Saturday, November 03, 2018

The Hasmonean rulers and Hellenism

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Hasmonean Rulers Between Piety and Luxury. The dilemma of the Jewish dynasty in Hellenistic Judea (Marek Dospěl).
In his article “The Hasmonean Kings–Jewish or Hellenistic?” in the November/December 2018 issue of BAR, Eyal Regev of Bar-Ilan University takes a close look at how aspects of Hellenism played out in Hellenistic Judea, specifically under the Jewish dynasty of Hasmonean kings.
As usual, the BAR article is behind the subscription wall, but this essay gives a summary of it.

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

Photos of the Umm el-Kanatir synagogue

THE HOLY LAND PHOTOS' BLOG: One of the Best Preserved Ancient Synagogues in Israel (Carl Rasmussen). The ancient synagogue at Umm el-Kanatir (a.k.a. Ein Keshatot or Keshatot Rechavam) has been in the news lately. Carl shares his good photo archive with us, along with some links.

Background here and links.

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

Rault, L’Hymnaire manichéen chinois

L’Hymnaire manichéen chinois Xiabuzan 下部讚 à l’usage des Auditeurs
un manuscrit trouvé à Dunhuang, traduit, commenté et annoté

Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies, Volume: 94

Author: Lucie Rault

L’Hymnaire manichéen chinois presents a collection of twenty-five hymns that were intended for the Manichean religious practice of the class of Auditors. The scroll, which came to light in the early twentieth century in the province of Dunhuang (modern Ganzu) after lying buried for around twelve centuries, contains several hymns transcribed from a variety of languages that were current in Central Asia during the epoch of its redaction. This translation provides a new perspective on the Religion of Light as it was adopted in China, and on the wide reach of the message of the Iranian prophet Mani (216-276) that aimed at universal scope and was meant to unite people from all parts of the world, of whatever origin, language and history.
See Less
Publication Date: 25 October 2018
ISBN: 978-90-04-36861-3
In French.

For more on the manuscript discoveries at Dunhuang, China, start here and follow the links. Cross-file under Manichean Watch (Manichaean Watch).

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

On the DSS

A REMINDER: The Dead Sea Scrolls are a priceless link to the Bible’s past (Daniel Falk, The Conversation). This is a good, brief overview of the Scrolls and their importance, aimed at novices. It is inspired by recent events involving forged scroll fragments at the Museum of the Bible.

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

Friday, November 02, 2018

Curious Hebrew spelling in a Geniza fragment

GENIZA FRAGMENT OF THE MONTH (OCTOBER 2018): The strange Hebrew of a blessing for the Prophets: T-S K6.113 (Nadia Vidro).
Biblical verses used in medieval texts of various genres often exhibit spellings different from those of the Masoretic text. The majority of these deviations are relatively minor and involve the plene spelling of vowels that are written defectively in the biblical text. Recently, I came across a curious text consisting of three biblical verses written with drastic deviations from the standard biblical spelling. The text, preserved in T-S K6.113, fol. 2v, contains a blessing for the reading of the haftarah. It is entitled ‘the blessing for the Prophets’ and made up of Hosea 12:11, Amos 3:7, Isaiah 59:21. The text is written in a careful hand that makes the impression of being not very experienced in writing Hebrew.

What follows is technical. But it's a fun little mystery, if you like that sort of thing.

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

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

Moss on anti-Semitic use of the Bible

CANDIDA MOSS: How Bigots Easily Exploit the Bible for Anti-Semitism. In a debate about what drove the Tree of Life synagogue, Robert Bowers himself squarely grounds his perspective in the Bible (The Daily Beast).
Mark Leuchter, a professor of religion and Judaism at Temple University agrees. “Once the New Testament became holy specifically to Christians, the original context for [the] debate was lost.” Statements from the New Testament “became [for some] the justification for anti-Jewish violence and hatred… and are still used to facilitate anti-Jewish bigotry in ways that many Christians don’t even realize.” As evidence of this subtle bias Leuchter cited the use of the term “Pharisee” by “well-meaning Christians” as an insult against people obsessed with law, when the historical Pharisees were actually more like ancient liberal activists. Examples like this contribute to what Leuchter calls a “cartoon version of Judaism that is presented as devoid of morality, holiness or humane values.”
Unfortunately, the misuse of the term "Pharisee" remains common. I have been pointing it out for years. See the posts collected here.

