Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review of Wendt, At the Temple Gates

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | At the Temple Gates: The Religion of Freelance Experts in the Roman Empire (Brigidda Bell).
Wendt, Heidi. At the Temple Gates: The Religion of Freelance Experts in the Roman Empire. Oxford University Press: New York, 2016.
Including ancient Jewish freelancers, among them the Apostle Paul.

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Making models of Nag Hammadi Codices

MATERIAL CULTURE: As part of a book-writing project, Dr. Brent Nongbri has been crafting reconstructions of some of the Coptic Gnostic Codices from Nag Hammadi. This project is not about the texts in the codices, but rather it seeks a better understanding of the physical structure of the objects.

This is a brilliant way to extract more information about antiquity through the study of ancient artifacts. The more we know about ancient book production, the better we can put the surviving ancient books in a material and social cultural context. And the better we will understand those ancient books.

Brent discusses the project, and what he has learned so far, in two posts:

A Model of Nag Hammadi Codex VI

A Model of Nag Hammadi Codex III (and Some Thoughts on Large Single-quire Codices)

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ISBL 2018 - Helsinki

THE CSTT BLOG: WELCOME TO HELSINKI! A LIST OF CSTT CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE EABS/ISBL MEETING (RICK BONNIE).
In only two weeks, hundreds of biblical scholars will gather in Helsinki to attend the combined meetings of the European Association of Biblical Studies (EABS) and the International meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), which takes place from 31 July to 3 August.

As the meetings are held in our hometown, we hope to showcase to you all the diverse and wide range of research the CSTT is currently engaged in. To make your conference experience easier, we have brought together all contributions by our research centre to this year’s EABS/ISBL meeting.

[...]

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Reynolds and Boccaccini (eds.), Reading the Gospel of John’s Christology as Jewish Messianism

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Reading the Gospel of John’s Christology as Jewish Messianism
Royal, Prophetic, and Divine Messiahs


Series: Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, Volume: 106

Editors: Benjamin Reynolds and Gabriele Boccaccini

The essays in Reading the Gospel of John’s Christology as Jewish Messianism: Royal, Prophetic, and Divine Messiahs seek to interpret John’s Jesus as part of Second Temple Jewish messianic expectations. The Fourth Gospel is rarely considered part of the world of early Judaism. While many have noted John’s Jewishness, most have not understood John’s Messiah as a Jewish messiah.
The Johannine Jesus, who descends from heaven, is declared the Word made flesh, and claims oneness with the Father, is no less Jewish than other messiahs depicted in early Judaism. John’s Jesus is at home on the spectrum of early Judaism’s royal, prophetic, and divine messiahs

Publication Date: 17 July 2018
ISBN: 978-90-04-34975-9
This is the conference volume for the 2016 "John the Jew" Enoch Seminar, on which more here and links. I attended the Seminar but did not present a paper.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Climbing Masada in July

PHOTO ESSAY: What it's like visiting one of the world's greatest treasures, the 2,000 year-old mountaintop fortress Masada (Ben Gilbert, Business Insider).
Visiting Masada, the ancient fortress built atop a mountain plateau in modern day Israel, is a life-changing experience. No caveats necessary.

There's simply nothing like visiting an ancient mountaintop fortress that overlooks the Dead Sea. It doesn't feel real. But because of its isolation and the arid desert climate, the fortress once occupied by King Herod is a remarkably well-preserved relic of humanity's ancient past, one you can climb to on the same paths used by visiting dignitaries and invading Roman troops.

Here's what that experience is like based on my visit last week ...
Many years ago I too climbed the Snake Path in July. It was an insane thing to do. I recommend you try it in a cooler month.

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Moschos the Ioudaios and his dream

VARIANT READINGS: The Moschos Ioudaios Inscription (Brent Nongbri). People in antiquity are much like people in the present. They stubbornly refuse to do what we expect them to do.

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Review of Halbertal and Holmes, The Beginning of Politics

H-JUDAIC REVIEW:
Brody on Halbertal and Holmes, 'The Beginning of Politics: Power in the Biblical Book of Samuel'
Author: Moshe Halbertal, Stephen Holmes
Reviewer: Sam Brody

Moshe Halbertal, Stephen Holmes. The Beginning of Politics: Power in the Biblical Book of Samuel. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. 232 pp. $27.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-691-17462-4.

Reviewed by Sam Brody (University of Kansas) Published on H-Judaic (July, 2018) Commissioned by Katja Vehlow (University of South Carolina)

Printable Version: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=51066

There is a long tradition of claiming that politics and political theory in the West belong to Athens, rather than to Jerusalem, and another tradition just as long of rebutting this claim. Moshe Halbertal and Stephen Holmes join the latter tradition with their new work, The Beginning of Politics: Power in the Biblical Book of Samuel. The book will sit nicely on the shelf next to Eric Nelson’s The Hebrew Republic (2010) and Michael Walzer’s In God’s Shadow (2012). The former argues for the centrality of the Hebrew Bible in general and Samuel/Kings in particular to seventeenth-century European political theory, and the latter asserts that the absolute dominance of God in the life of ancient Israel left no room for the development of an autonomous human political sphere. Halbertal and Holmes have set themselves the task of rejecting the latter claim, and judging by Walzer’s blurb (“a wonderful discovery”), they appear to have convinced him.

[...]

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Gad and Reuben, P and E, in the Transjordan

SOURCE CRITICISM: Gad and Reuben Receive Land in the Transjordan: A Documentary Approach (, TheTorah.com).
The tribes of Reuben and Gad ask Moses for permission to settle in the Transjordan (Num 32). A look at this lengthy narrative, what exactly they request and what Moses answers, uncovers several contradictions and inconsistencies. Separating the contradictory elements in the story allows for the identification of two parallel accounts.
Could be. It's been a while since I've heard much talk about the Elohistic source. But I don't make a big effort to keep up with Pentateuchal source criticism these days.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Gate etc. excavated at et-Tell

ARCHITECTURE AND ARTIFACTS: ARCHAEOLOGISTS UNCOVER GATE TO BIBLICAL CITY OF ZER (TAMARA ZIEVE, Jerusalem Post).
Archaeologists have uncovered the entrance gate to the biblical city of Zer during excavations carried out in the Golan Heights over the past two weeks, the Golan Regional Council said Sunday.

[...]
The Iron Age II gate was excavated on the site of et-Tell, which is one contender for being the city of Bethsaida in the New Testament era. The other contender is the site of el-Araj. Background on the two sites and the debate is here (cf. here) and links.

I don't know how secure the identification of et-Tell with Zer is.

Of more interest to PaleoJudaica are some other recent discoveries at et-Tell:
Another finding made in the past two weeks was discovered underneath what was seemingly the floor of a Roman temple built by Herod’s son Philip, which he dedicated to Julia, the daughter of Augustus.

There archaeologists found coins, beads, jugs and house keys as well as a shield that belonged to a Roman soldier. The most significant finding was a coin dated to 35 BCE, which was minted in Acre on the occasion of the arrival of Cleopatra and Marc Antony. There is a total of 12 of these coins.
See the article for photos of the house key and the coin.

