ten Commandments go digital (PhysOrg).

Some background on the Cambridge Digital Library project is here.

For many other recent manuscript digitization projects go here and just keep following the links.

Three new members of the Israel Academy

CONGRATULATIONS TO EMANUEL TOV, AMIHAI MAZAR, AND NADAV NA'AMAN (and the six other new members), who have just been inducted into the Israel Academy of the Sciences and Humanities.
Israeli academy welcomes 9 new scientists

12/10/2012 22:55

Nine senior scientists will be inducted into the Israel Academy of the Sciences and Humanities in Jerusalem on Tuesday. They were voted in by the general assembly of the academy following recommendations of members of the academy from its two branches – natural sciences and the humanities and social sciences.

There will thus be 105 life members in the academy.


Tov, born in Amsterdam, is an emeritus professor of Bible Studies at the Hebrew University who contributed much to the research on the Greek Septuagint. He was also one of the editors of the Hebrew University Bible Project and editor-in-chief of the international Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project.


Mazar, he has been professor at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University since 1994. He has directed archeological excavations at a number of sites in Israel including Timna, Beit She’an and Tel Rehov.


Na’aman, who was born in Kibbutz Kiryat Anavim in 1939, is a professor emeritus of Jewish history at Tel Aviv University whose special interests include the ancient Near East, the Bible and archeology. He wrote six books and edited seven more and has published more than 280 articles in journals.

Tov's election to the Academy was noted here in June.

Betar case reaches high court

THE BETAR CASE regarding Israel's security fence was to go before the Israeli high court yesterday: Israeli separation wall threatens Battir's ancient terraces: Israeli environmentalists and even the state parks authority are backing Palestinian villagers' attempts to preserve landscape that is expected to be declared world heritage site by Unesco (Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian).

I've seen no word yet on when to expect a ruling.

Background on the case is here.

Germany clarifies circumcision ruling

German lawmakers approve bill allowing 'male infant circumcision'

Big News Network (ANI) Wednesday 12th December, 2012

German lawmakers have approved a bill that explicitly permits 'male infant circumcision', ending months of legal uncertainty after a court ruling claimed that the practice amounts to bodily harm, prompting outcry among Jewish and Muslim groups.
The German government has probably saved itself a lot of trouble with this ruling.

Background here and links.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The latest on early high Christology

LARRY HURTADO: “Early High Christology”: A Recent Assessment of Scholarly Debate.

Hasmonean-era (-ish) ruins found near Jerusalem

Remnants of Hasmonean-era community found under Jerusalem road
A salvage dig meant to allow the construction of a new light rail line uncovers a farm society active around the time of the heroes of Hanukkah

By Matti Friedman December 10, 2012, 6:21 pm 3 (The Times of Israel)

Israeli archaeologists digging under a road in Jerusalem have uncovered the remains of an agricultural community that could yield new information on the lives of residents before and after the rise of the Hasmonean dynasty around 2,200 years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Monday.

The excavation in the city’s modern-day Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood has yielded a perfume bottle, wine press, bread oven and the remains of houses and agricultural buildings, according to an IAA statement.

Archaeologists also found a hand-made lead weight with a letter carved on it — seemingly the letter “yod,” the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the equivalent of the English letter “y.”

The Hanukkah connection is a little tenuous, but hey, they're trying.

Via Joseph I. Lauer, who also notes an IAA press release in Hebrew here.

Of shoes and accessories

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN by Adam Kirsch in Tablet: Does God Care About Shoes? In this week’s Talmud study, Jewishness is not just moral and theological matters. It is a way of life. Excerpt:
It is a clever solution to the problem. But does it really have to be a problem in the first place? Does God care which shoe goes on first? My instinct is to say no. Any God I can imagine believing in would be indifferent to such a question, because it has no moral implications. Living in a modern, secular society, we tend to assume that life is made up of a large neutral sphere in which we can do whatever we see fit, and a more restricted religious sphere that deals with questions of right and wrong, good and evil.

