Saturday, January 21, 2017

Visotzky, "How the Rabbis Adapted Roman Culture to Create Judaism as We Know It"

How the Rabbis Adapted Roman Culture to Create Judaism as We Know It

In antiquity, as today, synagogue architecture followed local custom. This was true for the adoption of the Greco-Roman public building, the basilica, as the standard form for ancient synagogues. Roman buildings, churches, and synagogues might be indistinguishable from one another but for the dedicatory inscriptions and art that archeologists find within them. One may safely assume that the same architects, artisans, and contractors built all of these buildings with but minor modifications depending upon which community was paying their bills.

See Also: Aphrodite and the Rabbis: How the Jews Adapted Roman Culture to Create Judaism as We Know It (St. Martin’s Press, 2016).

By Burton L. Visotzky
Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies
Jewish Theological Seminary
January, 2017
There's more on Professor Visotzky's new book here.

More destruction at Palmyra

PALMYRA WATCH: IS carrying out new demolitions at Palmyra — antiquities chie. Maamoun Abdulkarim says jihadist group damaged amphitheater, destroyed 16-columned structure in ancient city (AFP). Here we go again.

Background on Palmyra, its history, the ancient Aramaic dialect spoken there (Palmyrene), and the city's tragic recent fate, now a second time, in the hands of ISIS is here with many, many links.

Inaugural Apocrypha

OLD TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA WATCH: Trump Inauguration’s Bible Reading Is Not in Your Bible. Why it's good for Protestants to hear from the Apocrypha (David deSilva, Christianity Today).
When Cardinal Timothy Dolan moved to the podium to pray at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, his prayer may have struck you as oddly familiar.

The passage he prayed from is very similar to Solomon’s prayer for wisdom in 1 Kings 3. But, it’s not the version Protestant Christians know, because it’s not in the Bible that we read.

It comes, instead, from the Wisdom of Solomon, a book included in the Catholic and Orthodox churches’ Old Testament, but not included in Protestant churches’ Old Testament.

No reading from 1 Enoch this time. Maybe someday.

The Old Testament Apocrypha are (at least almost entirely) ancient Jewish texts, but they are not part of the Jewish biblical canon (or the Protestant one), although they are included in the Catholic and Orthodox canons. Professor deSilva focuses in this article on why they are important for Christians, which is appropriate for Christianity Today's audience. But the OT Apocrypha are also important for the history of Judaism. In fact, it happens that just yesterday I wrote up a lecture for my new course on Ancient Jewish Literature (DI4731) on what the Old Testament Apocrypha contribute to our knowledge of Second Temple Judaism. It's actually quite a bit.

Petra meets Google Cardboard?

AWOL: A virtual trek through Petra with Google Cardboard. I didn't know there was a thing called Google Cardboard. The twenty-first century is not proving easy to keep up with.

The Google Streetview tour of Petra was noted here in 2015. Cross-file under Nabatean (Nabataean) Watch. Some past PaleoJudaica posts on on the Nabateans and the ancient city of Petra are collected here and follow the many links.

Coptic epitaphs excavated in the Sudan

COPTIC WATCH: Massive Burial Ground Unearthed at Medieval Monastery in Sudan (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
Four cemeteries, from which at least 123 individuals have been excavated so far, have been unearthed near the remains of a medieval Christian monastery in Sudan. A few of the burials contained individuals buried in unusual ways.

The cemeteries and remains, which have been excavated over the past two years, are located at a monastery called al-Ghazali near the Nile River. The people who were buried there lived about 1,000 years ago, during a time when a series of Christian kingdoms flourished in the area, according to Robert Stark, a doctoral student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who presented the findings this month in Toronto at the joint annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America and the Society for Classical Studies.

The discoveries include well-preserved burial shrouds that in a few instances still cover the skulls of the deceased, Stark said. The archaeologists also found tombstones with engravings of prayers that were written in Greek or Coptic (an Egyptian language that uses the Greek alphabet). In one cemetery, some people were buried in mysterious ways: For example, two individuals were found with post-mortem cut marks incised in their bones.

