Thursday, June 04, 2020

More Aramaic in Saudi Arabia

EXHIBITION: Saudi Arabia’s masterpieces of antiquities down the ages. Gulf News offers a glimpse into the Arabian Peninsula’s fascinating past (Samir Salama, Gulf News).
‘Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia’: Organised by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), it is one of the most important Saudi exhibits. It portrays the cultural depth and traditions of the kingdom in the most famous international museums — most notably in European and Asian capitals, and in American cities. The exhibition, through its 14 international channels and two local channels in Riyadh and in the King Abdul Aziz Centre for World Culture in Dhahran, constitutes an important and exceptional opportunity to introduce the kingdom’s culture as well as that of the Arabian Peninsula to five million visitors.
You can access the exhibition's website here.

The Gulf News article highlights a number of artifacts, including one bearing an Aramaic inscription:
Also among the famous Saudi artefacts is the ‘Monument with the Eyes’, a memorial “tombstone” inscribed with a human face dating back to the 5th century BC, found in Tayma. A memorial in the Aramaic language is inscribed on the stone: “On the Memory of Taim Ibn Zaid.”

This piece is the only clear evidence of the existence of cultural contacts between Tayma, the northwest and south of the Arabian Peninsula and the south.
The article does not include a photo of the object, but you can see one on the exhibition website. Unfortunately, I can't link to it. But click on the "Tayma, Al-‘Ula & Qaryat Al-Faw" circle and then scroll down to the sixth object on the far left, with the title "gravestone with abstract face,and Aramic [sic] inscription, Tayma, 5th–4th century BC Tayma_Al_Ula_Qaryat_al_Faw."

The website has photos of a vast number of artifacts, including more inscriptions in Aramaic, Nabatean, North Arabian, Greek, Latin, cuneiform, and Arabic.

For more on Tayma (Teima) and its ancient connection with Aramaic Fantasy Babylon and the Daniel tradition, see here and here. For additional inscriptions from Tayma, see here, here, and here.

For yet more PaleoJudaica posts on Aramaic, Nabatean (Nabataean) and old Arabian inscriptions in Saudi Arabia and ancient Arabia more generally, see here and links.

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The date of Wilson's Arch

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Pinpointing the origins of Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The headline of this press release is over-ambitious. The research was about pinpointing the date of architecture associated with Wilson's Arch. The Temple Mount itself had architecture on it long before this.
Integrating radiocarbon dating and microarchaeology techniques has enabled more precise dating of the ancient Wilson's Arch monument at Jerusalem's Temple Mount, according to a study published June 3, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Johanna Regev from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, and colleagues.

[...]

In this study, Regev and colleagues focused on pinpointing the specific construction dates for Wilson's Arch, an arch of "The Great Causeway", an ancient bridge linking Jerusalem's Temple Mount to the houses of Jerusalem's upper city, and which was excavated in 2015-2019 as part of a tourist development project. Wilson's Arch has been the subject of much scholarly debate, with construction dates suggested from the time of Herod the Great, Roman colonization, or even the early Islamic period in Jerusalem (a span of about 700 years).

To better understand the specific timing of Wilson's Arch (and the historical context in which it was constructed), Regev and colleagues used an integrative approach in the field during its excavation, conducting radiocarbon dating of 33 construction material samples directly at the site (generally charred organic matter, like seeds or sticks, present in mortar), as well as stratigraphic and microarchaeological analyses.

The authors were able to narrow the dates of construction for the initial Great Causeway bridge structure as having occurred between 20 BC and 20 AD, during the reign of Herod the Great or directly after his death. They also discovered a second stage of construction: between 30 AD and 60 AD, the bridge doubled in size as Wilson's Arch in its current form was finalized (during this period of direct Roman rule, there's evidence the Romans began or expanded on many building projects around Jerusalem, including an aqueduct supplying the Temple Mount with water).

[...]
You can read the full, open access, Plos One article at : Radiocarbon dating and microarchaeology untangle the history of Jerusalem's Temple Mount: A view from Wilson's Arch (Regev J, Uziel J, Lieberman T, Solomon A, Gadot Y, Ben-Ami D, et al.).
Abstract

Radiocarbon dating is rarely applied in Classical and Post-Classical periods in the Eastern Mediterranean, as it is not considered precise enough to solve specific chronological questions, often causing the attribution of historic monuments to be based on circumstantial evidence. This research, applied in Jerusalem, presents a novel approach to solve this problem. Integrating fieldwork, stratigraphy, and microarchaeology analyses with intense radiocarbon dating of charred remains in building materials beneath Wilson's Arch, we absolutely dated monumental structures to very narrow windows of time–even to specific rulers. Wilson’s Arch was initiated by Herod the Great and enlarged during the Roman Procurators, such as Pontius Pilatus, in a range of 70 years, rather than 700 years, as previously discussed by scholars. The theater-like structure is dated to the days of Emperor Hadrian and left unfinished before 132–136 AD. Through this approach, it is possible to solve archaeological riddles in intensely urban environments in the historical periods.
For the discovery of the "theatre-like structure" in 2017, see here and here.

The Daily Mail has coverage of the story with some good photos: Ancient stone arch forming part of Jerusalem's 'great causeway bridge' to bring worshippers onto Temple Mount was built between 20 BC and 20 AD during the reign of King Herod, radiocarbon dating reveals (Luke Andrews).

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Syfox, Rewriting and (Re)negotiating Gender

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Rewriting and (Re)negotiating Gender: A Study of the Depictions of the Matriachs in the Book of Jubilees (Chontel Syfox).
Chontel Syfox. Rewriting and (Re) Negotiating Gender: A Study of the Depictions of the Matriarchs in the Book of Jubilees in Relation to Depictions of Heroines in the Greek Novel and Jewish Novella.
Ph.D. diss., University of Notre Dame, 2019.

It has long been noted that women feature more prominently in the Book of Jubilees, than in the Book of Genesis. My dissertation seeks to identify the motives and priorities that guided the author of Jubilees in his rewriting of the biblical stories concerning the matriarchs and asks if Jubilees was unique in its foregrounding of female characters or dealt with them in a manner that was typical of the then literary Zeitgeist. ...
Dr. Syfox completed her undergraduate degree at the Divinity School of the University of St. Andrews some years ago. I am delighted to see how much she has accomplished since then. Well done, Chontel!

