Saturday, February 02, 2019

Common Bibles in the Cairo Geniza

GENIZA FRAGMENT OF THE MONTH (JANUARY 2019): The Uncommon Bible: T-S AS 44.35 (Ben Outhwaite).
It is unlikely that these Common Bibles preserve variant readings of great value to the recovery of pre-masoretic biblical traditions. Israel Yeivin, in his Introduction to the Tiberian Masorah (1980, as translated by the E. J. Revell) suggests ‘most are fragments of “vulgar” texts, some with Masorah, without accents, with many extra vowel letters, and so on…’ (Yeivin 1980, 30–31). But this does not diminish their value as cultural artefacts: they form a large body of evidence for ordinary Jewish engagement with the text of the Hebrew Bible in the Middle Ages.
Past posts noting Cairo Geniza Fragments of the Month in the Cambridge University Library's Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit are here and links. There was no fragment of the month for December 2018.

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Kim, The Firstborn Son in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
The Firstborn Son in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity

A Study of Primogeniture and Christology


Series:
Biblical Interpretation Series, Volume: 171

Author: Kyu Seop Kim

Despite scholars’ ongoing historical and sociological investigations into the ancient family, the right and the status of the firstborn son have been rarely explored by NT scholars, and this topic has not attracted the careful attention that it deserves. This work offers a study of the meaning of the firstborn son in the New Testament paying specific attention to the concept of primogeniture in the Old Testament and Jewish literature. This study argues that primogeniture was a unique institution in Jewish society, and that the title of the firstborn son indicates his access to the promise of Israel, and is associated with the right of the inheritance (i.e., primogeniture) including the Land and the special status of Israel.

Publication Date: 28 January 2019
ISBN: 978-90-04-39494-0

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CFP: EABS 2019 LXX

WILLIAM ROSS: EABS 2019 CALL FOR PAPERS: SEPTUAGINT RESEARCH UNITS. The deadline for paper proposals is 28 February. There are a couple of units that deal with the Septuagint. Follow the link for details.

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Bulletin of the Asia Institute 28

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Bulletin of the Asia Institute. The current volume has a couple of articles of interest for ancient Judaism. Alas, it is not online as far as I know.
Shai Secunda, “‘Lost Property to the King!’: The Talmudic Laws of Lost Property in the Shadow of Sasanian Bureaucracy”

Siam Bhayro, “A Jewish Aramaic Magic Bowl Containing the Formula of Ḥanina ben Dosa, and the Problem of Psalm 24:8b in the Magic Bowls”

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Friday, February 01, 2019

A record page-view month for PaleoJudaica

IN JANUARY 2019, PaleoJudaica received 128,921 page-views, an all-time record. The previous record was 127,155 views in December 2016.

Many thanks to all my readers for your faithful support!

Please do keep coming back to PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world. And keep bringing your friends!

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

The Seleucid coins, Part 1

NUMISMATICS: CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series – The Seleucids and Their Coins: Part I (Mike Markowitz). Some of the Seleucids in this article are mentioned in the Book of Daniel, although not by name. Seleucid figures are in bold font in what follows.

Daniel 11:5 refers to the "king of the south" (Ptolemy I), one of whose officers would rule a realm greater than his. That officer is Seleucus I.

Daniel 11:6 recounts the episode in which Antiochus II ("the king of the north") married the daughter of Ptolemy II ("the daughter of the king of the south") Berenice/Berenike. But he later when back to his ex-wife Laodice/Laodike I, who then had him, Berenice, and their son assassinated. More on that sad story here.

Daniel 11:7-8 continues the story. Berenice's brother , Ptolemy III (the "branch from her roots") invaded the realm of Antiochus's successor, Seleucus II ("the king of the north," son of Laodice), captured the fortress of Seleucia, and killed Laodice, but he did not conquer the territory.

That takes us to the end of this article. For the first article in an earlier series by the same author about the coinage of the Ptolemaic dynasty, see here and links. It covers some of the same history as this article. And for more on Seleucid coinage, the Seleucid dynasty, and the latter's importance for biblical studies, see here and links.

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Review of D'Andrea, Bambini nel "limbo"

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Bruno D'Andrea, Bambini nel "limbo": dati e proposte interpretive sui tofet fenici e punici. Collection de l'École française de Rome, 552. Rome: École Française de Rome, 2018. Pp. xiv, 170; 31 p. of plates. ISBN 9782728313365. €27,00 (pb). Reviewed by Matthew M. McCarty, University of British Columbia (matthew.mccarty@ubc.ca).

If you are interested in the debated over whether (or perhaps to what degree) tophets at Carthage and elsewhere involved child sacrifice, read this review (which is in English) of a recent book on the subject.