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The Talmud and sacred airspace

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Cooking Times and Air Rights. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis determine the finer points of animal sacrifice and follow their logical reasoning to the limits of the absurd.
Tractate Zevachim is all about the recognition that, when human beings come together to slaughter animals, things will sometimes go wrong: An animal will wander into the wrong area of the Temple, or the blood will spill on a priest’s robe, or a burning limb will fall off the pyre. A realistic Judaism has to make provisions for what to do when the physical world fails to obey the strict laws of the spiritual world. Rather than see such ruptures as defeats—evidence that the physical can never achieve the perfection of the spiritual—the rabbis see them as opportunities. By extending the safety net of the law to cover moments of error and lapse, the Talmud brings them back within the orbit of the divine.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Strange obituary

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Giant of New Testament Archaeology. James F. Strange (1938–2018) (Daniel A. Warner, Donald D. Binder, Eric M. Meyers, and James Riley Strange).
Jim developed a range of archaeological skills that few possess. His work with his father taught him surveying with an optical transit. He drew balks, top plans, pottery, glass, and artifacts with precision. He wrote excavation manuals for Caesarea and Meiron and published articles on archaeological method and theory. Early on, he established himself as a ceramicist, and his work in the MEP allowed him to contribute to the typology of Hellenistic- through Byzantine-period pottery widely in use in Israel today. Jim was a polyglot, speaking four languages and reading 12 in addition to English. His desire to disseminate his research resulted in an impressive body of published works.
Background here.

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The Passion narratives and Roman and Jewish calendars

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
Roman Days, Jewish Nights, and the Gospel Calendar Problem

At the time of Jesus, there was no such Jewish term as “day of Preparation” in Jewish usage. Strangely, virtually the only time that term appears in any literature from that era, it is, for all practical purposes, only from texts written by the four gospel authors, or, perhaps, from someone quoting the gospel sources. But it is not independently attested outside of the gospel sources, a good indication that this was not actually a Jewish term.

By Gary Greenberg
President of the Biblical Archaeology Society of New York>
http://ggreenberg.tripod.com/
July 2018
I didn't think it was possible for me to feel more confused about the chronology of the Gospel Passion narratives. But after reading this I am. Some past posts on that question are here, here, here, here, and here.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Trip to Hadrian's Wall

MY TRIP TO HADRIAN'S WALL AND ITS ROMAN SITES began with Vindolanda, just as my 2006 trip did.


This is a current photo of the site of Vindolanda. If you compare this photo from 2006, you will see that the wooden replica tower on the left has been rebuilt. You can click on this and all the other images to see a larger version.


That newly-excavated bronze Hand of Jupiter was on display in the Museum. It was tiny, just a few inches across.

We found one other new thing at Vindolanda, but I'm not going to post on it until later this summer. The reason why will become clear then.

I won't go into detail about Vindolanda here. For a report on my visit there in 2006, see here. Other posts involving Vindolanda, its archaeology, and the extraordinarily important archive of documentary texts excavated there, are here and links, and here, here (on a similar find in London), here, and here. In some of those posts I also discuss some indirect points of contact between the Vindolanda and London texts and the Judean Desert Scrolls etc.

I should also mention the Minimus the Mouse books, for any parents who are looking for an entertaining way to introduce their children to Latin. The books are set in Vindolanda and are based on the epigraphic discoveries there. I went through them with my son when he was a wee lad. I recommend them highly.

On the same day as the current Vindolanda visit, we went to the Roman Army Museum. It is also managed by the Vindolanda Trust. It is situated beside the site of the Carvoran Roman Fort. I don't have any photos of the fort area. The fort pre-dates the Wall and is not directly associated with it. There's not much left visible to the eye, although it has never been properly excavated.

Finally, the next day we visited the Housesteads Roman Fort, which is built directly on the Wall. It is one of fifteen forts built along with the Wall to monitor it. I posted a photo of the fort and Hadrian's Wall here.


Here is another of the fort. As you can see, the site has been excavated and conserved. This is the barracks for the soldiers.


This is a photo of the granaries.





The chief claim to fame of the Housesteads Fort is its ruin of an ancient Roman latrine. It is the oldest and best-preserved toilet in Britain, as recognized by English Heritage. The staff are very proud of it. It is especially popular with school children on field trips. It was hard to get good photos of it, because most of the time it was swarming with said children. But a couple of passable images are above. (An ancient toilet seat was also excavated at Vindolanda several years ago.)

A comparably old toilet was excavated near Qumran. Posts on it are collected here. An even older one was excavated at Lachish. And there's more on ancient toilets here.

There is also a nice museum for the Housesteads site.

I have no expertise in Roman Britain, so this more a question than an observation or suggestion. Are the Carvoran and Housesteads Forts situated in areas where anaerobically-sealed layers of soil are likely to have preserved discarded writings like those at Vindolanda? If so, they could be sitting on archives as significant for ancient British and Roman history as the Dead Sea Scrolls are for Israel. Perhaps someone should organize expeditions to have a look. I know there's no money for that now, but some publicity could probably raise some. Just a thought for you specialists in Roman Britain.

That was this year's trip to Roman sites around Hadrian's Wall. I love the area and I imagine I'll be back. The rest of the holiday was at the Lake District and no ancient ruins were involved.

While we're on the subject of ancient Roman sites in Britain, see also my past post on Roman Chester.

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Do you want a libation with that?

YHWH'S FAST-FOOD RECIPES? Which Sacrificial Offerings Require Libations? (Dr. Naphtali Meshel, TheTorah.com).
A burnt offering (olah), described as “sweet smelling” food for YHWH, always includes grain and wine libation “side-dishes,” constituting a complete meal. A purification offering (chattat), however, is a cleansing ritual. Should it also have an accompanying libation? The Masoretic Text of Numbers 28-29 offers an inconsistent answer that differs from that of the Septuagint and Samaritan Pentateuch.
Allow me a cultural side note, with reference to this:
A burger with fries and a soda is common—hence the typical adage, “Do you want fries with that?” A combination of only fries and a soda, however, is not licit: that is, while it is not illegal to order fries and a drink separately, they do not constitute a meal. This is reflected in the absence of such an option from most “combo” menus.
That's from an American perspective. In Britain, a fast-food meal consisting of starch and a drink is not uncommon. The first time an American sees someone here order a chip butty, it is mind blowing.

What constitutes a meal, for God or anyone else, is very much culturally conditioned.


Wikimedia Commons

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Davies on (mental) biblical maps

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
Mapping Palestine

The effort of rationalizing biblical time-maps into the semblance of a critical modern history, as was the custom until late in the twentieth century, has thus been abandoned by all but a few scholars. Instead, we are obliged to see biblical narratives of the past as testimonies to the ways in which the creators of those texts imagined worlds and stories where their Israel and its deity played out their identities and their destinies—and would continue to do so.

Chapter from: History, Politics and the Bible from the Iron Age to the Media Age (T&T Clark, 2018).

By Philip R Davies (1945-2018)
Palestine Exploration Fund
Emeritus, University of Sheffield
July 2018
For more on the work and career of the late Philip R. Davies, see here and links.

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Stern obituary

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Giant of the Persian Period. Ephraim Stern (1934–2018) (Hillel Geva).
Professor Ephraim Stern was one of Israel’s foremost archaeologists, a pioneer in his field with numerous achievements to his credit and an international reputation as a scholar. Alongside his academic pursuits, he devoted considerable effort to promoting public interest in archaeological excavations and research.

