Saturday, January 05, 2013

Afghan manuscripts now in Israel

29 MANUSCRIPTS FROM THE AFGHAN "GENIZAH" have been purchased by the Israel National Library: Israeli library unveils ancient Afghan manuscripts (AP).

The INL website also has a "New Acquisitions" entry at its News page: Afghan Genizah.
About a year and a half ago, the National Library got word regarding the existence of a stash, a genizah, of Jewish manuscripts from Afghanistan. The news was back by numerous photographs. The manuscripts left Afghanistan and reached antiquaries in different countries, bound together in bundles of varying sizes.

The material includes many dozens of fragments in Hebrew, in Judeo-Arabic, in Judeo-Persian and in Muslim Arabic. The documents written in Muslim Arabic are dated and their content is of a legal nature. Based on these items, we can date the Afghan genizah to approximately the first half of the 11th century. The National Library has now purchased 29 of these fragments. This lot has fragments of commentaries by Rav Sa'adia Gaon in Judeo Arabic, letters and other documents in Judeo-Persian and legal documents in Arabic. This is an extremely important finding, being a unique testimony, both in nature and in volume, of the cultural history of a Jewish community in an area which in the 11th century included highly important political, cultural and economical centers. To this day we have not seen Jewish findings of such magnitude and importance from this area. Everything indicates that the findings are authentic, as attested by the experts consulted by the National Library. The National Library of Israel places the utmost importance in having all the findings of this unique genizah form part of its collection, since by law its mandate is to preserve the national memory of the Jewish People. The present purchase is a first step in this direction. Several of the items can now be viewed online in the gallery included here.
Background here and links.

GJW update

THE GOSPEL OF JESUS' WIFE is the subject of a post at the CNN Belief Blog. I don't see any new information, but it's a pretty good summary of the current state of play.
'Jesus Wife' fragment gets more testing, delays article

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) - One of the most anticipated articles in religion circles will be absent from the pages of the January edition of the Harvard Theological Review. Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King's final article on the "Jesus wife" fragment did not make the scholarly journal because further testing on the Coptic papyrus fragment has not been finished.

As for this,
"We're moving ahead with the testing, but it is not yet complete, and so the article will await until we have the results," King said in an email to CNN.

"The owner of the fragment has been making arrangements for further testing and analysis of the fragment, including testing by independent laboratories with the resources and specific expertise necessary to produce and interpret reliable results. This testing is still underway," Kathyrn Dodgson, director of communications for the Harvard Divinity School, said in a email to CNN.
I don't think I'm the only one who has wondered why the owner is arranging the tests rather than Professor King or specialists designated by Harvard University. Does the owner have the expertise to make such arrangements? And, not to put too fine a point on it, how do we know that tests have actually been arranged? Have King or Harvard been involved at all or do we just have the word of the anonymous owner? The reports I have seen are vague on this point and it would be helpful to hear some specifics. Trust, but verify.

Background here.

UPDATE: David Meadows comments.

Friday, January 04, 2013

John William McKenzie Brady, 16 January 2004–31 December 2012

TRAGIC NEWS: A Moment of Silence, A Day of Support for Dr. Christian Brady and his Family, 10 am Friday.

Dr. Christian Brady of Penn State University is well known to readers of this blog. At the beginning of this week Dr. Brady and his family suffered the utterly unexpected loss of their son, John William McKenzie. The funeral begins in five minutes. Our hearts go out to Chris and his family in this time of unimaginable grief.

Chris has a post up at his blog, Targuman: John William McKenzie Brady – Mack, the best boy ever.

Review of Portier-Young, Apocalypse against Empire

Anathea Portier-Young.Apocalypse against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism. Grand Rapids W. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.,
2011. xxiii + 462 pp. $50.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8028-6598-4.

Reviewed by John C. Reeves (The University of North Carolina,
Published on H-Judaic (January, 2013)
Commissioned by Jason Kalman

Rethinking the Imperial Context for Early Jewish Apocalypticism

This impressive monograph, a thoroughly revised version of the
author's doctoral dissertation carried out under the direction of
James L. Crenshaw at Duke University almost a decade ago, provides a
new reading of the cultic crisis purportedly threatening the
Jerusalem Temple in Judea during the first half of the second century
BCE, a cultural schism whose main events are known almost exclusively
from later apocryphal sources like 1 and 2 Maccabees or allegedly
contemporary visionary (that is, "apocalyptic") compositions like the
biblical book of Daniel, or early portions from what would later
figure within the parascriptural collection of writings known by
modern scholars as _1 Enoch_. ...

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Terrace farming at Petra

Terrace Farming Unearthed at Ancient Desert City of Petra


Jan. 2, 2013 — A team of international archaeologists including Christian Cloke of the University of Cincinnati is providing new insights into successful and extensive water management and agricultural production in and around the ancient desert city of Petra, located in present-day Jordan. Ongoing investigations, of which Cloke is a part, are led by Professor Susan Alcock of the Brown University Petra Archaeological Project (BUPAP).

Some of the many stories about Petra noted in PaleoJudaica are here, here, and links.