There are more photos at Live Science: In Photos: 1,000-Year-Old Cemeteries Unearthed in Sudan. Unfortunately, neither article has a photo of any of the inscriptions, but the first one does have some more information on the tombstones and their epitaphs.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Siloam Inscription to stay in Istanbul

EPIGRAPHY AND POLITICS: Despite detente, ancient Hebrew text ‘proving’ Jewish ties to Jerusalem set to stay in Istanbul. Netanyahu has hailed Siloam Inscription as evidence ‘etched in stone’ of Jews’ historic connection to holy city, but Israeli officials are not seeking its return (Ilan Ben Zion, Times of Israel).
Despite Netanyahu’s argument asserting the unparalleled significance of the inscription, Israel has made no overtures to secure its return or that of the other two ancient inscriptions held at the Istanbul museum.

Israeli diplomats in Turkey and Jerusalem said there were no communications with the Turkish government on that point, and a Netanyahu spokesman said there were no current efforts to pursue the repatriation of the inscriptions.

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that while Israel has repeatedly expressed interest in the repatriation of the Siloam inscription, the issue is not currently on the agenda.
Well, despite the messy political situation in Turkey, they're probably safe for now where they are. PaleoJudaica followed the unsuccessful effort to have the Siloam Inscription returned to Israel on loan in 2007 in posts here, here, here, here, and here. The other two inscriptions from Israel now in the Istanbul Museum are the Gezer Calendar (on which more here, here, and here) and the Temple Warning Inscription (on which more here - and here for a fragmentary copy in Israel).

Looting arrests at Horbat Mishkena

BUSTED: Caught red-handed: 11 grave robbers arrested at northern ruins. Authorities arrest 11 grave robbers in the process of robbing ruins of ancient Jewish town mentioned in the Talmud (Arutz Sheva).
A team of antiquities raiders was apprehended at Horbat Mishkena, an archaeological site of a Roman-era Jewish town near the Golani Junction in the Lower Galilee.

The team of thieves, which was comprised of eleven Arabs, was apprehended by a squad from the of Robbery Prevention Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), acting in conjunction with the police and border guard volunteers.

The suspects were caught while digging illegally in the ancient shelter system and causing a great deal of damage to the site.

With video of the arrest. There were looting arrests near the same site just a little over a month ago.

De Gruyter open-access books 2016

AWOL: Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies - De Gruyter Open - Published in 2016. Some of them are of at least background interest for the study of ancient Judaism.

Lim on the Dead Sea Scrolls At Seventy

ANNIVERSARY: The Dead Sea Scrolls At Seventy (Professor Timothy Lim, Centre for the Study of Christian Origins Blog). An excellent brief summary of the scholarly state of the question on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the site of Khirbet Qumran in 2017.

Latest on the Aramean nation in Israel

MODERN ARAMAIC WATCH: Resurrecting a languishing language and culture (Brooke Conrad, The Hillsdale Collegian).
On Wednesday, the Israeli Knesset passed a bill allowing Aramaic Christians to register for free as their own ethnicity in Israel.

Previously, Aramaic Christians had to pay a cumbersome $400 to register in the Israeli state. But now, according to Shadi Khalloul, the founder of the Israeli Christian Aramaic Association, this bill not only makes it much easier for Aramaic Christians to register, but also will help the state of Israel to recognize the Aramaic Christian community as separate from their Arabic Muslim neighbors.

Khalloul belongs to a group of about 10,000 Maronite Christians who live in Israel. The Maronite Church dates back to A.D. 350 and was set apart largely because its members continued to speak Aramaic, which many believe to be the language of Jesus.

