Saturday, December 07, 2019

Lars Hartman (1930-2019)

SAD NEWS FROM THE ETC BLOG: RIP Lars Hartman (1930-2019) (Tommy Wasserman). Professor Emeritus Hartman was a Swedish New Testament scholar, but he also wrote a notable book on 1 Enoch: Asking for a Meaning: A Study of 1 Enoch 1-5. CONBNT 12. Lund: Gleer- up, 1979.

Requiescat in pace. Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

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Friday, December 06, 2019

Biblical Studies Carnival 166

BELATEDLY NOTED: Biblical Studies Carnival #166: November 2019 (Theology Pathfider Blog, Derek Demars). Derek invites you to "Take a walk on the weirder side of cultural background studies" with PaleoJudaica. Thanks?

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The Talmud on miscarriages

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Birth Control. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis debate if a miscarriage causes religious impurity and discuss what to do when a woman discharges a fetus that resembles a fish.
When is a fetus not a fetus? That is the question the rabbis pursue, in graphic detail, in Chapter 3 of Tractate Nidda. As we have seen, a woman who has “an issue of her flesh in blood”—that is, a menstrual period—becomes ritually impure for seven days, during which time she can’t have sex with her husband. A woman also becomes ritually impure when she gives birth, for seven days if the child is a boy and 14 days if it’s a girl.

For more on the tumtum, the person with ambiguous physical gender characteristics, see here and here. Transgender issues are not just a modern concern.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Thursday, December 05, 2019

More Hurtado memorials

MEMORIALS FOR THE LATE LARRY HURTADO continue to come in. I don't have time right now to post all I have found, but here are two important ones from his Doktorvater Professor Emeritus Eldon Jay Epp and his colleague at the the School of Divinity at University of Edinburgh, Professor Helen Bond.

Larry W. Hurtado (29 Dec. 1943–25 Nov. 2019): A Guest Post by Eldon Jay Epp (The ETC Blog)

Professor Larry Hurtado (1943-2019). Founder of the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins (Helen Bond)

Background here and here. My original post on his passing is now the second most consulted post on PaleoJudaica since it began keeping records in 2010.

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Ancient Aramaic in Bahrain?

ARAMAIC WATCH? Experts find first archaeological evidence of Christianity in Bahrain. Experts have found the first archaeological evidence showing Christianity was practised in Bahrain, a discovery which sheds light on a missing part of the country’s history (University of Exeter).
The archaeological remains were found late last month in the village of Samahij, on the northern coast of Muharraq island. Samahij was probably the location of the episcopal seat of Meshmahig mentioned variously in historical sources between 410 and 647, and one of the centres of the country’s pearl trade.

Also found at the site were the remains of wine jars, glass goblets and pottery, which dates from the 7th century. One of the wine jars is inscribed in what is thought to be an Aramaic language called Psalter Pahlavi.

The work was led by Professor Insoll and Dr Rachel MacLean of the University of Exeter and Dr Salman Almahari of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, with additional input from Professor Robert Carter who studied the ceramics found.

The substantial building, measuring 17m x 10m, was probably part of a monastery or large house. The building was likely occupied in the 7th century just before the people converted to Islam. The building has several rooms and was decorated with carved plaster. A cross has been found carved onto a piece of stone and another cross was found painted on a pot sherd.

It is likely that the Christians who used the building were part of the Nestorian Church which flourished in the Gulf between the 4th/5th and 7th centuries.
My emphasis. I am confused by this report. Pahlavi is Middle Persian (an Indo-European language), not Aramaic (a Semitic language). Psalter Pahlavi is a Pahlavi script named after the script in the Pahlavi Psalter. It is connected with the Nestorians, but it is not itself Aramaic or Syriac. If anyone knows more about this jar inscription from Samahij, please drop me a note.

For more on ancient Aramaic inscriptions found in the pre-Islamic Arabic-speaking world, start here and follow the links. This is the first I've heard of an Aramaic inscription — if that's what it is — being discovered in Bahrain. But there were Nestorians there, so I would not be surprised to see evidence for the use of Syriac.

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Buyoung Son, The Subversive Chronicler

The Subversive Chronicler
Narrative Film Theory and Canon Criticism Refocus his Intention

Buyoung Son

In 1 and 2 Chronicles, commentators have long noted a pattern of retributive justice whereby kings who comply with Yahweh’s will are rewarded with long life and honourable burial, whereas those who do not are disgraced. However, another pattern significantly emerges from a group of kings whose careers display an unexpected reversal. No convincing consensus has yet emerged to explain this reversal pattern.