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White, The Prophets Agree

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
The Prophets Agree

The Function of the Book of the Twelve Prophets in Acts


Series: Biblical Interpretation Series, Volume: 184
Author: Aaron W. White

The way Luke uses and interprets Scripture continues to captivate many. In his new work, The Prophets Agree, a title inspired by James’ words at the Jerusalem Council, Aaron W. White turns over one rock that has remained untouched. Interpretation of the four quotations of the Minor Prophets in Acts frequently isolates each citation from the other. However, this full-length study of the place of the Minor Prophets in Acts asks what difference it makes to regard these four quotations as a singular contribution to Acts from a unified source.
By an in-depth study of each quotation, an innovative method of intertextuality, and an eye to the overall agenda of Acts, White proves the importance of reading the Twelve Prophets in unity when it is quoted in Acts, and the integral role it plays in the redemptive-historical plotline of Acts.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €99.00 / $119.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-42798-3
Publication Date: 06 May 2020

Hardback
Availability: Not Yet Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-42627-6
Publication Date: 18 Jun 2020

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Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Fingerprinting DSS DNA

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Ancient DNA extracted from Dead Sea Scrolls parchments allows rare glimpse into world of Second Temple Judaism. The researchers developed sophisticated methods to deduce information from tiny amounts of ancient DNA, used different controls to validate the findings, and carefully filtered out potential contaminations (IAA press release, courtesy of the Israel Ministry for Foreign Affairs).

PaleoJudaica has long been interested in DNA analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Back in 2009, I collected links to a number of relevant posts. And in 2006 I was noting mention of early research aimed at sorting fragments into scrolls based on their DNA. It looks as though specialists have made quite a lot of progress since then.

The press release mentions a few specific cases. Two fragments of the Book of Jeremiah now definitely form a separate manuscript, made of cow hide rather than the more common sheep hide. This confirms that the Qumran library included variant copies of scriptural (and other) books that had somewhat different texts.

The manuscript of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice found at Masada is made from the hide of a sheep whose DNA is distinct from the from the sheep who hides were normally used for the Qumran scrolls. Arguably, then, it originated from a different group. But I would like to see some more details before I am convinced that we can interpret the evidence that precisely.

Likewise, the DNA of a fragment of Isaiah had a different profile from the other Qumran manuscripts. It is possible that indicates that it came from somewhere other than the Qumran caves.

These are intriguing findings, but they are still very preliminary, based on testing of a small sample of fragments. As the researchers profile more scrolls, we will learn more with more confidence.

The full, very technical, article is published in Cell: Illuminating Genetic Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Follow the link for the full list of authors.

An article in the Smithsonian opens with a human interest account of how the idea for the research originated in a chance encounter on a bus: Ancient DNA Yields New Clues to Dead Sea Scrolls. A sensitive genetic fingerprinting technique could help scholars learn more from thousands of fragile parchment fragments (Josie Glausiusz).

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Seven years of TheTorah.com

MILESTONE: Seven Years of Critical Torah Study – Scholars and Rabbis Reflect. Congratulations to TheTorah.com, which is seven years old. The site has been providing very good content, to which PaleoJudaica has often linked.
To mark the occasion of the seventh anniversary of TheTorah.com this Shavuot, we asked academic and rabbinic scholars to share their reflections on our work / the role of critical scholarship for Torah study and the importance of engaging directly with the consequent challenges.
Twenty academics and rabbis post their reflections.

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Toronto's Ge'ez program fundraising nears goal

ETHIOPIC WATCH: Ethiopic Studies Endowment at University of Toronto Nears Goal of Raising $500k (Tadias Magazine). If they reach the targeted amount, the Ge'ez program will be made permanent. They are currently not far off, at $440,000.

For background on the fundraising and the program, see here, here, and here.

Among the Old Testament pseudepigrapha, the Book of 1 Enoch (composed in Aramaic and perhaps Hebrew) and the Book of Jubilees (composed in Hebrew) survive complete only in Ge'ez translations.

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The winged woman and the spewing serpent

READING ACTS: The Dragon Makes War – Revelation 12:13-17. Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, now concentrating on the seven sights of chapters 12-15. We are still on the first sight, the woman with the celestial accoutrements and the dragon that pursues her.

I have noted previous posts in Phil's Book of Revelation series here and links.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Review of Sivan, Jewish Childhood in the Roman World

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Jewish Childhood in the Roman World (Danny Golde).
Hagith Sivan. Jewish Childhood in the Roman World. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Hagith Sivan’s Jewish Childhood in the Roman World provides a comprehensive analysis of the rabbinic sources on childhood and features four fictional short stories from the perspectives of Jewish youths living in Rome or in a Roman province. ...

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Tourism plans for the Petra of Saudi Arabia

NABATEAN (NABATAEAN) WATCH: Saudi Arabia's Unesco-listed Al Ula announces reopening plans. Visitors will also have the chance to experience four newly open sites (Melissa Gronlund, The National). There is a nice video.

The Saudi government seems to have ambitious tourism plans for these sites, most of which are pre-Islamic. A decade ago I was concerned about some of what I was hearing about them. But these developments sound positive.

Other PaleoJudaica posts on Hegra (Madain Saleh), "Saudi Arabia's answer to Petra," are here, here, here, and here.

And, more generally, for Nabatean, Aramaic, and old Arabian dialects in Arabia, see here and links.

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Is the MOTB winning over Jewish scholars?

PROGRESS? Museum of the Bible is winning over some of its biggest critics: Jewish scholars (Menachem Wecker, Washington Post, rpt. Houston Chronicle). The article also has quite a lot on the thousand-year-old Washington Pentateuch, recently acquired by the Museum.

Background here and many links. Related posts here and links.

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Biblical Studies Carnival 171

THE LIBRARY MUSINGS: Biblical Studies Carnival 171 (May 2020) (Bobby Howell). And Phil Long has some supplementary comments here.

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Monday, June 01, 2020

They found a partzufa at Sepphoris!

DECORATIVE ARCHITECTURE: Remains of ancient ornamental relic found in Tzipori (Arutz Sheva). I was not familiar with this word. This brief article defines partzufa as an "architectural-ornamental relic ... used in ancient times as a lavish faucet in various water installations."

I don't have access to my office library, but Jastrow's Dictionary (p. 1238) tells me that this is an Greek word (prosopon) that means "face." It appears in Hebrew and (here) Aramaic transcription with the same meaning. It can also mean the front side of an embroidered piece. And it can mean a sculpture of a human face.

I hope the discoverers publish a photo.

For more on the archaeology of Zipori (Sepphoris/Tzipori/Tzippori/Zippori - I keep finding new spellings!), see here and links (cf. here, here, and here).

UPDATE: Ah ha, the Jerusalem Post has a photo: Talmud comes alive in 1,800-year-old marble face found in Galilee. Similar artifacts have been uncovered over the years in several locations in Israel, including Caesarea and Beit Shean (Rossella Tercatin). It is indeed a a marble sculpture of a face with the mouth forming a fountain.

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Discovering the Jewish Jesus

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Was Jesus a Jew? Discovering the Jewish Jesus. Introduces an old, but still useful article by Anthony J. Saldarini from Bible Review.

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Ink, writing surfaces, and fakes

VARIANT READINGS: Forgeries, Inks, and Writing Surfaces (Brent Nongbri).

For more on recent scholarly work on ancient ink, see here and links. And for more on the question of the (evidently mostly or entirely fake) post-2002 Dead Sea Scroll-like fragments, see here and links.

