Tuesday, January 15, 2019

More from the Talmud on ritual animal slaughter

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Slaughtering With Intent. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ why a Jew may not sacrifice an animal in such a way that its blood flows into the ocean, and other rules protecting worshippers from the limits of paganism.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Qasr Al-Yahud and Joshua's crossing?

JEWISH PILGRIMAGE MINEFIELD TOO: CROSSING THE JORDAN. A Christian pilgrimage site called Qasr al Yahud has started drawing Jewish visitors, attracted by its biblical history (Sara Toth Stub, Tablet Magazine). The site is thought by some to be where Jesus was baptized, so it has attracted Christian pilgrims since late antiquity.
There is no known historical or textual evidence of Jewish pilgrimage to the site in ancient times, in Talmudic times, or even during the Second Temple period, according to Rehav Rubin, a professor of geography who specializes in maps and pilgrimages of the Holy Land.

“Jews never came to Qasr al Yahud in the past centuries as pilgrims, it’s only something just from the last decade,” said Lior Chen, a graduate student in anthropology at Hebrew University who is completing a dissertation and fieldwork on the site. In his research Chen has found that motivations of the Jewish visitors range from interest in the Bible to politics to simply getting a close-up view of the border with Jordan, which is just a few meters across the water from Qasr al Yahud, demarcated by a rope running down the middle of the river.
Despite the lack of historical precedent, the site is becoming a pilgrimage site for Jews in commemoration of the biblical story of the Israelites' crossing of the Jordan under Joshua. This only started when the site reopened in 2011.

For background on Qasr Al-Yahud, its Christian pilgrimage tradition, and the ongoing de-mining project there, start here and follow the links.

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BHD on Machaerus

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY has published two essays on Machaerus, the reputed site of the execution of John the Baptist:
Machaerus: Beyond the Beheading of John the Baptist. Explore the site with reconstructions of the Herodian palace.

Anastylosis at Machaerus, Where John the Baptist was Beheaded. Restoration work gives archaeological context to Biblical scene (Megan Sauter).
I also noted the first one when it came out in 2015. As usual, both essays are summaries of BAR articles that are behind the subscription wall.

For past PaleoJudaica posts on Machaerus, start here and follow the links.

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

Cahana-Blum, Wrestling with Archons

THE NSEA BLOG: NEW BOOK: WRESTLING WITH ARCHONS: GNOSTICISM AS A CRITICAL THEORY OF CULTURE.
Jonathan Cahana-Blum, Wrestling with Archons: Gnosticism as a Critical Theory of Culture. Lexington Books, 2018. Pages: 210 • Trim: 6 1/4 x 9
Follow the link for details.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

More on the Ark and Kiryat Yearim

ARCHAEOLOGY AND ... SPECULATION: Biblical site tied to Ark of the Covenant unearthed at convent in central Israel. Excavation uncovers a unique, monumental structure previously unknown in the region. Was it a shrine — or the site of David’s triumphant parade of the legendary ark? (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
A massive 8th century BCE man-made platform discovered at a Catholic convent in central Israel may have served as an ancient shrine to the Ark of the Covenant, said leading Tel Aviv University archaeologist Israel Finkelstein. Unearthed at Kiriath-Jearim, the shrine gives potential new insight into the political machinations of the sibling kingdoms of Judah and Israel.

Remains of the monumental elevated podium have been unearthed on a Judean hilltop long associated with the location of biblical Kiriath-Jearim. According to the Hebrew Bible, the spot was the 20-year home of the legendary Ark of the Covenant until taken by King David and paraded to Jerusalem.

The joint expedition by Tel Aviv University and the College de France is not on the trail of the elusive ark, however. Indeed Finkelstein, the dig’s co-director, does not believe the Ark of the Covenant existed.

[...]
Okay, I think I have this straight. Professor Finkelstein thinks there wasn't an Ark of the Covenant; it's just a legend. Well, that could be right.

But he thinks that the legend was around in Northern Israel in the eighth century B.C.E. and that this big platform at the site of Kiryat Yearim (Kiriath Jearim) was a shrine built in commemoration of the legendary Ark in order to legitimate the place as a sacred site.

Now, two caveats. First, I haven't read the original report and I don't know if what he said is being reported with full nuance, although Ms. Borschel-Dan is generally very good about such things. Second, I'm not an archaeologist and I have no opinion about the archaeology of the site.

That said, I am very skeptical about the conclusions as reported. It's hard enough to formulate credible connections between the biblical narrative and archaeology. And these particular conclusions involve a lot of speculation that goes well beyond what the biblical texts say.

Call me when they excavate a plaque that says "This site is dedicated to the Ark of the Covenant."

Meanwhile, this is a really interesting excavation on its own archaeological terms. I am going to keep that separate from any speculation about how it may connect with the Bible or with a real or imaginary Ark of the Covenant.

Past posts on the excavation at Kiryat Yearim are here and links. And for many past posts on the Ark of the Covenant, follow the links from that same post.

