Saturday, October 21, 2017

More on the recent discoveries at the Western Wall

ARCHAEOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS: As the Romans did: discoveries show Jerusalem’s transformation after destruction (Adam Abrams,
Israeli archaeologists this week unveiled the results of large-scale excavations that lend unprecedented insight into the transformation of Jerusalem around the time of its destruction during the Second Temple period more than 2,000 years ago.

The discoveries—including massive portions of the Western Wall unseen for 1,700 years and an ancient Roman theater—were made in excavations conducted during the past two years in Jerusalem’s Old City. The findings were disclosed at a press conference held by the Israel Antiquity Authority (IAA) beneath Wilson’s Arch in the Western Wall Tunnels.

The newly revealed eight stone courses of the Western Wall had been hidden beneath 26 feet of earth and were perfectly preserved after being excavated. The Roman theater contains approximately 200 seats and, according to archaeologists, required a “great deal” of investment in its construction.

Background here. Cross-file under Temple Mount Watch.

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Spellbinding music

VIDEO ART: Israeli video artist Victoria Hanna brings spells ancient and modern to Berkeley (Laura Paull, The Jewish News of Northern California).
Hanna today is a singer, composer, teacher and video artist who performs in Israel onstage, at schools, official ceremonies and important national occasions, and for international audiences at festivals. Her unique angle is that she creates songs from modern and ancient Hebrew texts, adapting musical styles from traditional Jewish music to new music and hip-hop.


With support from the Schusterman program, UC Berkeley students and the public will be able to participate in a collaboration that explores new territory in Jewish culture. As the Magnes’ fall 2017 resident artist, Hanna will co-teach Spagnolo’s new course, “Jewish Nightlife: Poetry, Music, and Ritual Performance from Renaissance Italy to Contemporary Israel.” The course explores the cultural impact of the arrival of both Kabbalah, a branch of Jewish mysticism, and coffee, of all things, to Venice “in the roaring 1570s,” Spagnolo said.

“Coffee allowed people to stay up at night, and propelled the invention of new Jewish rituals based on the nighttime singing of Hebrew poetry, that have impacted many ideas and practices to this very day,” he said.

As the course’s music lab component, Hanna and the students will develop a performance series that will be open to the public. It was Spagnolo’s idea that Hanna use some of the Hebrew amulets held in the Magnes collection as a creative source.

What an interesting project. Be sure and watch the video at the link.

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Museum of the Bible press conference

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Museum of the Bible in the Spotlight. Washington, D.C. Bible museum invites dialogue (Robin Ngo and Megan Sauter).
Chances are you’ve heard some of the controversy surrounding the Museum of the Bible in the months leading up to its opening. Rather than hide or pretend such issues don’t exist, the museum chose to address them directly. On October 17—one month before its opening day—the Museum of the Bible held a press conference featuring a panel of the museum’s leaders and academic consultants to “outline the rigorous process used to create content displayed throughout the museum and answer questions about the museum’s collection practices, some of which have been challenged.” In the first half of the press conference, the panel members addressed a variety of topics on the museum’s approach and exhibit content.


When the panel took questions from the media, one word dominated the conversation: provenance. An artifact’s provenance is its record of ownership. Such a record can provide information on its place of origin and corroborate its authenticity.
I received an invitation to apply to attend the press conference, but I was unable to be in Washington D.C. for it. It's good to have this report from BAS.

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Review of Bible Nation

THE ETC BLOG: Brief review of Bible Nation (Peter M. Head).
Over the weekend I managed to read the new book by Candida Moss and Joel Baden called Bible Nation: the United States of Hobby Lobby.

I noted the book as forthcoming here.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Batchelder Conference for Archaeology and Biblical Studies

THE BIBLE PLACES BLOG: 19th Batchelder Conference for Archaeology and Biblical Studies (Todd Bolen). Coming in early November at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

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Irish "Gnostic" (?) island for sale

FOR YOU, SPECIAL DEAL: Dream of owning your own private island off Ireland? This is epic (Frances Mulraney, Irish Central).
West Skeam Island is a small 33-acre island with a monumental history from the Vikings to the Great Hunger and for a cool $2.3 million, you could own it all.


