Saturday, April 28, 2018

Hogeterp and Denaux, Semitisms in Luke's Greek

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Albert Hogeterp / Adelbert Denaux. Semitisms in Luke's Greek. A Descriptive Analysis of Lexical and Syntactical Domains of Semitic Language Influence in Luke's Gospel. [Semitismen im Griechisch des Lukasevangeliums. Eine deskriptive Analyse lexikalischer und syntaktischer Felder des Einflusses semitischer Sprachen im Lukasevangelium.] 2018. XXVIII, 656 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 401
Published in English.
The Gospel of Luke has long been known for its variation between good, educated Greek and Semitic influences. In the last century, five theories have attempted to explain the Semitic influence: Semitic sources; imitation of the Greek Bible; the Greek of the ancient synagogue; literary code-switching between standard Greek and semitized Greek; and the social background of bilingualism. Albert Hogeterp and Adelbert Denaux revisit Luke's Greek and evaluate which alleged Semitisms of vocabulary and syntax are tenable in light of comparative investigation across corpora of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, literary as well as documentary, texts. They contend that Semitisms in Luke's Greek are only fully understood in light of a complementarity of linguistic backgrounds, and evaluate them in diachronic respect of Synoptic comparison and in synchronic respect of their place in Luke's narrative style and communicative strategy.

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Stiebert, First-Degree Incest and the Hebrew Bible

NEW BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY/T&T CLARK:
First-Degree Incest and the Hebrew Bible
Sex in the Family


By: Johanna Stiebert

Media of First-Degree Incest and the Hebrew Bible
See larger image
Published: 19-04-2018
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 256
ISBN: 9780567681232
Imprint: T&T Clark
Series: The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £28.99
Online price: £26.09
Save £2.90 (10%)

About First-Degree Incest and the Hebrew Bible

'Incest' refers to illegal sexual relations between family members. Its precise contours, however, are culturally specific. Hence, an illegal incestuous union in one social context may be a legal close-kin union in another. First-degree sexual unions, between a parent and child, or between siblings, are most widely prohibited and abhorred. This book discusses all overt and covert first-degree incest relations in the Hebrew Bible and also probes the significance of gaps and what these imply about projected sexual and social values. As the dominant opinion on the origin of first-degree incest continues to be shaped, new voices such as those of queer and post-feminist criticism have joined the conversation.

It navigates not only the incest laws of Leviticus and the narratives of Lot and his daughters and of Amnon and Tamar but pursues subtler intimations of first-degree sexual unions, such as between Adam and his (absent but arguably implied) mother, Haran and Terah's wife, Ham and Noah. In pursuing the psycho-social values that may be drawn from the Hebrew Bible regarding first-degree incest, this book will provide a thorough review of incest studies from the early 20th century onward and explain and assess the contribution of very recent critical approaches from queer and post-feminist perspectives.

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Review of Esler (ed.), The Early Christian World, 2nd ed.

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Philip Francis Esler (ed.), The Early Christian World, 2nd ed. Routledge worlds. London; New York: Routledge, 2017. Pp. 1250. ISBN 9781351678292. $235.00. Reviewed by Ine Jacobs, University College, Oxford (ine.jacobs@univ.ox.ac.uk).
This volume is the revised edition of the original Early Christian World (ECW) published in 2000. Like the 2000 version, it is a treasure trove for all things related to the origins of early Christianity, the scriptures, early Christian controversies, and the most influential early Christian figures. Considering the many insights gained in the 17 years since the publication of the first edition, the adoption of new methodologies and development of new research foci, an update was urgently needed. In addition to chapter updates, 11 articles have been revised and another 11 have been newly added, ensuring that about one quarter of this second edition is new. Some of the added chapters deal with prominent individuals (chapter 52 on Pachomius the Great and chapter 55 on Gregory of Nyssa), whereas also Manichaeism (chapter 46) now is given a place next to gnosticism, Montanism, Donatism and Arianism (chapters 42 to 45). Other new contributions reflect the growing scholarly attention to matters such as interactions between Christians and non-Christians (for instance chapter 11, “Jewish and Christian interactions from the first to the fifth centuries”), the increasing interest in non-literary sources (chapter 23, “Christian realia: papyrological and epigraphical material”) and the growing appreciation of hagiography as a historical source (chapter 25, “Saints and hagiography”). In addition, a chapter on ritual (chapter 21, “Ritual and the rise of the early Christian movement”) results from the recognition in modern-day anthropology and religious studies that religion is not only about doctrine and immaterial belief and ideas, but also tangible practices.