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

More ancient Aramaic found in Saudi Arabia

ARAMAIC WATCH: Hieroglyphic inscriptions discovered in Saudi Arabia (Egypt Today). Yes, I know what the headline says. And the discovery of an Egyptian Hieroglypic inscription of Ramses III in Saudi Arabia is important. But slipped in with that report is the following:
The Hieroglyphic inscription was found on a fixed rock, near the Tayma oasis. It bears a royal signature (a double cartouche) of King Ramesses III. Several additional Aramaic, Thamudic and Nabataea inscriptions, as well as ancient illustrations of cattle, ostriches and snakes were discovered. King Ramses III is the most famous ruler of the 20th Dynasty known by the Greeks as Rampsinitus. He followed his father Ramses II's reign to embark on massive construction projects.
(My bold-font emphasis.)

Thamudic is an ancient North Arabian dialect. Nabatean (Nabataean) is an Aramaic dialect used by speakers of Arabic in North Arabia. There's more on North Arabian and Nabatean here and links and here. And for more on Aramaic in ancient Arabia, see here and links.

I believe the Tayma oasis is the site where the last king of Babylon, Nabonidus, pursued his worship of the moon god Sin rather than running his kingdom. The story is alluded to in the Aramaic Prayer of Nabonidus in the Dead Sea Scrolls, on which more here.

There is no more information in the article about the content of the new Aramaic and Nabatean inscriptions.

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"The Polymorphous Pesah"

THE BIBLICAL REVIEW BLOG: Article on pesaḥ by Mira Balberg and Simeon Chavel (William Brown).The article is:
Mira Balberg and Simeon Chavel, “The Polymorphous Pesah: Ritual Between Origins and Reenactment,” in Journal of Ancient Judaism 8 (2017), 292-343.
William provides a summary and a link to the (long) full text at Academia.edu.

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Exodus trickery

DR. RABBI ZEV FARBER: Exodus through Deception: Asking for a Three-Day Festival (TheTorah.com).
From God’s first command to Moses, through the story of Israel’s escape, the demand for a three-day festival in the wilderness plays a prominent role in the plague narrative. Part of this ruse was Israel’s request to “borrow” Egyptian finery for the festival. Why does God want the Israelites to use deception?
Spoiler: source criticism is involved.

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Roman-era decapitation graves in England

OBVIOUSLY, A ZOMBIE OUTBREAK WAS THWARTED: England's Strange Case of Decapitated Bodies. During construction in England a grisly discovery was made. Nearly half of 52 skeletons in a Roman burial ground had been buried with the skulls between the legs of the deceased (Candida Moss, The Daily Beast).

Yes, I know: not about ancient Judaism. But Professor Moss also discusses ancient Jewish and Christian burial practices for comparison. So that's my excuse.

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Review of Marshall, The Portrayals of the Pharisees in the Gospels and Acts

READING ACTS: Book Review: Mary Marshall, The Portrayals of the Pharisees in the Gospels and Acts (FRLANT 254) (Phil Long).
Marshall, Mary. The Portrayals of the Pharisees in the Gospels and Acts. FRLANT 254; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015. Hb; €89.99.
Excerpt:
Too frequently it is assumed the Gospels and Acts have a uniform, negative view of Pharisees. On the contrary, Marshall contends the Gospels and Acts are complex and each writer has an individual view of the Pharisees. Her goal is not a “quest for the historical Pharisee,” but rather to fairly and accurately describe how each of the four Gospel author’s presented the Pharisee in the service of their own theological agendas.

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Paths to Masada

SO MANY TRAILS: HIKE OF THE MONTH – MASADA. Make your visit to Masada an Unforgettable Hiking Experience! (Erez Speiser, Jerusalem Post).
There are 4 main trails to reach the top of Masada. They vary greatly in length and difficulty, providing a solution for any taste and skill level.
Pro tip: do not climb the Snake Path to Masada in July like I did.

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Boardman, Alexander the Great

NEW BOOK FROM PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Alexander the Great
From His Death to the Present Day


John Boardman

Editions
Hardcover 2019 29.95 24.00 ISBN9780691181752 176 pp. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 8 page color + 36 b/w illus.
E-book ISBN9780691184043

An illustrious scholar presents an elegant, concise, and generously illustrated exploration of Alexander the Great’s representations in art and literature through the ages

John Boardman is one of the world’s leading authorities on ancient Greece, and his acclaimed books command a broad readership. In this book, he looks beyond the life of Alexander the Great in order to examine the astonishing range of Alexanders created by generations of authors, historians, and artists throughout the world—from Scotland to China.

Alexander’s defeat of the Persian Empire in 331 BC captured the popular imagination, inspiring an endless series of stories and representations that emerged shortly after his death and continues today. An art historian and archaeologist, Boardman draws on his deep knowledge of Alexander and the ancient world to reflect on the most interesting and emblematic depictions of this towering historical figure.

Some of the stories in this book relate to historical events associated with Alexander’s military career and some to the fantasy that has been woven around him, and Boardman relates each with his customary verve and erudition. From Alexander’s biographers in ancient Greece to the illustrated Alexander “Romances” of the Middle Ages to operas, films, and even modern cartoons, this generously illustrated volume takes readers on a fascinating cultural journey as it delivers a perfect pairing of subject and author.
You can read the Introduction to the book at the link.

