Saturday, November 26, 2016

The story of the watchers

DR. MIRYAM T. BRAND: The Benei Elohim, the Watchers, and the Origins of Evil. According to the non-biblical book of Enoch, Genesis 6 tells of angels who bring sin to humanity, causing the Flood as well as sin and disease in the present. ( A good discussion of the story of the fall of the watchers according to the Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36).

Harry Potter in biblical (etc.) languages

PHILOLOGY? Spelling out Harry Potter in Arabic, Greek and Hebrew. The beloved adolescent wizard offers opportunities for language immersion at Polis, a Jerusalem language school (Jessica Steinberg, Times of Israel).
The wizarding adventures of Harry Potter can serve as a great equalizer, particularly when they’re read in Arabic, or Greek.

That’s the plan for a series of book club meetings at Polis — The Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities, which is bringing together groups of Hebrew and Arabic speakers and Greek and Latin speakers to read and discuss the beloved books, beginning with book number one, which is considered the simplest in terms of the language used.

“Harry Potter is available in every language and it’s great because the text advances with each book,” said Etti Calderon, the administrative director at Polis. “The language gets more complicated and we wanted to choose a text that would appeal to many.”

I have the Latin version of the first Harry Potter book and I've seen the Greek, but not any of the others. I suspect "available in every language" above is an exaggeration, but I would be interested in hearing if there is an Aramaic translation.

In any case, this sounds like a fun way for people to improve their knowledge of these languages.

A Danielic pseudepigraphon quoted by Papias?

BASIL LOURIÉ: An Unknown Danielic Pseudepigraphon from an Armenian Fragment of Papias. Offprint of a article published in the Journal of the Study of the Pseudepigrapha and posted on
In this article it is demonstrated that one of the Papias’ quotes preserved in the Armenian version of the Commentary on Apocalypse by Andrew of Caesarea goes back to an otherwise unknown Danielic pseudepigraphon, which is the oldest known witness of a peculiar tradition where the Watchers are good angelic beings responsible for, together with Michael, the revelation of the Law to Moses.
Dr. Lourié also published a translation of and introduction to the fragment in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures (ed. Bauckham, Davila, and Panayotov; Eerdmans, 2013) 1:435-41.

Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

Killebrew and Tel Akko

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Penn State archaeologists use IT to help uncover the past (Katie Bohn, Penn State News).
During his tenure as an archaeologist, Indiana Jones wasn’t much concerned about preserving historical sites and landmarks. He pilfered precious artifacts, set off booby traps willy nilly and damaged valuable potential research sites in all his movies.

In reality, archaeologists are much more careful. Keeping meticulous records of what a site looks like before and after a dig — as well as carefully indexing and caring for artifacts — is something all archaeologists keep in mind while in the field.

To help them preserve and keep record of historical sites and objects, Penn State archaeologists are using several information technologies while on location.

“We're constantly pushing the boundaries of how new technologies can help us in our research,” said Ann Killebrew, associate professor of classics and ancient Mediterranean studies, Jewish studies and anthropology. “We use photogrammetry to create 3-D models of the excavation, artifacts, and landscapes, and GIS to visualize the multi-layered stratigraphy of Tel Akko and spatially analyze our data.”

Preserving the past with IT

Killebrew spearheads the Total Archaeology at Tel Akko Project, which takes a group of students, faculty and staff from Penn State and other institutions across the globe each summer to study the ancient Canaanite and Phoenician site in northern Israel.

For more on Professor Killebrew's work, see here and here. Indiana Jones is invoked again.

Butterflies of Metatron

ARCHANGEL METATRON WATCH: Native animals, meditation and fashionistas: exploring the worldly mind of Archibald artist Carla Fletcher (
After fashion design and illustration studies, Carla Fletcher approached fine art drawing at RMIT; the artistic heritage that she has collected over the years nowadays putting her up to wider perspectives, new stylistic features and bigger audiences.

Carla Fletcher is almost ready for her next outstanding solo show, she’ll be presenting at Tinning Street a new body of work titled Butterflies of Metatron.

What is is with Metatron and butterflies?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Ruani (ed.), Les controverses religieuses en syriaque

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Syriac Polemics Against Zoroastrianism and Christian Controversies under the Sasanians. Notice of a new book: Ruani, Flavia (ed.). 2016. Les controverses religieuses en syriaque. (Études Syriaques 13). Paris: Geuthner. Follow the link for details.

Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

Cohen and Berlin (eds.), Interpreting Scriptures in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

NEW BOOK FROM CUP: Interpreting Scriptures in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Overlapping Inquiries (Yeshiva University).
Interpreting Scriptures in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Overlapping Inquiries, edited by Mordechai Z. Cohen and Adele Berlin (Cambridge University Press, 2016), is a comparative study of Jewish, Christian and Muslim scriptural interpretation from antiquity to modernity, with special emphasis on the pivotal medieval period. It focuses on three areas: (1) responses in the three faith traditions to tensions created by the need to transplant their scriptures into new cultural and linguistic contexts; (2) changing conceptions of the literal sense and its importance vis-à-vis non-literal senses (figurative, spiritual, midrashic, etc.); (3) the ways in which classical rhetoric and poetics informed—or were resisted in—Jewish, Christian, and Muslim interpretation.


Review of Rubina and Rüpke (eds.), A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World

Rubina Raja, Jörg Rüpke (ed.), A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World. Blackwell companions to the ancient world. Ancient history. Chichester; Malden, MA; Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2015. Pp. xiii, 502. ISBN 9781444350005. $195.00.

Reviewed by Anna Collar, Aarhus University (

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

[Disclaimer: Anna Collar works as part of Troels Myrup Kristensen's 'Emergence of Sacred Travel' project in the same department as Rubina Raja.]

It is clear from their introduction what the editors set out to achieve in this collection of 35 essays: in line with their research agenda at Erfurt, "Lived Ancient Religion", their aim is to overturn the traditional bias towards the systematic and the dogmatic in the treatment of religion in antiquity, and focus instead on the material evidence that shaped the 'practices, expressions, and interactions' (p.4, p. 446) of religion as people experienced it in the past. While the editors acknowledge the virtual impossibility of understanding the specific cultural meanings of past religious behaviour, they posit that "lived ancient religion" offers a framework for describing the influences of philosophical and literary works alongside those of religious professionals, socialisation, social networks and performances in the construction of ancient religious context, and therefore for the reconstruction of situational meanings (fluid though these may be), from the evidence for religious practice as part of everyday life in antiquity. The focus on religion as it was experienced is strongly appealing; nevertheless, perhaps it is the job of a Companion to offer a more balanced picture of the ways religion in antiquity can be understood archaeologically (for example, the editors mention the cognitive approach, but have no place for this here). It is frustrating that, after a strong opening to the introduction, the editors cut and paste sections of the papers rather than offering a coherent analysis of their content.

That said, I found much of the book compelling and the quality of the essays generally excellent: there is, of course, not space enough for details, so I will go through the thematic sections, looking at the papers that prompt further reflection.

Ancient Judaism receives some attention in the book.

Who pays for archaeology?

Who Pays For All This?

Some projects are undertaken by private individuals who have the money or can raise it from others who believe in their cause. Most times the ideas that these individuals have are not the result of scholarly research. Since many countries (especially in the Near East) require the excavator to have scholarly background and training in order to acquire a permit, these private individuals have to enlist the participation of a qualified individual or institution for this purpose. However, there are times that private wealthy individuals support genuine scholarly projects because of their interest in the topic, site or region that are studied without trying to advance a particular point of view. This could be considered as a branch of philanthropy.

Article from The Five-Minute Archaeologist in the Southern Levant (Equinox, 2016).

By Oded Borowski
Professor of Biblical Archaeology and Hebrew
Emory University
November 2016

Another Flint memorial

OBITUARY: In Memoriam: Peter Flint (Aline Bouwman, Mars' Hill Newspaper).
Dr. Flint was a world-renowned scholar on the Dead Sea Scrolls and a well-respected professor at Trinity Western University. Flint was Professor of Religious Studies and Co-Director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute.
Background here and here.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

New book on the combat myth

NEW BOOK FROM THE BIALIK INSTITUTE (IN HEBREW): Noga Ayali-Darshan, Treading on the Back of Sea: The Combat between the Storm-god and the Sea in Ancient Near Eastern Literature, The Bialik Institute, Jerusalem 2016. Noted at Lea Mazor's blog. HT reader Yoel. Follow the link for an English listing of the TOC.

