Saturday, December 08, 2018

Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day 2018

IT'S THAT DAY AGAIN: Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day. Have fun, but behave yourselves!

One of the original announcements, with some instructions, is here. The Facebook page seems to be gone, but the Twitter hashtag is #PretendToBeATimeTravelerDay.

Past posts on the day and related are here and links.

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The 50 Jewish Objects Project and Blog

ASSIMILATED TO THE BLOGOSPHERE: Welcome to the 50 Jewish Objects blog. Dr. Stefania Silvestri, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester, has an exciting project running for the next few years. Some of her fifty objects will certainly be of interest for ancient Judaism.

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Swartz, The Mechanics of Providence

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Michael D. Swartz, The Mechanics of Providence. The Workings of Ancient Jewish Magic and Mysticism 2018. XVI, 333 pages. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 172. 139,00 € including VAT cloth. ISBN 978-3-16-155002-7.
Published in English.
The phenomena we call magic and mysticism had a profound effect on the shaping of Judaism in late antiquity. In this volume, Michael D. Swartz offers a wide-ranging study of the purposes, world-views, ritual dynamics, literary forms, and social settings of ancient Jewish magic and mysticism and their function in religion and history. Based on the author's studies over the past few decades, he proposes innovative methods for the study of these two phenomena. The author focuses especially on the rituals of early Jewish magic and mysticism, their social contexts, and the textual dimension of this complex literature. He also offers introductions to these phenomena. Michael D. Swartz argues that the authors of these texts employed intricate technologies, literary and artistic forms, and physical practices to negotiate between the values and world-views of their cultures and the texture of everyday life.

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Review of Shahin (ed.), Fragmente der Historiker: Nikolaos von Damaskus

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Tino Shahin (ed.), Fragmente der Historiker: Nikolaos von Damaskus. Bibliothek der Griechischen Literatur 84. Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 2018. Pp. 127. ISBN 9783777218045. €158.00. Reviewed by Benedikt Eckhardt, University of Edinburgh (b.eckhardt@ed.ac.uk).
A review should not be pedantic, but as the book offers little apart from a translation, there is not much else to discuss (and the above is only an extract from a longer list of errata). It is good to have Nicolaus in German, but more care should have been given to this project at all stages of production.
Ouch.

Nicolaus of Damascus was an associate of Herod the Great. Most of his works are lost, apart from fairly extensive quotation fragments. Josephus made use of his work.

Cross-file under Lost Books.

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Friday, December 07, 2018

Selecid Coins Online (v.2)

NUMISMATICS: Ancient Coin News – ANS Releases Seleucid Coins Online Version 2 (CoinWeek).

I am not sure of the relationship, if any, between this project and SCADS: Seleucid Coins Addenda System. The American Numismatic Society is involved with both.

For PaleoJudaica's interest in the Seleucid Period, see here and links (cf. here). And for an ongoing CoinWeek series on the Ptolemaic coins, see here and here.

I suppose we can find a Hanukkah connection here too, just to round things out today. (Antiochus IV was a Seleucid.) But in any case, this looks like a useful resource.

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Review of Hau et al. (eds.), Diodoros of Sicily

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Lisa Irene Hau, Alexander Meeus, Brian Sheridan (ed.), Diodoros of Sicily: Historiographical Theory and Practice in the «Bibliotheke». Studia Hellenistica, 58. Leuven: Peeters, 2018. Pp. x, 612. ISBN 9789042934986. €115,00. Reviewed by W. P. Richardson, University of Otago (bill.richardson@otago.ac.nz).
Diodoros of Sicily: Historiographical Theory and Practice in the «Bibliotheke» contains a variety of contributions on this influential ancient historian, based on a 2011 conference at the University of Glasgow. Broad topics include, but are not limited to, Diodoros’ context within the first century B.C.E., the composition of the Bibliotheke, Diodoros’ depiction of mythology, and the concept of New Quellenforschung. The term New Quellenforschung is the name suggested by the editors (p. 8) for a more recent development in the scholarship, the revival, albeit in a moderated form, of the traditional view of Diodoros, which argued that his work was largely restricted to being a copyist of earlier writers and included limited original content.

