Saturday, December 03, 2016

Review of Chapman and Rodgers (eds.), A Companion to Josephus

Honora Howell Chapman, Zuleika Rodgers (ed.), A Companion to Josephus. Blackwell companions to the ancient world. Malden, MA; Oxford; Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2016. Pp. xvi, 466. ISBN 9781444335330. $195.00.

Reviewed by Matthew Kraus, University of Cincinnati (


The publication of this “first introductory companion, or scholarly guide” (p.1) to Josephus marks the seismic change in Josephan scholarship over recent decades. In addition to the Brill Josephus Project, whose translations and detailed commentaries on the Josephan corpus are already replacing the Loeb editions for serious scholars, innovative approaches to traditional topics and new areas of research now permeate the Josephan landscape.1 No longer reduced to being the cherry-picked companion to the Jewish and Christian experience of the Greek and Roman worlds, he properly merits his own handbook considering him an author in his own right. The volume, ably edited by Honora Chapman and Zuleika Rodgers, draws on an international team of Josephan experts, including several contributors to the Brill translation and commentary. It updates the current status of research and provides a foundation for future advancements.


Jewish Social Studies 22.1

H-JUDAIC: TOC: Jewish Social Studies 22.1. One of the articles deals with Talmudic material.

DSS forgeries in Accordance?

ETC BLOG: Dead Sea Scroll Forgeries in Your Favorite Bible Software? (Peter Gurry). It seems the answer is yes, although they are very few and it is not clear exactly how many. Also, note the importance of peer-review publication for the discussion.

Review of "Golem" in Berlin

EXHIBITION: (R)EVOLUTION IN BERLIN: GOLEM Ushers in the Shadow Dialectic (Lisa Paul Streitfeld, Huffington Post Blog).
GOLEM opened on 23 September 2016 at the Jewish Museum Berlin. Curated by the German American female duo, Martina Lüdicke (German) and Emily D. Bilski (American), the breakthrough exhibition ushers in an essential new dialectic of the Shadow simultaneously into academia and the international art world in 2016.

The golem can look back on a long career, in Judiasm and far beyond. Its story begins in the Hebrew Bible and continues, in constantly new transformations, into the present day. The ancient human dream of creating artificial beings connects with today’s world: genetic technology and artificial intelligence, computers and robots. All these endeavours to create a kind of golem.
—Peter Schäfer, Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin
Dr. Streitfeld sums up:
GOLEM is the authentic irony of our current epoch: the Monster that breaks down the wall between ego and the uncertain realm of dark energy has the sheer force to explode boundaries between the art world and the academy while pointing towards the human transcendence that comes with surrender into the 96 percent unseen universe.
Background on the exhibition is here. Follow the link at that post for earlier PaleoJudaica posts on past and present manifestations of the Golem legend.

Vandalism in Sebastia

THIS IS SAD. AND OUTRAGEOUS. Biblical Jewish fortress vandalized once again. Fortress built in 800 BCE vandalized in Sebastia National Park, a Jewish and Christian heritage site; culprits smashed a 2,000-year-old marble pillar buttressing the palace in the ancient capital of Israel (Assaf Kamar, Ynet News).
A marble pillar belonging to the 2,000-years-old Herodium palace was smashed in the Sebastia National Park in the capital of ancient Samaria.

The incident is the second time vandalism has occurred within three months at the archeological site against antiquities directly connected with Israeli heritage.

I think I remember hearing something about the earlier vandalism incident, but I don't seem to have blogged about it. A couple of past posts on Sebastia are here and here.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Hendel on the rainbow

RON HENDEL: The Rainbow in Ancient Context. What does it mean for the rainbow to be a sign of God’s covenant with life on earth, and how does this compare with other concepts of the rainbow in the ancient world? ( Excerpt:
The rainbow is a sign of many things. It is a visual sign of the covenant between God and all living creatures, a glittering and mysterious bridge between sky and earth. It is a sign of peace, reconciliation, and the eternity of moral law. We remember these things – even if not altogether consciously – when the rain lets up and the sun shines through the clouds, creating the momentary wonder of the rainbow. Although we know that the rainbow is a natural effect of light after the rain, it is also a sign of biblical memory in our lives and perceptions.
A good discussion of the ancient context of the rainbow in the biblical Flood story, but I was hoping that Ezekiel 1:28 would be brought in as well.

