Friday, February 07, 2014

New edition of Reynolds and Wilson, Scribes and Scholars

4TH EDITION: Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature by L. D. Reynolds and N. G. Wilson (OUP). Forthcoming at the end of February.
One of the remarkable facts about the history of Western culture is that we are still in a position to read large amounts of the literature produced in classical Greece and Rome despite the fact that for at least a millennium and a half all copies had to be produced by hand and were subject to the hazards of fire, flood, and war. This book explains how the texts survived and gives an account of the reasons why it was thought worthwhile to spend the necessary effort to preserve them for future generations.

In the second edition a section of notes was included, and a new chapter was added to deal with some aspects of scholarship since the Renaissance. In the third edition (1991), the authors responded to the urgent need to take account of the very large number of discoveries in this rapidly advancing field of knowledge by substantially revising or enlarging certain sections. The last two decades have seen further advances, and this revised edition is designed to take account of them.

Talmudic moral conundra and medicine

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: In the Talmud, One Sin Is Beyond Repentance: Giving God and Jews a Bad Name. A holy desecration is unethical in part because of the social pressure to reflect well on the tribe.

Plus the "trolly problem" and some dubious cures for rabies.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Raphael Patai Prize winner

THE WINNER OF LAST YEAR'S RAPHAEL PATAI PRIZE: 2013 Patai Prize in Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Awarded to Kate Reyes.
The winner of the Prize is Kate A. Reyes for her essay, "Demonology and Magic Ritual Texts in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” completed at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Committee members praised its erudition and the sophistication with which she analyzed historical texts. The paper was part of her Honours dissertation under the supervision of Professor James R. Davila. Ms. Reyes graduated with an MA in Biblical Studies and Hebrew. In her undergraduate studies, she was awarded the Robert T. Jones Fellowship to undertake a Master of Theological Studies at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University.
I have known about this for some time, but have only just found the online announcement. I have already congratulated her in private, but now I am very happy to do so in public. Well done, Katie!

The Raphael Patai prize normally runs every year and usually is announced at the end of January. Last year's announcement was noted here. I haven't been able to find an announcement yet for 2014, but I will keep you posted.

Sappho and Jesus' Wife

DAVID MEADOWS has an interesting discussion of some indirect implications of the announcement of the recent discovery of two new poems of the Greek poet Sappho for the Gospel of Jesus' Wife. If you haven't heard the latter story yet, see David's Rogue Classicism post A New Sapphic Poem ~ Wading into the Morass for initial background. Briefly, an anonymous private collector has made available to Cambridge paleographer Dirk Obbink an unpublished papyrus containing a couple of hitherto unknown poems attributed to Sappho. The papyrus is unprovenanced, but is perhaps from Oxyrhynchus. Based on its physical characteristics and the content of the poems, it is the judgment of Obbink (and dude knows his stuff) that it is genuine and the poems are by Sappho.

Okay, cool, but what has this to do with Jesus' wife? According to Obbink the owner "submitted the papyrus to autopsy and multi-spectral photography, as well as Carbon 14 testing of an uninscribed portion of the papyrus sheet itself by an American laboratory, that returned a date of around 201 AD, with a plus-minus range of a hundred years." As David asks, "So it appears that it really isn’t that difficult to arrange for this sort of testing. The obvious question: what’s taking so long to get it done with the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife?" To be fair, the TLS article does not say exactly when the owner commissioned the tests, but the implication seems to be that this was done after the papyrus was made available to scholars for evaluation. But it would be helpful to have clarification on exactly when the tests were done.

Cross-file under "Asking The Important Questions." Background on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife is here with many links.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Reloaded

UPGRADE: The Dead Sea Scrolls – Version 2.0. The Israel Antiquities Authority is launching today an upgraded version of its Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library. It includes 10,000 new photographs of unprecedented quality (HeritageDaily).

More on the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library (with Google, the IAA, and the Israel Museum) here and links.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

St Andrews Symposium deadline extended

THE ST ANDREWS SYMPOSIUM FOR BIBLICAL AND EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES: Early-Bird Registration Extended Until 15 February. For you, special deal!

