Saturday, September 14, 2019

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

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

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Friday, September 13, 2019

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

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

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Review of King (ed.), The Syriac World

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

Cross-file, of course, under Syriac Watch.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

On the places that YHWH chose

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

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

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

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

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Monday, September 09, 2019

Review of Krag, Funerary Representations of Palmyrene Women

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

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

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

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Sunday, September 08, 2019

One Year of the Coptic Magical Papyri Project

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

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

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

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Role-playing exorcisms?

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

Cross-file under Pedagogy.

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