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

F. M. Cross on publishing unprovenanced inscriptions

VARIANT READINGS: An Old Quote from Frank Moore Cross on Unprovenanced Artifacts (Brent Nongbri). I agree that this quote has not aged well, although I am not going to judge it comprehensively without seeing all of it in context. The quoted extracts are from a 2005 article that is behind the BAR subscription wall. I don't have access to the full text.

I agree with Cross that we shouldn't dismiss unprovenanced inscriptions solely because they are unprovenanced. But, as I have been saying for some time, I think we should assume they are forgeries unless a credible case is made for their being genuine. And doing that is getting harder as forgers become more skilled.

(In the past I have said a "convincing" case. I think a better word, as above, is "credible." Scholars may agree that a case is credible — that is, based on solid evidence and supported by reasonable arguments — even if sometimes they are not fully convinced by it. By "credible" I mean a case that passes peer review.)

There has traditionally been an unfriendly rivalry between epigraphers and "dirt archaeologists." That is unfortunate. I hope that these days we have gotten past it. Both are critical for recovering knowledge about antiquity.

I am open to the idea of the IAA selling duplicate artifacts (e.g., potsherds and even pots), which they have in profusion, rather than just warehousing them. An argument in favor is that doing so would undercut much of the antiquities black market. An argument against is that advances in technology may someday allow us to extract useful information from those duplicates, so archaeologists should retain access to them. There may be some workable compromise.

I am not an expert on the antiquities market, so I have no opinion about Cross's proposal to shut down licensed antiquities dealers. It would be interesting to listen to experts debate the question.

Full disclosure: Frank Cross was my doctoral supervisor.

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

Biblical Studies Carnival 152

THE PURSUING VERITAS BLOG: October 2018 Biblical Studies Carnival (Jacob J. Prahlow).

There are still no volunteers for 2019 Biblical Studies Carnivals. Contact Phil Long if you are interested.

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

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Was Jeroboam a pagan or a Yahwist?

WERE THE "IDOLS" JUST AN ARTISTIC STATEMENT? Israelites in Biblical Dan Worshipped Idols – and Yahweh Too, Archaeologists Discover. Finds in the northern biblical city of Dan suggest that even if King Jeroboam pushed worship of golden calves and goat demons to spite Jerusalem, there was a big YHWH temple (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz premium).
The Ten Tribes living in the Kingdom of Israel during the 8th century B.C.E. practiced a mixed religion, but contrary to the conventional wisdom among biblical scholars, their main deity was Yahweh after all, not the Canaanite god El and his envoys, golden calves and goat-shaped demons.

New excavations headed by Dr. David Ilan and Dr. Yifat Thareani of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem discovered that Dan also housed Arameans and Phoenicians as well as Israelites. But the gigantic sanctuary, originally found over four decades ago, has the hallmarks of Yahwistic practice, not pagan ritual.

This article gives what looks like a thorough overview of the archaeology of the sanctuary excavated at Tel Dan. And note those cool inscriptions.

It also has a pretty good discussion of the state of the question concerning the religion of Jeroboam I in the context of that sanctuary, but it leaves out something quite important.

Frank Moore Cross argued that Jeroboam set out to differentiate his YHWH cult from the southern (Jerusalemite) YHWH cult in various ways, including iconography. Cross thought that there were two iconographic representations of the seat of YHWH: in one (Jeroboam's at Bethel and Dan) he sat on bulls; in the other (the Jerusalem Temple) he sat on cherub — winged human-headed lions. Both are attested as ancient Canaanite iconographies.

So by his interpretation, Jeroboam was a Yahwist, he just represented the celestial mythology of YHWH in a different way from in the south. The golden calves were mythological art, but art associated with a YHWH cult, not a pagan one.

The Hebrew Bible, in both the Deuteronomistic History and in the Book of Chronicles, represents Jeroboam's cult as a pagan one in which the golden calves were idols to be worshipped. But these texts were written by Jerusalemites who has every reason to misunderstand (or, less charitably, misrepresent) the memory of what their northern rival was up to.

These new archaeological indications that the sanctuary in Dan was Yahwistic offer at least some confirmation for Cross's hypothesis. Watch this space ...

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

Was ancient Israel really a patriarchy?