For past posts on the question, see here and links. Cross-file under Punic Watch

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Another (p)review of "The Golem"

CINEMA: 'The Golem': Film Review (John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter).
THE BOTTOM LINE
More serious-minded than it looks.

A Lithuanian woman creates a golem to defend her village in Doron and Yoav Paz's take on ancient Jewish lore.
It opens today.

I noted the movie as upcoming here. For many earlier posts on past and present manifestations of the Golem legend, start there and follow the links.

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Agrippa and the Apostles

NUMISMATICS SUPPLEMENT: Israeli Schoolkid Finds Ancient Coin from the King Who Jailed Peter and Killed James (Emily Jones, CBN News). I have already noted the report of the recent find of a coin of Herod Agrippa I here. But this article notes a New Testament connection that I don't recall seeing mentioned elsewhere:
Herod Agrippa is the King Herod named in Acts 12. According to Acts, King Agrippa persecuted the church in Jerusalem. He imprisoned Peter and had James killed.

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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Kirsch on the Alter Bible

BOOK REVIEW: The Alter Bible. In a landmark new translation, Robert Alter revives the literary power of a Hebrew masterpiece (Adam Kirsch, Tablet Magazine).
... The classic Bible translations—Jerome’s, Luther’s, the King James, the Septuagint—were so influential for so long that, for most readers, they effectively replaced the original Hebrew, becoming sacred texts in their own right. Indeed, many readers of these versions probably didn’t know that the original was written in Hebrew at all. Alter’s Bible doesn’t seek that kind of canonical status; it is not out to replace the Hebrew Bible, but to engage in a dialogue with it. This is the most important way in which Alter’s Bible takes literature, and the reader, seriously—by inviting us into the translation process, acknowledging that every word involves choice and compromise.
This long review gives many examples of how Alter has rethought the whole process of biblical translation. Well worth reading.

Background here and links.

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"Governor" or "military commander?"

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Understanding an Ancient Israelite Military Title. “Governor of the city” or “commander of the fortress”?
A handful of ancient Israelite inscriptions feature an enigmatic title that has been variously translated as “governor of the city” and “commander of the fortress.” Who was this figure? In the article “Commander of the Fortress? Understanding an Ancient Israelite Military Title” by William M. Schniedewind, featured in the January/February 2019 issue of BAR, discover this figure’s importance and place in ancient Israelite and Judahite society.

[...]
As usual, the full BAR article is behind the subscription wall. But this BHD essay gives you the basic argument.

For the "City Governor" (?) bulla found recently in Jerusalem, see here, here, and here.

Because it is mentioned in the above essay and article, BHD also republishes an old (2012) essay on the site of Kuntillet ‘Ajrud: Puzzling Finds from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud. A drawing of God labeled “Yahweh and his Asherah” or the Egyptian god Bes?. It was also republished last June. See the latter post for past PaleoJudaica posts on Kuntillet ‘Ajrud. For the final report on that site which the essay mentions, see here.

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More on the Green Collection manuscripts

AT THE VARIANT READINGS BLOG, Brent Nongbri continues to parse out Scott Carroll's videos (etc.) to try to infer new information about the manuscripts in the Green Collection.

Sources and Destinations of Scott Carroll’s Papyri? Some tantalizing new details with lots of mysteries.

The Green Collection Mummy Masks: A Possible Source. Oxford University? Really? Anything is possible, but I would like to see some decisive verification.

Background here and links.

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Kellens, "Becoming Zarathustra"

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Becoming Zarathustra. Notice of a new article: Kellens, Jean. 2018. Becoming Zarathustra. In Hugh B. Urban & Greg Johnson (eds.), Irreverence and the sacred: Critical studies in the history of religions, 185–193. New York: Oxford University Press.

The article is available online. I can see it through my university account, but it looks like its behind the Oxford paywall.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Patel on magical practices and discourses

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Dissertation Spotlight | Magical Practices and Discourses of Magic in Early Christian Traditions: Jesus, Peter, and Paul ( Shaily Patel).
When considering the term ‘magic’ and its cognates in such a vast corpus of evidence, both literary and “practical” it appears that no strict rule obtains for understanding magic and magicians. What one can say, however, is that there were individuals who considered themselves magicians and who did not necessarily believe their magic to be some evil obverse of proper Roman practice. This datum escapes purely polemical analyses of ancient magic which prioritize literary evidence. This is the inconvenient fact that must be considered or if we wish to grasp more fully how magic worked in the era of formative Christianity.
This is an important point.

