Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Moss on Sabar on the GJW. Plus I boast and speak wisdom.

CANDIDA MOSS: Anti-Catholic Porn Producer Scammed Harvard Professor With Gospel of Jesus’ Wife (The Daily Beast). With reference, of course, to the recent release of Ariel Sabar's book Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man, and the Gospel of Jesus' Wife.

If you want just one thing to take away from the story of the Gospel of Jesus' Wife, let it be that experts make mistakes. Experts are usually the people to listen to first and carefully, but they are fallible like everyone else.

By the way, as soon as I heard the announcement, I correctly called it that the GJW was probably a forgery. I maintained that position through the whole adventure. This was not because I had any expertise in Coptic or papyrology or ancient ink. I do not. I applied the rule that if it's too good to be true, it probably isn't. The GJW was exactly what the Zeitgeist called for. It was too perfect.

I like to call this the lottery rule. If you get a call telling you that you won a big lottery, you should be cautious. Maybe you did, but the bigger the pot, the more likely it's a scam.

My general expertise in antiquity did help me make that call. I could tell what was too perfect. But the lottery rule works in any area of life as long as you know enough to weigh the probabilities.

Background here and a great many links.

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

A university class visits a cemetery

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Materiality of Death and Afterlife: Visit to Local Cemetery (Hanna Tervanotko).
While drafting the syllabus of my course “Death and Afterlife in Early Judaism and Christianity,” I started to brainstorm ideas for experiential learning components. This course introduces students to images of death and afterlife in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. ... Therefore, I decided to take the students to a site visit in a local cemetery where they could compare the ideas reflected in the ancient texts to contemporary traditions and material artifacts.
This is a good idea.

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

Lamps, burial caves, and ancient Jewish identity

MATERIAL CULTURE: In Hasmonean times, lamps and burials became a symbol of Jewish identity. Archaeological findings indicate a concentration of the phenomena in the region of Jerusalem and the Judean hills (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post). Based on a recent article in Palestine Exploration Quarterly.

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

Review of Eckhardt, Private associations and Jewish communities ...

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Private associations and Jewish communities in the Hellenistic and Roman cities.
Benedikt Eckhardt, Private associations and Jewish communities in the Hellenistic and Roman cities. Supplements to the Journal for the study of Judaism, 191. Leiden: Brill, 2019. 227 p.. ISBN 9789004405370 €105,00.

Review by
Ryan Boehm, Tulane University. rboehm@tulane.edu

This volume offers a fresh reappraisal of a longstanding debate: did Jewish collectivities in the Hellenistic and Roman periods belong to the wider phenomenon of Greek and Roman private/voluntary associations or were they sui generis? ...

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

Monday, August 10, 2020

Steinsaltz obituary in the NYT

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, Who Made the Talmud More Accessible, Dies at 83. He wrote more than 60 books, but his crowning achievement — he called it his hobby — was his 45-volume translation of a key Jewish text (Joseph Berger and Isabel Kershner).

Background here with links.

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

Today's Zoroastrians

THE LONG READ: The last of the Zoroastrians. A funeral, a family, and a journey into a disappearing religion (Shaun Walker, The Guardian).

It is a long read.

PaleoJudaica tries to keep up with the ancient Zoroastrians. (For example, the immediately preceding post.) If you would like to know what is happening with Zoroastrians in 2020, have a look at this article.

The demographics look grim in the long run. But demographic projections are rarely correct. Let's hope these aren't.

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

Zoroastrian Dualism in Jewish, Christian, and Manichaean Perspective

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Zoroastrian Dualism in Jewish, Christian, and Manichaean Perspective. Journal issue:
Volume 96, issue 2 (2020) of Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses is dedicated to the subject of Zoroastrian dualism in Jewish, Christian, and Manichaean perspectives.
Follow the link for the ToC.

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

Sabar, Veritas – now out

BOOK REVIEW: Review: 'Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man, and the Gospel of Jesus' Wife,' by Ariel Sabar. NONFICTION: "Veritas" tells the true story of a Harvard academic who fell for a biblical fraud. (Or did she?) ( Katherine A. Powers, Star Tribune).

PaleoJudaica followed the whole story of the so-called Gospel of Jesus' Wife (GJW) from beginning to end. I noted the book as forthcoming here. For relevant posts about the story and about Ariel Sabar and his work, see the links there. The book is now out and the reviews are starting to come in.

As for what Mr. Sabar has been up to lately, see here.

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

Sunday, August 09, 2020

The magnetometry of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Scholars trace Earth’s magnetic field in 586 BCE through Jerusalem’s ruins. In August 586 BCE, after months of siege, the Babylonian troops breached the walls of Jerusalem and proceeded to destroy and burn the city, including the Holy Temple (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
When objects containing magnetic minerals burn at a very high temperature, those minerals are re-magnetized and therefore record the direction and the magnitude of the field in that precise moment. Artifacts like pottery, bricks and tiles, which are fired in furnaces, ovens and kilns, can all provide these records. However, as precise as their dating can be, it usually spans of at least a few decades. On the contrary, if documented by historical records, destruction lawyers can be pinned down to a very specific moment – in the case of Jerusalem in 586 almost to the date - providing a unique opportunity.
According to the Bible (2 Kings 25:3-4), the wall of Jerusalem was breached on the ninth day of the fourth month. This is the basis for the holy day the Ninth of Av. Traditionally other days of the disaster for the Jewish people took place on the same date, including the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in 70 CE and the fall of Betar, the center of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, in 135 CE.

The PLOS One article where this research is published is: The Earth’s magnetic field in Jerusalem during the Babylonian destruction: A unique reference for field behavior and an anchor for archaeomagnetic dating (Yoav Vaknin , Ron Shaar, Yuval Gadot, Yiftah Shalev, Oded Lipschits, Erez Ben-Yosef).
Abstract

Paleomagnetic analysis of archaeological materials is crucial for understanding the behavior of the geomagnetic field in the past. As it is often difficult to accurately date the acquisition of magnetic information recorded in archaeological materials, large age uncertainties and discrepancies are common in archaeomagnetic datasets, limiting the ability to use these data for geomagnetic modeling and archaeomagnetic dating. Here we present an accurately dated reconstruction of the intensity and direction of the field in Jerusalem in August, 586 BCE, the date of the city’s destruction by fire by the Babylonian army, which marks the end of the Iron Age in the Levant. We analyzed 54 floor segments, of unprecedented construction quality, unearthed within a large monumental structure that had served as an elite or public building and collapsed during the conflagration. From the reconstructed paleomagnetic directions, we conclude that the tilted floor segments had originally been part of the floor of the second story of the building and cooled after they had collapsed. This firmly connects the time of the magnetic acquisition to the date of the destruction. The relatively high field intensity, corresponding to virtual axial dipole moment (VADM) of 148.9 ± 3.9 ZAm2, accompanied by a geocentric axial dipole (GAD) inclination and a positive declination of 8.3°, suggests instability of the field during the 6th century BCE and redefines the duration of the Levantine Iron Age Anomaly. The narrow dating of the geomagnetic reconstruction enabled us to constrain the age of other Iron Age finds and resolve a long archaeological and historical discussion regarding the role and dating of royal Judean stamped jar handles. This demonstrates how archaeomagnetic data derived from historically-dated destructions can serve as an anchor for archaeomagnetic dating and its particular potency for periods in which radiocarbon is not adequate for high resolution dating.

