Sunday, November 17, 2019

Silverman on local elites and the Persian empire

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
Judaean Elite Encounters with the Fledgling Persian Empire: The Evidence of Second Isaiah and First Zechariah

Local elites had the option to choose how to respond to changing social and political circumstances. Such choices can include resistance, but they are not limited to it. Various forms of cooperation and negotiation are also on the table. Moreover, I think that it is unhelpful to think of “resistance” as a heroic category unto itself; people resist something in particular. It is much more likely for ancient elites to resist a particular claimant for the throne than it is for them to resist kingship or empire per se—and I find it helpful to keep these types of constructs separate. Therefore, in an attempt to explore how some Judaeans reacted to the early Persian Empire, I wish to consider how the elite could have pursued cultural production in a way that was acceptable to both parties—the local traditions and the new imperial system.

See Also: Persian Royal—Judaean Elite Engagements in the Early Teispid and Achaemenid Empire: The King’s Acolytes (LHBOTS 690: London: T&T Clark, 2019).

By Jason M. Silverman
Docent in Old Testament Studies
University of Helsinki
October 2019
Cross-file under New Book.

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

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Shectman on Feminist Biblical Interpretation

DR. SARAH SHECTMAN: Feminist Biblical Interpretation: History and Goals (TheTorah.com).
Feminist biblical interpretation is more than simply paying attention to texts about women. It is also a means of achieving a more accurate understanding of life in ancient Israel and of the composition of the Bible.

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

Friday, November 15, 2019

Parry, Exploring the Isaiah Scrolls and Their Textual Variants

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Exploring the Isaiah Scrolls and Their Textual Variants

Series:
Supplements to the Textual History of the Bible, Volume: 3

Prices from (excl. VAT):

€160.00
$192.00

Author: Donald W. Parry
In Exploring the Isaiah Scrolls and Their Textual Variants, Donald W. Parry systematically presents, on a verse-by-verse basis, the variants of the Hebrew witnesses of Isaiah (the Masoretic Text and the twenty-one Isaiah Dead Sea Scrolls) and briefly discusses why each variant exists. The Isaiah scrolls have greatly impacted our understanding of the textual history of the Bible, and in recent decades, Bible translation committees have incorporated a number of the variants into their translations; as such, the Isaiah scrolls are important for both academic and popular audiences. Variant characterizations include four categories: (a) accidental errors, e.g., dittography, haplography, metathesis, graphic similarity; (b) intentional changes by scribes and copyists; (c) synonymous readings; (d) scribes’ stylistic approaches and conventions.

E-Book
Status: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-41203-3
Publication Date: 07 Oct 2019

Hardback
Status: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-41059-6
Publication Date: 10 Oct 2019

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

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Review of Smith, Jewish Glass and Christian Stone

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Eric C. Smith, Jewish Glass and Christian Stone: A Materialist Mapping of the “Parting of the Ways.” Routledge studies in the early Christian world. New York: Routledge, 2017. Pp. 168. ISBN 9781138202122. $116.00. Reviewed by Michail Kitsos, University of Michigan (mkitsos@umich.edu).
By examining a diverse range of artifacts made of glass, stone, clay, papyrus, paint, ink, and vellum, Smith narrates the history of people who lived in the space between Judaism and Christianity to question the clear-cut boundaries between “religions” established by modern scholarly perceptions. Smith explains convincingly that texts written by elites constructed the binary between Judaism and Christianity but these boundaries in texts did not necessarily reflect reality. He shows that people who lived in the space between Judaism and Christianity either did not conform to boundaries or these boundaries were unimportant to them.

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Review of Goodman, Josephus's The Jewish War: A Biography

THE NEW CRITERION: Written by the victors? On Josephus’s The Jewish War: A Biography by Martin Goodman. (David Polansky).
Josephus thus comes to us as both oath-breaker and turncoat, mistrusted by his erstwhile Jewish and his Roman compatriots (as well as subsequent readers). At the same time, he is himself the source of our knowledge of his perfidy, as well as a crucial source concerning both the events of the war and its backdrop. As with the man from Crete who claims that all Cretans are liars, trusting Josephus and his work is no simple matter.
Cross-file under New Book. The full reference is Martin Goodman, Josephus's The Jewish War: A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books 45 Princeton University Press, 2019).

Some recent posts on the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus are here and links, here, and here. And there are many more in the archives.

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

On Creation, primordial matter, and time

THETORAH.COM has two essays on the creation story in Genesis 1:1-2:4, with special attention to the question of primordial matter in the account.

Creation from Primordial Matter: Did Rashi Read Plato’s Timaeus? (Prof.Warren Zev Harvey)
Rashi interprets the opening verses of the creation story as describing God’s use of primordial substances to form the world. This idea appears in various forms in rabbinic literature but some of Rashi’s particular notions are only found in Plato’s Timaeus. Could this be one of Rashi’s sources?
The Genesis of Time (Professor Jack M. Sasson)
The simple meaning of Genesis 1–2:4 is that God created the world out of primordial elements. And yet, one important new initiative was the construction of time, embracing the day, the month, the year, and the week. The week, however, does not depend on a cosmic phenomenon but served to introduce the concept of a people holy to a creator God.
For some past PaleoJudaica posts on Genesis 1:1, see here and links.

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

Monday, November 11, 2019

Interview with James Diggle

WILLIAM ROSS: THE CAMBRIDGE GREEK LEXICON: AN INTERVIEW WITH PROF. JAMES DIGGLE.

For Dr. Ross's many previous interviews with Septuagint scholars, see here and links. Professor Diggle is not a Septuagint scholar, he is a Classicist. But the Cambridge Greek Lexicon includes some biblical material (the Gospels) and will certainly be of interest to Septuagint scholars.

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

Sunday, November 10, 2019

AJR reviews Hicks-Keeton, Arguing with Aseneth

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Arguing with Aseneth: Gentile Access to Israel’s Living God in Jewish Antiquity (Gillian Glass).
Jill Hicks-Keeton. Arguing with Aseneth: Gentile Access to Israel’s Living God in Jewish Antiquity. Oxford University Press, 2018.

Jill Hicks-Keeton’s book considers the creation, maintenance, and permeability of the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion in ancient Judaism as evidenced in Greco-Jewish literature from the Hellenistic and early Imperial periods.

[...]
For past PaleoJudaica posts on the book, see here and links.

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

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Penwell on the Samaritans

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
Josephus on Samaritan Origins

According to Joachim Jeremias, the Samaritans in Josephus are viewed as a “mixed Judeo-Gentile race,” a position held in some circles even today. Jeremias, however, is wrong. This essay focuses on Josephus’ origin stories for the Samaritans and draws attention to the names he uses for the Samaritans. As we will see, these names have less to do with the Samaritans’ actual origins, but instead, the names Josephus applies to the Samaritans have a social-rhetorical function of categorizing these people as not us, that is, not Jews/Judeans.

See Also: Jesus the Samaritan: Ethnic Labeling in the Gospel of John (Brill 2019).

By Stewart Penwell
Corydon, IN
October 2019
Cross-file under New Book.

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

Friday, November 08, 2019

Ruth Calderon has been teaching Talmud in America

TALMUD WATCH: Scholar-activist to speak in Teaneck. Dr. Ruth Calderon to teach Talmud, discuss Jewish literacy (LOIS GOLDRICH, The Jewish Standard).
Dr. Ruth Calderon is spending this year as a professor of talmudic civil law at Harvard Law School, so she could be introduced as an academic.

She was a member of the Knesset from 2013 to 2015, so she might be presented as a politician.

[...]