[...]
Background here.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Coins galore!

NUMISMATICS: NGC Ancients: Classic Greek Coins, Part 5 (CoinWeek). With nice images and descriptions of coins from ancient Carthage, Persia, Phoenicia, and Judea, as well as other place of less direct interest for the study of ancient Judaism.

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Enoch obsession

WHY INDEED? Why is Everyone Obsessed With the Book of Enoch? The uniqueness and mystery of this ancient text have captivated millions (Stephanie Hertzenberg, Beliefnet).
As interest in Enoch grew, the book began to appear in various media outlets. The History Channel referenced it repeatedly in various shows. Blogs and websites that dealt with everything from scholarly articles about ancient texts to attempts to predict the end of the world began to reference Enoch. Interest grew, and more people began to look for information on Enoch. This led to more people putting out information on Enoch. A feedback loop formed, and it has not collapsed yet.
This article isn't exactly a comprehensive account of 1 Enoch. But it does flag the increasing popular interest in the book and things in it which appeal to a popular audience.

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So much Psalms of Solomon!

READING ACTS has been busy while I was away. Phil Long has put up many posts on the Psalms of Solomon. These are all installments in his current summer series on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Past posts in the series have been noted here and links. The latter post gives an introduction to the Psalms of Solomon. Here are the rest:

The Death of a Tyrant – Psalms of Solomon 2
Psalm of Solomon 2 is a lament for Jerusalem after Pompey captured the city in 63 B.C. Although his name is not specifically mentioned, the author of the psalm clearly has Pompey in mind. He is called an “arrogant sinner” who brought battering rams against the walls of the Temple (2:1). According to Josephus, the city surrendered to the Romans but the Temple itself was captured. Pompey therefore brought “mechanical engines, and battering-rams from Tyre” (Antiq. 14.4.2).

[...]
The Lord Will Cleanse the Devout – Psalm of Solomon 3
This psalm reflects a “two ways” ethic found in Second Temple wisdom literature. Building on the covenant renewal in Deuteronomy 30:11-20, there are only two ways the people can go, either toward life or toward death. If Israel follows the Law, they will be blessed and have peace and material prosperity. However, if they do not follow the Law, they will be cursed and not experience peace and prosperity. Psalm 1 contrasts two kinds of people, the righteous person and the sinner. The righteous is like a tree planted beside water (prosperous and bearing fruit), but the sinner is like a bush growing in the desert, barely surviving and never bearing fruit.

[...]
A Dialogue Concerning The Hypocrite – Psalm of Solomon 4
Psalm of Solomon 4 is labeled a dialogue (Διαλογὴ) although not in the sense of a conversation between Solomon and the hypocrite. The Psalm stands in the “two ways” tradition. It begins with a stunning condemnation of those who sit in the council but are “far from the Lord” and ends with a blessing on “those who fear the Lord in their innocence” (4:23).

[...]
Moderate Wealth with Righteousness – Psalm of Solomon 5
There is nothing in Psalms of Solomon 5 to hint at a date or historical circumstance. The psalm begins with praise to God for his gracious provision during a time of affliction (v. 5). Several times the author describes himself as hungry (v. 8, 10, 11) or in need of kindness (v. 13), but there is no specific historical situation in mind. Most Jews living in the Diaspora would hear their own experience in this Psalm.

[...]
A Restoration of Israel – Psalm of Solomon 7
The title of this short psalm is significant. R. B. Wright translates the Greek title ἐπιστροφῆς as “about restoring” since verses 1-3 call on the Lord to restore his people after a time of discipline. Likewise, Atkinson renders the phrase “of returning” in the NET Septuagint. The Lexham LXX renders the word “on conversion.” In the New Testament the word is rare, only appearing in Acts 15:3 for the “conversion of the Gentiles.”

[...]
Do Not Neglect Us, O God! – Psalm of Solomon 8
This psalm is a description of the invasion of Jerusalem by Pompey. The invading army is foreshadowed by “the blast of the trumpet sounding slaughter and destruction.” Since the sound of destruction is in the holy city of Jerusalem, the writer is crushed by what he heard and becomes physically ill (8:5). The writer sees himself as one of the innocent (8:23) who are devout (8:34).

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Review of Orlov, Yahoel and Metatron

READING RELIGION:
Yahoel and Metatron
Aural Apocalypticism and the Origins of Early Jewish Mysticisim


Andrei A. Orlov
Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism
Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck , August 2017. 238 pages.
$125.00. Hardcover. ISBN 9783161554476.
For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.

Review
The study of Jewish apocalypticism and mysticism has been enriched in recent years by a revival of the study of the Slavonic pseudepigrapha. Andrei Orlov has been at the forefront of that discussion. His study of The Enoch-Metatron Tradition (TSAJ 107; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005) has rightly been hailed as a major contribution. Orlov has now followed this with a study comparing the figure of Yahoel in the Apocalypse of Abrahamand Metatron in Sefer Hekalot (3 Enoch), arguing for continuity between the apocalypses and later mystical traditions.

[...]
The review is by Professor John J. Collins. I noted the publication of the book here last year.

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Back from Hadrian's Wall

I'VE BEEN ON HOLIDAY for the last week, including a stay around Hadrian's Wall. I visited Vindolanda again, of course, and also other Roman sites. I will report in due course.

Meanwhile, there's a lot of blogging to catch up with in the coming days.


Hadrian's Wall, behind the Roman Fort at Housesteads.

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More mosaics from Huqoq!

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Huqoq Mosaic Depicts Israelite Spies from Numbers 13 (Robin Ngo). There is also a Hebrew quotation from Isaiah 11:6 and another fragmentary Hebrew inscription.

The excavation of the late-antique synagogue at the site of Huqoq continues to produce remarkable mosaics, year after year. For past posts on the excavation of the site and the remarkable discoveries there, start here and just follow those links back.

Cross-file under Decorative Art.

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The Talmud on disqualified sacrifices

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Suited to the Fire. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis continue their investigations into sacrificial offerings and remain dispassionate in their analysis of sexual sins. Plus: the origin of the word ‘treyf.’
The general hermeneutic principle of the Talmud is that every Torah verse comes to teach a point of law. Understanding the Torah requires parsing the verse very carefully, paying attention to each word and even to pronouns and articles. If two authorities disagree on the law, therefore, they also disagree on the interpretation of the Torah verse.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Olyan and Wright, Supplementation and the Study of the Hebrew Bible

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Supplementation and the Study of the Hebrew Bible
Saul M. Olyan, Jacob L. Wright

ISBN 9781946527059
Status Available
Price: $30.95
Binding Paperback
Publication Date April 2018

Explore the role supplementation plays in the development of the Hebrew Bible

This new volume includes ten original essays that demonstrate clearly how common, varied, and significant the phenomenon of supplementation is in the Hebrew Bible. Essays examine instances of supplementation that function to aid pronunciation, fill in abbreviations, or clarify ambiguous syntax. They also consider more complex additions to and reworkings of particular lyrical, legal, prophetic, or narrative texts. Scholars also examine supplementation by the addition of an introduction, a conclusion, or an introductory and concluding framework to a particular lyrical, legal, prophetic, or narrative text.