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

van den Hout (ed.), Discovering New Pasts: The OI at 100

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: From “An” to “The”: The OI at 100 (Theo van den Hout).

Celebrating a new book edited by the same author: Discovering New Pasts: The OI at 100 (Oriental Institute Press).
In celebration of the OI’s centennial year, over sixty different authors and contributors have come together to provide a personalized history of the OI’s work past and present. In these pages we invite you to join us on an adventure. Explore the legacy of James Henry Breasted and the institute he founded. Discover the inner workings of the OI and its museum. Travel across multiple continents to learn about groundbreaking research. Enjoy a unique collection of nearly six hundred images, all in one publication for the first time. Learn the story of the institute’s development—from being one man’s dream to becoming one of the world’s preeminent authorities on over ten thousand years of human civilization.
You may download a free copy for your personal use.

I noted the centenary of the Oriental Institute in 2019.

Also, I just noted the online publicat of a biography of James Henry Breasted here in the immediately preceding post.

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

Filial biography of James Henry Breasted online

THE AWOL BLOG: New from the Oriental Institute: Pioneer to the Past: The Story of James Henry Breasted, Archaeologist, Told by His Son Charles Breasted. You can download one complimentary copy for your own personal use. For you, special deal!

Cross-file under Egyptology.

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

Bühner, Hohe Messianologie

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Ruben A. Bühner. Hohe Messianologie. Übermenschliche Aspekte eschatologischer Heilsgestalten im Frühjudentum. [High Messianology. Superhuman Aspects of Eschatological Figures of Salvation in Early Judaism.] 2020. XIV, 394 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 523. 94,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-159606-3.
Published in German.
Messianic expectations in Second Temple Judaism included not only human, but also very different kinds of superhuman aspects. Ruben A. Bühner discusses all relevant early Jewish sources and offers the basis for new approaches for conceptualizing the origin and development of early Christology.

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

Saturday, August 08, 2020

The statue, the golden calf, and the stone?

DR. NAAMA GOLAN: The Statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream and the Golden Calf (TheTorah.com).
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue made of four metals in Daniel 2 was composed using Persian and Greek historiographic imagery. The crushing of the statue by a stone mountain alludes to the story of the golden calf, and is a message of hope to the Judeans that God will eventually crush their Greek oppressors.
This is a good overview of the historical-thematic background of Nebuchadnezzar's vision in Daniel 2. The part about the stone and the golden calf is new. I am teaching undergraduate course on the Book of Daniel next semester. I will have to think more about this idea.

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

What made Alexander so great?

NUMISMATICS: CoinWeek Podcast #140: What Made Alexander Great? (Mike Markowiz).

The headline made me think of this old Far Side cartoon by Gary Larson.

For background on Alexander's connections to ancient Jewish tradition, start here and follow the many links.

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

Wordplay in Genesis

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Wordplay in Genesis (Philip D. Stern). With suggested connections with Arabic, Akkadian, and Sumerian.

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

New highlights from the Oxford Handbook of Pauline Studies

THE CSCO BLOG: New entries to the Oxford Handbook of Pauline Studies. (Matthew Novenson). Dr. Novenson lists the new entries in this post. He gives taster quotes from some of them in the following posts at the same blog:

New in the Oxford Handbook of Pauline Studies: Laura Dingeldein on Paul the Letter-Writer

New in the Oxford Handbook of Pauline Studies: Cavan Concannon on Archaeology and the Pauline Letters

New in the Oxford Handbook of Pauline Studies: Kathy Ehrensperger on Paul and Feminism

New in the Oxford Handbook of Pauline Sudies: Nijay Gupta on pistis Christou in Paul

New in the Oxford Handbook of Pauline Studies: Emma Wasserman on Paul and Religion

New in the Oxford Handbook of Pauline Studies: Troels Engberg-Pedersen on Paul the Philosopher

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

Friday, August 07, 2020

Moodle Midrash and Pandemic Pedagogy

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Moodle Midrash (Daniel Picus).
A few weeks before the class was slated to begin in late March, my institution went entirely remote. This turned my class on its head, and while there’s no need for yet another narrative of how exactly I attempted to transform my class, the remote format and slightly broader scope did combine in order to produce a particularly effective pedagogical activity: the Moodle Midrash.
Pandemic Pedagogy: Pamphlet Final Projects and Laughter (Matthew Chalmers).
Teaching during global pandemic means improvisation. This short article shares my experience of an improvised assignment that worked, how it worked, and what good came out of it: museum-style pamphlets. Take it if you like, adapt it as you will, and let me know what works better when you do.
I am going full online teaching with my classes next year too. I appreciate these essays and others like them, which give out-of-the box ideas for how to proceed.

If we have to do everything differently, we may as well be creative about it.

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

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz z'l'

SAD NEWS: Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, noted Talmudic scholar, dies at 83. The rabbi, who is best known for translating the Talmud into modern Hebrew, had been in the hospital with a lung infection since Tuesday (Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post).

For background on Rabbi Steinsaltz and his remarkable work on the Talmud, start here and follow the links. May his memory be for a blessing.

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

Comfort in Deutero-Isaiah

PROF. FRANCIS LANDY: The Prologue to Deutero-Isaiah (TheTorah.com).
“Comfort, oh comfort My people,” says your God, נַחֲמוּ נַחֲמוּ עַמִּי יֹאמַר אֱלֹהֵיכֶם. Thus begins the prologue to Deutero-Isaiah (40:1–11), a passage containing four speech fragments haunted by the past but offering a message of comfort and hope.

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

Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies

THE AWOL BLOG: Open Access Journal: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies. A quick skim through some recent issues turned up a number of articles of interest to ancient Judaism and related matters.

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

Thursday, August 06, 2020

More from McGrath on Gnostic origins

RELIGION PROF: Talk Gnosis: The Origins of Gnosticism. James McGrath links to an episode of Talk Gnosis in which he discusses his views about the origins of Gnosticism.

Background here, also linked to by James above.

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

Review of Praying and contemplating in late antiquity (ed. Pachoumi & Edwards)

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Praying and contemplating in late antiquity: religious and philosophical interactions
Eleni Pachoumi, Mark J. Edwards, Praying and contemplating in late antiquity: religious and philosophical interactions. Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum, 113. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018. viii, 229 p.. ISBN 9783161561191 €79,00 (pb).

Review by
Mark Roblee, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. mroblee@history.umass.edu

... Proceeding from a 2016 conference organized by editors Eleni Pachoumi and Mark J. Edwards, Praying and Contemplating captures a range of intimate encounters with the divine sought by late antique intellectuals in papers by international (and long-armed) specialists in Neoplatonism, theurgy, early Christianity, and related late antique currents including Orphism, dreams, Chaldean Oracles, initiation, Greek Magical Papyri, divination, and Manichaeism....
It also gives some attention to late-antique Alexandrian Judaism in the article by Bronwen Neil.