The official recognition of an Aramean nation by Israel in 2014 was noted here and here. Follow the links in the second post for more details about the constituent groups of this Aramean nation. For more on the Maronites specifically, see here and links.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Valmadonna Library acquired by Israel National Library

VALMADONNA LIBRARY UPDATE: National Library makes ‘historic’ acquisition of rare Hebrew texts. Valmadonna Trust Library’s manuscripts span the globe and a millenium, including a 1491 Bible; will be on display at institution’s new Jerusalem home (Ilan Ben Zion, Times of Israel).
Israel’s National Library on Wednesday announced the acquisition of thousands of Hebrew manuscripts and books from one of the most significant collections in the world.

The 8,000 or so texts from the Valmadonna Trust Library collection were purchased in collaboration with collectors David and Jemima Jeselsohn in a private sale through Sotheby’s for an undisclosed sum.

The Valmadonna’s 13,000-book assemblage of Hebrew texts from Amsterdam to Shanghai and a host of historic Jewish communities in between, spanning a millennium, was assembled by the late Jack V. Lunzer, a Jewish British industrialist. Lunzer died in December, at the age of 92.

This is good news. The acquisition will keep the library from being broken up any further to be sold piecemeal. Well done to the INL and to the Jeselsohns.

Background on the story is here and here and links. Past posts involving the Valmadonna Targum of Ruth are here and here, with more on the manuscript here. The Jeselsohns are also the owners of the Gabriel Revelation inscription (Vision of Gabriel).

The Journal for Late Antique Religion and Culture (update)

AWOL: Open Access Journal: The Journal for Late Antique Religion and Culture . There's not much directly about ancient Judaism in this journal, but there are articles on matters of background interest in late antique religion such as the Greek Magical Papyri, Syriac studies, Gnosticism, and Neoplatonism. Noted here in 2015, but there have been several new issues out since then.

Forness on Syriac homilies

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Dissertation Spotlight | Philip Michael Forness.
Philip Michael Forness, “Preaching and Religious Debate: Jacob of Serugh and the Promotion of His Christology in the Roman Near East,” Ph.D. diss., Princeton Theological Seminary, 2016.
My dissertation, “Preaching and Religious Debate,” investigates homilies as a source for understanding social history. The sermons of John Chrysostom and Augustine of Hippo contain a wealth of information about the places and contexts in which they preached. But this sets them apart from most extant homilies. Indeed, the homilies falsely attributed to Chrysostom and Augustine far outnumber their authentic works. These works were often written in non-classical languages and feature in the literature of a wide variety of eastern Christian communities. Scholars have little hope of finding the context of any one of these pseudonymous homilies.

I seek to answer questions about the homiletical literature in general by focusing on these texts within Syriac literature. Syriac homilies from late antiquity provoke an exploration of the possibility of using sermons without a defined context as historical texts. Around seven hundred homilies authored in Syriac survive from the fourth through sixth centuries. Yet most have resisted efforts to identify their dates, locations, and liturgical settings. By attending to these texts, we are forced to confront the difficulty of interpreting the seemingly de-contextualized remains of most sermons from late antiquity.
Cross-file under Syriac Watch

Jesus exhibition at the Israel Museum

CONTEMPORARY ART: A Second Coming for Jesus — at the Israel Museum (Aviya Kushner, The Forward).
‘It turns out that all Israeli art is about Jesus,” an American tourist said to me as he moved away from a painting in The Israel Museum’s paradigm-shifting new exhibit titled “Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art.” In Hebrew, the title is a bit different: Zeh Ha’Ish, or “This Is the Man.” Throughout the exhibit, language makes a difference; the wall text often diverges in subtle but important ways in Hebrew and English.

The world’s museums are full of portrayals of Jesus, but scenes of the Madonna and child, the crucifixion and the Last Supper are generally not thought of as Jewish subjects, or as the stuff of Jewish art. The Jesus narrative was used to invoke hatred of Jews for centuries; some Jews interpret the Hebrew name for Jesus, yeshu, as an acronym for y’mach sh’mo u’zichro, or let his name and memory be obliterated.