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Temple Mount reopens

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Temple Mt. reopens to thousands of Muslims, hundreds of Jews; 8 Muslims arrested. Officers accuse suspects of trying to prevent Jews’ entry; no major incidents after police braced for clashes following months of virus closure and in wake of Palestinian’s killing (Times of Israel).

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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Bishop Lucifer and the text of LXX Kings

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Lucifer of Cagliari and the Text of 1-2 Kings

Tuukka Kauhanen

ISBN 9781628372052
Status Available
Price: $65.00
Binding Paperback
Publication Date July 2018

The most up-to-date study of the text history of 1 and 2 Kings

In this book, Tuukka Kauhanen approaches the challenging case of the textual history of 1 and 2 Kings through citations of the text found within the writings of the fourth-century bishop of Sadinia, Lucifer of Cagliari. Kauhanen presents evidence that Lucifer’s Latin text sheds important light on lost Hebrew and Greek pieces of the textual puzzle in Kings. In doing so, he compares all of Lucifer’s extensive quotations of Kings to extant Greek witnesses as well as Old Latin witnesses where available and subsequently analyzes the probable reasons for textual variations. In each instance he attempts to choose the best possible candidate for the Old Greek reading and where that reading might reflect a now-lost Hebrew text.

Features
  • Use of the most current research into the text of the Hebrew Bible and the Septuagint, including the Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition series and the forthcoming Göttingen Septuagint edition of King
  • An appendix listing readings from the analysis sections arranged according to agreement patterns and other meaningful criteria
  • Charts comparing readings
It's cool that there was a bishop named Lucifer.

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Tiemeyer & Wöhrle (eds.), The Book of the Twelve

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
The Book of the Twelve

Composition, Reception, and Interpretation


Series: Vetus Testamentum, Supplements, Volume: 184

Editors: Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer and Jakob Wöhrle

In the last two decades, research on the Book of the Twelve has shown that this corpus is not just a collection of twelve prophetic books. It is rather a coherent work with a common history of formation and, based upon this, with an overall message and intention. The individual books of the Book of the Twelve are thus part of a larger whole in which they can be interpreted in a fruitful manner. The volume The Book of the Twelve: Composition, Reception, and Interpretation features 30 articles, written by renowned scholars, that explore different aspects regarding the formation, interpretation, and reception of the Book of the Twelve as a literary unity.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €132.00 / $159.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-42432-6
Publication Date: 28 Apr 2020

Hardback
Availability: Not Yet Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-42324-4
Publication Date: 17 Jun 2020

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Locating Pentecost?

SHAVUOT RELATED: Locating Pentecost – Part 1 (Chris McKinny, Bible Places Blog).

I do not insist that the Pentecost event narrated in Acts chapter 2 actually happened. It has some earmarks of being a midrashic composition. But neither do I exclude the possibility. The event may have been recalled and interpreted through a midrashic lens.

In any case, it is likely that the story was associated with a specific place, which makes this discussion of interest.

For lots more on the Jewish festival of Shavuot/Weeks (happening now) and the Christian festival of Pentecost (this Sunday), see here and links.

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Infancy Gospel of Thomas as late-antique travel guide?

APOCRYPHICITY: The Infancy Gospel of Thomas as Pilgrimage Guidebook (Tony Burke).
Of course, none of this is evidence that Infancy Thomas was composed in Nazareth or nearby, nor that it was written to capitalize on the pilgrimage industry—it seems to have been composed too early for that—but that does not mean it could not be used for this purpose in later centuries, particularly given the popularity of pilgrimage and the interplay between apocrypha and pilgrimage that is observable in texts, architecture, and artifacts ...
Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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Obituary for Philip King

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: In Memorium: Philip J. King (1925-2019) (David Vanderhooft). Fr. King passed away in December of 2019. Requiescat in pace.

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Hebrew Ben Sira website

THE AWOL BLOG: The Book of Ben Sira. I noted this post a few years ago. It concerns a website on the Hebrew manuscripts of Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus).

Chuck Jones has recently reposted it, so here it is again. This is a good opportunity to round up past PaleoJudaica posts on Hebrew Ben Sira. Many are collected here. And see also here and here (cf. here).

Cross-file under Old Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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Friday, May 29, 2020

They burned frankincense and weed at ancient Arad

FUMIGATION: New research reveals Cannabis and Frankincense at the Judahite Shrine of Biblical Arad (Phys.Org). The cannabis was mixed with animal dung to make it burn better. I doubt that improved the smell, though.

The site of Arad is well known for its pre-exilic Yahwistic sanctuary and, especially, for the many Hebrew ostraca discovered in the ruins of the fortress. See here (scroll down a bit) and here and links.

I still don't think that Jesus or Moses smoked weed. But this is the first evidence I know of that the ancient Israelites used psychoactive substances in their worship practices. See my comments in this post, which also, coincidentally, has a Shavuot connection.

Also, incidentally, for some reason the archangel Metatron has recently acquired a connection with cannabis.

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Ancient synagogue zodiac mosaics

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Jewish Worship, Pagan Symbols. Zodiac mosaics in ancient synagogues (Walter Zanger). This is a long, comprehensive, and well-illustrated article. The credit gives its publication in BHD as August 2012. But I linked to it in January of 2011 here. Apparently it was published as a Biblical Archaeology Review article then.

As I noted there, it is not correct to say that the "mystical Hellenistic-Byzantine Jewish tradition" represented by these synagogue mosaics left no literature. Read my post for details. And for some additional astrology-related ancient Jewish literature (among the Dead Sea Scrolls), see here and links.

Subsequent PaleoJudaica posts on the ancient zodiac synagogue mosaics are here, here, and here and links. The Helios mosaic at Huqoq was discovered after the BAR/BHD article was published.

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So many Syriac books online!

THE AWOL BLOG: The Syriac Studies Reference Library. Many, many critical editions of the works of prominent Syriac writers (Aphraates, Bar Hebraeus, Ephrem Syrus, Jacob of Serug, etc.), plus translated works and more. All online for free. For you, special deal!

Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

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War in heaven

READING ACTS: War in Heaven – Revelation 12:7-9. Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, now concentrating on the seven sights of chapters 12-15. We are still on the first sight, the woman with the celestial accoutrements.

The Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice refer to a "war of God" and a "war of heavenly clouds" in Song V.

I have noted previous posts in Phil's Book of Revelation series here and links.

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Shavuot 2020

THE FESTIVAL OF SHAVUOT (Weeks, Pentecost) begins tonight at sundown. Best wishes to all those celebrating. For biblical background, see here. A couple of more recent posts on Shavuot are here and here.

For posts on the haftarah reading for the first day of Shavuot (Ezekiel 1, the merkavah vision) see here and links (related post here).

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A typo became an angelic liturgy?

