Friday, January 17, 2014

A new Aramaic fragment of 1 Enoch!

MICHAEL LANGLOIS: An Unpublished Aramaic Manuscript of the Book of Enoch. This is apparently a Qumran manuscript and it comes from the Schøyen Collection. Like most Qumran "manuscripts," not much of it survives; only 1 Enoch 7:1-5. But the Aramaic text has some features of interest in relation to the Greek and the Ethiopic texts. Prof. Langlois has published the fragment in the current issue of Semitica and he has also posted the French article as a PDF file: Un manuscrit araméen inédit du livred’Hénoch et les versions anciennes de 1 Hénoch 7,4.

Bit by bit, a letter at a time, whatever it takes. Until we're done.

More on the Schøyen Collection here, here, and links.

"Rust" in Hebrew

HAARETZ WORD OF THE DAY: Khaluda: The word for rust that suddenly appeared in the Mishna. It has the same root as 'dig' and 'naked molerat' but derives from a different Aramaic source. Which maybe comes from Greek. It's good to know these things.

A NEW WEB VENTURE CALLED ANCIENTTHOUGHT.COM has issued a call for contributors for articles pertaining to early Christian history. Many of the topics involve Second Temple Judaism.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More on that column capital and tunnel near Jerusalem

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Proto-Aeolic Capital Associated with Judah’s Longest Spring Tunnel. Partly in proactive response to the reported announcement tomorrow about "King David’s Castle."

Background here and links.

Fixed-term post in Rabbinic/Medieval Jewish Studies

REPOSTED (original post here) with updates and more details, kindly supplied by Vadim Putzu:
Rabbinic/Medieval Judaic Studies: The Judaic Studies Program at Franklin & Marshall College invites applications for a Visiting Assistant Professor, beginning Fall 2014. The position is in pre-modern Judaism with possible subfields in rabbinics, medieval philosophy, or Kabbalah. The appointment is renewable for a second year on evidence of good teaching and administrative approval. Appointment will be at the Visiting Instructor or Visiting Assistant professor level depending on qualifications; teaching experience highly desirable. The successful candidate will teach introductory courses in Hebrew Bible and Classical Jewish Texts as well as upper-level courses in his/her specialty; the teaching load is 3/2 and includes teaching at least one course each year in the College’s general education Connections program.

Candidates should submit the following materials as PDF files (searchable preferred) to: letter of application, curriculum vitae, graduate transcript, three letters of recommendation, teaching statement, and teaching evaluations. Hard copies are also acceptable, and may be sent to Professor Maria Mitchell Chair, Judaic Studies Program, Franklin & Marshall College, Box 3003, Lancaster PA 17604-3003. The deadline for receipt is February 14, 2014. Franklin and Marshall College is a highly selective liberal arts college committed to having an inclusive campus community where all members are treated with dignity and respect. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, the College does not discriminate in its hiring or employment practices on the basis of gender, race or ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, family or marital status, or sexual orientation.

Graffiti epigraphy

BROOKLYN COLLEGE: History Professor Studies Ancient Graffiti in Late Antiquity Burials.
For Karen B. Stern, making her way through the ancient tunnels and caves of ancient mortuary complexes in Israel is all in an ordinary day's research. Her goal is to find and study carvings—pictures and texts—inscribed at the burial sites, carvings that the history professor calls graffiti, because unlike epitaphs, the inscriptions were made after the tombs or monuments were finished. Some of these carvings date back more than 2,000 years. Many are crudely executed. Still, they are no less important to the field of archeology.

Considered, until recently, a form of defacement or desecration, the graffiti in mortuary complexes were part of a more acceptable and widespread cultural practice than archaeologists originally suspected, contends Stern, who obtained her Ph.D. in religious studies from Brown University in 2008.

"Had they been considered a defacement by the people of that era they could've been easily removed." Instead they went untouched, leaving to posterity dedications that memorialize the dead, curses inscribed as warning to people who wanted to pillage or desecrate tombs, and even the names of rabbis mentioned in both Jewish and early Christian writings.

While her interest was originally sparked by graffiti found at the synagogue discovered at the Roman outpost of Dura-Europos in today's Syria, Stern, who has received a 2014 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities—has done much of her research at Beth She'arim, a vast necropolis carved in the hills near Haifa, in northwest Israel. Its subterranean chambers, once accessed by steps and pathways, contain hundreds of burials from Roman Palestine and its surroundings.

For an article by Prof. Stern on her work at Dura Europos, see here. And for an interview with her and more on her work at Beit She'arim, see here.

Back to Lachish

MORE OSTRACA PLEASE: Archaeologists Return to Ancient City of Lachish. Following the spectacular discoveries made at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the archaeological team turns its sights on the 10th - 9th century BC layers of a famous ancient Judahite stronghold. (Popular Archaeology).
[Prof. Yoseph] Garfinkel and colleagues are heading a new team that will begin re-exploring and excavating Lachish in 2014. It is a site that has already been the subject of several historic excavation expeditions but, as is common with many archaeolgical sites, remains unfinished business. And within the context of acquiring a better understanding of the early Judahite State, they are drawing a research connection between their completed excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa and re-newed excavations at Lachish.
This is an exciting development. Lachish is a critically important site for late Iron Age II Judah. More on Prof. Garfinkel and Khirbet Qeiyafa here with many links. More on the Lachish letters (ostraca), alluded to above, is here.

