Saturday, July 27, 2013

The downside of the Golem legend

GOLEM WATCH: Jeremy Rosen is not amused by the Golem legend: The Golem Disease: The super hero myth is dangerous because it is an excuse for inaction and fantasy. Excerpt:
But by publicizing and even glamorizing Golems, Dybbuks, evil spirits of the night, and mad kabbalists who could curse and perform miracles, these writers were able to make the association that played into the hands of our enemies and still does to this very day. It’s like depicting American culture through the prism of an era in which Americans murdered the so-called witches of Salem. But it also serves another purpose.

We are a culture that perpetuates the myth of Superman, Batman, Ironman, Captain Marvel, and all those comic book heroes, now Hollywood blockbusters, that tell us that some extremely powerful spirit can come to our rescue and remove evil and restore order. This is every child’s dream of overcoming adults, or every adult’s dream of overcoming whatever or whoever it is that either stands in his way, threatens him, or simply lives better than he does. It is dangerous because it is an excuse for inaction and fantasy. It is a justification for refusing to come to terms with a challenge because some sort of miraculous intervention will solve all our problems. It is like expecting the Messiah to com and sort out our personal problems.
Legitimate concerns, although I'm not sure anyone takes the Golem stories that seriously.

Much more on the Golem legend here and many links.

Friday, July 26, 2013

BNTC 2013: registration closes in 5 days

REGISTRATION FOR THE 2013 MEETING OF THE BRITISH NEW TESTAMENT CONFERENCE in St. Andrews (29-31 August) at the standard rate is still open and you can book online here. Registration closes in five days, on 31 July, so why not register now?

Ancient beer and ale

I'LL DRINK TO THAT: A Toast to Our Fermented Past: Case Studies in the Experimental Archaeology of Alcoholic Beverages (ASOR Blog).

More on resurrecting ancient beer here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Levinson, A More Perfect Torah

A More Perfect Torah
At the Intersection of Philology and Hermeneutics in Deuteronomy and the Temple Scroll

by Bernard M. Levinson
Critical Studies in the Hebrew Bible - CSHB 1
Create a standing order for this series

Eisenbrauns, 2013


The historical-critical method that characterizes academic biblical studies too often remains separate from approaches that stress the history of interpretation, which are employed more frequently in the area of Second Temple or Dead Sea Scrolls research. Inaugurating the new Eisenbrauns series, Critical Studies in the Hebrew Bible, A More Perfect Torah explores a series of test-cases in which the two methods mutually reinforce one another. The volume brings together two studies that investigate the relationship between the composition history of the biblical text and its reception history at Qumran and in rabbinic literature.

The Temple Scroll is more than the blueprint for a more perfect Temple. It also represents the attempt to create a more perfect Torah. Its techniques for doing so are the focus of part 1, entitled “Revelation Regained: The Hermeneutics of KI and 'IM in the Temple Scroll.” This study illuminates the techniques for marking conditional clauses in ancient Near Eastern literature, biblical law, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. It also draws new attention to the relationship between the Temple Scroll’s use of conditionals and the manuscript’s carefully organized spacing system for marking paragraphs. Syntax serves as a technique, no less than pseudepigraphy, to advance the Temple Scroll’s claim to be a direct divine revelation.

Part 2 is entitled “Reception History as a Window into Composition History: Deuteronomy’s Law of Vows as Reflected in Qoheleth and the Temple Scroll.” The law of vows in Deut 23:22-24 is difficult in both its syntax and its legal content. The difficulty is resolved once it is recognized that the law contains an interpolation that disrupts the original coherence of the law. The reception history of the law of vows in Numbers 20, Qoh 5:4–7, 11QTemple 53:11–14, and Sipre Deuteronomy confirms the hypothesis of an interpolation. Seen in this new light, the history of interpretation offers a window into the composition history of the biblical text.

The volume shows the significance of syntax and historical linguistics for understanding how ancient scribes established claims of religious and textual authority. Appendixes on the use of conditionals in biblical law and the Dead Sea Scrolls provide resources for further research.

Detecting expertise

LARRY HURTADO: Expertise and How to Detect It. Some good advice. James McGrath has additional comments in his post on Larry Hurtado on Expertise. See also my posts on consensus.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In praise of M. R. James

PHILIP JENKINS: JAMES THE GREAT. Lots of interesting information about James's work, some of which I did not know. I have collected a number of posts on Montague Rhodes James here and links.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Secret scriptures galore!

