Saturday, July 08, 2017

Review of two books on Paul (etc.) and the Law

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Two Approaches to Pauline Discourse (J. Albert Harrill).
2016 SBL Pauline Epistles Panel Book Review Session

Matthew, Paul, and the Anthropology of Law, by David A. Kaden

Paul and the Gentile Problem, by Matthew Thiessen
The essay opens:
We have an opportunity to discuss two new Paul books in tandem. So, departing from common practice of our SBL Program Unit on the Pauline Epistles, which examines each book separately, I propose taking them as a pairing. It would be fruitful to have both books and their authors––who are together for the first time on one stage––engage one another. While both authors tackle the same problem of “Paul and the Law” and both authors frame the issue as a question of discourse, each goes in a different direction to find a solution––one global and the other local. These books offer an instructive contrast in opposing methodologies.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Is the Talmud's Herod based on a Persian story?

DR. JEFFREY L. RUBENSTEIN: Herod’s Renovation of the Temple – Uncovering the Talmud’s Persian Influences (
In “Herod’s Renovation of the Temple – The Talmudic Version”, I explored the Bavli’s account of how the first century BCE king, Herod, rose to power, violently solidified his rule, and rebuilt the Temple. I demonstrated how the rabbis thematized issues of sight and blindness in their telling of the tale in order to explain how a wicked king ended up building the holy Temple. In this piece, I look at the Persian sources of the story, which provide a further layer of understanding.
I noted Dr. Rubenstein's earlier essay, on Herod's renovation of the Temple, here.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Another manuscript by the scribe who wrote the Leningrad Codex

ETC BLOG: Sister of Leningrad Codex Discovered! (Peter Williams). This is a roundabout way of saying:
Congratulations to Kim Phillips, Tyndale House Research Associate, for discovering a manuscript of the Former Prophets by Samuel ben Jacob the scribe of the Leningrad Codex. This should make a significant difference to our understanding of the main manuscript used for the study of the Hebrew Bible today.
This sounds important for Masoretic studies and, in a considerably more indirect way, textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Follow the link for more.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

More on Aramean land seizure in Turkey

ASSYRIAN (MODERN SYRIAC) WATCH: Turkish authorities confiscate 50 properties from one of world's oldest Christian communities which fears it is being driven into extinction (Rory Tingle, Daily Mail). This is confusing. As I noted yesterday, according Hurriyet Daily News this decision has been canceled. Specifically:
On July 3, the liquidation committee said the allocation decision was cancelled but the properties were still registered with the Treasury.

Officials noted that the use of the monasteries and churches would continue “as it stands,” adding that a legal amendment would be needed for the cancellation of the registration decision.
I don't know why the Mail article does not mention that development. But whether or not the story is up to date, it is now on the Mail's radar. And if the story is covered by the Daily Mail, you can be sure the world is watching.

I look forward to the speedy and full resolution of this situation in Turkey.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Still more mosaics from the Huqoq synagogue

THE SITE THAT KEEPS ON GIVING - MOSAICS: Excavations by UNC-Chapel Hill archaeologist continue to yield stunning mosaics in ancient Galilean synagogue. Seventh season of Huqoq excavations brings to light the richest, most diverse collection of mosaics ever discovered in an ancient synagogue (UNC press release).
(Chapel Hill, N.C.— July 6, 2017) – A team of specialists and students led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Jodi Magness has uncovered additional mosaic scenes in the Late Roman synagogue at Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in Israel’s Lower Galilee. The new finds provide insight about daily life in the fifth century C.E. and expand the rich repertoire of mosaics already discovered decorating the floors of the building.

On the newly found mosaics:
A medallion in the center of the uppermost (northern) panel depicts the Greco-Roman sun god Helios in a quadriga (four-horse chariot) surrounded by personifications of the months and the signs of the zodiac, contained within a square frame with personifications of the four seasons in the corners.

The second panel shows the biblical story of Jonah and the whale with a twist: Jonah’s legs are shown dangling from the mouth of a large fish, which is being swallowed by a larger fish, and the larger fish is being swallowed by an even larger fish. This is the first time the story of Jonah has been discovered decorating the mosaic floor of an ancient synagogue in Israel.

The third (southernmost) panel contains a detailed scene of men at work constructing a stone tower, apparently the Tower of Babel.