Dubovský et al. (eds.), The Fall of Jerusalem and the Rise of the Torah

The Fall of Jerusalem and the Rise of the Torah
Ed. by Peter Dubovský, Dominik Markl, and Jean-Pierre Sonnet

[Die Zerstörung Jerusalems und die Entstehung der Torah.]
2016. X, 381 pages.
Forschungen zum Alten Testament 107
99,00 €
ISBN 978-3-16-154054-7

Published in English.
The destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587 bce is arguably the most tremendous disaster in the Hebrew Bible. How this decisive date relates to the development of the Pentateuch, however, is highly controversial. Is the trauma of Jerusalem reflected in the five books of Moses? This question is addressed from multiple perspectives in this volume. Israel Finkelstein and Lester L. Grabbe discuss the archaeological and historical data. Experts in Pentateuchal criticism from diverse international backgrounds present a rich panorama of relevant themes, including biblical historiography, contacts with Mesopotamian culture before and during the Babylonian exile, and the issue of cultic discontinuity caused by the destruction and restoration of Jerusalem's temple.
Follow the link for TOC, ordering information, etc.

"Western Wall compromise" update

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: 'They have turned the site into a pile of garbage.' Noted archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar describes the severity of damage caused by construction of 'egalitarian' prayer space at Western Wall (Hezki Baruch, Arutz Sheva).
The Knesset Education Committee held a meeting today regarding damage caused to important archaeological findings as a result of construction aimed at creating an “egalitarian” prayer space at the Western Wall to cater to demands of the Reform Movement.

Speaking with Arutz Sheva, respected Jerusalem archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar who excavated the Ophel area nearby described the severity of damage already caused, and efforts to stop the construction so as to prevent future damage.

Includes a video interview with Dr. Mazar in Hebrew.

Background here and links.

Canaanite, not Hebrew

CHRISTOPHER ROLLSTON: The Early History of the Alphabet and the Recent Claim that the Northwest Semitic Inscriptions from Serabit el-Khadem and Wadi el-Hol are Hebrew: Spoiler Alert, They’re Not. The discussion is technical, but here's an excerpt that sums it up:
In short, the things that Douglas Petrovich considers to be markers of Hebrew are, in fact, just markers of the Semitic languages in general. We even have a term of these sorts of words that occur in multiple Semitic languages. We call them “Common Semitic, because they are attested in so many languages.” In short, the only thing that can reasonably be said about the Early Alphabetic inscriptions from Serabit el-Khadem and Wadi el-Hol (etc.) is that they are written in a Northwest Semitic language and script. There is nothing in these inscriptions that is diagnostic for Hebrew. It would be interesting if there were features that could be considered distinctively Hebrew, but there are not. So, as has been the case for a very long time, we refer to these inscriptions as Canaanite or Early Alphabetic. ...
And Professor Rollston has a follow-up post here: The Problem with Reading the Word ‘Hebrew’ in Sinai 115: An Egyptologist’s Response.

Cross-file under Epigraphy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'M BACK IN ST. ANDREWS and back to work. I hope all my American readers and any others celebrating with them enjoy a happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Zakovitch and Ruzer, God’s Word Is Powerful

God’s Word Is Powerful
Eight Conversations on the Epistle to the Hebrews

By Yair Zakovitch, Serge Ruzer

Publisher: The Hebrew University Magnes Press
Jewish History, Jewish Studies, Religions, Christianity
Publish date: November 2016
Language: Hebrew
Danacode: 45-481011
ISBN: 978-965-493-925-6
Cover: Paperback
Pages: 289
Weight: 450 gr.

The character of the Epistle to the Hebrews differs greatly from all other letters included in the New Testament. It is actually a sermon interpreting numerous biblical verses with the aim to substantiate its unique claim for Jesus' heavenly priesthood. The reliance on biblical proof-texts enables the writer to establish his innovative claims vis-a-vis both the broader Jewish tradition and the competing outlooks existing within the Jesus movement itself.

The eight conversations in the book discuss the Epistle's interpretative strategies in order to unearth the worldview of its author and the nature of its target audience.