More on the Jordan lead codices

MORE TESTS: Is this the first written mention of Jesus? 2,000-year-old lead tablets found in a remote cave ARE genuine, claim researchers (Libby Plummer, Daily Mail).
• The lead pages, bound like a ring binder, were first discovered in 2008
• The tablets suggest that Christ was not starting his own religion, but restoring a thousand-year-old tradition from the time of King David
• They also suggest the God he worshipped was both male and female
• New testing said to confirm their age, say authors who have been campaigning since 2009 for the tablets to be recognised and protected
This article presents some extravagant claims about the contents of the lead codices and their importance for Christianity, Judaism, and even Islam. We've heard some of this before and some of it is new. Much of it sounds fanciful. This is a good time to remind ourselves that in the five and a half years since their existence was first announced, not a single peer-review publication on them has been published. Any scholarly discussion of them has yet to begin. Now if someone wishes to defend some of the claims in this article by publishing the evidence in a peer-review publication, I and others will be happy to have a look and evaluate the evidence presented and the arguments for the claims. Unless that actually happens some day, I have no interest in re-engaging with the revival of those claims in the media.

That said, one passage in the article does merit some comment:
Now tests conducted by Professor Roger Webb and Professor Chris Jeynes at the University of Surrey's Nodus Laboratory at the Ion Beam Centre, confirm that the tablet is compatible with a comparative sample of ancient Roman lead unearthed from an excavation site in Dorset.

The experts said that the codex they tested 'does not show the radioactivity arising from polonium that is typically seen in modern lead samples, indicating that the lead of the codex was smelted over one hundred years ago'.

They went onto explain how the testing suggests that the artefacts are indeed 2,000 years old.

'While there may be variations in decay and corrosion that depend upon the environmental conditions in which the objects were stored or hidden, there is a strong underlying theme of decay from within the metal,' said the researchers in a press statement.

'It is oxidising and breaking down at atomic level to revert to its natural state.

'This is not witnessed in lead objects that are several centuries old and is not possible to produce by artificial acceleration (e.g. through heating).

'This provides very strong evidence that the objects are of great age, consistent with the studies of the text and designs that suggest an age of around 2000 years'.

The codex was leant to the Elkingtons by the Department of Antiquities in Amman for testing.

Further crystallisation analysis indicates that the codex is likely to be between 1800-2000 years old.
As presented here, this information does sound interesting. The researchers say that the the lead of the codex they studied had to have been smelted over one hundred years ago and that the internal corrosion indicates that the object is more than several centuries old, perhaps considerably more. It is also claimed in the article (not in a quotation from the researchers) that "crystallization analysis" shows it to be "likely" that the codex is between 1800-2000 years old.

To place the claims about the tests in context, I note that the web page of the Centre for the Study of the Jordanian Lead Books has some new posts at its About page that give some further information about the codices and about the tests that have been undertaken on them. Most of the information on the tests is in 2. What are the Jordan lead Books?, although some is in 6. Epigraphy of the Jordan lead Books.

In summary, these indicate that most of the tests on the codices are "consistent with" the lead being ancient (i.e., in the vicinity of 2000 years old). One test gave "inconclusive" results, whatever that means. And one dated the lead to "the earlier part of the High Medieval Period" (apparently the 1100s-1200s CE) and another did find polonium in a codex, suggesting a "nuclear-age dating" of it. This, however, we are told, may apply only to the patina rather than the lead core and is regarded by the testers as inconclusive.

In other words, the situation is rather more complicated than as presented in the Mail article. The tests have produced a range of inconsistent results, although reportedly trending toward the lead being ancient — which we already knew — and perhaps indicating that the manufactured objects are old. Exactly how old is unclear. The inconsistent results so far show well enough that materials testing doesn't necessarily give us conclusive results. The details matter and the full details of all the materials tests on the codices need to be released so that we can see what exactly they show, with what level of confidence they show it, and what range of possible interpretations arises from the evidence they provide.

