Saturday, September 26, 2015

A new fragment of the Epic of Gilgamesh

CUNEIFORM SURPRISE: The Newly Discovered Tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh (Osama S. M. Amin, Ancient History et cetera). The fragment, which was recovered from the antiquities market in 2011 and published in The Journal of Cuneiform Studies in 2014, contains new material from the Cedar Forest episode. You can read the JCS article at the link in Mr. Amin's post. Somehow I missed the story last year, so I am happy to catch up with it here.

Mr. Amin tells the story of the identification of the tablet and summarizes its contents:
  • The revised reconstruction of Tablet V yields text that is nearly twenty lines longer than previously known.
  • The obverse (columns i-ii) duplicates the Neo-Assyrian fragments which means the Epic tablet can be placed in order and used to fill in the gaps between them. It also shows the recension on Tablet V was in Babylonia, as well as Assyria and that “izzizūma inappatū qišta” is the same phrase that other tablets being with.
  • The reverse (columns v-vi) duplicates parts of the reverse (columns iv-vi) of the late Babylonian tablet excavated at Uruk that begins with the inscription “Humbāba pâšu īpušma iqabbi izakkara ana Gilgāmeš”.
  • The most interesting piece of information provided by this new source is the continuation of the description of the Cedar Forest:
  • Gilgamesh and Enkidu saw ‘monkeys’ as part of the exotic and noisy fauna of the Cedar Forest; this was not mentioned in other versions of the Epic.
  • Humbaba emerges, not as a barbarian ogre, and but as a foreign ruler entertained with exotic music at court in the manner of Babylonian kings. The chatter of monkeys, chorus of cicada, and squawking of many kinds of birds formed a symphony (or cacophony) that daily entertained the forest’s guardian, Humbaba.
  • The aftermath of Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s slaying of Humbaba is now better preserved.
  • The passages are consistent with other versions and confirm what was already known. For example, Enkidu had spent some time with Humbaba in his youth.
The Second Temple Jewish Aramaic Book of Giants (also adopted as scripture by the Manicheans [Manichaeans]) remembers both Gilgamesh and Humbaba (Huwawa), and perhaps also the Flood hero Utnapishtim, as antediluvian giants.

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

YCAS 2015

TONY BURKE is currently holding this year's York Christian Apocrypha Symposium at York University. It has an excellent lineup of speakers and papers. Tony has been blogging speaker profiles etc. over at Apocryphicity and James McGrath, who is one of the presenters, has been blogging the conference over at Exploring Our Matrix. The Twitter hashtag is #YCAS2015. Good times.

Review of Rapp, The Sasanian world through Georgian eyes

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Review: The Sasanian world through Georgian eyes. Notes a review by Adam McCollum of Rapp, Stephen. 2014. The Sasanian world through Georgian eyes. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.

Old Georgian language and literature has been receiving a lot of attention lately, not least through Adam's efforts. Background here and links.

Another persecuted Egyptian blogger

FREE SPEECH INTERLUDE: Convicted Egyptian blogger posts Israel fan vid. Sherif Gaber, dodging a one-year jail sentence for atheist activism, says Arab world is envious of Jewish state’s achievements (Stuart Winer, Times of Israel blog).
Gaber made headlines earlier this year when he was sentenced to a year in prison for “contempt of religion” after authorities at the Suez Canal University in Ismailia where he was studying reported him in 2013 for setting up a pro-atheism Facebook page.

Bail was set for about $130 until an appeal could be heard but Gaber went on the run and has been in hiding ever since.
Dear me, Egyptian governments come and go, but this sort of persecution keeps happening. I have not heard of Mr. Gaber before today and I flag this story not because he posted a pro-Israel video, but because I support his right to express his religious and political views, whatever they are.

Hey, General Sissi's Government: the world is watching. Just saying.

Background here and here, sadly, with many links. To be fair, none of come from the time of General Sissi's Government, until now. Let's see them do better than this.

Jewish Studies Visiting Chair at the College of Charleston

H-JUDAIC: JOB: College of Charleston, YNorman and Gerry Sue Arnold Distinguished Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies. Follow the link for further particulars. The application deadline is January 15, 2016.