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

The Qur'an on the direction of prayer

DR. ABDULLA GALADARI: The Quran’s Lesson from the Shema: Direct Your Heart to God (TheTorah.com).
The Quran makes multiple intertextual connections with the Shema and its rabbinic commentary in its qiblah (“direction”) passages, thus highlighting a point of agreement between Jews and Muslims: Prayer is not about the physical direction you face but about loving God with all your heart.

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

Woes unto Babylon!

READING ACTS: Three Woes against Babylon – Revelation 18:9-20Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, now on the final seven visions. We continue with the second vision in chapter 18.

For notice of previous posts in Phil's series on Revelation, see here and links.

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

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

VR reconstructions of ancient sites

THE NEXT BEST THING TO BEING THERE: Ruined Unesco sites virtually rebuilt before your very eyes! From Jerusalem to Iraq, digital wizardry restores renowned cities and temples to their former glory (Jennifer Newton and Ted Thornhill, Daily Mail).

The project includes digital reconstructions of the Temple Mount, Hatra, Leptis Magna, and Palmyra.

For endless PaleoJudaica posts on the Temple Mount, run "Temple Mount" through the blog's search engine.

Hatra was an important Aramaic-speaking city on the Silk Road in late antiquity. The archaeological site in Iraq was bulldozed by ISIS in March of 2015. It was retaken by Iraqi forces during the annihilation of ISIS in 2017. Follow the links (and cf. here) for more posts on Hatra.

Leptis Magna is a Punic site in Libya. There was fear that ISIS would come for it, but the Libyans successfully protected it. Past posts on Leptis Magna are here, here, and here.

For many posts on Palmyra, its history, the ancient Aramaic dialect spoken there (Palmyrene), and the city's tragic reversals of fortune, which more recently seem to have been trending for the better, start here and follow the links.

Cross-file unde Digitization, Technology Watch, Punic Watch, and Virtual Reality.

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

Online lecture on the earliest Coptic books

VARIANT READINGS: Upcoming Talk on Coptic Books. Brent Nongbri is presenting the lecture tomorrow, 6 August, on Zoom. Follow the link for a poster with details.

Cross-file under Coptic Watch.

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

Rabbi Steinsaltz hospitalized

SENDING ALL GOOD WISHES AND STRENGTH: Talmudic scholar Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz hospitalized, in critical condition. The 83-year-old scholar, most famous for his translation of the Talmud, is battling a severe lung infection unrelated to the coronavirus (Aaron Reich, Jerusalem Post).

For background on Rabbi Steinsaltz, his health difficulties in recent years, and his work, especially his Hebrew and English translations of the Talmud, start here and follow the many links.

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

Tu B'Av 2020

THE FESTIVAL OF TU B'AV began yesterday evening at sundown. Best wishes to all those celebrating.

Tu B'Av (which just means the 15th day of the month of Av) is an ancient matchmaking festival. Its first mention is in the Mishnah (Ta’anit 4). It has been revived in recent years as a kind of Jewish Valentine's Day. For past posts on it, see here and links.

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

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Video reconstruction of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE

RITMEYER ARCHAEOLOGICAL DESIGN: The Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.

Belatedly for Tisha B'Av: Leen Ritmeyer notes a video produced by Megalim, The City of David Institute for Jerusalem Studies in 2019. The graphics and production are pretty good. The YouTube link is here:

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

Outdoor exhibit on ancient Ashkelon

EXHIBITION: New outdoor exhibit showcases rich history of ancient Ashkelon. Ashkelon has over 3,800 years of history (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).

Outdoor museum exhibitions are a good idea in the era of coronavirus. I noted another one recently here. Of course it helps if you have a warm, dry climate.

Some PaleoJudaica posts on ancient Askhelon and the Ashkelon excavation are here, here, here, here, here, here, and links. I was a staff member at the excavation in the mid-1980s.

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

Enoch Seminar on John the Baptist

RELIGION PROF: Enoch Seminar Nangeroni Meeting on John the Baptist. James McGrath highlights another upcoming online Enoch Seminar event. It takes place in January of 2021. The last one was a success.

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

Israelite and Persian Perspectives on Babylon’s Great Monuments (BASONOVA lecture)

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Israelite and Persian Perspectives on Babylon’s Great Monuments: The Tower of Babel and the Ishtar Gate. Notice of an online BASONOVA Lecture on the Ancient World by David Vanderhooft taking place on 5 August 2020. Follow the link for information on payment and reservations.

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

Monday, August 03, 2020

4QGenk

THE ETC BLOG: 4QGenk: A Normalized Manuscript. Anthony Ferguson discusses a manuscript that I published many years ago in DJD 12. It's good to see it getting some attention.

I interpret the variant in verse 9 rather differently than he does. He thinks it a scribal grammatical correction. I think it is part of a longer reading also found in Greek in the Septuagint, a reading that may well be more original than that of the Masoretic Text.

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

7th century CE shipwreck recovered near Haifa

MARINE ARCHAEOLOGY: Christian, Muslim symbols found in 7th century shipwreck in Israel. Moreover, the ship also offers important insights in terms of ship construction techniques (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).

Past PaleoJudaica posts on marine (maritime, underwater) archaeology are here and links and here. And for some posts on the archaeology of shipwrecks specifically, see here and here and links.

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

The Underwater Malta project

VIRTUAL MARINE ARCHAEOLOGY MEETS PHOENICIAN WATCH: Underwater Malta – The First Virtual Museum in the Mediterranean Showcasing 10 Underwater Archaeological Sites and Sunken Aircraft and Submarines Usually Seen Only by Divers (Press Release). The article highlights the aircraft and submarines, but also mentions something important in passing. One of the displays is the Phoenician shipwreck from near Gozo, on which more here and links.

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

Flee Babylon!

READING ACTS: Come Out of Babylon! Revelation 18:4-8. Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, now on the final seven visions. We continue with the second vision in chapter 18. [Oops! Pardon me. Various errors in the above now corrected.]

For notice of previous posts in Phil's series on Revelation, see here and links.

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

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Book note: Orlov (ed.), Jewish Roots of Eastern Christian Mysticism

FORBIDDEN GOSPELS BLOG: BOOK NOTE: JEWISH ROOTS OF EASTERN CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM (April DeConick). With some background to the book.

I noted the publication of the volume here.

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

God and his horse?

ICONOGRAPHY: Face of God? Archaeologist claims to find 10th cent. BCE graven images of Yahweh. Hebrew U Prof. Yosef Garfinkel asserts small male figurines discovered at digs near Jerusalem are an image of the biblical God; other experts angrily dismiss theory (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).

This discussion is outside PaleoJudaica's usual range, but I thought it good to mention it. It is also outside my range of expertise. I have no opinion on it. If you read to the end of the article, you can see some of the arguments pro and con for what might show the figurines to be images of a god.

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

Free ASOR books

THE AWOL BLOG: Some More ASOR Books Available Open Access. The list includes some older classic volumes, some more recent ones, and many of interest for study of ancient Judaism. For you, special deal!