Some past PaleoJudaica posts on Alexander the Great are collected here. Alexander had a creative reception in Jewish tradition, notably in the Book of Daniel, Josephus, and one recension of the Alexander Romance.

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Another Knoppers memorial

THE ANXIOUS BENCH: Remembering Gary Knoppers (1956-2018). By Philip Jenkins, who was once Professor Knoppers's department chair:
Just looking at the sober scholarly themes he addressed so meticulously, you would never guess the wonderful and playful sense of humor that so informed his life. As his department head in the mid-1990s, I remember putting together his file for tenure and promotion. He and I had a manic series of conversations about drafting a letter of evaluation for the college committee, but drawing the whole text from his particular field of study (“He is a mighty man of valor” … “There is none like unto him in the Land of Israel”….). Fortunately for his later career, I never dared submit it, and eventually decided to go with something more mainstream.
Also includes a section by Deirdre Fulton on Gary's impressive contribution to biblical studies.

Background here and here.

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Aramaic Studies on linguistic diversity

ARAMAIC WATCH: The journal Aramaic Studies has a new thematic issue out:
Volume 16 (2018): Issue 2 (Nov 2018): Special Issue: Aramaic—Linguistic Diversity across Three Millennia
It includes articles on Aramaic grammar, Samaritan Aramaic, Neo-Mandaic, and Neo-Aramaic.

It looks like this is a subscription-only page. I'm seeing the full articles, but I'm using my University computer, which probably is accessing through an institutional subscription.

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

Compendium of James Ossuary essays in B&I

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION: Remembering the James Ossuary. Older Articles from B&I (Written by Paul Flesher and Rochelle Altman). Nothing new here, but it's handy to have the list of links.

For many, many past PaleoJudaica posts on the James Ossuary and its controversial inscription, start here and follow the links or run "James Ossuary" through the search engine.

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

Lexundria

THE AWOL BLOG: Lexundria: A Digital Library of Antiquity. It's early days yet, but this site already includes the complete works of Josephus and some other items of interest. You should go and have a look.

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

Armenia! Exhibition reviewed in NYRB

THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS: Between Two Empires (Peter Brown).
Armenia!
an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, September 22, 2018–January 13, 2019

Armenia: Art, Religion, and Trade in the Middle Ages
Catalog of the exhibition edited by Helen C. Evans
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 351 pp., $65.00 (distributed by Yale University Press)
As I have already mentioned, the exhibition covers the full span of Armenian history, with some attention to its connections with Jewish tradition. On the latter, Professor Brown mentions one example:
[The fifth-century Battle of] Avarayr would never be forgotten. Heavily stylized, it was depicted as late as 1500, in manuscripts from the war-torn region of Lake Van. In one on view in the exhibition, the Persians advance behind a row of war elephants. This evoked a deep, pre-Christian past, for the original account of the battle drew heavily on the description of the confrontation between the war elephants of King Antiochus Eupator and the Jewish hero Judas Maccabaeus in the Book of Maccabees from the second century BC. Both battles were remembered as manifestations of heroic courage. Both showed a nation at war in defense of its religion. By following the Book of Maccabees, the Armenian writers found a way to express, for the first time in Christian history, the idea that an entire group of warriors could die in battle as martyrs for the faith.
I noted another review of the exhibition here.

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Where did we get archangels?

REMNANT OF GIANTS: Where did Archangels come from? (Deane Galbraith). I am doubtful of a euhemeristic explanation. But who knows?

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Knoppers obituary

NOTRE DAME NEWS: In memoriam: Gary Knoppers, John A. O’Brien Professor of Theology (Josh Weinhold).
Knoppers’ research specializations included Hebrew scriptures, ancient historiography, ancient Near Eastern and biblical law, inner-scriptural exegesis, textual criticism and the history of early Jewish and Samaritan relations.

“Gary is esteemed as a scholar and teacher,” said Timothy Matovina, chair of the Department of Theology. “But I think he will be missed most for his gentle and congenial humanity that helped make our department and the wider University a community of learning, compassion, and faith."
Background here.

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Ariel Bloch, 1933-2019

SAD NEWS: Ariel Bloch, a pioneer in the fusion of Arab and Hebrew studies, dies at 85 (John Hickey, Berkeley News).
Ariel Bloch, who used his career at UC Berkeley as a way to fuse Arab and Hebrew culture, died in Richmond on Dec. 14 at the age of 85 after a lengthy illness.

A professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, Bloch specialized in Arabic linguistics, but he took on Hebrew and Aramaic as subspecialties and did what he could to encourage a multilingual balance of both of the languages and the cultures.

[...]

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

CFP: International Conference on Jewish Thought

H-JUDAIC: CFP: International Conference "Basic Concepts and Categories of Jewish Thought: Sources and Contexts".
Type: Call for Papers
Date:
May 29, 2019 to May 31, 2019
Location: Russian Federation
Subject Fields: Philosophy, Humanities, Intellectual History, Jewish History / Studies
Saint-Petersburg State University.

[...]

Following the success of conferences on Jewish thought in 2017 and 2018 the Department of Jewish Culture of Saint-Petersburg State University, in collaboration with the International Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, will host a three-day conference «Basic Concepts and Categories of Jewish Thought: Sources and Contexts».

