Friday, September 20, 2019

Rabbinics job(s) at University of Chicago Divinity School

H-JUDAIC: Job: Rabbinic Judaism (open rank), University of Chicago, Divinity School. Review of applications began on 15 September, so if you want to apply, don't dawdle.

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

Happy centennial to the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago!

A CENTURY OF THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST: U. of C.’s Oriental Institute celebrates centennial (AARON GETTINGER, Hyde Park Herald).
The Oriental Institute celebrated its centennial with a black-tie anniversary gala on Saturday, giving guests a chance to view galleries renovated with a greater emphasis on accessibility.

It has been an eventful 100 years. In 1919, archaeology was overwhelmingly focused on ancient Greece and Rome. Professor James Henry Breasted founded the OI with a then-groundbreaking emphasis on the Near East, or Orient.

[...]
Read on for a brief history of the OI. There will be a public celebration on Saturday, 28 September.

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A royal steward's seal from ancient Jerusalem

NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY: Tiny First Temple seal impression found with name of Bible-era royal steward. Inscribed with ‘Belonging to Adoniyahu, Royal Steward,’ a clay sealing from the 7th century BCE uncovered from earth excavated at the foundations of the Western Wall (Amanda Borcschel-Dan, Times of Israel).

The article mentions the royal steward's tomb at Silwan. The name there is damaged, but could be restored as Adoniyahu. In other words, it could be the tomb of the owner of this seal. At least that is chronologically possible. A past post on the royal steward's tomb is here.

And for many, many past posts on the Temple Mount Sifting Project, which discovered this seal, start here and follow the links.

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

Review of Frankfurter (ed.), Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic

THE BIBLICAL REVIEW BLOG: Review: “Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic” edited by David Frankfurter (William Brown).
Overall, the volume is an excellent introduction to the theory of magic and ways that magic is practiced through time and space. Notable contributions include each introduction to regional forms of magic (illegitimate ritual) in chapters 4-11, David Frankfurter’s discussion of “magic” as a form of local ritual drawing from an authoritative tradition, and Sarah Iles Johnston’s discussion of the relationship between theurgy and magic. Though readers may have minor quibbles concerning points by authors, by and large Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic is an excellent volume for a detailed overview of studies of magic in the ancient world. Therefore, I will focus my criticisms on points of possible improvement evident throughout the entire volume. Additionally, below the body of this review is a summary of each chapter and occasional comment about contributions.
I noted the publication of the book here.

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

On Taylor on the Copper Scroll

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Dating the Copper Scroll. Ancient Jewish scroll -- and treasure map (Megan Sauter). As usual, this is a summary of an article in Biblical Archaeology Review. It is in the current issue and is by Professor Joan E. Taylor: "Secrets of the Copper Scroll." The article itself is behind the subscription wall, but the summary is worth reading.

For a great many PaleoJudaica posts on the Copper Scroll, start here and just follow those links.

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

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Surprising salts on the Temple Scroll

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Unique Salt Coating Helped Preserve 25-Foot-Long Dead Sea Scroll. Analysis shows that the unique processing of the Temple Scroll’s parchment kept it intact (Jason Daley, The Smithsonian).
To understand how the Temple Scroll survived all those years, a research team was given access to a 1-inch fragment of the parchment—itself just 1/250th of an inch thick—from The Shrine of the Book, a museum in Jerusalem that holds the scroll. Besides being super long, the scroll is unusual in several ways, Nicola Davis at The Guardian reports: The text is written on the flesh side of the skin, which is uncommon. The thin parchment may be an animal skin that has been split in two. And the text is written on a thick layer containing lots of inorganic minerals pressed into the collagen.
It seems that the results were unexpected. But the implications are unclear. Does this mean that the Temple Scroll was produced somewhere at a distance from the Dead Sea area? Maybe. The article at The Guardian collects a range of views from scholars.

The Smithsonian article covers the somewhat technical story in detail and it also links to the MIT press release and to the specialist article in Science Advances.

One point to underline is that this analysis used non-invasive and non-destructive technologies. As I have said many times, this is the way of the future.

Cross-file under Material Culture.

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CFP: World in Crisis: Reflections and Responses from Antiquity to the Present (BAJS)

H-JUDAIC: CFP: World in Crisis: Reflections and Responses from Antiquity to the Present - British Association for Jewish Studies Annual Conference. Follow the link for further particulars. The conferences takes place at the University of Southampton and the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations on 13-15 July 2020. The deadline for paper proposals is Wednesday 15th January 2020.

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

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

David Stacey (1943-2019)

SAD NEWS: The Agade list has shared the sad news that archaeologist David Stacey has passed away. I quote from Jack Sasson's e-mail:
Dr David Stacey passed away on 20 July 2019 in Cambridge, UK. David worked in Israel for many years, having first arrived for the Masada excavations as a volunteer. He worked under Ehud Netzer in Jericho, Herodium, and Masada, and also excavated in Tiberias, Ashkelon, and many other sites. Recently, he wrote extensively about Qumran.
David and I were both staff (he senior and I very junior) at the Asheklon excavation in the late 1980s. We roomed together with another archaeology student for one season during that time. David had endless entertaining stories about the inside world of archaeology and his own adventures in that world over many years.

He and I got back in touch in the early 2000s and we continued to correspond, mostly about the archaeology of Qumran. You can find some relevant posts in the PaleoJudaica archives.

May his memory be for a blessing.

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

On ancient cosmology and theology

IS THAT IN THE BIBLE? The Structure of Heaven and Earth: How Ancient Cosmology Shaped Everyone’s Theology (Paul Davidson).
The Bible is often difficult to make sense of without the proper conceptual framework. Why is Paul concerned about mysterious angels, principles, powers, forces, and archons in his epistles? Why are interactions with demons at the forefront of Jesus’ ministry in Mark? Why is heaven sometimes described as having different levels? Why does Paul describe people under the law as being enslaved to the elements? What motivated early Christians to worship a heavenly saviour? It’s hard to answer these questions without a detailed understanding of ancient Jewish and Greek cosmology, so I’ve spent a great deal of time reading the best books I can find on the subject. Much of what I learned surprised me; perhaps it will surprise you too.

[...]

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

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Talmud on being "cut off"

LAST WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Captive Among the Gentiles. This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study suggests contemporary secular Jews have a lot to atone for.
... Last week, Daf Yomi readers began Tractate Karetot, the section of the Talmud dealing with the laws of karet, and it opens with a catalogue of 36 sins that are punished by karet, including Shabbat violation, various types of incest, breaking the Yom Kippur fast, eating bread on Passover, and profanation of the Temple sacrifices.

In characteristic fashion, however, the rabbis don’t begin at what might seem like the logical beginning, by defining exactly what karet consists of. ...
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Tamber-Rosenau on Women-Turned-Warriors and Queer Theory

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: How to Get a Head in Ancient Israel: Women-Turned-Warriors and Queer Theory (Caryn Tamber-Rosenau).
Caryn Tamber-Rosenau provides an overview of her recent publication, Women in Drag: Gender and Performance in the Hebrew Bible and Early Jewish Literature (Gorgias, 2018).
Excerpt:
I argue that the women in these tales perform femininity—seductiveness, motherliness, or a mixture of the two, depending on what the circumstances called for—as a deliberate battle strategy. Their chief weapons are not tent pegs and swords but feminine performance, and their ability to engage in this performance is intimately tied to their childlessness.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Smash Mouth's "All Star" in Aramaic and back

ARAMAIC WATCH? Smash Mouth's 'All Star' translated to Aramaic and back becomes 'beautiful poetry' (Daniel Rutledge, Newshub).
Behold currently! You are entirely a star child! Begin your power! Go! Laugh!
The retranslated lyrics are kind of cool. For the full text of the Aramaic version, see this blog post by the translator, Isaac Mayer.