The island is home to three quaint, old Irish cottages, revamped on the interior to give you most of your mod cons, but from where you can distance yourself from the mainland and enjoy West Skeam’s four private, attractive beaches or explore the ruins of its 4th-century Gnostic Christian Church.

With a rumored Viking burial ground and an out-of-use, overgrown WWII-era landing strip, this Special Area of Conservation was first inhabited in 350 AD by early Gnostic Christian settlers escaping persecution under Pope Constantine, while the next recorded inhabitants were two families by the name of O’Regan who lived on West Skeam from the time of the Famine in the mid-19th century to the 1950s.
It sounds like a lovely island, and if I had a couple million to spare I might be tempted. But I am skeptical about this Gnostic church business. As you can see, the link leads to an article about Irish saints and it has nothing to do with Gnostics. I don't doubt that there is a ruin of an ancient church on the island, which is very cool in itself. But I don't know of Gnostic Christianity reaching Ireland with an active community and a church building in the fourth century. I can find no indication that that happened. Irish Christianity is not my area of expertise, but I do know a good bit about Gnosticism.

Still, it sounds like a nice island with its own ruin of some kind or other, if you're in the market for that sort of thing.

If any specialists in Gnosticism or Irish Christianity want to correct me and provide evidence, please drop me a note.

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The Lod Mosaic is returning to Lod to stay

MUSEUM: Breathtaking 1,700-year-old Lod mosaic to finally have a floor to call home. Decades after its discovery, country's 'finest' tile art will be displayed to the public at the central Israeli city's Mosaic Archaeological Center - when it's completed in 2019 (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
After touring the world, Israel’s most impressive mosaic will finally have a port of its own. Before dropping anchor at the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center upon its projected completion in 2019, the massive mosaic, decorated with seafaring motifs, had an adventure of its own.

PaleoJudaica followed the Lod Mosaic's travels for some year. For past posts, start here and follow the links.

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What did Ham do to Noah?

DR. RABBI DAVID FRANKEL: Noah, Ham and the Curse of Canaan: Who Did What to Whom in the Tent? (
Why does Noah express such a severe curse for the seemingly minor sin of observing his nakedness? Why does Noah curse his grandson instead of his son?
This interpretation has been around for a while. For my part, I am very skeptical of exegesis that requires a major rewrite of the story as a reconstruction of a hypothetical original. But read the essay and see what you think.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fuchs, The Geonic Talmud

The Geonic Talmud
The Attitude of the Babylonian Geonim to the Text of the Babylonian Talmud

By Uziel Fuchs
Edited by: Amos Geula

Publisher: World Union of Jewish Studies
In collaboration with: Herzog Academic College
Series: Eshkolot – Jewish Studies Series
Categories: Talmud, Jewish Studies, Jewish Thought
Publish date: August 2017
Language: Hebrew
Danacode: 45-131148
Cover: Hardcover
Pages: 374
Weight: 1200 gr.

The Babylonian Talmud is the fundamental work of the Oral Law, both by virtue of the widespread and intensive study of it, and by virtue of reliance on it in halakhic writings, for over a thousand years. The Talmud gained much of its importance during the Geonic period. Throughout this time its transmission shifted from oral recitation to written copies, its text became standardized, and it was sent out from the Babylonian academies across the Jewish diaspora. Its intensive study and complex system of transmission both orally and in writing resulted in many variant readings between extant copies.

This book deals with questions concerning the ways in which the Babylonian Talmud became such as seminal work, and especially the Geonate’s treatment of the its textual tradition: the ways in which the Geonim related to the variant readings, how they chose between them, and according to what criteria; to what extent were its early readings preserved and to what extent was its text altered. In the second half of the book the entire corpus in which the Geonim deal with Talmudic variants is presented and discussed.
A few past PaleoJudaica posts on the subject of the book are here, here, and here.