Friday, September 25, 2015

3000-year-old seal found in Temple Mount rubble

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT: Special Media Release: Rare 3,000-Year-Old Seal Discovered within Earth Discarded from Temple Mount.
Rare 3,000-Year-Old Seal Discovered within Earth Discarded from Temple Mount

Seal, dating to period of the Biblical kings David & Solomon discovered at Temple Mount Sifting Project

JERUSALEM, September 21, 2015 — A rare 3,000 year-old seal dating to the period of the Biblical kings David and Solomon of the 10th century BCE was recently discovered at the Temple Mount Sifting Project in Jerusalem.

“The seal is the first of its kind to be found in Jerusalem,” stated Dr. Gabriel Barkay, the co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. “The dating of the seal corresponds to the historical period of the Jebusites and the conquest of Jerusalem by King David, as well as the construction of the Temple and the royal official compound by his son, King Solomon… What makes this discovery particularly significant is that it originated from upon the Temple Mount itself.”

Alas, it is an anepigraphic seal — no writing. But if the suggested early date holds up, it could have implications for our understanding of the level of administrative sophistication in Jerusalem around the tenth century BCE.

Many, many previous posts on the Temple Mount Sifting Project are here (cf. here, here, here) and links. Cross-file under Temple Mount Watch. A post on the 2014 discovery of some anepigraphic bullae (clay seal impressions) from the same period in the northern Negev is here.

A Hellenistic-era Christianized mikveh

A Unique Mikveh in Upper Galilee

A mikveh in the Holy Land which shows a cross on its wall

By Eldad Keynan
Bar Ilan
September 2015

Hebrew/Jewish Studies job at NYU

H-JUDAIC: JOB: NYU, Hebrew and Jewish Studies. Follow the link for further particulars. The rank is open and there is no mention of a fixed term for the post. The deadline for application is 15 October 2015, so don't dawdle.


YONA SABAR: Hebrew word of the week: Sukkot. Timely.

Airstrikes at Palmyra

PALMYRA WATCH: Syria government airstrikes pound IS-controlled Palmyra (AP).

Background here and here and links.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Electrum coins from Carthage

PUNIC WATCH: Electrum coins weren't just issued early on: Ancients Today. Cities still use alloy after switch to pure gold and silver (David Vagi, Coin World).
As the production of electrum coinage in Asia Minor died out in the 320s, it is most curious that the tradition was then taken up at the other end of the Mediterranean by Carthage, a Phoenician settlement on the shore of North Africa, just southwest of Sicily.

The earliest precious metal coins of Carthage, dating to about 350 B.C., were made of pure gold, but by about 320 B.C. they were substituted with staters of electrum.

These were issued in very large quantities, along with multiple and fractional denominations that were produced only occasionally and in relatively small quantities. The standard design for the Carthaginian stater was the head of the goddess Tanit and a standing horse.

They mainly appear to have been issued from circa 320 to 270 B.C. After that prolific era, Carthage also struck electrum coinage during its three wars with Rome: the First Punic War (264 to 241 B.C.), the Second Punic War (218 to 201 B.C.), and the Third Punic War (149 to 146 B.C.).
It's good to know these things. Cross-file under Numismatics.

Judaic Studies Chair at UT

THE HUGOYE LIST: Job Ad: Judaic Studies. The job is an Endowed Chair in Judaic Studies and Program Director in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Follow the link for further particulars. Review of applications begins October 21, 2015.

Jewish-Temple denial and "extremist" Talmudic rabbis

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: The current conflicts at and about the Temple Mount have led to some predictable, but still disappointing, rhetoric. First, from the Egypt Independent/Anadolu Agency: Palestinians warn of extremist plan to demolish Al-Aqsa.
Palestinian activists warn that extremist Jewish groups in Israel — which they say enjoy the tacit support of Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government — are now openly calling for the destruction of occupied East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque to make way for a "third Jewish temple".

