Saturday, May 07, 2016

Revue de Qumrân online

NOW AVAILABLE ON JSTOR: Revue de Qumrân (1958-2012).

Leibner and Hezser (eds.), Jewish Art in Its Late Antique Context

Jewish Art in Its Late Antique Context
Ed. by Uzi Leibner and Catherine Hezser

[Jüdische Kunst in ihrem spätantiken Kontext.]
2016. IX, 381 pages.
Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 163
159,00 €
ISBN 978-3-16-154388-3

Published in English.
The contributions to this volume examine the emergence of ancient Jewish art from the interdisciplinary perspective of scholars in Art and Archaeology, Ancient Judaism and Rabbinics, Patristics and Church History. They evaluate the manifold ways in which late antique and early Byzantine Jewish art was embedded in its Hellenistic and Roman cultural context by, at the same time, evincing specifically Jewish and local Near Eastern idiosyncrasies. Since the Graeco-Roman context was shared with early Christian art, some formal similarities are recognizable, whereas the meanings associated with the images would have differed. A study of the relationship between the literary sources (the Hebrew Bible, Jewish Hellenistic and rabbinic literature) and the artistic depictions is crucial for a proper understanding of ancient Jewish art. Similarly important are the artistic analogies appearing in Graeco-Roman and early Christian contexts. Of particular interest is the question why Jewish figurative art developed in the Land of Israel in late antiquity only: which political, social, economic, religious and cultural constellations may have led to the emergence of figurative art? How do these images relate to biblical commandments advocating aniconism and what would rabbis have made of them? Was Erwin Goodenough correct about a dichotomy between “popular” synagogue art and an aniconic rabbinic Judaism? The Jewish use of images with analogies in pagan (and sometimes also Christian) contexts is particularly striking: what led Jews to adopt images such as the zodiac and pagan mythological figures and scenes and how were they combined with images based on biblical narratives? The volume shows how an interdisciplinary approach leads to a better understanding not only of ancient Jewish, but of Graeco-Roman and Christian art as well.
Follow the link for TOC and ordering information.

New SBL books

Empirical Models Challenging Biblical Criticism
Raymond F. Person, Robert Rezetko

ISBN 9781628371321
Status Forthcoming
Price: $51.95
Binding Paperback
Publication Date May 2016
Pages 254

Cutting edge reflections on biblical text formation

Empirical models based on ancient Near Eastern literature and variations between different textual traditions have been used to lend credibility to the identification of the sources behind biblical literature and the different editorial layers. In this volume, empirical models are used to critique the exaggerated results of identifying sources and editorial layers by demonstrating that, even though much of ancient literature had such complex literary histories, our methods are often inadequate for the task of precisely identifying sources and editorial layers.

Negotiating Power in Ezra-Nehemiah
Donna Laird

ISBN 9781628371390
Status Forthcoming
Price: $55.95
Binding Paperback
Publication Date July 2016
Pages 420

Donna Laird examines Ezra and Nehemiah in the light of modern sociological theorist Pierre Bourdieu. How did this context of hardship, exile, and return change what Ezra and Nehemiah viewed as important? How did they define who was a part of their community, and who was an outsider? It goes on to explore how the books engaged readers at the time: how it addressed their changing circumstances, and how different groups gained and used social power, or the ability to influence society.

The Vision of the Priestly Narrative: Its Genre and Hermeneutics of Time
Suzanne Boorer

ISBN 9780884140627
Status Forthcoming
Price: $89.95
Binding Paperback
Publication Date July 2016
Pages 664

A fresh look at the Priestly narrative that places less weight on linguistic criteria alone in favor of narrative coherence

Boorer explores the theology of an originally independent Priestly narrative (Pg), extending through Genesis–Numbers, as a whole. In this book she describes the structure of the Priestly narrative, in particular its coherent sequential and parallel patterns. Boorer argues that at every point in the narrative’s sequential and parallel structure, it reshapes past traditions, synthesizing these with contemporary and unique elements into future visions, in a way that is akin to the timelessness of liturgical texts. The book sheds new light on what this material might have sought to accomplish as a whole, and how it might have functioned for, its original audience.

Review of Hayes, What’s Divine about Divine Law?