Remarkably, all these titles would fit, and all the knowledge and skills Dr. Calderon has gained from these pursuits will be in evidence next weekend when she takes up her new — albeit temporary — role of Barry Shaeffer Memorial Scholar-in-Residence at Teaneck’s Congregation Beth Sholom.
She will be teaching in Teaneck, New Jersey, on 15-16 November.

Past posts on Dr. Calderon and her book A Bride for One Night: Talmud Tales are here and links. And, as I've noted before (e.g. here, here, here, and links), Teaneck is a scholarly place.

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

The Talmud on detecting menstruation

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Menstrual Camps. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, ancient rabbis take sides on how to deal with uncertainty when it comes to ritual impurity in women.
This week, Daf Yomi readers entered the home stretch of our 7 1/2-year journey through the Talmud, as we began the last tractate in the cycle—Tractate Nidda, which is devoted to the laws governing menstruation. ...

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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

Thursday, November 07, 2019

More on the Phoenicia's new voyage

PHOENICIAN WATCH: The Phoenicia: A Voyage to Rewrite History. Is it just a myth, or “one of the greatest voyages in maritime history”? (Madeleine Handaji, Morocco World News).

This is a good background article on the earlier and current voyages of the Good Ship Phoenicia. But it has some lapses in logic. On the first voyage:
According to London’s “The Phoenicians: The Greatest Sailors Exhibition,” as early as “600 BC a fleet of Phoenician ships was said to have embarked on an epic journey to circumnavigate Africa.” In 2008, the crew of the newly-built Phoenicia set out to prove that the myth was, in fact, history.

After a two year voyage in a copy of a 3,000-year-old ship, the Phoenicia dodged Somalian pirates and extreme weather, sailing into the history books—the epic tale of the Phoenician explorers was no myth. However, not satisfied with one groundbreaking voyage, the crew of the Phoenicia is now on a mission to prove that the Phoenicians sailed to America over 2,000 years before Columbus.
The 2008-2010 voyage of the Phoenicia did not prove that the ancient Phoenicians circumnavigated Africa. It did prove that they could have with the ship technology that they had.

Likewise, with reference to the first paragraph, if the Phoenicia does reach the Americas — and I hope it does! — that would not prove that the Phoenicians actually got there. It would just show that they could have. Later in the article the situation is presented more accurately.

To prove that the Phoenicians reached the Americas, we need positive evidence, such as demonstrably ancient Phoenician inscriptions. Such evidence as has been presented thus far is not credible. Maybe someday that will change.

Background here and links and here.

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

Kalmin on the Late Antique Babylonian Rabbis

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: The History and Literature of Late Antique Babylonian Rabbis (Richard Kalmin).
Too often the issue of the historicity of ancient rabbinic stories is assumed to be “yes or no”: either they are historically accurate or they are not. For me, however, the issue is never all or nothing, but rather of differing degrees of probability. When are these sources more likely to yield usable historical information and when are they less likely? And since it is extremely unlikely that we can accept any Talmudic narrative’s recounting of events as wholly accurate, are we permitted to translate the narrative’s distortions into reliable history, and if so, how?

[...]
For more on the creepy story about Herod and his Hasmonean wife, see here.

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

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

More on the Machaerus ostraca

NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY: GWU Professor Translates Ancient Inscriptions Discovered at the Site of Machaerus. Nice video. The George Washington University professor is, of course, Christopher Rollston.

Cross-file under Aramaic Watch and Technology Watch. Background here.

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

Biblical Studies Carnival 165

BELATEDLY NOTED: Biblical Studies Carnival # 165. October 2019 (Gary Greenberg, Bible, Myth, and History Blog).

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

Dead Sea Scroll Detectives

ON NOVA (PBS) TONIGHT: Dead Sea Scroll Detectives Preview. Preview: Season 46 Episode 20 | 28s.
Since the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947, these fragile parchment relics have intrigued scholars, religious leaders, and profiteers alike. The 2,000-year-old scrolls include the oldest-known versions of the Hebrew Bible and hold vital clues about the birth of Christianity. While certain scrolls have survived intact, others have been ravaged by time—burnt, decayed, or torn to pieces.
And keep watching. A three-minute excerpt of the episode follows the preview.

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

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Philanthropic Pontius Pilate?

CANDIDA MOSS: New Archaeological Evidence Shows Pontius Pilate Not as Bad as We Thought. Long known as an ineffective leader whose actions contributed to political unrest in the region, recent discoveries may be complicating that picture (The Daily Beast).
The discovery that Pilate was responsible for building the street from the pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount suggests that there was another side to the intemperate governor. One in which Pilate funded public works for the benefit of both the local people and their religion. ...
Background on this story is here, with past links on Pontius Pilate more generally.

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

Monday, November 04, 2019

Tim Bulkeley, R.I.P.

SAD NEWS: I learn from Jim West that Old Testament scholar Dr. Tim Bulkeley has passed away. I have no further information at the moment.

Tim was based in New Zealand. I can't recall ever meeting him in person, but I got to know him a bit in the early years of blogging. His Sansblogue was one of the earliest "biblioblogs," one of the seven that were founded within a year of PaleoJudaica. (For more on the early history of biblioblogging, see my 2010 SBL paper, What Just Happened.) The opening post of Sansblogue was on 31 January 2004 and the most recent one on 17 August of this year. That makes it one of the longest continuously running biblioblogs.

I am sorry to hear that Tim is gone. All sympathy to his family and friends. Requiescat in pace.

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

Nissinen, Essays in Ancient Near Eastern Prophecy

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
Nissinen, Martti

Prophetic Divination
Essays in Ancient Near Eastern Prophecy


Series:
Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 494

139,95 € / $160.99 / £127.00*
Hardcover
Publication Date:
October 2019
ISBN 978-3-11-046654-6

Aims and Scope
Prophecy was a wide-spread phenomenon in the ancient world - not only in ancient Israel but in the whole Eastern Mediterranean cultural sphere. This is demonstrated by documents from the ancient Near East, that have been the object of Martti Nissinen’s research for more than twenty years. Nissinen's studies have had a formative influence on the study of the prophetic phenomenon. The present volume presents a selection of thirty-one essays, bringing together essential aspects of prophetic divination in the ancient Near East.

The first section of the volume discusses prophecy from theoretical perspectives. The second sections contains studies on prophecy in texts from Mari and Assyria and other cuneiform sources. The third section discusses biblical prophecy in its ancient Near Eastern context, while the fourth section focuses on prophets and prophecy in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Even prophecy in the Dead Sea Scrolls is discussed in the fifth section.

The articles are essential reading for anyone studying ancient prophetic phenomenon.

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

Sunday, November 03, 2019

On the discovery of the DSS

THE ETC BLOG: 5 Surprising Details about the Initial Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Anthony Ferguson). The details are from Weston W. Fields's book, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Full History (Brill, 2009).

Past PaleoJudaica posts on the book are here, here, and here.

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

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Illegal construction halted at West Bank Hasmonean site

APPREHENDED: OFFICIALS STOP ILLEGAL BUILDING BY PALACES OF SECOND TEMPLE 'HANUKKAH HERO,' Catching the vehicles before construction started likely prevented damage from being done to the current and future archaeological findings (Jerusalem Post).

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

The Vocabulary of the Septuagint and its Hellenistic Background (ed. Bons, Pouchelle, Scialabba)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: The Vocabulary of the Septuagint and its Hellenistic Background. Ed. by Eberhard Bons, Patrick Pouchelle, and Daniela Scialabba. [Das Vokabular der Septuaginta und ihre hellenistische Grundlage.] 2019. XII, 157 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 496. 69,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-153020-3.
Published in English.
This volume precedes the projected Historical and Theological Dictionary of the Septuagint which is to offer historical studies of Septuagint words, retracing their usage from early authors, over koine Greek and the translation itself, into Jewish-Hellenistic and early Christian literature. The earliest of these phases were the object of a several workshops held between 2013 and 2017, the proceedings of which now appear in this book. The papers focus on the following key questions: what can we say about the meaning, the usage and the semantic development of Greek words attested in the Septuagint; where and how does the Septuagint use these words, and to what extent do they correspond to their Hebrew and Aramaic equivalents? Furthermore, to what extent can papyri contribute to a better understanding of typical Septuagint words? The papers combine the analysis of selected words and word groups with considerations of method.