[...]

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Paul and (proto-)Theodotian's LXX

THE ETC BLOG: Paul's Bible Version in 1 Corinthians 15:54? (John Meade). I noted another recent post by Dr. Meade on the (proto-)Theodotianic version of the Septuagint here.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Lim on the canonical process

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: The Canonical Process Reconsidered (Timothy H. Lim).
I suggest that the books of the canon were not selected according to a set of criteria. One cannot explain why one book was chosen over another book by a set of standards or norms. I avoid the terminology of “criteria” altogether and its connotation of an external standard. The canonical process was multifaceted and complex, both in the way that each community formulated its own understanding of authoritative scriptures and the rationale implied in the selection. We need to apply a different kind of logic to understand how the process worked in defining the canon by drawing on the conceptual resources of analytical philosophy on non-essentialism, blurred definitions and family resemblances. The result of this process, the definition of the canon, is explained by indicative logic.
This approach sounds promising.

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On paying day (and night) laborers

PROF. RABBI MARTIN LOCKSHIN: Paying Workers Immediately or Within Twelve Hours? (TheTorah.com).
Leviticus 19:13 and Deuteronomy 24:14 insist that workers be paid without delay. The Talmud, however, interprets these two verses in a way that actually delays paying the workers. Rashbam and Ramban, reassert the peshat (plain meaning), thereby preserving the intent of the law.

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Review of Pirngruber, The Economy of Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Reinhard Pirngruber, The Economy of Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017. Pp. xiii, 249. ISBN 9781107106062. $99.99. Reviewed by Laurie E. Pearce, University of California, Berkeley (lpearce@berkeley.edu).
The term “Seleucid” in this book’s title may pique the attention of Classicists, but the volume is an important read for any researcher concerned with the economic history of antiquity. This clearly written, well-organized volume, a revision of the author’s 2012 VU Amsterdam dissertation, establishes Reinhard Pirngruber as a historian of ancient economies who has responded to the call to think “about how to build models or how to relate models to the empirical facts.”1 Pirngruber’s work integrates econometrics and historical investigation, and produces “a piece of genuine ‘economic history with economy.’”

[...]
I try to keep track of work on late ancient Babylonia because of its general importance for understanding ancient Judaism. More on that here and links. It's good to see some serious synthetic work being done on that vast mass of cuneiform documentary texts.

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Gribetz on teaching with digital timelines

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Teaching History Beyond Grand Narratives (Sarit Kattan Gribetz).
How do we encourage our students to think of the past not as a grand narrative to be learned from a textbook (or a teacher), but as a complex constellation of events, values, personalities, and ideas that can be analyzed and understood from a variety of perspectives and that can be used to construct multiple possible stories about the past?

This is a challenge that I face when teaching a one-semester “Ancient History” course that is meant to cover the ancient Near East, Greece, and Rome from pre-historic times to the conversion of Constantine. As I have shared earlier on this forum, I begin the semester by emphasizing the fragmentary nature of our sources from and for the past, and the ethical responsibilities we have as historians to fill those gaps humbly and honestly – and to allow some of them to remain uncomfortably empty.

[...]
Ambitious, but worthwhile, aims. Cross-file under Pedagogy.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cherubs or cupids?

DECORATIVE ART: Naked Cherubs Fresco, Rare Art Unearthed in Nero-era Mansion by Rome. Mosaics, colored stucco and cherubs sporting on sky-blue background found in house that had been occupied for hundreds of years (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz).
Elaborate decorations including stucco from the time of Nero have been found in the remains of a villa and bath complex in the outskirts of Rome. Among the wonderfully preserved wall paintings is one of winged cherubs on a sky-blue background.

The Villa delle Terme degli Stucchi Dipinti, occupying a vast stretch of land near the Ciampino airport south of Rome, was discovered in a salvage excavation in 2010 while the municipality was prospecting land for a new neighborhood. Systematic excavation started three years later.