Christine Hayes, What’s Divine about Divine Law? Early Perspectives. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2015. Pp. xv, 412. ISBN 9780691165196. $39.50.

Reviewed by Matthew V. Novenson, University of Edinburgh (


In this impressive book, Christine Hayes—highly regarded for her Between the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds (1997) and Gentile Impurities and Jewish Identities (2002), among other studies—undertakes to explain why various ancient Jewish thinkers conceive of the law of God in just the ways they do. In contrast to her earlier studies, here Hayes focuses not on particular points of halakhah but on the more basic question how the ancients understood the divinity of divine law. For all the significant differences among, say, the Qumran sectarians, Philo of Alexandria, the apostle Paul, and the rabbis in Palestine and in Babylonia, on Hayes’s account they are all wrestling with the dissonance between two inherited conceptions of law: the biblical and the classical. She summarizes, “It is the claim of this book that this incongruity between the biblical and the Greco-Roman conception of divine law was obvious and troubling to ancient Jews to different degrees and prompted three general categories of response” (4). Some Jewish thinkers (e.g., Philo) try to bridge the gap between biblical and classical conceptions of law, others (e.g., Paul) endorse the classical criticism of biblical law, while still others (e.g., the rabbis) internalise and invert that criticism, valorising the putative deficiency of biblical law.


Himmelfarb on the Virgin Mary and the mother of the seven martyrs

MARTHA HIMMELFARB: The Mother of the Seven Sons in Lamentations Rabbah and the Virgin Mary (Jewish Quarterly Review 22 [2015]: 325-351). Alas, requires a paid personal or institutional subscription to access. HT John Penniman via AJR.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Did the Khazars convert to Judaism?

Did the Khazars Convert to Judaism? New Research Says ‘No’
Hebrew University professor cites lack of reliable source for conversion story

Did the Khazars convert to Judaism? The view that some or all Khazars, a central Asian people, became Jews during the ninth or tenth century is widely accepted. But following an exhaustive analysis of the evidence, Hebrew University of Jerusalem researcher Prof. Shaul Stampfer has concluded that such a conversion, “while a splendid story,” never took place.

Prof. Shaul Stampfer is the Rabbi Edward Sandrow Professor of Soviet and East European Jewry, in the department of the History of the Jewish People at the Hebrew University’s Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies. The research has just been published in the Jewish Social Studies journal, Vol. 19, No. 3 (online at

The theory that Askenazic Jews came from Khazar converts has come up from time to time on PaleoJudaica. I have collected the posts here in relation to the recent publication that claims that Ashkenazic Jews and Yiddish originated in Turkey. A followup to that post is here and includes input from Professor Stampfer.

The Biblical Museum of Natural History

ZOOLOGY: Getting up close and personal with animals from the Bible (antonio marquez, israel21c/
Natan Slifkin wants people to know that animals they might typically see in the zoo once roamed the land of Israel.

He does this through the Biblical Museum of Natural History outside Jerusalem. Slifkin, who is the founder and director of the museum, opened this interactive “edutainment” initiative — part museum, part zoo — to inspire others about the animal kingdom from biblical times.

“It’s a completely unique experience where visitors see a perspective of the Bible and Israel they’ve not thought about before. Usually the Bible is thought about in relation to rituals and not how it relates to hyenas, chameleons and crocodiles,” says Slifkin, whose Ph.D. dissertation focused on rabbinic encounters with zoology. “Here, you get to interact with exotic animals from the Bible.”

In 2014, the Biblical Museum of Natural History opened its doors in a temporary rental location in a warehouse in the northern industrial zone of the city of Beit Shemesh, approximately 18 miles west of Jerusalem. In its first year, the museum counted 10,000 visitors.

Somehow I missed the opening of the museum, but I have noted work by Dr Slifkin here and here.

Jewish-temple denial worse than Holocaust denial?

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: 'UNESCO Temple Mount denial is worse than Holocaust denial.' Pro-Israel Christian groups head to UN to condemn UNESCO's resolution denying Jewish connection to Temple Mount (Ari Yashar, Arutz Sheva).
Laurie Cardoza-Moore, Special UN Envoy for the World Council of Independent Christian Churches (WCICC) and President of Proclaiming Justice to The Nations (PJTN), is to take part in UN meetings where she will condemn UNESCO's shocking resolution last month, which recognized the Mount only as Al-Aqsa Mosque.


