Saturday, March 07, 2020

The cosmic menorah

PROF. STEVEN FINE: Menorah, Its “Branches” and Their Cosmic Significance (TheTorah.com)
Midrash Tanchuma relates how Moses didn’t understand God's instructions for how to construct the menorah. This highlights the complexity of the Torah’s instructions, which commentators from antiquity until today struggled to visualize. One approach, taken by Philo and Josephus, was to interpret the menorah symbolically.
For many past PaleoJudaica posts on ancient menorahs and representations of menorahs, with considerable attention to Professor Fine's work, see here and links (cf. here, here, here, here, here and links).

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Mount Athos manuscripts digitized

THE ETC BLOG: Mount Athos Repository On-line (Tommy Wasserman). This is exciting news. Tommy is thinking about all the New testament manuscripts this project will make available. For my part, I am hoping for some interesting new Old Testament pseudepigrapha manuscripts.

Cross-file under Digitization.

And for a PaleoJudaica post on Mount Athos and its ... cats, see here.

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Friday, March 06, 2020

Trouble with that adultery commandment

GENIZA FRAGMENT OF THE MONTH (FEBRUARY 2020): Trouble with Adultery in the Cairo Genizah Biblical Manuscripts: T-S NS 67.34, T-S A40.77 et al. (Gary Martin). Presumably all these problems with the transmission of the adultery commandment are accidental.

Earlier references to the awkward omission in the infamous "Wicked Bible" here, here, and here.

Past posts noting Cairo Geniza Fragments of the Month in the Cambridge University Library's Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit are here and links.

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The Nazareth inscription isn't from Nazareth?

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: NAZARETH TABLET HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH JESUS, BELONGED TO GREEK TYRANT, SCIENTISTS SAY. (Hannah Osborne, Newsweek).
The Nazareth Tablet, long thought to have been created after the disappearance of Jesus' body, has nothing to do with him or Christianity, scientists have said. Instead, the mystery marble tablet more likely belonged to a Greek tyrant called Nikias, whose grave was desecrated after his death, around 30 to 20 B.C.

[...]
For background on this artifact, see here.

The Newsweek article is based on a scholarly article published in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 30 (2020) 10228: Establishing the provenance of the Nazareth Inscription: Using stable isotopes to resolve a historic controversy and trace ancient marble production (Kyle Harper, Michael McCormick, Matthew Hamilton, Chantal Peiffert, Raymond Michels, Michael Engel). I have linked to the pdf. It looks as though the article is open access.

As the Newsweek article indicates, this new research, although valuable in itself, does not prove that the tablet was not displayed in Nazareth. The marble could, for example, have been imported from Kos. But it does raise significant doubt about the Nazareth connection and, therefore, any connection with the burial of Jesus.

This is another example of why we should be cautious about drawing conclusions from unprovenanced artifacts.

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Hiding places for the Great Revolt

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY VIII.2: Jewish Cliff Shelters and Hiding Complexes in the Roman Period Galilee (Yinon Shivtiel).

Dr. Shivtiel has been at this project for many years. Past posts on his work are here, here, and here. And see also this recent article in the Jerusalem Post by Rossella Tercatin: Researcher identifies Galilee caves where Jews fought Romans. Hundreds of caves in the Galilee have been identified as those described by Josephus almost 2,000 years ago.

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Purim and Aelia Capitolina?

PURIM IS COMING: Walled Cities “from the Time of Joshua” Celebrate Shushan Purim – Why? (Prof.Eyal Ben-Eliyahu, TheTorah.com).
Hidden behind the strange rabbinic definition of walled cities is a polemical response to the notorious claim of Emperor Hadrian, who rebuilt Jerusalem as the pagan city Aelia Capitolina.

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Thursday, March 05, 2020

Harvard's Stager Memorial Minute

THE HARVARD GAZETTE: Lawrence Elwood Stager, 74. Memorial Minute — Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
At a Meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on March 3, 2020, the following tribute to the life and service of the late Lawrence Elwood Stager was placed upon the permanent records of the Faculty.
Professor Stager, who was one of my teachers in my doctoral program in the 1980s, died in December 2017. I noted his passing, with some of my own memories, here. Other posts on him are here and here. I am pleased to see Harvard's recognition of him in this minute.