But in this groundbreaking and utterly fascinating exhibit, Jesus is certainly not obliterated; instead, Jesus is used to symbolize the suffering and powerlessness of Jews in the Holocaust; Palestinians in both intifadas; Mizrachi Jewish refugees housed in ma’abarot, or temporary camps, in 1950s Israel, after being expelled from Arab countries; the disabled in Israeli society; Israeli soldiers sent to die in war; and in one of the most haunting pieces, the personal suffering of a major Israeli artist who lost his wife in childbirth, and their daughter three years later, and who painted himself as Jesus and then locked the painting in a cabinet. The painting was found a year after the artist’s death.



YONA SABAR: Hebrew Word of the Week: atHalah "inception, initiation; restart (computer)."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Solomon's mines at Timna

ARCHAEOLOGY: Preserved fortification, donkey stables dating to King Solomon discovered at TAU's Timna Valley excavations (Tel Aviv University/PhysOrg).
Some believe that the fabled mines of King Solomon were located among copper smelting camps in Israel's Timna Valley. The arid conditions at Timna have seen the astonishing preservation of 3,000-year-old organic materials, which have provided Tel Aviv University archaeologists with a unique window into the culture and practices of a sophisticated ancient society.

An advanced military fortification—a well-defined gatehouse complex—unearthed recently at Timna, including donkey stables, points to the community's highly-organized defense system and significant dependence on long-distance trade. The research was recently published in The Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

The fortification dates to the reigns of Kings David and Solomon in the 10th century BCE.


In the remarkably intact two-room fortification, located in one of the largest smelting camps in the Timna Valley, the researchers also found evidence of a complex long-distance trade system that probably included the northern Edomite plateau, the Mediterranean coastal plain and Judea. The complex featured pens for draught animals and other livestock. According to precise pollen, seed, and fauna analyses, they were fed with hay and grape pomace—high-quality sustenance that must have been delivered from the Mediterranean region hundreds of miles away.

"The gatehouse fortification was apparently a prominent landmark," says Dr. Ben-Yosef. "It had a cultic or symbolic function in addition to its defensive and administrative roles. The gatehouse was built of sturdy stone to defend against invasion. We found animal bones and dung piles so intact, we could analyze the food the animals were fed with precision. The food suggests special treatment and care, in accordance with the key role of the donkeys in the copper production and in trade in a logistically challenging region."

I'm keeping a special eye on the Timna excavation, because of the abundant organic remains that have been found there. The arid climate seems ideal for their preservation and the discoveries have included textiles from the 10th century BCE. If there is any place where Solomonic-era scrolls or papyri might have survived, it is Timna. Let's hope that we get lucky and some turn up.

Warlord and Scribe

ASSIMILATED TO THE BLOGOSPHERE: Warlord and Scribe: Northwest Semitics in Context. A new blog by Nathaniel E. Greene, who is a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The opening post is Sinai 115 and Historical Canaanite Phonology.
Welcome, dear reader, to the first entry of Warlord and Scribe: Northwest Semitics in Context. I’ll have a post up soon about the name of the blog and, for those of you who stick around for that, I hope you enjoy it. Keep an eye out, too, for my forthcoming article on the Qubur al-Walaydah bowl in BASOR 377.

The Sinai 115 inscription has been in the news lately regarding a theory being promoted by Douglas Petrovich. See here and links. Mr. Greene agrees with the skepticism already expressed by other philologists about Prof. Petrovich's theory, and he adds additional arguments against it.

Cross-file under Philology.

Yom Tov

YONA SABAR: Hebrew Word of the Week: Yom Tov “(Jewish) Holiday (on which work is forbidden).” This column is from back in September of 2016, but I missed it then, so here it is. It looks as though I have missed a few (perhaps I need to refine my Google searches), so I will catch up in the coming days.

Bockmuehl, Ancient Apocryphal Gospels

READING ACTS: In Today’s Mail: Markus Bockmuehl, Ancient Apocryphal Gospels.
Thanks to WJKP for sending along a review copy of this new textbook by Markus Bockmuehl. This is the latest in the Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church series, which is itself a subset of the Interpretation commentary series.