PROF. CARL S. EHRLICH: Kedushah: Did the Angels Actually Say It? (TheTorah.com).
The Kedushah prayer is based on two quotes from angels: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts...” (Isa 6:3) and “Blessed be the Glory of the Lord from its place” (Ezek 3:12). However, Shadal, the 19th century polymath, explains that the second verse is not a quote by angels, but the result of a scribal error.
For more on Ezekiel's angelic visions, see here and links.

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Ezekiel's vision

FOR SHAVUOT: Ezekiel’s Shavuot mystery tour. From the imagination of the prophets came a new spiritual literature (Simon Rocker, Jewish Chronicle).

For much more on Ezekiel's merkavah vision, see here and links.

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On the (traditional) Tomb of Esther and Mordechai

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE? Explore mausoleum of Esther and Mordechai (Afshin Majlesi, Tehran Times). Nice photo.

As I have noted in past posts, the connection of this structure with Esther and Mordechai is a tradition. Scholars regard the story in the Book of Esther to be a novel. We have no particular reason to think either protagonist existed outside the story.

But according to this article at least one archaeologist thought that this tomb existed as far back as late antiquity and had a Jewish connection.

The Tomb of Esther and Mordechai (or Mordechai and Esther) has been in the news lately. For past posts, see here and links.

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The woman flees

READING ACTS: Escape to the Wilderness – Revelation 12: 5-6. Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, now concentrating on the seven sights of chapters 12-15. We are still on the first sight, the woman with the celestial accoutrements.

For more on the idea that this episode was a preexisting "Jewish apocalyptic fragment" used by John, see here. And follow the links from there for notice of earlier posts in Phil's series on the Book of Revelation.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Heijmans (ed.), Studies in Rabbinic Hebrew

THE AWOL BLOG: Studies in Rabbinic Hebrew. An open-access online book edited by Shai Heijmans and published by Open Book Publishers.

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Barton on biblical criticism

PROF. JOHN BARTON: Biblical Criticism: A Common-Sense Approach to the Bible. (TheTorah.com).
Applying our critical faculties to study the Bible, asking questions about its origin, context, and genre
Welhausen was correct that the writing prophets show little knowledge of the Pentateuch. But it is also true that the Pentateuch shows virtually no knowledge of the writing prophets.

What does all that mean? I don't know.

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Lapsed bloggers, repent!

RELIGION PROF: A Call to New and Lapsed Bloggers. James McGrath is purging his Feedly feed. He calls on new bloggers to send in their addresses. He also exhorts lapsed ones to contact him to prevent being cast out by the three-month deletion tool. The hour is nigh!

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Andersen obituary

AT THE SBL SITE: Francis Ian Andersen, Singular Scholar: 28 July 1925 – 13 May 2020 (Dean Forbes).

Background here and links.

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The great red dragon

READING ACTS: The Dragon and the Stars – Revelation 12:3-4. Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, now concentrating on the seven sights of chapters 12-15. We are on the first sight, the woman with the celestial accoutrements.

It has been argued that the episode involving the woman and the dragon in Revelation 12 is an earlier messianic-mythological tradition that John absorbed undigested into his book. That would make sense of many of the exegetical problems. The woman is the Jewish people. The baby is the messiah. The dragon is satan. But any connection with Jesus is a poor fit, because the tradition was originally about a generic messiah.

I don't have recent references or access to a library. But a century ago R. H. Charles explored the case in volume 1 of his International Critical Commentary on the Book of Revelation. You can read what he has to say by going to the section on chapter 12, starting on p. 298.

I think the basic concept is sound. I don't have a favorite version of the specifics.

I have noted previous posts in Phil's Book of Revelation series here and links.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Shavuot and Sinai?

THE ANXIOUS BENCH: Of Weeks, Pentecost, and Giving the Law (Philip Jenkins).
So in 150 BC, say, Shavuot did not commemorate Moses at Sinai. By 150 AD, it definitely did. When is the transition? If it was indeed after 70, how soon after 70?

There is considerable doubt whether Luke, writing in the 90s, intended such a context for Acts. Significantly, Peter’s great speech on that occasion really contains no Law-, Sinai-, or Moses-appropriate echoes, as it could easily have done, if indeed Luke was thinking along these lines. The only marginal exception in that speech is that the men who handed Jesus over for death are “wicked” or rather “lawless,” anomon.
I agree with Professor Jenkins that Luke does not explicitly associate the festival of Shavuot (Weeks, Pentecost) with the revelation of the Torah at Sinai in Acts chapter 2. That said, there is a good argument that the story in Acts draws on midrashic exegesis of the Sinai event which appears in later rabbinic literature.

In any case, an exegetical connection of Shavuot with Sinai appears well before Luke's time.

The Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, copies of which were found at Qumran and Masada, cover the first quarter of the sectarian solar year, with Shavuot occurring between Sabbaths 11 and 12. Songs 11 and 12 are influenced by the merkavah vision in Ezekiel 1 and by Psalm 68:17-20. The passage in Psalm 68 connects (at least in later exegesis) the merkavah vision with its mention of Sinai in v. 18.

At the time of Shavuot, the Songs draw on Ezekiel's merkavah vision (as does the later Jewish liturgy) and the Psalms passage that connects that vision with Sinai. That puts the connection easily as far back as the first century BCE.

I don't have a link for all of this, but I argue it in detail, with bibliography, in the "Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice" chapter in my book Liturgical Works (Eerdmans Commentaries on the Dead Sea Scrolls 6; Eerdmans, 2000). The original insights came from David Halperin and Carol Newsom.

The Christian celebration of Pentecost (inspired by Acts 2) is this Sunday, 31 May. The Jewish festival of Shavuot begins this year at sundown on Thursday, 28 May.

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

New films on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

IT HAS REOPENED: Sacred and profane collide in two new films on Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Even as church reopens from coronavirus closure, two documentaries portray complex modern struggles at site where Jesus is believed to have been crucified, buried and resurrected (Renee Ghert-Zand, Times of Israel).

It was news to me that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Holy Sepulcher) reopened on Sunday. For past posts on the Church, with some attention to internal territorial disputes, see here and links.

For the Holy Fire Ceremony on Orthodox Easter, see here and links

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BASONOVA

THE BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY has begun a new paid-subscription lecture series called BASONOVA. They have announced three lectures so far:

BASONOVA–The First Diasporas: Egypt and Babylonia (3 June, Gary Rendsburg)

BASONOVA–Septuagint, Synagogue, and Symbiosis: The Jews of Hellenistic Egypt (10 June, Gary Rendsburg)

They also mention a third lecture by Steven Tuck on "Pompeii, Herculaneum and the Aftermath of Vesuvius" on 24 June, but it doesn't yet have its own page. Scroll down at either of the links above. For more on Steven Tuck's work, see there and here and links.

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We didn't mean to. It was an accident!

PROFESSOR JOAN TAYLOR: How my team and I accidentally discovered text on the Dead Sea Scrolls. The 2,000-year-old documents were thought to be blank – until recently (Scroll.in).