"Denying the Jewish people's connection to the Temple Mount is tantamount to denying the existence of the Jewish people and is therefore even more grave than Holocaust denial."
I commend Ms. Cardoza-Moore and her organization for condemning UNESCO's deceptive presentation of the historical situation, but at the same time I don't find this kind of inflated rhetoric very helpful.

First, as far as I can tell (I have not been able to find the full text) the UNESCO resolution attempted to evade the Jewish connection with the Temple Mount and hinted at doubts about it, but it did not explicitly deny it. Often enough people do deny it, and I put a lot of effort into calling them on it, but let us be precise in our criticisms. I have criticized UNESCO on those terms. If someone wants to send me the complete resolution and show me that it was otherwise, please do so.

Second, I leave it to others to debate, if they must, whether Temple denial or Holocaust denial is "more grave." Both are blatant and shameless lies — denials of throughly documented historical facts for detestable political reasons — and both need to be called out and condemned.

Background on the UNESCO resolution is here and links.

Concert in Palmyra's theatre

PALMYRA WATCH: Russian maestro to hold concert in Palmyra's theatre. World-Russian conductor Valery Gergiev will conduct his orchestra in the ruins of ancient city after its recapture from ISIS (Arutz Sheva/ AFP). This is obviously a political move, but it's better use of the ruins than ISIS made of them.

Background on Palmyra is here with many, many links.

Books, not relics, to be transferred from the Rockefeller

POLITICS: Antiquities Authority refutes NGO’s Rockefeller Museum transfer accusations. The IAA also denied Emek Shaveh’s claims that it also intended to transfer other historic relics to the new West Jerusalem facility (Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post).
The Antiquities Authority on Thursday refuted claims by left-wing NGO Emek Shaveh that it plans to transfer east Jerusalem’s Rockefeller Museum’s library and rare relics to the western portion of the capital.

The response comes one day after Emek Shaveh, a consortium of European-funded archeologists and activists, filed a petition to the High Court of Justice in an attempt to prevent the alleged transfer.

According to the authority, the move has nothing to do with politics, but rather protecting the ancient books in a new state-of-the-art facility being built by the authority near the Israel Museum.

This is a development from a story that broke yesterday, but about which I didn't get around to blogging. To say "ancient books" is a bit misleading. These are just old books from the modern library which require special climate control to be conserved properly. They are not antiquities.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Major grant for the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library

MANUSCRIPT DIGITIZATION: The Ahmanson Foundation Funds Project to Make Ancient Manuscripts Accessible (Kathy Brown, UCLA Library).
The Ahmanson Foundation has awarded a major grant to the UCLA Library to fund key aspects of the Sinai Library Digitization Project. This major project – initiated by the fathers of St. Catherine’s Monastery of the Sinai, Egypt, and made possible through the participation of the UCLA Library and the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library (EMEL) – will create digital copies of some 1,100 rare and unique Syriac and Arabic manuscripts dating from the fourth to the seventeenth centuries.

A UNESCO World Heritage site located in a region of the Sinai Peninsula sacred to three world religions – Christianity, Islam, and Judaism - St. Catherine’s Monastery houses a collection of ancient and medieval manuscripts second only to that of the Vatican Library. Access to these remarkable materials has often been difficult, and now all the more so due to security concerns in the Sinai Peninsula.

Past posts on the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library and its work at St Catherine's Monastery and elsewhere are here and here. For many other manuscript digitization projects, see here and here and links. And there's lots more on St. Catherine's Monastery, its manuscripts, and its current perilous circumstances here, here, and here and links.

Mysterious ancient smears

LIV INGEBORG LIED: Consider the most trivial mystery of all the mysteries of the Syriac Codex Ambrosianus solved.
In March, I spent a week in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana working on this codex, focusing in particular on codicological features, text layout and unit organisation, as well as signs of later use and reader engagement with the codex. One recurring feature caught my eye: it looked like someone had had “an accident” involving a pink highlighter while working on the codex. At least this was what I thought at the time. Something pink was smeared on the margins of a handful of the parchment folios. It made me shake my head, wondering who on earth would bring a pink highlighter to their desk when working on the codex. A special kind of “later reader engagement”, indeed. My imagination was certainly put to the test.
Cross-file under Syriac Watch. More on Codex Ambrosianus B.21 is here and links (including more from Professor Lied and photos of her and yours truly with the manuscript).