By exploring and adopting the insights of narrative film theory, particularly of cognitive film semiotics, into the effects of macro-repetition, Son uncovers the implications of these unexpected reversals. As the reversal pattern is interwoven with the retributive pattern, the narrative emerges as a falsifying narration, provoking a deep scepticism about the conventional view of retribution theology.

Deleuzian film theory offers a crucial insight into how this falsifying narration works. The reversal pattern has a destabilizing effect, which suggests that the Chronicler’s theological outlook is more nuanced than that of Samuel–Kings, or perhaps even frankly subversive of it. From a canonical perspective, furthermore, the presence of the Chronicler’s work in the Ketuvim points to its potential function as a subtle theological readjustment in the postexilic Jewish community.

The Subversive Chronicler is then a challenge to the Chronicler’s theology as it is commonly understood and also as a refocusing of its difference from the historiography of Samuel–Kings.

Buyoung Son is Senior Pastor at Chowol Sungshin Church and Instructor of Bible News Institute, South Korea.

Series: Hebrew Bible Monographs, 83
978-1-910928-59-2 hardback
Publication November 2019

viii + 248 pp.

£27.50 / $37.50 / €32.50
Scholar's Price

£55 / $75 / €65
List Price

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Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Ancient synagogue mosaics found in the Golan

DECORATIVE ART: Rare 3rd century Golan synagogue mosaics show shift in Jewish life post-Temple. Colorful decorations in Roman-era synagogue record transition from study hall to public ‘mini-Temple’ prayer hall (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
Colorful remains of mosaics from a 3rd century synagogue in the ancient town of Majdulia are the earliest evidence of synagogue decoration in the Golan, according to a University of Haifa press release on Monday.

The mosaics are very fragmentary, but important.

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Nebuchadnezzar explained

THE WORLD IS FULL OF HISTORY: Nebuchadnezzar explained: warrior king, rebuilder of cities, and musical muse (Louise Pryke, The Conversation). King Nebuchadnezzar is most famous not for any of these things, but because the Bible tells of his destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and his exiling of the Judeans to Babylon. And, as this essay notes, he is in the news now because of Kanye West's new opera about him. The essay is a good, brief overview of what we know about him.

Many past PaleoJudaica posts involve Nebuchadnezzar. Some of them are here, here, here, here, and links.

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Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Why did no one come back for those books?

AN ANCIENT MYSTERY: Scrolls, Lost Gospels, And Why Nobody Came Back To Get Them (Philip Jenkins, The Anxious Bench). I agree with Professor Jenkins. If we find ancient hidden treasure, something bad happened to the original owners.

A thought: Josephus comments that the Romans could not break the Essenes with torture (J.W. 8.152-53). He says they inflicted it to make them curse their lawgiver or eat forbidden food. But the Romans were practical people. I wonder if those interrogations also involved more practical matters.

Cross file under the Copper Scroll?

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Monday, December 02, 2019

Review of Barton, Ethics in Ancient Israel

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Ethics in Ancient Israel (James Nati).
John Barton, Ethics in Ancient Israel. New York: Oxford, 2014. pp. xii + 317. ISBN 978-0-19-878517-0.
Barton’s work is thus meant not at offering clarity for believers as they try to live more “biblically,” but rather to argue that ancient Israelite thinkers deserve a seat at the table among other ethical thinkers throughout history.

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The Gospel of Thomas

NEW TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA WATCH: What is Gospel of Thomas - missing Bible chapter changes EVERYTHING known about Jesus (Tom Fish, The Express). This article being in The Express did not fill me with high expectations. And the headline did nothing to raise them. But when I read the article itself, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was well researched and well presented for the target audience.

I have called out The Express for poor coverage in the past, so I want to give them credit this time for doing a creditable job. But next time I hope they exercise more restraint with the headline.

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Sunday, December 01, 2019

Zedekiah's Cave meets Aladdin's

CULINARY SPELUNCULAR LEGEND MASHUP: Open Sesame: Jerusalem cave hosts Aladdin-themed feast. Open Restaurants festival welcomes renowned Turkish chef as Jerusalem looks to food for tourism boost (MAYA MARGIT/THE MEDIA LINE, Jerusalem Post).
On a cold November night, dozens of visitors slowly file into an opening in the ancient stone walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Walking down candlelit steps with wine glasses in their hands, they make their way through a large cavern as performance artists dance nearby and light projections illuminate the walls. Yet there are no magic lamps or genies inside this legendary space known as Zedekiah’s Cave; rather, the treasure these visitors seek is of the gastronomic variety.

Sounds like a fun party. For past posts on Zedekiah's Cave and the cycle of legends around it, see here and links.

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