PROF. CAROL MEYERS: The Shunammite Woman and the Patriarchy Problem (
Virtually all biblical scholars—even feminist biblical scholars––consider the Bible and ancient Israelite society patriarchal.[1] But is that a valid designation?

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

Report on Bethsaida/et-Tell excavation 2018

Bethsaida Excavation Project: Season 2018

By Rami Arav
University of Nebraska
October 2018

During 2018 we conducted a two week season of excavations at Bethsaida. The purpose of this season of excavations was to obtain more data on both the Stratum VI city gate (11th – 10th centuries BCE) and about the Roman temple at the peak of the mound.

Regular PaleoJudaica readers, you will recall that there are two contending sites for ancient Bethsaida. The two excavation teams both refer confidently to their site as "Bethsaida." This can make for some confusion.

The report linked to above is on the site of et-Tell (e-Tell) but it only uses the name Bethsaida. More on the et-Tell excavation is here and links.

The other contender is el-Araj, on which more here and, again, follow that trail of links.

I am not an archaeologist and I take no position on who is right.

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

Tabb, Suffering in Ancient Worldview

Suffering in Ancient Worldview
Luke, Seneca and 4 Maccabees in Dialogue

By: Brian J. Tabb

Published: 01-11-2018
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 256
ISBN: 9780567684868
Imprint: T&T Clark
Series: The Library of New Testament Studies
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £28.99
Online price: £18.84
Save £10.15 (35%)

About Suffering in Ancient Worldview
Suffering in Ancient Worldview investigates representative Christian, Roman Stoic and Jewish perspectives on the nature, problem and purpose of suffering. Tabb presents a close reading of Acts, Seneca's essays and letters and 4 Maccabees, highlighting how each author understands suffering vis-à-vis God, humanity, the world's problem and its solution, and the future. Tabb's study offers a pivotal definition for suffering in the 1st century and concludes by creatively situating these ancient authors in dialogue with each other.

Tabb shows that, despite their different religious and cultural positions, these ancient authors each expect and accept suffering as a present reality that is governed by divine providence, however defined. Luke, Seneca and the author of 4 Maccabees each affirm that suffering is not humanity's fundamental problem. Rather, suffering functions as a cipher for other things to be displayed. For Seneca, suffering provides an opportunity for one to learn and show virtue. The author of 4 Maccabees presents the nation's suffering as retribution for sin, while the martyrs' virtuous suffering leads to Israel's salvation. For Luke, the Lord Jesus suffers to accomplish salvation and restoration for the world marred by sin and suffering, and the suffering of his followers is instrumental for Christian mission.
This book was published last year in hardback. I missed it then. It has just come out in paperback, so this is a good opportunity to mention it. Cross-file under New Book.

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Interviews with Elaine Pagels

THREE OF THEM: Elaine Pagels on How Devastating Loss Influenced Her Groundbreaking Religious Scholarship (Nick Tabor, New York Magazine).
Elaine Pagels has made a career out of rewriting Christian history. Her first book, the 1979 best seller The Gnostic Gospels, reappraised Christian documents long considered heretical. In the books that followed, she took on the development of Satan, the apocalypse, and original sin, writing with academic rigor for a broad audience. Most of those books were informed by cataclysms in her personal life, as she outlines in her new memoir, Why Religion? In 1987, her 6-year-old son, Mark, died after a prolonged illness, and the following year, her husband, the famous physicist Heinz Pagels, died after falling off a mountain in Colorado.
Here's another one: Elaine Pagels on grief, her #MeToo story, and why we find meaning in religion (Jana Riess, Religion News Service).

And this one has a brief interview and also gives an overview of her career: In New Book, Religion Scholar Elaine Pagels Tells Her Own Story. A scholar controversial for her work on Christian tradition discusses how she overcame tragedy in her own family (Alexandra Wolfe, Wall Street Journal).

If you want to hear how a premier biblical scholar approaches the big and tragic issues in life, you should read them.

Professor Pagels's new book, Why Religion?: A Personal Story, is out on 6 November with Ecco Press.

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

Review of de Jong, The Archaeology of Death in Roman Syria

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | The Archaeology of Death in Roman Syria: Burial, Commemoration, and Empire (Dina Boero).
de Jong, Lidewijde. The Archaeology of Death in Roman Syria: Burial, Commemoration, and Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

In The Archaeology of Death in Roman Syria, Lidewijde de Jong examines mortuary customs in the Roman province of Syria between 64/63 BCE and 330 CE. She clarifies what constituted a proper burial, situates burial practices in the wider political-cultural context, and traces their continuity and change over time. Whereas most archaeologists of Roman Syria focus on discrete regions, de Jong is the first to undertake a systematic study of burials from across the province.