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

Friday, November 01, 2019

Late-antique iron hammer and nails found at Usha

ARTIFACT: Nailed it: Rare 1,400-year-old iron hammer found by family at Sanhedrin site. Volunteers at excavations at Western Galilee’s Usha uncover previously unknown blacksmith industry, an addition to impressive glassworks found there (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
A family volunteering at excavations at Usha, the first location of the Sanhedrin following the Bar Kochba revolt, discovered a previously unknown iron industry at the site and a rare 1,400-year-old iron hammer, according to an Israel Antiquities Authority press release on Wednesday.

[...]

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

Was the "glorious martyr" Thecla?

GRAMMAR MATTERS: Tales from a crypt: Shedding light on a mysterious – female? – ‘glorious martyr.’ A 1,500-year-old Christian site in the heart of ultra-Orthodox Ramat Beit Shemesh takes The Times of Israel down a rabbit hole to meet St. Thecla, a feisty 2nd-century preacher (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).

The article reports that the grammatical gender of the martyr in the Greek inscription is unspecified. Speculation on who the martyr may have been is, well, speculative. But fun.

Background here.

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

Roukema, Micah in Ancient Christianity

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
Roukema, Riemer

Micah in Ancient Christianity
Reception and Interpretation


Series: Studies of the Bible and Its Reception (SBR) 15

86,95 € / $99.99 / £79.00*
Hardcover
Publication Date:
September 2019
ISBN 978-3-11-066340-2

Survey of ancient Christian reception of the Book of Micah
Analysis of Gnostic references to Micah
Discussion of Jewish traditions preserved by ancient Christian authors

Aims and Scope
What happened when the writing of the Old Testament prophet Micah from the 8th century BCE was read and interpreted by Christians in the 1st to 5th century BCE? This research meticulously describes data from patristic commentaries and other ancient Christian works in Greek and Latin, as well as the remains of Gnostic receptions of Micah, and it analyses the interpretative strategies that were adopted. Attention is paid to the partial retrieval of Origen’s Commentary on Micah, which is lost nowadays, but was used by later Christian authors, especially Jerome. This work includes the ancient delimitation of the Septuagint version and patristic observations on the meaning of particular terms. Other aspects are the liturgical readings from Micah’s book up to the Middle Ages, its use in Christ’s complaints about Israel on Good Friday (the Improperia), and a rabbinic tradition about Jesus quoting Micah. It is noted whenever patristic authors implicitly use or explicitly quote Jewish interpretations, many of which are supplied with parallels in contemporaneous or medieval Jewish works. This first comprehensive survey of the ancient Christian reception and interpretation of Micah is a valuable tool for Biblical scholars and historians.

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

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Zelyck, The Egerton Gospel

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
The Egerton Gospel (Egerton Papyrus 2 + Papyrus Köln VI 255)

Introduction, Critical Edition, and Commentary


Series:
Texts and Editions for New Testament Study, Volume: 13
Author: Lorne R. Zelyck

In this commentary on the Egerton Gospel, Lorne R. Zelyck presents a fresh paleographical analysis and thorough reconstruction of the fragmentary text, which results in new readings and interpretations. Details surrounding the acquisition of the manuscript are presented for the first time, and various scholarly viewpoints on controversial topics, such as the date of composition and relationship to the canonical gospels, are addressed. This early apocryphal gospel (150-250 CE) provides traditional interpretations of the canonical gospels that are similar to those of other early Christian authors, and affirms Jesus’ continuity with the miracle-working prophets Moses and Elisha, his obedience to the Law, divinity, and violent rejection by Jewish opponents. See Less
Publication Date: 19 September 2019
ISBN: 978-90-04-40932-3
Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Henze & Lied (eds.), Fifty Years of the Pseudepigrapha Section at the SBL

IN THE MAIL:
Matthias Henze and Liv Ingeborg Lied (eds.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Fifty Years of the Pseudepigrapha Section at the SBL (Early Judaism and Its Literature 50; Atlanta, Ga.: Society of Biblical Literature, 2019)

This volume celebrates fifty years of the study of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha at the Society of Biblical Literature and the pioneering scholars who introduced the Pseudepigrapha to the Society. Since 1969, the Pseudepigrapha Section has provided a forum for a rigorous discussion of these understudied texts and their relevance for Judaism and Christianity. The current volume tells the history of the section's beginnings and critically examines the vivid debates that have shaped the field over the last half-century. It concludes with a look toward the future of the study of the Pseudepigrapha.
Cross-file under New Book. My article, "The More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project," is on pages 359-81.

There is also a session celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Pseudepigrapha Section. It is next month in San Diego at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature.
S24-233
Pseudepigrapha

11/24/2019
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room:
Indigo A (Second Level) - Hilton Bayfront
Theme: Fraudes, Fabulae, Pseudepigrapha! A Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Pseudepigrapha Section
Join us for a panel discussion on past, present, and future developments in the study of the Pseudepigrapha, along with a presentation of The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Fifty Years of the Pseudepigrapha Section at the SBL (SBL Press, 2019) and celebratory reception for our jubilee anniversary.

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Review of Brown-deVost, Commentary and Authority in Mesopotamia and Qumran

THE BIBLICAL REVIEW BLOG: Review: Commentary and Authority in Mesopotamia and Qumran by Bronson Brown-deVost (William Brown).
Bronson Brown-deVost. Commentary and Authority in Mesopotamia and Qumran. JAJ Supplement 29. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019. 296 pp.
Excerpt:
I highly recommend Bronson Brown-deVost’s Commentary and Authority in Mesopotamia and Qumran. Although his selection of Mesopotamian texts and use of literary-critical theory needs improvement, his analysis of pesharim is indispensable. Likewise, his movement towards a diversified notion of authority is refreshing and signals a paradigm shift.

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

Monday, October 28, 2019

Review of Stone, Secret Groups in Ancient Judaism

H-JUDAIC:
Askin on Stone, 'Secret Groups in Ancient Judaism'

Author:
Michael E. Stone
Reviewer:
Lindsey A. Askin
Michael E. Stone. Secret Groups in Ancient Judaism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. 192 pp. $78.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-19-084238-3.

Reviewed by Lindsey A. Askin (University of Bristol) Published on H-Judaic (October, 2019) Commissioned by Barbara Krawcowicz (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
I am currently working on a review of this book. I hope to be able to share it with you before long.

Meanwhile, past posts on the book are here and links.

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

The Tomb of the Kings has reopened

THEOLOGICAL POLITICS: France reopens disputed ancient tomb in Jerusalem (AFP). The legal disputes seem not to be over yet, but the Tomb of the Kings in Jerusalem did reopen (briefly?) last week.

As I have noted before, the site is generally, although not universally, understood to be the burial ground of the dynasty of Queen Helena of Adiabene.

Background on the whole complicated story is here and links.

