Saturday, August 29, 2020

Sensenig, Jehoiachin and his Oracle

NEW BOOK FROM GORGIAS PRESS:
Melvin Sensenig
Jehoiachin and his Oracle
A Jeremianic Scribal Framework for the End of the Deuteronomistic History


Series: Perspectives on Hebrew Scriptures and its Contexts, 31

Gorgias Press | 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31826/9781463240448

£89.00 PDF
FORMATS
PDF
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4044-8
Published: 15 Jan 2020

OVERVIEW
King Jehoiachin, the last Judahite king exiled to Babylon, became the focus of conflicting hopes and fears about a revived Davidic kingship after the exile. As Sensenig demonstrates, this conflict stemmed from a drastic oracle from Jeremiah that seemed to categorically reject Jehoiachin, while the canon records that he not only survived but thrived in exile.

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Contextualizing coins

NUMISMATICS: CONTEXTUALIZING COINS: AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. NATHAN T. ELKINS (AUSTIN ANDREWS, Pocket Change Blog).
NE: You are absolutely right. Coins are magnificent objects. They often bear the portrait of a certain ruler and we can frequently associate them with specific events and vibrant periods of history. When holding an ancient coin, you think not only about the imagery on it and what it meant in the social and political contexts at the time it was struck, but you also think about the lives of those who handled them thousands of years ago, who they were, and what they thought about those images on the coins that are so intriguing—but foreign—to us today. I understand the allure.

The answer to those questions we like to speculate about when holding a coin can only be answered by attention to context. ...

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Past pandemics

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Pandemics in Perspective (Sarah Yeomans).
Humanity has confronted pandemic events many times before. An examination of our current state through a historical lens can perhaps offer us another adjective: hopeful.
There are various stories of plagues in the Bible, but this article does not cover them. It limits itself to plagues in antiquity for which we have eyewitness accounts. The essay doesn't have a direct connection to ancient Judaism. But I note it for its relevance to current events.

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Who cited whom in the Talmud?

MICHAEL SATLOW: The Rabbinic Citation Network. Professor Satlow and his collaborator Mike Sperling have produced a visual representation of the rabbinic citation network in the Babylonian Talmud. Follow the link for a link to the site.

Cross-file under Talmud Watch.

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Friday, August 28, 2020

Bons (ed.), Historical and Theological Lexicon of the Septuagint, vol. 1

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Historical and Theological Lexicon of the Septuagint.Volume I: Alpha – Gamma. Edited by Eberhard Bons. 2020. CLXIII, 990 pages. 289,00 € including VAT. cloth - unit price. ISBN 978-3-16-150747-2.
Published in English.
The Hebrew Bible has played an important part in the development of Western culture. However, its central ideas – such as monotheism, the demythologization of nature or the linearity of time – had to be taken out of the national and linguistic milieu in which they had developed if they were to to become fertile on a wider scale. They also needed to be rendered palatable to a mentality that had experienced the scientific, rationalist revolution prepared by the Greeks. The Septuagint – the oldest Greek translation of the Jewish Bible, produced over the third and second centuries BC – is the first important step in this process of acculturation.
Over the last twenty years the Septuagint has come out of the shadow of its Hebrew source. Historians of Judaism, linguists, and biblical scholars have come to view the Septuagint as a significant document in its own right. As the discoveries in Qumran have shown, the Hebrew source text of the Septuagint was not identical to the traditional text received by the synagogue (the Masoretic Text). Also, the translators appear to have taken a degree of liberty in interpreting the text. Dominique Barthélemy used the term 'aggiornamento': the Septuagint is a kind of update of the Jewish scriptures.
This large-scale collective and interdisciplinary project aims to produce a new research tool: a multi-volume dictionary providing a comprehensive article (around 500 articles in all) for each important word or word group of the Septuagint. Filling an important gap in the fields of ancient philology and religious studies, the dictionary is based on original research of the highest scientific level.
The dictionary will be published in English. The first volume contains over 160 articles on words with the letters Alpha to Gamma.
William A. Ross also celebrates the volume's publication here. Some years ago I noted a prequel volume here.