[...]
Past PaleoJudaica posts on Diodorus Siculus and his work are here and here with many links. Diodorus's history provides important background material for the study of Second Temple Judaism, notably his contribution to the perspective I call "Greek Fantasy Babylon" and his independent account of the Maccabean Revolt.

So, I didn't plan it, but this post is Hanukkah-related too.

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The editing of Daniel 2

HANUKKAH-RELATED: Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream: The Revision of Daniel’s Role During Antiochus’ Persecution (Prof. Michael Segal, TheTorah.com).
The first section of Daniel (chs. 2-6) is a collection of quasi-independent court tales. Once they were combined into the book of Daniel in its current form, the story of Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, which parallels Pharaoh’s dream in the Joseph story, was revised. It was further supplemented with Daniel’s prayer which creates a contrast between the power of God and that of Antiochus IV.
This is a case in which the application of redaction criticism produces convincing results.

One of the fun things about the Book of Daniel is that comparison of the Old Greek version with the Hebrew Masoretic Text allows us to watch the process of redaction happening. The Old Greek translates an earlier draft than the MT. Not in chapter two, but certainly in chapters four through six.

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The synagogue at Modi'in

FOR HANUKKAH: The Earliest Synagogue in Israel? Used by the Maccabees? (Carl Rasmussen, HolyLandPhotos' Blog). With photos, of course.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on the archaeology of Modi'in (?) (Umm el–’Umdan/Umm el–Umdan) are here and links.

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Thursday, December 06, 2018

The Queen of Sheba and Ethiopia?

TRAVEL: In search of the real Queen of Sheba. Legends and rumors trail the elusive Queen of Sheba through the rock-hewn wonders and rugged hills of Ethiopia. (Stanley Stewart, National Geographic). This article is more of a travelogue than a report on history or archaeology. It takes a while even to get to Aksum (Axum) and its legendary connections with the Queen of Sheba (who alternatively may be associated with Yemen) and the Ark of the Covenant. But it is interesting nonetheless and, as far as I can tell, accurate in discussing the historical issues.

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Sefaria adds Jastrow's Talmud Dictionary

LEXICOGRAPHY: A Digitized Dictionary Illuminates The Talmud, Though Some Prefer To Stay Offline (Ari Feldman, The Forward).

Jastrow's iconic Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature is outdated in many ways, but remains useful if consulted judiciously. I see from the archives that I have cited it on PaleoJudaica off and on over the years. You can already find it online (e.g., here, here, and here) and it remains in print, but it sounds as though the Sefaria version has been prepared with special care.

Background on the Sefaria website is here and links.

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New edition of Genesis Apocryphon etc.

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: The Dead Sea Scrolls. Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations. Volume 8A: Genesis Apocryphon and Related Documents. 2018. XXVII, 354 pages. Edited by James H. Charlesworth, Henry W. Morisada Rietz and Loren L. Johns u.a. 189,00 € including VAT cloth. ISBN 978-3-16-156644-8.
Published in English.
The Princeton Theological Seminary Dead Sea Scrolls Project is providing the first critical edition of all the Dead Sea Scrolls which are not copies of books in the Hebrew Bible (the so-called »Old Testament«) in 10 projected volumes along with 2 concordances. The format of the series is unique; each manuscript is presented with Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek text on the left page with facing English translation on the right. The series intends to be a standard reference work; thus, only probable reconstructions are made and the English translations are as literal as possible avoiding idiomatic renderings. Where a document is witnessed by more than one manuscript, each manuscript is presented separately. Critical notes help the reader to understand the text, variants, philological subtleties, and the translation. An introduction with selected bibliography precedes each document. The documents are prepared by an international team of over fifty scholars with the editors and their assistants providing consistency.
Volume 8A brings together Dead Sea Scrolls that develop stories in Genesis along with other texts. The Genesis Apocryphon (1Q20, 3Q14 frg. 8) is a creative, interpretive, and theologically driven rewriting of a portion of Genesis. Several other documents provide traditions about Noah and his sons, including the Book of Noah, Admonitions Based on the Flood, and a composite text of the Birth of Noah manuscripts (4Q534–536). The collection also provides the manuscript witnesses to A Joseph Apocryphon found on Masada.