This kind of dualism, however, is totally foreign to the rabbis. For them, Jewishness is not something that comes into play only in moral and theological matters. It is an entire way of life in which there is nothing however trivial that does not participate in Jewishness. What is frightening about this vision is the degree of mindfulness and intentionality it requires. ...
Also, Tractate Shabbat indirectly provides information about attitudes toward female fashion accessories and bodily hirsuteness.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links. Additional recent comments on b. Shabbat 63 are noted here (immediately preceding post).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When is a sword not just a sword?

JEWISH IDEAS DAILY has an essay by Chaim Saiman on the recent Daf Yomi passage b. Shabbat 63: Clothes Make the Man. Excerpt:
The general rule is that one may not transport objects in public areas on Shabbat. However, clothing and certain “adornments”—what we might call accessories—are permitted. But what constitutes an adornment? The Mishnah rules: “A man should not go out on Shabbat—not with a sword, nor a bow, nor a shield, nor a mace nor a spear.” On the surface, it would seem that items of military gear are off-limits on Shabbat because they are carried rather than worn.

But this ruling is disputed ...

The Bible may valorize military power, but the talmudic rabbis already live in anticipation of the Messiah. Talmudic men distinguish themselves not in physical battle but through the jousting of halakhic argumentation--what the Rabbis rather deliberately term “the battle of Torah.” Hence, in Rabbi Kehana’s view, the psalm speaks metaphorically, not of a warrior but of a Torah scholar who, as Rashi explains, keeps halakhic arguments at his side ready for deployment in battle. But the Talmud concludes otherwise: the verse must also retain its literal meaning. Metaphors are compelling only if their objects of comparison ring true.

The issues addressed in this passage touch on some of the central themes of Western thought: the ideals of manhood, the tension between intellectual and physical prowess, poverty and politics, and the possibilities and limitations of human perfection. But the Rabbis do not engage these questions through philosophy or theology; they do so through the specific regulations of halakhah. What begins as debate over a niggling detail in the laws of Shabbat becomes a discussion of humankind’s ultimate destiny. The reverse, however, is equally true: assessing the ideal man is forever tethered to the minute details of Shabbat observance. The compelling, sometimes maddening genius of halakhah is that its analysis of human thought cannot be disaggregated from its regulation of human behavior.
Some related Talmudic reflections are here.

HB/OT post at KCL

Lectureship in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
School of Arts and Humanities

King's College London -Department of Theology and Religious Studies

Job ref: A6/AAT/1222/12/JM

Closing date: 18 January 2013


The Department of Theology & Religious Studies, King's College London, is seeking a Lecturer in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament to join an innovative, forward-looking and dynamic team with effect from 1st September 2013. This appointment builds upon the recent reestablishment of the historic Samuel Davidson Chair, to which Professor Paul M. Joyce was appointed in 2012.

The Department of Theology & Religious Studies at King's is a large, thriving and highly inter-disciplinary Department, specialising in the study of the three 'Abrahamic religions': Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Among the disciplines represented by its members of staff are Theology, Philosophy, History, Anthropology, Sociology, Art History and Literary Studies. Areas of strength include the study of conviviality and conflict among religions in multi-religious and secular societies, and the study of religion in the arts, literature and film.


The successful candidate will teach undergraduate courses (modules) in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, including Hebrew language modules, and will contribute to the MAs in Biblical Studies, Jewish Studies and Abrahamic Religions. Teaching experience and evidence of a strong research and publications record are required, as is the commitment to the academic and institutional development of the study of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in the Department.

The closing date for receipt of applications is 18 January 2013

Equality of opportunity is College policy.
Follow the link for further particulars and contact information.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Workshop on Textual Transmission and Manuscript Culture

Textual Transmission and Manuscript Culture: Textual Fluidity, “New Philology,” and the Nag Hammadi (and Related) Codices

This is the first major international workshop of the NEWCONT-project.
Starting tomorrow. Pseudepigrapha and Hermetica figure in the program as well.