Recent weeks have seen large groups of Jewish settlers, usually accompanied by Israeli army troops and police, forcing their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex — which Jews already refer to as the “Temple Mount” — with increasing frequency.
I have commented with some concern about some of the rhetoric coming out of groups that advocate the rebuilding of the Temple on the Temple Mount, so I don't blame Palestinian groups for being concerned as well. But Jews already refer to the site as the "Temple Mount" because there were Jewish temples there in the past, not because some groups want to (re)build a temple there.

I'm not going to comment on the various claims and counterclaims about what has recently been happening on the Temple Mount. I wasn't there and I can't judge. But I do note that this article cites and approves of some unhistorical denial that there ever were Jewish temples on the site. The bold emphasis is mine.
According to Ziad Hammouri, a Palestinian expert on these extremist Jewish groups, the current Israeli government uses these right-wing organizations “to stage incursions by settlers into the Al-Aqsa compound”.

He went on to cite groups such as Rabbis of the Temple Mount, Women of the Temple Mount, the Temple Mount Faithful, Kahana Chai, Kach and Lahiva.

“These organizations openly call for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque to make way for what they call the ‘Temple of Solomon’, which they claim was destroyed in 586 BC during the Babylonian Captivity,” Hammouri told Anadolu Agency.


Hammouri went on to explain that these groups adhere to an ideology laid out in the Talmud, which – as opposed to the Torah, the Jews’ traditional holy book – was compiled over the centuries by extremist Jewish rabbis.
Extremist Jewish rabbis? Who compiled the Talmud? What does that even mean?
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site after Makkah and Medina. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of both Solomon’s Temple and a second temple built during the reign of King Herod (destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD).
Mr. Hammouri seems to want to cast doubt even on the existence of the Herodian Temple, which goes farther than even Yasser Arafat and, more recently, one Dr. Jamal Amer have been willing to go. Evidence for the existence of the First Temple and the Second and Herodian Temples on the the Temple Mount is collected at the links.

The United Nations, for its part, seems not to be helping matters with its own rhetoric: U.N. Can’t Even Say ‘Temple Mount’ (Stewart Ain, The Jewish Week).
Now, on the eve of the annual gathering of world leaders for the U.N. General Assembly and smack in the middle of the High Holy Days, Jewish leaders are saying the world body came up with another doozy. This time, it couldn’t even bring itself to use the term favored by Jews to refer to the area housing the Western Wall and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The U.N. Security Council issued a statement last Thursday expressing “grave concern regarding escalating tensions in Jerusalem, especially surrounding the Haram al-Sharif compound, including recent clashes in and around the site.” It went on to call for “restraint, refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric and upholding unchanged the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif — in word and in practice.” It added that Muslims “must be allowed to worship in peace, free from violence, threats and provocations.”
If the U.N wants to be taken seriously as an honest broker, it would do well to use terminology that reflects the positions of both sides. No one disputes the title "Haram al-Sharif," the Noble Sanctuary, which refers to the Islamic shrines on the site. But "Temple Mount" refers to the past presence of Jewish temples on the site, which is a matter of historical record and is important to Jews (and Christians).

Likewise, if the Palestinians want their concerns to be taken seriously, they should stop denying that Jewish temples once stood on the site and, indeed, that they were the original reason the site was regarded to be holy.

Conservation at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Precious pigments and high-tech solutions: unlocking Chester Beatty texts. Library conservators combine science and creativity in protecting and restoring the collection of 20,000 objects (Dick Ahlstrom, The Irish Times).
There are few places where sticky goop made from fish meets mass spectrometry, other than in the conservation unit of a museum. The old and the new sit easily together, however, when in the hands of experts.

The conservation unit of the Chester Beatty Library is just such a place. It has some of the oldest documents in Europe and one of the world’s finest collections of Qur’ans. There are rare and precious objects, such as imperial robes from ancient China and surgical tools dating back a millennium.

The collection includes more than 20,000 objects, of which only 1 per cent of which are on display at any one time. It was assembled by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, an Irish- American mining millionaire, who was born in the US, was naturalised British in 1933, and was granted honorary Irish citizenship in 1957.