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Lost stories of Daniel recovered in the Aramaic DSS

AT BIBLE HISTORY DAILY, Dr. Andrew Perrin introduces another of his videos on the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls:

Aramaic Memories of Daniel Recovered from the Dead Sea Scrolls
The Qumran Aramaic collection, however, revealed a yet unknown and broader profile of the figure of Daniel in several works. While we were familiar with other Daniel traditions from the so-called “Additions” in the Septuagint, Cave Four included at least two new works that cast a Daniel in new settings and associate him with fresh revelations.
For notice of past episodes in the series, as well as earlier links to Dr. Perrin's work, see here.

This episode is timely, as we follow Phil Long's blog series on the Book of Daniel.

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Daniel and the end of Antiochus IV

READING ACTS: Daniel 11:36-12:3 – The Willful King. Another installment in Phil Long's blog series on the Book of Daniel.

In my view, Daniel 11:36-39 are so vaguely polemical that it is difficult to be sure whether they apply to specific things that Antiochus Epiphanes did. But vv. 40-45 make quite specific predictions which Antiochus did not fulfill, except that he did die not long after the profanation of the Jerusalem Temple. More on that here and links. For three (!) conflicting accounts of how Antiochus died, see 1 Maccabees 3:31-37; 6:1-17 and 2 Maccabees 1:12-16; 9:1-29. But all three place his death in the vicinity of Persia, not the land of Israel. The other events in Daniel 11:40-45 didn't happen.

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How are Esther and Jesus alike?

PURIM IS COMING: “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” — Jesus or Esther? (Dr.Abraham J. Berkovitz, TheTorah.com).
A midrash imagines Queen Esther reciting Psalm 22 the moment she was about to enter Ahasuerus' inner court. Are the rabbis responding to the Passion Narrative, in which Jesus, in his final moments, recites this lament on the cross?
A related post is here.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Israel's universities make good showing in 2020 top 100

LEAGUE TABLES: Seven Israeli university programs named among top 100 worldwide. Israel’s leading university is the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the research showed, with four programs ranked among the top 100 in their field. (Eytan Halon, Jerusalem Post). Congratulations to all seven, with special mention for the Hebrew University:
Israel’s leading university is the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the research showed, with four programs ranked among the top 100 in their field. The Hebrew University’s Theology, Divinity and Religious Studies Department was named 11th best in the world – Israel’s only top-20 department. The university’s Classics and Ancient History Department was ranked 34th worldwide.
I am pleased that the School of Divinity of the University of St. Andrews is also in the top 20 in the worldwide top 100 for Theology, Divinity & Religious Studies. We are tied for 17th place, up one from 2019.

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Daniel 11: Antiochus Epiphanes

READING ACTS has two more posts in Phil Long's blog series on the Book of Daniel:

Daniel 11:21-35 – Concerning Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Daniel 11:29-35 – The Fall of Antiochus IV Epiphanes

According to 1-2 Maccabees, the Maccabean war was a a rebellion against an oppressive outsider, Antiochus IV. But a lateral reading of the evidence indicates that it was also a civil was between Jewish traditionalists and innovators.

There are also brief accounts of the war from outsiders who see it more from the Seleucid side.

For more on these issues, see the links collected here. And for a highly revisionist view of the revolt, see here.

I noted earlier posts in Phil's Daniel series, often with my own commentary, here and links.

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AJR reviews Shoemaker, The Apocalypse of Empire

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | The Apocalypse of Empire: Imperial Eschatology in Late Antiquity and Early Islam (Abby Kulisz).

I noted the publication of the book here and another review of it here.

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On Sabbath law in the Mishnah

PROF. RABBI JUDITH HAUPTMAN: 39 Melachot of Shabbat: What Is the Function of This List? (TheTorah.com).
In halakha, the 39 melachot of Mishnah Shabbat 7:2 functions as a comprehensive list of primary categories of forbidden labor. A closer look at the list in context, however, reveals that it was composed and added as a supplement, to clarify a detail in the previous mishnah.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Biblical Studies Carnival 169

THE DUST BLOG: Biblical Studies Carnival for February 2020. As Phil Long notes, this is a Mardi Gras themed carnival.