Background here and links.

Book of Books exhibition

AT THE BIBLE LANDS MUSEUM IN JERUSALEM: ‘Book of Books’ exhibits 2,000 years of Bible texts. Items include fragments from Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, early New Testament Scriptures, Cairo genizah, illuminated biblical manuscripts and Gutenberg Bible.
“The Book of Books” exhibition includes original fragments from the Septuagint, the Vulgate, the Gutenberg Bible and the Cairo genizah, along with medieval illuminated manuscripts, Torah scrolls and other biblical relics. At the end is a working replica of the 15th century Gutenberg printing press that revolutionized the availability of the Scriptures.

“The exhibition is about the Bible as a book, not about theology,” says curator Dr. Filip Vukosavović as he takes ISRAEL21c through the show. “We cover over 2,000 years of the existence of the Bible as a physical item, and how it developed chronologically, geographically and linguistically throughout the world from Israel, where both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament originated.”

Since opening in October, the show has drawn so many visitors that its six-month run was extended.
Apparently the exhibition consists of material from the Green Collection (on which more here and here and links). Past posts on the Bible Land Museum and its exhibitions are here, here, here, here, here, here (and links), here, here, here, and here (and links).

UPDATE: Dead link now fixed. Sorry about that!

Hurtado on ancient Jewish monotheism

LARRY HURTADO: Forthcoming Article: “Ancient Jewish Monotheism.”

Leona Glidden Running, R.I.P.

Biblical Languages Expert Leaves Legacy of Student Mentorship

By Patricia Spangler
Posted 2014-01-31 21:21 GMT

Leona Running, who was the first female professor at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, where she served for nearly six decades, and was an expert in biblical languages, died on January 22. She was 97.

Outside Adventist circles she was best known for her biography of William Foxwell Albright, whom she knew from her doctoral work at Johns Hopkins University in the early 1960s.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Conference on ancient evil

CONFERENCE: Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity.
Conference: Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity
23rd - 24th May 2014

As part of the ongoing research program of the Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible, an international group of biblical scholars will gather at St Mary’s University [Twickenham, London] in order to present research on the conception and significance of “evil” in Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity.

The keynote speaker will be Professor Loren Stuckenbruck of LMU-München, and will be joined by other invited speakers who will approach the topic from cultural, theological, historical, and textual perspectives. There is also some room for proposals for short papers*.

The event will be held in the beautiful Waldegrave Drawing Room on the St Mary's campus, and members of the public who are interested in this exciting topic are welcome to attend.

*Please send an abstract to The deadline for submission of abstracts is Tuesday 1st April.
Evil in this area is a popular topic these days. Sounds like an interesting conference.

Ben-Dov and Sanders (eds.), Ancient Jewish Sciences

ONLINE PREVIEW: Ancient Jewish Sciences and the History of Knowledge in Second Temple Literature. Editors: Jonathan Ben-Dov and Seth L. Sanders. TOC:

1. Introduction
Jonathan Ben-Dov and Seth L. Sanders

2. Enoch and the Beginnings of Jewish Interest in Natural Science
Philip Alexander

3. Enoch’s Science
James VanderKam

4. “I Was Shown Another Calculation” (חשבון אחרן אחזית): The Language of Knowledge in Aramaic Enoch and Priestly Hebrew
Seth L. Sanders

5. Philological and Epistemological Remarks on Enoch’s Science: Response to Papers by Seth L. Sanders and James VanderKam
Loren Stuckenbruck

6. Ideals of Science: The Infrastructure of Scientific Activity in Apocalyptic Literature and in the Yahad
Jonathan Ben-Dov

7. Networks of Scholars: The Transmission of Astronomical and Astrological Learning between Babylonians, Greeks and Jews
Mladen Popović

8. “Ancient Jewish Sciences” and the Historiography of Judaism
Annette Yoshiko Reed

A Bibliography for Ancient Jewish Sciences
Looks excellent.