A treasure trove of pottery from the sea

BASEMENT EXCAVATION: Galilee woman delivers archaeological treasure from the depths. (Roz Wolberger, Jerusalem Post)
It all began with a phone call to the authority: “In my basement, there are full boxes of ancient vases and pottery that a member of my family, a fisherman, left before he died... I want to pass the pottery on to the state, and I want my grandchildren to know where to see them in the future.”


The pieces in [Osnat] Lester’s home, according to the archeologists, are from a wide range of time periods, the cargo of many sunken ships from ancient times, and once carried oils, food and sometimes wine.

One beautiful vase with a tall frame and high handles was immediately recognized as being from the time of the Biblical period, about 3,000 years ago. Another remarkable piece was reported to be from the Roman period, some 2,000 years ago, and a round urn was dated to the Byzantine period, about 1,500 years ago.

To the expert eye, the cargo of a sunken ship is a message from the past. Just from studying the artifacts, an archeologist can conclude the type of ship, the time period, what the merchandise included and more.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tu B'Shevat

TU B'SHEVAT, the New Year for Trees, begins tonight at sundown.

Once again, that cuneiform schedule of rites from a Larsa temple, now held in the Bible Lands Museum, is mentioned in connection with the month of Shevat: Ancient calendar offers glimpse of biblical times (Israel HaYom). More on that here.

Doubts about Herod's Tomb again

THE GUARDIAN has noticed that some archaeologists are skeptical that the finds at Herodium include Herod's tomb: Doubts grow in Israel over the true whereabouts of 'Herod's tomb.' Mausoleum unearthed near Jerusalem in 2007 not grand enough for megalomaniacal biblical king, claim some experts . Although the article refers (correctly) to "experts," it only interviews one, Joseph Patrich. For more information, see this post on an Haaretz article in October of 2013.

Remember that First-Temple-era column near Jerusalem?

TODD BOLEN: Royal Water System Excavated in Judean Hills. This post sums up nicely the current status of that Iron Age II proto-Aeolic capital found in a tunnel between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, a discovery first noted by the media last year. As Todd observes, the really interesting thing is the tunnel itself, which is comparable in some ways to Hezekiah's Tunnel (minus, alas, a parallel to the Siloam Tunnel Inscription). This is not entirely new information, but it's worth underlining it in contrast to some sensational reports about the site, and Todd has a very helpful discussion of the discovery and its implications.

HT Joseph Lauer.

Background here and links.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Quantum scapegoat entanglement in the Talmud?

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: What Happens When the Talmud Asks, ‘What If?’ Probing hypothetical, metaphysical problems was the rabbis’ way of defining what matters most in Judaism. Excerpt:
I’ve found it useful, in the course of reading Daf Yomi, to think of these kinds of questions as the rabbis’ indirect way of asking about definitions and essences. In laying down the Shabbat laws, for instance, one rabbi asks whether transporting saliva in one’s mouth is considered “carrying,” in which case one would have to spit it out every few paces. The point of the question, it seems to me, is not whether a Jew should go around spitting all the time, but exactly how to define a substance: Is matter within the body a separate entity, or part of the body itself? This kind of speculation about substances and their qualities was central to classical and medieval thought, including Jewish thought. Because Jewish law deals with everyday matters, it produces a kind of everyday metaphysics.
For the title of this post, follow the link and read the whole essay.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

More dig opportunities

BAS: Find A Dig 2014.
Dozens of archaeological digs throughout Europe and the Middle East are looking for volunteers this summer to help them excavate history. Whether you’re interested in the worlds of Kings David and Solomon, want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and the apostles, or search for the heroes of the Trojan War, we’ve got an archaeological dig for you. For each dig, we provide an in-depth description including location, historical and Biblical significance, and what the goals are for the season. You can also learn all about the dig directors and professors who will lead your summer adventure.
Related article in the current issue of BAR: Digs 2014: Layers of Meaning (Noah Wiener).

Monday, January 13, 2014

Treatise of the Vessels latest

THE TREATISE OF THE VESSELS NEWS FRENZY seems to be quieting down. Lots of places republished the Livescience article over the weekend. USA Today has reprinted a Newser piece based on the Daily Mail article: In ancient text, a prophecy about Ark of the Covenant. And a number of bloggers took note of the story, for example, Thomas L. MacDonald here. And I've received various communications, including a visit to my office, to give me tips on where to find the Ark and other lost treasures. It's been an interesting week.

Background here and links.

CRASL excavation opportunity

EXCAVATE LEGIO: Organization offering trips to excavate ancient Roman fortress in Israel.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Rylands Papyri conference

CALL FOR PAPERS: From Egypt to Manchester: unravelling the John Rylands papyrus collection.
This conference aims to bring together scholars who are working or have recently worked on the John Rylands papyri. We welcome papers from any period and perspective based on papyri from our collection in any of the languages and scripts attested from the Ptolemaic to the early Arab period.
Follow the link for registration information. It takes place at the John Rylands Library, Manchester, 4-6 September 2014. As it happens, the British New Testament Conference is taking place at Manchester University on exactly those dates, which creates both a conflict and an opportunity. I plan to attend the latter, and I hope there might be scope for a joint session or something with the former. The last time the BNTC was at Manchester (in 2001), I was among the delegates who enjoyed a tour of the Rylands Library and a viewing of some of their important Greek papyri.

HT Peter Head at the BNTS page on Facebook. Peter also noted the scheduling conflict and floated the possibility of a joint session.