A number of projects are described, including these two:
[Chief conservator and head of collections Jessica] Baldwin referred to a conservation challenge, the Manichaean papyrus that she describes as “the sod of turf”. It suffered from repeated floodings by the Nile river before being acquired by Beatty and is in poor condition.

Yet it may hold the last text of the Iranian prophet Mani who founded the Manichaean religion. It thrived during the third to seventh centuries, spreading from the Mediterranean across to China, and rivalled Christianity at the time.
She is studying ways to retrieve the texts it holds, unlocking a text that has been closed for centuries.


Conservator Julia Poirier is working on the Samaritan Pentateuch dating from 1339, part of the Hebrew collection at the library. She applies ancient Japanese techniques to conserve the pages. She uses “washi”, a form of tough paper made from the mulberry tree to strengthen cracks and breaks in the pages. She dyes it with “yasha” made by boiling up alder tree cones, to achieve a good colour match with the parchment.

She sticks bits of the dyed washi to reinforce the parchment using “isinglass”, a kind of glue made from the swimming bladder of the sturgeon fish.

Yet high tech enters in a collaboration with University of York where cells are lifted from the parchment for DNA analysis to determine what animal provided the original skins and to measure any deterioration.
More on the Chester Beatty collection is here and here.

UPDATE: Broken link now fixed!

Fixed-term post at Colby College

H-JUDAIC: JOB: Colby College, Jewish Studies (sabbatical replacement). A one-year position. Deadline for full consideration is 1 November 2015.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On the origins of Yom Kippur

A MYSTERY: Origin of Yom Kippur: Not Moses, but a Murder in the Temple? While tradition says that observance of the Day of Atonement was initiated by Moses, careful reading of the Bible indicates that the holiday was a much later contrivance (Elon Gilad, Haaretz). Some interesting speculation on the possible origins of the festival being observed today. Mr. Gilad's first point is indubitable:
It may simply be omission that Yom Kippur is not mentioned in the rest of the Bible. But in the passages dealing with events observed during the month of Tishri, the silence on the Day of Atonement is glaring.
The evidence he collects is compelling and it is clear that the Day of Atonement was not celebrated in the pre-Exilic Temple cult or even during the Exile and into the early Restoration period. His guess that it was established around 400 BCE is plausible. Mr. Gilad then suggests the following:
The Roman-Jewish historian Josephus Flavius recounts a story pertaining to these individuals, which may hold the key to the origins of Yom Kippur.

When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem in 444 B.C.E., he found that the Jews in the city were mixing with the local population. Even worse, Jeshua, son of Joiada the high priest and heir to the priesthood, married the daughter of his enemy Sanballat the Horonite, governor of Samaria: “And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me,” he writes (Nehemiah 13:28). When Joiada died, Nehemiah replaced him with Jeshua’s younger brother, Johanan. But then, in 413 B.C.E., Nehemiah himself died.

According to Josephus, in his book “The Antiquities of the Jews,” Bagoas conspired with Jeshua to have him replace his younger brother as high priest. When Johanan learned of this, he confronted his brother in the Temple and killed him. When Bagoas subsequently heard what had happened, he rushed to the Temple. “Have you had the impudence to perpetrate a murder in your temple!” Bagoas shouted as he made his way into the holy sanctuary. Those in attendance pleaded with him not to enter as his presence would defile the Temple. He ignored their cries, declaring, “Am not I purer than he that was slain in the temple?”

Josephus doesn’t say what happened after this shocking event took place. But clearly, this was a huge crisis. The Temple had to be cleansed, but how?

After looking through the Bible and not finding reference to a ceremony that could make amends for what had happened, Johanan and his fellow priests must have looked elsewhere, until they found the text that constitutes what is now the bulk of Leviticus 16, describing the ritual carried out by Aaron.
Maybe. But we should be cautious. Josephus was writing centuries after the events he described and we don't what his source was or if it is reliable. He includes quite a few stories in the Antiquities which are obviously legends and this may be one too. Moreover, even if the story is true, it is speculative, if not implausible, to connect it to the founding of the Day of Atonement. It really only pushes much of the problem back a step, leaving us to ask how the priests thought they could introduce a new festival into the calendar as though it were an old one, and where the ritual in Leviticus 16 came from in the first place.