David at Dura-Europos

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: David as Warrior at Dura-Europos (Michael Peppard).
It’s not surprising, then, that the oldest excavated Christian church – the third-century house-church from Dura-Europos, Syria – would have featured an image of David on its walls. The surprising part is which episode of David’s many-wiled life these Christians chose to depict: on the main panel of the southern wall of its baptistery, this community commemorated David by showing him poised to slay the fallen Goliath.
That doesn't surprise me. Giants are cool. (But Professor Peppard's evaluation of the image is more sophisticated.)

There are many, many past PaleoJudaica posts on Dura-Europos. Start here (with more from Michael Peppard) and follow the links.

"Mary Magdalen" opens in Boston

NEW TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA WATCH: Ludovico Ensemble closes season with two sensitive premieres (Aaron Keebaugh, Boston Classical Review).
After a hiatus, the Ludovico Ensemble returned to action this season with several concerts that largely explored the music of Marti Epstein and Mischa Salkind-Pearl. Monday night at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brookline, the ensemble offered world premieres by both composers to conclude the season on a sensitive note.


The most ear-catching music of the evening came in the premiere of Epstein’s Mary Magdalen, also scored for cimbalom and soprano.

Cast in six movements, the piece is a setting of excerpts from the Gospel of Mary and other Gnostic Gospels that tell of Mary Magdalene’s important place among Christ’s disciples.

Epstein’s score is beautiful in its simplicity, with shimmering textures and a serene, slowly unfolding melodic line. Some of the most haunting music came in the sections where Mary is addressing the disciples. “The Nature of Wisdom,” whereby Mary explains her vision, was underscored by a series of ringing overtones.

Soprano Ashe sang the lines with a soft elegance and a distant radiance while Tolle produced a color wheel of sounds on the cimbalom to give Epstein’s piece a memorable first performance. One hopes it will have many more.

Darth Vader's breastplate?

EPIGRAPHY WATCH? Star Wars Day: Facts You Never Knew About The Saga. One of these caught my eye:
Darth Vader’s chestpiece is an ancient Hebrew writing which translates to “His deeds will not be forgiven, until he merits.”
This sounded too good to be true, and a little checking indicates that it is only partly true. In the movies and elsewhere there are various versions of Darth Vader's chestpiece, most of which bear strings of Hebrew letters, sometimes upside-down and/or in odd fonts. But none of these make any sense. It looks as though random Hebrew letters were used to make the writing look exotic. It occurs to me also that the chestpiece may be intended to evoke the High Priest's breastplate in Exodus.

The most comprehensive discussion I could find of the writing on the chestpiece is here. And I see that, not surprisingly, James McGrath already discussed the topic several years ago, and his commenter Jason Staples noted the parallel with the High Priest's breastplate.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Bible-related digital mss and editions online

DREW LONGACRE (OTTC BLOG): Online Digital Manuscripts and Editions.
Last updated 28 April 2016

This page is a list of digital images of manuscripts and editions available online. This catalogue should be viewed as a work in progress, and I will continue to update it with new resources. It is by no means complete, but I hope it will be helpful for those looking for a one-stop portal for finding online primary resources that are significant for the study of the Old Testament text. Please post any additional sources you may be aware of in the comments, and I will incorporate them into the main list.

The 480 years of 1 Kings 6:1

The Mysterious Number 480 in 1 Kings 6:1

There is a plausible option that 1 Kgs 6:1 and Judg 11:26 are parts of an ancient chronological scheme which was used in pre-exilic royal archives to connect the past history of Israel (the exodus and the settlement) to the chronology of the monarchy.

See Also: Guide to Biblical Chronology (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2015).