Features:

• A contribution to the further development of a panbiblical compositional perspective
• Examples from Psalms, the pentateuchal narratives, the Deuteronomistic History, the Prophets, and legal texts

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A letter from Claudius

BRICE C. JONES: Roman Emperor Claudius' Letter to the Alexandrian Embassy. This is a papyrus found in Egypt which contains the text of a letter sent by Claudius to Alexandria in 41 C.E. in response to a letter sent to him by the Alexandrians. In it he tells the Alexandrian gentiles and the local Judeans to just get along. Or else.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Online Digital Manuscripts and Editions updated

THE OTTC BLOG: Online Digital Manuscripts and Editions. Last updated 3 July 2018 (Drew Longacre).
This page is a list of digital images of manuscripts and editions available online. This catalogue should be viewed as a work in progress, and I will continue to update it with new resources. It is by no means complete, but I hope it will be helpful for those looking for a one-stop portal for finding online primary resources that are significant for the study of the Old Testament text. Please post any additional sources you may be aware of in the comments, and I will incorporate them into the main list.
Last updated two years ago, so worth a look again. It's a good list. The focus is Hebrew Bible, but it has lots of cognate material (LXX, Targums, NT, rabbinics, etc.) as well.

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Tomás García-Huidobro's blog

BLOG OF NOTE: Tomás García-Huidobro. Tomás García-Huidobro Misticismo judío y orígenes del cristianismo. I have mentioned this blog a couple of times in the past, but it has moved to a new address. So here it is again. I generally only link to English-language blogs, but I do keep an eye on this Spanish one and I have recently added it to my blogroll. It often deals with matters of interest to PaleoJudaica. If you read Spanish, it's worth keeping an eye on.

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Interview with Batsheva Goldman-Ida (Hasidic Art and the Kabbalah)

THE BOOK OF DOCTRINES AND OPINIONS BLOG: Interview with Batsheva Goldman-Ida-Hasidic Art & the Kabbalah (Alan Brill).
In the past, Jewish ceremonial art was treated as decorative and functional. This book, in contrast, explicitly investigates the symbolism and theological meanings of the objects. It is as if we merged the studies of Moshe Idel with art history. Hasidic Art and the Kabbalah presents eight case studies, almost as exhibits, of manuscripts, ritual objects and folk art developed by Hasidic masters in the mid-eighteenth to late nineteenth centuries. Goldman-Ida investigates the sources for the items in the Zohar, German Pietism, Safed Kabbalah and Hasidism. She shows Kabbalah embodied in material culture, not just as abstract ideas. In addition, we are treated to discussions of magical theory from James Fraser and on the subjective experience of the user at the moment of ritual using the theories of Wolfgang Iser, Gaston Bachelard, and Walter Benjamin.”
This is on a period later than PaleoJudaica's usual interests, but I try to keep an eye on the full range of developments in the study of Jewish mysticism. There is lots of room for this sort of groundbreaking work in earlier periods too, even if the surviving artifacts are fewer.

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Reed, Jewish-Christianity and the History of Judaism

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Annette Yoshiko Reed. Jewish-Christianity and the History of Judaism [Judenchristentum und die Geschichte des Judentums.] 2018. XXX, 505 pages. forthcoming in July. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 171. 174,00 €. ISBN 978-3-16-156060-6.
Published in English.
“Jewish-Christianity” is a contested category in current research. But for precisely this reason, it may offer a powerful lens through which to rethink the history of Jewish/Christian relations. Traditionally, Jewish-Christianity has been studied as part of the origins and early diversity of Christianity. Collecting revised versions of previously published articles together with new materials, Annette Yoshiko Reed reconsiders Jewish-Christianity in the context of Late Antiquity and in conversation with Jewish studies. She brings further attention to understudied texts and traditions from Late Antiquity that do not fit neatly into present day notions of Christianity as distinct from Judaism. In the process, she uses these materials to probe the power and limits of our modern assumptions about religion and identity.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Did Jesus really say "Render unto Caesar ... ?"

NUMISMATICS MEETS THE HISTORICAL JESUS: Numismatic Evidence that Corroborates Suetonius’ Life of Otho and Contradicts the Gospels (Matthew Ferguson, Κέλσος Blog). I'm not a coin specialist, or, for that matter, a Historical Jesus specialist. So I won't take a position on the argument. But I thought it was interesting enough to mention.

A couple of past posts on the numismatics of the relevant New Testament passage (Mark 12:13-17 and parallels) are here and here.

By the way, Matthew has been blogging since 2012. I know I have seen his blog before, but I don't seem to have linked to it. It looks like it has some stimulating posts. Cross-file under Assimilated to the Blogosphere (Belatedly Noted).

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Meiser et al. (eds.), Die Septuaginta – Geschichte, Wirkung, Relevanz

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Die Septuaginta – Geschichte, Wirkung, Relevanz. 6. Internationale Fachtagung veranstaltet von Septuaginta Deutsch (LXX.D), Wuppertal 21.-24. Juli 2016. Hrsg. v. Martin Meiser, Michaela Geiger, Siegfried Kreuzer u. Marcus Sigismund. [The Septuagint – History, Impact, Relevance. 6 thInternational Conference held by the Septuaginta Deutsch Project (LXX.D), Wuppertal July 21–24, 2016.] 2018. XII, 947 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 405. 219,00 € cloth. ISBN 978-3-16-155638-8.
Published in German.
As the central biblical reference text for ancient Greek-speaking Judaism and Christianity alike, the Septuagint both aids and challenges expressions of Jewish and Christian identity. The diversity of its current debates are reflected in this volume, which brings aspects of textual criticism, textual history, philology, theology, reception history, and Jewish identity in the Second Temple period together to provide an up-to-date overview of the latest in international research.
Published in German, but many of the articles are in English.

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Patrologia Blog

THE AWOL BLOG: Patrologia: Latina, Graeca & Orientalis. This is notice about a blog (with this title) which is new to me:
Hints, resources, links and information about the Patrologia Latina and the Patrologia Graeca, both edited by J.-P. Migne and reprinted later by the Garnier Brothers, and the Patrologia Orientalis, edited by R. Graffin and F. Nau.
This website and it’s blog aims to inform and study. All studies in this blog are the property of the authors, and publishers. The administrator of this blog or its readers have no commercial right. Copying for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited.
It has information about Greek, Latin, Aramaic, and Syriac sources.

I would say Assimilated to the Blogosphere, but its assimilation took place long ago. The blog has been running since the beginning of 2008. I'm glad to have finally run across it.

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Bortz, Identität und Kontinuität

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
Bortz, Anna Maria

Identität und Kontinuität
Form und Funktion der Rückkehrerliste Esr 2


[Identity and Continuity. Form and Function of the List of Returnees in Ezr 2]
Series:Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 512

Aims and Scope
The character of the list of returnees in Ezra 2 has been a subject of ongoing scholarly controversy. This study offers a thorough examination of the list in terms of form and content and of its placement and function in the narrative context of Ezra 1-3. The list itself gives insight to the continuities and discontinuities in the construction of post-Exile Jewish identity.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Davies's Qumran slide collection

RETRO-QUMRANICA: Philip R. Davies Qumran Slide Collection (1970-71). The slides are posted by the Leverhulme International Network Project for the Study of Dispersed Qumran Cave Artefacts and Archival Sources.
DQCAAS is extremely grateful to the late Prof. Philip R. Davies for generously making available to us his slide collection of Qumran. These slides were taken in 1970-71 when he was a doctoral student in Jerusalem, working on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Travelling Scholar at the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem (now the Kenyon Institute). These slides include a remarkable picture of Fr. Roland de Vaux explaining how the people of Qumran washed their laundry.