I look forward to Phil Long's review in due course. Meanwhile, the publisher's blurb reads as follows:
In this reader-friendly guide, Markus Bockmuehl offers a sympathetic account of the ancient apocryphal Gospel writings, showing their place within the reception history and formation of what was to become the canonical fourfold Gospel. Bockmuehl begins by helping readers understand the early history behind these noncanonical Gospels before going on to examine dozens of specific apocryphal texts. He explores the complex oral and intertextual relationships between the noncanonical and canonical Gospels, maintaining that it is legitimate and instructive to read the apocryphal writings as an engagement with the person of Jesus that both presupposes and supplements the canonical narrative outline. Appropriate for pastors and nonspecialists, this work offers a fuller understanding of these writings and their significance for biblical interpretation in the church.
Cross-file under New Book and New Testament Apocrypha.

Strategic move for Metatron

ARCHANGEL METATRON WATCH: Metatron, Inc. Announces Strategic Move into the Areas of Mobile Encryption, and Virtual Reality for its Mobile Development Business.
The Company will embark on re-branding Metatron mobile development business in the specific areas of mobile encryption and security, and applications for the growing market in virtual reality. Under this new goal, the Company will keep its focus on a couple of dynamic concepts within the mobile market, and will look to reduce or shelve other projects to the back burner so as to keep our core focus on these market segments to better execute our projects to market.

The archangelic company has been busy since its founding in 2009. It has slain a giant, engaged in due diligence, gotten pumped and crashed horribly, and still managed to recover and make a foray into the cannabis sector.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Pocket Change Blog

NUMISMATICS: Pocket Change: The Blog of the American Numismatic Society. I just discovered this blog. Its most recent post deals with, inter alia, a theme of ancient Jewish coinage from the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt: THE SECRET CHORD: HARPS AND LYRES ON ANCIENT AND MODERN COINS.

Gematria galore

APOCALYPSE WATCH: Biblical Numerology Reveals Stunning Connection Between Paris Conference, Gog and Magog (Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News).
The Paris conference on Sunday, in which representatives from 70 nations met to sign an anti-Israel agreement, brought together many factors, all pointing at a final showdown that pits the 70 sons of Jacob against the 70 nations under Gog in a pre-Messianic war.

As the 70 nations gathered in Paris, many people were aware that the concept of 70 nations has its source in the 70 grandsons of Noah listed in the Bible.

Many of the usual suspects for the Apocalypse are here: Gog and Magog, Rosh, the Messiah, etc. And all of them are justified with gematria, the process of adding up the numerical value of names spelled in Hebrew and then associating them with other Hebrew words and names that have the same numerical value. For more on the ancient Jewish tradition of the seventy nations, see here.

Breaking Israel News seems to represent a Jewish movement that occupies a parallel theological space to Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth Christian movement in the [edit: 1970s and] 1980s. Both expect the imminent apocalyptic end of this age and the coming of the Messiah and both justify these expectations by exegesis of scripture in light of current events. And both have similarities to the Qumran sectarian movement which gave us the Teacher of Righteousness and pesher exegesis as preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I hope I don't have to repeat that my interest here is sociological and historical, not theological, and my citation of this and related stories is not an endorsement of their content.

Did an eclipse save Joshua's army?

MORE ASTRONOMICAL PHENOMENA: Eclipse ‘stopped the sun’ for biblical Joshua, Israeli scientists say. Researchers claim to pinpoint the exact date — October 30, 1207 BCE — and explanation for an astounding event in the Battle in Gibeon (Times of Israel).
According to the biblical story, Joshua got help from the sun to earn the Israelites one of their most epic victories. Now, a team of Israeli scientists say they’ve figured out how: The battle coincided with a solar eclipse.

Using NASA data, three scientists from Beersheba’s Ben Gurion University, in a newly published paper, dated the eclipse and the battle to October 30, 1207 BCE.

Nope, not buying it. It doesn't make a great deal of sense. The point of the poetic quotation is that whatever happened with the sun and moon led to the Israelites winning the battle at Gibeon. I don't see how a lunar eclipse that made everything dark would have been much use to anyone at any battle.