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Review of Rapoport-Albert, Women and the Messianic Heresy of Sabbatai Zevi

YESHIVA UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR JEWISH LAW BLOG: Review of Rapoport-Albert, _Women and the Messianic Heresy of Sabbatai Zevi, 1666–1816_ (Joshua Schwartz).
Review of Ada Rapoport-Albert, Women and the Messianic Heresy of Sabbetai Zevi, 1666-1816. Oxford: Littman, 2011. 400 pp. $64.50.
Rapoport-Albert now argues that the Sabbatian movement represented a bellwether moment for women’s liberation within Jewish history, a “veritable gender revolution that the Sabbatian movement envisaged, and in no small measure put into effect.”
This book review is from a few years ago, but it just came to my attention.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on Shabbetai Zvi and Sabbatianism are here, here, here, with many links. In particular, this post has some reflections on how Shabbetai can help us better understand some aspects of ancient messianism.

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Underground Roman-era stables looted in the Galilee

APPREHENDED: Family Finds Roman-era Stables Beneath Their Garden, Arrests Made Over Looting.Eilabun residents uncovered elaborate caves carved out of bedrock in ancient Galilean Jewish village, and allegedly robbed the site (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
It’s not rare in Israel to burrow in the garden, say, to plant flowers, and to find an ancient artifact. One family in the Galilean village of Eilabun found not some measly oil lamp or pagan figurine under their courtyard, but the opening to an elaborate system of underground caves dating to the Roman era, about 2,000 years ago. Earlier this week, authorities made two arrests for illegal excavation of the precious site, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday.

Back in the Roman days, the caves seem to have served for storage and stabling, over centuries.

Which begs the question: The caves are about three meters below the surface, archaeology inspector Nir Distelfeld told Haaretz. So, how did they get horses down there and why would they? Why not build a stable with walls above ground?

Neither the headline nor the article make it very clear (at least to me) who was arrested.

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Ebeling et al. (eds.), The Old Testament in Archaeology and History

NEW HEBREW BIBLE TEXTBOOK: UW Religion Today: The Ancient Israelites Through Archaeology, History and Text (Paul V.M. Flesher, University of Wyoming). Excerpt:
Does that mean we should ignore the Old Testament? By no means. Both archaeology and Scripture constitute primary sources for the study of ancient Israel. They must be used together for the most complete historical picture.

This fall sees the publication of the first introductory book that does just that -- a book suitable for both general readers and introductory college courses. It is called “The Old Testament in Archaeology and History” and is edited by a team led by Jennie Ebeling and Edward Wright, and includes Mark Elliott, a former longtime Cheyenne resident, and myself. The chapters are written by experts in archaeological research and biblical studies, and bring together the latest finds and best analyses to provide a history of ancient Israel.

The book takes a historical approach to understanding the ancient Israelites, bringing together biblical evidence and archaeological discoveries to address questions of historical analysis and understanding. Rather than pit the two kinds of data against each other, it treats all the information equally; indeed, it often finds them on the same side.

I will end with a shameless plug: Read this book! You will gain the fullest and most complete understanding of ancient Israel available.

Note: “The Old Testament in Archaeology and History,” edited by Jennie Ebeling, J. Edward Wright, Mark Elliott and Paul V. M. Flesher. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

More on the UNESCO withdrawal

MORE ON THE U.S. AND ISRAELI DECISION TO WITHDRAW FROM UNESCO: Scolding UNESCO, GOP lawmakers introduce resolution on Jewish ties to Jerusalem. After Trump administration announces it will withdraw from UN cultural body over anti-Israel votes, Sen. Cruz and Rep. Gaetz accuse agency of 'trying to rewrite history' (ERIC CORTELLESSA, Times of Israel).
On Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, followed up on the move by authoring a resolution that “recognizes and affirms the historical connection of the Jewish people to the ancient and sacred city of Jerusalem.”

It goes on to cite archaeologically excavated sites, like the City of David, that contain vast quantities of antiquities from the ancient Jewish and Christian presence in the city.
This Opinion piece is also of interest:

Alan Dershowitz: Trump was right to walk away from UNESCO -- for now (Wathington Examiner).
Background here and here and many links.