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Review of Niehoff (ed.) Journeys in the Roman East

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Journeys in the Roman East (Timothy Luckritz Marquis).
Brief Review of Maren R. Niehoff, ed., Journeys in the Roman East: Imagined and Real (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017).
It sounds like there are lots of good things in this book. Let me highlight just one. The psychology of imagination is still a largely untapped resource for the study of ancient literature. I'm pleased to see it put to use here.

I noted the publication of the book last year here.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Traditionalists vs. assimilationists or just politics?

FOR HANUKKAH: Chanukah and the Politics Behind the Maccabean Revolt (TheTorah.com).
The story of the Maccabees is known as a battle between traditionalists and assimilationists, the latter supported by the Seleucid kings. But what do the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees, with their elaborate descriptions of alliances and power plays, really tell us about the revolt?
For some PaleoJudaica posts that deal with the complicated politics of the Maccabean Revolt, see here and links.

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More on the Pilate ring

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Was Pontius Pilate’s Ring Discovered at Herodium? Bible and archaeology news (Robert Cargill). Professor Cargill offers a new interpretation of the ring and its inscription, but retains the possible connection with Pontius Pilate.

Background here (and note the correction).

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An Oxyrhynchus Papyrus of Exodus and Revelation, Part 2

VARIANT READINGS: Once More: An Oxyrhynchus Papyrus of Exodus and Revelation, Part 2 (Brent Nongbri). Part 1 was noted here. Cross-file under Codicology.

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Hurtado on Christians and codices

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Why Did Early Christians Prefer the Codex to the Bookroll? Early Christian manuscript books (Marek Dospěl). As usual, this BHD column is a summary of a BAR article: Larry Hurtado, “Early Christian Dilemma: Codex or Scroll?” in the November/December 2018 issue. The full article is behind a subscription wall.

For some past posts on Professor Hurtado's work on scrolls and codices, see here, here, and here.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Tractate Hullin in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Slaughterhouse Shrive. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis debate who is free to butcher animals piously according to Jewish ritual. Plus: the one transgression that is unforgivable under the Torah. This week Daf Yomi begins tracate Hullin, which deals with the non-sacral slaughtering of animals for food. Also this week, the Samaritans make an appearance.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Biblical Studies Carnival 153

THE DUST BLOG: November 2018 Biblical Studies Carnival (Bob MacDonald).

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

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An Oxyrhynchus Papyrus of Exodus and Revelation, Part 1

VARIANT READINGS: Once More: An Oxyrhynchus Papyrus of Exodus and Revelation, Part 1. Scroll or codex? Dr. Nongbri is still leaving "codex" open as an option.

Those of us who are not codicologists will still be intrigued to learn of this third-century manuscript that contained the Book of Exodus, with the Book of Revelation on the other side.

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Timna excavation open to public for Hanukkah

HOLIDAY ARCHAEOLOGY: TIMNA PARK OPENS DOORS FOR TO PUBLIC EXCAVATIONS DURING HANUKKAH. The site contains remains of an ancient Egyptian copper mining industry, and is dotted with workshops, furnaces, tunnels, shrines and mining camps, dated to the 12th and 13th centuries BCE (Rachel Bernstein, Jerusalem Post). Visitors can participate in the sifting of the excavated soil.

The Timna Valley excavation covers a period that is early for the usual interests of PaleoJudaica. But I have been keeping an eye on it for reasons explained here and links.

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

Monday, December 03, 2018

More on those new Qumran caves

OPERATION SCROLL: Archaeologists Are Looking for Dead Sea Scrolls Inside 2 Newfound Qumran Caves (Owen Jarus, Live Science). This came out a couple of days ago, but I missed when I wrote my post yesterday. It covers some of the same ground as the other reports, but it has more details on the contents excavated in Caves 53b and 53c. My 5 points in yesterday's post still stand, except that point 4 on Cave 53c can be filled out:
Inside cave 53c, the researchers found a fragment of a scroll jar, providing evidence that scrolls were once stored in that cave. Excavations are underway in cave 53c to determine if it still holds any scrolls.
Background here and links.