“The Huqoq mosaics are unusually rich and diverse,” said Magness. “In addition, they display variations on biblical stories which must represent oral traditions (midrashim) that circulated among the local Jewish population.”
There is a photo showing one of the workmen in the third panel. This photo appears with another in this tweet.

For previous PaleoJudaica posts on the finds at the Huqoq excavation — especially the mosaics, start here and follow the many links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Implications of the Hobby Lobby case

ANALYSIS: Hobby Lobby’s Black-Market Buys Did Real Damage (Candida Moss and Joel Baden, NYT). Moss and Baden discuss the settlement of Hobby Lobby with the U.S. Department of Justice over improper acquisition of antiquities. The settlement was announced earlier this week.
Although we can now point to a large number of items in the collection that were illicitly acquired, there remain thousands and thousands more about which we can say nothing: not because their provenance is clean, but because it is unknown. Though scholars have been pleading for years with the Greens and the Museum of the Bible to provide all of the information for all of their artifacts, there has been no transparency whatsoever.

If the Museum of the Bible truly wants to distance itself from the illicit antiquities dealings of Hobby Lobby, it should make available to the public the full provenance of every item it displays, and of all those that are not visible to the public. If there are more artifacts that were purchased from the black market, they should be forfeited or repatriated—voluntarily.
As the essay indicates, this story brings up difficult wider issues regarding the acquiring and use of unprovenanced artifacts that may have come from the black market. Background here and links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

The Talmud on Herod the Great

DR. JEFFREY L. RUBENSTEIN: Herod’s Renovation of the Temple – The Talmudic Version (
In their discussion of King Herod’s reconstruction of the Second Temple, talmudic storytellers emphasize themes of sight, blindness, and illegitimate rule. They also make a surprising suggestion about who really should get credit for this renovation.
The Talmud has a long, very legendary, and rather creepy, account of the reign of Herod. I have commented on part of it in an earlier post here. This post may be relevant too, although it cites a different Talmudic passage that seems to cover the same ground.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Update on Aramean land seizure in Turkey

ASSYRIAN (MODERN SYRIAC) WATCH: Decision to allocate Syriac churches, monasteries to Turkish religious directory cancelled (Hurriyet Daily News).
The governor’s office in the southeastern province of Mardin has cancelled its decision dating back to 2014 to allocate churches and monasteries belonging to Syriac Christians to the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Doğan News Agency reported on July 5.

In its decision on July 3, the Mardin Governor’s Office’s Liquidation Committee said a legal amendment was necessary “for the problem’s exact solution” and until the legal amendment went into force, “the current situation was intact.”

The Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation’s head Kuryakos Ergün, who was present at the committee’s meeting on July 3, confirmed to Doğan News Agency that it had made the cancellation decision.

However, he also said the case was still unsolved for them until ownership of the properties is transferred to the foundation, and vowed that the foundation’s legal fight would continue until then.

This sounds like constructive progress. But the problems are not yet fully resolved. It never hurts to mention that the world is watching. We will continue to watch the situation closely.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Hobby Lobby settles case with Justice Department

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: United States Files Civil Action To Forfeit Thousands Of Ancient Iraqi Artifacts Imported By Hobby Lobby. Cuneiform Tablets Were Falsely Labeled as Product “Samples” and Shipped to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Two Corporate Affiliates.
Earlier today, the United States filed a civil complaint to forfeit thousands of cuneiform tablets and clay bullae. As alleged in the complaint, these ancient clay artifacts originated in the area of modern-day Iraq and were smuggled into the United States through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel, contrary to federal law. Packages containing the artifacts were shipped to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (“Hobby Lobby”), a nationwide arts-and-crafts retailer based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and two of Hobby Lobby’s corporate affiliates. The shipping labels on these packages falsely described cuneiform tablets as tile “samples.”

The government also filed a stipulation of settlement with Hobby Lobby, in which Hobby Lobby consented to the forfeiture of the artifacts in the complaint, approximately 144 cylinder seals and an additional sum of $3 million, resolving the civil action. Hobby Lobby further agreed to adopt internal policies and procedures governing its importation and purchase of cultural property, provide appropriate training to its personnel, hire qualified outside customs counsel and customs brokers, and submit quarterly reports to the government on any cultural property acquisitions for the next eighteen months.