The book examines burial sites at many well-known cities in Syria-Lebanon, including Beirut, Dura Europos, Palmyra, Tyre, and many others.

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

Coptic protest at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

POLITICS: Coptic Church Gears Up for a New Fight at Jerusalem's Holy Sepulchre. The age-old dispute between this long-suffering sect and its rival, the Ethiopian Church, came to a head last week during a protest against renovations at the sacred site (Nir Hasson, Haaretz premium).
But there’s one dispute between the Coptic and Ethiopian churches that has not waned and once again reared its head last week. The incident involved the forcible dispersal by the Israel Police of a quiet protest by a few Coptic monks, who were objecting to renovations by the Israel Antiquities Authority at St. Michael’s, a chapel at the Holy Sepulchre. The Copts regard the structure as belonging to them, and even though they haven’t had the keys to it for nearly 50 years, they insisted on playing a part in the renovations. The state decided to undertake the work on its own, however, and ran into opposition.
This is not the first such confrontation at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Holy Sepulchre). I noted another one involving the police back in 2004. It sounds as though the Coptic (and Ethiopic?) Church(es) and the IAA and have reached agreement on undertaking the needed repairs. But there is at least talk of further legal action. I hope all parties are able to reach an understanding without it coming to that.

This article gives detailed background on the relationship between the two churches and their connection with the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is complicated.

Cross-file under Coptic Watch and Ethiopic Watch.

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

Mason and Lupieri (eds.), Golden Calf Traditions in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Golden Calf Traditions in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Themes in Biblical Narrative, Volume: 23

Editors: Eric F. Mason and Edmondo F. Lupieri

The seventeen studies in Golden Calf Traditions in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam explore the biblical origins of the golden calf story in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and 1 Kings, as well as its reception in a variety of sources: Hebrew Scriptures (Hosea, Jeremiah, Psalms, Nehemiah), Second Temple Judaism (Animal Apocalypse, Pseudo-Philo, Philo, Josephus), rabbinic Judaism, the New Testament (Acts, Paul, Hebrews, Revelation) and early Christianity (among Greek, Latin, and Syriac writers), as well as the Qur’an and Islamic literature. Expert contributors explore how each ancient author engaged with the calf traditions—whether explicitly, implicitly, or by clearly and consciously avoiding them—and elucidate how the story was used both negatively and positively for didactic, allegorical, polemical, and even apologetic purposes.

Publication Date: 16 October 2018
ISBN: 978-90-04-38686-0

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

More from Burke on editing MNTA

THE APOCRYPHICITY BLOG: Editing More Christian Apocrypha, Part 3: It Takes a Village. More wisdom from Tony Burke. Parts 1 and 2 were noted here.
One of the difficulties of working with apocryphal texts is that the texts come in numerous forms, in multiple languages. We are all trained in at least one ancient language (typically Greek), many of us two (add Latin, Coptic, or Syriac), a few of us three or four (Arabic, Georgian, Armenian, perhaps a European vernacular), but no individual among us can work in all of them. Take the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, for example. When I worked on the text for my doctorate, I focused on the Greek tradition, but I also drew upon the Latin and Syriac. I could not, however, cover also the Ethiopic, Irish, Slavonic, and Georgian sources. I had to admit my limitations and do what I could.

Whereas dissertations are not designed to be collaborative projects, apocrypha collections, for the most part, are multi-author works, and there is an expectation that the translations and introductions will draw on all of the available evidence. Fortunately, the contributors to MNTA, both vol. 1 and 2, had the talents and abilities to make that possible.
Yes, we have had a similar experience with the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project. The contributions in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures volume 1 translated texts from Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Greek, Hebrew, Old Irish, Latin, epigraphic Iron Age Northwest Semitic, and Syriac. So far, volume 2 is slated to include contributions translating from many of the same languages and more. Notably, I am currently working with the specialists who are translating the various versions and reflexes of the Book of Giants, which survive in Aramaic, Hebrew, Middle Persian, Sogdian, and Uigur (old Turkic).