What the archaeologists found was a luxurious home dating between the 2nd century B.C.E. and the 1th century C.E., with an elaborate thermal bath complex.

[...]
This site is of considerable interest in itself, but it doesn't have a direct connection with ancient Judaism. I draw attention to it because the terminology is a little confusing. The "cherub" fresco shows slightly chubby children with wings. I would call them "cupids", not "cherubs."

The biblical "cherub" comes out of Canaanite tradition and is an angelic winged sphinx. For example, cherubs were an iconographic motif used in Solomon's Temple and on the Ark of the Covenant. (Click on any image below for a larger version.)


A cherub throne is depicted on the front right corner of the Phoenician Ahiram sarcophagus (Wikimedia Commons). Cf. 1 Kings 10:18-20.

Ezekiel's cherubs mix in a lot of Babylonian iconography and some visionary wildness, but are based on that template. In Jewish and Christian mysticism, four cherubs form the base of God's throne.


Art Deco cherubs of Ezekiel in the Church of the Hermitage of Camaldoli, Italy (J. R. Davila).

A "cupid" is a Greco-Roman representation of the mythological figure of Cupid from the myth of the love story of Cupid and Psyche. But it represents him in that chubby child mode. In later Christian tradition, the cupid iconography was associated with the term cherub. According to Philologos, this chubby child tradition came from a misunderstanding of a comment in the Talmud. It still lives today in the image of winged baby Cupid shooting people in their hearts with his arrow to make them fall in love.


A cupid frescoe from Herculaneum (Wikimedia Commons)

I see nothing about this Roman site that connects it to ancient Judaism, so it would be clearer to call the figures in that fresco "cupids" rather than, anachronistically, "cherubs."

That is my understanding, but I am not an art historian. If I've gotten something wrong above, I would be grateful if any readers who are real art historians would correct me. Anyway, this is an interesting site and an interesting article.

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Review of Dodson and Briones (eds.), Paul and Seneca in Dialogue

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Joseph R. Dodson, David E. Briones (ed.), Paul and Seneca in Dialogue. Ancient Philosophy & Religion, 2. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2017. Pp. xviii, 340. ISBN 9789004341357. $159.00. Reviewed by Dominik Wolff, Stade (dominicus-lupus@web.de).
The question “What if?” elevates historical studies from a mere descriptive level to a true Geisteswissenschaft. The reviewed collection of fourteen essays undertakes just this approach by putting two contemporaries of the 1st century CE, the Christic 1 apostle Paul and the Stoic philosopher Seneca, into dialogue, although the two of them actually, to our knowledge, never met.2 As such, this compilation follows in the footsteps of J. N. Sevenster’s seminal book “Paul and Seneca” (Leiden: Brill 1961), and extends the path of its predecessor.

[...]
Cross-file under Counterfactual History.

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80% fixed-term post in OT/HB at Edinburgh

VACANCY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH: Teaching Fellow in Old Testament & Hebrew Bible.
Vacancy Ref: : 043574 Closing Date : 17-May-2018
Contact Person : Mingyuan.Cao Contact Number :
Contact Email : divinity@ed.ac.uk
Applications are invited for a three-year fixed term, part time (28 hours per week) Teaching Fellow in Old Testament & Hebrew Bible post.

The successful candidate will teach at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Applicants should meet following essential criteria to be considered for appointment:

PhD in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible or the anticipated completion of such a PhD prior to the commencement of the appointment
A thorough knowledge of current trends within the discipline.
Evidence of excellent teaching.
This post is offered on a part-time (28 hours per week), fixed term basis for 36 months.
Follow the link for further particulars. Since this is not a full-time position, applicants must already have the right to work in the UK.

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Rabbinic Hebrew post at Cambridge University

FIXED-TERM RESEARCH POSITION: Research Associate/Research Assistant in Rabbinic Hebrew Philology.
Applications are invited for the post of Research Associate or Research Assistant (depending on qualifications) in Rabbinic Hebrew Philology in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, beginning 1st October 2018 for one year.