The languages is a little convoluted, but this seems to be saying that the Department of Justice has filed the civil action and Hobby Lobby has settled with them by agreeing to forfeit all of the cuneiform tablets and clay bullae, plus about about 144 cylinder seals, plus pay $3 million in fines. It also agreed to implement various procedures to keep such problems from happening again.

Altogether there are about 5500 artifacts, among which are 1000 clay bullae (seal impressions) from Israel. No word on whether any of the bullae bore inscriptions. The two pictured bear designs, but I see no writing.

There is lots of media coverage. See, for example, this Reuters article by Dan Whitcomb: Hobby Lobby to Forfeit Ancient Iraqi Artifacts in Settlement With DOJ.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby has agreed to forfeit thousands of illegally smuggled ancient Middle Eastern artifacts obtained from antiquities dealers for a Bible museum headed by its president, the company and U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

The forfeiture will include some 5,500 artifacts purchased by Hobby Lobby Inc that originated from the region of modern-day Iraq and were shipped under false labels, as well as an additional $3 million to settle the civil charges, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

The article also has a response from Hobby Lobby.

This looks pretty bad.

I noted a report in 2015 that a federal investigation of these matters was underway. Now it has been resolved. The story turned out to be worse than indicated in the earlier report. It referred to hundreds of tablets and didn't mention any bullae.

The Green family, who founded Hobby Lobby, also own the Green Collection of antiquities. The Museum of the Bible is also a Green family project. For past posts on both, start here and follow the links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Very old Jewish inscribed copper plates from India

NOT THE COPPER SCROLL, BUT STILL PRETTY INTERESTING: Modi's Gift to Netanyahu: Ancient Jewish Relics From Kerala.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gifted his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu replicas of two sets of relics from Kerala, regarded as key artifacts of the long Jewish history in India.


They comprise two different sets of copper plates that are believed to have been inscribed in 9-10th Century, the Prime Minister's Office said.

The plates are written in the ancient Tamil script, but one or two bear Hebrew writing (apparently Judeo-Persian) as well. The first pair contains a royal charter. The second pair concerns local trade and tax issues.

Some past PaleoJudaica posts on the history of Judaism in India are here, here, and here and links. And for past posts on Judeo-Persian, see here and links. Kerala also has a long history of Syriac-speaking Christianity, on which more here and links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Conviction and acquittal in church arson case in Israel

THE CHURCH OF THE LOAVES AND FISHES: Israeli found guilty of church arson attack (Middle East Monitor).
Yinon Reuveni set light to the Church of Multiplication at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, a site where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. Another defendant, 21-year-old Yehuda Asraf was acquitted of all charges in court.

Although the Catholic church’s 5th century mosaic floor was not damaged, “Idols will be cast out or destroyed” was daubed on the walls. The church reopened in February after renovation costing $1 million.
The arson attack happened in June of 2015. I noted it here and here, and noted the arrests here and here. Another post on the story is here.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Yet another UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem

AN EVERGREEN HEADLINE: Unesco resolution on Jerusalem under fire. The world heritage body passes a ruling condemning Israel for archaeological excavations in the Old City (Lianne Kolirin, Jewish Chronicle).
Unesco has once again inflamed passions in the Jewish world after ruling that Israel is the “occupying power” of the Old City of Jerusalem.

The resolution, put forward by various Arab states, also condemned Israel for archaeological excavations in the Old City and reaffirmed previous UN resolutions denying the country’s claims to East Jerusalem.

Though the proposal was passed, the decision was not unanimous. Ten countries voted in favour while three opposed it and eight abstained.

I have not seen the latest resolution and I don't have time to dig it up now, so I will not comment further.