By the way, I was also at a gathering of scholars at Ottawa that discussed creating a North American branch of an association devoted to the study of the Christian Apocrypha and producing a new collection of New Testament Apocrypha in English. I'm pretty sure this is the meeting Tony mentions, but it was in 2006, not 2008.

UPDATE: I see Tony has corrected the date.

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

Boccaccini Festschrift published

Wisdom Poured Out Like Water
Studies on Jewish and Christian Antiquity in Honor of Gabriele Boccaccini

Ed. by Ellens, J. Harold / Oliver, Isaac W. / von Ehrenkrook, Jason / Waddell, James / Zurawski, Jason M.

Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Studies 38

129,95 € / $149.99 / £118.00*

Publication Date:
October 2018
ISBN 978-3-11-059588-8

Aims and Scope
This collection presents innovative research by scholars from across the globe in celebration of Gabriele Boccaccini’s sixtieth birthday and to honor his contribution to the study of early Judaism and Christianity. In harmony with Boccaccini’s determination to promote the study of Second Temple Judaism in its own right, this volume includes studies on various issues raised in early Jewish apocalyptic literature (e.g., 1 Enoch, 2 Baruch, 4 Ezra), the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other early Jewish texts, from Tobit to Ben Sira to Philo and beyond. The volume also provides several investigations on early Christianity in intimate conversation with its Jewish sources, consistent with Boccaccini’s efforts to transcend confessional and disciplinary divisions by situating the origins of Christianity firmly within Second Temple Judaism. Finally, the volume includes essays that look at Jewish-Christian relations in the centuries following the Second Temple period, a harvest of Boccaccini’s labor to rethink the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in light of their shared yet contested heritage.
Congratulations to Professor Boccaccini!

This volume has been a secret for a long time. I am very pleased that it is now out. I am equally pleased to have an article published in it: "The 94 Books of Ezra and the Angelic Revelations of John Dee." I am working on getting an offprint posted online. I'll let you know when that's done. Meanwhile, you can read an early draft here.

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

Helsinki Workshop: "Global and Local Cultures in the Roman East"

THE CSST BLOG: WORKSHOP: “GLOBAL AND LOCAL CULTURES IN THE ROMAN EAST” (HELSINKI, 28-30 NOV 2018). Attendance is free, but requires registration by 15 November. The topics are wide ranging, including Dura Europos, the Nabateans (Nabataeans), ancient Palmyra, and pre-Revolt Galilee.

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

Pagels lectured on the Gospel of Thomas at YU

YESHIVA UNIVERSITY NEWS: The Gospel of Thomas According to Dr. Elaine Pagels. Seminar on Ancient Judaism Features Renowned Biblical Scholar.
Dr. Elaine Pagels, the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University, gave a talk on Thursday, October 25, titled “Exegesis of Genesis 1 in the Gospel of Thomas,” as part of the Seminar on Ancient Judaism, an initiative co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Yeshiva University and the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies.

This sounds like a great lecture series. Scroll to the bottom for upcoming speakers.

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

Monday, October 29, 2018

The fake DSS-fragments - whom to blame?

RESPONSIBILITY. PLUS, WHAT DO WE DO NOW? Dead Sea Scroll Fakes Abound, and Scholars Admit They Share the Blame. By authenticating artifacts of unknown origin, researchers have unintentionally abetted their dissemination around the world, including to the Bible Museum in Washington (Ariel David, Haaretz premium). This is a long, good article that addresses the main issues around the dubious Dead Sea Scroll-like fragments that have come to light since 2002, and also the broader question of scholarly attention to unprovenanced inscriptions.

Background here and links.

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

Jewish identity in antiquity

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Ancient Jewish Identity (David Goodblatt).
Issues of identity---national, ethnic, racial and sexual---preoccupy much contemporary discourse. Perhaps this is why the past decades have seen extensive scholarship on identity in antiquity, including Jewish identity. On the other hand, some specialists doubt the validity of this approach, questioning the creation of “quasi-ethnic” categories for the ancient world. Less radically, some scholars have denied the continuity of Jewish identity from Second Temple times through the early centuries of the common era.[1] What follows summarizes my own view while also surveying some of the scholarship on the issue.[2]

I argued for what I think is a similar position here. But Professor Goodblatt's discussion is much more thorough, with lots of detailed evidence.