The holder of the post will work with Dr Shai Heijmans on a critical edition of Mishna Codex Kaufmann (ms. Kaufmann A50). Dr Heijmans is currently preparing a diplomatic edition of the Codex, as part of a project funded by the AHRC, whose Principal Investigator is Dr Michael Rand. The aim of the edition is to provide complete and maximally accurate documentation of the Mishna text as it appears in the codex—consonants and vocalization—and to create a critical apparatus for the elucidation of palaeographical and textual difficulties.

[...]
Follow the link for further particulars. The deadline for applications is 9 May 2018, so don't dawdle!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

An early Qur'anic palimpsest

A COPTIC SURPRISE: Passages from the Bible discovered behind Qur'an manuscript. The only recorded palimpsest in which a Christian text has been effaced to make way for the Islamic holy text is to go on sale at Christie’s (Alison Flood, The Guardian).
French scholar Dr ElĂ©onore Cellard was looking for images of a palimpsest page sold a decade earlier by Christie’s when she came across the auction house’s latest catalogue, which included fragments from a manuscript of the Qur’an which Christie’s had dated to the eighth century AD, or the second century of Islam. Scrutinising the image, she noticed that, appearing faintly behind the Arabic script, were Coptic letters. She contacted Christie’s, and they managed to identify the Coptic text as coming from the Old Testament’s Book of Deuteronomy – part of the Torah and the Christian Old Testament.
An eighth century fragment of the Qur'an is pretty early, although we've seen earlier. For new readers, a "palimpsest" is a manuscript whose text has been erased and then overwritten with a new text. Twenty-first century technologies are making it increasingly possible to recover the erased underlying text.

If any PaleoJudaica readers happen to be wealthy philanthropists, I draw your attention to the fact that the fragment is for sale. Its early date makes it important for Qur'anic studies. The underlying Coptic biblical text must have been produced by Christians. So the fragment could also tell specialists some interesting things about Christian-Islamic relations early in the Islamic era. That's a lot of return for your money.

As usual, I hope that whoever buys the fragment donates it to a museum. Or at least that the buyer makes it available to scholars for study. Publications on it would only increase its profile and value.

For past PaleoJudaica posts on early (7th century) Qur'an fragments, start here and follow the links. Cross-file under Coptic Watch. For past posts on other palimpsest manuscripts, start here and follow the links.

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Orion Center symposium on the DSS at 70

ANOTHER SEVENTIETH ANNIVERSARY: The Sixteenth International Orion Symposium. The Dead Sea Scrolls at Seventy: "Clear a Path in the Wilderness," in conjunction with the University of Vienna, New York University, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and the Israel Museums. April 29-May 2, 2018. The theme is "The Wilderness." Follow the links for the program and the paper abstracts.

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Powell, Narrative Desire and the Book of Ruth

NEW BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY/T&T CLARK:
Narrative Desire and the Book of Ruth

By: Stephanie Day Powell

Published: 22-02-2018
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 224
ISBN: 9780567678751
Imprint: T&T Clark
Series: The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, Playing the Texts
Illustrations: 12 bw illus
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £85.00
Online price: £76.50
Save £8.50 (10%)

About Narrative Desire and the Book of Ruth

Stephanie Day Powell illuminates the myriad forms of persuasion, inducement, discontent, and heartbreak experienced by readers of Ruth. Writing from a lesbian perspective, Powell draws upon biblical scholarship, contemporary film and literature, narrative studies, feminist and queer theories, trauma studies and psychoanalytic theory to trace the workings of desire that produced the book of Ruth and shaped its history of reception. Wrestling with the arguments for and against reading Ruth as a love story between women, Powell gleans new insights into the ancient world in which Ruth was written.

Ruth is known as a tale of two courageous women, the Moabite Ruth and her Israelite mother-in-law Naomi. As widows with scarce means of financial or social support, Ruth and Naomi are forced to creatively subvert the economic and legal systems of their day in order to survive. Through exceptional acts of loyalty, they, along with their kinsman Boaz, re-establish the bonds of family and community, while preserving the line of Israel's great king David. Yet for many, the story of Ruth is deeply dissatisfying. Scholars increasingly recognize how Ruth's textual “gaps” and ambiguities render conventional interpretations of the book's meaning and purpose uncertain. Feminist and queer interpreters question the appropriation of a woman's story to uphold patriarchal institutions and heteronormative values. Such avenues of inquiry lend themselves to questions of narrative desire, that is, the study of how stories frame our desires and how our own complex longings affect the way we read.