Again, it's an interesting idea and I can't prove it's wrong, but I think it is historically more plausible to look for the origins of new festivals in new social trends than in a specific event.

Mr. Gilad published an article last year exploring the possible connection of the Day of Atonement to the Mespotamian spring New Year festival, the Akitu. This is possible as well. I give my own very tentative view of the origins of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur in this post. This is not so much a theory as a notion, but it still makes sense to me.

On blogs and consensus

JAMES MCGRATH: A Blog-Based Consensus? With reference to the question of the authenticity of the Gospel of Jesus Wife. It's true that most of the discussion has been in the blogosphere and many of the important advances have first been made public there. But it is also important that those advances have now been published in peer-review publications, which require more rigor than a blog post. Specialist blogs have the advantage of being able to advance the discussion much more rapidly in a preliminary way, and I think this is a significant contribution. But I would not want to see them replace peer-review publication.

Specialist blogs also make a significant contribution when they evaluate stories about unpublished ideas that receive a lot of media attention without the benefit of any formal scholarly publications. The fake metal codices are a good example. The story was announced and the media became very excited, but specialist blogs evaluated the case and found it severely wanting. There are still no peer-review publications on the Jordan codices after four and a half years — I think because there is no case for their authenticity that could pass peer review. But be that as it may, in the absence of peer-review analysis, the blog discussions raised many important points that the media probably would have missed and are the closest we have to a preliminary scholarly consensus. Any advance in the discussion would require some real arguments to be made against this consensus, preferably arguments published in peer-review venues.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on the idea of scholarly consensus are here and links.

UPDATE: Background on the GJW is here and links. And in that post I respond to the latest essay by Baden and Moss, mentioned in McGrath's post cited above.

Jewish studies post at Stanford

H-JUDAIC: JOB: Stanford University, Jewish Religion and/or Thought.
The Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University invites applications and nominations in the area of the study of Jewish religion and/or thought for a tenure-line, open-rank position. The successful applicant must demonstrate substantial evidence of creativity and excellence in research and scholarship as well as a commitment to excellence in teaching and advising students at both graduate and undergraduate levels. He or she may specialize in any area or period of the study of Jewish religion and/or thought.

Follow the link for further particulars. The deadline for the receipt of applications is 30 October 2015.

Sea of Galilee quiz

THE ASOR BLOG: Can you pass this Sea of Galilee quiz? Don't expect to get a perfect score unless you happen to be an expert on everything to do with the Sea of Galilee.

Jewish Studies is struggling

DEMOGRAPHICS: Jewish Studies Struggling on Several Fronts, Study Says (JTA, rpt. The Forward).
Student enrollment in Jewish studies classes is declining, and newly minted Jewish studies professors are having a significantly harder time finding tenure-track positions, a new survey found

These are the trends in higher education in general, especially in the humanities.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Yom Kippur 2015

YOM KIPPUR, the Day of Atonement, begins this evening at sundown. An easy fast to all those observing it.

Biblical etc. background on Yom Kippur is here and links.

UPDATE (23 September): More historical discussion here.

The search for the tomb of the Maccabees

ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY PRESS RELEASE: Is the Large Mausoleum Recently Uncovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Residents of the Modi‘in Region Really the Tomb of the Maccabees? The Israel Antiquities Authority is calling on the public to donate, volunteer and be part of the journey in discovering one of the most fascinating stories in Israeli archaeology. The short answer to the question is "Maybe."
According to Amit Re’em and Dan Shahar, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “There is no doubt that the structure that was uncovered is unusual. The descriptions from 150 years ago were revealed right here in front of our eyes, and we discovered the magnificent burial vaults, enormous pillars that apparently supported a second story, a forecourt that led to the tomb and other associated buildings. To our disappointment, the building seen by our predecessors had been robbed, and its stones were taken to construct settlements in the vicinity; nevertheless, the appearance of the place is impressive and stimulates the imagination. The archaeological evidence currently at hand is still insufficient to establish that this is the burial place of the Maccabees. If what we uncovered is not the Tomb of the Maccabees itself, then there is a high probability that this is the site that early Christianity identified as the royal funerary enclosure, and therefore, perhaps, erected the structure. Evidently one cannot rule out the assumptions of the past, but an excavation and a lot of hard work are still required in order to confirm that assumption unequivocally, and the riddle remains unsolved–the search for the elusive Tomb of the Maccabees continues".
Pending additional funding. A very interesting project.