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

Biblical Studies Carnival 173

THE DUST BLOG: Biblical Studies Carnival for July 2020. Biblical Studies Carnival # 173, An odd, deficient, odious, but balanced prime.* July 2020. (Bob Macdonald).

Also, over at Reading Acts, Phil Long has some additional news items from the Biblioblogosphere.

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

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Dark on the archaeology of Nazareth

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
The Archaeology of Nazareth in the Early First Century

The combined evidence of these three sites indicates that Nazareth was inhabited from at least the early first century, and probably the Late Hellenistic period onward, as a Jewish community, including family groups, judging from the finds and house plans.

See Also: Roman-Period and Byzantine Nazareth and its Hinterland (Routledge, 2020).

By Ken Dark
Professor, University of Reading
July 2020
The article has a particular interest in first-century Nazareth for obvious reasons.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on the archaeology, topography, and epigraphy of Nazareth are here (on Ken Dark's book) and links, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

For the archaeology of nearby Sepphoris (Zipori//Tzipori/Tzippori/Zippori), generally mentioned alongside Nazareth, see here and links.

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

Coins of Herod the Great

NUMISMATICS: Coins of Herod the Great – CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series (Mike Markowitz). These are all small denomination coins.

I have mentioned an Herodian prutah here (bottom of post). That one is not featured in this article.

For more on the half-prutah, see here.

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

Review of More New Testament Apocrypha 2

READING ACTS: Tony Burke, ed. New Testament Apocrypha, Vol. 2: More Noncanonical Scriptures (Phil Long).
Conclusion. As Burke observes in his introduction to the volume, Christian apocrypha provides an insight into the diversity of early Christian beliefs. Some of this literature is Christian interpretation of canonical documents, some seek to associate current practice with the earliest apostolic community. This second volume of “More Noncanonical Scriptures” is a window into how the early church developed both in practice and in theology. New Testament Apocrypha series will continue to serve scholarship for years to come. I look forward to volume 3!
I noted the publication of the book here.

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

Seth Ehorn - Baylor LXX Handbook interview

WILLIAM A. ROSS: THE NEW BAYLOR HANDBOOK ON THE SEPTUAGINT SERIES: AN INTERVIEW WITH SETH EHORN.

For notice of Dr. Ross's previous interviews with Septuagint scholars, see here and links, here, and here.

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

Friday, July 31, 2020

The two destructions of Jerusalem

ONE MORE FOR TISHA B'AV: WATCH: Physical proof of twice razed and rebuilt ancient Jerusalem explained. For Tisha B’av, Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Joe Uziel presents how new scientific techniques are changing what we know today about the two major destructions (Times of Israel). There is a long, well-illustrated article to go with the video.

PaleoJudaica's Tisha B'Av 2020 posts are collected here.

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

Fire at Susya

SUSPECTED ARSON: Major fire breaks out at Susya archaeological site in Hebron hills. The site features a unique 1,700 year-old synagogue. In the past decades, the area has been a focal point of tensions between the Palestinian and the Israeli population in the West Bank (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
Based on a first survey of the site, the fire seems to have caused no significant damage.
Good.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on Susya are here and links. The site was embroiled in a political controversy five years ago and it suffered vandalism a few years ago.

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

Second-wave sifting straits

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT: THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT BETWEEN THE STRAITS .
When life started to return to normality in the early summer, we invested in advertising and marketing channels in optimistic preparation for a stream of sifting participants during the summer and the school vacation. Then came the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak. Without your generous response to this appeal, we will have to reconsider the scope of our activities, including the possibility of ceasing the sifting and this may also cause us to lose some our best trained staff.
You can support the sifting project with a direct contribution or, if you are local, by signing up for their volunteer program.

For many, many PaleoJudaica posts on the project, start here and follow the links. If the project is new to you, see the BHD article noted here for introduction and orientation.

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

Bye bye Babylon

READING ACTS: A Lament for Fallen Babylon – Revelation 18:1-3. Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, now on the final seven visions. We continue with the first vision in chapter 17. Please excuse the error. We are now on the second vision in chapter 18.

For notice of previous posts in Phil's series on Revelation, see here and links.

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

Thursday, July 30, 2020

More for Tisha B'Av

THE NINTH OF AV (TISHA B'AV) is today, as already noted. Here are some additional articles:

A mystery for Tisha B'Av. If consensus is reached on the location of an ancient synagogue built beneath the Temple Mount, it could prove that Jews have been praying at the Western Wall for 1,000 years (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom - HT Joseph Lauer).
Time and forgotten history have limited what is known about the secret of the "Cave," an ancient synagogue beneath the Temple Mount that was used by the Jews of Jerusalem. Still, scraps of information, crumbling historical documents, and existing research are gradually shedding light on one of the more intriguing mysteries in Jerusalem.

The only part of the synagogue's story about which there is consensus took place in the first half of the Hebrew month of Av in the year 1099, when Jerusalem fell to the Crusaders. ...
Did Early Christians Mourn the Destruction of the Temple? (Prof. Eyal Regev, TheTorah.com).
When the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in the summer of 70 C.E., the Jews lost their religious and political center. Practically speaking, this did not adversely affect Jesus’s followers, who continued to grow and flourish in this period. But what did they feel about the Temple’s destruction?
Judaea’s Leaderless Revolt Against Rome (Prof. Eric Orlin, TheTorah.com).
The Second Temple was destroyed in the course of the Judaean Revolt (66–73 C.E.) against Rome, and looms large in Jewish history for the way in which it decisively shaped the future of Judaism. But how different was it from other revolts against Rome? Are there elements that mark the Judaean Revolt as unique and essentially different?

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

Reviewlet of Jacobson, Agrippa II: the last of the Herods

STRATEGYPAGE: Book Review: Agrippa II: The Last of the Herods (A. A. Nofi).
by David M. Jacobson

New York: Routledge, 2019. Pp. xxiv, 232. Illus., maps, chron., stemma, tables, appends., notes, biblio., index. $124.00. ISBN: 1138331813

A Long-Neglected King of Judea
I noted another review of this book, with additional links on Agrippa II and related figures, here.

Herod Agrippa II had responsibility for the Jerusalem Temple at the time of the Great Revolt against Rome. That offers an indirect connection with today's observation of Tisha B'Av. See the essay by Prof. Eric Orlin noted in the next post.

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

Phoenician feud on Seleucid coins

NUMISMATICS MEETS PHOENICIAN WATCH: TALK AMONGST YOURSELVES.

At the Pocket Change blog, Oliver Hoover has an informative post on Phoenician coins of the Seleucid era which display an escalating propaganda feud between two major Phoenician cities, Tyre and Sidon. The coins were minted during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid king whose persecution of Jews led to the Maccabean revolt.

I have noted coverage of coins of the Seleucid era here, here (which discusses Antiochus), here, here, and links.

For more on the Seleucid dynasty and its importance for biblical studies, start here and here and follow the links.

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

Met relabels "amulet" as "phylactery"

OOPS CORRECTED: So long, ‘amulet.’ Hello, ‘phylactery.’ The Met Museum has updated that tefillin description (Philissa Cramer, JTA Quick Reads).