Stang, Our Divine Double

Our Divine Double Hardcover – March 7, 2016
by Charles M. Stang (Author)

What if you were to discover that you were not entirely you, but rather one half of a whole, that you had, in other words, a divine double? In the second and third centuries CE, this idea gripped the religious imagination of the Eastern Mediterranean, providing a distinctive understanding of the self that has survived in various forms throughout the centuries, down to the present. Our Divine Double traces the rise of this ancient idea that each person has a divine counterpart, twin, or alter-ego, and the eventual eclipse of this idea with the rise of Christian conciliar orthodoxy.

Charles Stang marshals an array of ancient sources: from early Christianity, especially texts associated with the apostle Thomas “the twin”; from Manichaeism, a missionary religion based on the teachings of the “apostle of light” that had spread from Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean; and from Neoplatonism, a name given to the renaissance of Platonism associated with the third-century philosopher Plotinus. Each of these traditions offers an understanding of the self as an irreducible unity-in-duality. To encounter one’s divine double is to embark on a path of deification that closes the gap between image and archetype, human and divine.

While the figure of the divine double receded from the history of Christianity with the rise of conciliar orthodoxy, it survives in two important discourses from late antiquity: theodicy, or the problem of evil; and Christology, the exploration of how the Incarnate Christ is both human and divine.
I believe it has been argued that the divine twin tradition could also be relevant for understanding Enoch's regeneration into the Son of Man in the Parables of Enoch. But I cannot now find the reference. In any case, the book sounds very interesting. You might also want to read Charles Williams's novel Descent into Hell for a modern take on the tradition.

HT James McGrath.

UPDATE (12 January 2017): Regarding the divine double motif in ancient Judaism, see my comment here.

Cline, Three Stones Make a Wall

Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology Hardcover – February 28, 2017
by Eric H. Cline (Author)

In 1922, Howard Carter peered into Tutankhamun's tomb for the first time, the only light coming from the candle in his outstretched hand. Urged to tell what he was seeing through the small opening he had cut in the door to the tomb, the Egyptologist famously replied, "I see wonderful things." Carter's fabulous discovery is just one of the many spellbinding stories told in Three Stones Make a Wall.

Written by Eric Cline, an archaeologist with more than thirty seasons of excavation experience, Three Stones Make a Wall traces the history of archaeology from an amateur pursuit to the cutting-edge science it is today by taking the reader on a tour of major archaeological sites and discoveries, from Pompeii to Petra, Troy to the Terracotta Warriors, and Mycenae to Megiddo and Masada. Cline brings to life the personalities behind these digs, including Heinrich Schliemann, the former businessman who excavated Troy, and Mary Leakey, whose discoveries advanced our understanding of human origins. The discovery of the peoples and civilizations of the past is presented in vivid detail, from the Hittites and Minoans to the Inca, Aztec, and Moche. Along the way, the book addresses the questions archaeologists are asked most often: How do you know where to dig? How are excavations actually done? How do you know how old something is? Who gets to keep what is found?

Taking readers from the pioneering digs of the eighteenth century to the exciting new discoveries being made today, Three Stones Make a Wall is a lively and essential introduction to the story of archaeology.

Zevit (ed.), Subtle Citation, Allusion, and Translation in the Hebrew Bible

Subtle Citation, Allusion, and Translation in the Hebrew Bible
Edited by
Ziony Zevit
American Jewish University

ISBN-13 (Hardback) 9781781792667
Price (Hardback) £60.00 / $100.00
ISBN-13 (Paperback) 9781781792674
Price (Paperback) £19.99 / $29.95
Publication 01/10/2016
Pages 256
Size 234 x 156mm
Readership scholars

Biblicists have long been aware that some compositions in the Bible cite and allude to other compositions. At times these practices are obvious; often, however, they are not. Essays in this volume focus on subtle, not-so-obvious, unrecognized cases of citation and allusion as well as on unrecognized ‘translations’ from other languages and references to motifs in the plastic arts. Individual authors address unapparent cases and the methodological considerations on which their status as ‘genuine’ can be established. The essays in this volume are significant because of the methodological considerations and cautions that they describe and the varied texts that they analyze. Biblicists drawing on insights from this book will be able to provide thicker descriptions of Israelite literature and literacy and to construct relative chronologies of biblical compositions with greater accuracy than has been possible until now.
Follow the link for TOC, ordering information, etc.