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Review of King (ed.), The Syriac World

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Daniel King (ed.), The Syriac World. Routledge worlds. London; New York: Routledge, 2018. Pp. 842. ISBN 9781138899018. $176.00. Reviewed by Yulia Furman, Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics (yfurman@hse.ru)
The present volume ‘The Syriac World’ has been published in the series of the Routledge publishing house ‘Routledge Worlds’, which offers comprehensive and magisterial overviews of principal historical epochs written by established experts. ‘The Syriac World’, edited by Daniel King, is dedicated to various aspects of Syriac culture, including history, literature, language and arts. It is intended primarily for scholars and students of Syriac studies and related fields. The book covers a vast variety of topics ranging from the birth of Syriac Christian culture and its pagan past to the modern descendants of the ancient Syriac churches spread all over the world. Thirty-nine contributions are divided between five major parts.

[...]
Cross-file, of course, under Syriac Watch.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

On the places that YHWH chose

ZVI KOENIGSBERG: The Place(s) that YHWH will Choose: Ebal, Shiloh, and Jerusalem (TheTorah.com).
Jews have long understood “the place that YHWH will chose” to mean Mount Zion in Jerusalem, while Samaritans have interpreted it as Mount Gerizim near Shechem. Archaeology and redaction criticism converge on a compromise solution: it refers to a series of places, one place at a time.
For more on Mt. Ebal, see here and links, and on Mt. Gerizim, see here and here and links.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Bortolani et al. (eds), Cultural Plurality in Ancient Magical Texts and Practices

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Cultural Plurality in Ancient Magical Texts and Practices. Graeco-Egyptian Handbooks and Related Traditions. Ed. by Ljuba Merlina Bortolani, William Furley, Svenja Nagel, and Joachim Friedrich Quack. 2019. IX, 374 pages. Orientalische Religionen in der Antike 32. 129,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-156478-9.
Published in English.
A conference held in Heidelberg in 2014 resulted in this collection of essays, which explore the multifaceted aspects of magical texts and practices in antiquity, focusing especially on the Graeco-Egyptian magical papyri. The volume concentrates on questions of cultural plurality and fusion, ranging from earlier Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Greek magico-religious traditions, through the original developments of Graeco-Roman Egypt, up to and including their integration into Jewish and Byzantine magical lore. In particular, phenomena such as simple borrowing, advanced adaptation, complete assimilation or even distortion of origin and meaning stress the importance of disentangling different cultural elements and understanding their interaction. Going beyond the borders of academic fields, this book aims at giving to the transcultural perspective the importance it deserves in the study of ancient magic.

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Monday, September 09, 2019

Review of Krag, Funerary Representations of Palmyrene Women

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Signe Krag, Funerary Representations of Palmyrene Women: From the First Century BC to the Third Century AD. Studies in classical archaeology, 3. Turnhout: Brepols, 2018. Pp. xii, 422. ISBN 9782503569659. €100,00 (pb). Reviewed by Anja Slawisch, University of Cambridge (as2653@cam.ac.uk)
In this book, Krag aims to offer new insights into a selected corpus of Palmyrene sculptures, dating from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD and composed mostly of female funerary representations. The book contains exhaustive and careful commentary on the pieces and categories under study, but gleaning wider insights is hampered by the verbose writing style and lack of clarity over research agenda.

[...]
Cross-file unde Palmyra Watch, Aramaic Watch, Northwest Semitic Epigraphy, and Sculpture.

Many other past posts on Palmyra, its history, the ancient Aramaic dialect spoken there (Palmyrene), and the city's tragic reversals of fortune, now trending for the better, are here and links.

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

Sunday, September 08, 2019

One Year of the Coptic Magical Papyri Project

COPTIC WATCH: 2019 Review: One Year of the Coptic Magical Papyri Project.
It’s hard to believe it, but a whole year has now passed since the three members of our project first sat around a table in Würzburg and began to talk about our new project on Coptic magic. In this post, we’ll discuss some of our achievements so far, and what we have coming up in the next year.
This excellent blog continues to be active. I have not kept up with it well for a while. Besides the retrospective post above, here are a couple of notable recent posts:

Anthropology of Magic IV: Lévi-Strauss on Magic. I noted the first three posts in this series here and here.

Religion in the Coptic Magical Papyri. I noted nine of the ten posts in this series here, here, and here. The tenth is Religion in the Coptic Magical Papyri X: Islam and Coptic Magic. It mentions a magical text from the Cairo Geniza which is written in part in Copto-Arabic (a term I just made up), that is, in Arabic written in Coptic script. I did not know that was a thing.

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

Role-playing exorcisms?

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Performing Exercises, Performing Exorcisms (Sara Ronis).
According to the angel Raphael, the secret to exorcising the demon Asmodeus is to burn a particular fish’s heart and liver in the presence of the malevolent Asmodeus. The foul smell apparently repels this finicky demon. At least, that’s what the author of the Book of Tobit believed. Demons are weird. Demonic exorcisms are weirder still. And yet to dismiss them as simply weird is to miss out on the important social and theological work that demons do in both ancient and modern societies. Thus, I decided to devote a day to demonic possession and exorcism in a new course I was teaching on Second Temple Judaism. But how to teach this subject?

[...]
Cross-file under Pedagogy.

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Saturday, September 07, 2019

Belatedly, Biblical Studies Carnival 162

THE AMATEUR EXEGETE: Biblical Studies Carnival 163 (August 2019).

Also, a related post by Phil Long, organizer of the carnival, at Reading Acts: Biblical Studies Carnival for August 2019.

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

Many Recensions of the Ten Commandments?

PROF. SIDNIE WHITE CRAWFORD: The Many Recensions of the Ten Commandments (TheTorah.com).
Beyond the two version of the Decalogue in Exodus and Deuteronomy, and the usual differences between MT, SP, and LXX, in Second Temple times, liturgical texts in Qumran (4QDeutn) and Egypt (Nash Papyrus), Greek references in the New Testament and Philo, and even tefillin parchments, reflect slightly different recensions of the text.

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Friday, September 06, 2019

More on Stone, Secret Groups in Ancient Judaism

IN THE MAIL FROM OUP:
Secret Groups in Ancient Judaism

Michael E. Stone


• Greatly enriches our understanding of the religious dynamic of this period
• Analyzes the Essenes and other contemporary groups as a secret society

Were there groups in Ancient Judaism that cultivated esoteric knowledge and transmitted it secretly? With the discovery and burgeoning study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and particularly of the documents legislating the social structure of the Qumran group, the foremost paradigm for analysis of the group's social structure has become the "sect." This is still dominant, having replacing the monastic paradigm used by some of the earliest scholars of the Scrolls.

But after studying what has been written on secret societies more generally, Michael Stone has concluded that many known ancient Jewish groupsthe Qumran covenanters, Josephus's and Philo's Essenes, and Philo's Therapeutaeshould be viewed as societies at the heart of whose existence were esoteric knowledge and practice. Guarding and transmitting this esoteric knowledge and practice, Stone argues, provided the dynamic that motivated the social and conceptual structure of these groups. Analyzing them as secret societies, he says, enables us to see previously latent social structural dimensions, and provides many new enriching insights into the groups, including the Dead Sea covenanters.