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Sefer Yetsira

KABBALAH WATCH? ‘Sefer Yesira,’ the Story of a Text in Search of Commentary. An ancient, tiny book cataloging the components of the cosmos: was it magic, Kabbalah, a philosophical treatise, or something else? (Tzvi Langermann, Tablet Magazine).
The minuscule composition known as Sefer Yesira (SY), so tiny some thought it to be meant as an amulet, is a challenging text, begging for commentary. Though the Hebrew text is very short (about 1,000 words), it has played an important role in Jewish thought, and in more recent times, in the academic study of Jewish thought. The “book” itself contains very little prose; it consists mostly of catalogs of the components of the cosmos, in groups of two (pairs of opposites), three, and seven, and their sums—10, 12, 22, and 32. The cataloged components are those making up the physical universe, the human body, and time. The 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are very significant as well and are matched to the other components of the universe. The original intent of the author or authors is not known.

A book of this sort cannot be understood without commentary, and SY has been interpreted in very different ways. Some claim that it was originally meant to be a work of mystical magic, but this reading is clearly prejudiced by the kabbalistic appropriation of the text, a process which began in the 12th century, and, even more so, by a fierce turf defense by academic specialists in the Kabbalah.

I do not know if at it is at all possible to assert anything about the original authorial intent behind the text. One can, however, speak with a great deal of certainty about the way the first interpreters of SY read the book. We possess extensive commentaries, in Judaeo-Arabic and in Hebrew, written by individuals throughout the Jewish diaspora in the early medieval period. Some are famous, others are familiar mainly to specialists. Each of the following glossed Sefer Yesira, reading it as a book of science: ...
Sefer Yetsira is indeed a mysterious text, more so even than is indicated in this article. There is no agreement on its original date of composition or what the original text looked like. Some years ago I comment briefly on it and gave some bibliography here. It is foundational to the mystical traditions of Kabbalah and the Zohar, whether or not it is itself a mystical text.

Variant English spellings include Sepher Yetsirah, Sefer Yetzira, and Sefer Yesira.

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Birds in the Flood Story

DR. GUY DARSHAN: The Motif of Releasing Birds in ANE Flood Stories (
The ancient Near East had many versions of the flood story, such as Atrahasis, Ziusudra, Utnapishtim, etc., most of which predate the Torah’s account of Noah’s flood. But what is the earliest extant version of the releasing birds motif?
The answer may surprise you.

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Festschrift for Michael Stone

The Embroidered Bible: Studies in Biblical Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha in Honour of Michael E. Stone

Edited by Lorenzo DiTommaso, Concordia University Montréal Matthias Henze, Rice University and William Adler, North Carolina State University
This Festschrift contains forty-one original essays and six tribute papers in honour of Michael E. Stone, Gail Levin de Nur Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies and Professor Emeritus of Armenian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The volume’s main theme is Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, envisioned in its broadest sense: apocryphal texts, traditions, and themes from the Second-Temple period to the High Middle Ages, in Judaism, Christianity and, to a lesser extent, Islam. Most essays present new or understudied texts based on fresh manuscript evidence; the others are thematic in approach. The volume’s scope and focus reflect those of Professor Stone’s scholarship, without a special emphasis on Armenian studies.
Congratulations to Professor Stone!

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Jerusalem's lost theater found

A rare 200-seat theater from the Roman period and eight large ancient stone courses have been unearthed under the Western Wall’s Wilson’s Arch by the Israel Antiquities Authority.


“This is a relatively small structure compared to known Roman theaters, such as at Caesarea, Beit She’an and Beit Guvrin,” said [excavator Tehillah] Lieberman. “This fact – in addition to its location under a roofed space, in this case under Wilson’s Arch – leads us to suggest that this is a theater-like structure of the type known in the Roman world as an odeon.”

“In most cases,” he continued, “such structures were used for acoustic performances. Alternatively, the structure might have been what is known as a bouleuterion, the building where the city council met – in this case, the council of the Roman colony of Aelia Capitolina.”

Interestingly, the archeologists believe the theater was never used.

Also, over at the Bible Places Blog, Todd Bolen has some commentary on the find.