For past UNESCO resolutions on Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, start here and follow the links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Klawans receives BU fellowship

CONGRATULATIONS TO JONATHAN KLAWANS: BU Center for Humanities Names New Fellows. Research interests range from religious forgeries to food production (Rich Barlow, BU Today).
As is another 2017–2018 fellow, Jonathan Klawans, a CAS religion professor. He’d already planned a fall sabbatical, and “the BUCH fellowship makes an enormous difference, by expanding the time frame of my sabbatical from one semester to a full year and by putting me in conversation with an interdisciplinary group of humanities scholars to discuss our works-in-progress.” Klawans plans a monograph on Heresies, Forgeries, and Novelties: Constructing and Crossing the Boundaries of Ancient Judaism, premised in part on the idea that scholars continue to be fooled by ancient Jewish and Christian forgeries. (For example, he’ll disagree with what he calls a scholarly consensus that one ancient text, “Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides,” was written by a Jew; Klawans believes it the work of an early Christian.)
I agree with Professor Klawans that there is no compelling case that Pseudo-Phocylides is of Jewish origin and that it may well be a Christian composition. See, for example, here, here, and here. I look forward to his monograph.

Congratulations also to the other new BUCH fellows.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Bar-Asher Siegal et al., Perceiving the Other in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity

FORTHCOMING BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Perceiving the Other in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity. Ed. by Michal Bar-Asher Siegal, Wolfgang Grünstäudl, and Matthew Thiessen. 2017. Approx. 250 pages. forthcoming in October. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament. approx. 115,00 € cloth. ISBN 978-3-16-154962-5.
Published in English.
The present volume reexamines both ancient Christian and Jewish portrayals of outsiders. In what ways, both positive and negative, do ancient writers interact with and relate to those outside of their ethnicity or religious tradition? This volume devotes itself to the methodological questions surrounding the use of diverse ancient sources for the construction of the other. The goal is to shed new light on ancient interactions between different religious groups in order to describe more accurately these relationships.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Cyril and Methodius Day 2017

OLD CHURCH SLAVONIC WATCH: Ss Cyril and Methodius are revered not just by Slovaks but also by other Slavonic nations. The day commemorating the arrival of evangelists from Constaninople, the Saints Cyril and Methodius – July 5 – has been pronounced a state holiday (The Slovak Spectator). The day is celebrated on 24 May in Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Russia, and on 5 July in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates their saints' feast day on 14 February. It is celebrated on other days in other churches.

Cyril and Methodius brought literacy to the Slavic world by creating an alphabet for the Slavic language. It was based on their own Greek alphabet and is the ancestor of the Cyrillic alphabet.
They arrived in Greater Moravia in 863 AD and although they left after three years, they continued their work to codify Slavonic as another liturgical language alongside Latin. Cyril, (Constantine) died in 869 in Rome but Methodius returned to Greater Moravia as a teacher and was later pronounced Pannonian Archbishop. After his death in 885 AD, the Latin clergy gradually became the decisive power in the empire and the successors of Methodius were exiled mostly to the historical territories of Bulgaria.
Some important literature, especially Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, is preserved in Old Church Slavonic.

Background here and here and links. For other posts on Church Slavonic and Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, start here and follow the links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Czachesz on Cognitive Science and the New Testament

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION: Cognitive Science and the New Testament.
Since the early 2000s, a handful of biblical scholars started to turn to scientific explanations of human thought and behavior to understand cognitive processes behind the creation and use of biblical texts, including the biblical concepts of the divine, the rituals of the first Christ-believers, and the social interactions that influenced the formation and growth of their communities.

See Also: Cognitive Science and the New Testament: A New Approach to Early Christian Research (Oxford University Press, 2017).

By István Czachesz
Professor of Biblical Studies
University of Tromsø
July 2017
Cognitive science has opened up an important new realm of research questions and tools for the study of antiquity. It is an area worth watching in biblical studies and the study of ancient Judaism.

I noted a recent review of this book here. And this post is also relevant to the subject.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Journal of Persianate Studies 10.1 (2017)

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Journal of Persianate Studies – Volume 10, Issue 1. A couple of the articles are on ancient Iran, notably:
Jason M. Silverman: “Achaemenid Creation and Second Isaiah“

For many years, scholars have entertained the idea that monotheism appeared in Second Isaiah as a result of Zoroastrian influence. Since the issue of monotheism is inappropriate for either the Persian or the Judaean contexts, this paper argues that a more fruitful angle to pursue the Persian context of Isaiah is through analysis of the concept of creation. This paper takes the Achaemenid creation prologues in the Old Persian inscriptions as a comparator for the use of creation in Second Isaiah, and places these two in a broader ancient Near Eastern context of creation mythology. It is argued that both share distinctive features in the way creation is presented and understood. Given the novel and similar concepts visible in both corpora, it is argued that the vision of creation and form of YHWH as creator are the earliest attested instance of “Iranian influence” on the Judaean tradition.
A paid subscription is necessary to access the full text of the articles.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Hunt, "Hannibal"

NEW BOOK FROM SIMON AND SCHUSTER: Hannibal. Hardcover – July 11, 2017
by Patrick N Hunt
One of the greatest commanders of the ancient world brought vividly to life: Hannibal, the brilliant general who successfully crossed the Alps with his war elephants and brought Rome to its knees.