Le Donne on the Noah Movie

ANTHONY LE DONNE: Noah... like a Dumpster Fire waiting to Happen. There is plenty of scope for a disastrously bad movie here, but we'll see ...

Earlier posts on Darren Aronofsky's upcoming Noah movie are here and here.

Oxford Postdoc in Cult of Saints: Syriac

SYRIAC HAGIOGRAPHY IS SO 2014: Research Associate, Cult of Saints project: Syriac
Salary: £29,837 - £31,664 p.a.
Fixed-term for four and a half years
Oxford vacancy reference: 111754

We are seeking to appoint a postdoctoral researcher from 1 April 2014 or as soon as possible thereafter to work on the project ‘The Cult of Saints: a christendom-wide study of its origins, spread and development’, directed by Dr Bryan Ward-Perkins and funded by a €2.3 million ERC Advanced Grant (2014-18). The project will investigate the origins and development of the cult of Christian saints, gathering all the evidence that is available on the cult, from its origins until around AD 700, across all the languages of early Christianity that have left evidence from this period (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Greek and Latin). The project will employ six postdoctoral researchers in producing a series of monographs and a freely-available searchable database of the evidence for the cult of saints, with English translations of texts and full reference to relevant scholarly work. During the project, two workshops will be held with expert scholars from across Europe, in particular to test the effectiveness of the nascent database, and a major international conference will take place.

The appointee will have responsibility for collecting and researching all the material in Syriac, and will also produce a sole-authored monograph on some major aspect of the cult of the saints among the Syriac-using churches. S/he will liaise closely with Dr David Taylor of the Oriental Studies Faculty, Oxford. The appointee will be required to represent the project and deliver papers at team workshops, external workshops, conferences, public events, and other meetings. The successful candidate will hold a doctorate in a relevant field, have excellent knowledge of Syriac and the historical context of late-antique Christianity, and an effective working knowledge of the necessary modern scholarly languages. Knowledge of relevant ancient languages beyond Syriac, experience of working with hagiographical material and experience of working with databases would be desirable.

Only applications received before mid-day UK time on Monday 3 March 2014 can be considered. Interviews are expected to be held during early March. You will be required to upload a CV and supporting statement as part of your application.
Follow the link and scroll down for the listing and a link to further information. The same project also has a Greek-language postdoc.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Was the early Hebrew alphabet a syllabary?

ASOR BLOG: The Lost Link: The Alphabet in the Hands of the Early Israelites (Brian E. Colless).

A technical but, for epigraphers, very interesting argument that the shapes and stances of the letters in the earliest "Hebrew"/"Israelian" inscriptions indicated the vowels that went with them. I think the theory needs to be published in a peer-review journal before we get too excited about it, but it's good to have a preliminary presentation in this blog post.

Latin resources


Vetus Latina (Torrey Seland)

The Latin Josephus Project (via James Darlack on Facebook)

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Congratulations to Christopher Rollston

I am delighted to announce that Christopher Rollston will be joining us in a permanent full-time position as Associate Professor of Northwest Semitic Languages and Literatures in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations here at the George Washington University. His position will begin on 1 August, in time for the Fall semester.
The George Washington University has just made an excellent appointment.

Well done, Chris. What a long, strange trip it's been.

Hollander, Josephus, the Emperors, and the City of Rome

Josephus, the Emperors, and the City of Rome
From Hostage to Historian

William den Hollander, Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary

In Josephus, the Emperors, and the City of Rome William den Hollander places under the microscope the Judaean historian's own account of the latter part of his life, following his first encounters with the Romans. Episodes of Josephus' life, such as his embassy to Rome prior to the outbreak of the 1st Judaean Revolt, his prophetic pronouncement of Vespasian's imminent rise to the imperial throne, and his time in the Roman prisoner-of-war camp, are subjected to rigorous analysis and evaluated against the broader ancient evidence by the application of a vivid historical imagination. Den Hollander also explores at great length the relationships formed by Josephus with the Flavian emperors and other individuals of note within the Roman army camp and, later, in the city of Rome. He builds solidly on recent trends in Josephan research that emphasize Josephus' distance from the corridors of power.