As I have pointed out before, we have already been here with materials testing of a supposedly ancient artifact (the Gospel of Jesus' Wife), which turned out to be a now-uncontested forgery. At the moment we have a media report and some summaries on a website. The people who have commissioned the tests need to release complete, unedited scans of all the lab test reports. (There seem to be quite a few tests.) The results need to be evaluated by outside experts and digested for their implications in peer-review publications.

Long-term PaleoJudaica readers may recall that when this story broke in March of 2011, the Israel Antiquities Authority had already examined some of the codices and concluded that they were unremarkable forgeries. And the IAA was not impressed by the Oxford tests that indicated that some of the lead was ancient. Ancient lead is easy to obtain. I would be very interested in hearing what the IAA had to say about the lab reports for the new tests. Release them and let's find out.

Cross-file under Fake Metal Codices Watch. I acknowledge that it is possible that some of the current test results may point to some of them being something other than fake, but I remain to be convinced. And in any case, I continue to include this cross-file rubric so that all my posts on the subject can be accessed together.

Background here and many links.

At the Religion Prof Blog, James McGrath has also commented on the story: The Fake Jordan Lead Codices.

Zoroastrian and Jewish apocalyptic literature

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Iranian and Jewish Apocalyptics. Notice of a new article by Domenico Agostini in JAOS, now available at

Review of Fine, The Menorah

BOOK REVIEW A History of the Menorah (MARJORIE INGALL, New York Times).
From the Bible to Modern Israel

By Steven Fine
Illustrated. 279 pp. Harvard University Press. $29.95.

This richly illustrated academic study begins with an image straight out of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” ...
The review tries irritatingly to sound hip, but the book sounds very good.

Review of Lavan and Mulryan (eds.), Field Methods and Post-Excavation Techniques in Late Antique Archaeology

Luke Lavan, Michael Mulryan (ed.), Field Methods and Post-Excavation Techniques in Late Antique Archaeology. Late antique archaeology, 9. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2015. Pp. xiv, 687. ISBN 9789004277021. €75.00.

Reviewed by Louise Blanke, Wolfson College, Oxford (

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

The study of late antiquity has been transformed by new insights gained from field projects. To evaluate the historical significance of this new material, we need to discuss the methodologies that resulted in its procurement. This is a common topic in other archaeological disciplines, but one that has largely been omitted from the late antique debate – this volume sets out to redress this issue. The volume was inspired by two conferences held at King’s College London in 2008 and 2009. It contains eighteen contributions that are organised according to seven themes.

Of chief interest to PaleoJudaica:
II: ‘The regional development of field methods’. The book’s second theme aims to critically evaluate the long-term development of country-specific archaeological strategies. Magyar (123-156) provides an overview of late antique archaeology in Hungary, while Taxel (157-188) discusses the development of field techniques in Israel from the British Mandate to the present. Both papers provide important insights into the interplay between politics and archaeology. After WWII, Hungary’s inclusion in the Soviet Union resulted in the centralised regulation of archaeology. A countrywide standardisation of field methods was introduced and innovative techniques were encouraged, but limited access to Western scholarship combined with Soviet political control meant that social theoretical models were not applied. Magyar voices a strong critique relevant not only to present-day Hungary: the study of late antiquity is compartmentalised between different branches of university studies, and excavations are managed by local museums, working according to their own methodologies and recording systems, allowing only few opportunities for comparison. Taxel summarises methodological trends in Israel, focussing on technological advances as well as problems in past approaches at specific sites such as Oboda and Sobata, which were overly restored for tourism in the 1950s and 60s and almost ruined for further archaeological interpretation. Taxel only briefly mentions the focus on the biblical past, which has characterised much archaeology in Israel. It would have been within the scope of this book to include a critical evaluation of the consequences of this particular research aim on the treatment of post-biblical material.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Ehrhardt Lecture

I'M AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER TODAY, giving a lecture in the Ehrhardt Seminar at the Centre for Biblical Studies. The title is "Roles of Angels in 1 Enoch and the Hekhalot Literature." It is a somewhat revised and adapted version of a paper that I presented at the 2015 Enoch Seminar in Gazzada, Italy. You can read an excerpt from the Enoch Seminar version here.