Joseph Lauer has drawn my attention to this latest development. It sounds like progress. But, like Joe, I would like to know more about the grounds for dating the object to as early as the sixth century and whether there are still scriptural texts inside it. They could be informative about the date, etc.

Background here and here.

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Tisha B'Av 2020

TISHA B'AV (THE NINTH OF AV) begins this evening at sundown. An easy fast to all those observing it.

The Ninth of Av is not specifically a biblical holy day. Rather, it commemorates a number of disasters that happened to the Jewish people, traditionally all on that same day. These include the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Babylonians, the destruction of the Herodian Temple by the Romans, and the fall of Betar during the Bar Kokhba revolt.

The following is just out:

What did Jerusalem look like at the time of the original Tisha Be'av? (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post)

And Joseph Lauer has noted the following online events in one of his e-mails:
On Wednesday, July 29, 2020, Erev Tisha B’Av, at 8:30 pm Israel Daylight Time (UTC+3) [1:30 PM EDT], a Zoom lecture will be presented in Hebrew by Dr. David Gurevitch, as described below. The subject is “Why Did Vespasian And Titus Destroy the Temple?” [?מדוע אספסיאנוס וטיטוס הרסו את בית המקדש]
The ticket fee is NIS 25 for adults, free for children. [And it appears that payment for more than one adult viewer is on the honor system.]
The site for paying the fee is at https://il.funzing.com/funz/28045 or https://tinyurl.com/y3xsa5p9 (not the clickable one in the article below). [The latter link is here - JRD]

Another video interview, this for signed-up The Times of Israel Community members, is scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, July 29, at 1 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Israel. “ToI’s Jewish World and Archaeology editor Amanda Borschel-Dan speaks with Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Joe Uziel about the destruction of ancient Jerusalem in honor of the Tisha B’Av fast day. *** Uziel will discuss new finds that have recently hit newspaper headlines, as well as the two major periods of widespread destruction in Jerusalem during the fall of the First and Second Temples.” See “For Tisha B’Av, learn about the archaeological proof of Jerusalem’s destructions -- Access Wednesday’s Behind the Headlines webinar by becoming a ToI Community member today” at https://www.timesofisrael.com/for-tisha-bav-learn-about-the-archaeological-proof-of-jerusalems-destructions/

PaleoJudaica's 2019 Tisha B'Av post is here. The 2018 post has some links.

UPDATE (30 July): More here and here.

UPDATE: (31 July): More here.

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

Sixth-century church (monastery?) excavated near Mount Tabor

ARCHAEOLOGY: Large 6th century church compound uncovered near site of Jesus’ transfiguration. Israel Antiquities Authority salvage excavations ahead of construction of playground in Galilee village of Kfar Kama reveals hitherto unknown possible monastery (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).

The IAA press release refers to it as a "1300-year old church." But it sounds as though it is a little older than that. According to Prof. Moti Aviam, one of the excavators, it was built in the 500s and abandoned in the 600s.

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

Writer's Prize for Tigay's Shapira book

CONGRATULATIONS TO MR. TIGAY: Journalist and SFSU professor Chanan Tigay wins Cowan literary prize for Biblical whodunnit (Laura Paull, Jewish News of Northern California).
Journalist and San Francisco State University associate professor Chanan Tigay has won the 2020 Anne and Robert Cowan Writer’s Prize for “The Lost Book of Moses: The Hunt for the World’s Oldest Bible,” it was announced this week.

[...]
Regular readers of PaleoJudaica will be familiar with Mr. Tigay and his book on the Shapira scroll affair. For previous posts on the book, see here and here and follow the links. Those links also lead back to additional posts on the Shapira scroll. And there is one more recent one here.

I have not read Mr. Tigay's book. Evidently it contains the revelation of a "most important discovery." That discovery clearly was not any surviving portion of the Shapira scroll. I would have heard about that.

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

Vandalized ancient fort at Yehoram repaired

VOLUNTEER RESTORATION: Yeroham residents help give 2,000-year-old archaeological site a makeover. A small fort, which served as a way station for travelers on ancient trade roads, was already damaged and neglected before vandals spray-painted graffiti on its walls (Yori Yalon, Israel Hayom). This project is all the more impressive in the pandemic era.

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Pip-counting, plague, and pyroclastics

ARCHAEOBOTANY: Plague and climate change triggered a severe economic downturn in the Byzantine Empire 1,500 years ago, grape pips reveal (Ian Randall, Daily Mail).
Plague and climate change triggered a severe economic downturn on the fringe of the Byzantine Empire 1,500 years ago, a study of ancient grape pips has revealed.

Researchers from Israel examined thousands of grape pips and cereal grains, as well as ceramic sherds from waste heaps in the Negev left behind in the mid-6th Century.

They found evidence for the rise and fall of wine-making — with the latter likely linked to an outbreak of bubonic plague, as well as global cooling and local flooding.

[...]
Fortunately, 2020 has not seen any major, climate-busting volcanic eruptions. Let's hope it stays that way.

For more on the fascinating field of archaeobotany (archaeo-botany), see here.

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

When tattoos go bad

RELIGION PROF: Vspph, Vphdph, Vphcph.

James McGrath shares a photo-meme (via Meredith Warren) of a particularly unfortunate Greco-Latin tattoo disaster. He also shares the following meme, which he created. If it's a meme, I am assuming he doesn't mind if I reproduce it. But I will be happy to take it down if he wants me to.


For many PaleoJudaica posts on tattoos involving ancient languages, start here and follow the links. Most are amusing, whether intentionally or otherwise.

Oh, and for more on the Sogdian language, see here and links. I don't do tattoos, but a Sogdian one sounds cool. Maybe a quote from the Book of Giants ...

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

More on those mislabeled tefillin

OOPS UPDATED: Twitter debate ensues after Metropolitan Museum of Art labels tefillin as Egyptian amulet (Marcy Oster, JTA).

I suppose a phylactery (tefillin) could be called an amulet, depending on your definition of amulet. But I prefer to use the more precise, and therefore more descriptive, term.

This is a photo of the object (link here, creative commons license). It is clearly a phylactery/tefillin.


Thanks to Joseph Lauer for the references.

Background here.

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

The de-anti-enthronement of the great prostitute

READING ACTS: The Fall of the Great Prostitute – Revelation 17:15-18. Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, now on the final seven visions. We are still on the first vision in chapter 17.

For notice of previous posts in Phil's series on Revelation, see here and links.

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

Monday, July 27, 2020

What and where was Ar Moab?

HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHY: Ar Moab (Dr. David Ben-Gad HaCohen, TheTorah.com).
The Israelites travel to the east of Moab, through the wilderness, specifically to avoid encountering them. And yet, we are told that they travel through Ar-Moab, and even buy food and water from the locals. Do they walk through Moabite territory or not?
For more on "The Book of the Wars of the Lord," a Lost Book quoted in the Bible, see here and here.