This is a firsthand account of the story I noted here.

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Congress volume for 16th IOSCS meeting, 2016

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
XVI Congress Of The International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies: Stellenbosch, 2016

Gideon R. Kotze (Editor), Wolfgang Kraus (Editor), Michael N. Van Der Meer (Editor)

ISBN 9781628372403
Status Available
Price: $43.95
Binding Paperback
Publication Date May 2019
Pages 276

Essays from experts in the field of Septuagint studies

This latest volume from the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS) includes the papers given at the XVI Congress of the IOSCS, South Africa, in 2016. The articles contribute to the study of the Septuagint and cognate literature by identifying and discussing new topics and lines of inquiry and developing fresh insights and arguments in existing areas of research. Scholars and students interested in different methods of studying the Septuagint corpora, the theology and reception of these texts, as well as the works of Josephus will find in this collection critical information for future work in Septuagint studies.

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Monday, May 25, 2020

The enigma of the late-antique Negev (with LBA bonus!)

ARCHAEOLOGY: The enigma behind the 1,500-year-old Christian communities in the Negev. Remains of over 180 houses were also revealed by the researchers, together with many agricultural installations including dams, cisterns, wine presses and a pigeon tower (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).

Archaeologist Yotam Tepper:
“We are trying to understand why the settlements in the Negev collapsed at the end of the Byzantine period. We are considering several hypotheses, from a phenomenon of climate change to a plague, to the effects of the Arab conquest around 630-634 CE. However, it is hard to come to a definite conclusion, especially because different communities were abandoned in different times,” he explained.
Background on Shivta and the archaeology of the late-antique Negev is here and links.

Also, while we're on the subject of the ancient Negev, this discovery is outside PaleoJudaica's usual chronological horizon. But it's unusual and worth a mention here: 3,500-year-old plate depicting power struggle in ancient Negev discovered. Imri Elia, a resident of Kibbutz Niri, found the small engraved clay plate featuring two human figures near Tel Jemmeh (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).

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More on the flooding of el-Araj

ARCHAEOLOGY UNDERWATER: Village Where Jesus’ Disciples May Have Lived Flooded by Rising Sea of Galilee. The putative Church of the Apostles is now in a lagoon peopled by catfish but the ruins where Jesus’ disciples may have lived haven’t been damaged, reassures archaeologist Motti Aviam (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz). HT the Bible and Interpretation.

Blogger Carl Rasmussen broke this story broke this story back in mid-May. I noted his post a week ago. But now the media is catching up. This article has some additional information on the situation and is worth reading.

As PaleoJudaica's regular readers already know, this site — el-Araj — is one possible location for the ancient city of Bethsaida. The other is et-Tell. For past posts on both, see my link in the previous paragraph.

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Funeral service for Francis Ian Andersen: 28 May

UPCOMING LIVESTREAM:

The Andersen family invites you to participate in the livestream of the funeral of Francis Ian Andersen, who is a highly regarded international Old Testament scholar. As part of your participation in the community of celebration of Frank's life please have a candle ready to be lit during the service . The service is approximately 2 hours. An order of service can be downloaded from this site from Monday 25th May.
HT Andrei Orlov.

The sevice is scheduled for 11:00 am on 28 May. I cannot find a time zone specified anywhere, but Professor Andersen's last residence was in Australia.

Background here.

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De Troyer et al. (eds.), Early Reception of the Torah

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
The Early Reception of the Torah

Series: Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Studies, 39
Edited by: Kristin De Troyer, Barbara Schmitz, Joshua Alfaro and Maximilian Häberlein
De Gruyter | 2020

OVERVIEW

This volume contains the papers presented at the 2017 meeting of the SBL Program Unit on Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature in Boston, MA. The theme of the sessions was the interpretation of Torah in deuterocanonical literature. The contributions cover a variety of concepts and themes related to Torah and trace these through the Hebrew Bible, into the Septuagintal deuterocanonical books and other relevant and cognate literature.

From £91.00
Price including VAT

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Ruth consumes the bread of kinship

PROF. CYNTHIA CHAPMAN: The Substance of Kinship: How Ruth the Moabite Became a Daughter in Judah (TheTorah.com).
Ruth’s consumption of barley and wheat gleaned from the field of Boaz was an integral step in her transformation from a “foreigner” who arrived from the fields of Moab to a “daughter” in Judah.

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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Thiel on Josephus on "Galileans"

JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW: "The Use of the Term “Galileans” in the Writings of Flavius Josephus Revisited" (Nathan Thiel, JQR 110.2 [2020]: 221-44).
Abstract
Among the central players of Josephus’s autobiography are those he refers to as “the Galileans.” Patronized by their one-time general as a restive and emotional mob ready to ignite at the slightest indignation, “the Galileans” are of vital importance to Josephus’s imagined success as general of the Jewish forces in Galilee. Josephus’s condescension toward “the Galileans,” strange as it is, is compounded by the fact that he regularly contrasts them with the inhabitants of Galilee’s major cities, principally Sepphoris, Tiberias, and Gabara. This essay revisits the curious presentation of “the Galileans” in Josephus’s writings, picking up an inchoate suggestion of Shaye Cohen of a Galilean ethnos. I argue that Josephus does indeed view “the Galileans” as an ethnos of their own, distinguishable from the Jews of Galilee, who mainly reside in the region’s urban centers. That is, the term “Galileans” in Josephus’s works functions first as a marker of ethnic belonging and so is not equivalent to “an inhabitant of Galilee” tout court. Josephus’s presentation of “the Galileans,” moreover, is colored by an ethnic prejudice that essentializes a few traits and makes them foils for the virtues of Josephus and the Jews. The introduction to “the Galileans” in his Jewish War (J.W. 3.42), which portrays them as “pugnacious from infancy,” converges with their characterization in Life, written some two decades later. I briefly consider the historical implications that follow from this reevaluation of “the Galileans” in Josephus.

This article (and indeed the whole issue) is online for free until 30 June 2020, "in support of researchers impacted by the Covid-19 crisis." Also downloadable as a pdf file.

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Undisturbed Punic tomb discovered in Malta

PUNIC WATCH: Incredible undisturbed Punic tomb found in Tarxien (Albert Galea, Malta Independent).

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Digital Hammurabi

ENTREPRENEURIAL PHILOLOGY: Digital Hammurabi. Via the AWOL Blog.

Megan Lewis and Dr. Joshua Bowen also run the Humans Against Poor Scholarship charity.

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Egypt in Scotland

THEY BELONG IN A MUSEUM! AND THAT'S WHERE THEY ARE: Scotland's Ancient Egyptian Collections.

I have not been to all of these, but I have visited and enjoyed the Egyptian collections at the National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, and the McManus Art Gallery and Museum in Dundee.

I have given a few links above to online tours of Scottish Egyptian collections. Many of the Scottish museums featured in the first link have such tours. It sometimes requires some poking around to find the Egyptian material, but you are likely to find other interesting exhibits from antiquity while you're looking.