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

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Review of Durvye, Diodore de Sicile. Bibliothèque historique. Tome XV: Livre XX

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Cécile Durvye, Diodore de Sicile. Bibliothèque historique. Tome XV: Livre XX. Collection des universités de France, 538. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2018. Pp. cliv, 294. ISBN 9782251006208. €45,50. Reviewed by Dario Nappo, Università di Napoli “Federico II” (dario.nappo@unina.it).
More than 40 years have passed since a team, led by the late professor François Chamoux for the Collection des Les Belles Lettres, started working on Diodorus’ Bibliotheke Historike. The book analysed in this review (Book XX) encompasses the last of the fully preserved books of the Bibliotheke Historike. After Book XVII, which documented Alexander the Great’s exploits, and Books XVIII-XIX, which covered the long quarrel among his successors to divide the huge empire among them, Book XX discusses events occurring in the Mediterranean basin in the years between 310 and 302 BCE. This discussion is divided into three political spheres.

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

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

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Gray, Charity in Rabbinic Judaism

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
Charity in Rabbinic Judaism
Atonement, Rewards, and Righteousness
, 1st Edition
By Alyssa M. Gray

Routledge

214 pages

Studying the many ideas about how giving charity atones for sin and other rewards in late antique rabbinic literature, this volume contains many, varied, and even conflicting ideas, as the multiplicity must be recognized and allowed expression.

Topics include the significance of the rabbis’ use of the biblical word "tzedaqah" as charity, the coexistence of the idea that God is the ultimate recipient of tzedaqah along with rabbinic ambivalence about that idea, redemptive almsgiving, and the reward for charity of retention or increase in wealth. Rabbinic literature’s preference for "teshuvah" (repentance) over tzedeqah to atone for sin is also closely examined. Throughout, close attention is paid to chronological differences in these ideas, and to differences between the rabbinic compilations of the land of Israel and the Babylonian Talmud. The book extensively analyzes the various ways the Babylonian Talmud especially tends to put limits on the divine element in charity while privileging its human, this-worldly dimensions. This tendency also characterizes the Babylonian Talmud’s treatment of other topics. The book briefly surveys some post-Talmudic developments.

As the study fills a gap in existing scholarship on charity and the rabbis, it is an invaluable resource for scholars and clergy interested in charity within comparative religion, history, and religion.

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

The Talmud on birds and math

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: The Birds. ‘Daf Yomi’: The Talmud’s shortest and most difficult tractate is nominally about the sacrifice of feathered animals. In fact, it sets up a number of mathematical problems that delight the rabbis in their pursuit of pure knowledge.
The birds in a nest can be either pigeons or doves, but both must be of the same species. The two birds are sacrificed in different ways: One is a burnt offering, which means that its blood is sprinkled on the lower half of the altar, and the other is a sin offering, whose blood is sprinkled on the upper half. The woman bringing the sacrifice can either designate which bird is for which purpose or she can leave them undesignated, so that it’s up to the priest to decide.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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

Friday, October 25, 2019

The church of the "glorious martyr" at Beit Shemesh

ARCHAEOLOGY: Opulent 1,500-year-old church to mystery ‘glorious martyr’ found at Beit Shemesh. Site yields rare intact crypt of anonymous martyr immortalized by Greek inscription; Jerusalem museum exhibit of findings showcases massive collection of delicate glass artifacts (AMANDA BORSCHEL-DAN, Times of Israel).

For past posts on the site of Beit Shemesh and the excavation there, see here and links and here and links.

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

2019 CRINT Essay Prize awarded

CONGRATULATIONS TO DR. GORE-JONES:
The Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum (CRINT) Foundation is pleased to announce that the 2019 CRINT Essay Prize has been awarded to

Lydia Gore-Jones
St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College
Sydney, Australia

for her paper entitled Torah as Wisdom in Late Second Temple Judaism by Example of 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch.
Follow the link for further details, including more information on the CRINT Essay Prize. And thanks to Dr. Matthijs den Dulk for alerting PaleoJudaica.

Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

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

Sukkot as a festival of future redemption

BELATEDLY FOR SUKKOT: Sukkot, the Festival of Future Redemption for Jews and Gentiles (Prof. Rabbi Joshua Garroway, TheTorah.com)
Zechariah 14 envisions a time when all the nations will come to the Temple in Jerusalem on Sukkot. The festival’s eschatological significance in the Second Temple period may be further hinted at in Pseudepigraphical works, in the book of Revelation, and on coins minted during the great rebellion and the Bar Kochba rebellion.
A related PaleoJudaica post from some years ago is here.

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

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Did Pontius Pilate build the "Herodian street" in Jerusalem?

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH, MORE OR LESS: Monumental Jerusalem Street Was Built by Pontius Pilate, Israeli Archaeologists Say. The ancient 'Herodian street,' whose recent reopening by right-wing politicians and U.S. envoys stirred controversy, was commissioned by the Roman governor hated by Jews and Christians alike (Ariel David, Haaretz premium).
The research published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed publication Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University analyzed coins that were found beneath and above the ancient thoroughfare. The monumental street, paved with massive stone slabs, climbs to the southern side of the Temple Mount from the pool of Siloam, running through what today is known as the City of David, the most ancient part of Jerusalem.
Cross-file under Numismatics.

For some past PaleoJudaica posts on Pontius Pilate, see here and links.

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

Professor Obbink denies the charges

THE ETC BLOG: Dirk Obbink Denies Wrongdoing (Peter Gurry). This post quotes the statement issued by Professor Obbink's attorney. It denies the charges unequivocally and suggests that the documents offered as evidence are forged.

Also, over at the Variant Readings Blog, Brent Nongbri covers this development and more:

A Statement from Dirk Obbink

More News on Stolen Papyri from the Egypt Exploration Society

A Couple More Manuscripts of Questionable Origins

Professor Obbink's statement was issued over the weekend. I am trying to keep up with this and other stories, but my time for blogging is limited. My life remains very unsettled. So I am relying a lot on pre-posting, with random bouts of catch-up. If you want faster updates on this particular situation, keep an eye on the two blogs above.

Background here and links.

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Blenkinsopp, Essays on the Book of Isaiah

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Joseph Blenkinsopp. Essays on the Book of Isaiah. [Aufsätze zum Buch Jesaja.] 2019. V, 248 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 128. 119,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-156482-6.
Published in English.
This collection of twenty essays by Joseph Blenkinsopp on different aspects of the book of Isaiah is the product of three decades of close study of the most seminal and challenging texts of the Hebrew Bible. Five of the twenty are published here for the first time. Some deal with major themes in Isaiah, for example, universalism, the Hebrew God as creator in dialogue with Babylonian and Zoroastrian theologies of creation, theology and politics, and the Suffering Servant of the Lord God, which is of such great influence on the presentation of the life and death of Jesus in the New Testament. Others consist in close readings of specific texts in the book Aufsätze zum Buch Jesaja.

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Chilton on "The Logic of Jesus’ Resurrection"

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
The Logic of Jesus’ Resurrection

The conventional presentation [empty tomb] has become so prevalent that it needs to be mentioned in order to be set aside because it flies in the face of the fact that “the empty tomb” is a latecomer to the traditions regarding how God raised Jesus from the dead. The resurrection was conceived of as bodily by Jesus’ disciples, but they did not all assert a single origin story, nor did they always conceive of his body in a physical way.

See Also: Resurrection Logic: How Jesus' First Followers Believed God Raised Him from the Dead (Baylor University Press, 2019).

By Bruce Chilton
Institute of Advanced Theology
Bard College
October 2019
Cross-file under New Book. Some past PaleoJudaica posts pertaining to the Empty Tomb traditions are here and links, here, and here.

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

Monday, October 21, 2019

Review of Isaac, Empire and Ideology in the Graeco-Roman World

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Benjamin Henri Isaac, Empire and Ideology in the Graeco-Roman World: Selected Papers. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017. Pp. ix, 372. ISBN 9781107135895. £90.00​. Reviewed by Conor Whately, University of Winnipeg (c.whately@uwinnipeg.ca).
Over the past few decades, one of the most perceptive scholars of Rome and its empire has been Benjamin Isaac, who has waded into contentious debates like Roman racism and the multi-cultural character of the Roman world, and the degree to which the Romans engaged in strategic thinking. The seventeen chapters of this book, like Isaac’s previous publications, focus on Roman military affairs, ancient prejudice and racism, and the Roman Near East.1 The dominant, underlying theme of the essays is the problem of anachronism both in terms of evidence and scholarship, and most readers should find something of value in this rich collection.