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Dura Europos at Yale

YALE NEWS: Across disciplines, Yale forges rich ties to Middle East (Mike Cummings). Most of this article deals with modern matters that are not of direct interest to PaleoJudaica. But then there's this:
Two recent projects are improving access to Yale’s extensive and diverse collections of Islamic and Middle Eastern art, artifacts, books, and manuscripts. “Dura-Europos, Syria: Loss and Recovery from Antiquity to Modernity” is a digital project that draws on Yale’s collection of artifacts from the ancient city of Dura-Europos to allow people to explore an important archeological and cultural site made inaccessible by conflict. The project is a partnership between the council, faculty in the Departments of History of Art and Computer Science, and curators and conservators at the Yale University Art Gallery and the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage at Yale’s West Campus.

“We’ve been thinking about ways we can intervene in Syria,” Rizvi said. “We don’t have a field site there but we have this incredible collection from Dura-Europos that is evidence of the site’s rich history as multi-cultural crossroads where temples existed alongside churches and synagogues. The project [shares] this amazing resource with the public and [makes] it available for research and teaching.”
I also noted Yale's Dura Europos collection nearly a decaded ago. But now they have this website. For other posts on Dura Europos, start here and follow the many links.

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Top ten archaeological discoveries relating to Hebrew Bible?

THE BIBLE ARCHAEOLOGY REPORT BLOG: Top Ten Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology Relating to the Old Testament (Bryan Windle). Overall this is a pretty good list, although I do not endorse some of the interpretations put on the finds. For example, it is a big stretch to use the Merneptah Stele as evidence for a fifteenth century B.C.E. Exodus. If there was an Exodus at all, archaeological evidence for it happening in the fifteenth century is sorely lacking. And not because no one has looked.

I also am surprised not to find any reference to the excavation of Ugarit in Syria and the recovery of the alphabetic cuneiform Ugaritic language and literature. Perhaps Ugaritic is excluded because it is not "directly related to biblical people (or people groups), places, or events" (his emphasis; although perhaps we need to have a conversation about Canaanites) nor "related to the composition of the Bible itself," at least for some values of that phrase. But any list of top archaeological discoveries relating to the Hebrew Bible that does not include Ugaritic is incomplete and the criteria for the list need to be rethought.

Ugaritic has given us an enormous amount of information about the history of ancient Hebrew and related languages and about the mythology and epic traditions that lie behind many stories in the Bible. In this context I would list it as second in importance only to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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Unpacking the Magdala Stone

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Magdala Stone: The Jerusalem Temple Embodied. Carved stone block depicts symbols of the Jerusalem Temple (Jennifer Ristine).
The so-called Magdala Stone is a stone block carved with symbols of the Temple in Jerusalem, with the core of the Temple represented (the Hall, Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies). The stone measure 1.8 by 2 feet with a height of 1 foot. Found almost in the center of the synagogue, the Magdala Stone is believed to be a piece of ceremonial furniture on which the Torah and other sacred scrolls were placed. But is it simply a bimah (a traditional holder for the scrolls), or does it have some deeper significance?
For many past posts on the Magdala stone and the ancient city of Magdala, start here and follow the links.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

New Mosul archbishop was one of the Manuscripts Men

RECOGNITION: Iraq priest who saved Christian heritage ordained Mosul archbishop (AP). That priest is Father Najeeb Michaeel. For the story of his rescue of precious Syriac, Arabic, and other manuscripts from Isis in 2014, see here, here, here, and here.

Congratulations to Father Michaeel. Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

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Armenian Week at the BL

THIS IS ARMENIAN WEEK AT THE BRITISH LIBRARY'S HERITAGE MADE DIGITAL FEED. Go and have a look.

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More on that bearded figurine

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: The Bearded Figure Who Might be King (Naama Yahalom-Mack).
Figurines are not uncommon in the Southern Levant, but few can be plausibly suggested to be of kings. But Tel Abel Beth Maacah, a 35-acre site in northernmost Israel that was settled throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages, may have produced just such an image.
Could be. But it sounds as though iconography specialists aren't even sure what culture it comes from.

The ANE Today site also has a recent report on the Tel Abel Beth Maacah excavation, where the object was found.

Past posts on the figurine are here and here.

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24 centuries of Alexandria

THE AWOL BLOG: Hellenistic Alexandria: Celebrating 24 Centuries. This looks like an important (print and open access) publication. The TOC has a lot of interesting titles. But it is disappointing that none of them have anything to do with Alexandrian Judaism. That is quite a significant gap in coverage.

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Coin of Herod Agrippa I found by student

NUMISMATICS: Student Discovers Rare 2000-Year Old Coin near Shiloh (David Israel).
An ancient and rare coin from the time of King Agrippa I and the last days of the Second Temple was discovered by a student at Nachal Shiloh (Shiloh stream) in Samaria.

The student was on a school trip at Nachal Shiloh last week, when he found the ancient coin in the eastern part of the stream. The student approached the group’s tour guide, who in turn contacted the IDF’s Archeology unit at the Civil Administration, which dispatched an inspector to the site.