The prose text following the poetic quote in Joshua 10:12-13 says that the sun stayed in the sky for a full day until the Israelites won, which at least makes some sense. Nevertheless it too is probably wrong, a guess at the meaning of a piece of poetry that was already archaic when the book of Joshua was written. The actual meaning of the poetic passage probably involved a propitious arrangement of the sun and moon in the sky that gave the Israelites an omen of success for the battle. More on that interpretation here and here.

Balaam's star in 2022?

APOCALYPSE WATCH: New Star to Appear in Night Sky, Heralding Balaam’s Prophecy of Messiah (Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News).
Five years from now, the light from the ancient collision of two stars will reveal a brand-new star in the night sky. According to Jewish esoteric sources, this is precisely the celestial phenomenon which will accompany the arrival of the Messiah.

The new star, expected to appear in 2022 in a blaze of light called a nova, will be the brightest heavenly body visible in the nighttime sky for six months. It will be the first time in recorded history that a celestial event of this kind will be witnessed by the naked eye.

Beyond its scientific uniqueness, the appearance of the new star could have much bigger implications for the earth-bound, one prominent rabbi told Breaking Israel News, pointing to a Biblical prophecy of Balaam which hails the appearance of a new star as the precursor to Messiah.

The passage in question is, of course, Numbers 24:17. Maimonides and the Zohar are also invoked. As always, my interest here is sociological and historical, not theological, and my citation of this and related stories is not an endorsement of their content.

The astronomical prediction, however, is real. If it turns out to be correct, any alien civilizations that were in the vicinity of this star-pair 1800 years ago really did have an apocalypse: the gamma-ray blast from the stellar collision would have been an extinction level event. I hope they had enough warning to get away. For similar scenarios in science fiction, see Arthur C. Clark's classic story "The Star" and Stephen Baxter's more recent "Traces."

For more on the messianic connotations of Numbers 24:17, see here.

Epic Aramaic

MODERN ARAMAIC WATCH: In England, An Effort To Preserve Ancient, Epic Assyrian Poetry (Alice Fordham, WXPR).
[Nineb] Lamassu became an academic researcher and now travels among the Assyrian diaspora recording the epics as told by men he calls bards — including the storyteller he loved listening to in the refugee camp, whose name is Khananya Zayya. Years later, Lamassu tracked him down living in New Zealand.

"It almost felt I was back in the refugee camp, right in that tent on that cold winter night with him. He had not changed" — aside from a little artificial help keeping his mustache black, he says.

Lamassu tells me there's a bard living close by in Southall, London, so of course I travel to meet him.
With an audio report. And here's a summary of the article and audio file from a reprint by the Unrepresented Peoples and Nations Organization: Assyria: A Cambridge Researcher’s Efforts to Preserve Assyrian Poetry.
Cambridge University researcher Nineb Lamassu was recently interviewed by a British journalist about his efforts to preserve epic Assyrian poems. Because of the current situation in the Middle East and particularly in Iraq, Assyrian traditions and culture are slowly disappearing and being destroyed by ISIS. Lamassu met with several members of the Assyrian diaspora to record their voices and will make these recordings available on a Cambridge University online database.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Eyes like dark wine

PROF. AARON DEMSKY: The Color of Judah’s Eyes (
חכלילי עינים מיין (Gen 49:12) is an obscure phrase. In contrast to the standard interpretation, Nachmanides’ offered an original interpretation, which finds support in modern linguistic analysis and an archaeological find.
Cross-file under Philology and Epigraphy.

Dever Fellowship report 2016: Shikhin

ASOR BLOG: My Time at a Roman-Era Jewish Settlement.
By: Jill Marshall, 2016 William G. Dever Fellowship Recipient

Thanks to ASOR’s William G. Dever Fellowship for Biblical Scholars, in Summer 2016, I traveled to Israel to participate in the Shikhin Excavation Project and to conduct research at the Albright Institute in Jerusalem. Since my research is in New Testament and early Christianity, I chose Shikhin because it is a Roman-era Jewish settlement that gives scholars insight into the socio-economic landscape of the Galilee. Directed by James R. Strange of Samford University and Mordechai Aviam of Kinnaret Academic College, the excavation reveals interesting details about ceramic production and the interactions between cities (Sepphoris) and villages (Shikhin) in the Roman period.