[...]
Many of the essays involve ancient Judaism.

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

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Shemeni Atzeret and Simchat Torah 2019

SHEMINI ATZERET begins tonight at sundown. In Israel, this is also the holiday of Simchat Torah (Simhat Torah). Outside of Israel, the latter holiday begins tomorrow at sundown. Best wishes to all those celebrating!

Last year's Shemini Atzeret post is here, and the 2017 post has biblical etc. links.

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

More on the Phoenicia's new voyage and Phoenicians in the Americas

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Phoenicians Sailing to the New World. Did Phoenicians beat Christopher Columbus to the Americas by thousands of years? (Jonathan Laden). As I've said before, it's possible. But there is no credible evidence that they did.

This BHD essay notes the new expedition of the Good Ship Phoenicia in the direction of the Americas to try to establish that such a voyage was possible in an ancient Phoenician ship. I wish them a safe and successful journey.

I noted the expedition here, with links to past posts on why I am not convinced of the authenticity of supposedly ancient Phoenician and Hebrew inscriptions in the New World. The BHD essay adds additional evidence for skepticism. Cross-file under Phoenician Watch and New World Forgeries.

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

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Katzoff, On Jews in the Roman World

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Ranon Katzoff. On Jews in the Roman World. Collected Studies. 2019. XVI, 396 pages. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 179. 149,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-157743-7.
Published in English.
The present volume presents a selection of studies by Ranon Katzoff on Jews in the ancient Roman world. Common to them is that they deal with Jews in liminal situations – confronted with non-Jewish, mainly Roman, laws, places, government, and modes of thought. In these studies – in which texts in Greek and Latin and rabbinic texts (all in translation) elucidate each other – Jews are shown to be rather loyal to their Jewish traditions, a controversial conclusion.
The first two sections concern law. Section one searches the remains of popular Jewish culture for evidence on the degree to which rabbinic law really prevailed, through the study of Judaean Desert documents, mainly those of Babatha. Section two sifts through rabbinic law for traces of Roman law. Section three comprises studies of Jews in, to, and from the city of Rome, and section four a miscellany of studies on Jews confronted with non-Jewish life.

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

Friday, October 18, 2019

Hurtado on Stuckenbruck on 1 Enoch again

LARRY HURTADO: 1 Enoch: An Update on Manuscripts and Cautionary Notes on Usage.
At the meeting of the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament, 5 August 2019 in Aberdeen, Loren Stuckenbruck gave one of the main/plenary papers (co-authored with Ted Erho) that draws upon his extensive efforts to locate and classify Ethiopic manuscripts of 1 Enoch. I’m grateful to him for letting me see his paper: “The Significance of Ethiopic Witnesses for the Text Tradition of 1 Enoch: Problems and Prospects,” and with permission of the authors I cite some of the observations arising from the work of Stuckenbruck and his associates.

[...]
Related post here. I have heard similar cautions from Professor Stuckenbruck.

It has been good to see Larry blogging again lately.

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

Thursday, October 17, 2019

CPF: Sensory And Emotional Approaches To Magic In The Roman World

THE NSEA BLOG: A CONFERENCE ON SENSORY AND EMOTIONAL APPROACHES TO ROMAN MAGIC (Earl Fontainelle).
There is a call for papers out for a one-day conference with the promising title Mind, Body, Magic: Sensory And Emotional Approaches To Magic In The Roman World, organised by the Open University, Milton Keynes, Friday 27th March 2020. Here is the information:
Follow the link for more.

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Biblical Oxyrhynchus papyri stolen and sold?

WHAT A MESS: An Oxford professor allegedly stole ancient Bible fragments and sold them to Hobby Lobby (Katie Shepherd, Washington Post).
Since 2012, scholars and University of Oxford officials have been trying to trace a rumor that the oldest Bible fragment ever discovered not just existed but had been mysteriously stolen and sold to American arts-and-crafts giant Hobby Lobby.

Now, officials said they have finally cracked the case. The suspected thief at the center of the biblical controversy? Professor Dirk Obbink, one of the most celebrated classics professors in the world, a Nebraska native and MacArthur “genius grant” recipient who had long directed — and allegedly looted — Oxford’s Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project, a collection of centuries-old literature recovered from an ancient Egyptian garbage dump in 1896.

[...]
Read the whole article for details. These are serious accusations. So far, Professor Obbink has not responded to the most recent round of them. Some time ago he did deny that he sold a fragment of a manuscript of the Gospel of Mark.

We'll just have to see how this plays out.

Background here and links.

Also, here are some recent blog posts on the situation.

From Variant Readings (Brent Nongbri):

Breaking: EES Stolen Manuscripts Update

How Many Oxyrhynchus Papyri Have Been Sold?

From Evangelical Textual Criticism (posted by Tommy Wasserman):

NEWSFLASH: ‘Professor Obbink and Missing EES Papyri’ – MOTB returns 13 Papyri to EES!

News Statement: ‘Museum of the Bible Helps EES Recover Antiquities’

See also this Daily Beast essay by Professor Candida Moss:

INDIANA JONES BREAKS BAD. Hobby Lobby Scandal Widens as Museum of the Bible Admits Oxford Prof Sold Illicit Papyri to Green Family. The Museum of the Bible revealed today that at least 13 biblical fragments in its collection were illicitly sold by a Oxford professor to Hobby Lobby's Green family.

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

Review of Lord (et al.), The Singer of Tales (3rd ed.)

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Albert Bates Lord, David F. Elmer, The Singer of Tales. 3rd Edition. Publications of the Milman Parry collection of oral literature, 4. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2019. Pp. xlv, 338. ISBN 9780674975736. $24.50. Reviewed by Minna Skafte Jensen, University of Southern Denmark and Copenhagen University (minna.s.j@gmail.com).
This is the third edition of a monograph originally published 1960, an unusual fact in a time in which libraries are reduced in favour of digitized versions for online reading. What is so special about exactly this book?

The answer is, of course, that Lord’s Singer of Tales is a modern classic. Milman Parry’s sensational research which combined careful, even pedantic, studies of the Homeric poems with fieldwork investigation of oral epic in Yugoslavia was known to scholars working with archaic Greek poetry, but relatively unknown elsewhere. Had it not been for Lord’s book the situation might have remained like that. The Singer of Tales first describes the theory constructed from the fieldwork and next suggests how this theory changes our understanding of Homer. Lord was a charismatic author, and the enthusiasm emanating from every page makes his book a great read. It was received with admiration, and with it the ambitious project of defining the general characteristics of oral poetry became deeply influential not only in Homeric studies but in related fields as well, such as the philologies concerned with early poetry from other parts of the world, anthropology, folklore, and psychology, to mention only the most obvious. ...
Lord's book has also been influential on Hebrew Bible studies and Ugaritic studies.

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Divine Warrior

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
God in Conflict: Images of the Divine Warrior in Ancient Jewish and Early Christian Texts

In the ancient world, writers routinely appealed to martial motifs to express their beliefs and hopes related to the divine. Texts from the ancient Near East depict deities in conflict with one another over the rightful rule of the cosmos. Documents among the Hebrew Bible, which arose out the ancient Near Eastern context, continued to adapt images of divine conflict when describing the God of Israel; Jewish authors, however, showed much creativity in bending and shaping the traditional motifs for their rhetorical and theological purposes. This adaptation of divine war images endured into the first century CE among New Testament authors, who incorporated the person and work of Jesus Christ into traditional conflict motifs. This essay offers a brief overview of some key images and texts from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament that framed God as a warrior; it also gestures toward the varieties of ways authors expressed the hope that God would fight for God’s people, defeat their adversaries, and restore the chosen people.