[...]
This conference will cover a very wide range of concepts and categories over the whole range of Jewish history. The application deadline is 31 March 2019.

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AJR reviews Armenia! Exhibition at the Met

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Antiquity on Display: The Armenia! Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Michael Papazian). The review notes that the ancient Armenian literary tradition is important for the study of ancient Judaism:
The exhibit does not include any of his manuscripts, but [the philosopher] David’s fellow Alexandrian, the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria, profoundly shaped the tradition of biblical interpretation in Armenia. Armenians translated many of his works; some of these are today extant only in Armenian.[4] A fifteenth century commentary on the psalms as well as some of the Old Testament manuscripts displayed here may very well carry glosses based on the Jewish exegete’s writings. Besides the intellectual legacy of Hellenistic Judaism, one can also discern some features of Armenian worship reminiscent of Jewish liturgical practices that entered Armenia mainly through Syriac mediation. A notable example in the exhibit is the altar curtain used to conceal the altar from the congregation during certain portions of the liturgy.[5] It is comparable in function to the Byzantine iconostasis, but the Armenian and Syriac rites sought to assert a more pronounced continuity with Judaism by retaining a curtain to recall that of the Jerusalem temple.
The scope of the exhibition includes the whole history of Armenia to the present.

Past posts on Armenian literary traditions are collected here, and see also here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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Greek Exodus and Hebrews in the Green Collection

VARIANT READINGS: Two More Greek Papyri in the Green Collection: Exodus and Hebrews (Brent Nongbri).
In my last post, I highlighted a papyrus of Genesis mentioned by Scott Carroll in his 2011 lecture in the “Passages” speakers series. Later in that same talk, Carroll singled out two other pieces in the collection, a papyrus leaf from a codex of Exodus in Greek and a fragment of a papyrus copy of Hebrews.
I noted that "last post" here. Past PaleoJudaica posts mentioning that Exodus manuscript are here, here (on seven additional fragments of the manuscript, also published by David DeSilva), here, here, and (noting another essay by Brent Nongbri) here.

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Bladon murderer sentenced

A TERRIBLE AND TRAGIC CRIME: TERRORIST GETS 18 YEARS FOR MURDER OF BRITISH STUDENT ON LIGHT RAIL. Hannah Bladon, a 20-year-old British exchange student, was stabbed to death in April 2017 (Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post).

Ms. Blandon was a religion and archaeology student at the University of Birmingham who was on an exchange semester at the Hebrew University. The murderer had serious mental health problems, which is why the plea-agreement involved a lower than normal sentence.

Background here and here.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Orion Center Newsletter 2018

THE ORION CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS (JERUSALEM) HAS PUBLISHED ITS 2018 NEWSLETTER. You can read it at the link. It is especially notable for lots of information on the Sixteenth International Orion Symposium: “The Dead Sea Scrolls at Seventy: ‘Clear a Path in the Wilderness’” (April 29-May 2, 2018).

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Progress on the de-mining of Qasr Al-Yahud

PILGRIMAGE MINEFIELD: Effort removes thousands of mines from site of Jesus' baptism. Seven Christian churches expected to reclaim historical buildings on Israel-Jordan border once area is clear (Melanie Lidman, National Catholic Reporter). I have been following this story about Qasr Al-Yahud, which is a possible site for the baptism of Jesus, since the de-mining project was announced in 2016. This article has a lot of background information about the site, the area, and the project, but this is the progress update:
The project was initially slated to begin in 2016, but problems with funding from Israel's Defense Ministry delayed the start for two years. The demining efforts finally got underway this past spring. HALO Trust fundraised about $2.6 million, and the Defense Ministry is funding $2 million.

A team of 22 specialized bomb sappers from the country of Georgia, along with dozens of Palestinian support staff have cleared 1,500 landmines from three of the seven church compounds, officials announced in mid-December 2018.

Marcel Aviv, the head of the Israel National Mine Action Authority, a branch of the Defense Ministry, said he hopes they will finish the work in December 2019. There are still about 5,000 landmines left to clear.
That's a good beginning. For background on the de-mining project and on the site of Qasr Al-Yahud, start here and follow the links.

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A Greek Genesis MS in the Green Collection?

VARIANT READINGS: A Green Collection Papyrus of Genesis in Greek (Brent Nongbri).
I continue to work through the “Passages” speakers series videos. During his talk in the 2011 sequence of lectures, Scott Carroll mentioned a number of literary papyri that the Green Collection had acquired.

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More on Feguson's thesis on "non-aligned' biblical DSS

THE ETC BLOG: Anthony Ferguson on the ‘Non-Aligned’ Dead Sea Scrolls (Guest post by Ferguson, posted by Jon Meade).
The thesis of my dissertation was as follows:
Contrary to Emanuel Tov’s analysis that fifty-five texts from Qumran are exclusively identified as textually non-aligned, a more cautious analysis of each text demonstrates that once the few ambiguous texts are excluded from the category, the remaining texts can reasonably be explained as belonging to the Masoretic tradition.
Background here.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

The Talmud on ritual animal slaughter

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Cuts Like a Knife. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the Talmud reiterates how intention defines human acts. Plus: Does a dropped blade accidentally decapitating an animal count as ritual slaughter?