Altmann, Economics in Persian-Period Biblical Texts

Economics in Persian-Period Biblical Texts
Their Interactions with Economic Developments in the Persian Period and Earlier Biblical Traditions

[Ökonomie in den Bibeltexten der Perserzeit. Ihre Wechselwirkung mit wirtschaftlichen Entwicklungen in der Perserzeit und früheren biblischen Traditionen.]
2016. XII, 342 pages.
Forschungen zum Alten Testament 109
119,00 €
ISBN 978-3-16-154813-0

Published in English.
“Centre and periphery” frameworks have been particularly helpful for research on systems whose dynamics are strongly influenced by a substantially unequal distribution of qualities. But what can these frameworks, in all their present diversity and in their various “re-conceptualizations,” contribute to the study of the early Second Temple period? The essays in this volume address this question through the prism of, for instance, the location of Jerusalem, diasporic communities, Torah, roles of temples and royal courts, Jerusalem/Gerizim, the Zion tradition, the universal kingdom of YHWH, the literary history of some texts, socio-linguistic choices, and gender.
Follow the link for TOC, ordering information, etc.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lipinski, Studies in Aramaic Inscriptions and Onomastics IV

Studies in Aramaic Inscriptions and Onomastics IV

Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 250

Authors: Lipinski E.

Year: 2016
ISBN: 978-90-429-3352-1
Pages: XIV-286 p.
Price: 95 EURO

A large number of Aramaic inscriptions from the 9th century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D. are revisited in this fourth volume of Studies. After the stele of Tel Dan, the epitaph of Kuttamuwa from Zincirli, and the inscription found at Tepe Qalaichi, Aramaic dockets from Dur-Katlimmu are re-examined, distinguishing a court ruling concerning theft, agreements regarding mortgage, guarantee, indemnity, barley and silver loans, and the particular nsk-loan. Next are examined "cadastral" reports from Idumaea, some inscriptions from Hellenistic times, a divorce bill from the Roman period, several Palmyrene dedications, epitaphs, and honorific inscriptions, as well as some Hatraean texts, mainly related to Adiabene. Finally, Marcionism is considered as background of a saying on "two gods", ascribed to Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba. Like in the preceding volumes of Studies, detailed indexes list the inscriptions, the personal names and the place-names examined, as well as other subjects.
Cross-file under Aramaic Watch.

Mar Behnam Monastery liberated

"THIS IS WAR": Historic Iraqi Assyrian Monastery Found Ransacked By Islamic State (Stephen Kalin, Reuters via AINA).
(Reuters) -- The history pages of Iraq's Christian community lie in charred fragments on the floor of a fourth-century monastery near Mosul which Islamic State militants ransacked during a two-year occupation that ended over the weekend.

The jihadists at the Mar Behnam monastery burned a collection of books about Christian theology, scraped off inscriptions written in Syriac -- the language used by Jesus -- and demolished sculptures of the Virgin Mary and the monastery's patron saint.

They removed the site's crosses and tried to erase any mention of Behnam, the son of an Assyrian king who, according to popular legend, built the monastery as penance for killing both his children after they converted to Christianity.

"Their fundamental goal was to destroy Christian history and civilization in the Nineveh plains," Duraid Elias, commander of the Babylon Brigades, a Christian militia that helped retake the site, told Reuters during a visit on Monday.

Both sad and outrageous. Many of the manuscripts belonging to the monastery were digitized before the ISIS occupation, but it sounds very unlikely that the manuscripts themselves survived. I hope I'm wrong. Past posts involving the Mar Behnam monastery are here, here, here, and here. Another recent post involving the current campaign to liberate Mosul is here.

Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

Safaitic inscriptions

EPIGRAPHY: Ancient Inscriptions Show Life Once Flourished in Jordan's 'Black Desert' (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
Thousands of inscriptions and petroglyphs dating back around 2,000 years have been discovered in the Jebel Qurma region of Jordan's Black Desert. They tell of a time when the now-desolate landscape was teeming with life.

"Nowadays, the Jebel Qurma area, and the Black Desert in general, is a highly inhospitable area, very arid and difficult to cross," said Peter Akkermans, a professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands who leads the Jebel Qurma Archaeological Landscape Project. Photos the team took of the modern-day landscape show little water, vegetation or wildlife.