Something for your lockdown museum experience.

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Bowie, Longus. Daphnis and Chloe (new commentary)

BYRN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Longus. Daphnis and Chloe
Ewen Bowie, Longus. Daphnis and Chloe. Cambridge Greek and Latin classics. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018. x, 338 p.. ISBN 9780521776592 $45.95 (pb).

Review by
Lucia Floridi, Università di Bologna. lucia.floridi2@unibo.it
The hellenistic Greek novel Daphnis and Chloe is of interest to PaleoJudaica because the genre of ancient novel was also in use in ancient Judaism and early Christianity. One example (debatable whether Jewish or Christian) is Joseph and Aseneth, on which more here and links.

For more on Daphnis and Chloe and the ancient Greek novel in this context, see here and here.

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John the Baptist and ancient social distancing

RELIGION PROF: Was John the Baptist a Hermit? James McGrath is not convinced that he was.

For more on John the Baptist, see here (cf. here) and links. For more on Qasr al-Yahud, see here and links.

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Cargill on unprovenanced antiquities

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Unprovenanced Antiquities: Learning the Hard Way (Robert R. Cargill).

Background here and here and links.

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Friday, May 22, 2020

Job and God vs. truth decay

PROF. EDWARD L. GREENSTEIN: Speaking Truth to Power, Job Accuses God of Being Unjust (TheTorah.com).
Job's friends piously justify God's actions and challenge Job to accept that he has done wrong. Yet God sides with Job and rebukes the friends for not “speaking about me in honesty as did my servant Job”.

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Lost texts of terror?

THE ANXIOUS BENCH: I Gave Them Laws Through Which They Could Not Live (Philip Jenkins).
Let me offer one interpretation that fits the evidence as we have it, although it is certainly not the only possible explanation. Hypothetically, let’s suppose that there once circulated stories or texts that were read, with whatever justification, as legitimizing or commanding child sacrifice. During the time of Ezekiel and Jeremiah, those supposed texts were forcefully condemned, and they have simply vanished from view. The Hebrew Old Testament canon was not defined until the fourth century BC at the very earliest, and there was still considerable latitude and debate for several centuries after that point. Prior to the fourth century BC, it is far from clear that the notion of a canon even existed, and the frontiers separating scriptures and non-scriptures were highly fluid. It is perfectly possible that in Ezekiel’s time, around 600 BC, at least some people in Israel venerated particular texts and regarded them as authoritative or inspired, even attributing words to God himself, although these writings have now been lost irretrievably. Might these have been the “statutes and judgments” in question?
For the evidence that some circles in ancient Israel engaged in child sacrifice, see here.

For books mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, but now lost, see here and here and links.

Shalom Spiegel's book, The Last Trial, argued that there was a lost version of the Aqedah (Genesis 22) in which Isaac was actually sacrificed. A recently discovered Coptic magical papyrus provides evidence for such a tradition.

Cross-file under Lost Books?

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Plague and biblical history

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Pandemic, Plague, and Biblical History. A collection of BHD articles looking at the role of widespread disease in the Bible and in early Christian history. Plague and disease figure quite a bit in biblical history.

Relevant posts on Sennacherib's siege of Jerusalem are here (about halfway in) and here.

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Sharvit & Goetschel (eds.), Canonization and Alterity

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
Canonization and Alterity

Heresy in Jewish History, Thought, and Literature


Series: Perspectives on Jewish Texts and Contexts, 14

Edited by: Gilad Sharvit and Willi Goetschel
De Gruyter | 2020

OVERVIEW
This volume offers an examination of varied forms of expressions of heresy in Jewish history, thought and literature. Contributions explore the formative role of the figure of the heretic and of heretic thought in the development of the Jewish traditions from antiquity to the 20th century. Chapters explore the role of heresy in the Hellenic period and Rabbinic literature; the significance of heresy to Kabbalah, and the critical and often formative importance the challenge of heresy plays for modern thinkers such as Spinoza, Freud, Kafka, and Derrida, and literary figures such as Kafka, Tchernikhovsky, and I.B. Singer. Examining heresy as a boundary issue constitutive for the formation of Jewish tradition, this book contributes to a better understanding of the significance of the figure of the heretic for tradition more generally.
From £91.00
Price including VAT

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A great sign in heaven

READING ACTS: Who is the Woman in Revelation 12? Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation, now concentrating on the seven sights of chapters 12-15. We are on the first sight, the woman with the celestial accoutrements.

I have noted previous posts in the series here and links.

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Scripta Qumranica Electronica

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: German-Israeli project to bring the Dead Sea Scrolls alive on the screen. An advantage offered by a digital edition is that readers can test the editorial decisions by directly interacting with the primary data (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).

Project manager Bronson Brown-deVost:
“First, an editor usually organizes the material for the edition. This may include materials previously organized by other colleagues,” he highlighted. “Secondly, the editor will decide how to instruct the edition and what accompanying notes and commentary should be included in it. Due to the limitations of print, the editor must usually place boundaries on how much ancillary information is in the volume and how much is limited by the print media itself, for instance life-size mockups of the scrolls is difficult to share as are large numbers of high-resolution images. Such restrictions do not apply to digital editions.”
With current restrictions on travel, which will last who knows how long, projects like this one which facilitate remote research are all the more important.

Cross-file under Digitization. For earlier posts on the project, see here and links.

And for many other manuscript digitization projects, see here and links and here, here, here, here, and here.

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Review of Litwa, How the Gospels became history

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: How the Gospels became history: Jesus and Mediterranean myths.
M. David Litwa, How the Gospels became history: Jesus and Mediterranean myths. Synkrisis. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019. ix, 298 p.. ISBN 9780300249484 $65.00.

Review by
Andrew Steck, University of Iowa. andrew-steck@uiowa.edu

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Wolf on The Rabbinic Legal Imagination

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: The Rabbinic Legal Imagination (Sarah Wolf).
Sarah Wolf, “The Rabbinic Legal Imagination: Scholasticism and Narrativity in the Babylonian Talmud” (Ph.D Dissertation, Northwestern University, 2018).
Excerpt:
By connecting rabbinic scholasticism with literariness, my dissertation both widens the basis for cross-cultural comparison of scholasticism and elucidates distinctively rabbinic features within a broader Sassanian scholastic context.

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Suspicious fires at holy sites in Iran

COINCIDENCE? String of fires at Christian, Hindu, Jewish holy sites in Iran ‘deliberate’: Expert (Emily Judd and Yaghoub Fazeli, Al Arabiya).

The fires may well be coincidental, but the optics are not good. The Iranian authorities need to make this stop.

Background on the fire at the site of the (traditional) Tomb of Mordechai and Esther is here and here.

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Temple Mount archaeology

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: The Temple Revealed: Jerusalem Day 2020 (Tuvia Book, Times of Israel Blogs).