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

Yahwistic Diversity and the Hebrew Bible (ed. Hensel et al.)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Yahwistic Diversity and the Hebrew Bible. Tracing Perspectives of Group Identity from Judah, Samaria, and the Diaspora in Biblical Traditions. Edited by Benedikt Hensel, Dany Nocquet, and Bartosz Adamczewski. 2020. VIII, 337 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe 120. 94,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-158304-9.
Published in English.
The underlying perspective of the present volume contributes to the recent historical debate on Yahwistic diversity in the Persian and the Hellenistic periods. A broad variety of different Yahwistic (and not necessarily Jewish) groups existed inside and outside Judah during the sixth to first century BCE, for example in Egypt (Elephantine/Jeb and Alexandria), Babylonia (al-Yahudu), Samaria, and Idumea.
The main objective of the volume lies in the literary-historical implications of this diversity: How did these groups or their interactions with one another influence the formation of the Hebrew Bible as well as its complex textual transmission? This perspective has not been sufficiently pursued in the more religious and historically oriented research before.
The volume comprises thirteen articles by renowned international specialists in the field, which aim at closing this gap in the scholarly discussion.

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

Vreugdenhil, Psalm 91 and Demonic Menace

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Psalm 91 and Demonic Menace

Series:
Oudtestamentische Studiën, Old Testament Studies, Volume: 77

Author: Gerrit C. Vreugdenhil

In Psalm 91 and Demonic Menace Gerrit Vreugdenhil offers a thorough analysis of the text, structure and genre of Psalm 91. Already in its earliest interpretations, Psalm 91 has been associated with the demonic realm. The use of this psalm on ancient amulets and in magic texts calls for an explanation. Examining the psalms images of threat from a cognitive science perspective, Vreugdenhil shows that many of these terms carry associations with sorcery and magic, incantations and curses, diseases and demonic threat. The psalm takes demonic threat seriously, but also draws attention to the protection offered by JHWH. Finally, the author proposes an outline of the situational context in which Psalm 91 might have functioned.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €138.00$166.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-42789-1
Publication Date: 13 Jul 2020
Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-42788-4
Publication Date: 09 Jul 2020

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

BAR, Fall 2020

UPCOMING: Fall 2020 Issue of BAR. In early August, the new issue of Biblical Archaeology Review arrives. Most or all of the articles will be behind the subscription wall, but Bible History Daily will presumably summarize some of them. Meanwhile, here is a preview of the issue.

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

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Magen Broshi, 1929-2020

SAD NEWS: Passing of Dr. Magen Broshi (Shalom Berger, H-Judaic).
H-Judaic is saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Magen Broshi (1929-2020), archeologist, scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and longtime curator of Israel's "Shrine of the Book."

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

Mislabeled tefillin at the Met

OOPS: Met Museum mislabels Jewish phylacteries as 6th-century Egyptian amulet. The tefillin acquired by the museum is kept in the Islamic Art department. (Tamar Beeri, Jerusalem Post).

The article isn't phrased very clearly, but I think it says that the tefillin do date from about this period (500-1000 CE). It would have been helpful to have included a photograph of the object(s).

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

More on those hanging gardens

ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHERS: We know where the 7 wonders of the ancient world are — except for one. The true location of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon remains an unsolved mystery, but the latest research suggests looking in a different place (J. L. MONTERO FENOLLÓS, National Geographic).

That place, of course, is the Assyrian capital Nineveh. I have already covered this story in a couple of posts (see here and links), but this article lays out the details of the situation very well.

Cross-file under Greek Fantasy Babylon.

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

HUCA 90

H-JUDAIC: TOC - Hebrew Union College Annual Volume 90. There are lots of articles on Moses and lots of articles of interest for ancient Judaism.

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

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Outdoor archaeological exhibition in Old City

180 ARTIFACTS ON DISPLAY: New outdoor archaeological exhibit inaugurated in Jerusalem’s Old City. The exhibition, which stands on Hayehudim Street descending in the Cardo, was inaugurated on Tuesday (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
“The new display provides passersby with a direct glimpse into the splendor of the public buildings, civil and religious, which have stood in the area of the Jewish Quarter throughout the ages,” curator Ravit Nanner-Soriano said in a press release. “Visitors to the exhibition will be able to be impressed by the variety and richness of the items; among them, impressive parts of columns from the Roman, Byzantine and Crusader periods, cornices and decorated items from the Middle Ages to modern times.”

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

Abstracta Iranica

THE AWOL BLOG: Open Access Journal: Abstracta Iranica. This journal provides abstracts in French of many scholarly articles on Iran, dealing with matters from antiquity to the present. It looks like a useful resource, if you are interested in the latest on such things.

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

Nazarenes and Christians and Baptists, oh my!

THE ANXIOUS BENCH: Nazarenes and Christians and Baptists (Philip Jenkins).
SPOILER ALERT: Despite my title, this blogpost is not about the modern-day Baptist denomination. These aren’t the Baptists you’re looking for. You can go about your business.
These were ancient Baptists. It is not even clear that they were of the Christian variety.

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

Cook & Rösel (eds.),Toward a Theology of the Septuagint

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Toward a Theology of the Septuagint: Stellenbosch Congress on the Septuagint, 2018
Johann Cook (Editor), Martin Rösel (Editor)

ISBN 9781628372700
Status Available
Price: $60.00
Binding Paperback
Publication Date July 2020
Pages 460

Innovative Septuagint research from an international group of scholars

Toward a Theology of the Septuagint: Stellenbosch Congress on the Septuagint, 2018 focuses on the question of whether it is appropriate and possible to formulate a theology of the Septuagint. Nineteen English and German essays examine Old Testament, New Testament, and extrabiblical texts from a variety of methodological perspectives to demonstrate that such a theology is indeed necessary and possible.

Features
  • Nuanced discussion of whether and how a theology of the Septuagint can be written
  • Extensive methodological discussions
  • Close textual studies of biblical, Greek philosophical, and Jewish sources
  • Abstracts of each essay

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

Friday, July 24, 2020

Grim times for Israel's archaeology

IT'S LOOKING VERY BAD: Another victim of the coronavirus in Israel: archaeological excavations. “Usually around this time we would have about 50 excavations organized by universities from abroad...[but] this year everything got cancelled," said Gideon Avni (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).

The Azekah excavation is still running at a reduced level. Salvage operations continue. But most university digs that rely on international student volunteers are canceled.

I noted an earlier article on this subject here. The news since then has mostly been bad. The exception is the good news that the SWBTS archaeology program has been taken on Lipscomb University.

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

More on efforts to save that ancient Galilean mikveh

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE AT RISK: Discovery of ancient ritual bath spurs nearby kibbutz to try to save it. Kibbutz Hannaton is spearheading a fundraising effort to move a Roman-era mikveh to its land, where it would join the pluralistic ritual bath (Jessica Steinberg, Times of Israel).

They need $75,000 to dismatle it and move it to a site on the Kibbutz. But time is short.

Background here.

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

Og - giant or ghost?

PROF. LAURA QUICK: Og, King of Bashan: Underworld Ruler or Ancient Giant? (TheTorah.com).
The answer lies in his bed.
For lots of PaleoJudaica posts on King Og, start here and follow the links. Another article by Prof. Quick on the same topic is noted here.

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

Who are the seven kings?