The inscriptions are written in Safaitic, an alphabetic script used by people who lived in parts of Syria, Jordan and Arabia in ancient times. Research is ongoing, but the archaeologists say their finds indicate that around 2,000 years ago, Jebel Qurma had trees, wildlife and a sizable human population.

Safaitic is an Old North Arabian dialect that seems to be known only from stone inscriptions. The writers knew the Nabateans (Nabataeans) and had to do with them, perhaps not always on the most positive basis:
Some texts contain information on what people were doing, with a few hinting that the people who inhabited Jebel Qurma had conflicts with the Nabataeans, a people who built the ancient city of Petra. "I am on the lookout for the Nabataeans," one inscription reads.
There's more on Safaitic at the The Online Corpus of the Inscriptions of Ancient North Arabia site.

McGrath on the Aramaic incantation bowls

JAMES MCGRATH: Aramaic Magic Bowls at #AARSBL16. I was sorry to have to miss this session, but I ended up attending another one. Glad to have James's report for the one I missed.

Cross-file under Aramaic Watch.

Loiseau, L'influence de l'arameen sur les traducteurs de la LXX ...

L'influence de l'arameen sur les traducteurs de la LXX principalement sur les traducteurs grecs posterieurs, ainsi que sur les scribes de la Vorlage de la LXX
Anne-Francoise Loiseau

ISBN 9781628371567
Status Available
Price: $45.95
Binding Paperback
Publication Date October 2016
Pages 282

Further your understanding of the methods and peculiarities of the ancient Greek translators and revisers of the Hebrew Bible

Loiseau presents examples of Greek translations of verses from the Hebrew Bible that clearly illustrate the influence of Aramaic or Late Hebrew on the semantics of the Septuagint translators. The author postulates that the Greek translators based their translations on Hebrew-Aramaic equivalents maintained as lists or even on proto-targumim such as those found at Qumran, both predecessors of the later Aramaic targumic translations. Loiseau’s examples provide convincing explanations for different coincidences occurring between the Greek translations and the interpretative traditions found in the targumim and help elucidate a number of puzzling translations where two Aramaic words that are very similar graphically or phonetically were erroneously interchanged.


• Unique insight into ancient Jewish exegesis
• English summary
• The first extensive illustration of the influence of the Aramaic or Late Hebrew on the Septuagint
Follow the link for more details and ordering information.

Cross-file under Aramaic Watch.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Enoch, Metatron, and Yima?

ARCHANGEL METATRON WATCH: Enoch’s Walk with God Ends Badly in Babylonia (Yishai Kiel,
Echoing the Iranian story of Yima, the biblical Enoch morphed into the theologically problematic angel Metatron, and ends up being flogged.
Interesting proposal about a possible Zoroastrian connection with the rise of the Metatron traditions.

​JJMJS Issue 3 (2016)

A NEW ISSUE (NO. 3, 2016) OF THE JOURNAL OF THE JESUS MOVEMENT IN ITS JEWISH SETTING IS OUT. Follow the link for (for now) a detailed description of the issue. A permanent link to Issues 1-3 is here.

All articles are available online for free. Background on the journal is here and here.

Review of Chin and Vidas (eds.), Late Ancient Knowing

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Late Ancient Knowing (Taylor Ross).
Chin, Catherine M. and Moulie Vidas, eds. Late Ancient Knowing: Explorations in Intellectual History. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2015.
This is, at any rate, the wager at the center of the impressive set of essays Catherine Chin and Moulie Vidas have collected in Late Ancient Knowing: Explorations in Intellectual History (2015). Each of the offerings in this volume is an exercise in “sympathetic imagination,” an experiment in imagining how the world of Late Antiquity differs from the one in which we, as scholars of the period, labor to understand it (Chin/Vidas 2015: 4). The cumulative effect is to render the late ancient world less familiar than even those most intimate with its history and texts might have otherwise supposed. For this reason alone, the book deserves to be read widely. ...