Hannibal Barca of Carthage, born 247 BC, was one of the great generals of the ancient world. His father, Hamilcar, was also a great strategist and master tactician who imposed Carthaginian rule over much of present-day Spain. After Hamilcar led the Carthaginian forces against Rome in the First Punic War, Hannibal followed in his father’s footsteps, leading Carthage in the Second Punic War.

From the time he was a teenager, Hannibal fought against Rome. He is famed for leading Carthage’s army across north Africa, into Spain, along the Mediterranean coast, and then crossing the Alps with his army and war elephants. Hannibal won victories in northern Italy by outmaneuvering his Roman adversaries and defeated a larger Roman army at the battle of Cannae in 216 BC. Unable to force Rome to capitulate, he was eventually forced to leave Italy and return to Carthage when a savvy Roman general named Scipio invaded north Africa. Hannibal and Scipio fought an epic battle at Zama, which Hannibal lost. The terms of surrender were harsh and many Carthaginians blamed Hannibal, eventually forcing him into exile until his death.

To this day Hannibal is still regarded as a military genius. Napoleon, George Patton, and Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. are only some of the generals who studied and admired him. His strategy and tactics are still taught in military academies. He is one of the figures of the ancient world whose life and exploits never fail to impress. Historian Patrick N. Hunt has led archeological expeditions in the Alps and elsewhere to study Hannibal’s achievements. Now he brings Hannibal’s incredible story to life in this riveting and dramatic book.
Ten years ago I noted that Dr. Hunt was investigating Hannibal's route through the Alps. This new biography will doubtless tell us about what he found in the interim.

Some past posts on Hannibal and the Punic Wars are collected here and here and links. Cross-file under Punic Watch.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Marinus De Jonge (1925-2016)

BELATED SAD NEWS: In memoriam Marinus de Jonge (1925-2016) (Henk Jan de Jonge, SNTS).
Marinus (Rien) de Jonge, Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Early Christian Literature at Leiden University from 1966 to 1990, passed away on 26 December 2016. He had turned 91 on 9 December of that year.

I just found out about the passing of Professor De Jonge a few days ago. I never met him, but I followed his work, especially his many contributions to the study of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Requiescat in pace.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

July 4th!

HAPPY AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY to all those celebrating!

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Vridar on Mroczek, The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity

THE VRIDAR BLOG: Divine Revelation Not Limited to the “Bible Canon.” Neil Godfrey discusses Eva Mroczek's recent book The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity, on which more here and links.

If you scroll down to the comments in the post, you will see that Dr. Mroczek liked his discussion.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

A conference on the Temple Mount

PROFESSOR LAWRENCE SCHIFFMAN: A MEETING ABOUT THE MOUNT. His reprinted article in Ami Magazine gives an account of a recent meeting at Providence College in which Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars discussed the history of the Temple Mount.
Put simply, the scholars at our conference never doubted nor disputed that there had been a Jewish Temple on today’s Har Habayis [Temple Mount] in antiquity, up until 70 CE. Rather, they argued consistently, with no exception, that the religious traditions and texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam solidly recognize this reality.
Cross-file under Temple Mount Watch.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

U.S. Supreme Court hears case on terrorism compensation with Iranian artifacts

PERSEPOLIS ARCHIVES UPDATE: High Court Takes Up Assets Case Involving Iranian Artifacts (KEVIN LESSMILLER, Courthouse News Service).
(CN) – The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to decide whether Americans injured in a 1997 Hamas suicide bombing can seize Iranian artifacts from the University of Chicago to satisfy a $71 million judgment.

The high court’s decision will resolve a circuit split over whether U.S. victims of state-sponsored terrorism have a freestanding right to collect on judgments against foreign countries, even if the targeted assets would be otherwise protected by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, or FSIA.

