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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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 W├╝rzburg. 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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