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The rebellious elder in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Rebellious Elders. Daf Yomi: Why heresy is rare in Talmudic law, where judicial dissent and tiered courts institutionalized freedom of thought.
In Chapter Eight of Tractate Sanhedrin, we saw how the rabbis dealt with the case of a “stubborn and rebellious son,” ben sorer u’moreh. Such a wayward youth is condemned to stoning by Torah law, yet the rabbis interpreted the law so strictly as to render its application virtually impossible. This week, in Chapter 10, the rabbis dealt with the complementary case of a “rebellious elder,” zaken mamre; but in this case, it was interesting to see, they make no such effort at extenuation. It seems as if the rabbis are harsher on rebellion when it comes from an elderly and respected member of the community than when it comes from a gluttonous and drunken youth. But why should this be so? After all, the punishment for the elder is strangling, which is considered a lesser sanction than stoning; this might suggest that his crime is less severe.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Review of Burns, The Christian Schism in Jewish History and Jewish Memory

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | The Christian Schism in Jewish History and Jewish Memory (Joshua Blachorsky).
Joshua Ezra Burns. The Christian Schism in Jewish History and Jewish Memory. Cambridge University Press, 2016.
Joshua Burns, in The Christian Schism in Jewish History and Jewish Memory, has offered a fresh new foray into this conversation, which he describes as a “Jewish history of the Christian schism” (p. 12). Burns continues the trend of eschewing the traditional parting model and envisioning a split only after the beginning of the 4th century. But he does so with a novel lens, focusing on the rabbinic evidence. In Burns’s interpretation, Tannaitic texts, c. 200 CE, view Jewish Christians as those who practice incorrectly but are wholly Jewish, indicating that the rabbis did not see any decisive split as having yet occurred. However, due to social and religious changes over the next few centuries in Roman Palestine, whereby a wholly gentile Christianity won the day, Amoraim knew only of this later group. Thus later, Amoraic texts speak of gentile Christians, and do so as total others. Burns, accordingly, locates the rabbinic perception of what he calls a “schism” in this later, Amoraic period.

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The Te’omim Cave

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Te’omim Cave: Rebel Hideout and Cult Site. Jerusalem hills cave reveals layers of history (Robin Ngo).
During the Bar-Kokhba Revolt (132–136 C.E.), Jewish rebels sought refuge from the Roman army in secret hideouts throughout Judea. One such hideout was the Te’omim Cave, a massive cave complex in the Jerusalem hills west of the city. There, within the innermost chambers of the cave, archaeologists discovered three hoards of Roman, Judean and revolt coins, weapons and pottery evidently hidden by the rebels.

As usual, this column is a summary of a BAR article that is behind the subscription wall. But the column is interesting in itself.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Reynolds on Jewish apocalyptic and the NT

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION: Jewish Apocalyptic Tradition in the New Testament.
It has been noted on numerous occasions by scholars that the term “apocalyptic” may be used to refer to three distinct aspects. The first is the apocalyptic genre, i.e., apocalypses, which I will discuss more fully below. The second is apocalyptic worldview, i.e., apocalypticism. This term is used to describe the viewpoint evident in apocalypses and that was held by those who wrote apocalypses. Finally, apocalyptic eschatology refers to the eschatology present in some apocalypses, which is often concerned with the end of the world. Apocalyptic eschatology usually presents history as a series of stages with the present stage preceding the final, climactic stage. This final stage of history often includes the judgment of the wicked and the vindication of the righteous. The wicked may be judged by a messiah figure who will then gather the vindicated righteous to God.

See Also: Reynolds, Benjamin E. and Loren Stuckenbruck, eds. The Jewish Apocalyptic Tradition and the Shaping of New Testament Thought (Fortress, 2017).

By Benjamin E. Reynolds
Associate Professor of New Testament
Tyndale University College
Toronto, Canada
October 2017

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Hershel Shanks is retiring as BAR editor

BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW: First Person: My Final “First Person” (Hershel Shanks).
In the next issue of BAR, I will have a new title: Editor Emeritus. Yes, after 42 years I will be retiring. I will still be around—putting in my two cents. But I will not have the responsibility for making sure it is all there and putting it all together.

That will be the job of the new editor, Robert (Bob) Cargill. He is young, and he is smart. In some ways, under his editorship BAR will be the same magazine; in other ways, it may be new and different. I am confident you will continue to be enthralled with the magazine, and I think you will like Bob.