For more on the "To the place of trumpeting..." inscription, see here and links.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Hobby Lobby sues Christie's over Gilgamesh tablet

CANDIDA MOSS IS UNSYMPATHETIC: Hobby Lobby Sues Christie’s, Wants Us to Feel Sorry for Them (The Daily Beast).

For background on the Gilgamesh dream tablet, see here and links.

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Prayer outside the al-Aqsa mosque is resuming

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Prayers at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound to resume next week: statement (Reuters).

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The missing-papyri scandal: Nongbri on Sabar

OVER AT VARIANT READINGS, Brent Nongbri has several posts with detailed commentary on Ariel Sabar's recent Atlantic article on the scandal of the missing Oxyrhynchus Papyri:

New Article on Dirk Obbink in The Atlantic

Some Additional Thoughts on Sabar’s Atlantic Article

The Atlantic Article and Green Collection Cartonnage

The Antiquities Trade in Michigan

For the Atlantic article, with links to past PaleoJudaica posts on this convoluted story, see here and links.

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Temple Mount Sifting Project online symposium

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT BLOG: TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT SYMPOSIUM.
In celebration of Jerusalem Day, the Temple Mount Sifting Project will conduct an on-line study session (via Zoom), with a series of lectures on the archaeology of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, presented by the Sifting Project research team.
The symposium takes place on 24 May.

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And I saw ...

READING ACTS: The War of the Dragon – Revelation 12-15. Phil Long continues his blog series on the Book of Revelation with attention to the seven sights of chapters 12-15.

I have noted earlier posts in his Revelation series here and links.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Underground complex found near Western Wall

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Archaeologists discover 2000-year-old unique complex by the Western Wall. The structure was sealed later in the Byzantine period under the floors of a large building about 1,400 years ago and was left untouched for centuries (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
“This is a unique finding,” said Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon and Tehila Sadiel, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, according to a press release. “This is the first time a subterranean system has been uncovered adjacent to the Western Wall. You must understand that 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, like today, it was customary to build out of stone. The question is, why were such efforts and resources invested in hewing rooms underground in the hard bedrock?”

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Kurt Rudolph, 1929-2020

SAD NEWS: IN MEMORIAM: KURT RUDOLPH (1929-2020) (The NSEA Blog).

My first introduction to Gnosticism was reading Professor Rudolph's excellent book, Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism. I see that he received an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Andrews in 1983 (before my time).

Requiescat in pace.

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Review of Hicks-Keeton, Arguing with Aseneth

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Review: Arguing with Aseneth (Gerbern S. Oegema).
Arguing with Aseneth: Gentile Access to Israel’s Living God in Jewish Antiquity
By Jill Hicks-Keeton
(New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2018), 232 pp., $99.00 (hardcover)
For earlier reviews etc. of the book, see here and links. And for other posts on Joseph and Aseneth, see here and links.

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"Minimal damage" to (traditional) Tomb of Mordechai and Esther

UPDATE: Iranian Officials Say Minimal Damage At Ancient Jewish Site After Allegations Of Arson Attack (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty).
The cause of the incident on May 15, which U.S.-based Jewish groups have condemned as an “anti-Semitic” attack, is still not clear.

Authorities have said that the incident is being investigated.

Speaking on May 17 as he visited the site, the head of Tehran’s Jewish community Homayoun Somayeh said that the shrine of Esther and Mordechai is “completely intact,” adding that the incident has been “magnified and exaggerated” by the enemies of the Islamic republic.
Background here. And follow the links from there for more post on this shrine.

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The heavenly Temple and Ark of the Covenant

READING ACTS: God’s Temple in Heaven and the Ark of his Covenant – Revelation 11:19. Phil Long continues his blog series on the seven angels of the Book of Revelation and their seven trumpets. We are currently on the events of the seventh trumpet.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the Ark of the Covenant, start here and follow the links. But this passage in the Book of Revelation is about the archetypal Ark in the celestial (or better, macrocosmic) Temple of God.

I have noted earlier posts in Phil's current series here and links.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Those scroll fragments weren't blank ...

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Dead Sea Scroll fragments thought to be blank reveal text (Joe Stafford, University of Manchester via PhysOrg).
When examining the fragments for the new study, Professor [Joan] Taylor thought it possible that one of them did actually contain a letter, and therefore decided to photograph all of the existing fragments over 1 cm that appear blank to the naked eye, using multispectral imaging.

51 fragments were imaged front and back. Six were identified for further detailed investigation—of these, it was established that four have readable Hebrew/Aramaic text written in carbon-based ink. The study has also revealed ruled lines and small vestiges of letters on other fragments.
The fragments are at the Rylands Library in Manchester. They are certainly genuine. For more on Multispectral Imaging and its application to ancient epigraphy, start here and follow the links.

Now take a deep breath and repeat after me:

Bit by bit, a letter at a time, whatever it takes. Until we're done.

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P for popular purview?

PROF. MARTHA HIMMELFARB: Scribal Features That Helped the Priestly Text Survive (TheTorah.com).
The biblical priestly text is unique in the ancient Near East, in that it utilizes scribal features such as colophons, cross references, and casuistic laws (when... then...), aimed at making the text accessible to the public. This preserved Israelite priestly writing past the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple.

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What was Paul?

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Essay | Notes on the Historical Paul and his Intellectual Activity (Sarah Rollens).

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Bethsaida (?) flooded

HOLY LAND PHOTOS' BLOG: Bethsaida (el–Araj) Flooded. Carl Rasmussen has photos.

On the question of which site is the real Bethsaida (et-Tell or el-Araj), see here and follow the links.

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BAR 2020 Summer issue

BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY SOCIETY: Biblical Archaeology Review, Summer 2020. The articles look interesting, but access to the full texts require a personal or institutional subscription.

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

Fire at the (traditional) Tomb of Mordechai and Esther.

UNDER INVESTIGATION: Iran officials confirm ‘minor damage’ by fire at Tomb of Mordechai and Esther. Regime-controlled website publishes — then deletes — report that a person was seen in CCTV footage trying, and failing, to torch Jewish holy site right after Israel’s anniversary (Times of Israel).

For earlier PaleoJudaica posts on this politically fraught site, see here (mention), here, here, here, here, and here.

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Bacchi, Uncovering Jewish Creativity in Book III of the Sibylline Oracles

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Uncovering Jewish Creativity in Book III of the Sibylline Oracles

Gender, Intertextuality, and Politics


Series:
Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, Volume: 194

Author: Ashley Bacchi

In Uncovering Jewish Creativity in Book III of the Sibylline oracles, Ashley L. Bacchi reclaims the importance of the Sibyl as a female voice of prophecy and reveals new layers of intertextual references that address political, cultural, and religious dialogue in second-century Ptolemaic Egypt. This investigation stands apart from prior examinations by reorienting the discussion around the desirability of the pseudonym to an issue of gender. It questions the impact of identifying the author’s message with a female prophetic figure and challenges the previous identification of paraphrased Greek oracles and their function within the text. Verses previously seen as anomalous are transferred from the role of Greek subterfuge of Jewish identity to offering nuanced support of monotheistic themes.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €105.00 / $126.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-42607-8
Publication Date: 28 Apr 2020

Hardback
Availability: Not Yet Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-42434-0
Publication Date: 17 Jun 2020

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The seventh trumpet

READING ACTS: The Seventh Trumpet – Revelation 11:15-19. Phil Long continues his blog series on the seven angels of the Book of Revelation and their seven trumpets.