Goldenberg, Semitic Languages

Semitic Languages
Features, Structures, Relations, Processes

Gideon Goldenberg

ISBN13: 9780199644919ISBN10: 0199644918 Hardback, 416 pages
Jan 2013, In Stock
$135.00 (06)
Shipping Details

This book offers a thorough, authoritative account of the branches of Semitic. These include some of the world's oldest attested languages, among them Akkadian, Aramaic, Hebrew, Arabic, and Ethiopic, as well as various modern languages. Gideon Goldenberg describes their history, geographical distribution, writing systems, and genetic classi?cation. He examines their main features and distinctive characteristics, including their phonology, morphemes, derivational morphology, verbal systems, syntactic relationships, and their typological signi?cance. He also discusses the pioneering work and achievements of medieval Arabic and Hebrew scholars in theoretical and descriptive aspects of grammar, lexicography, and philology. Professor Goldenberg's balanced, undogmatic account presents the fruits of a lifetime of original research: it will be widely welcomed by scholars and advanced students of the Semitic languages and linguistic typology.

Pioneering account of one of the oldest attested language families
Written by one of the world's leading authorities
Covers the history of Semitic from ancient origins to the present
Wide-ranging, undogmatic, and accessible

Product Details
416 pages; Tables, Line Drawings, Maps; 9.7 x 6.7; ISBN13: 978-0-19-964491-9ISBN10: 0-19-964491-8

About the Author(s)
Gideon Goldenberg is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has been a Member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities since 1996 and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy since 1999. He has published extensively on Neo-Ethiopian languages, Syriac, Hebrew, and Neo-Aramaic, syntactic relations and typology, and on the history of linguistics in the Middle East.
Via Adam McCollum on Facebook.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

December Biblical Studies Carnival

THE DECEMBER 2012 BIBLICAL STUDIES CARNIVAL has been posted by Abram K-J at the Words on the Word blog.

M. R. James

M. R. JAMES is profiled by Mark Gatiss in an interview in New Statesman: The dead of night: how to write the perfect ghost story: Mark Gatiss tells Robin Ince about his love of MR James.

Montague Rhodes James was also a very important specialist in the study of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and New Testament Apocrypha.

Background on James's scholarly work and his ghost stories is here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

UPDATE: Related? Archaeologist Tired Of Unearthing Unspeakable Ancient Evils (The Onion). Yeah, I hate it when that happens. You can't be too careful about reading those ancient manuscripts aloud.

(The latter via Francis DeBlauwe on Facebook.)

McGrath on the Baptist and the Gnostics

JAMES MCGRATH comments on John the Baptist and the Gnostics in reply to my request here.

Bond, Jesus, book of the year

THE JESUS BLOG has announced its book of the year for 2012: Helen Bond, The Historical Jesus: A Guide for the Perplexed.

I haven't read the book, but from what I have heard about it the reward sounds well deserved.

Background here.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Interview with Hindy Najman

HINDY NAJMAN is interviewed in the Jewish Ledger about an adult education course she is teaching in Connecticut:
Conversation with… Professor Hindy Najman

Posted by CindyMindell on December 31, 2012 in CT News, Latest | 0 Comment

There is much to be learned from the Jewish response to tragedy, says Yale professor

By Cindy Mindell

How can a culture survive destruction and exile and renew itself when its leading institutions have been devastated? Yale religious studies professor Hindy Najman explores the Jewish response to tragedy – the destruction of the First and Second Temples, exile, and return – in “Galut and Hitgalut,” a course offered by the Bureau of Jewish Education in Stamford.

More on Professor Najman's work here.

Gnostic traditions about John the Baptist

JOHN THE BAPTIST AND THE GNOSTICS is the subject of an article by Miguel Conner in The Examiner. I would like to hear what James McGrath thinks of it.

UPDATE (2 January): More here.

Counterclaims about Temple Mount "trash"

Debris removed from Temple Mount sparks controversy

01/01/2013 01:11

Archeologists say "modern trash" may contain ancient artifacts, but police call that rubbish.

The adage that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” rings especially true on the Temple Mount, where even the smallest piece of ancient trash – such as a seal bearing the name “Bethlehem” or a bell that possibly fell off a priests’ robe – can reveal volumes about religious practices.

Workers from the Temple Mount Sifting Project say that over the past week, six to eight garbage trucks, illegally removed debris, possibly rich in archeological finds, from the site.

But Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said the debris had been “modern trash” that needed to be dumped, and that it was done in cooperation with the Antiquities Authority and under police supervision.

After reading the rest of the article, I think the claim in the last quoted paragraph above sounds dubious. We need to hear from the IAA about this.

Background here.


HAPPY NEW YEAR! Best wishes for 2013 and, as always, keep reading PaleoJudaica.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Hannibal film update

VIN DIESEL may now have backing for his proposed film(s) on Hannibal: Vin Diesel Says A Studio Is Interested In Making His Hannibal Trilogy (Denzel Washington Still In?) (IndieWire Shadow and Act Blog).

My understanding is that Denzel Washington has been slated to play Hamilcar, Hannibal's father, not Hannibal himself.

Diesel has been talking about this project for some years, and his Facebook comment does seem to imply that he now has studio backing for it. I hope so, anyway.

Background here and links. Cross-file under "Punic Watch."

More on Rollston

COMMENTARY ON THE CHRISTOPHER ROLLSTON CASE is provided by Robert Cargill: Winners and Losers in the Emmanuel Christian Seminary Scandal. And Daniel O. McClellan provides an editorial cartoon.

Background here.

UPDATE (2 January 2013): Roger Pearse comments.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


JAMES MCGRATH: Mithraism and Mythicism. In which he collects online resources and resorts to dubious etymology.

DSD 19

DEAD SEA DISCOVERIES has published a special, thematic volume (19): The Rise of Commentary: Commentary Texts in Ancient Near Eastern, Greek, Roman and Jewish Cultures.

Follow the link for the TOC. Requires a paid personal or institutional subscription to access the full articles.