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?


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Oetjen (ed.), New perspectives in Seleucid history, archaeology and numismatics

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: New Perspectives in Seleucid History, Archaeology and Numismatics. Notice of a new book: Roland, Oetjen (ed.). 2019. New perspectives in Seleucid history, archaeology and numismatics: Studies in honor of Getzel M. Cohen (Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 355). Berlin: De Gruyter.

For more on the Seleucid dynasty and its importance for biblical studies, see here and links (cf. here and here).

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Review of Cook, Empty Tomb, Resurrection, Apotheosis

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: John Granger Cook, Empty Tomb, Resurrection, Apotheosis. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 410. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018. Pp. xvi, 717. ISBN 9783161565038. €164,00. Reviewed by Kelly Shannon-Henderson, University of Alabama (
In this book, New Testament scholar John Granger Cook collects evidence for the concept of resurrection in Greek, Roman, Jewish, and early Christian texts. He aims to prove two propositions: “first, there is no fundamental difference between Paul’s conception of the resurrection body and that of the Gospels; and second, the resurrection and translation stories of Greco-Roman antiquity probably help explain the willingness of Mediterranean people to gradually accept the Gospel of a crucified and risen savior” (1). The first of these will be of interest primarily to specialists in early Christian studies, while the second will appeal to a wider audience of scholars of classical literature, ancient religions, and ancient history. My own interest in this volume is of the latter type, and it is from that point of view that this review is written. Classicists will find here a wealth of information, some of it perhaps unfamiliar, stretching across many linguistic, temporal, cultural, and religious boundaries that will prove useful in considering the concept of resurrection in its pan-Mediterranean context.


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