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Two Shivta-related exhibitions in Haifa

LONG-DELAYED RECOGNITION: HECHT MUSEUM IN HAIFA TO OPEN TWO NEW ARCHAEOLOGY EXHIBITS. Among the findings include a newly discovered lamp wick that was released to the public in December (Rachel Bernstein, Jerusalem Post).
Two new exhibits will open at the Hecht Museum in Haifa on January 24 featuring findings from a US archaeological expedition in the 1930s.

The H.D. Colt expedition to Shivta, a Byzantine-era town in the Negev highlands, uncovered a massive assortment of treasures. But due to the limited technology at the time, not all of the material could be sorted through and analyzed until recently.

[...]
For the ancient lamp wick, found by this expedition but only recently noticed, see here.
A second exhibit of photography by Dror Maayan will also premiere then and will focus on the Negev travels of historic explorers E.H. Palmer and Charles Drake.

Palmer was enlisted in 1869 to join the survey of Sinai, undertaken by the Palestine Exploration Fund, and followed up his work the following year by exploring the desert of El-Tih with Drake. They completed their journey on foot and without escort, making friends among the local Bedouin.
For the late-antique etching of Jesus' baptism (with Jesus' face depicted), see here and links. And follow the links from there for more discoveries at Shivta.

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Hendel and Joosten on How Old Is the Hebrew Bible?

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
How Old Is the Hebrew Bible?

Many scholars, largely disregarding linguistic data, insist that most or all of the Hebrew Bible was written in the second half of the first millennium BCE, during the Persian and/or Hellenistic periods, and draw the inference that there is little or no historical content that predates this era….The ages of the books of the Hebrew Bible span a vast chronological range, from the early Iron Age to the Greek age, which we can discern at different degrees of focus. There is much that we can know about these topics, more than most scholars are willing to grant.

See Also: How Old Is the Hebrew Bible? A Linguistic, Textual, and Historical Study. (Anchor Bible Reference Library. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018).

By Ronald Hendel
Norma and Sam Dabby Professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies
University of California, Berkeley

By Jan Joosten
Regius Professor of Hebrew
University of Oxford
January 2019
I noted a review of this new book here.

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What time is it in ancient Babylonian?

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Babylonian Hours (the AWOL Blog). "This clock uses a system of time calculation from 2,500 years ago used by the Babylonians in ancient Mesopotamia."

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Monday, January 07, 2019

Berenike Trogodytika

EXCAVATION: This 2,300-Year-Old Egyptian Fortress Had an Unusual Task: Guarding a Port That Sent Elephants to War (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
A 2,300-year-old fortress that protected an ancient port called "Berenike" has been discovered in Egypt on the coast of the Red Sea by a Polish-American archaeological team.

Constructed at a time when Egypt was ruled by the Ptolemies, a dynasty of pharaohs descended from one of Alexander the Great's generals, the fortifications are sizable.

[...]
This ancient port was named after the Ptolemaic queen Berenice I. She was the wife of Ptolemy I. He is mentioned as "the king of the south" in Daniel 11:5.

The fortress is a new discovery. The original article on it in Antiquity is here.

The Wikipedia article I linked to above incorrectly gives the second part of the name as "Troglodytica" and associates it with the etymology "cave dwellers." The name is actually "Trogodytika," referring to a people on the east coast of Egypt. More on that here. (UPDATE [8 January]: Either Wikipedia has been updated or I missed it yesterday, but the article goes on to give the correct name and background.)

(I have spent too much of this morning trying to sort out the various Berenices in the Ptolemaic and Seleucid dynasties. There were a lot of them! Past posts that needed correction are now corrected.)

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From the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum

EGYPTIAN ARTIFACTS: Mastererpieces of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum houses one of the most important collections of ancient and Graeco-Roman antiquities in Egypt (Hussein Bassir, Al-Ahram online).
The museum presents the long history of Egypt from ancient times to the Graeco-Roman period, through the Coptic period, to the Islamic period, and finally to the printing press that Napoleon Bonaparte brought to Egypt at the end of the 18th century.

This article presents some of my favourite pieces from the amazing collection of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum from ancient and Graeco-Roman Egypt.
Some past PaleoJudaica posts on Alexander the Great are here here, here, here, here, here, and here. For more on Berenice II see here.

Alexander is mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Daniel, although not by name. He is also important in later Jewish legend.

Berenice II (contrary to the earlier post, now corrected) is not the Berenice alluded to in Daniel 11.

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VanderKam, Jubilees (Hermeneia Commentary)

NEW BOOK FROM FORTRESS:
James C. VanderKam, Jubilees: A Commentary in Two Volumes (Hermeneia; Fortress, November 1, 2018)

Jubilees--so called because of its concern with marking forty-nine-year periods (or "jubilees") in Israel's history--is an ancient rewriting of Genesis and the first part of Exodus from the point of view of an anonymous second-century BCE Jewish author. Its distinctive perspective--as well as its apparent popularity at Qumran--make it particularly important for any reconstruction of early Judaism. James C. VanderKam, the world's foremost authority on Jubilees, offers a new translation based on his own critical editions of all the available textual evidence, including the Hebrew fragments preserved at Qumran (which he first published in Discoveries in the Judean Desert, vol. 13), as well as the first full running commentary on the book in the English language. Jubilees approaches the book as a rewriting of scripture but also as a literary work in its own right. The commentary explains the text and the teachings of the author with comprehensive coverage of the modern scholarship devoted to them. The introduction sets the book in its second-century BCE context, traces its sources in the Bible and in other early Jewish texts, and describes its influence on Jewish and Christian writers.
I'm delighted to see that this commentary is out. It is a landmark in the research on the Book of Jubilees.