By Antti Laato
Professor in Old Testament Exegetics with Judaic Studies
Åbo Akademi University, Turku Finland
April 2016
Many people have tried to make the chronology of the earlier part of the Deuteronomistic History work, even though it is both internally inconsistent and inconsistent with what we know of the chronology of the period from outside sources. I don't find any of these efforts very persuasive.

Steele (ed.), The Circulation of Astronomical Knowledge in the Ancient World

The Circulation of Astronomical Knowledge in the Ancient World

Edited by John M. Steele, Brown University
Astronomical and astrological knowledge circulated in many ways in the ancient world: in the form of written texts and through oral communication; by the conscious assimilation of sought-after knowledge and the unconscious absorption of ideas to which scholars were exposed.
The Circulation of Astronomical Knowledge in the Ancient World explores the ways in which astronomical knowledge circulated between different communities of scholars over time and space, and what was done with that knowledge when it was received. Examples are discussed from Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Greco-Roman world, India, and China.
Second Temple-era Jewish literature, notably the Astronomical Book in 1 Enoch, the book of Jubilees, and some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, had a strong interest in astronomy.

Challenges to that study on Askenazic genetics

RESPONSE: Prominent scholars blast theory tracing Ashkenazi Jews to Turkey (Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA).
In an interview with JTA, Sergio DellaPergola, a prominent demographer of the Jewish people from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called the study, which was widely reported in mainstream media, “one of the big canards of the 21st century,” citing what he regarded as an exceedingly small study population and the absence of genetic analysis of Sephardic Jews, which he said would have undermined the findings.

Shaul Stampfer, a professor of Soviet and East European Jewry at the Hebrew University, in an email to JTA said of Elhaik’s research: “It is basically nonsense.”

DellaPergola said that “serious research would have factored in the glaring genetic similarity between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, which mean Polish Jews are more genetically similar to Iraqi Jews than to a non-Jewish Pole.”

He noted the “great genetic similarity” between Ashkenazim and the Jews of Rome, who came from the Land of Israel and later from the Mediterranean. “In no way the explanation that Elhaik gives of the origins of the Jews in Europe can apply to the Jews of Rome. Therefore his explanation is wrong,” DellaPergola said.
I thought something like this would be coming. As I said before, these genetic questions are outside my expertise, but the claims of this study didn't seem to correspond to other genetic studies I had heard about. As usual, this question will have to be decided in the specialist literature. Background here.

Ezekiel's Exagoge to be performed

THEATRE: Ancient Greco-Jewish Play Telling Exodus Narrative to Premiere This Summer (The Jewish Voice).
Theatre dybbuk presents the world premiere of ‘exagoge’ in venues across Los Angeles

Theatre dybbuk will premiere “exagoge,” inspired by the second century B.C. play by Ezekiel the Poet, at Temple Israel of Hollywood (June 18-19), Grand Park/The Music Center (July 23) and Fowler Museum at UCLA (Aug. 6). “Exagoge” is the first recorded Jewish play, thought to have been written in Alexandria and which tells the biblical Exodus narrative in the style of a Greek tragedy.

Although only 269 lines of the original play exist, the company and artistic director/playwright Aaron Henne have used this fragment as the starting point for a full theatrical work, rich in movement, music and poetry.

What we have of the Exagoge of Ezekiel the Tragedian survives almost entirely in quotations in the works of later authors. It is a Hellenistic Jewish play written in Greek and, although it doesn't really fit the profile of an Old Testament pseudepigraphon, it was included in the Charlesworth Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volumes and so has an honorary place in the corpus. The play has been in the news recently, because new material from it has been discovered among the Oxyrhynchus papyri (see here and here).

I am delighted to see the play getting some attention. More on this production is here. I also like the name "Theatre dybbuk." More on the dybbuk traditions is here, here, here, and here. And, yes, cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Bar-Ilan, Words of Gad the Seer

Meir Bar-Ilan, Words of Gad the Seer. Printed for the first time from Cambridge MS O0.1.20. Copied at Cochin, India in the 18th century. Israel: Shorashim, 2015.
In Hebrew, with an English translation of the manuscript.The author sent me a copy a while ago and I've been meaning to mention it. Unfortunately, the book is not available on Amazon. The author is working on an introduction and translation of this text for volume 2 of the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project. As noted today in an earlier post, the first volume, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, volume 1 (ed. Richard Bauckham, James R. Davila, and Alexander Panayotov), was published in 2013.