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

JSIJ has moved

H-JUDAIC: New JSIJ website. Jewish Studies: An Internet Journal has a new web address. Follow the link for details. This journal often has articles (in Hebrew or English) on ancient Judaism.

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

Bloch, Alphabet scribes in the land of cuneiform

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Alphabet scribes in the land of cuneiform. Notice of a new book: Bloch, Yigal. 2018. Alphabet scribes in the land of cuneiform: sepiru professionals in Mesopotamia in the neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid periods (Gorgias Studies in the Ancient Near East 11). Piscataway, NJ, USA: Gorgias Press.. Follow the link for additional details.

For more on the sepīru (Aramaic alphabetic script) scribes and the tupsharru (cuneiform) scribes, see here and links.

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

Sunday, October 28, 2018

More fake DSS fragments?

AND I FEAR THEY MAY BE RIGHT: After Bible Museum scandal, more American Christians suspect they bought fake Dead Sea Scrolls (Daniel Burken, CNN). For the last couple of years PaleoJudaica has been following the concerns about dubious Dead Sea Scrolls-like fragments that have surfaced since 2002. See here and links.

For the recently confirmed fake fragments belonging to the Museum of the Bible, see here and links. And for background on the fragments acquired by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Azusa Pacific University, see here and here and links.

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

Uhlenbruch and Schweitzer (eds.), Worlds that Could Not Be

Worlds that Could Not Be
Utopia in Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah

Editor(s): Frauke Uhlenbruch, Steven J. Schweitzer

Published: 20-09-2018
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 224
ISBN: 9780567684561
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 Worlds that Could Not Be
The idea of Utopia was first made current and popular by Sir Thomas More with the publication of his book by the same name in 1516. The 'no-place' that was created has had a fantastic reception history, which makes its application to the biblical books of Nehemiah, Ezra and Chronicles as vibrant as the current scholarship which is ongoing into the Renaissance term and its implications. The essays in this collection take different approaches to the question: are there proto-utopian elements in the three books from the Hebrew Bible? Methodological considerations are to be found, but each essay also moves beyond the methodological constraint to raise the hypothetical question of 'what if?' in different ways.

The essays evaluate the potential, and pitfalls, of reading Biblical books as (proto-)utopian. Topics include how utopia construct intricate counter-realities, and how to tell whether a proposal diagnosed as 'utopian' from a modern point of view is meant to motivate its audience to political action. Case studies which read aspects of Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah as potential utopian traits include the restoration project of Ezra-Nehemiah and the rejection of foreign wives, utopian concerns in Chronicles, as well as the empire's role in writing a putative utopia, and King Solomon as a utopian fantasy-king.
The hardback was published in 2016, but it escaped my notice. This is a good opportunity to mention it.

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

The Harvard Semitic Museum has a YouTube Channel

THE AWOL BLOG: Harvard Semitic Museum YouTube Channel. These videos deal with a wide range of topics involving the Ancient Near East (etc.). Ancient Judaism and ancient Israel are well represented.

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

Giuseppe (ed.), Alienated Wisdom

Veltri, Giuseppe [ed.]
Alienated Wisdom
Enquiry into Jewish Philosophy and Scepticism

Series: Studies and Texts in Scepticism 3

86,95 € / $99.99 / £79.00*
Publication Date: August 2018
ISBN 978-3-11-060339-2

Aims and Scope
The present study addresses problems of an epistemological nature which hinge on the question of how to define Jewish thought. It will take its start in an ancient question, that of the relationship between Jewish culture, Greek philosophy, and then Greco-Roman (and Christian) thought in connection with the query into the history and genealogy of wisdom and knowledge.

Our journey into the history of the denomination ‘Jewish philosophy’ will include a leg that will lead us to certain declarations of political, moral, and scientific principles, and then on to the birth of what is called philosophia perennis or, in Christian circles, prisca theologia. Our subject of inquiry will thus be the birth of the concept of Jewish philosophy, Jewish theology and Jewish philosophy of religion.

A special emphasis will fall on the topic treated in the last part of this study: Jewish scepticism, a theme that involves a philosophical attitude founded on dialectical "enquiry", as the etymology of the Greek word skepsis properly means.
With articles on Jewish philosophy from antiquity to the present.

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

Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

AN UNSPEAKABLE ATROCITY. My thoughts and prayers — and I know yours also, PaleoJudaica readers — are with the victims and their families.

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