HT J. David Stark.

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Tenth anniversary of AWOL

HAPPY BLOGIVERSARY TO THE ANCIENT WORLD ONLINE BLOG: AWOL is 10!

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Sunday, January 06, 2019

Finally some news on the Iraqi Jewish archive

UPDATE: How I became an artefact: the story of Iraq's Jewish archive and its restoration. Edwin Shuker’s Iraqi school report turned up in an exhibition at the US National Archive. He told a Limmud audience the remarkable story of how it got there (The Jewish Chronicle). A fascinating story by someone who has been involved with the Iraqi Jewish archive since it was discovered. Indeed, before.

You should read the whole article, but I will just quote the part that updates us on the status of the archive:
Despite the agreement being that the archived items would be returned in September 2018, Mr Shuker told the audience, “We have been managing to delay the sending back by telling the US State Department, ‘We will hold you responsible if these archives go back to the same sewage waste that they came out of. What guarantee have we got that they are actually going to be treasured?’”

He confirmed that there had been a “three-year extension, which is not yet formal, you will not see it on the internet... to allow the Iraqis to come up with a proposal as to where are they going to keep it, how are they going to make it accessible — especially to the owners of those things, so that Edwin Shuker can take his son and say, ‘This is my certificate, this is the place they took from me’ — is that going to be open for us?”

However, Mr Shuker suggested that there were grounds for hope.
So the latest is that there is an informal three-year extension to the deadline for the return of the archive to Iraq. Meanwhile, there is a lawsuit (Mr. Shuker is involved) and negotiations continue. Looks like I called it about right.

Follow the links starting at the last link above for many, many additional posts on the Iraqi Jewish archive going back to its discovery in 2003.

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The Coptic Magical Papyri Blog

ASSIMILATED TO THE BLOGOSPHERE: Coptic Magical Papyri: Vernacular Religion in Late Roman and Early Islamic Egypt. This is the blog for a new five-year project at the Julius Maximilian University Würzburg. The opening post is What is Coptic Magic?

HT the NSEA Blog.

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Setting interest rates before there was a Fed

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: How Did Ancient Bureaucrats Set Their Interest Rates? (Michael Hudson). The answer is deceptively simple. It also explains a lot about ancient chronic debt, a problem noted often in the Bible.

BHD has a number of other essays posted on ancient taxation, but they are all re-postings that I have already noted. This one is a (new) reprint of a 1999 article from Archaeology Odyssey.

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Dusek (ed.), The Samaritans in Historical, Cultural and Linguistic Perspectives

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
The Samaritans in Historical, Cultural and Linguistic Perspectives
Ed. by Dusek, Jan


Series: Studia Samaritana 11 Studia Judaica 110

86,95 € / $99.99 / £79.00*

Hardcover
Publication Date:
October 2018
ISBN 978-3-11-061610-1

Aims and Scope
The volume contributes to the knowledge of the Samaritan history, culture and linguistics. Specialists of various fields of research bring a new look on the topics related to the Samaritans and the Hebrew and Arabic written sources, to the Samaritan history in the Roman-Byzantine period as well as to the contemporary issues of the Samaritan community.

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Saturday, January 05, 2019

Where did we get cats?

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Where Do Cats Come From? (Claudio Ottoni, The Ancient Near East Today). Human domestication of cats (or perhaps vice versa) began ten thousand years ago in the Levant.
Importantly, cats were never selected for a peculiar task by humans; they already possessed in their wild state the predatory skills that made them useful to human communities: hunting mice and other pests that infested human grain storages (or households, ships and so on). In the behavioural context of the Egyptian society cats developed a more tolerant attitude towards humans and became their companions, while maintaining their innate predatory skills and a sort of aloofness that is still a landmark of modern housecats. This is corroborated by the analysis of full genomes in modern cats, which recently suggested that the main differences between wild and domestic cats are at the level of behavioural traits.
Almost. Wild cats are generally bigger than domesticated cats, sometimes much bigger. We clearly bred domesticated cats to be too small to be a threat. If your cat were bigger, it would eat you.

Fun Fact: There is no certain mention of domesticated cats in the Jewish and Protestant Bibles. For a possible mention, see here and links.

Domesticated cats appear once in the Catholic Bible in the Epistle of Jeremiah 22.

There's more on ancient cats here, here, and here. And then there's this.

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YHWH "the Impassioned One?"

PROF. ISRAEL KNOHL: YHWH: The Original Arabic Meaning of the Name (TheTorah.com).
God reveals his name to Moses as “I am,” from the Hebrew root ה.ו.י, “being.” The name YHWH, however, originates in Midian, and derives from the Arabic term for “love, desire, or passion.”
I am not an expert on pre-Islamic Arabian language and culture, so I have no opinion about this proposal. It was published in 1956 and has not caught on, which is not a good sign. But perhaps someone will take it up again in a peer-review publication. We'll see.