Bob Cargill has been mentioned often at PaleoJudaica. He will do a great job as the new editor of BAR. I look forward to following the publication under his leadership. And all best wishes to Hershel, who has devoted himself faithfully to making BAR an informative and stimulating popular source for biblical scholarship for more than a biblical generation.

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Rohr Institute course on Great Debates

ADULT EDUCATION: Rohr Jewish Learning Institute Launches Great Debates: 6-Part Course on Dead Sea Scrolls (Hana Levi Julian, The Jewish Press).
Seventy years after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute is poised to launch a course that examines the historical debates about Jewish philosophy and practice that were brought to light by those texts.

Some 20,000 participants who are part of what a JLI spokesperson called “the largest Jewish education network in the world” will be studying the six-part course in 400 different locations around the globe, beginning at the end of October. The course was created under the guidance and direction of Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman, the Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University and a leading expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Schiffman, born in 1948, has been working on the Scrolls for nearly 50 years.

The website for the course is here. The headline is a little confusing. The Dead Sea Scrolls are covered only in the first of the six units. The second unit will be on the fall of Masada. There are more modern topics as well. See the details at the link.

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Septuagint Studies Supervision (2)

WILLIAM ROSS: SUPERVISORS & PROGRAMS FOR SEPTUAGINT STUDIES – PART II. Part two in a three-part series. Part one was noted here.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Langlois on those 9 dubious DSS fragments

MICHAEL LANGLOIS: Nine Dubious “Dead Sea Scrolls” Fragments from the Twenty-First Century. Professor Langlois gives some background to the recent Dead Sea Discoveries article on the same topic, which I noted here.

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Jenkins on historical amnesia

THE ASOR BLOG: Revolutionary Biblical Discoveries and the Need for Historical Amnesia (Philip Jenkins).
The Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife… every few years, the media report new finds of ancient texts that supposedly throw revolutionary new light on the Biblical world, and (commonly) on Christian origins. In reality, such finds rarely tell us much that is new or unexplored, and are mainly of use to hardcore specialists. In most cases, the claims that are made are actually quite familiar, and have been made on many previous occasions. Any kind of historic perspective shows that even what initially look like the most radical ideas in this field have a long prehistory. Successive claim about new and explosive discoveries rely on a process of recurrent public amnesia.

This essay summarizes material that Professor Jenkins covered in more detail in posts at The Anxious Bench blog. I have noted them here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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Frey and Jost (eds.), Gottesdienst und Engel im antiken Judentum und frühen Christentum

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Gottesdienst und Engel im antiken Judentum und frühen Christentum. Hrsg. v. Jörg Frey u. Michael R. Jost. [Liturgy and Angels in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity.] 2017. VIII, 447 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 446.
99,00 €
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-154195-7

Published in German.
Some Second Temple Judaism and New Testament texts describe or presuppose heavenly and earthly communities interconnected in prayer and liturgy. The motif has been discussed especially in view of the Dead Sea discoveries. But it is also of interest to general discussion on the character of liturgy, as well as the ecumenical debate with Orthodox churches in whose form of worship angels play a particularly significant role. In the field of systematic theology, the issue was Roman Catholic theologian and historian Erik Peterson's central focus and subject of debate with Karl Barth. This volume presents the multidisciplinary contributions of a symposium held in Zürich on the interrelation of earthly worship and the heavenly host.

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Documentary on the Ritman Library

BOINGBOING: New documentary is a magic portal into a weird and wonderful library (FERDINANDO BUSCEMA).
The Hermetic Philosophy

There is an underground current of thought beneath Western culture, running quietly like a vein of quicksilver: The Hermetic Philosophy. This ancient and multifaceted phenomenon is often found rising up from the shadows during times of intense cultural transition and upheaval.


The Ritman Library

For those of us enthralled by such ideas – and the wondrous, precious tomes expressing them – the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica (BPH) is a must-see. Also known as The Ritman Library, it is aptly located in Amsterdam, a city historically known for freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of printing.

The early Hermetic literature was mainly Greco-Egyptian popular Platonism, but it also had some interaction with ancient Jewish traditions. Most of the holdings of the Ritman Library seem to be of the Hermeticism of a later period.

A while ago I noted another story about the Ritman Library here.

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