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The History of the Temple Mount in 12 Objects: #2

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT BLOG: The History of the Temple Mount in 12 Objects: #2 The Early First Temple Period.
Ladies and gentlemen, step right up and meet this month’s guest – the earliest piece of weaponry ever to be recovered from the Temple Mount: ...
The object is a bronze arrowhead. But there is much more to this post. It surveys what archaeology, including the work of the Sifting Project, tells us about the Temple Mount in the "Early First Temple Period" (i.e., roughly Iron Age IIA or the tenth century B.C.E.).

I noted the first post in this series here.

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On 2 and 4 Maccabees

HANUKKAH-RELATED: 2 and 4 Maccabees: Evolving Responses to Hellenism (Dr. Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz, TheTorah.com).
2 Maccabees (ca. 1st cent. B.C.E) presents Judaism as the antithesis to Hellenism. A century or so later, however, 4 Maccabees uses Hellenistic ideas to encourage Jews to hold fast to their ancestral faith.

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CFP: Symposia Iranica 4

CONFERENCE:
CALL FOR PAPERS | SYMPOSIA IRANICA
FOURTH BIENNIAL CONFERENCE ON IRANIAN STUDIES


Hosted by the University of Cambridge at St John’s College, Cambridge, UK, 9-10 April 2019

***Deadline: 13 January 2019***

We welcome proposals that engage with any aspect of Iranian studies within the arts, humanities and social sciences. These include but are not limited to prehistory through to the ancient and post-antique, modern, and contemporary histories; historiography; art and architecture history; anthropology; archaeology; cultural heritage; film and cinema; music and musicology; new media and communication studies; the performing arts; poetry and literature; languages and linguistics; Diaspora and migration studies; diplomatic studies, international relations and political science; social and political theory; law and legal studies; economics, philately and numismatics; sociology; philosophy; religions and theology.

Comparative themes and interdisciplinary approaches are also very welcome.

SUBMISSIONS
Proposals are open to early career scholars at postgraduate and post-doctoral levels from any disciplinary background within the arts, humanities and social sciences:

Postgraduate students (MA, MPhil, MSt, etc. who are currently enrolled or who graduate/d in 2019 or 2018);
PhD students and PhD candidates at any stage of their degree; and
post-docs who graduated within the last three years (2018, 2017, 2016, 2015).

Persons falling into any of these categories are eligible to submit a proposal for an individual paper or pre-arranged panel. Submission is conducted electronically through the website. For any questions, please email us at office@symposia-iranica.com.

The language of the conference is English. All submissions undergo double-blind peer review.

ABOUT US
Symposia Iranica is Iranian studies' leading forum for early career scholars. A dedicated, multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed platform open to emerging scholars working on any aspect of Iranian or Persian Studies within the arts, humanities, and social sciences, our three previous conferences were hosted by the University of St Andrews at St Mary’s College in 2013 and the University of Cambridge at Downing College in 2015 and Pembroke College in 2017.

The full call for papers is on our website: symposia-iranica.com
Updates will be posted to our Facebook page: facebook.com/SymposiaIranica
A virtual preview of our programme is at: symposia-iranica.com/preview
Highlights from all three conferences to-date: symposia-iranica.com/past

PARTNERS
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Shahnama Centre for Persian Studies and the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge; St John's College, Cambridge; Trinity College, Cambridge; British Institute of Persian Studies; Iran Heritage Foundation; Soudavar Memorial Foundation; Ancient India and Iran Trust; Institute of Iranian Studies, University of St Andrews; Pembroke College, Cambridge; Brill Publishers; I.B. Tauris Publishers; Edinburgh University Press; and the German Oriental Studies Trust.

With thanks,

Armin Yavari, Founding Chair
Michael Pye, Co-Chair


-----------
Armin Yavari, FRSA
Founding Chair, Symposia Iranica
Exchange at Somerset House, South Wing, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
E. armin@symposia-iranica.com W. www.Symposia-Iranica.org
F. Facebook.com/SymposiaIranica T. Twitter.com/SymposiaIranica

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Sunday, December 02, 2018

Hanukkah 2018

HAPPY HANUKKAH (CHANUKKAH, CHANUKAH) to all those celebrating! The eight-day festival begins tonight at sundown.