CFP: Horizons in Textual Criticism

ETC BLOG: Call for Papers: Horizons in Textual Criticism (Peter Gurry).
On 10-11 May, 2017, the University of Oxford will host a colloquium devoted to methodologically new and unique work in textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible and related texts.

Interview with Maggie Anton

Maggie Anton, a Talmud scholar and historical fiction writer discusses her new book Fifty Shades of Talmud: What the First Rabbis Had to Say about You-Know-What.
Audio interview. Background on Maggie Anton, her recent book on sex in the Talmud, and her earlier novels, is here and links.

Congratulations to Professor Elton Daniel

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Center for Iranian Studies and the Encyclopædia Iranica.
Many congratulations to Professor Elton Daniel, who has been appointed the Interim Director of the Center for Iranian Studies and Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopædia Iranica. See below for the full text of the announcement:

I'm surprised that its been nearly a decade since I've mentioned the Encylopaedia Iranica. I know I have consulted it more often than that. It now goes up to Z.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Putthoff, Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology

Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology
The Malleable Self and the Presence of God

Tyson L. Putthoff, Trinity College Dublin
In Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology, Tyson L. Putthoff explores early Jewish beliefs about how the human self reacts ontologically in God’s presence. Combining contemporary theory with sound exegesis, Putthoff demonstrates that early Jews widely considered the self to be intrinsically malleable, such that it mimics the ontological state of the space it inhabits. In divine space, they believed, the self therefore shares in the ontological state of God himself. The book is critical for students and scholars alike. In putting forth a new framework for conceptualising early Jewish anthropology, it challenges scholars to rethink not only what early Jews believed about the self but how we approach the subject in the first place.

Dreams in the ANE and the Joseph story

PROF. JACK M. SASSON: Joseph and the Dreams of Many Colors. Understanding the practice of dream interpretation in the Joseph story by using the ANE interpretive traditions as background (
Dreams across Centuries

Millennia before Sigmund Freud penned his classic work Die Traumdeutung (The Interpretation of Dreams, 1899) and long before the 2nd century CE professional diviner, Artemidorus of Daldis, distilled centuries of traditions on dream interpretation into his Oneirocritica,[1] people in the Ancient Near East had cultivated a strong interest in dreams and their interpretations. From the Freudian perspective, dreams are an expression of a person’s subconscious, and they teach us about a person’s inner life.

In antiquity, however, a dream was understood as a message from a deity, often reflecting an issue of importance to an entire community. In fact, in the conception of the ancients, a dream could affect many people beyond its recipient. Thus, in the ANE, a process of evaluating dreams developed, which included the following investigations: their viability, their veracity, their import, and their fulfillment.

Some background on dreams and dream interpretation in antiquity is in yesterday's post here (and links) and also here, here, here, here, and here. And then there's the story of my own revelatory dream here.

Batten on honor and shame in the NT

BIBLE ODYSSEY: Honor and Shame in the New Testament (Alicia J. Batten).
Q. We are told that ancient societies like those of Israel were "honor-shame cultures," and see various examples of that in biblical stories. My question is more about NT theology. How do the honor-shame cultural values of New Testament authors inform and shape their theology, especially Christology?

Reminder: BIOSCS is now JSCS

AWOL: Open Access Journal: The Journal of Septuagint and Cognate Studies (JSCS) formerly, The Bulletin of the International Organization of Septuagint and Cognate Studies (BIOSCS). The change in title was noted earlier here in 2015, but it's always good to post reminders when AWOL takes something up.

BI Blog 2016 statistics

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Statistics for 2016. It provides lots of good content and is doing well for such a specialized blog. PaleoJudaica links to it frequently for information on ancient Persia and Zoroastrianism.