READING ACTS: Who are the Kings in Revelation 17? Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, now on the final seven visions. We are currently on the first one in chapter 17.

The answer to Phil's question seems to be "It's complicated" But my understanding is that the seven kings are seven Roman emperors. I'm not sure exactly which ones. There is a similar vision in 4 Ezra 11-12 of the Eagle and its three heads and twelve wings. The twelve wings are Roman emperors. Again there is debate on exactly which ones.

For notice of previous posts in Phil's series on Revelation, see here and links.

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

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Closing in on Cleopatra's tomb?

ARCHAEOLOGY: Cleopatra's final resting place: Mummies of two high-status Egyptians discovered in an ancient temple on the Nile delta add weight to the theory the fabled queen was also buried there (Jonathan Chadwick, Daily Mail).
The mummies, which had lain undisturbed for 2,000 years, are in a poor state of preservation because water had seeped into the tomb, according to the Guardian.

But they were originally covered with gold leaf – a luxury reserved for only the top members of society's elite – meaning they may have personally interacted with Cleopatra.

The male and female mummies may have been priests who played a key role in maintaining the power of the legendary Egyptian queen and her lover, Mark Anthony.

Also found at the site were 200 coins bearing Cleopatra's name and her face, which would have been pressed based on Cleopatra's direct instructions.
Was Cleopatra VII (the Cleopatra) buried in Taposiris Magna, rather than Alexandria? Perhaps we will know soon.

In Anne Rice's novel The Mummy or Ramses the Damned, the mummified body of Cleopatra is found in the Cairo Museum. As you can imagine, mayhem ensues.

Our Cleopatra VII does not appear in the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament. But Cleopatra I Syra is mentioned, unnamed, as "the daughter of women," in Daniel 11:17. Her granddaughter Cleopatra III appears in the Old Testament Apocrypha in 1 Maccabees 10:57-58, 11:8-12.

Nevertheless, Cleopatra VII is of some interest to PaleoJudaica. Plutarch reports that she knew Aramaic and Hebrew. Past posts on her are here and links.

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

Interview with Nazareth excavator

PODCAST INTERVIEW: LISTEN: What do we know about Nazareth in Jesus’ time? An archaeologist explains. From tax evasion to hidey-holes, IAA excavation director Yardenna Alexandre discusses Jewish life in the small village where Jesus grew up (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
Alexandre published a new excavation report on Nazareth in the current issue of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s ‘Atiqot journal that describes its early settlement history and findings from her excavations and those of other researchers. What is arguably of most interest in the report is what was discovered in very bedrock of the village.
Another salvage-archaeology success story. If you don't have time to listen to the whole podcast, the accompanying article gives the highlights.

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

The Phinehas Scroll?

RECONSTRUCTION: The War Against Midian: A Study for How the Priestly Torah Was Compiled (Dr. Ariel Kopilovitz, TheTorah.com).
In revenge for the Midianite seduction (Num 25), Phinehas takes the sacred utensils from the Tabernacle and leads the war against Midian (Num 31). Many details in this story contradict other Priestly texts, giving us a glimpse into how the Priestly Torah was compiled.

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

Review of Fides in Flavian literature (ed. Augoustakis et al.)

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Fides in Flavian literature.
Antony Augoustakis, Emma Buckley, Claire Stocks, Fides in Flavian literature. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019. xi, 328 p.. ISBN 9781487505530 $75.00.

Review by
Eleanor Mulhern, Temple University. e.v.mulhern@temple.edu
The volume includes an essay on Josephus by Steve Mason.

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Iron Age administrative center excavated near Jerusalem

ARCHAEOLOGY AND EPIGRAPHY: Huge Kingdom of Judah government complex found near US Embassy in Jerusalem. Among the 2,700-year-old finds: 120 inscribed seal impressions on jars at storage facility holding food collected as taxes for kings Hezekiah, Menashe in First Temple times (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).

Nice video. This is an exciting discovery and another illustration of the importance of salvage excavations.

I have one question, regarding this:
A collection of what appear to be clay idols was also discovered at the site. According to Sapir and Ben-Ari, “Some of the figurines are designed in the form of women, horse riders or as animals. These figurines are usually interpreted as objects used in pagan worship and idolatry — a phenomenon, which according to the Bible, was prevalent in the Kingdom of Judah.”
You can see some of these objects in the photo. Why are they interpreted as having religious significance? Why can't they just be decorations? I'm not an archaeologist or an iconographer, but I would like to know what the evidence is for specifying that use, especially since this installation seems to have been an administrative center rather than a temple.

By the way, I hope someone corrects the "27,000 years ago" in the first two photos to "2,700 years ago."

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

Palmyra: a Scottish adventure

PALMYRA WATCH: Almost 100 years on, family find grandfather's fascinating account of 1920s journey across Syrian desert (Angela McManus, The Herald).
A 17-HOUR road trip from Baghdad to Palmyra across the Syrian desert sounds like quite an adventure for any traveller. Incredibly, this journey was taken by my husband’s grandfather, James McManus, in the 1920s when he lived in Iraq with his wife Kathleen and worked as a civil engineer.
During the lockdown the family found his firsthand notes on the trip in a cupboard, along with six photos of Palmyra. This article publishes his notes.

Many other posts on Palmyra, its history, the ancient Aramaic dialect spoken there (Palmyrene), and the city's tragic reversals of fortune, which more recently seem to have been trending for the better, are here and links.

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

Profile of a Syrian epigrapher

GREEK AND NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY: Malatius Jaghnoon, is a unique Syrian epigrapher (Amal Farhat, Syria Times).
Malatius Jibriel Jaghnoon, is a Syrian engineer and epigrapher specialized in Aramaic and Greek inscriptions. He was born in Latakia , Jableh, in 1943. He graduated as a civil engineer from the University of Aleppo in 1968. His interest in epigraphy led him to learn several ancient languages including Aramaic and Greek.

Deciphering a number of Syriac and Greek inscriptions from an ancient church in Tal Eltiten, in the Al-Ghab area in Syria to the west of Apamea, an inscription from Maarrat al-Nu'man Museum and an inscription from the agora of Palmyra, were among his epigraphical works inside Syria.

He is a founding member of the Archaeological Society of Homs " Al-Adiyat" and was elected as head of the society from 2011 until he left Syria several years ago.

[...]
Is he really "the only one in Syria who can read ancient Greek inscriptions?" In any case, it sounds as though he has done a lot of important epigraphic work.

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

Essays in Honor of Professor Stefan C. Reif (ed. Calduch-Benages et al.)