Sheffield workshop on religious experience

JAMES MCGRATH: Call for applications: Workshop on “Religious Experience at the Intersection of Body and Cognition” (University of Sheffield, April 28-29, 2017). This workshop is associated with the Embodied Religion research theme at Sheffield, on which more here.

List of archaeological discoveries in Israel since 2004

THE JEWISH VIRTUAL LIBRARY: Archaeology in Israel: List of Discoveries (2004 - Present). Soon we will be seeing lists of archaeological discoveries for 2016. The JVL gets us started early this year with a list starting with 2016 and going back to 2004. Of course, 2016 is not over yet, so let's hope more exciting items will be added in the next month.

Hoarding Ma’aser Sheni?

AMIT GVARYAHU: Hoarding Consecrated “Second Tithe” Coins (
Evidence suggests that hoarding second tithe money held special, religious significance among late antique Jews. How did this curious religious observance develop? What might it have meant to the Jews who practiced it?
An interesting case of the possible convergence of ancient textual and archaeological evidence.

Grypeou on ancient accounts of necromancy

EMMANOUELA GRYPEOU: Necromancy in Jewish and Christian Accounts from Mesopotamia and beyond. Paper presented at the Conference: The Talmud and Christianity: Rabbinic Judaism after Constantine 27-28 June, Cambridge, UK ( A draft paper that has lots of interesting information about rabbinic and early Christian (especially Syriac Christian) references to the subject.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ancient Greek inscription recovered from underwater at Dor

MARINE ARCHAEOLOGY: Israelis recover 1,900-year-old 'Judea' inscription hidden underwater. The Roman-era inscription may confirm the name of the local Roman governor in the period (i24news).
Israeli researchers from Haifa University have uncovered a 1,900-year-old inscription bearing the name of the Roman-era province of Judea after an underwater excavation at Dor Beach, in the Zikhron Yaakov area.

The inscription in Ancient Greek also bears the name of the Roman prefect who ruled the province in the second century CE.

The name of the prefect is not given in the article.

Cross-file under Epigraphy.

UPDATE: Haaretz now has an article on the inscription: Divers find unexpected Roman inscription from the eve of Bar-Kochba Revolt. A statue base from 1,900 years ago found at Dor survived shellfish and seawater, and to the archaeologists' shock, revealed a previously unknown governor of Judea (Philippe Bohstrom). It gives the name of the Roman prefect in question:
Gargilius Antiquus: A name set in stone, twice
The statue base found on the seabed at Dor is only the second known mention of the province of Judea in Roman inscription. The other is the "Pontius Pilate stone" dating to around 100 years earlier. Discovered by archaeologists in 1961 at the ancient theater in Caesarea, it is a rare piece of solid evidence mentioning Pilate, prefect of Judea, by name.

The newly found inscription, carved on the stone in Greek, is missing a part, but is thought to have originally read: “The City of Dor honors Marcus Paccius, son of Publius, Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus, governor of the province of Judea, as well as […] of the province of Syria, and patron of the city of Dor.”

The name Gargilius Antiquus had been known from another inscription previously found in Dor – as the governor of a province whose name was missing from that inscription. So far, reconstructions have suggested either Syria or Syria-Palaestina as the province he was governing. Dr. Gil Gambash, head of the Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies, and Yasur-Landau were excited to read on the new inscription that Gargilius Antiquus was in fact the governor of Judea, shortly before the Bar Kochba Revolt.
For more on him, read the whole Haaretz article.

UPDATE (2 December): The bad link to the Haaretz article is now fixed. Sorry about that; as you know, I have been away and busy. Meanwhile, that article has cleaned up some misunderstandings in the original, so I have replaced it with the corrected version in the quotation above.

Labeled model of Second Temple Jerusalem

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH (SORT OF): Model of Second Temple Jerusalem (HolyLandPhotos' Blog). With major architectural features helpfully labeled.