More Secret Scriptures: John and the Young Bishop of Ephesus

In celebration of the release of my new book, Secret Scriptures Revealed: A New Introduction to the Christian Apocrypha, I am running a series of posts on texts that could not be included in the book due to space considerations (so many texts, so little room). The first of these is a story about the apostle John transmitted by Clement of Alexandria in his Quis dives salvetur (42.1-15). ...
Tony has three more posts (at Apocryphicity) on this topic as well:

More Secret Scriptures 2: Letters from Jesus to Peter and Paul

More Secret Scriptures 3: The Apocryphal Apocalypses of John

More Secret Scriptures 4: The Martyrdom of Pilate and the Lament of the Virgin

And related: Hugoye article on Syriac Infancy Gospel of Thomas now available.

Also, congratulations to Tony on the recent publication of the above-mentioned book: Secret Scriptures Revealed: A New Introduction to the Christian Apocrypha.
Throughout history, Christians have expressed their faith through story. They created texts featuring important early Christian figures - like Jesus, Peter, Paul, Mary Magdalene, and Judas - to express their relationships to God and to the world around them. Some of these texts are found in today's New Testament, but there is a wide assortment of other texts that are not included in the Bible. This book offers readers a guide to the Christian Apocrypha, beginning with a description of scholars' efforts to recover and reconstruct the texts, followed by examinations of a number of key texts. It responds to a number of misconceptions and common questions about the Apocrypha and finishes with a discussion of the enduring value of the Christian Apocrypha.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


IN CAMALDOLI after many misadventures that at least included Italian ice cream. Blogging on my iPod Touch with a very slow connection. My seminar is first thing in the morning, so off to bed now.

BNTC 2013: registration closes in 10 days

REGISTRATION FOR THE 2013 MEETING OF THE BRITISH NEW TESTAMENT CONFERENCE in St. Andrews (29-31 August) at the standard rate is still open and you can book online here. Registration closes in ten days, on 31 July, so why not register now?

7th Enoch Seminar

I'M OFF TO ITALY to attend the Seventh Enoch Seminar in Camaldoli and then for a bit of a holiday in Rome. As usual, I have pre-posted something for each day I am away and will blog as time and internet connections permit during the trip.

I am not going to give you my entire seminar handout, which summarizes a lot of work that I may publish in due course. But here is the first part, which gives you an outline of where I wish to take the discussion.

1. Texts for Discussion
We will look closely at the following texts from the Synoptic Gospels with a view toward deciding whether they have been influenced by or (regardless of direct influence) they are illuminated by the traditions in 1 Enoch. Please read them and think about them in advance of the seminar.
  • The Gerasene demoniac (Gadarene demoniacs)
    Mk 5:1-20 (//Matt 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-39)
  • Angels and marriage
    Mk 12:18-27 esp. v. 25 (//Mt 22:23-33, esp. v. 30; Luke 20:27-40, esp. vv. 34-36)
  • The eschatological punishment of angels
    Matt 25:31-46, esp. v. 41(M) (cf. Matt 13:36-43, esp. 41-42 [M])
  • Satan falls like lightning from heaven
    Luke 10:17-20 (L)
  • The process of possession
    Matt 12:43-45//Luke 11:24-26 (Q)
  • The (arch)angel Gabriel
    Luke 1:5-38
Any texts from 1 Enoch are fair game to bring into the discussion, but the following may be of particular interest.
  • The fall of the watchers: BW 6:1-8:4; 15:2-7; 16:2-3; 19:1
  • The spirits of the giants: BW 10:9-10, 15; 15:8-9, 11-12; 16:1
  • Satan: Par 53:3; 54:6
  • The punishment of the watchers: Par 46:1-6; 48:10; 54:3-6; 55:4; 56:1-4
  • The (arch)angel Gabriel: BW 9:1; 10:9-10; 20:7; 32:5-6; Par 40:2, 6, 9; 54:6; 71:8-9, 13; EDV 88:1-3; 87:2-4; 90:21
*Abbreviations: BW: The Book of the Watchers, 1 Enoch 1-36; Par: The Book of Parables, 1 Enoch 37-71; BL: The Book of the Luminaries, 1 Enoch 72-82; EDV: Enoch's Dream Visions, 1 Enoch 83-90; EE: The Epistle of Enoch, 1 Enoch 92:1-5, 93:11-105:2; AW: The Apocalypse of Weeks, 1 Enoch 93:1-10, 91:11-17; BN: The Birth of Noah, 1 Enoch 106-107; FBN: A Final Book by Enoch, 1 Enoch 108. There are no references to angels or evil spirits in A Narrative Bridge, 1 Enoch 91:1-10, 18-19. M stands for special Matthew material and L for special Luke material.

More McGrath on the Mandaeans

JAMES MCGRATH has a few additional recent posts up on the Mandaeans (Mandeans):

Society for Mandaean Studies
Discovering the Mandaeans
Mandaeism in Antiquity and the Antiquity of Mandaeism

More here.

Cross-file under "Aramaic Watch."