By examining historical and literary sources, Stone uncovers evidence for the existence of other secret groups in ancient Jewish society. This line of study leads Stone not only to consider the "classical" Jewish apocalypses as pseudo-esoteric, but also to discern in them the footsteps of hidden, truly esoteric traditions cultivated in the circles that produced the apocalypses. This discovery has significant implications, especially considering the enormous growth of study of the apocalyptic in the Judaism of the Second Temple period and in nascent Christianity over the last seventy years.
I am one of the reviewers of this book for the Mysticism, Esotericism, and Gnosticism in Antiquity Group at the upcoming annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in San Diego, California.

Past posts on the book are here and here.

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

The Temple on Mount Gerizim

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Temple on Mount Gerizim—In the Bible and Archaeology. Worship at Ancient Temples (Megan Sauter). As usual, this is a summary on an article, this one by Anne Katrine de Hemmer in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review: "Reactivating Remembrance: Interactive Inscriptions from Mt. Gerizim." The full article is behind the subscription wall.

A couple of related posts are here and here.

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

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Review of Walsh, The Cult of Mithras in Late Antiquity

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: David Walsh, The Cult of Mithras in Late Antiquity. Development, Decline and Demise ca. A.D. 270-430. Late Antique Archaeology (Supplementary Series), volume 2. Leiden: Brill, 2018. Pp. xii, 146. ISBN 9789004380806. €121 (pb). ISBN 9789004383067. ebook. Reviewed by Matthew M. McCarty, University of British Columbia (matthew.mccarty@ubc.ca).
Ultimately, though, whether Walsh’s boldest arguments will hold true as excavations publish their data may matter less than the way that Walsh successfully re-frames the questions surrounding the end of Mithras-worship.
I noted the publication of the book here.

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

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Was Emmaus at Kiriath Yearim?

ARCHAEOLOGY: Israeli Archaeologists May Have Found Emmaus, Where Jesus Appeared After Crucifixion (Ariel David, Haaretz premium).
Archaeologists have uncovered the massive walls of a 2,200-year-old Hellenistic fortification that may have been built by the Seleucid general who defeated Judah the Maccabee, the famed Jewish leader at the center of the Hanukkah story. In an unexpected twist, the discovery could also help identify the location of the biblical town of Emmaus, where the Gospels say Jesus made his first appearance after being crucified and resurrected.

[...]
But just to keep things interesting, there may have been more than one ancient town named Emmaus.

For more on the excavation at Kiriath Yearim (Kiriath Jearim), see here and links. And for more on the excavation at the site of Motza (mentioned in the article as another contender for the site of Emmaus), see here and here.

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

Psalmen und Chronik (ed. Hartenstein and Willi)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Psalmen und Chronik. Hrsg. v. Friedhelm Hartenstein u. Thomas Willi. [Psalms and Chronicles.] 2019. XXII, 434 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe 107. 99,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-154010-3.
Published in German.
The Books of Psalms and Chronicles open and close the ketubim in the TENAK. They share some significant mutual linguistic and thematic threads, which demonstrate their cognate character in the Second Temple literature. This becomes even more obvious if one looks at both works as a special example of the relationship of poetics and prose in ancient Jewish tradition. Finally, it is important to note how the presentation of history in Chronicles uses Psalms (from the theocratic books 4 and 5) as interpreting doxologies while conversely certain Psalms show concepts of history comparable to 1–2Chr. This volume contains the contributions of an international conference held at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich where for the first time renowned scholars discussed aspects of the relationship between Psalms and Chronicles fundamentally and in detail.
The essays are in German and English.

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

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Isaac Luria knew things

KABBALAH WATCH: REPORTS OF MIRACLES FROM SAFED. How the great kabbalist Isaac Luria changed the perception of the world without changing the world itself (Eli Yassif, Tablet Magazine).
To be somewhat less cautious than Leon was, I would say not that most of the original legends about Luria involve his knowledge or recognition of something but that they are all of this sort. Not a single legend told about Luria during his sojourn in Safed (or the fifty years around 1600 that this book is concentrated on; I am not speaking here about legends fashioned centuries later) recounts a miraculous deed. There are no stories of sick people lining up in front of his door so that he could cure them, or stories of threats to the Safed Jewish community that he averted or undid.
The essay also touches on ancient Jewish mysticism and magic here and there.

For past posts on Isaac Luria (Ha'ARI) and Lurianic Kabbalah, see here and links.

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Monday, September 02, 2019

Reviving ancient fragrances?

ANCIENT MATERIAL CULTURE, AROMATICS EDITION: Israeli farmer remixes ancient scents near Dead Sea (Michael Blum, AFP). It's not certain that Mr. Erlich has the right ancient plants, but an expert thinks he probably does.

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

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Was there a Dead Sea Scrolls conspiracy?

SPOILER: NO. Religious questions: Was there a Dead Sea Scrolls conspiracy? (Wyatt Massey, Times Free Press).

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

Saturday, August 31, 2019

In honor of Khaled Al-Asaad

PALMYRA WATCH: The Guardian Spirit of Palmyra, Khaled Al-As’aad (The Syria Times).
The 18th of August marks a very distressing occasion for all Syrians; yet a source of pride; in commemoration of Mr. Khaled Al-Asa’ad assassination; the Arabic Cultural Center of Abou Roumani hosted the occasion along with Mada Cultural Project, through displaying a documentary entitled “Palmyra Admirer”, directed by Ghassan Shmit, on Khaled Al-Asa’ad documenting his life and death, but most significantly his passion for his beloved Palmyra.

The Syrian archaeologist, who held the position of head of antiquities at the ancient city of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for over 40 years; was publicly beheaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on 18 August 2015, at the age of eighty three.
For more on the murder of Dr Asaad by ISIS, see here and here.

Many other past posts on Palmyra, its history, the ancient Aramaic dialect spoken there (Palmyrene), and the city's tragic reversals of fortune, now trending for the better, are here and links.

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

Friday, August 30, 2019

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Talmud on sacrificial restrictions and prostitution

LAST WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: If a Man Gives a Woman a Lamb in Exchange for Sex. This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ follows its own logic from animal sacrifice to definitions of prostitution.
The Talmud seldom explicitly reckons with the fact that the laws of animal sacrifice are in abeyance. One exception comes in Chapter 5 of Temura, when the rabbis address the issue of whether it is possible to use “artifice” to get around the obligation to sacrifice every firstborn animal. The problem is that while there is no place to actually sacrifice such animals today, they are still born consecrated to God, which means that they can’t be eaten, shorn, or used for labor. Rather, one is supposed to let them alone until they develop a blemish that would render them unsuitable for sacrifice. Only then is it permitted to derive benefit from them, since they can no longer even theoretically be brought to the altar.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Lataster and McGrath debate Mythicism

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION has recently published two essays on "Mythicism" — the idea that Jesus did not exist as an historical person. Raphael Lataster argues for agnosticism on the question:
Questioning Jesus’ Historicity

As a secular scholar, I, of course, reject hypotheses involving the Christ of Faith. Critical scholars can only reasonably debate the existence of the so-called Historical Jesus, that figure of the Gospels stripped of all divinity. Most secular scholars of the New Testament believe that this figure certainly existed. I noticed that this is an assumption, however, later finding it to be an unjustified assumption.

See Also: Questioning the Historicity of Jesus (Brill 2019).

By Raphael Lataster
University of Sydney
August 2019
I noted his recent book here.

James McGrath replies and disagrees:
Exorcising Mythicism’s Sky-Demons: A Response to Raphael Lataster’s “Questioning Jesus’ Historicity.”

Historians do not depend on the Gospels, much less hypothetical sources behind them, for their conclusion that there was a historical Jesus. The letters of Paul, written within decades of Jesus’ life by someone who had met his brother, combined not only with the Gospels but also Roman and Jewish sources, together provide a convincing impression that the religious phenomenon known as Christianity owes something to a historical figure named Jesus whose detractors viewed him as a charlatan and/or heretic.