Seen on Facebook. Past posts on the model are here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Four Decades of Emory Jewish Studies

CONGRATULATIONS TO EMORY UNIVERSITY: Event Marks 4 Decades of Emory Jewish Studies (Atlanta Jewish Times).
The Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University is celebrating 40 years of Jewish studies at the university with a Community of Scholars Showcase on Sunday, Dec. 4, during which some of Emory’s leading professors will share insights from their teaching, writing and research.


Since its inception, the chair has been occupied by David Blumenthal, a specialist in Jewish thought and theology who was hired from Brown University.

Early on, the Jewish studies program was augmented by the arrival of Kenneth Stein, an expert on the history of Israel and the Middle East, and Oded Borowski, a biblical archaeologist who helped lay the basis for Emory’s Hebrew language program.


The Tam Institute is a leading center for research and teaching in Jewish studies. Its 19 core faculty members, working in Emory College, the Candler School of Theology and the Emory Law School, specialize in such fields as biblical studies and archaeology, Jewish law and ethics, contemporary Jewish theology, European and American Jewish history, the Holocaust, Jews in Islamic lands, modern Hebrew and Yiddish literature and culture, and the history and politics of modern Israel.


ASOR Annual Meeting tweets

THE ASOR BLOG: Twitter Recap: 2016 ASOR Annual Meeting.
A big thanks to everyone who attended and helped make the 2016 ASOR Annual Meeting an amazing event. We couldn't have done it without you! Also, to everyone who live tweeted the event, thanks. We enjoyed hearing reading and retweeting your thoughts. Here are some of the tweets from #ASOR16!

The ASOR Annual Meeting took place at the place as and a little before the AAR/SBL Annual Meetings earlier this month.

Elephantine excavation reports online

AWOL: Elephantine Reports Online. Originally posted on AWOL in 2012, but I missed it then. Annual reports on the recent excavations at Elephantine Island, the site of the fifth-century BCE Judean community that left us many Aramaic papyri. For much more on the community and the papyri see here with many links.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The rabbis triumph over God in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Not in Heaven. Man’s authority to interpret the Torah in a ‘postmagical age’ is the subject of this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ rabbinical debate.
Before I began reading Daf Yomi, I was familiar with only a few Talmudic episodes—the famous ones that are regularly cited as examples of the Talmud’s wisdom or sensibility. Whenever I come across one of these passages in the course of my reading, there is a thrill of recognition, as though a piece of a puzzle had been slotted into place. That happened this week with one of the best known and most provocative incidents in the whole Talmud, the one known as “the oven of achnai.” This passage, in Bava Metzia 59b, raises profound questions about the nature of Talmudic decision-making and the relationship of the rabbis’ authority to the authority of God.

It's a good story that makes striking claims about the basis of halakhic authority. But first this week's passage deals with the law of supply and demand and the issue of verbal abuse.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

Hurtado on "Paul the Jew"

LARRY HURTADO: “Paul the Jew”: New Book.
I’m pleased to have my contributor’s copy of Paul the Jew: Rereading the Apostle as a Figure of Second Temple Judaism, ed. Gabriele Boccaccini & Carlos A. Segovia (Fortress Press, 2016). This volume presents edited versions of twelve papers given in an invitational conference held in Rome in 2014. My paper included in the volume: “Paul’s Messianic Christology,” which I summarized in a previous posting after that conference here.

I noted the publication of the book in the spring of this year here.

Report on the 2016 ETS Septuagint Studies Consultation

WILLIAM A. ROSS: The 2016 ETS Septuagint Studies Consultation in Review (Septuaginta & C. Blog).

HT Jim West.

Oz, Judas

LITERATURE: In the novel ‘Judas,’ Amos Oz wrestles with Jewish attitudes toward Jesus (Ron Charles, Washington Post).
“Judas,” a new novel by Amos Oz, is a paradox of stillness and provocation. The Israeli author, a long-rumored contender for the Nobel Prize, has reduced the physical action of this story to a tableau of domestic grief. But beneath a scene of fermented woe, he incites a storm of theological and political arguments about the founding of Israel and the origins of Christianity.