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Another Steinsaltz memorial

OBITUARY: Adin Steinsaltz: Rabbi who brought the Talmud within reach of millions (Emily Langer, The Independent/MSN News).
“The Talmud is the central pillar of Jewish knowledge, important for the overall understanding of what is Jewish,” Rabbi Steinsaltz once told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “But it is a book that Jews cannot understand. This is a dangerous situation, like a collective amnesia. I tried to make pathways through which people will be able to enter the Talmud without encountering impassable barriers. It’s something that will always be a challenge, but I tried to make it at least possible.”
Background here and here.

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More art in a Beit Guvrin-Maresha cave

EXHIBITION: Beit Guvrin cave transforms into first-of-its-kind art installation. Italian contemporary artist Ivo Bisignano is showing his first solo exhibition, “Human Forms,” in the Southern Cave, one of the many caves located in the Beit Guvrin National Park (SHARON FEIEREISEN, Jerusalem Post).

This story is about a modern art installation. Normally I would not cite it. But it ties in nicely with yesterday's post on the mysterious amatory inscription in the well-decorated Sidonian Cave, also in the Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park. Follow that link for other caves in the area which found uses in antiquity.

Whatever attraction those caves had then seems to hold today.

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Flee to Pella!

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Pella: A Window on Survival (Mark Wilson).
Before writing my doctoral thesis two decades ago, the only Pella that I knew about was a small town in south central Iowa famous for its windows and doors. But in the course of my research, I discovered fascinating data about another Pella located in the Perean foothills of the Jordan River. In March I finally had the opportunity to visit the Pella located in northwestern Jordan.

[...]
I lived for several years in that Pella in Iowa. It's a nice town. I haven't visited the ancient Pella, but you can learn more about it at the link.

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Tomb tryst in the Sidonian Cave?

MYSTERIOUS EPIGRAPHY: The Strange Afterlife of a Mysterious Tomb Inscription. “I lay with another but I love you, the one most dear to me” (Gitit Ginat, Atlas Obscura).
Not everyone is convinced. Some believe that it is indeed a message between two lovers, others that is more like a playful love poem. Others claim that the writer was a sex worker, sarcastically warning a client to come back and pay her.
Inscriptions involving people's private affairs are typically very hard to understand. Inevitably, much background is unstated. That is one reason why ancient letters (epistles) are difficult to decipher.

This Greek inscription is fascinatingly ambivalent but seems to involve some communication between erotic partners. But the nature of the relationship, the point of the message, and even if both were still alive, remain unclear.

The highly decorated and inscribed tomb complex in the "Sidonian Cave" is remarkable in itself.

For more on Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park, which became an UNESCO Heritage Site in 2014, see here. Another cave in the area produced a large archive of Aramaic and Greek inscribed bullae. See here, here, and here, and follow the links for more on the region.

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Pandemic pedagogy: parchment-packages

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: ‘Parchment-Packages’ in The Jewish Jesus Class Pedagogical Practices in the Digital Age (Deborah Forger).

A creative exercise in making virtual instruction tangible.

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Davila's "AI Jesus?"

TECHNOLOGY WATCH? Engineer creates 'AI Jesus' by feeding a natural language processing system the King James Bible that produces interesting and terrifying scripture (Stacy Liberatore, Daily Mail).
  • Engineered programmed AI by feeding it the entire King James Bible
  • The system, dubbed 'AI Jesus,' has produced 30,000 words as of yet
  • The AI wrote about three topics: 'the plague,' Caesar' and 'the end of days'
  • Although much of the text resembles that of the bible there are many glitches
Some of the oracles sound bizarre, but not too bad. Others are just bizarre. On "the end of days":
And the AI gave its own take on the topic.