See: Questioning Jesus’ Historicity.
Mythicism and the Mainstream: The Rhetoric and Realities of Academic Freedom.

By James F. McGrath
Butler University
August 2019
I think McGrath gets the better of the debate here, but you can read the essays and decide for yourself. For my own views about the historical Jesus, see here and links and here.

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

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Interview with Peter J. Gentry

WILLIAM ROSS: LXX SCHOLAR INTERVIEW: DR. PETER J. GENTRY DISCUSSES HIS NEW CRITICAL EDITION. Of Greek Ecclesiastes, that is. I noted the publication of the volume here.

For Dr. Ross's many previous interviews with Septuagint scholars, see here and links and here.

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

Monday, August 26, 2019

On Solomon's Temple and archaeology

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE AND ICONOGRAPHY: Reconstructing the Features of Solomon’s Temple (Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu and Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, TheTorah.com).
A small shrine model, found in an archaeological excavation of the 10th century B.C.E. city of Qeiyafa, together with a 9th century B.C.E. Temple excavated at Motza, help us better understand the Temple of Solomon, known only from the biblical text.
For past posts on the model shrines at Iron Age II Khirbet Qeiyafa, see here and links. I noted the discovery of the Iron Age II shrine at Motza here.

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

Hamidović et al. (eds.), »Retribution« in Jewish and Christian Writings

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: »Retribution« in Jewish and Christian Writings. A Concept in Debate. Ed. by David Hamidović, Apolline Thromas, and Matteo Silvestrini. 2019. IX, 220 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 492. 84,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-154721-8.
Published in English.
The authors of this volume attempt to define the concept of retribution by looking beyond its diversity in Jewish and Christian writings, and seeking the common objects and components that govern it in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, as well as Greek, Islamic and Buddhist texts. They argue that the concept should not be seen as a set of ideas acquired and accepted, but rather as an on-going process. The epistemological current of the Begriffsgeschichte understands conceptualization as a continual process of contesting and questioning, rather than something fixed or final. Each study therefore explicitly examines the actors involved, their environments and receptions, and whether they were accepted, rejected, or modified as components of compensation. The associations made with concepts of wealth, poverty, power, their exchange, transfer, and instance are also taken into consideration.

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

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Virtual unfolding of Elephantine papyri

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Physicists discover hidden text in what was thought to be blank Egyptian papyri. It's the latest example of how cutting-edge physics techniques can unlock the past (Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica).
A team of German scientists has used a combination of cutting-edge physics techniques to virtually "unfold" an ancient Egyptian papyrus, part of an extensive collection housed in the Berlin Egyptian Museum. Their analysis revealed that a seemingly blank patch on the papyrus actually contained characters written in what had become "invisible ink" after centuries of exposure to light.

Most of the papyri in the collection were excavated around 1906 by an archaeologist named Otto Rubensohn, on Elephantine Island, near the city of Aswan. They've been gathering dust in storage for much of the ensuing decades, and because they are so fragile, more than 80% of the text within remains undeciphered. ...
The only fully recovered word is the Coptic word for "Lord." But as the process is perfected, it may help to recover a lot of other ancient text more fully.

Given that these papyri are in Coptic, they must be much later than the fifth-century BCE Judean (etc.?) Aramaic papyri from Elephantine. I don't know whether any such Aramaic texts might be included among those undeciphered texts mentioned in the quote. I hope so.

As I like to say:

Bit by bit, a letter at a time, whatever it takes. Until we're done.

Non-invasive and non-destructive technologies are the way of the future for archaeology.

The Singularity is Near.

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

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Freedman Award goes to Andrew Perrin

CONGRATULATIONS! TWU professor honoured for Dead Sea Scroll research. Dr. Andrew Perrin receives 2019 David Noel Freedman Award (Ryan Uytdewilligen, Aldergrove Star).

For some past posts on Dr. Perrin's research, see here, here, here, and here and links.

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

Friday, August 23, 2019

A fishy mosaic at Hippos-Sussita

DECORATIVE ART: Miracle of the Multiplication Mosaic Found on ‘Wrong’ Side of Sea of Galilee. The mosaic in the Burnt Church of Hippos-Sussita shows five loaves and two fish, like the ones Jesus used to feed 5,000 men, but the depicted fish look Nilotic, not local (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz premium).

Besides the apparent mixup about what kind of fish Jesus used in that miracle, the Burnt Church also has inscriptions in really bad Greek. So maybe fact-checking was a low priority.

But the archaeologists are very happy with the discoveries. So am I.

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

An inscribed Moabite altar!

NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY: Biblical War Revealed on 2,800-Year-Old Stone Altar. The altar reveals new details about a rebellion against the Kingdom of Israel (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
The altar bears two inscriptions. The words are in the Moabite language and script, while the numerals in the inscriptions are in Hieratic (an Egyptian writing system). The altar appears to date to a time after Mesha, king of Moab, successfully rebelled against the Kingdom of Israel and conquered Ataroth (sometimes spelled Atarot), a city that the Kingdom of Israel had controlled. By this time, Israel had broke in two with a northern kingdom that retained the name Israel and a southern kingdom called Judah.

[...]
The inscriptions were recently published in the open-access journal Levant (Volume 50, 2018 - Issue 2, pp. 211-236): An inscribed altar from the Khirbat Ataruz Moabite sanctuary (Adam L. Bean, Christopher A. Rollston, P. Kyle McCarter & Stefan J. Wimmer).
Abstract
A cylindrical stone incense altar inscribed with seven lines of text in two separate inscriptions was discovered in a cultic context during 2010 excavations at Khirbat Ataruz in Jordan. The two short inscriptions are written in Moabite language, using an Early Moabite script datable to the late 9th or early 8th century BCE. Both inscriptions also employ Hieratic numerals. Inscription A appears to tabulate small quantities of metal, possibly for some purpose relating to the cultic context of the inscription. The longer Inscription B appears to be potentially dedicatory and/or commemorative in focus, but remains largely enigmatic. These inscriptions provide a new important historical witness to the period after the Moabite conquest and occupation of Khirbat Ataruz/Atarot described in the Mesha Inscription.
This is a very important discovery. The decipherment of the inscriptions, especially the second one, are tentative. But any new inscriptions in Moabite are a welcome addition to a small corpus.

The other major Moabite inscription is the Mesha Inscription (Mesha Stele, Moabite Stone), on which more here and keep following the links.

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Review of Nissinen, Ancient Prophecy

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Ancient Prophecy: Near Eastern, Biblical, and Greek Perspectives (William Kelly).
Martti Nissinen. Ancient Prophecy: Near Eastern, Biblical, and Greek Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.
Opening paragraph:
Through several decades of productive and influential work, Martti Nissinen has established himself as a leading scholar in the study of prophecy in the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East. With Ancient Prophecy, Nissinen weaves together his experience, skill, and insight into an impressive monograph. What results is one of the most complete and authoritative accounts of the prophetic phenomenon in the ancient Eastern Mediterranean.

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Review of The Alexander Romance: History and Literature (ed. Stoneman et al.)

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Richard Stoneman, Krzysztof Nawotka, Agnieszka Wojciechowska (ed.), The Alexander Romance: History and Literature. Ancient narrative. Supplementum, 25. Groningen: Barkhuis & Groningen University Library, 2018. Pp. xv, 322. ISBN 9789492444714. €95,00. Reviewed by Chiara Di Serio, Università di Roma 'La Sapienza' (chiara.diserio@uniroma1.it).