I have noted earlier posts in the series here and links.

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Saturday, May 16, 2020

NYU's virtual DSS conference starts tomorrow

INNOVATION: Sunday at NYU: First-Ever Virtual International Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls (David Israel, The Jewish Press).

Noted previously here.

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Secunda, The Talmud’s Red Fence

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Menstrual Impurity and Difference in Babylonian Judaism and its Sasanian Context. Notice of a New Book: Secunda, Samuel. 2020. The Talmud’s red fence: Menstrual impurity and difference in Babylonian Judaism and its Sasanian context. New York: Oxford University Press.

Follow the link for description and purchase information.

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A gold octodrachm of Ptolemy III

NUMISMATICS: Octodrachm from Ptolemaic Egypt in Heritage sale displays spending power (Jeff Starck, Coin World).
In Heritage Auctions’ April 24 auction, a gold mnaieion of Ptolemy III Euergetes, posthumously issued circa 219 to 217 B.C. in Alexandria for Ptolemy IV, realized $20,400, with the 20 percent buyer’s fee.

The coin measures 27 millimeters in diameter and weighs 27.74 grams, comparable in diameter to a Presidential dollar, but slightly heavier than a Morgan dollar.
There are nice photos in the article.

For more on the coinage of the Ptolemaic kings, and the role of some of those kings in the Bible, see here and links. As noted in that post, Ptolemy III Euergetes is the branch from the roots of the daughter of the king of the south mentioned in Daniel 11:7-9 and Ptolemy IV Philopater is the king of the south mentioned in Daniel 11:11. For more on Ptolemy III, see here. And for a detailed account of the convoluted historical background to their reigns, see here.

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The beer hypothesis

IN HEAVEN THERE IS NO BEER: Was the First Beer Brewed for the Dead? Archaeologists disagree on whether they’ve found the world’s oldest beer, or just bread (Bridget Alex, Discover Magazine).

For past PaleoJudaica posts on ancient beer, see here and links. This story takes the history of beer back to its origins. Maybe.

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Feasting at Philoteria

CULINARY ARCHAEOLOGY: Feast of snails and pig sheds life on Hellenist life in ancient Galilee. “If we look at food remains in Jewish settlements from the same period, we see very different species,” Pines, whose expertise is in the field of zoo-archaeology, told the Post (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).

I love trash pits.

The site is Tel Bet Yerah, ancient Philoteria.

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The psalm and the pandemic?

PROF. MATTHIAS HENZE: God Shelters the Faithful: The Prayer of Psalm 91 (TheTorah.com).
Psalm 91 expresses confidence that God will protect the righteous from plagues, demons, and wild animals, while allowing the wicked to perish. How are we to understand such language, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Psalm 91 is the premier psalm for the Jewish magical tradition. As Professor Henze notes, it is tied to an exorcistic tradition as far back as the Dead Sea Scrolls. And it also features often in the context of protection from demonic pestilence in subsequent Jewish magic. For some background, see here.

Psalm 91 has also been used similarly in Christianity. Philip Jenkins has a recent blog post on it here.

Individual readers can decide for themselves whether the psalm has any relevance for the current pandemic.

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The witnesses perish but persevere

READING ACTS: The Death of the Two Witnesses – Revelation 11:7-14. Phil Long continues his blog series on the seven angels of the Book of Revelation and their seven trumpets. I think we must be close to wrapping up the events of the sixth trumpet.

I have noted earlier posts in the series here and links.

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Walsh, Angels Associated with Israel in the Dead Sea Scrolls

IN THE MAIL:
Matthew L. Walsh, Angels Associated with Israel in the Dead Sea Scrolls:
Angelology and Sectarian Identity at Qumran
(Mohr Siebeck, 2019)
My review copy for Dead Sea Discoveries.

For more on the book, see here.

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Sabar on the missing-papyri scandal

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING: A Biblical Mystery at Oxford. A renowned scholar claimed that he discovered a first-century gospel fragment. Now he’s facing allegations of antiquities theft, cover-up, and fraud (Ariel Sabar, The Atlantic).

This is the definitive account of the missing-Oxyrhynchus-papyri scandal. It covers the still-inconclusive story up to the present, with detailed background. I think it has everything I already knew, plus a good bit I didn't. Background here and many links.

You should set aside some time and read the whole, long article. As before, I myself have no inside knowledge of the affair and no further comment.

Ariel Sabar is the son of UCLA Aramaist Yona Sabar. Ariel is known for his book My Father's Paradise, on his family's background in Aramaic-speaking Kurdish Iraq. See here and links. And he is still better known for his groundbreaking 2016 article on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife, also in The Atlantic. He has a book forthcoming on the latter.

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Thomas Oden Lambdin, 1927-2020

SAD NEWS: Reports are coming in from Jack Sasson's Agade List and elsewhere that Thomas Oden Lambdin, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University, has passed away at the age of 93.

Professor Lambdin was a premier — perhaps the premier — Semitist of the twentieth century. He took early retirement in 1983, the year I came to the Harvard NELC PhD program. I never took a class with him, but he came round the Semitic Museum now and then, so I did get to meet him and chat with him a bit. And I heard many stories about him from other students in the program, and from John Huehnergard, who came in the same year to take up the NELC Comparative Semitics post.

Professor Lambdin's influence on the field was incalculable, both at the elementary level and in the world of research. He published introductory grammars for Hebrew, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Gothic. All have been much used and highly influential. And his advances in Comparative Semitics and the historical grammar of Hebrew were profound.

Requeiscat in pace.

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Francis Ian Andersen, 1925-2020

SAD NEWS: Word has come in from Professor Andrei Orlov that Australian Biblical Scholar Francis (Frank) Andersen, has passed away at the age of 94.

Professor Andersen taught at a number of institutions in Australia and the United States. He was back in Australia at the end of his life. He was known especially for his work on biblical Hebrew syntax and computational linguistics, and for his translation of 2 (Slavonic) Enoch in Charlesworth's Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.

Requiescat in pace.

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Hard times for biblical archaeology

IT'S LOOKING BAD: Biblical archaeology: another casualty of the coronavirus. Archaeologists in Israel are still processing the casualties the pandemic has wrought (SHELLEY NEESE, Jerusalem Post).

For reports of looting, see here. A related story is here and here. For Tel Aroma (Tel Aruma), see here. For the closure of the SWBTS archaeology program, see here.

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