[...]
HT Jim West. More on the late Philip R. Davies is here and links.

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Review of Brannan, Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha

NEW TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA WATCH: Book Review: Rick Brannan, Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha (Phil Long, Reading Acts).
Brannan, Rick. Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha. Lexham Classics; Bellingham, Wash.: Lexham Press, 2017. 193 pp.; Pb. $14.99 Link to Lexham Press

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New critical edition of the Samaritan Pentateuch

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
The Samaritan Pentateuch
A Critical Editio Maior


Ed. by Schorch, Stefan


6 volumes
Volume III
Leviticus
Ed. by Schorch, Stefan

Aims and Scope
A critical edition of the Samaritan Pentateuch is one of the most urgent desiderata of Hebrew Bible research. The present volume on Leviticus is the first out of a series of five meant to fill this gap. The text from the oldest mss. of SP is continuously accompanied by comparative readings, gathered from the Samaritan Targum and the oral reading, as well as MT, the DSS, and the LXX, creating an indispensable resource for Biblical research.

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Eaten by worms!

THE CSCO BLOG: Eaten By Worms: Comparison between Acts 12:23 and Death of the Persecutors 33-35 (Gianna Zipp). That's in the Bible. And elsewhere:
In quite a few ancient sources a bad emperor gets eaten alive by worms and in most of them it is made clear from the beginning that a god or God is punishing some impious tyrant by these means. There is already some work on the topos of worms as a disease naming numerous examples.[i] I want to compare the descriptions by Lactantius and Luke in Acts to see how they differ and why that may be ...

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Zealot Pinhas' act of zealous zealotry

DR. DAVID BERNAT: Pinchas’ Extrajudicial Execution of Zimri and Cozbi.
Pinchas is portrayed as a hero in the Torah and Second Temple sources for killing Zimri and his Midianite lover, Cozbi. Rabbinic sources struggle with the absence of any juridical process or deliberative body, which contravenes their own judicial norms, and therefore recast or minimize his act in subtle ways.
And there's a similarly awkward story about Moses too.

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On the Afghan "Geniza"

The Afghan ‘Genizah’ and Eastern Persian Jewry (Aram Yardumian, Science Trends).
A portion of this collection consists of an 11thcentury private archive belonging to a Jewish family from the town of Bamiyan. These manuscripts, 29 of which were purchased by the National Library in 2013, and 250 more in 2016, were reported at the time as resembling the finds of the Cairo Genizah, and the light they shed on Jewish life during the first half of the 11thcentury in this once diverse and thriving region, and now we are beginning to know why.

The documents are written in six languages, Early Judaeo-Persian, Early New Persian, Judaeo-Arabic, Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic, and range in genre from Islamic legal instruments to personal correspondence, civil contracts to biblical commentary, debt lists to poetry. The most celebrated manuscript so far is a page of 10thcentury exegete Saadia Gaon’s commentary on Isaiah 34, otherwise absent from the rebbe’s corpus, and yet this is hardly the most revelatory document to emerge from the cave in Afghanistan.

Although it will take years, perhaps decades, before all the text is analyzed, important progress has already been made. ...
It's been close to a couple of years since we've had any news on these important manuscripts. They were found in a cave in Afghanistan. They first surfaced in the news at the end of 2011. This article gives a convenient summary of the latest work on them, notably the ambitious master's thesis of Ofir Haim at the Hebrew University.

Background here and follow the links.

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Feldmeier, Der Höchste

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Reinhard Feldmeier Der Höchste Studien zur hellenistischen Religionsgeschichte und zum biblischen Gottesglauben [The Most High. Studies on the Hellenistic History of Religion and Biblical Deism. Student edition.] Unchanged student edition 2018; first edition 2014. XIII, 561 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 330. 39,00 € sewn paper. ISBN 978-3-16-156331-7..
Published in German.
This collection of Reinhard Feldmeier's essays is linked by a common theme: the question about God, posed repeatedly by Jews, Christians and Gentiles. The author shows how the biblical belief in God is discussed again and again in the context of ancient religiosity and philosophy in a perpetual process of assimilation and delimitation, rejection and appropriation, surpassing and transformation and in this way how the examination of the history of religion helps raise our awareness of the biblical discourse on God. In the first part, Feldmeier deals with the history of ancient religion in the Roman Empire and in the second part he traces how in this context Jews and Christians reflected on their belief in the God of Israel and the father of Jesus Christ and created a new awareness of this. In the third part he focuses on the connection between the belief in God and Christology.
I missed the 2014 publication of this book, but here's the student-edition reprint.

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A Coptic codex of Proverbs

VARIANT READINGS: Another Book Biography: The Berlin Akhmimic Proverbs Codex.
It is a single-quire papyrus codex containing the book of Proverbs in the Akhmimic dialect of Coptic. It’s generally assigned to the fourth century, although earlier and later dates have been proposed. It was purchased in Cairo by Bernhard Moritz with the help of the Coptologist Carl Schmidt in 1905, and it was in a remarkable state of preservation at that time.
This story illustrates the importance of preserving — and keeping track of! – every scrap of evidence from antiquity.

Cross-file under Coptic Watch.

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Monday, July 09, 2018

Wajsberg, Babylonian Aramaic and the Talmudic Text Traditions (Hebr.)

NEW BOOK FROM THE ACADEMY OF THE HEBREW LANGUAGE: Babylonian Aramaic and the Talmudic Text Traditions by Eljakim H. Wajsberg (in Hebrew). There is no description, but this is the cover:


That's an Aramaic incantation bowl. Don't judge a book by its cover, but from the title I would guess that the incantation bowls have a place in the book.

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A Phoenician minute

PHOENICIAN WATCH: The Colorful Lives of the Phoenicians (Inside Higher Ed).
Excavation is telling us new stories about an old civilization. In today's Academic Minute, part of University of Missouri week, Benton Kidd explores the colorful lives of the Phoenicians. Kidd is a researcher and associate curator of ancient art at Missouri.
Dr. Kidd is excavating a Phoenician site at Tel Anafa in northern Israel.

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Anderson and Widder, Textual Criticism of the Bible (rev. ed.)

FORTHCOMING BOOK: New Introduction by Anderson and Widder: Textual Criticism of the Bible (Tommy Wasserman, ETC Blog). Updated with more on the New Testament. Coming in October.

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

Artichokes and ancient Judaism

THE SEPHORIM BLOG: The Not-So-Humble Artichoke in Ancient Jewish Sources.
The Not-So-Humble Artichoke in Ancient Jewish Sources
Susan Weingarten
Susan Weingarten is an archaeologist and food historian living in Jerusalem. This is an adapted extract from her paper 'The Rabbi and the Emperors: Artichokes and Cucumbers as Symbols of Status in Talmudic Literature,' in When West met East: the Encounter of Greece and Rome with the Jews, Egyptians and Others: Studies presented to Ranon Katzoff on his 75th Birthday. Edited by D. Schaps, U. Yiftach and D. Dueck. (Trieste, 2016).
The earlier Sephorim post, on a recent ruling on artichokes by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, is here: The Humble Artichoke.