See Also: Scott C. Ryan, Divine Conflict and the Divine Warrior: Listening to Romans and Other Jewish Voices, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019).

By Scott C. Ryan
Assistant Professor of Religion and Biblical Studies
Department of Humanities
Claflin University, Orangeburg, South Carolina
October 2019
O worship the King all-glorious above is another well-know and frequently-sung hymn that draws deeply on the divine warrior tradition.

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

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Manichaeans of Kellis

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: The Manichaeans of Kellis: Religion, Community, and Everyday Life (Mattias Brand).
Mattias Brand, The Manichaeans of Kellis: Religion, Community, and Everyday Life (Leiden University PhD Dissertation, 2019).
For more on Kellis, see here and the relevant link here. Cross-file under Manichean Watch (Manichaean Watch) and Coptic Watch.

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

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sukkot 2019

THE FESTIVAL OF SUKKOT (BOOTHS, TABERNACLES) begins tonight at sundown. Best wishes to all those observing it.

Last year's Sukkot post was here with links. For the biblical background to Sukkot, see here and here.

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

Nongbri on problems with paleographic dating

WELL THAT'S A BIT AWKWARD: Palaeographic Dating: Graphic Difference Does Not Always Mean Chronological Difference (Brent Nongbri,Variant Readings).

The promised subsequent post on Codex Sinaiticus is here. And the immediately preceding post is also of interest: A New Article on Palaeographic Dating of Codices.

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

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Jerusalem was not the same as Shalem?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: First Person: From Shalem to Jerusalem (Robert Cargill). Professor Cargill argues in his new book, Melchizedek, King of Sodom (OUP 2019), that Shalem in Genesis 14 was not the city of Jerusalem.

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

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Talmud on using Temple leftovers

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Ends With Benefits. This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study debates the right way to use consecrated Temple leftovers without crossing holy lines.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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

Magness on the Masada myth(s)

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: The Masada Myth(s) (Jodi Magness).
Josephus’ account of the mass suicide at Masada is so compelling that after Israel was established in 1948, the slogan “Masada shall not fall again” became symbolic of the modern state. The example of Jews putting up a heroic resistance to the death instead of going meekly to their slaughter had great appeal in the wake of the Holocaust and at a time when Israel’s population felt embattled. However, times have changed, and with them, so have perspectives on Masada. For one thing, even those who embrace the mass suicide as a symbol of modern Israel must reconcile it with Judaism’s prohibition against taking one’s own life (although according to Josephus’ account, only the last man died by his own hand). More importantly, in today’s post-Zionist era the story of Masada has become a less compelling model for Israelis. And scholarly views have changed as well. For example, many scholars now believe Josephus’ description of the mass suicide (the only ancient account of this episode) is fabricated – that it never happened!
For more on Professor Magness's recent book, Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth (Princeton University Press, 2019), see here. And for many other posts on the history and archaeology of, and revisionist views on, Masada, see here and links.

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

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Tenure-track HB job at Harvard

HARVARD UNIVERSITY:
Tenure-track Professor of Hebrew Bible

School Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Department/Area Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Position Description
The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations seeks to appoint a tenure-track professor at the assistant level in Hebrew Bible as of 1 July 2020. The successful candidate will be familiar with the Hebrew Bible in the original. Candidates are expected to be able to situate the Hebrew Bible within its ancient Near Eastern context and within the broader history of its interpretation. The tenure-track professor will be responsible for teaching and advising at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The tenure-track professor of Hebrew Bible will be appointed in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and will work with colleagues in the Committee on the Study of Religion, the Harvard Divinity School, and other departments in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Keywords:
assistant, faculty, instructor, tenure track
Boston, Cambridge, Massachusetts, MA, Northeast, New England
Hebrew, Bible, biblical Hebrew, ancient near east, interpretation

Basic Qualifications
Doctorate or equivalent degree in Hebrew Bible or related discipline required by the time the appointment begins.

Additional Qualifications
Demonstrated commitment to excellence in teaching; evidence of intellectual leadership and potential for high impact on the field.
Follow the link for application instructions. Applicants are "encouraged" to apply by 1 November 2019.

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

The "Curse of the Dancer"

GREEK EPIGRAPHY: Ancient 'Curse of the Dancer' Deciphered, Revealing Backstabbing Rivals (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
A Greek engraving on a 1,500-year-old lead tablet discovered in the ruins of an ancient theater in Israel has finally been deciphered, revealing a curse that may rival the modern-day backstabbing between athletic opponents.

The curse calls upon numerous demons to inflict harm on a dancer named Manna, who likely performed at the famous Caesarea Maritima theater in Israel, which was built by Herod the Great.

[...]
Professor Attilio Mastrocinque has deciphered this long curse tablet using "Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)." For more on that technique, see here and links. Cross-file under Technology Watch.

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

Review of Novenson, The Grammar of Messianism

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Matthew V. Novenson, The Grammar of Messianism: An Ancient Jewish Political Idiom and Its Users. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xvi, 361. ISBN 9780190255022. $78.00. Reviewed by D. Clint Burnett, Johnson University (davidclintburnett@gmail.com).
His work is not based on new data, but on a new way of perceiving ancient Jewish and early Christian messianic texts, namely unencumbered by the messianic idea and with fresh contextual exegeses of messianic texts that probe their inner logic. He shifts the conversation about messianism from the general to the particular and from the realms of politics and history into that of particular texts, contexts, and exegesis. Adopting Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theory of language game—the “theory that human language is best conceived not as a set of symbols corresponding to things in the world, but rather as a set of rules for participation in various kinds of discourse” (12)—Novenson claims that words derive their meanings from context. Therefore, scholars must avoid preconceived notions or ideas about what words mean, especially in ancient texts. It is clear that Jewish and Christian authors’ use of messianic language is part of “one great Mediterranean language game” that can be traced to their contextualized interpretations of the Hebrew Bible. In short, Novenson concludes “ancient messiah texts constitute one example . . . of the vast, sprawling ancient Jewish and Christian project of scriptural interpretation” (17). The purpose of this book is to map the rules of this language game or the grammar of messianism. (21).
Past PaleoJudaica posts on the book are here and links.

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

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

On Abraham and the Aqedah

PROF. AARON KOLLER: Abraham Passes the Test of the Akedah But Fails as a Father (TheTorah.com).
The story of the Akedah appears to present Abraham’s actions in a uniformly positive light. However, Isaac’s absence at the end of the story, and Sarah’s death immediately afterwards, suggested to some traditional and modern commentators a criticism of Abraham.
For another ancient understanding of the Akedah — that Abraham actually sacrificed Isaac — see here and links.

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

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Yom Kippur 2019

YOM KIPPUR, the Day of Atonement, begins this evening at sundown. An easy fast to all those observing it.

Last year's post on Yom Kippur is here (bonus post here). For background and previous posts, follow the link from there. Biblical etc. background is here.

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

Warren on transformational eating

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Food and Transformation in Ancient Mediterranean Literature (Meredith J C Warren).
Hierophagy is the word I chose to describe this genre of transformational eating.[3] I define hierophagy as a mechanism by which characters in narrative cross boundaries from one realm to another through ingesting some item from that other realm. Hierophagy results in three specific types of transformations: (A) the binding of the eater to the place of origin of the food; (B) the transformation of the eater either in terms of behaviour or physical appearance; and/or (C) the transmission of new knowledge.
This essay gives us a taste of Dr. Warren's new book, Food and Transformation in Ancient Mediterranean Literature (SBL Press, 2019).