Hebrew textbooks

TWO POSSIBLE TEXTBOOKS ON BIBLICAL HEBREW have been drawn to my attention by the Combined Academic Press. I don't think I can use them right now, and they aren't new. but I've never noted them before, so in case any readers might find them useful for their classes, here they are.
JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh, Pocket Edition
Jewish Publication Society

This pocket edition offers a lightweight, compact version of the popular JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh. It features the oldest-known complete Hebrew version of the Holy Scriptures, side by side with JPS's renowned English translation. The Hebrew text of this Tanakh is based on the famed Leningrad Codex, the Masoretic text traceable to Aaron ben Moses ben Asher, ca. 930 CE.

Regarded throughout the English-speaking world as a landmark English translation of the Holy Scriptures, the JPS Tanakh has been acclaimed by scholars, rabbis, lay leaders, Jews, and Christians alike.

In the Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language
Joel Hoffman
New York University Press

Hebrew set the stage for almost every modern alphabet. Hoffman follows and decodes the adventure that is the history of Hebrew, illuminating how the written record has survived, the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient translations, and attempts to determine how the language actually sounded. He places these developments into a historical context, and shows their continuing impact on the modern world.

This sweeping history traces Hebrew's development as one of the first languages to make use of vowels. Hoffman also covers the dramatic story of the rebirth of Hebrew as a modern, spoken language. Packed with lively information about language and linguistics and history, In the Beginning is essential reading for both newcomers and scholars interested in learning more about Hebrew and languages in general.

Paul on Jesus being "handed over"

BART EHRMAN: Does Paul Know that Judas Betrayed Jesus? I agree: Paul's wording is ambiguous and does not demonstrate that he knew the story of Judas' betrayal, although he may have.

Seen on Facebook.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Did ancient Israelites eat pork?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: You Are What You Eat: The Israelite Diet and Archaeology. Pig bones as an ethnic marker? (Marek Dospěl). Apparently, it's complicated. But you need a paid subscription to read the full text of the highlighted article by Lidar Sapir-Hen in BAR.

Genesis Rabbah on Lot's daughters

THETORAH.COM: Lot and his Daughters’ Motives for their Incestuous Union. Genesis Rabbah surprisingly portrays Lot’s daughters and their choices in a decidedly positive light, while exacerbating Lot’s culpability (Shayna Sheinfeld). The Midrash has its work cut out to put a positive spin on this episode, but it certainly tries its best.

Moss on ancient bathrooms

CANDIDA MOSS: The Dirty Secret About Ancient Bathrooms. Excavations at the most famous racing stadium in the ancient world have been completed, and one of the best preserved parts turns out to be the toilets—adding to a rich history of the disposal of human waste (The Daily Beast). This essay has a lot of information — some might say too much (but we're historians, right?) — about toilet practices in the ancient Roman world. And it includes a detail about toilet practice in the Temple according to the Mishnah.

Some relevant past PaleoJudaica posts on evidence for ancient latrines are collected here (and perhaps cf. here).

Baum et al. (eds.), Der jüdische Messias Jesus und sein jüdischer Apostel Paulus

Der jüdische Messias Jesus und sein jüdischer Apostel Paulus
Hrsg. v. Armin D. Baum, Detlef Häußer und Emmanuel L. Rehfeld

[The Jewish Messiah Jesus and his Jewish Apostle Paul.]
2016. VIII, 417 pages.
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 425
94,00 €
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-153872-8

Published in German.
The occasion of Rainer Riesner's 65th birthday brought together many of his students and colleagues to discuss the Jewish contours of the messianic ministry of Jesus of Nazareth and the apostolic ministry of Paul of Tarsus. The contributions in this compendium consider in the main issues of continuity or discontinuity between Judaism and Christianity as they are reflected in New Testament texts concerning Jesus and Paul as well as in Paul's writings. The question concerning the Jewish roots of early Christianity has at least three sides to it which all receive attention in this volume: the influence of the Scriptures of Israel on the ministries of Jesus and Paul, their relationship to early Judaism, and the links between Paul's theology on the one hand and the teaching of Jesus and the synoptic tradition on the other.
Follow the link for TOC, ordering information, etc.

McGrath on Digital Biblical Studies

JAMES MCGRATH: My contribution to the review panel about Ancient Worlds in Digital Culture at #AARSBL16. The full text of his comments at yesterday's SBL session on the subject.

Background here and links.