The Words of Gad the Seer has come up in past posts here and here. The text was inspired by the mention of a book with that title in 1 Chronicles 29:29-30, but it is not itself that book, if the latter ever existed as a separate work at all.

AJR news


The Treatise of the Vessels in the news

REPRINT: Fate of Ark of the Covenant Revealed in Hebrew Text. A new media outfit that calls itself "Seeker" has shown up in the last few days and it seems to have assigned itself the task of reprinting online articles on every story relating to biblical studies over the last few years. Among these is Owen Jarus's January 2014 LiveScience article on the publication of my translation of The Treatise of the Vessels in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, vol. 1 (Eerdmans, 2013). The Treaties is a legendary account of the fate of the treasures of Solomon's Temple when it was destroyed by the Babylonians, and it is replete with vast wealth, secret hiding places, angels, and heroic biblical and other characters. And, of course, it mentions the Ark of the Covenant. The LiveScience article produced a brief media feeding frenzy back in 2014. The text has continued to receive attention occasionally since then, and it is nice to see it in the news again.

Background on The Treatise of the Vessels is here (cf. here, here and here) with many links.

Metatron enters the Cannabis Sector

ARCHANGEL METATRON WATCH: MRNJ, Metatron Inc. Announces Cannabis Investment Firm Pacific Equity Alliance LLC.

Teenage vandals confess

UPDATE: Teens Promise to Clean Up 1,300 Year Old Fortress They Vandalized (Dror Halavi, Harmodia).
YERUSHALAYIM - A group of teen vandals has ‘fessed up to damaging a 1,300 year old fortress in Ashdod, and has promised to clean it up. The youths said that they did not mean any harm, and were unaware of the historical significance of the site when they drew pictures on the walls of the structure for a party they were planning to hold there.

That was pretty clueless. But this is a good opportunity for a teaching moment for the kids, their school, and teenagers in general. Again, the IAA seems to have handled it well.

Background here.

Monday, May 02, 2016

The provenance of the Lod Mosaics

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Lod Mosaic—Jewish, Christian or Pagan? Who owned the magnificent Lod mosaics? (Robin Ngo). Summarizes an essay by Hershel Shanks which is behind the BAR subscription wall. For many past posts on the Lod Mosaics, start here and follow the links.

Notes on the DSS and Hellenism conference


Trismegistos updated

AWOL: Open Access Library: Trismegistos.
Trismegistos [TM], called after the famous epithet of Hermes - Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom and writing who also played a major role in Greek religion and philosophy, is a platform aiming to surmount barriers of language and discipline in the study of texts from the ancient world, particularly late period Egypt and the Nile valley (roughly BC 800 - 800 AD).

The core component of TM is Trismegistos Texts, currently counting 675313 entries. When the database was created in 2005, it focused on providing information (metadata) on published papyrological documents from Graeco-Roman Egypt. Chronological boundaries are always artificial, and the nature of the sources soon suggested that BC 800 and AD 800 were more suited. Since egyptology does not know a disciplinary boundary between papyri and inscriptions, TM also decided to expand by adding all epigraphic material as well. Papyrology on the other hand includes also writing tablets from outside Egypt, which led us to widen our geographical scope to the entire ancient world. Finally, since the distinction between published and unpublished is increasingly less productive in a digital environment, we now no longer discriminate in that respect either. In principle, however, we still provide only metadata.

This means that Trismegistos increasingly wants to be a platform where information can be found about all texts from antiquity, thus facilitating cross-cultural and cross-linguistic research. This will of course only be possible through cooperation with all players in the field, since our aim is to lead people to the partner websites, where more information, often including also photographs, transliterations and translations of the texts, can be found.
Keep reading at the link; there's more. The project has been much expanded since PaleoJudaica noted it in 2011 here and in 2013 here.

Mene mene tekel upharsin

The Scribal Background of the “Menetekel” in Daniel 5

Since Aramaic was introduced as the standard administrative language in Achaemenid Palestine around 500 B.C.E. and dominated scribal training into the early Roman period, its influence on literary production is hardly surprising. Placing such key terms against their original background goes far beyond merely antiquarian interests; it helps uncover new literary subtleties in the biblical text and better assess their theological impact.