For another proposal for the origin of the divine name YHWH, see here.

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Mäkipelto, Uncovering Ancient Editing

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
Mäkipelto, Ville
Uncovering Ancient Editing

Documented Evidence of Changes in Joshua 24 and Related Texts


Series: Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 513

86,95 € / $99.99 / £79.00*
Hardcover
Publication Date:
October 2018
ISBN 978-3-11-059811-7

Aims and Scope
The Hebrew Bible is a product of ancient editing, but to what degree can this editing be uncovered? “Uncovering Ancient Editing” argues that divergent textual witnesses of the same text, so-called documented evidence, should be the starting point for such an endeavor.

The book presents a fresh analysis of Josh 24 and related texts as a test case for refining our knowledge of how scribes edited texts. Josh 24 is envisioned as a gradually growing Persian period text, whose editorial history can be reconstructed with the help of documented evidence preserved in the MT, LXX, and other ancient sources.

This study has major implications for both the study of the book of Joshua and text-historical methodology in general.

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Download free Hebrew manuscripts!

THE AWOL BLOG: Download Hebrew Manuscripts for free, in partnership with BL Labs. More than 700 British Library manuscripts. For you, special deal!
What’s in the datasets? The digitised manuscripts are provided as 300ppi JPEGs, divided into small datasets of around 50GB each, sorted alphabetically by shelfmark (20 to 30 manuscripts per dataset). They contain a huge variety of Hebrew manuscripts, including Kabbalistic works, linguistic works, prayer books, biblical texts and commentaries, marriage certificates, charters and scrolls. The manuscripts also contain texts in many different languages, including Latin, Greek, Yiddish, Persian, Italian, Arabic and Syriac. The catalogue records for all of these manuscripts can be found in dataset Heb1 (TEI XML files).

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Friday, January 04, 2019

Amos' earthquake(s?)

I WAS EXPECTING AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: Fact-checking the Book of Amos: There Was a Huge Quake in Eighth Century B.C.E. An earthquake that ripped apart Solomon’s Temple was mentioned in the Bible and described in colorful detail by Josephus – and now geologists show what really happened (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz premium).
At the end of the day, what we have is evidence of two strong quakes in the eighth century B.C.E., which support the biblical account in Amos, and Zechariah too. Not that he knew of what he spake, writing so long after the event, but still.
For more on biblical earthquakes, see here.

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Faust, Judah in the Neo-Babylonian Period

NEW BOOK FROM THE SOCIETY OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE:
Judah in the Neo-Babylonian Period: The Archaeology of Desolation
Avraham Faust

ISBN 9781589836402
Status Available
Price: $35.95
Binding Paperback
Publication Date September 2012

The Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E. was a watershed event in the history of Judah, the end of the monarchy and the beginning of the exilic period, during which many of the biblical texts were probably written. The conquest left clear archaeological marks on many sites in Judah, including Jerusalem, and the Bible records it as a traumatic event for the population. Less clear is the situation in Judah following the conquest, that is, in the sixth century, a period with archaeological remains the nature and significance of which are disputed. The traditional view is that the land was decimated and the population devastated. In the last two decades, scholars arguing that the land was not empty and that the exile had little impact on Judah’s rural sector have challenged this view. This volume examines the archaeological reality of Judah in the sixth century in order to shed new light on the debate. By expanding research into new avenues and examining new data, as well as by applying new methods to older data, the author arrives at fresh insights that support the traditional view of sixth-century Judah as a land whose population, both urban and rural, was devastated and whose recovery took centuries.

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

Pay the half-shekel tax with a Nikki Haley coin?

NUMISMATICS? Sanhedrin Issues Nikki Haley Commemorative Coin Invited to be honorary president of '70 Nations' (Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News).
The Sanhedrin is minting a commemorative coin in recognition of Nikki Haley’s exemplary service as the 29th U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Haley tendered her resignation in October effective at the end of 2018.The Sanhedrin issued the commemorative coin in conjunction with an invitation for Haley to serve as the honorary president of a Biblically mandated organization of 70 Nations.
Not only that:
Jews who purchase the coin can consider it as fulfilling the mitzvah (Torah commandment) of the half shekel. In the days of the Temple, every male in Israel was obligated to donate a half-shekel of silver at the beginning of the month of Adar which was used to pay for the operating expenses of the Temple for the entire year.

This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary – the shekel is twenty gerahs–half a shekel for an offering to Hashem. Exodus 30:13
This new Sanhedrin appointed itself back in 2005. More on it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. They are proponents of rebuilding a third Temple on the Temple Mount. (For the record, I oppose any construction on the Temple Mount.) More on their revival of the half-shekel Temple tax is here. And more on their Donald Trump coin is here.

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The entire Talmud in one day

TALMUD WATCH: MARATHON TALMUD STUDY SESSION UNITES NATIONAL-RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY. Some of the most senior rabbis in the national religious community participated in the study session (Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post).
Hundreds of yeshiva students and rabbis from across the spectrum of the national religious community participated in a marathon Talmud study session on Sunday, and completed the 2,711 double-sided folio pages of the Babylonian Talmud over the course of the day.