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
On Wings of Prayer
Sources of Jewish Worship; Essays in Honor of Professor Stefan C. Reif on the Occasion of his Seventy-fifth Birthday


Series: Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Studies, 44

Edited by: Nuria Calduch-Benages, Michael W. Duggan and Dalia Marx
De Gruyter | 2019
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110630282

From £79.00
FORMATS
Hardcover
ISBN: 978-3-11-062995-8
Published: 22 Jul 2019
PDF
ISBN: 978-3-11-063028-2
Published: 22 Jul 2019
EPUB
ISBN: 978-3-11-063072-5
Published: 22 Jul 2019

OVERVIEW
The contributors and editors dedicate this volume of research to Professor Stefan C. Reif on the occasion of his 75th birthday. Together these twenty papers reflect our appreciation for his exemplary scholarship and lifelong commitment to acquaint our world with the theological and cultural riches of Jewish Studies.
This collection reflects the breadth of Prof. Reif’s interests insofar as it is a combination of Second Temple studies and Jewish studies on the roots of Jewish prayer and liturgy which is his main field of expertise. Contributions on biblical and second temple studies cover Amos, Ben Sira, Esther, 2 Maccabees, Judith, Wisdom, Qumran Psalms, and James. Contributions on Jewish studies cover nuptial and benedictions after meals, Adon Olam, Passover Seder, Amidah, the Medieval Palestinian Tefillat ha-Shir, and other aspects of rabbinic liturgy.
Moreover, the regional diversity of scholars from Israel, continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland and North America mirrors Stefan’s travels as a lecturer and the reach of his publications. The volume includes a foreword of appreciation and a bibliographic list of Professor Reif's works.

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Suprise Sasson Festschrift

VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Colleagues surprise Vanderbilt Divinity scholar Jack Sasson with special ‘gift’ (Ann Marie Deer Owens).
Thirty-five scholars from around the world pay tribute to Jack Sasson, an emeritus Divinity School professor, for his renowned scholarship on the ancient Near East in a newly published book of essays.

From Mari to Jerusalem and Back: Assyriological and Biblical Studies in Honor of Jack Murad Sasson, written and edited by some of Sasson’s longtime colleagues and friends, strives to reflect the richness of the cultures, languages and literatures of his research.

[...]
Congratulations to Emeritus Professor Jack Sasson! Regular readers will already know that he is the owner of the informative Agade e-mail list, to which you should subscribe if you haven't already.

Cross-file under New Book (from Eisenbrauns).

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

COGAT seizes baptismal font near Bethlehem

APPREHENDED ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE? IDF returns 5th century stolen baptismal font to original site in Tekoa. COGAT Archaeological Unit says the artifact was stolen by antiquity looters some 20 years ago; Palestinian official accuses Israel of theft (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
A fifth century baptismal font that was stolen from its original site by antiquity looters has been located and returned by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, COGAT announced on Monday. However, the reconstruction of the circumstances was denied by the Palestine Liberation Organization, which accused Israel of theft.

According to COGAT’s release, the artifact, which dates back to the Byzantine period, was looted about 20 years ago from the Tel Tekoa archaeological site in the West Bank. It is about 1.5 meters high and is shaped as an octagon and decorated with a cross and a stylized garland.

[...]
From what I can work out, looters stole the baptismal font from the archaeological site of Teqoa (Khirbet Tuqu') in 2000. The Palestinian Authority recovered it in 2002 and deposited it in the town of Tuqu' near the mayor's house in anticipation of the building of an antiquities museum. This seems to have happened in a very small geographical area. COGAT seized the font and "returned" it. The reports don't specify where exactly they returned it to. The archaeological site? Questions of jurisdiction about such matters appear to be complicated.

My grasp of the geography is vague, so any clarifications from someone local would be welcome.

Other coverage that supplements the Jerusalem Post article:

The Jewish Chronicle: Israel Retrieves Stolen Ancient Baptismal Font, PA Alleges ‘Colonial Plunder’ (Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency)

The Palestine Chronicle: Israeli Forces Seize Ancient Baptismal Font near Bethlehem (VIDEO)

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

What did the Romans ever do for Palmyra?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Latin Over Aramaic? How the Ancient Palmyrenes Responded to Romanization. As usual, this BHD essay is a summary of a Biblical Archaeology Review article: “Maintaining Cultural Balance: Palmyrene Bilingual Inscriptions and Roman Imperialism,” by Catherine E. Bonesho in the current issue.

There are Latin inscriptions at Palmyra, as well as the ones in Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew. I don't think I knew that, but it doesn't surprise me.

Cross-file under Palmyra Watch. Many other posts on Palmyra, its history, the ancient Aramaic dialect spoken there (Palmyrene), and the city's tragic reversals of fortune, which more recently seem to have been trending for the better, are here and links.

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

Seven last visions

READING ACTS: The Final Visions: Revelation 17-22. Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation. We have seven visions to go! The first one is chapter 17, "The Great Whore and the Scarlet Beast."

For notice of previous posts in Phil's series on Revelation, see here and links.

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

Monday, July 20, 2020

The inscribed Moabite altar and the Bible

NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY: Ataroth and the Inscribed Altar: Who Won the War Between Moab and Israel? (Adam L. Bean and Prof.Christopher A. Rollston, TheTorah.com).
Ataroth is an obscure Transjordanian city, referenced only twice in the Bible. Nevertheless, due to modern archaeological discoveries, it has become a central piece of evidence for reconstructing the history of the Moabite rebellion against Israel and King Mesha’s expansion of the Moabite kingdom described in both 2 Kings and the Mesha Stele.
For the 2018 publication of this inscribed Moabite altar, see here and here.

Moabite is an ancient Iron Age language very closely related to Hebrew. Moabite and Hebrew are essentially dialects of the same language. The other major Moabite inscription is the Mesha Inscription (Mesha Stele, Moabite Stone), on which more here and keep following the links. And for more on ancient Moab, see here.

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

More on the Jubilees Palimpsest Project

THE AWOL BLOG: The Jubilees Palimpsest Project: Pioneering the Recovery of Illegible Text from Ancient Manuscripts Through New Tools in Digital Archaeology. I haven't mentioned the Jubilees Palimpsest Project for a few years. This is a good opportunity to mention it again. If you look at its News Archive page, you can see that the Project has been busy.

Background here and links. Cross-file under Technology Watch.

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

More New Testament Apocrypha vol. 2 is out!

NEW BOOK FROM EERDMANS: New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures vol. 2, edited by Tony Burke.

See also Tony's post at his Apocryphicity Blog: Publicity Roundup for More New Testament Apocrypha 2.

I reviewed MNTA1 at length in 2017 here and links.

Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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

Biblical archaeology uncanceled

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Summer Lipscomb University Saved Biblical Archaeology. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s blunder is Lipscomb University’s bonanza (Robert R. Cargill).

Background here.

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

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Zahn, Genres of Rewriting in Second Temple Judaism

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS PRESS RELEASE: HOW THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS AUTHORS REWROTE THE BIBLE, LITERALLY.
In Molly Zahn's new book, “Genres of Rewriting in Second Temple Judaism” (Cambridge University Press), the University of Kansas associate professor of religious studies contends that the literary practices of these early Jewish scribes give us clues about their religious beliefs.

By comparing textual differences among various copies of the scrolls discovered in caves at Qumran, and then comparing those with later canonical versions of books like Exodus and Jeremiah, Zahn concluded that the scribes who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls believed they had a literary license to change Scripture. Indeed, she wrote, they saw themselves as partners with the deity in the process of revelation.
Dr. Zahn is also the Secretary of the International Organization for Qumran Studies (IOQS) and the Chief Editor of the journal Dead Sea Discoveries.

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