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Who is that "neighbor" you should love in the BIble?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Love Your Neighbor: Only Israelites or Everyone? (Richard Elliott Friedman). This is the full text of an article from the September/October 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. Professor Friedman argues that "neighbor" means everyone.

For more on his reconstruction of the historical Exodus, see here and links.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

McGrath on Blogging

RELIGION PROF: Blogs as Havens for those Fleeing Facebook (James McGrath). Professor McGrath is one of the original nine "bibliobloggers," and he is still blogging. His thoughts have weight on the matter. I agree with the following*:
But what is the appropriate response? To attach a narrowing funnel? To thin the herd? Or to find some other method of drinking effectively from such a source? Human beings are currently coping with the literal impact of things that were historically scarce – not only water but food and especially sugars – becoming abundant. And so we need to learn to cope with a shift from scarcity to abundance if we are to survive, in many domains and not just that of information in the internet era. And I think that blogs can likewise play an ongoing role as their place amidst the internet’s deluge of information shifts in the opposite direction, from a role of predominance to a more limited and select set of contributions.
At present one of the greatest challenges to the human race is filtering. Perhaps it is the greatest challenge. How do we deal with the abundance of everything now available to us? Food. Opportunities. And information. How do we individually and as a society confront the vast and growing heap of information before us and winnow out the best quality grain for ourselves without suffocating under the chaff? Choose your filters well!

If you are using Facebook as your main filter, please stop. It is the processed carbs and sugar of information.



For a list of those original nine (most of whom are still blogging) and other comments on social media and biblical studies, see my blog post What Just Happened, which gives the full text of my November 2010 SBL paper. It was an update to three other contributions I published on the subject in 2005. A brief quote:
If I may hazard more predictions, I expect that these somewhat fragmented and still relatively primitive private media productions will become increasingly powerful, increasingly user-friendly, and increasingly integrated into a personal media expression that is as seamless as the user wishes it to be and that puts into the hands of a private individual the media resources that in the 1980s would have been available only to a major production studio. There is no time here for a proper discussion of the implications this will have for society and individual liberty, but I think they will be largely positive. In a word, the increasingly Orwellian surveillance powers of the State will be to a significant degree neutralized by the ability of billions of individuals to turn those powers back on the State and to shine the glaring light of universal publicity on an ever-increasing portion of its actions. This is already happening.

I predict also that, despite all the new media resources, blogging has found its own niche in the new media – it provides focused discussion that is readable at leisure and ring-fenced for particular purposes – and it will be here to stay at least for quite some time to come.
That was about seven and a half years ago. I think my prophecies have aged well. For a bit more on that, see here and links.

As for blogging, PaleoJudaica continues as ever. To other bibliobloggers who stopped and are starting up again, welcome back! Likewise, welcome to those starting a new blog. If your blog, old or new, is of interest to ancient Judaism, drop me a note and let me know, so I can link to it.

*CLARIFICATION: The quote from James is from his January post on the same topic. Sorry for the confusion.

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The Talmud on "sacrifice not for its own sake"

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Slaughtered Offerings. In making animal sacrifices, says this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, ancient Jews learned the importance of doing religious actions with deliberate purpose.
This week, with the beginning of Seder Kodashim, the focus shifts from the worldly to the divine. Kodashim—literally, “sacred things”—deals primarily with the services and rituals performed in the Temple in Jerusalem, which the rabbis call the Beit Hamikdash, the “sacred house.” For most of the remaining Daf Yomi cycle, which ends in January 2020, we will explore the complex rules governing sacrifices and offerings in the Temple.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Review of de Bruyn, Making Amulets Christian

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Making Amulets Christian: Artefacts, Scribes, and Contexts (Andrew Henry).
Theodore de Bruyn, Making Amulets Christian: Artefacts, Scribes, and Contexts, Oxford University, 2017

Theodore de Bruyn’s Making Amulets Christian is a comprehensive introduction to textual amulets from late antique Egypt. Although many of the topics discussed in the book could shed light on ritual practice elsewhere in the Mediterranean world, de Bruyn limits himself to Egypt because this is where the bulk of textual amulets from this period are found.