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

Monday, October 07, 2019

Apocryphal gospels as fan fiction?

NEW TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA WATCH: Fan Fiction and Alternative Gospels (Philip Jenkins, The Anxious Bench). Excerpt:
Popular media tend to assume that there is an ancient era in which gospels were produced abundantly, presumably because the authors had some special knowledge or perception to share. In fact, such production carried on in high volume for much longer than this model suggests, at least through the sixth and seventh centuries, with many later contributions. At no point in history—say, around 400—did churches suddenly cease recording what they believed to be Christ’s authentic message, and certainly they did not do so because of the edicts of some all-powerful hierarchy. The Christian story is one of organic growth and development, from early times, through medieval, to modern, and beyond.
Related post here.

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

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Frey, Qumran, Early Judaism, and New Testament Interpretation

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Jörg Frey. Qumran, Early Judaism, and New Testament Interpretation. Kleine Schriften III. Edited by Jacob N. Cerone. 2019. XXI, 906 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 424. 214,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-156015-6..
Published in English.
The articles collected here present the fruits of 25 years of scholarship on Qumran and the New Testament. The author situates the New Testament within the pluralistic context of Second Temple Judaism, presents detailed overviews on the discoveries from Qumran, the source value of the ancient texts on the Essenes, the interpretation of the archaeological site, the various forms of dualism within the texts, the development of apocalyptic thought, Qumran meals, and scriptural authority in the Scrolls. He evaluates the various patterns of relating Jesus and the apostles to the Scrolls or the Qumran community, presents methodological reflections on comparisons and detailed surveys of the most important insights from the Qumran discoveries for the understanding of Jesus, Paul, and the Fourth Gospel. This volume demonstrates how the discovery of the Scrolls has influenced and changed New Testament scholarship.

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

Saturday, October 05, 2019

The Phoenicia is sailing to the Americas

PHOENICIAN WATCH: Who reached America first – Columbus or the Phoenicians? A replica Phoenician vessel made in Syria is sailing the Atlantic to prove the ancient civilisation did it 2,000 years before Columbus (Tom Westcott, Middle East Eye).
Philip Beale, the project’s leader, explained: “This expedition hopes to show that the Phoenicians could have been the first ancient seafarers to cross the Atlantic, well before Christopher Columbus.

“It’s not whether Christopher Columbus was the first to cross the Atlantic but actually that he was probably one of the last.”

As for their likely destination, Beale said that the idea is to not aim for anywhere in particular. Instead they will go where the winds and currents naturally take them, to best recreate the likely route of the Phoenicians.
This replica Phoenician vessel is, of course, the Good Ship Phoenicia. PaleoJudaica followed the ship's successful expedition to circumnavigate Africa from 2008 to 2010. Now she aims to cross the Atlantic to show that the Phoenicians could have reached the Americas. I noted the fundraising for the project back in 2013. And follow the links from there for many past posts on the adventures of the Phoenicia.

Perhaps Phoenicians could have reached the New World. Perhaps they even did. But I have reviewed all the evidence I can find for a Phoenician presence in the Americas and I have not found it credible. For past posts, see here, here, here, and many links. Cross-file under New World Forgery.

Be that as it may, I wish the Phoenicia a successful voyage. I look forward to following her new adventures.

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

Friday, October 04, 2019

Review of Krause, Synagogues in the Works of Flavius Josephus

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Synagogues in the Works of Flavius Josephus: Rhetoric, Spatiality, and First-Century Jewish Institutions (Joseph Scales).
Andrew R. Krause, Synagogues in the Works of Flavius Josephus: Rhetoric, Spatiality, and First-Century Jewish Institutions (Brill, 2017).
Excerpt:
This book is a valuable addition to scholarship on Josephus and 1st century synagogues, incorporating work on Josephus as a Greco-Roman-Jewish author, considerations for his writing intentions and how his thought developed over his career, while also addressing some of the scholarship on the early synagogue. Josephus is often used as a direct source for synagogue practices in its early developmental stage, and this work counters some of the oversimplifications that have been drawn from cursory readings of Josephus. Krause’s careful discussion of the relevant passages further shows the importance of the emerging synagogue in Judaism of the late 1st century CE.

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

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Biblical Studies Carnival 164 (September 2019)

READING ACTS: Biblical Studies Carnival 164 (Phil Long).

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

Review of Luijendijk and Klingshirn (eds.), My Lots are in Thy Hands

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: AnneMarie Luijendijk, William E. Klingshirn (ed.), My Lots are in Thy Hands: Sortilege and its Practitioners in Late Antiquity. Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, 188. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2018. Pp. xvii, 392. ISBN 9789004384101. €129,00. Reviewed by Joseph E. Sanzo, University of Warwick (Joseph.Sanzo@warwick.ac.uk)
Sortilege properly emerges from this volume as a complex cluster of ritual, scribal, and textual practices, which formed an important aspect of late antique social existence. Each essay successfully functions as a stand-alone contribution, offering a wealth of information to anyone interested in this important ancient practice. The non-expert will especially benefit from the editors’ introduction and first chapter. Yet, as a collection, the reader both receives valuable insight into the most important sortes (e.g., the Sortes Astrampsychi, the hermēneiai, the Gospel of the Lots of Mary) and gains a vivid sense of how sortilege was interwoven into various ancient domains, including law (Naether), economy (Ratzan), ecclesiastical institutions (Kocar, Frankfurter, and Luijendijk), the body (Costanza), and sacred texts (Wilkinson, Childers, Meerson, van der Horst).
Sortilege (casting lots to make decisions, including by consulting random passages in scripture) is also attested in late antique Judaism. See the article in this volume by Pieter van der Horst.

I noted the publication of this book here.

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

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Aramaic ostraca, possibly from the first Jewish Revolt

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Advanced imaging reveals ancient inscriptions on 2,000-year-old pottery (Kristen Mitchell, Phys.org).
The fragments, called ostraca, were discovered at the site of Machaerus, a well-known archaeological site connected with notable historical and religious figures of the first century including Herod the Great and John the Baptist. Chris Rollston, associate professor of northwest Semitic languages and literature, took possession of 20 ostraca in May and used multispectral imaging equipment at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences to examine the pieces and their faded ink writing more closely.
Professor Rollston, of George Washington University, and his epigraphic work are well known to PaleoJudaica readers.

What do the ostraca say? The intriguing preliminary results:
While the ostraca are brief, Dr. Rollston believes they could include information that could help researchers better understand cultural practices in the first century. He believes some of the ostraca written in Aramaic include the names and titles of Jewish soldiers who served during the First Jewish Revolt. This would shed light on naming practices of the time and provide insight on a significant time in Jewish history.

"It's difficult to know exactly when these inscriptions were written, but my sense is they were written sometime during the decade or two right prior to fall of Judaea to the Romans," he said. "These are inscriptions from this really pivotal period in what we know as ancient Judaea."
Some past posts on Multispectral Imaging and its application to epigraphy are here and links and here. And past posts on the site of Machaerus (the reputed site of the execution of John the Baptist) are here and links. Cross-file under Aramaic Watch and Northwest Semitic Epigraphy.


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

How Jewish Was Herod the Great?

ARCHAEOLOGY MAKES THINGS COMPLICATED: How Jewish Was Herod? (Evie Gassner, TheTorah.com).
Despite the negative evaluation of Herod in traditional Jewish sources, archaeological evidence seems to suggest that, with some notable exceptions, Herod saw himself as tied to the Jewish religion and tried, to a certain extent, to uphold its laws, even in his own lifestyle.
For a related post from some years ago which also discusses Herod's Arab background, see here. And for many other past posts on Herod the Great and related archaeological discoveries, start here and follow the links.