Alexander is connected to Jewish traditions in one recension of the Alexander Romance. The volume under review also has an article on Alexander traditions in some Jewish texts.

For past PaleoJudaica posts involving the Alexander Romance, see here and links, here, and here.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Carthage exhibition in Rome

PUNIC WATCH: Carthage exhibition at the Colosseum in Rome. From 27 Sep 2019 to 29 Mar 2020 (Wanted in Rome). The title of the exhibition is Carthago. The immortal myth.

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Carthage vs. illegal houses

PUNIC WATCH: Battle of Carthage: Tunisia demolishes homes to protect ancient site. Carthage's place on UNESCO World Heritage list is under threat, due to what the UN cultural body calls "uncontrolled urban sprawl." Residents and civil society activists see government demolitions as discrimination (Reuters via Israel HaYom). This is a difficult situation. Apparently it is especially important to get planning permission to build a house in the vicinity of Carthage.

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Laato, Understanding the Spiritual Meaning of Jerusalem in Three Abrahamic Religions

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Understanding the Spiritual Meaning of Jerusalem in Three Abrahamic Religions

Series:
Studies on the Children of Abraham, Volume: 6

Editor: Antti Laato

Understanding the Spiritual Meaning of Jerusalem in Three Abrahamic Religions analyzes the historical, social and theological factors which have resulted in Jerusalem being considered a holy place in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It also surveys the transmission of the religious traditions related to Jerusalem. This volume centralizes both the biblical background of Jerusalem’s pivotal role as holy place and its later development in religious writings; the biblical imagery has been adapted, rewritten and modified in Second Temple Jewish writings, the New Testament, patristic and Jewish literature, and Islamic traditions. Thus, all three monotheistic religions have influenced the multifaceted, interpretive traditions which help to understand the current religious and political position of Jerusalem in the three main Abrahamic faiths.

Publication Date: 5 August 2019
ISBN: 978-90-04-40685-8

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Knoppers memorial

FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Oded Lipschits, Carol A. Newsom, Konrad Schmid. In memoriam Gary N. Knoppers. (November 14, 1956-December 22, 2018).Section: Editorial. Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel (HeBAI),Volume 8 (2019) / Issue 1, p. 1 (1). You can download this brief obituary as a PDF file for free.

For more on the late Professor Knoppers and his work, see here and follow the links.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Kaminsky on election in the HB

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
Election in the Hebrew Bible

Much of the Hebrew Bible speaks against the idea that the nations will convert to Israel’s religion and it is rare to find a passage that speaks of a complete dissolution of all distinctions between Abraham’s family and the other nations of the world.

See Also: Yet I Loved Jacob: Reclaiming the Biblical Concept of Election (Wipf and Stock, 2016).

By Joel S. Kaminsky
Morningstar Family Professor of Jewish Studies
Chair, Religion Department
Smith College
August 2019

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Review of Lee, The Greek of the Pentateuch

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: John A. L. Lee, The Greek of the Pentateuch: Grinfield Lectures on the Septuagint 2011-2012. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. Pp. xx, 360. ISBN 9780198816133. $99.00. Reviewed by Dries De Crom, Tilburg University (d.j.l.a.decrom@tilburguniversity.edu).
In this study, John A.L. Lee returns to the language of the Greek Pentateuch, the topic of an earlier monograph which is, to the best of this reviewer’s knowledge, one of the most widely quoted studies on this particular topic.2 The driving force behind the present volume is “the overriding objective of demonstrating the Pentateuch translators’ intimacy with the Greek of their time” (p. 2). Indeed, the author repeatedly stresses the independence of linguistic and stylistic features in the Greek Pentateuch from its Hebrew parent text. He deploys numerous examples from papyrological, epigraphical, biblical and non-biblical sources to firmly embed the Greek Pentateuch in the language of its time and place. The result is a study that is exemplary in many ways.

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

What does "Lord of Hosts" mean?

PHILOLOGOS: Why Does the Hebrew Bible So Often Refer to God as "Lord of Hosts"? Host means army, but who were God’s armies? (Mosaic Magazine).

Past PaleoJudaica posts that deal with this expression are here (scroll down) and here.

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Eschner, Essen im antiken Judentum und Urchristentum

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Essen im antiken Judentum und Urchristentum

Diskurse zur sozialen Bedeutung von Tischgemeinschaft, Speiseverboten und Reinheitsvorschriften


Series:
Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, Volume: 108

Author: Christina Eschner

In Essen im antiken Judentum und Urchristentum untersucht Christina Eschner die Auseinandersetzungen zum jüdischen Gesetz innerhalb des Urchristentums vor dem Hintergrund vergleichbarer Diskurse im antiken Judentum. Ziel ist es, die urchristliche Praxis des Gesetzes in ihrem größeren Kontext darzustellen und ihr gegebenenfalls einen bestimmten Platz im facettenreichen Bild der zeitgenössischen jüdischen Strömungen zuzuweisen. Dabei finden Schriften aus Qumran, dem griechischsprachigen und dem rabbinischen Judentum Berücksichtigung. Der Fokus liegt auf Vorschriften zu verbotenen Speisen, zur Tischgemeinschaft und zur erlaubten Art und Weise der Nahrungsaufnahme. Auch pagane Traditionen werden einbezogen. Damit ist diese Studie besonders interdisziplinär ausgerichtet. Sie bewegt sich an der Schnittstelle zwischen Themenfeldern der neutestamentlichen Wissenschaft, der Altphilologie, der Alten Geschichte und der Judaistik. Sie kommt zu dem Ergebnis, dass die urchristlichen Diskurse zum Essen nicht auf eine vollständige Abschaffung der entsprechenden jüdischen Gesetzesanordungen zielen.

In Essen im antiken Judentum und Urchristentum Christina Eschner examines the Early Christian disputes about the Jewish law against the background of Ancient Jewish discourses on commands of the law, in order to situate the Early Christian practice of the law within its broader context. Jewish sources include the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish writings in Greek and early rabbinic texts. This study focusses on rules concerning prohibited food, table fellowship and the permissible way of food intake. Pagan traditions are also considered. Thus, the work has an interdisciplinary orientation, discussing issues at the junction of New Testament studies, Classics, Ancient History and Jewish studies. It concludes that Early Christian food discourses do not aim for the complete abolition of the law.

Publication Date: 1 July 2019
ISBN: 978-90-04-39190-1

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Tu B'Av 2019

THE FESTIVAL OF TU B'AV begins this evening at sundown. Best wishes to all those celebrating.

Tu B'Av (which just means the 15th day of the month of Av) is an ancient matchmaking festival. Its first mention is in the Mishnah (Ta’anit 4). It has been revived in recent years as a kind of Jewish Valentine's Day. For past posts on it, see here and links.

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Senate building excavated in Pelusium

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Ancient Senate Building Found in North Sinai. In the Roman provincial capital of ancient Pelusium (Jonathan Laden). As the essay notes, the Book of Ezekiel mentions the city of Pelusium.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Talmud and speech acts

LAST WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: THE RULES OF THE SWAP. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ drawing a distinction between what is permitted and what is legal.
But what if you consecrate one animal to the priests, and then decide you would rather keep it and give up a different animal in its stead? Maybe you want to keep a big, valuable sheep for yourself and give the priest a skinny one; or maybe the reverse is true, you want to make sure God gets the best animal possible. Is this kind of substitution allowed? Or is consecration a permanent state, so that once a specific animal is designated, it cannot be replaced by a different animal, even if the two are equivalent?

This turns out to be a more complicated question than it might seem, because the Torah seems to contradict itself. ...
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Star Trek and Rabbinics?