It sounds like a very strange novel, but Judas is involved, albeit indirectly.

Sofer, A Love and Beyond

LITERATURE: A LOVE & BEYOND Wins 2016 Best Book Award (Broadway World Books).
Author Dan Sofer's debut novel, "A Love and Beyond," ( has won the 2016 Best Book Award (for the category of Religious Fiction).

ESRA Magazine has compared the novel favorably with Dan Brown's bestselling "Da Vinci Code." Sofer's novel adds a unique Jewish twist to the conspiracy theory and thriller genres.

You can decide how much of a recommendation that is for yourself. I have enjoyed the Dan Brown novels and movies, but I don't recommend them as reliable sources for history. From the description I see that Sofer's book involves the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Copper Scroll, the Talmud, the Jerusalem dating scene, and "a ruthless secret society eager to trigger the End of Days." What could go wrong?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Melchizedek’s priesthood

DR. RABBI JOSHUA GARROWAY: Who Assumed Melchizedek’s Priesthood? How such a minor biblical character became so significant in Jewish and Christian interpretation ( Excerpt:
No reader of the Torah would come away thinking that King Melchizedek of Salem is a significant character. He could easily be forgotten alongside other obscure kings mentioned in Genesis 14, like Chedorlaomer of Elam, Amraphel of Shinar, or Birsha of Gomorrah. Yet, what precious little the Torah does say about Melchizedek made it impossible for many readers in antiquity to overlook him. A priest from Jerusalem to whom Abraham paid a tithe presented a boon for early Christians, a threat to the rabbis, (possibly) an antecedent for the Maccabees and, for reasons that remain uncertain, a heroic savior for the residents of Qumran.
Some past posts on some old traditions and possible traditions about Melchizedek are here, here, here, and here.

Batovici and De Troyer (eds.), Authoritative Texts and Reception History

Authoritative Texts and Reception History: Aspects and Approaches (Biblical Interpretation Series) by Dan Batovici (Editor), Kristin De Troyer (Editor) (Brill, 2017)

Reception history has emerged over the last decades as a rapidly growing domain of research, entertaining a notable methodological diversity. Authoritative Texts and Reception History samples that diversity, offering a collection of essay that discuss various reception-historical issues, from a plurality of perspectives, across several fields: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Pseudepigrapha and the Dead Sea Scrolls, New Testament, early and late-antique Christianity. While furthering specific discussions in their specific fields, the contributions included here authored by both established and emerging scholars illustrate just how wide the umbrella of reception history can be, and the varied range of topics, concerns and approaches it can accommodate."
This is a volume of papers from the First St Andrews Conference for Biblical and Christian Studies in 2011. My article, "Quotations from Lost Books in the Hebrew Bible: A New Translation and Introduction" is included. A longer version of the article was also published in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, volume 1 (ed. Bauckham, Davila, and Panayotov; Eerdmans, 2013), pp. 673-98.

Ancient Jewish bones in Malta?

ARCHAEOLOGY: ‘Beautiful skulls’ in tombs from 2,000 years ago (Ivan Martin, Times of Malta).
A small tooth is almost all that remains of a 2,000-year-old baby discovered in an ancient burial site beneath a Rabat school.

The series of catacombs, discovered during works to extend the playing fields of the St Paul’s Missionary College, also revealed the remains of “at least eight” ancient island dwellers, decorative pottery – and new clues to unlocking the secrets of Malta’s past.

“The area around Rabat is rich with remains. These tombs are the latest discovery we have made, with some interesting contents,” Anthony Pace, the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage, told The Sunday Times of Malta.

The site is open to the public today, and visitors can view the artefacts and even the human bones discovered there, previously unseen for thousands of years. Superintendence officials will guide the public around the site, briefing them on its contents.


So who were these ancient people? Dr Pace shied away from calling them Maltese.

“‘Malteseness’ as we know it today is a relatively new invention. Malta would have been home to moving people from the Mediterranean, it would have also had settlers, and they would have considered themselves part of the empire, in this case, the Roman Empire,” he said.