Cross-file under Culinary History.

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Sunday, July 08, 2018

On Larry Stager

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Giant of Iron Age Research. Lawrence E. Stager (1943–2017) (Daniel M. Master).
It is hard to overestimate the influence that Larry had on the field of Biblical archaeology; he revolutionized the field. To get a sense of his contribution, it is worth reviewing the scholarly landscape of the 1970s. After the death of William F. Albright, unexpectedly followed by the death of G. Ernest Wright, Biblical archaeology as a discipline was no longer fashionable. Archaeology in the United States was in the midst of a revolution, throwing off past ways in favor of new “scientific” methods. In such a context, admitting to being a “Biblical archaeologist” was a bit like walking into a chemistry lab and admitting to practicing alchemy. This same American revolution in archaeology also looked askance at archaeologists around the world (including those in Israel) who were not up-to-date on the latest archaeological theory or jargon.

From the beginning, Larry stood above these trends. He was secure enough in himself that he did not feel the need to limit what he could study or from whom he could learn. ...
Past PaleoJudaica posts on Professor Stager are here and here and links. I was a doctoral student at Harvard when Larry arrived. I was not an archaeologist, but I sat in on some of his classes and worked at the Ashkelon excavation for a couple of seasons. Reminiscences are at the links.

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Garazim and Jerusalem

SAMARITAN WATCH: Is a qibla a qibla? Samaritan Traditions About Mount Garizim in Contact and Contention (Stefan Schorch, Institute for Advanced Study). Excerpt:
Thus, while Samaritans and Jews share the concept of one holy center, the respective cultural semantics connected to that concept are completely different. This rupture is intensified by one element inherent to the concept itself: Since the latter requires that there is only one holy center, there cannot be two, and no way for mediation or compromise exists: The shared concept, together with two mutually exclusive cultural semantics, creates a sharp line of distinction between the two communities. And while not only the general concept is shared, as well as many motifs related to it, the latter inevitably acquire a completely different meaning once they travel across this border. Thus, while from the Jewish perspective the Jerusalem Temple is situated on Mount Moriya (see 2 Chronicles 3:1), the latter is a site on Mount Garizim, according to the Samaritans. Similarly, Jewish eschatology is closely tied to Jerusalem, and not to Mount Garizim.
HT AJR.

For past PaleoJudaica posts on Mount Gerizim/Garazim, including on work by Stefan Schorch, start here and follow the links.

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Beyond the Golem

ASSIMILATED EPHEMERALLY TO THE BLOGOSPHERE: Beyond the Golem: Adventures in Jewish Mysticism. This blog, by one daselkin, was devoted to collecting and retelling stories associated with Jewish mysticism and esotericism. (Details here.) Sadly, it only ran briefly in 2010 to 2011. But there are some interesting posts there.

The concept was excellent. It would be nice if the author started it up again.

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The Damascus Geniza

GENIZA FRAGMENT OF THE MONTH (JUNE 2018): A Muslim Genizah in Damascus (Ronny Vollandt). A small fraction of the Qubbat al-Khazna manuscript hoard was catalogued by a Prussian scholar named Bruno Violet at the turn of the twentieth century. He had access only to the non-Islamic fragments, but these were of varied background and of considerable interest:
Another irāda of Abdul Hamid II gave permission for the collection to be sent to Berlin on loan. Before the fragments were dispatched, however, the whole batch was inventoried and photographed by the Ottoman authorities. The number of fragments at this time was given as 1558. The collection arrived in Berlin on June 17, 1902, and was deposited at the Royal Museums; in 1904, it was moved to the State Library. It consisted mainly of Jewish, Christian, and Samaritan texts, in a variety of scripts and languages: Greek, Hebrew, Samaritan, Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Christian Palestinian Aramaic, and even Armenian. Among the fragments, many were palimpsests or had been re-used as the bindings of books. Unexpectedly after six years, in December 1908, the Ottomans demanded the return of the fragments. A prioritized list of 54 fragments, prepared by von Soden, and an almost complete Syriac codex was all that could be photographed before the collection was sent back in its entirety.[2] The Ottomans confirmed that the collection reached Istanbul; however, its current whereabouts remain a matter of conjecture since then.

Violet’s collection consists of a small though significant fraction of the Damascus Genizah. The larger part, which amounted to perhaps 99.5% of the Qubba’s contents, was transferred to Istanbul. The majority of the fragments were housed eventually at the Türk ve İslam Eserleri Müzesi, the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, where the collection was called şâm evrakları “Damascus papers”. An inventory made in 1955 numbers 13,882 items, with a total of 211,603 pieces.

The surviving photographs contain Jewish fragments. Among these are a ketubba, a Judaeo-Arabic glossary of the Mishna and a commentary on Leviticus. A number of folios contain the Hebrew Bible, Job 31, with full Tiberian vocalization and accents, overwritten with an unidentified Syriac text.
Also an Aramaic magical handbook.

Past posts noting Cairo Geniza Fragments of the Month in the Cambridge University Library's Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit are here links.

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Saturday, July 07, 2018

Origin Stories - Part 2

MARGINALIA REVIEW OF BOOKS has its second installment of essays in its series Origin Stories: A Forum on the “Discovery” and Interpretation of First-Millennium Manuscripts. The first set of essays in the series was noted here. There are three new essays:

Tommy Wasserman (Ansgar Teologiske Høgskole) – Simonides’ New Testament Papyri: Their Production and Purported Provenance

Also, over at the Markers of Authenticity Blog, Malcolm Choat has published a post involving Simonides and one of his nemeses, Henry Deane: Forgery, (de)authentication, and modes of expertise. Past PaleoJudaica posts involving Simonides are here and here.

Roberta Mazza (University of Manchester) – “Property of a gentleman”: The market of ancient manuscripts and the problem of provenance

Regular readers will recognize Dr. Mazza from her blog, Faces and Voices, to which I have linked from time to time. Past PaleoJudaica posts on the new Sappho fragments are here and links. And for many past posts on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife forgery, start here and here and follow the links.

Nicola Denzey Lewis (Claremont Graduate University) – (Still) Rethinking the Origins of the Nag Hammadi Codices

I noted the publication of James Robinson's account of the history of the Nag Hammadi codices from their discovery to their publication here. And I noted some comments by Larry Hurtado on problems with the origin story of the codices here. And this post and this one are relevant too.

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R. Akiva and his wife for children

NEW CHILDREN'S BOOK: Great Jewish Summer Reads (Phil Jacobs, Jewish Link of New Jersey). This article briefly notes many new books, some of which have already been mentioned on PaleoJudaica. But this one is new to me:
“Drop by Drop: A Story of Rabbi Akiva,” by Jacqueline Jules. 2017. Kar-Ben Publishing. Paperback, 32 pages. Age Range: 3-6 years. ISBN-13: 978-1512420913.

Akiva is just a poor shepherd living an ordinary life, until he falls in love with Rachel. Rachel thinks her husband could become a great man of learning but Akiva can’t even read! Is he too old to be a scholar or can he follow the example of the water in the nearby brook? Water is soft, yet drop by drop, it can soften the hardest stone.
I noted a recently-published, imaginative biography of Rabbi Akiva (for adults) here and links. And for past posts on his wife, Rachel, see here and links.