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Using Star Trek to Teach Rabbinics (Rebecca Kamholz).
Good, creative pedagogy. I like it.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Ancient synagogue mosaic in Greece on exhibit

DECORATIVE ART: RACE TO PRESERVE RARE MOSAIC OF ANCIENT GREEK SYNAGOGUE. A special exhibition of the 4th Century CE mosaic was opened last week on Aegina Island (Ilanit Chernick, Jerusalem Post).
In a press release, EcoWeek described the geometric mosaic floor as “the most rare and significant finding of Jewish archaeology discovered in Aegina Island in the 19th century. The mosaic is at a dangerous state of damage and neglect and requires urgent preservation and protection.”

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Gold jewelry found in Jerusalem's Babylonian destruction layer

ARCHAEOLOGY: Rare Jewel Found on Mt. Zion Reveals Babylonian Destruction of Jerusalem. First Temple-era Jerusalem was bigger than thought, archaeologists say, adding: ‘Nobody abandons golden jewelry and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse’ (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz premium).

Cross-file under Ancient Bling.

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Monday, August 12, 2019

Review of Berman, Inconsistency in the Torah

REVIEWS OF BIBLICAL AND EARLY CHRISTIAN STUDIES:
2019.3.4 | Joshua A. Berman. Inconsistency in the Torah: Ancient Literary Convention and the Limits of Source Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. ISBN 9780190658809.

Review by Lindsey A. Askin, University of Bristol.
Excerpt:
... We have always known the Pentateuch repeats itself but historically we have been less certain about why it does so. Berman’s Inconsistency in the Torah demonstrates that the repetition of incongruous laws and “unnecessary” repetitions have their own setting and context in the ancient traditions of common-law, an insight that should have reverberations in Pentateuchal criticism.
Earlier reviews of the book etc. are noted here and links.

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

SOTS Book List 2019

IN THE MAIL:
John Jarick (ed.), Society for Old Testament Study Book List 2018 (= JSOT 43.5) (London: Sage, 2019).

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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Tisha B'Av 2019

TISHA B'AV (THE NINTH OF AV) begins this evening at sundown. An easy fast to all those observing it.

The Ninth of Av is not specifically a biblical holy day. Rather, it commemorates a number of disasters that happened to the Jewish people, traditionally all on that same day. These include the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Babylonians, the destruction of the Herodian Temple by the Romans, and the fall of Betar during the Bar Kokhba revolt.

Last year's Tisha B'Av post is here with links.

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

Louden, Greek Myth and the Bible

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Bruce Louden, Greek Myth and the Bible. Routledge monographs in classical studies. London; New York: Routledge, 2018. Pp. viii, 241. ISBN 9781138328587. $140.00. Reviewed by James J. Clauss, University of Washington (jjc@uw.edu).
Bruce Louden makes his position on the relationship between Greek Myth and the Bible loud and clear, and it will doubtless take many by surprise: “Israel’s oral traditions and scribal culture were not only acquainted with but also influenced and shaped by ancient Greek culture” (p. 2). I will state up front that I am not ready to go as far as Louden wants to take us, but readers will see first-hand that behind the Biblical passages discussed lurk traditional tales from polytheistic cultures. And the connections he points out are many and truly astonishing.

[...]
Some of what this review reports of the book sounds like parallelomania to me. But I haven't read the book, so I shall try to keep an open mind. Perhaps I would find the full arguments more convincing.

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Friday, August 09, 2019

Scialabba, Creation and Salvation

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Daniela Scialabba. Creation and Salvation. Models of Relationship Between the God of Israel and the Nations in the Book of Jonah, in Psalm 33 (MT and LXX) and in the Novel »Joseph and Aseneth.« 2019. XIV, 354 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe 106. 84,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-156261-7.
Published in English.
In recent decades, the debate on monotheism and religious pluralism has been strongly influenced by the idea that monotheism originating in the Old Testament is the root of intolerance and violence. In this study, Daniela Scialabba investigates inclusive tendencies in Old Testament monotheism, in particular theological principles motivating and supporting the possibility of a positive relationship between non-Israelites and the God of Israel. Thus, she examines three texts thoroughly: the Book of Jonah, Psalm 33 (MT and LXX), and the novel »Joseph and Aseneth«. Despite their difference concerning genre, date of origin and provenance, these texts have important ideas in common: the relationship between the God of Israel and non-Israelites as well as the concept of God as a universal creator who has pity with all his creatures.

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Thursday, August 08, 2019

On the Geonim

MICHAEL SATLOW: The Geonim: An Introduction. The Geonim were "the rabbis who lived at the very end of the Talmudic period and the shift to the Middle Ages." Professor Satlow now has a video series on them.

Some related PaleoJudaica posts are here and links.

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

Schwartz, Rewriting the Talmud

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK:Marcus Mordecai Schwartz. Rewriting the Talmud. The Fourth Century Origins of Bavil Rosh Hashanah. 2019. XI, 151 pages. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 175. 99,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-154123-0.
Published in English.
In this study, Marcus Mordecai Schwartz argues that there were two distinct periods in which traditions from Rabbinic Palestine exerted their influence upon extended passages of B. Rosh Hashanah. This doubling of influence resulted in a Babylonian-born text with two distinct Palestinian ancestries. This oddly mixed parentage was responsible for Bavli texts that both resemble synoptic passages in the Yerusalmi and differ from them in substantial ways. The main project of this book is to trace the dynamics of this doubled Palestinian influence and to account for the mark it left on passages of B. Rosh Hashanah.

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Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Dibon-Gad or Dibon and Gad?

PROF YIGAL LEVINE: Dibon-Gad: Between the Torah and the Mesha Stele (TheTorah.com).
In the southern Transjordanian Mishor (plateau), an area that changed hands between Israelites and Moabites, there once lived two neighboring tribes, Gadites and Dibonites…
For many past posts on the Mesha Stele, start here and follow the links.

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The Shekel (journal)

THE AWOL BLOG: Open Access Journal: The Shekel. Includes many articles on ancient Jewish coins. Cross-file under Numismatics.

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Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Josephus on Phinehas

DR. YONATAN MILLER: Sedition at Moab: Josephus’ Reading of the Phinehas Story (TheTorah.com).
The Torah describes Phinehas as a zealot, who kills Zimri in an act of vigilante fervor, and is rewarded by God with eternal priesthood. Anticipating the rabbis’ discomfort with Phinehas’ vigilantism, Josephus transforms Phinehas into a military general and Zimri’s sin into a dangerous sedition requiring a military response.

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Monday, August 05, 2019

New translations of NT Apocrypha

NEW TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA WATCH: Years in the Making: The Debut of NASSCAL’s Early Christian Apocrypha Series (Tony Burke, Apocryphicity Blog).
The North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature (NASSCAL) is celebrating the release of the first two volumes in their Early Christian Apocrypha series: The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Nativity of Mary, by Brandon W. Hawk, and The Protevangelium of James, by Lily C. Vuong. To be clear, the two books are numbered volumes 7 and 8 because NASSCAL is continuing a series that was begun by Julian V. Hills, who edited six volumes of texts for Polebridge Press.

[...]

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Review of Dhont, Style and Context of Old Greek Job

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Marieke Dhont, Style and Context of Old Greek Job. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, 183. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2018. Pp. 410. ISBN 9789004358485. €138,00. Reviewed by Patrick Pouchelle, Centre Sèvres (patrick.pouchelle@gmail.com).
This excellent book offers clear and nuanced conclusions. The application of PST to the OG of Job is productive, as it asks one to consider the OG of Job for itself. The recent renewal of the studies of the Septuagint follows two different paths: treating it as the Old Testament of early Christianity, or as the product of a Greek-Hebrew Jewish translator. This last approach produced the interlinear paradigm in which the LXX is understood as a resource intended to be read alongside its Hebrew original. The PST offers another approach. As a cultural artefact of the Greek-speaking Jewish world, the OG of Job should be studied not against the Hebrew source text, but against the literature of the Greek Jewish communities. ...
I noted the publication of the book last year.