Background here and links.

Satlow interview

MICHAEL L. SATLOW is interviewed by Jason Schulman for New Books in Jewish Studies, with special attention to Prof. Satlow's recent book How the Bible Became Holy.

Reviews of the book etc. are noted here and links.

Syriac post at Fordham

SYRIAC WATCH: Job in Syriac studies at Fordham (Jeanne-Nicole, the Hugoye List).
FORDHAM UNIVERSITY, Department of Theology, invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professorship, beginning Fall 2016, in the field of Syriac Christianity. Candidates must have the ability to teach both the content of Syriac theological literature and the Syriac language. The ability to teach courses on Islam at the undergraduate level is also required.

Follow the link for further particulars. The deadline for receipt of applications is 16 October 2015.

When is a nazirite not a nazirite and a sin not a sin?

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Why in Jewish Law Good Can Be Evil and Evil Good. In this week’s Talmud study: Is just thinking about pork a sin?
This point of law opens an interesting moral question, which the rabbis address at length starting in Nazir 23a. Say a woman takes a nazirite vow and her husband nullifies it without telling her, so that she believes she is still a nazirite even though legally she isn’t. What if that woman then starts drinking wine, so that she is in violation of what she believes to be her obligations. Has she committed a sin? Legally, it would seem she has not, and the mishna says that she is not liable for the 40 lashes that are ordinarily imposed on a sinning nazirite. But since she intended to sin, it seems unfair that she should be rescued by a technicality. Thus Rabbi Yehuda says, “She should incur lashes for rebelliousness,” and in the Gemara, the sages say, “She requires atonement and forgiveness.” Intending to sin is itself sinful, even if you end up not committing the sin you think you did.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

Monday, September 21, 2015


BIBLE ODYSSEY: Pharisees (Joshua Garroway).

HT Anthony Le Donne at the Jesus Blog. Some past PaleoJudaica posts on the Pharisees are here and links.

Jezreel Expedition 2015

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION: Preliminary Report of the 2015 Jezreel Expedition Field Season (Norma Franklin and Jennie Ebeling).

More on Late Antiquity


Late Antiquity Dissolves – By Anthony Kaldellis

Can “Late Antiquity” Be Saved? – By Philip Rousseau

On Authors, Fathers, and Holy Men – By Ellen Muehlberger.

Background here and here.

Georgian in the news

GEORGIA TODAY: Georgian Among 10 Oldest Languages Still Spoken in the World Today.
Lani Seelinger of has compiled a list of the ten oldest languages still spoken in the world today. Georgian features at number nine after Hebrew, Tamil, Lithuanian, Farsi, Icelandic, Macedonian, Basque and Finnish, and followed by Irish Gaelic.
I'm not sure the full list would be as few as ten. Aramaic, for example should be on it as well.
Georgian is the biggest Kartvelian language, and it is the only Caucasian language with an ancient literary tradition. Its beautiful and unique alphabet is also quite old – it is thought to have been adapted from Aramaic as far back as the third century AD.
And some form of the written language may be even older than that. For background on Georgian and why it matters to PaleoJudaica, see here and links.

Review of Zarghamee, Discovering Cyrus

IRANIAN.COM: Book review: Discovering Cyrus (bparhami).
Zarghamee, Reza, Discovering Cyrus: The Persian Conqueror Astride the Ancient World, Mage Publishers, 2013.
This is an informal review by a non-specialist, but the book sounds interesting. For lots more on Cyrus the Great, see here and links.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ben Zvi Festschrift