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Raphael

ARCHANGEL WATCH What Role Does Raphael Play in the Bible? Where is this archangel in Scripture? (Stephanie Hertzenberg, Beliefnet). That is a trick question, at least for some traditions. This article is written from the perspective of the Protestant Christian tradition, but it does discuss the role of Raphael in the Second-Temple-era Jewish books of Tobit and 1 Enoch. From a historical perspective it doesn't work very well to speak of "the final form of the Bible." There are several different forms in active use today. Each has its own claim to authenticity. But that is for another discussion.

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Busy again ...

I HAVE ANOTHE BUSY WEEK COMING and I will have little time to blog.

But despair not! I have been saving up posts for you. I should be able to keep up a normal blogging volume or close to it. But posting will probably mostly be in the afternoons for a while. And I may not be on top of new stories as promptly as I usually am.

Do keep coming back as normally! I have some good things lined up for you, including new books, posts from some blogs we don't hear from often, and even some new blogs.

More later (today).

Have a great week!

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

Friday, July 06, 2018

More on Ada Yardeni

RECOGNITION: Dead Sea Scrolls decoder remembered as grande dame of Semitic paleography. Ada Yardeni, who died this month at 81, combined practical knowledge of calligraphy with scholarly insights on the development of Hebrew to become a world-renowned forgery expert (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel). Excerpt:
Yardeni was “definitely one of the three best paleographers of the Dead Sea Scrolls and maybe one of the best Hebrew paleographers for all [historical] periods,” said [Prof. Emanuel] Tov this week.

Tov told The Times of Israel that Yardeni’s background in graphic arts gave her a decided advantage in reading ancient scripts.

“She was the only one who combined the practical knowledge of a calligraphist with the scholarly insights of the knowledge of the development of the writing in all the various Hebrew scripts,” he said. “She was the only one who really knew exactly how the movement and the strokes of the scripts went, which was a tremendous benefit in analyzing the scripts and helping others in analyzing their scrolls.”

Personal friend Cotton-Paltiel told The Times of Israel that unlike many of today’s scholars, Yardeni worked directly from primary sources.

Most scholars, she said, develop theories based on documents in which texts are deciphered by others. “Ada mainly worked on the primary documents herself and gave us the material to work on.”
There's more on Ada Yardeni here and links.

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Jeremiah 39: getting the Babylonian names right

EPIGRAPHY AND ONOMASTICS: The Babylonian Officials Who Oversaw the Siege of Jerusalem (Prof. Shalom Holtz, TheTorah.com).
Jeremiah 39 describes Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem, and even names some of the officials who were with him and their titles (v.3). Babylonian administrative records uncovered by archaeology revises our understanding of who they were.
Prof. Holtz's conclusions seem to agree with those of Dr. Lawrence Mykytiuk. Regular readers will remember Dr. Mykytiuk's list of 50 biblical persons mentioned in inscriptions, later updated to 53 persons. The updated list includes the second Nergal-sharezer who is noted here by Prof. Holtz.

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What are the mezuzot in Solomon's Temple?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Doorways of Solomon’s Temple What is a “mezuzah” in the Bible? (Megan Sauter).
Despite the Biblical description and archaeological parallels, there are still some mysteries about Solomon’s Temple. For example, 1 Kings 6:31 describes the doors between the outer sanctum and the inner shrine of Solomon’s Temple as having five mezuzot (the plural form of mezuzah). What is a mezuzah? In the Bible, mezuzah is normally translated as “doorpost.” However, in the context of Solomon’s Temple, doors with five doorposts do not make sense.
This essay summarizes a BAR article from 2015. The article itself is behind the subscription wall, but the essay gives you the gist of it.

The BAR article is: Madeleine Mumcuoglu and Yosef Garfinkel, “The Puzzling Doorways of Solomon’s Temple,” July/August 2015.

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

Oriental Institute Publications

THE AWOL BLOG: Chronological Lists of Oriental Institute Publications.
Between 1997 and 2011, the Oriental Institute maintained a list, by year, of its publications. This offered a useful chronological overview of the publication activity. I have now compiled lists for 2012-2017 (so far) and include links to the 1997-2011 lists below.
These monographs cover the full range of Ancient Near Eastern Studies. Some of them are of interest for Semitics, ancient Hebrew, and ancient and medieval Judaism — for example, the Golb and Huehnergard Festschriften. You can download a copy of any of them for free. For you, special deal!

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Thursday, July 05, 2018

BHD on Ada Yardeni

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: In Memoriam: Ada Yardeni (1937–2018). This is a collection of links to the full texts of past BAR essays by Dr. Yardeni.

Note in particular her very recent essay in honor of Hershel Shanks's retirement as chief editor of BAR: Hershel’s Crusade, No. 3: Forgeries and Unprovenanced Artifacts. In it she gave her authoritative opinions on the James Ossuary inscription, the Jehoash inscription, and the inscription on the Ivory Pomegranate.

More on the late Ada Yardeni is here and links.

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

Review of Rich, Cedar Forests, Cedar Ships

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Sara A. Rich, Cedar Forests, Cedar Ships: Allure, Lore, and Metaphor in the Mediterranean Near East. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2017. Pp. x, 280. ISBN 9781784913656. £36.00. Reviewed by Marcus Ziemann, The Ohio State University (marcusdziemann@gmail.com).
In this book, which began its life as an archaeology dissertation at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Sara Rich attempts to provide a history of eastern Mediterranean cedars from the trees’ perspective (a “hylocentric antinarrative,” as she calls it). In doing so, she includes biological, philological, historical, archaeological, and, not least, philosophical material relevant to her analysis of the cedars. Moreover, she deals with the cultures of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Levant, Greece and Rome, as well as the European and West Asiatic cultures of the Middle Ages, and the modern-day nation-states of the eastern Mediterranean. If this sounds like an ambitious project, it is, and Rich signals as much in her introduction. She promises to provide a history of the trees that is “object-oriented” (in the philosophical sense) and stresses the trees’ qualities and interactions with their environment (both ecological and anthropological). In particular, she wants to know how the trees’ qualities affected humans’ perception of them and how this perception in turn affected humans’ interactions with and utilization of the trees as resources. Despite her stated ambitions, I am not sure that she fully accomplishes what she intended. ...

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More freebies from Orbis

THE AWOL BLOG: Newly added to Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis Online, July 3, 2018. Background here. They just keep posting free books!

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

On Balaam

PROF. CARL S. ERLICH: Balaam the Seer: From the Bible to the Deir ʿAlla Inscription (TheTorah.com).
What we know about where he lived, the language he spoke, and the gods he worshiped.
A good, thorough discussion of all of our evidence, biblical and epigraphic, for the seer Balaam son of Beor.

Some past PaleoJudaica posts on Balaam are here, here, here, here, here, here, and links.

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

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

July 4th 2018

HAPPY AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY to all those celebrating!

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

What is depicted on the carved stone at Capernaum?

LEEN RITMEYER: Is the Ark of the Covenant depicted on a carved stone at Capernaum? Dr. Ritmeyer thinks it represents a wheeled carriage that was transport for the synagogue's Torah scroll.

It has also been argued that the stone depicts the Jerusalem Temple with God's Merkavah chariot. Parallels with the Magdala Stone could point in the latter direction.