Background on Project NEWCONT is here.

Bar-Ilan University Press sale

FOR YOU, SPECIAL DEAL: Three-day 50% discount on all Bar-Ilan University Press books.

Review of Patrich, Studies in the Archaeology and History of 'Caesarea Maritima'

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.12.21
Joseph Patrich, Studies in the Archaeology and History of 'Caesarea Maritima': caput Judaeae, metropolis Palaestinae. Ancient Judaism and early Christianity, 77. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2011. Pp. xii, 340; 158 p. of plates. ISBN 9789004175112. $221.00.

Reviewed by Felipe Rojas, Brown University (



Joseph Patrich’s book treats many aspects of the charged and contested material fabric of Caesarea Maritima. The volume consists of twelve essays, most previously published; only one of the articles (chapter V, on commerce and economy in Late Antique Caesarea) is entirely new, while another was available until now only in Hebrew (chapter III, which deals with the proclamation of the city as a Roman colony). Apart from compiling the scattered output of a distinguished Israeli scholar who is intimately familiar with the city (Patrich conducted excavations there between 1993-1998 and 2000-2001), the book’s main merits are the unified bibliography and the three detailed indices, which enable targeted and efficient exploration of the volume’s diverse contents. A brief preface gives the original source of publication of the articles. Patrich’s book does not aim to be an introduction to Caesarea nor a purposeful synthetic account of the current state of archaeological and historical research. Instead, his collection offers a dozen studies concerned chiefly with the topography of the city, from individual buildings or complexes (e.g., the hippodrome treated in chapter VII or the palaces discussed in chapter VIII) to city-wide analyses. In addition to specialists interested specifically in Caesarea, the readers who will most benefit from Patrich’s essays will be those interested in urban spaces in the cities of the Eastern Mediterranean and in their successive transformations through Late Antiquity.

(HT Joseph I. Lauer.)

Research Seminar in Ancient Hebrew Language and Literature

H-JUDAIC: Research Seminar in Ancient Hebrew Language and Literature:
Halle-Tel Aviv Research Seminar in Ancient Hebrew Language and Literature
- Early Samaritan, Jewish, and Christian Liturgical Texts -
3-7 February 2013, Halle (Saale), Germany
Everyone interested is welcome to take part in the seminar. The primary language of the seminar is Hebrew.
The program of the seminar can be found here:
Prof. Dr. Stefan Schorch
Theologische Fakultät
Institut für Bibelwissenschaften
I wish I could attend this one.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Talmud and kosher hot dogs

THE TALMUD was mentioned in a recent court case involving Hebrew National hot dogs:
Federal court hearing turns Talmudic in the case of Hebrew National

By Mordecai Specktor, American Jewish World (Twin Cities Daily Planet)
December 06, 2012

During a St. Paul federal court hearing last Friday, on a motion to dismiss the lawsuit alleging that Hebrew National’s hot dogs are not kosher, pages of Talmud were projected onto video screens.

Corey Gordon, the lead lawyer for the defendant, ConAgra Foods, Inc., the corporate owner of Hebrew National, cited passages from the Torah; and mentioned Rashi, the medieval Talmud commentator, along with Torah sage Moses Maimonides, the Rambam.

It is not clear from the article, however, that the Talmud was actually cited:
Then Gordon went into a lengthy exposition about the basis of kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws, which have their basis in the Torah and later commentaries. “I brought a volume of the Talmud,” said Gordon, displaying a book that he said was an English translation. “My complete Talmud is 72 volumes.”

Then he began displaying the Talmud on the digital projection system, pointing out “Rashi script” and other notations on the page. “I know I could put you to sleep if I read some of these minute analyses,” Gordon told the court, regarding the Talmudic contentions.