History, Memory, Hebrew Scriptures
A Festschrift for Ehud Ben Zvi

edited by
Ian Douglas Wilson and Diana V. Edelman

Ehud Ben Zvi is one of the foremost scholars in the field of Hebrew Bible today. He has had a global impact both as a researcher and as a teacher, and he continues to create cutting-edge research that is helping to shape the future of the field. This volume marks his upcoming retirement from the University of Alberta and honors him and his career as a scholar and educator. Thirty-one papers written by a select group of colleagues, including several former students and a former teacher, are presented in three categories: History and Historiography; Prophecy and Prophetic Books; and Methods, Observations, (Re)Readings. These categories represent the wide-ranging interests of Ehud himself and include contributions on the Bible as social memory, for which he has been a leading advocate and theorist in the past decade. Readers, regardless of their areas of specialization, will find many stimulating and thought-provoking contributions in the collection, which is fitting, given the boundary-pushing work of the honoree.

Eisenbrauns, 2015. Pp. vii + 474. English. Cloth.
ISBN: 978-1-57506-391-1 List Price: $64.50
HT AJR Twitter.

Amzallag, Esau in Jerusalem

Esau in Jerusalem - The Rise of a Seirite Religious Elite in Zion in the Persian Period

Auteur Nissim Amzallag
Année 2015
ISBN 978-285021-242-0
Nombre de pages 282

Cahiers de la Revue Biblique n°85

Description rapide

The post-exilic biblical writings speak in two contrasting voices. The first focuses on the Babylonian repatriates and ignores the Israelite population that remained in the land during the exile. It upholds an exclusive relationship between YHWH and the community organized around Jerusalem and its temple. The second voice takes a contrasting and much more universalistic approach to the relationship with YHWH and even promotes its expansion among foreign nations through the diffusion of musical worship.

The first voice clearly echoes the theology evoked in Jeremiah (especially in the metaphor of the good and bad figs in Jeremiah 24) and extensively developed in Ezekiel. The second voice, however, appears to be distant from the classical Israelite theology. It is shown in this study that this second voice echoes a pre-Israelite cult of YHWH that originated in the land of Seir and denotes the existence of a Seirite religious elite in post-exilic Zion.

Part 1 of the study investigates the reason for the presence of a small group of Edomite/Seirite musicians and poets, self-defined as "sons of Zerah" or "Ezrahites," in early post-exilic Jerusalem, and clarifies the nature of their yahwistic religious background. With the help of the books of Nehemiah, Chronicles, and Psalms, Part 2 analyzes the Levitization of these foreign singers and the opposition this process stimulated among the community of the Sons of Exile. Part 3 examines the transformation of these Ezrahite singers into a new religious elite, a process promoted mainly by Nehemiah and his followers, and explores the theological changes this new situation stimulated.

This study uncovers an overlooked reality that had a profound influence on the evolution of post-Exilic yawhism and on the composition and content of many biblical writings.

Keywords: Babylonian exile, Chronicles, complex antiphony, Edom/Israel rivalry, Ezekiel, Ezra, Ezrahites, Jeremiah, Levite singers, musical worship, Nehemiah, Persian period, post-exilic religion, primeval yahwism, Psalter, Seirite theology, Seirite source of biblical writings, Yehud, Zerah

Collins, Apocalypse, Prophecy, and Pseudepigraphy

JOHN J. COLLINS is about to publish a collection of his essays: Apocalypse, Prophecy, and Pseudepigraphy. On Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (Eerdmans, 2015). He has a post on it at the Eerdword Blog: Meet This Book: Apocalypse, Prophecy, and Pseudepigraphy by John J. Collins.
I have been engaged with apocalypticism as a religious phenomenon throughout my scholarly career. Apocalypse, Prophecy, and Pseudepigraphy brings together nineteen essays written over the last fifteen years or so. They mainly deal with two recurring issues. One is the question of genre. The other is the issue of apocalyptic ethics.



NO, NOT CODEX SINAITICUS! Open Access Journal: Sinaiticus: The Bulletin of the Saint Catherine Foundation (AWOL). Looks like this publication has lots of information on St. Catherine's Monastery and its manuscripts, on which more here and here and links.

Syriac comet

SYRIAC WATCH: A Syriac report on the comet of 1577 (Adam McCollum, hmmlorientalia blog).