[...]
Well done!

Past posts on or involving Herod Agrippa I are here and links, here, here, here, and here.

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Raiders of the lost Shivta finds

EXHIBITION: Remnants of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shivta Were Long Believed Lost in a Fire. Then a Letter Surfaced. Objects from the Negev archaeology site, found through a 1938 letter from a customs clerk, are now on display at Haifa’s Hecht Museum (Nir Hasson, Haaretz premium).

Harris Dunscombe Colt sounds like a feckless archaeologist, even for the early twentieth century. If Indy had found out that Mr. Colt was selling artifacts from Shivta on the antiquities market, he would have grabbed him by the necktie and said, "They belong in a museum."

Fortunately Mr. Colt's fecklessness extended to forgetting a crate of precious small finds from Shivta on a dock at the Haifa Port. This article tells the story of how two intrepid archaeologists tracked them down last year, and so the finds ended up in this exhibition.

I have already mentioned the Shivta exhibition at the Hecht Museum here, but this article tells much more about its background. Follow the links for recent posts on the Shivta excavation and the many important discoveries there.

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2019 Gorgias Book Grant

H-JUDAIC HAS DETAILS: 2019 Gorgias Book Grant. Win $500 of Gorgias Press titles through the 2019 Gorgias Book Grant. For you, special deal! Maybe. If you are a postgraduate student working in a relevant area, it sounds worthwhile to apply.

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Doedens, The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4

FORTHCOMING BOOK FROM BRILL:
The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4

Analysis and History of Exegesis


Series:
Oudtestamentische Studiën, Old Testament Studies, Volume: 76

Author: J.J.T. Doedens

In The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4, Jaap Doedens offers an overview of the history of exegesis of the enigmatic text about the ‘sons of God’, the ‘daughters of men’, and the ‘giants’. First, he analyzes the text of Gen 6:1–4. Subsequently, he tracks the different exegetical proposals from the earliest exegesis until those of modern times. He further provides the reader with an evaluation of the meaning of the expression ‘sons of God’ in the Old Testament and the Ancient Near East. In the last chapter, he concentrates on the message and function of Gen 6:1–4. This volume comprehensively gathers ancient and modern exegetical attempts, providing the means for an ongoing dialogue about this essentially complex and elusive passage.

Publication Date: 25 April 2019
ISBN: 978-90-04-39590-9

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

More on the latest Dead Sea caves expedition

OPERATION SCROLL: In the Qumran cliffs, an expedition digs up new Dead Sea Scroll caves. Winter excavation yields information on how an ascetic desert community lived and where it hid its precious sacred texts — and gives pointers for where to search next (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel). All that to say in a roundabout way that they didn't find any scrolls. So far.

Nevertheless:
A Bedouin huntsman and his dog, climbing on rocky mountainous cliffs above the Dead Sea, spotted a likely prey. The dog chased it into the mouth of a cave where inside, the Bedouin discovered jars containing scrolls with writing upon them. The find was reported to Jews living in Jerusalem, who mounted an expedition into the Judean Desert to retrieve them. They discovered many scrolls written in Hebrew script, including books of the Bible.

The year was 790 CE.

The events, recorded in a letter written by the East Syriac patriarch Timothy I in 800 CE, eerily anticipate the famous 1946 (re)discovery at Qumran of the trove of ancient sacred texts we now know as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

[...]
It is possible that Cave 52 is Timothy's cave. But if so, the monks cleared out all the scrolls more than 1200 years ago.

The article also has more information on Cave 53 and a couple of videos.

Background here and links. And for more on Timothy's letter and its story, see here.

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Again, on the Tomb of the Kings

THEOLOGICAL POLITICS: Diplomatic and religious issues complicate reopening of ancient Jerusalem tomb. A tour of the French-owned, Roman-era Tomb of the Kings in East Jerusalem, which has been closed since 2010 for renovations (Mike Smith, AP via Times of Israel). This story was also covered last month in a Haaretz premium article. But the current article is freely accessible.

Background on Queen Helena of Adiabene is here and links. And for past posts on Herod the Great, see here and links.

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Congratulations to the Septuaginta drawing winners

WILLIAM ROSS: ANNOUNCING THE WINNERS OF OUR GIVEAWAY. Since I posted on the drawing, I should let you know who won.

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Conflict over the Pilgrim's Road Project in Jerusalem

ARCHAEOLOGICAL POLITICS: Israel unearths a sacred Roman-era road in East Jerusalem, unsettling a Palestinian neighborhood (Ruth Eglash and Loveday Morris, Washington Post). Another controversy between Elad and Emek Shaveh. For more on both, see here and links.

A recent post on the Pilgrim's Road Project is here.

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