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Sunday, August 04, 2019

Walsh on angels and the Qumran sect

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
Claiming Israel’s Angels as their Own: The Angelic Realm and the Religious Identity of the Qumran Sect

Several ancient Jewish texts suggest that a connection, correspondence, or parallel was thought to exist between the faithful angels of heaven and Israel on earth. The Qumran sect put their own stamp on these broader convictions by boldly claiming both fellowship with the angels and that they outranked the angels in some sense. In doing so, the sectarians bolstered their claims to be the true Israel.

See Also: Angels Associated with Israel in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Angelology and Sectarian Identity at Qumran (Mohr Siebek, 2019).

By Matthew L. Walsh
Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies
Acadia Divinity College
July 2019
Cross-file under New Book.

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Are the skeletal remains from Masada non-Jewish?

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
Masada, the Human Remains: An Anthropological Critique

Masada, known throughout the western world for the suicide narrative described by Josephus and later excavations by Professor Yigal Yadin, is not without controversy. Outside the academic world, few are aware of the controversy surrounding Masada; however, scholars have long questioned the veracity of the narrative and its interpretation by Yadin. Unfortunately, few scholars have subjected the narrative to rigorous anthropological research, the basis upon which the final Masada drama rests. Professor Amnon Ben-Tor, who excavated Masada, has attempted to summarize the archaeological along with the anthropological findings for a wider public audience. However honest his attempt, the anthropological findings strongly suggest that nearly all, if not all of the human remains found to date, are ethnically non-Jewish.

By Joe Zias
Science and Antiquity
Jerusalem, Israel
July 2019
For past PaleoJudaica posts on the history and archaeology of, and revisionist views on, Masada, see here and links. And another recent post on Masada is here.

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Saturday, August 03, 2019

Review of Alter's book on Bible translation

THE JERUSALEM POST: BOOK REVIEW: AN UNCOMPROMISING BIBLE TRANSLATION. Robert Altar [That's "Alter!" - JRD] pushes back against modern translations, which he thinks interpret too much and translate too little (Neville Teller).
In The Art of Bible Translation, Alter provides an intriguing insight into the complexities he faced in producing, single-handed, his translation of the Hebrew Bible. It makes fascinating reading.
This review too has some good examples of specific biblical texts.

For past reviews of this book and of Professor Alter's translation of the Hebrew Bible, start here and follow the many links.

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Frey et al. (eds.), Between Canonical and Apocryphal Texts

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Between Canonical and Apocryphal Texts.
Processes of Reception, Rewriting, and Interpretation in Early Judaism and Early Christianity.
Ed. by Jörg Frey, Claire Clivaz, and Tobias Nicklas, in collaboration with Jörg Röder. 2019. IX, 490 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 419. 149,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-153927-5.
Published in English.
The present volume aims at a comparative study of the processes of reception, rewriting and interpretation between canonical and apocryphal texts in early Jewish and early Christian literature. A closer look at the respective developments in both corpora of literature can open up new perspectives for understanding the developments and changes between texts that were already considered authoritative, and their reception in new, 'parabiblical' or 'apocryphal' compositions. The way of reception may also influence the perspective on canonical texts. The range of texts considered includes the LXX, Targumim and Pesharim, books such as Jubilees, the Genesis Apocryphon, the Gospel of Thomas, and Apocryphal Acts, traditions about Esther, Ezra, Manasseh, Peter and Paul, depictions of hell from Enoch to the Apocalypse of Paul, and the development of miracle stories.

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Friday, August 02, 2019

On myth and metaphor in the Hebrew Bible

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
Myth as Story and Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible

Myth constitutes a vital part of the Hebrew Bible; it powerfully shapes the contours of biblical language, its various narratives, and theologies. That is, myth deeply defines what we might call the biblical world – populates the landscape with mythic monsters and deities and animates that world in which the God of Israel rises against forces of evil and, through victorious battle, creates order, erects his temple, and establishes his kingship.

See Also: Myth, History, and Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible (Cambridge University Press, 2019).

By Paul K.-K. Cho
Wesley Theological Seminary
June 2019

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JJMJS Issue 6 (2019)

A NEW ISSUE (NO. 6, 2019) OF THE JOURNAL OF THE JESUS MOVEMENT IN ITS JEWISH SETTING IS OUT. Follow the link (for now) for a detailed description of the issue. A permanent link to Issues 1-6 is here.

HT AJR.

All articles are available online for free. Background on the journal is here and here and links

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Biblical Studies Carnival 162

MY DIGITAL SEMINARY: JULY BIBLICAL STUDIES CARNIVAL (162) (Lindsay Kennedy).

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On fire pans

MATERIAL CULTURE: Fire Pans in the Bible and Archaeology (Dr. Raz Kletter, TheTorah.com).
Fire pans (maḥtot) are listed as part of the Tabernacle’s accessories for the menorah and the altar. They also play an important role in the stories of Korah’s rebellion and the death of Nadav and Avihu as incense censors. Archaeological excavations have uncovered what these items were and how they functioned.

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Thursday, August 01, 2019

Ecclesiastes in the Göttingen LXX

THE ETC BLOG: New Critical Edition: Ecclesiastes for Gӧttingen Septuaginta Series (John Meade).

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

On the high-tech future of archaeology

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: The High-Tech Future of the Ancient Science of Archaeology. Emerging technologies could soon allow archaeologists to virtually excavate an entire site within an hour (Sarah Parcak, OneZero).
This is an excellent article about the technological future of archaeology. I have been saying similar things for years. My only criticism is that the projections are very cautious and conservative. I expect archaeology to achieve this level of technology before 2050. By 2100, and probably well before, archaeologists will be carrying out a molecular scan of the earth's entire surface.

For more on Professor Parcak's work on technological archaeology (using drones and satellite imagery), see here and links. I have some related comments and links in my 2016 post, On curating the past.

Cross-file under The Singularity is Near.

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Frey and Rupschu (eds.), Frauen im antiken Judentum und frühen Christentum

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Frauen im antiken Judentum und frühen Christentum. Hrsg. v. Jörg Frey u. Nicole Rupschus. [Women in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity.] 2019. VIII, 320 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 489. 99,00 € including VAT sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-154290-9.
Published in German.
In a wide historical framework, the present volume discusses the legal and social roles and positions of women in ancient Judaism, early Christianity, and the surrounding Greco-Roman world. Sources investigated are documentary texts from Egypt and the Judaean desert, selected writings from the Dead Sea and texts from the Hellenistic-Jewish, early Christian, and Rabbinic traditions. The essays discuss issues of the liturgical function of women, their legal position with regard to marriage and property, piety and purity issues as well as the problems of daily life, but also narrative images, role models and clichés. The combination of historical source analysis and the approaches of gender studies leads to a more precise perception of the construction of those images and patterns and their effects in the various ancient cultures.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Review of Hartog, Pesher and Hypomnema

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Pieter B. Hartog, Pesher and Hypomnema: A Comparison of Two Commentary Traditions from the Hellenistic-Roman Period. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah, 121. Leiden: Brill, 2017. Pp. xv, 356. ISBN 9789004353541. €132,00. Reviewed by Andrew M. King V, University of Notre Dame (aking8@nd.edu).
This monograph is a revision of the author’s dissertation completed at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in 2015, which evaluates the similarities and differences between two commentary traditions developed in the Hellenistic world: the hypomnemata (ὑπόμνημα) and the pesharim (פשר). ...