Also,by the way, TheTorah.com's website has just been completely redesigned.

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

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Temple of Ptolemy IV excavated in Egypt

CHANCE DISCOVERY: Archaeologists unearth ancient pharaoh Ptolemy IV's temple in Egypt [PHOTO] (Bhaswati Guha Majumder, International Business Times). Ptolemy IV Philopator is mentioned in the Bible. In the Book of Daniel 11:11-12 he is referred to as "the king of the south." For more about him, including some of the coins minted during his reign, see here and here.

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

Top 10 archaeological discoveries from the Holy Land

LISTMANIA: Digging for the Bible: 10 key discoveries from the Holy Land. Leading biblical archaeologist Aren Maeir identifies 10 key discoveries from the Holy Land and explains how they relate to the Old Testament (History Extra). It's a good list that the BBC posted several years ago.

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

Monday, September 30, 2019

British Library digitizes religious manuscripts

DIGITIZATION: British Library digitises ancient texts including 1,000-year old Hebrew Bible. Collection co-sponsored by Dangoor Education includes extraordinary selection of old manuscripts, books, scrolls and scriptures from the world's major faiths (The Jewish News).
Ancient religious texts including a 1,000-year old Hebrew Bible have been digitised and made available online for free by the British Library after help from a British Jewish philanthropist.

The collection, called ‘Discovering Sacred Texts,’ is an extraordinary selection of manuscripts, books, scrolls and scriptures that allows anyone with an internet connection to explore the sacred texts of the world’s major faiths.

[...]
The tenth-century Hebrew Bible manuscript is London Codex. Or 4445.

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

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Rosh HaShanah 2019

HAPPY NEW YEAR (ROSH HASHANAH - Jewish New Year 5780) to all those celebrating. The New Year begins tonight at sundown.

Last year's Rosh HaShanah post, with biblical and other links, is here. And a couple of subsequent posts on the subject are here and here.

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

Review of Kreuzer, Introduction to the Septuagint

WILLIAM ROSS: AN INITIAL REVIEW OF BAYLOR’S INTRODUCTION TO THE SEPTUAGINT. This volume is newly translated from German.

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

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Review of Rüpke, Pantheon

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Pantheon (Amit Gvaryahu).
Jörg Rüpke, Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion, Translated by David M. B. Richardson. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018.

I am a student of rabbinic literature, and my subjects are observers and critics of Roman practice of all kinds — including the practices which are lumped together under the heading of “Religion.” My interest in what is called Roman religion stems from a need to understand the relationships my subjects, the rabbis and their followers, had with it. What did they “borrow” from the Romans in their religion? What did they reject? In what ways was rabbinic worship a Roman cult, and how was it decidedly not Roman? How did Jews who were not rabbis perform “Roman-ness” in their religion, how did the rabbis do so, and what did they have to say about it?

[...]

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

Friday, September 27, 2019

On the Gezer Calendar and the New Year

ROSH HASHANAH IS COMING: Rosh haShanah and the mystery of the Gezer Calendar (Daniel Kenner, Times of Israel Blogs).
It may not have been recorded sufficiently in the written Torah itself, but the Jewish oral tradition fills in the gaps regarding the significance of the “Day of (Shofar) Blasting”. In beginning the year on this day, the oral tradition hearkens back millennia to the Gezer Calendar’s poetic description of the Land of Israel’s natural cycle. This primary Jewish New Year – though not the only one – is thus celebrated on the First of Tishrei – the Moon of Gathering, the Moon of Forces. This is the time not only to blast on a shofar, but also to celebrate the results of the past year’s work and blessings, to take stock, to gather resources and collect forces for the year ahead.
A nice introduction to the complexities of the Jewish New Year.

Rosh HaShanah begins this year on the evening of Sunday, 29 September. For past PaleoJudaica posts on the Gezer Calendar, see here and links and here. Cross-file under Northwest Semitic Epigraphy.

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

The Talmud on the misuse of sacrificial meat

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Sacrificial Ram. Sacred meat, slaughtered animals, and blood on the altar, in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study.
This week we began Tractate Me’ila, which deals with a different kind of sin: the misuse of property, such as animals, that have been consecrated to God. ... But when does sacrificial meat change from being God’s property to being human property?
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Two cuneiform tablets found at Hadid

ASSYRIOLOGY: Assyrians Came, Conquered, and Kicked Everyone Out: Tablets Reveal 2,700-year-old Relocation. Cuneiform records show land sales 2,700 years ago in Hadid, central Israel, were made to people with entirely foreign names (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz premium).
Two clay tablets found in Hadid recording loans and land sales in the seventh century B.C.E. indicate that most of the people living in the town, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem today, were foreign, not Israelites, archaeologists say.

[...]
That's what we would expect from the biblical accounts. Plus there's a loan tablet in which someone puts his wife and sister up as collateral. And the excavation also found a seal with the emblem of the moon god Sin. Yes, that actually was his name.

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

The Beit Shean statues find a home

THEY BELONG IN A MUSEUM. AND THAT'S WHERE THEY ARE: NO LONGER HOMELESS: TWO STATUES FIND PERMANENT HOME IN REGIONAL MUSEUM. The finds were dated to the late Roman-early Byzantine period (third to fourth centuries CE), fascinating for the social flux which occurred then (HEDDY BREUER ABRAMOWITZ, Jerusalem Post).
Two Roman statues have just been placed in their new permanent home at the regional archeological and Mediterranean museum of the National Parks Authority at Gan Hashlosha-Sahne Park, it was announced by the Antiquities Authority (IAA) in September.

[...]
I noted the chance discovery of the statues near Beit Shean (Beth Shean) in late 2018 here and here.

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Greenstein on translating the Book of Job

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: Translating Job as Befits a Great Ancient Work (Edward L. Greenstein). Professor Greenstein has published a new translation of the Book of Job with Yale University Press.

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

New images of LXX papyrus 967

THE ETC BLOG: New Images of Papyrus 967 (Ezekiel Portion) (Tommy Wasserman). With links to earlier posts.

This manuscript also contains material from Esther and Daniel. It is the earliest manuscript containing the Old Greek text of Daniel. It is of great importance for the textual history of that book.

For more on the Esther section of the manuscript, see here.

Cross-file under Digitization.

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

Monday, September 23, 2019

Aramaic gravestones in Jordan

NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY: ‘World’s only’ Aramaic gravestones found in northern Jordan — French scholar (Saeb Rawashdeh, Jordan Times).
AMMAN — Khirbet es-Samra, an archaeological site located some 50 kilometres north of Amman, contains the world’s only Aramaic-inscribed stelae (ancient gravestones), according to a French scholar.

Two kinds of stelae were excavated in the ancient cemetery within the site, noted Pierre-Louis Gatier from the University of Lyon. One type of stela has a regular gravestone shape dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, while the other unusually shaped stela dates from the 6th century AD, Gatier said.

[...]
These tombstones have been known for a while, but I just learned of them through this article. You can read more about the site of Khirbet es-Samra and the epigraphic discoveries there in this article: EPIGRAPHIC DIVERSITY IN THE CEMETERY AT KHIRBET ES-SAMRĀʾ, JORDAN (Nabulsi A. J. and Michael C A Macdonald et al; PEQ 146 [2014]: 149-61).

By the way, these are not the only know Aramaic-inscribed gravestones. Some were recovered at the site of Zoar in southern Jordan near the Dead Sea. They are painted (mostly) or inscribed in Aramaic on sandstone. They are from about the same period as the ones from Khirbet es-Samra. I noted a BHD piece about them some years ago. And there is an unprovenanced Aramaic gravestone that looks similar to the ones from Zoar. See here and here.

Cross-file under Aramaic Watch.

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