Regular readers of PaleoJudacia will remember this case, which involves ancient Iranian artifacts held by the Oriental Institute. It has been going on for a long time.
The artifacts include about 30,000 clay tablets of some of the oldest writings in the world, which Iran loaned to the Institute in 1937, known as the Persepolis Collection.

Also at issue are Dr. Ernst Herzfeld’s collection of about 1,200 prehistoric artifacts found in Persia in the early 1900s, which the Field Museum bought in 1945, as well as clay seal impressions from the ancient Chogha Mish settlement, which the Institute acquired in the 1960s.
The most recent previous development of the legal case of which I am aware was in 2014 (see here. Follow the link there for past posts on the legal case, my own comments on it, and past posts on the Persepolis Fortification Archive. For more recent posts on Persepolis and this archive, start here and follow the links. The Persepolis Fortification Archive Project Blog notes the latest developments here

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

T. Abraham: a face-off with Death

READING ACTS: The Death of Abraham – Testament of Abraham 15-20.

Past posts in Phil Long's series on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (recently focusing on the Testamentary literature) are noted here and links. He is now posting on Ephesians. I don't know if he will be coming back to the OTP. Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Another review of Stronk, Semiramis’ Legacy

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Review of Semiramis’ Legacy. Notice of Safaee, Yazdan. 2017. “[review of] Semiramis’ Legacy: The History of Persia According to Diodorus of Sicily“, Iranian Studies 50:5, 752-754.

Past posts on Stronk, Semiramis’ Legacy etc. are here and here and links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

The Lebanese are mostly Phoenician

PHOENICIAN WATCH: New Study Proves Lebanese Ancestry Is Mostly Phoenician (ByAnthony B. Kantara, The961).
The latest study led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in England and in collaboration with universities from around the world, including Lebanon, Switzerland, and New Zealand, proves that most of the Lebanese ancestry is Phoenician.

In fact, they argue that the links go further back to the Canaanites, the historic and biblical people – who include the Phoenician people.

This is not a surprising result, but genetic studies are still important even when they tell us what we thought we already knew. And this one also told us that there were Eurasians in Lebanon in antiquity, which we might have guessed, but now we know.

Sometimes the results are surprising. For example, this recent study of the DNA of ancient Egyptian mummies: DNA discovery reveals genetic history of ancient Egyptians (CNN).
Researchers from the University of Tuebingen and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, both in Germany, have decoded the genome of ancient Egyptians for the first time, with unexpected results.

Publishing its findings in Nature Communications, the study concluded that preserved remains found in Abusir-el Meleq, Middle Egypt, were closest genetic relatives of Neolithic and Bronze Age populations from the Near East, Anatolia and Eastern Mediterranean Europeans.

Modern Egyptians, by comparison, share much more DNA with sub-Saharan populations.

The findings have turned years of theory on its head, causing Egyptologists to re-evaluate the region's history while unlocking new tools for scientists working in the field.
For past posts on Phoenician and Jewish DNA studies, see here and links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Rahab's sisters in parallel timelines?

DR. SHIRA GOLANI: Were Rahab’s Sisters Saved? Making sense of small differences between biblical lists: a look at the merit of different reading strategies (

We find potential parallel universes in the story of Rahab the prostitute in Joshua 2 and 6. The Hebrew Masoretic Test (MT) and the translations of the Syriac Peshitta and the Greek Septuagint (LXX) tell the story somewhat differently.

Did the spies refuse to spare them? Did they not make it to the house in time? Did she not have sisters in the first place? Or are we just dealing with different ways of saying that her whole family was saved?

For a similar, but less ambiguous, case in which King Zedekiah finds himself in two parallel timelines in the MT and LXX of Jeremiah, see here.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Greek Apocalypse of Peter

NEW TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA WATCH: Apocalypse of Peter (Greek text) (Mark Goodacre, NT Blog). Professor Goodacre has updated his transcription of the Greek Akhmim fragment. I don't seem to have noted the original transcription when he posted it back in 2005. I am happy to do so now.

A couple of past PaleoJudaica posts on the Apocalypse of Peter are here and here. Incidentally, the Akhmim manuscript (P.Cairo 10759) also contains most of the Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36) in Greek. The manuscript has 19:3-21:9 plus 1:1-32:6a.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.