(The Capernaum Stone. Image courtesy of bible-history.com.)

There's more on the ancient synagogue of Capernaum here. And for more on the Magdala Stone, start here (cf. here) and follow the links.

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

Animal pain in Jewish tradition

PROF. YAEL SHEMESH: Do Animals Feel Pain? Balaam’s Donkey vs. Descartes (TheTorah.com).
In contrast to Descartes’ theory of animals as automatons, the Torah and rabbinic text express deep concern for animal suffering. One vivid example is the donkey’s rebuke of Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me?” (Num 22:28).

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Yardeni obituary

H-JUDAIC: Obituary: Dr. Ada Yardeni (Shalom Berger). Background here.

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

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Hellenistic-era pots excavated in Israeli cliff-cave

SPELEOLOGICAL ARCHAEOLOGY: Ancient pottery vessels salvaged intact from cave in northern Israel. Large wine jars, a cooking pot and other pottery vessels over 2000 years old were salvaged over the weekend in a complex operation from a cave on a cliff in a nature reserve near the northern border (IAA press release).
The excavators climbed up ropes into the cave and in a coordinated and strenuous effort in a confined space succeeded in carrying out an archaeological excavation, in the course of which two intact wine amphoras (jars), several storage jars, a bowl, a cooking pot, two juglets and broken shards of several more jars were dug out. The fragile vessels were wrapped in a protective plastic sheet and were lowered in padded bags some 30m over rope slides controlled from below and reached the base of the cliff safely. The team carried the finds on foot to the cars and they were taken to an Israel Antiquities Authority facility for restoration and research.

According to Dr. Danny Syon of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “as a first impression, the finds seem to date to the Hellenistic period—between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE. Considering that cooking and serving vessels were found, it would appear that those who brought them planned to live there for a while. We assume that whoever hid here escaped some violent event that occurred in the area. Perhaps by dating the vessels more closely, we shall be able to tie them to a known historic event. It is mind boggling how the vessels were carried to the cave, which is extremely difficult to access. Maybe an easier way that once existed disappeared over time.”

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The altar on Mt. Ebal and related sites

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: A Biblical Altar on Mt. Ebal and Other Israelite Footprints in the Jordan Valley? Potential archaeological evidence of the Israelites entering the Promised Land (Megan Sauter). As usual, the BAR article of which this is a summary is behind the subscription wall. But as usual, the summary is worth reading. The 2016 BAR article is: Ralph K. Hawkins, “Israelite Footprints: Has Adam Zertal Found the Biblical Altar on Mt. Ebal and the Footprints of the Israelites Settling the Promised Land?”

For more on the late Adam Zertal and his work, see here.

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ANE Mailing List silver anniversary

THE AWOL BLOG: 25th Anniversary of the ANE mailing list (Charles Jones). I remember it. I was there! Happy anniversary (yesterday) to the ANE List!

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On the Psalms of Solomon

READING ACTS: Introduction to The Psalms of Solomon. Another installment in Phil Long's current summer series on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Past posts in the series have been noted here and links.

Some past PaleoJudaica posts on the Psalms of Solomon are here, here, and here and links. These include links to two 2017 posts by Phil which also involve the Psalms of Solomon.

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Monday, July 02, 2018

Coin from 4th-year of Great Revolt found in drain

ARCHAEOLOGY AND NUMISMATICS: Rare Coin From Fourth Year of Jewish Revolt Found in Ancient Jerusalem Drain. Engraved in paleo-Hebrew, the coin was found in debris from City of David excavations and seems to have been lost by a rebel hiding from Titus in the sewers (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
LIke others minted in the year 69, the coin found now bears the words “For the Redemption of Zion” in ancient Hebrew lettering, and a depiction of a chalice. Its other side depicts the so-called “four species” and the words “Year Four.” That is taken to refer to the final year of rebellion against the Romans, when Simon Bar Giora took over the leadership. Previously the Jews had been led by John of Giscala.

The coin could have been lost and fallen into the drainage system through cracks of the stone-paved road, said Eli Shukron, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority. Or, the money could have fallen from the pocket of a Jewish rebel hiding in the drains below Jerusalem.
Several years ago a hoard of bronze coins from the fourth year of the Great Revolt was excavated near Jerusalem. And a couple of years ago a silver fourth-year shekel went up for auction, but was not sold. I don't know what became of it after that. And for that discovery of an oil lamp and some cooking pots in a cistern connected to an ancient Jerusalem drainage channel, see here.

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den Dulk, Between Jews and Heretics

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
Between Jews and Heretics
Refiguring Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho

By Matthijs den Dulk
© 2018 – Routledge

174 pages

Description
Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho is the oldest preserved literary dialogue between a Jew and a Christian and a key text for understanding the development of early Judaism and Christianity. In Between Jews and Heretics, Matthijs den Dulk argues that whereas scholarship has routinely cast this important text in terms of "Christianity vs. Judaism," its rhetorical aims and discursive strategies are considerably more complex, because Justin is advocating his particular form of Christianity in constant negotiation with rival forms of Christianity. The striking new interpretation proposed in this study explains many of the Dialogue’s puzzling features and sheds new light on key passages. Because the Dialogue is a critical document for the early history of Jews and Christians, this book contributes to a range of important questions, including the emergence of the notion of heresy and the "parting of the ways" between Jews and Christians.

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BAS SLB/ASOR conference fellowships 2018

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: BAS Fellowships for 2018.
The Biblical Archaeology Society is now accepting applications for the 2018 Joseph Aviram, Yigael Yadin, and Hershel Shanks fellowships that allow scholars to attend the annual meetings of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), held this November in Denver. The fellowships’ stipends of up to $2,500 each are intended to cover the costs of the winners’ travel expenses.

[...]
Follow the link for the particulars for each fellowship.

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Another June Biblical Studies Carnival

READING ACTS: Biblical Studies Carnival 149 (June 2018). I noted another BSC yesterday, but it seems that this is the official one. Better two than none.

Also, thanks to Phil Long for his kind words about PaleoJudaica.

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Sunday, July 01, 2018

On confirmation bias, the Shapira affair, and "first-century Mark"

THE TEXTUAL CULTURES, MATERIAL CULTURES BLOG: First Century Mark and Nineteenth Century Moses. Michael Press has an interesting post about the Shapira-scroll affair and the recent upheaval over the so-called (but not) "first-century Mark" manuscript.

The technical term for the phenomenon he invokes to link them is "confirmation bias." None of us has enough information to get a clear view of baseline reality. Instead we see a great many dots. We try to connect them into a pattern. But almost always we start with an opinion already. That opinion filters which dots we choose. It influences which lines we draw to connect the dots we've chosen. Two people with different presuppositions often look at the same dotscape and see completely different pictures. And each person is sure that their picture is perfectly clear and obvious.

We all do this. We can see it when other people do it. It's almost impossible to see ourselves doing it. We have tools to help us overcome it, such as the scientific method and peer review. But they are blunt instruments for very specific types of problems. And their results are rough-hewn at best.

I'll let you read Dr. Press's post and see what you think of his comparison.

Background on the Shapira affair is here and links. Michael Press has written about it before. Background on the formerly "first-century Mark" manuscript from Oxyrhynchus is here (with reference to another article by Dr. Press) and links.

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