[...]
That's a lot of Talmud.

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Thursday, January 03, 2019

U.S. and Israel withdraw from UNESCO

POLITICS: The U.S. and Israel Have Quit the U.N.'s Cultural Agency UNESCO, Accusing It of Bias (AFP).

This withdrawal has been in progress, and under negotiation, for more than a year. For details and commentary, see here and follow the many links.

The U.S. and Israel have walked away from the negotiating table. But that doesn't mean it's over. Let's see what happens next.

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

Finds to watch for in 2019

PROGNOSTICATION: Archaeology Discoveries to Watch for in 2019 (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
A new hoard of 1,400 tablets from a lost city in Iraq, new clues to a massive void in the Great Pyramid and the discovery of an ornately decorated Easter egg that belonged to the Russian royal family are just some of the cool archaeological discoveries that we might see in 2019.
Mr. Jarus also had a list of discoveries to look for in 2018. That list included a possible "13th Dead Sea Scrolls cave." In 2018 archaeologists did discover two(ish) new Qumran caves that had been used in antiquity. They are still hoping that more scrolls will turn up, but there's nothing so far. So I give his prediction partial credit.

This year Mr. Jarus is again predicting the likely discovery of "A New Cave near Qumran." That is possible. It would be nice if one of these new caves also turned up with scrolls in it. I think that is unlikely, but it would be nice.

Also, there is more on the new archive of cuneiform tablets from Irisagrig here.

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

Biblical Studies Carnival 154

CHRISTOPHER L. SCOTT: December Biblical Studies Carnival. A small one this month.

Phil Long is still seeking carnival hosts for 2019.

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

Jeroboam as Moses?

DR. TZVI NOVICK: The Depiction of Jeroboam and Hadad as Moses-like Saviors (TheTorah.com).
Set against the Pharaonic Solomon, Jeroboam frees Israel from servitude and founds the Northern Kingdom. Hadad plays a similar role on behalf of the Edomites. Why are these two “rebels” depicted as heroes?

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Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Schmidt Gedenkschrift on Indo-Iranian studies

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Hanns-Peter Schmidt (1930-2017) Gedenkschrift.
The 6th volume of DABIR is a Gedenkschrift to honour Hanns-Peter Schmidt (1930-2017), an excellent German scholar of Indo-Iranian studies, who mainly worked on the Vedas and the Gāθās, as well as Indian mythology and the Zoroastrian religion.
When I was an undergraduate at UCLA I took two courses from Professor Schmidt: one on ancient Iranian culture and one on ancient Iranian religion. There were two or three of us in each course. But the material was fascinating and I still have the notes from those classes.

Professor Schmidt wrote his lecture notes out in longhand. I remember he once commented that he used yellow legal-pad paper so that students couldn't tell how old the pages were.

Requiescat in pace.

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Still more on Jesus' face at Shivta

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: The Face of the Baptized Jesus at Shivta (Emma Maayan-Fanar, Ravit Linn, Yotam Tepper and Guy Bar-Oz).
The importance of the find of the wall painting in the Baptistery of the North Church at Shivta is enormous: it is a rare survival of early Byzantine iconography and an original wall painting in its architectural setting. This finding enriches our knowledge of subjects and techniques used to decorate early Byzantine churches, providing insight into the religious and the cultural life of Byzantine Shivta, and bringing us closer to early Christian representations of the Christ.
Background here and links. And another recent discovery at Shivta is noted here.

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

Three books noted

THE ETC BLOG: Books of Interest to Textual Criticism (Peter Gurry). Two are from 2017 and are about the Apostle Paul. They are of indirect interest here, but I like to note such things. Richard Horsley's Scribes, Visionaries, and the Politics of Second Temple Judea (Westminster John Knox Press, 2007) is older, but of more direct interest. All three are new to me. They all involve textual criticism, but also deal with many other matters.

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

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

THE READING ACTS BLOG: Book Review: Amy Anderson and Wendy Widder, Textual Criticism and the Bible. Revised Edition (Phil Long). I noted the book as forthcoming here.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Bible and Intepretation top five for 2018

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION: Editors' Choice: The Best of B&I in 2018. Five good ones.

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

Top ten for AJR 2018

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Year in Review: Top Ten Articles of 2018. With some new 2019 content promised soon.

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

Post-mortem coin of Alexander the Great

NUMISMATICS: Ancient Coin Profiles – Portrait of Alexander the Great (Russell A. Augustin, CoinWeek). Nice coin, plus this article gives an account of the immediate aftermath of Alexander's death.

Alexander the Great, of course, appears in the Hebrew Bible, but not by name. He is the "he-goat from the west" in Daniel chapter eight. He is also the "mighty king" mentioned in 11:3.

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Ptolemaic Coins Online

THE AWOL BLOG: Launched: Ptolemaic Coins Online. For more on Ptolemaic coins, see here and links.

The American Numismatic Society has already released a Seleucid Coins Online site.

Cross-file under Numismatics.

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2019!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Have a terrific 2019, with frequent visits to PaleoJudaica.

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