[...]

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Giffone, 'Sit At My Right Hand'

NEW BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY/T&T CLARK:
'Sit At My Right Hand'
The Chronicler's Portrait of the Tribe of Benjamin in the Social Context of Yehud


By: Benjamin D. Giffone

Published: 19-04-2018
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 256
ISBN: 9780567681195
Imprint: T&T Clark
Series: The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £28.99
Online price: £26.09
Save £2.90 (10%)

About 'Sit At My Right Hand'

Benjamin is portrayed in Chronicles differently from how he is portrayed in the Deuteronomic History. In the latter, Benjamin's relation to Judah is shown as varied and complex, incorporating both highs and lows. The Chronicler, by contrast, smooths over these difficulties by emphasizing the historically close relationship between the two tribes.

Benjamin D. Giffone sees in this evidence that the Judah-Benjamin relationship reflects the socio-political situation of late Persian Yehud, in which the relatively poor Jerusalem cult struggled to maintain material support from landed nobility in the region. Material evidence shows that the historically Benjaminite regions prospered during the Neo-Babylonian and early Persian periods. The Jerusalem cult competed with cultic locations known for their alliances with either Benjamin or Joseph for the support of wealthier landowners. It is within the context of this struggle for support that the Chronicler rewrote Israel's narrative - partly to garner Benjaminite support. Giffone synthesizes observations that are literary and historical to reveal a literary phenomenon - the differing portraits of Benjamin - and situate this within the historical context of Persian Yehud. In so doing, Giffone offers a new understanding of Yehud during this period, and elaborates an important motif in these two sections of the Hebrew Bible.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

The synagogue at Umm el Kanatir

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE: THE HIDDEN TREASURE IN ISRAEL’S GOLAN HEIGHTS. On Israel’s 70th year of rebirth, an ancient synagogue comes to life (Ari Lieberman, Front Page Magazine).
Some refer to this site by its Arabic name of Umm el Kanatir or Mother of Arches, while others refer to it by its Hebrew name, Keshatot Rechavam or the Arches of Rechavam, named after Israeli general, Rechavam Zeevi. Both Hebrew and Arabic names reference two prominent and well-preserved Roman-era arches built over a local spring.

Keshatot Rechavam is no ordinary archaeological site. It has been identified as the site of the ancient Jewish village of Kantur and houses a spectacular and ornate Byzantine era, 5th century synagogue, some 60 feet long by 40 feet wide.

The synagogue along with the entire village was destroyed in 749 C.E. when it was struck by a massive earthquake. But the stones of the impressive synagogue remained where they fell or in archaeological terms, remained in situ, untouched for nearly 1,300 years; that is, until now.
Past PaleoJudaica posts on the ancient synagoge of Umm el Kanatir/Keshatot Rechavam are here and here. The restoration work on the site mentioned in them is now far advanced and perhaps completed.

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

On the sacrifice of Isaac again

CANDIDA MOSS: Was Abraham a Murderer? Archeologists have discovered and published an ancient version of the story in which Isaac actually died (The Daily Beast). More on that Coptic magical text that refers to "the Mountain of the Murderer" and to the possible extrabiblical traditions behind it.

Background here and links.

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TImna for tourists

TRAVEL: The Israeli Park with a Valuable Secret. Many people visit Israel’s Timna National Park to admire its rock formations, but the full story of this place can only be experienced by heading underground (Sara Toth Stub, BBC).
The caverns and shafts throughout Timna National Park reveal thousands of years of mining history. Evidence has been found linking these mines to Ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom, which existed from the 16th through the early 11th Centuries BC. Copper from here enriched the series of Ramses pharaohs who used it for everything from weapons to jewellery. However, further evidence shows that mining here reached its peak several hundred years later. High-resolution radiocarbon dating of seeds and other organic matter left in the miners’ work camps indicates the mines were active between the 11th and 9th Centuries BC, lending credence to theories that Timna was the source of copper for the biblical King Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem.