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Curtis (ed.), Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period. Notice of a New Book: Curtis, John (ed.). 2020. Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period. A collection of essays in memory of the curator and scholar Terence Mitchell, exploring the history and archaeology of Ancient Persia. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co. Ltd.

Follow the link for a description and the TOC. A number of the articles involve biblical studies and Second Temple Judaism.

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Monday, March 02, 2020

Women's History Month: Babatha

THE FORWARD: Unsung Women | Babatha: The real housewife of ancient Judea (Irene Connelly).

For past PaleoJudaica posts on Babatha and her archive of personal papers from the second century CE, see here and links and here.

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New biblical Hebrew program at GWU

GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Classics department faculty look to add biblical Hebrew option for students.
Members of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations plan to debut a Biblical Hebrew program next semester.

Students majoring or minoring in Classical and Ancient Near Eastern studies could previously fulfill their history, culture and language requirements only by taking two years of ancient Greek or classical Latin. Faculty said the new program will allow students to explore a different classical language to fulfill their language requirement and help the department meet a growing interest in Ancient Near Eastern studies.

[...]
This is good news. This program has been in the planning since 2014.

Two members of the GWU Classics faculty make appearances on PaleoJudaica from time to time. Christopher Rollston is associate professor of Northwest Semitic languages and literature. Some posts on his work from the last few years are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and links. Eric Cline is professor of classics, anthropology and history. Some posts on his work are here, here, here, and links.

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Review of Huebner, Papyri and the Social World of the New Testament.

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Sabine R. Huebner, Papyri and the Social World of the New Testament. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019. Pp. xv, 192. ISBN 9781108455701. $24.99 (pb). Reviewed by Brent Nongbri, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion, and Society (brent.nongbri@mf.no)
Enter Sabine Huebner’s Papyri and the Social World of the New Testament. This engaging book offers a series of case studies showing what can be gained when a specialist in the field of ancient history, particularly in papyrology, turns to texts and questions that are typically examined within the framework of New Testament studies.

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Sunday, March 01, 2020

Kraemer on "The Mediterranean Diaspora in Late Antiquity"

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Publications | The Mediterranean Diaspora in Late Antiquity. (Ross Kraemer).
Ross Shepard Kraemer, The Mediterranean Diaspora in Late Antiquity: What Christianity Cost the Jews: OUP 2020.

The central question I wanted to answer when I began work on MDLA was seemingly straightforward: what happened to the Jews of the Mediterranean diaspora in late antiquity? This phrasing carries several implications: that something happened to Jews in the Mediterranean diaspora, and that whatever this was didn’t happen to Jews elsewhere (whether in the homeland, or in the neo-Babylonian diaspora).

[...]
Cross-file under New Book.

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Frese, The City Gate in Ancient Israel and Her Neighbors

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
The City Gate in Ancient Israel and Her Neighbors

The Form, Function, and Symbolism of the Civic Forum in the Southern Levant


Series: Culture and History of the Ancient Near East, Volume: 108

Author: Daniel A. Frese

In The City Gate in Ancient Israel and Her Neighbors, Daniel A. Frese provides a wide-ranging portrayal of one of the most prominent social institutions in the kingdoms of the southern Levant during the Iron II period: the use of the city gate as a hub for numerous and diverse civic functions. The book provides an up-to-date description of the architecture of gate complexes based on archaeological evidence, and a systematic description of the many functions of the gate seen in hundreds of texts from the Hebrew Bible and the broader ancient Near East. The final chapters of the book discuss the conceptual significance of gates in Israelite culture, based on idiomatic and symbolic gate terminology in the Hebrew Bible.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €165.00 / $198.00

E-Book
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-41667-3
Publication Date: 20 Jan 2020

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-41666-6
Publication Date: 13 Feb 2020

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