For Further Reading: Gzella, Holger (ed.). 2016. Aramäisches Wörterbuch (Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Alten Testament, vol. IX). Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, especially the articles jd, ktb, mnī, prq, and tql.

By Holger Gzella
Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic
Leiden University
April 2016
Cross-file under Aramaic Watch.

Biblioblog Carnival April 2016

THATJEFFCARTERWASHERE (BLOG): Biblioblog Carnival April 2016. Notes some interesting posts and is replete with cutesy headers.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

John Ma on the Maccabees and Religious Persecution

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: John Ma | Part Two: The Maccabees and Religious Persecution.

Part one of the interview was noted here.

Gemeinhardt (ed.), Zwischen Exegese und religiöser Praxis

Zwischen Exegese und religiöser Praxis
Heilige Texte von der Spätantike bis zum Klassischen Islam
Hrsg. v. Peter Gemeinhardt

[Between Exegesis and Religious Practice. Holy Texts from Late Antiquity to Classical Islam.]
2016. VIII, 297 pages.
29,00 €
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-153229-0

Published in German.
Holy texts shape the lives, thoughts and deeds of religious individuals and communities. This collection of essays highlights this fact from various angles, illuminating the exegesis of such texts as well as their practical application. What foundation exists for the authority of sacred texts? In what way do they communicate divine knowledge to human beings? And how can their messages be expertly revealed? The relationship of holy texts to literary, philosophical as well as scholarly writings and corpora also play a role in the process. Judaism, Christianity and first millennium Islam are all taken into account along with contemporary Greco-Roman religion.
Follow the link for TOC and ordering information.

Butts, Language Change in the Wake of Empire

Language Change in the Wake of Empire
Syriac in Its Greco-Roman Context

by Aaron Michael Butts
Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic - LSAWS 11


Just arrived, April 11

It is well documented that one of the primary catalysts of intense language contact is the expansion of empire. This is true not only of recent history, but it is equally applicable to the more remote past. An exemplary case (or better: cases) of this involves Aramaic. Due to the expansions of empires, Aramaic has throughout its long history been in contact with a variety of languages, including Akkadian, Greek, Arabic, and various dialects of Iranian. This books focuses on one particular episode in the long history of Aramaic language contact: the Syriac dialect of Aramaic in contact with Greek.

In this book, Butts presents a new analysis of contact-induced changes in Syriac due to Greek. Several chapters analyze the more than eight-hundred Greek loanwords that occur in Syriac texts from Late Antiquity that were not translated from Greek. Butts also dedicates several chapters to a different category of contact-induced change in which Syriac-speakers replicated inherited Aramaic material on the model of Greek. All of the changes discussed in the book are located within their broader Aramaic context and analyzed through a robust contact linguistic framework.

By focusing on the Syriac language itself, Butts introduces new – and arguably more reliable – evidence for locating Syriac Christianity within its Greco-Roman context. This book, thus, is especially important for the field of Syriac studies. The book also contributes to the fields of contact linguistics and the study of ancient languages more broadly by analyzing in detail various types of contact-induced change over a relatively long period of time.

Product Details

Publisher: Eisenbrauns
Publication date: 2016
Bibliographic info: Pp. xvii + 293
Language(s): English

Cover: Cloth
Trim Size: 6 x 9 inches
ISBN: 1-57506-421-9
ISBN13: 978-1-57506-421-5
Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

Iranian Studies 49.2 (2016)

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Iranian Studies: A volume in honour of Michael Morony. Notice of Iranian Studies, Volume 49, Issue 2, 2016. Special issue: “Sasanian Iran and beyond: A special volume in honour of Michael G. Morony and his contributions to late antique history“. Guest Editors: Touraj Daryaee and Khodadad Rezakhani.

Ancient Judaism makes an appearance.

ASJ Review 40.1

NEW ISSUE OF ASJ REVIEW: 40.1 (2016). Follow the link for TOC. Some of the articles and reviews have to do with ancient Judaism. You can view the abstracts for free, but the site requires a paid personal or institutional subscription to read the articles (or you can buy them individually).