‘And he that was dead, the servant of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak unto you all that dwell in the wilderness and they shall be saved by the border of the LORD and his priests and his sons, and on the seven lambs, and of the seven places of the beast, and the other on the sabbath days.

But again, throughout the text a number of glitches appear such as:‘And when he was come into the house of God, which said unto the chief captain, and the gates of the brook, and the priests, and the fat that was made priest, and there was given him a wife, and his work was cast into the sea.’

Why, you ask, is PaleoJudaica devoting a post to this nonsense? Because the name of the engineer caught my attention. The article names him as "George Durendal."

Alert readers will notice that the surname is the name of Count Roland's sword in the Crusader-era chansons de geste. It may be a surname too. I don't know.

But at the bottom of the article the link gives the name "George Davila." That is the name used on the project's GitHub website. His profile link gives all three names. Perhaps Durendal is a pen name. I don't know.

As far as I know, the author is no relation. But I couldn't resist reading about his computer-generated revelations. Now you can too.

Mr. Davila Durendal's project is entertaining. And some of the other apocryphal scriptures, and even some biblical passages, are nearly as incoherent. But I think the Bible is safe from competition from AI scriptures for now.

Cross-file under Just For Fun.

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Equal time for et-Tell as Bethsaida

ARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSERTION: Biblical village of Bethsaida where Jesus fed the 5,000, walked on water and helped a blind man to see is finally identified by archaeologists after 32 years of excavations (Michael Havis, Daily Mail).

This article presents a robustly confident case for the identification of et-Tell as the ancient city of Bethsaida. Only near the end does it mention the contending side, el-Araj.

This might seem a bit imbalanced, but the article seems to be in response to another Mail piece from early June. It reported on the flooding of El-Araj, which it presented with comparable robust confidence as the site of Bethsaida.

I didn't link to that Mail article, but I did publish a couple of posts on the flooding of el-Araj here and here in May. Follow the links from there for lots of posts on both sites and the debate.

The two Mail articles give a good account of both perspectives. Both cases sound entirely convincing to me. I take no position on the question. I blog, you decide.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Eye in the sky spies Palmyra

PALMYRA WATCH: Israel releases pictures of Palmyra from new spy satellite (Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel Live Update). The name of the satellite is Ofek 16.

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 under Technology Watch.

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Vesuvius Day, belatedly

COMMEMORATION: Vesuvius Day 2020: History and Significance of the day (Rob Harris, Time Bulletin).


(My photo of Vesuvius from a conference in Naples in 2009)

The volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius took place on 24 August in 79 CE. A first-person account of it was published some decades later by Pliny the Younger in two letters to the Roman historian Tacitus. His uncle, Pliny the Elder, led a daring naval rescue mission into the eruption zone. Pliny's intervention may have saved something like 2000 people, the equivalent of about half the total death toll at Pompeii. The Elder Pliny died while doing scientific observations of the eruption.

Some think that a body recovered in a mass grave on the shores of the town of Stabiae is that of Pliny the Elder. I am skeptical, but who knows? That post sums up key developments around the eruption of Vesuvius so far in 2020 and gives links to many earlier posts. A couple of subsequent posts are here and here.

"Fortune favors the bold."

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Elymais coin recovered in Iran

NUMISMATIC APPREHENSION: Elymais coin found in southwestern Iran (Tehran Times).

The coin is unremarkable. I mention it because it has a nice connection with a story in the Old Testament Apocrypha.

Elymais was a region in the Parthian empire. It is mentioned in 1 Maccabees 6:1. The passage says that Antiochus IV Epiphanes noticed a wealthy city in Elymais whose riches seemed worth plundering. This did not go well for him.

Note that, contra the English translation linked to above, the better Greek reading in the verse says that the city was in Elymais, not that the city was Elymais. Elymais was a region not a city.