National Geographic has a brief, pretty good, background article on Hanukkah: Hanukkah: How an ancient revolt sparked the Festival of Lights. When the days grow shorter and the nights get longer, people around the world celebrate Hanukkah. For eight days and nights, candles are lit, songs are sung, and dreidels are spun to remember a people’s revolt and holy miracle from more than 2,000 years ago (Amy Briggs). It could have mentioned that the Talmud was written many centuries after the events, which bears on the credibility of the story about the lamp that burned for eight days.

Last year's Hanukkah post is here. It links to past Hanukkah posts with additional historical background. For PaleoJudaica posts in the last year that relate to Hanukkah, see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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

Two more caves unsealed at Qumran

OPERATION SCROLL: Newly discovered caves may hold more Dead Sea Scrolls. Though no new manuscripts found so far, archaeologists are hopeful after unearthing objects at Qumran used in the storage of ancient scripts (Times of Israel). Okay, all this talk of new scrolls caves at Qumran is getting complicated. I think I have sorted it out, so here goes.

Back in 2017 there were reports of "Qumran Cave 12," in which some blank parchment and jar fragments were found. There was hope that some actual Dead Sea Scrolls fragments might turn up there too. Now they seem to be calling this cave "Cave 53." I take that as a tacit admission that, no, there were no Dead Sea Scrolls in it apart from the blank fragments.

Past posts on "Qumran Cave 12" (Cave 53) are here, here, here, and here.

In January of this year, there was a report of the discovery of a new cave at Qumran, for which no cave number was specified (at least in the report that I saw). Once again, the report expressed hope that more Dead Sea Scroll fragments would be found in it.

Then last month National Geographic published an article on the search for ancient Bible-related manuscripts and the discoveries and fakes that resulted. It opened and closed with a discussion of Cave 53 (with no mention that it was once called "Cave 12"). It disclosed that excavation was still ongoing in Cave 53 and they were still finding pottery.

Now we have this new report, at the first link above, which refers to two new Qumran caves, 53b and 53c, which are currently being excavated. So far the excavation has produced "jars, wrappings, and possible scroll fragments," but no verified inscribed scrolls or scroll fragments. It turns out that the Cave 53 of the National Geographic article is apparently Cave 53b. It is also the undesignated cave in the news in January (above).

What does all this add up to? As far as I can figure out: (1) No inscribed scrolls turned up in Cave 12/53; (2) another cave, in some unexplained way closely connected to Cave 53, turned up in January and is called Cave 53b; (3) Cave 53b was partially looted 40 years ago, but nevertheless some interesting ancient artifacts (but no scrolls) have just been excavated there; (4) a third cave, again closely related in some unclear way to Cave 53 has turned up and is called Cave 53c and there is no report on its contents or whether it is important; and (5) the excavators really hope that if they just keep digging they will find the "mother load," presumably of new scrolls.

I think the above is accurate, but if anyone else has better information, please send me corrections.

In sum, Operation Scroll is still unsealing new caves that we occupied in antiquity, but they haven't found any new scrolls yet.

UPDATE: More here, especially pertaining to point 4 above.

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Cuneiform tablet found on coast of Israel

PHILOLOGY: DISCOVERED CUNEIFORM REVEALS BABYLONIAN SLAVE TRADE IN BIBLICAL SAMARIA. The fall of Samaria, which has been known in the Bible to be ruled by the Israelites, has been discussed by numerous scholars and remains a key issue in the Bible (Rachel Bernstein, Jerusalem Post).
The cuneiform tablet documenting a slave sale refers to a pym weight, a polished stone weighing about 7.6 grams. Since these stones were in common use in biblical Israel but not in ancient Mesopotamia, Spar, Paley and Stieglitz concluded the text was written in the Levant, and reflected a business transaction regarding moveable property, namely slaves, in the biblical kingdom of Israel.
It was discovered "at Tel Mikhmoret on the Mediterranean coast north of Netanya."

It is very unusual to find a cuneiform fragment in Israel. See, for example, here and here. There is, however, a large archive (unprovenanced but apparently genuine) of cuneiform tablets produced by Judeans in Babylonia. See here and links (cf. here).

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Coin inflation in the Roman Empire.

NUMISMATICS: NGC Ancients: The Decline of Roman Imperial Silver Coinage, Part I (CoinWeek). You can follow the decline of the Roman Empire by the debasement of the value of its coinage. Cross-file under Material Culture.

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