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Monday, July 29, 2019

Fixed-term OT/HB post at the University of St Andrews

ANNOUNCEMENT: Lecturer (Education Focused) in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible - AOAC1295MXSB University of St Andrews - School of Divinity.

I'm late in linking to this, but the deadline is 12 August. So there is still time to apply.

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Diesel still teasing us with "Hannibal" movie

PUNIC WATCH: Vin Diesel Reveals His Birthday Present: The Riddick 4: Furya Script (Jorge Arenas, Bounding into Comics). I hope Mr. Diesel had a nice birthday and I congratulate him on his new script. But PaleoJudaica's interest in this article comes from an aside toward the end:
Hannibal of Carthage

Not only did Vin Diesel reveal the script to Riddick 4, but he also indicated he continues to practice the “archaic arts” of archery and bolas because there is interest in Diesel playing the legendary general of Carthage, Hannibal.

Hannibal was the leading commander of the Carthage forces during the Second Punic War. THe famously led his forces into Italy by crossing the Alps with African elephants. Hannibal would defeat the Romans in a succession of battles. In fact, he would occupy most of southern Italy for 15 years. However, the Romans led by Fabius Maximus avoided confrontation and thus prevented Hannibal from defeating them. He would eventually be defeated at the Battle of Zama by Scipio Africanus, who led a counter invasion of North Africa and forced Hannibal to return to Carthage.
I'm glad to hear that Mr. Diesel is still thinking about this movie, but I hope he gets on with it. We've been waiting almost as long as Hannibal campaigned in Italy.

Background here and links.

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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Worth your weight in gold (or onions)

LAST WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Your Weight in Onions. This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study explores many ways to pay off a divine debt: in gold, silver, pitch, vegetables—or limbs.
In Chapter 5 of this brief tractate [Arakhin], the focus turns to other kinds of pledges that a person can make based on his own person. For instance, the mishna in Arakhin 19a refers to one who says “it is incumbent upon me to donate my weight.” Perhaps such a vow might be taken on recovery from a serious illness, when a person wanted to express that he owes his entire bodily existence to God. With a vow according to weight, one would ordinarily specify the material to be donated: “if silver silver, and if gold gold.” For a full-grown person, donating one’s body weight in gold could turn out to be quite an expensive proposition.
Yes. The valuation in gold by weight for a person weighing 70 kilograms would be (by the current price of gold) nearly $3,200,000.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Saturday, July 27, 2019

On Aaron's flowering staff

TWO ESSAYS AT THETORAH.COM give different perspectives on the background and meaning of Aaron's flowering staff in Numbers 17:16-26.

Dr. Raanan Eichler thinks the Zadokite priests may have approved of Asherah poles:

Aaron’s Flowering Staff: A Priestly Asherah?
The story of Aaron’s staff reads like an etiological tale, explaining a holy object in the Temple. The description of the object as a stylized tree suggests a connection with the asherah, a ritual object forbidden by Deuteronomy.
Dr. Rabbi David Frankel thinks that the Zadokites may have appropriated a tradition about the election of the tribe of Levi:

The Flowering Staff: Proof of Aaron’s or the Levites’ Election?
The story of the flowering staff in its current form and context, confirms YHWH’s previous designation of the Aaronides as priests. Originally, however, the story presented YHWH’s selection of the tribe of Levi as his priestly caste.
I blog, you decide.

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Friday, July 26, 2019

Dodgy Greek at Hippos-Sussita

GREEK EPIGRAPHY: 6th-century inscriptions near Galilee may show Christians’ fading Greek literacy. So far, ‘Burnt Church’ site at ongoing Hippos-Sussita Excavations Project has revealed three texts — all of which were misspelled and had grammar errors, say archaeologists (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
This summer, the settlement’s South-West or Burnt Church was revisited by archaeologists in search of firm dating for the conflagration that both destroyed and preserved the church. They revealed a plethora of interesting artifacts and mosaics — and a nearly illiterate artisan, who had been tasked with inscribing the names of donors and abbots for posterity. Instead, his grammar and spelling mistakes are preserved in a trio of ancient Greek mosaics. (Where is autocorrect when you need it?)
The inscriptions are still being deciphered and I can find nothing more about their content.

The site of Hippos-Sussita has produced many exciting artifacts and architectural finds. Most recently, there was media attention about ancient stonemasons' marks found there. For additional past posts, start here and follow the links.

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Knoppers, Judah and Samaria in Postmonarchic Times

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Gary N. Knoppers. Judah and Samaria in Postmonarchic Times. Essays on Their Histories and Literatures. 2019. XI, 333 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 129. 129,00 € including VAT cloth. ISBN 978-3-16-156804-6.
Published in English.
Focusing on Judean-Samarian interactions in Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman times, Gary N. Knoppers explores both commonalities and differences, rivalries and relationships, as these communities engaged one another in greater depth and complexity than scholars have previously thought. Some essays elucidate archaeological and epigraphic discoveries (Jerusalem, Mt. Gerizim excavations and inscriptions), while others illumine Jewish (Ezra, Chronicles, Josephus, Pseudo-Philo) and Samaritan (Samaritan 10th commandment, the Chronicon Samaritanum) literary texts. How Judeans and Samarians responded to competing claims to Israel's past by reinterpreting shared scriptures is a unifying theme in these eleven studies.
For more on the late Professor Knoppers and his work, see here, here, here, and here.

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

A Lilith musical

CONTEMPORARY ART: Review: ‘Leaving Eden’ in the New York Musical Festival (Deb Miller, DC Metro).
Jenny Waxman (book and lyrics) and Ben Page (music, with additional music by Ada Westfall) consider the myth of Lilith, the Creation of Adam and Eve, and the present-day male-female and female-female dynamics from a post-modern feminist perspective in Leaving Eden – a pop-style musical playing at the Pershing Square Signature Center in this year’s New York Musical Festival (NYMF). Directed by Susanna Wolk, the narrative moves back and forth between the Garden of Eden and a contemporary metropolitan apartment, interweaving the stories of the Ancient Adam, Lilith, and Eve with three of their Modern namesakes, and interspersing references to, and iconography from, the canonical Book of Genesis, the apocryphal tales, and the philosophy of duality with a new vision of what it all means.
I'm not sure what's with the article's dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls (the correct dates are third century B.C.E. to first century C.E.). Also, specialists date the redaction of the Babylonian Talmud a couple of centuries later than in the article. But the musical sounds thoughtful and entertaining.

Lilith has received much attention in various artistic media. For past posts on the ancient and modern traditions about her, start here and follow the many links.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Rofé on Balaam the seer

PROFESSOR ALEXANDER ROFÉ has a couple of new essays on the the biblical seer Baalam at TheTorah.com:

Balaam the Seer Is Recast as a Villain
The oldest biblical sources see Balaam as a great seer, but as time goes on, biblical texts portray him in an increasingly negative light. The key to this shift lies in Deuteronomy’s attitude to Israel and gentiles.
The Account of Balaam’s Donkey: A Late Polemical Burlesque
Already in 1877, Marcus Kalisch, one of the first Jewish scholars to engage in the critical study of the Bible, noted that the story of Balaam’s donkey is a late insertion which contradicts the rest of the story, both narratively and ideologically. Indeed, in the main story, Balaam is a prophetic character to be respected, while the supplement lampoons him.
I have fallen well behind on the essays posted at this site. There are some interesting new ones. I will catch up as time permits.

Meanwhile, for past PaleoJudaica posts on Balaam and on the Deir ʿAlla Inscription, see here (cf. here) and links.

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