And until recently, experts assumed the gruelling manual labour had been done by slaves. But archaeological findings over the last few years, including high-quality dyed fabrics preserved by the dry climate, indicate that the metalworkers were employed rather than enslaved. Remains of sheep and goat bones as well as date and olive pits also suggest that the workers ate a rich diet of foods not usually found in the desert.
I have been exploring the implications of some of the finds at Timna mentioned above, as well as similar finds at Megiddo. See here and follow the links.

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Report on Cambridge LXX Seminar

INTERACTIONS OF TRADITIONS BLOG: ‘The Septuagint within the History of Greek’ seminar – 20 April 2018 (SRECKO KORALIJA, Interactions of Traditions Blog). I noted the seminar as upcoming here.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Wimpfheimer, The Talmud: A Biography

NEW BOOK FROM PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS:
The Talmud
A Biography


Barry Scott Wimpfheimer

Editions
Hardcover 2018 26.95 21.95 ISBN9780691161846 320 pp. 4 1/2 x 7 5/8 10 b/w illus.
E-book ISBN9781400890248

The life and times of an enduring work of Jewish spirituality


The Babylonian Talmud, a postbiblical Jewish text that is part scripture and part commentary, is an unlikely bestseller. Written in a hybrid of Hebrew and Aramaic, it is often ambiguous to the point of incomprehension, and its subject matter reflects a narrow scholasticism that should hardly have broad appeal. Yet the Talmud has remained in print for centuries and is more popular today than ever. Barry Scott Wimpfheimer tells the remarkable story of this ancient Jewish book and explains why it has endured for almost two millennia.

Providing a concise biography of this quintessential work of rabbinic Judaism, Wimpfheimer takes readers from the Talmud's prehistory in biblical and second-temple Judaism to its present-day use as a source of religious ideology, a model of different modes of rationality, and a totem of cultural identity. He describes the book's origins and structure, its centrality to Jewish law, its mixed reception history, and its golden renaissance in modernity. He explains why reading the Talmud can feel like being swept up in a river or lost in a maze, and why the Talmud has come to be venerated--but also excoriated and maligned—in the centuries since it first appeared.

An incomparable introduction to a work of literature that has lived a full and varied life, this accessible book shows why the Talmud is at once a received source of traditional teachings, a touchstone of cultural authority, and a powerful symbol of Jewishness for both supporters and critics.
Follow the link for more on the author and the book, including the full text of chapter 1.

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The sages on menstruation and (unhealthy) flow

PROF. CHARLOTTE E. FONROBERT: Menstruant as Zavah: How the Laws of Niddah Developed (TheTorah.com).
Leviticus 15 describes two types of impure bleeding for women: menstruation (niddah), and bleeding that is “not during her menstrual period (zavah).” The Rabbis attempt to define the difference in an abstract manner, and in so doing, elide the two.

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Another review of Quinn, In Search of the Phoenicians

PHOENICIAN WATCH: Troubled and troublesome. Identities in the Middle East continue to haunt and raise questions—two books reviewed (Thomas Schellen and Riad Al-Khouri, ExecutivE).
In Search of the Phoenicians by Josephine Quinn Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, 2018 Hardcover, 360 pages

The book “In Search of the Phoenicians” by Josephine Quinn opens—not counting her introduction—with a 1946 quote by then freshly minted Member of the Lebanese Parliament, Kamal Jumblatt. The quote bubbles with fervor for the Lebanese “ancient young country” and, as Quinn points out, not only connects the nation of Lebanon with the Phoenicians through history and geography but passionately portrays the Phoenicians as being responsible for the idea of the nation itself. In Jumblatt’s phrasing, optimism for Lebanon is rooted via backward projection in the ancient history of the Phoenician coast which saw “the emergence of the first civic state.”
This is a very thoughtful review and I encourage you to read it. The article also reviews a new book of essays dedicated to Simon Wiesenthal.

Earlier reviews (etc.) of Professor Quinn's book are here and links.

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Comprehensive Bibliography on Syriac Christianity

THE AWOL BLOG: Online Comprehensive Bibliography on Syriac Christianity. First noted by AWOL in 2012, but I seem to have missed it then. Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

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