It was nearly impossible, he added, to place a precise date on the burial sites, but the contents and the location indicated they were probably from a time when Malta was transitioning between Carthaginian colony to Roman – a time, he said, when a strong Jewish community was present on the island, along with merchants and colonial settlers.

“These sites help us piece together that history, a time that we don’t know enough about,” Dr Pace said.
The next step is laboratory analysis of the human remains, which may in due course tell us more about who they were.

UPDATE: A recent past post on Jewish history in Malta is here. And an earlier story on ancient Jewish bones found in Malta, possibly a different discovery from a later period, is noted here, here, and here.

The Shapira investigation

REFLECTIONS ON THE SHAPIRA SCROLLS: Fascinating Archaeological Matter Reminds Us That Archaeology Used To Matter More (Jenna Weissmann Joselit, The Forward). I think archaeology matters more today than the author realizes. She has some legitimate concerns about the investigation and media coverage of the Shapira Scrolls in the nineteenth century, but nobody has ever been able to make a scholarly argument in peer-review literature that they were anything but forgeries.

Background on the Shapira Scrolls, and on Chanan Tigay's recent book on them, is here and here and links.

The Investiture of the Archangel Michael

ALIN SUCIU: Guest Post: Anthony Alcock – The Investiture of the Archangel Michael in English. Cross-file under Coptic Watch and New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Review of Derow, Rome, Polybius, and the East

Peter Derow, Rome, Polybius, and the East. Edited by Andrew Erskine and Josephine Crawley Quinn. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Pp. xiii, 311. ISBN 9780199640904. $125.00.

Reviewed by Nicholas Sekunda, Gdańsk University (


Peter Derow (1944-2006) will be principally known to readers of this review as the joint author, with R.S. Bagnall, of Greek Historical Documents: The Hellenistic Period, 1981 (reprinted 2004). This book is a labour of love from former students, bringing together all of Derow’s principal articles. A ‘Bibliography of Peter Derow’ (293-6) compiled by Graham Shipley details his other writings, which consist mostly of reviews and entries for the Oxford Classical Dictionary.

After an Introduction, which details his career and teaching philosophy, the book is divided into four parts entitled I. Narratives, II. Polybius and Roman Power, III. The Roman Calendar and IV. Epigraphy.

A couple of the essays deal with the Punic Wars, so cross-file under Punic Watch.

Krzysztof & Wojciechowska (eds.), Alexander the Great and the East

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Alexander the Great and the East. Notice of a new book: Nawotka, Krzysztof & Agnieszka Wojciechowska (eds.). 2016. Alexander the Great and the East: History, Art, Tradition. (Philippika – Altertumswissenschaftliche Abhandlungen / Contributions to the Study of Ancient World Cultures 103). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

History in Mandean sources

MANDAEAN (MANDAEAN) WATCH: Historical References in Mandaean Sources (James McGrath). The history behind the classical Mandean sources is a fascinating, but very difficult question.

Also, last week James noted that some Mandeans were at the SBL meetings in San Antonio: Meeting Mandaeans at #AARSBL16. The meeting was organized by Jorunn Buckley, and April DeConick was also present.

Taschenwörterbuch Hebräisch und Aramäisch zum Alten Testament

Taschenwörterbuch Hebräisch und Aramäisch zum Alten Testament

[Pocket Dictionary of Old Testament Hebrew and Aramaic.]
2016. XIV, 202 pages.

19,99 €
ISBN 978-3-8252-4678-5

Published in German.
The Pocket Dictionary of Old Testament Hebrew and Aramaic contains all the vocabulary of the Old Testament, including the Aramaic parts and all proper, place and other names. Furthermore, it also offers a list of important words according to how frequently they occur. The pocket dictionary does not wish to replace the comprehensive Hebrew Lexicon, but rather aims to serve as a first point of reference when translating a book or text, preparing a sermon or lesson, translating in Bible courses or examination groups, or when searching for the German word and meaning of vocabulary.


TECHNOLOGY WATCH: The Difference Ultraviolet Makes (Peter Gurry, ETC Blog). Infra-red photography can have a similar effect on Dead Sea Scrolls.