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The hanging and the cursing

PROF. RABBI MARTY LOCKSHIN: A Corpse Left Hanging Overnight Is a “Cursing of God” (TheTorah.com).
The body of an executed criminal is hanged but must be buried on the same day, כִּי קִלְלַת אֱלֹהִים תָּלוּי, “because a hanged body is a cursing of God” (Deut 21:23). What does this phrase mean?

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Incantation bowls in the classroom

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Incantation Bowls and Embodied Knowledge (Krista Dalton).
But rather than focus solely on cognition, I wanted to emphasize the embodied role of the ritual expert. This inspired me to bring incantation bowls into the classroom.
For many PaleoJudaica posts on Babylonian Aramaic incantation bowls, see here and links, here, and here. For another make-your-own project involving such bowls, see here

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What is a prophet like Moses?

PROF. KENNETH SEESKIN: Prophecy and Legislation After Moses (TheTorah.com).
Deuteronomy promises the Israelites that God will continue sending prophets “like Moses.” But if the Torah’s legislation cannot be adjusted, what is the role of later prophets? And how can all the changes to Torah law made by the rabbis be justified?

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Pajunen & Tervanotko (eds.) Crossing imaginary boundaries (on the DSS)

THE AWOL BLOG: Crossing imaginary boundaries: the Dead Sea Scrolls in the context of Second Temple Judaism. An open-access book edited by Mika S. Pajunen & Hanna Tervanotko and published by the Finnish Exegetical Society.

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C-14 calibration changes Coptic curve

VARIANT READINGS: A New Radiocarbon Calibration Curve and Early Christian Manuscripts (Brent Nongbri). The new INTCAL20 C-14 calibration shifts the probable date range of some Coptic (and presumably other) manuscripts to some decades later than previously thought.

For past posts on Carbon-14 dating, see here and links. Cross-file under Technology Watch and Coptic Watch.

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Monday, August 24, 2020

Lewis on writing a history of ancient Israelite religion

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
The Fascination, Challenges, and Joys of Being a Historian of Ancient Israelite Religion

What is entailed in writing a history of ancient Israelite religion? How might the concept of divinity be used as an organizing principle to explore the wide variety of religious experiences? What skill-set is needed for such an undertaking, and what is the nature of our dataset? What can we conclude with any confidence when we acknowledge that we stand at such a vast distance?

See Also: The Origin and Character of God: Ancient Israelite Religion through the Lens of Divinity (Oxford University Press, 2020).

Theodore J. Lewis
Blum-Iwry Professor of Near Eastern Studies
Johns Hopkins University
August 2020
Cross-file under New Book.

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Burke on the not-so-lost gospels

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Christian Apocrypha: The “Lost Gospels”? Apocryphal texts and early Christianity. This BHD essay by Ellen White summarizes an article in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review by Tony Burke. As usual, the article itself is behind the subscription wall.

For more on More New Testament Apocrypha volume 2, edited by Professor Burke, see here, here, and here.

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Academic post in Syriac Christianity at Notre Dame

SYRIAC WATCH: Professor of Syriac Christianity, University of Notre Dame. Advert courtesy of NAPS. The job is full-time and tenure-track, at the assistant or associate professor level. The application deadline is 15 October 2020.

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Høgenhaven, The Cave 3 Copper Scroll: A Symbolic Journey

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
The Cave 3 Copper Scroll: A Symbolic Journey

Series:
Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah, Volume: 132

Author: Jesper Høgenhaven

In The Cave 3 Copper Scroll: A Symbolic Journey, Jesper Høgenhavn presents a reading of the Copper Scroll as a literary text. For more than 60 years, scholars have debated whether or not the treasures recorded here reflect historical realities. This study argues that the dichotomy between “facts” and “fiction” is inadequate for a proper understanding of the Copper Scroll. The document was designed to convey specific images to its readers, thus staying true to the format of an instruction for retrieving hidden treasures. Yet, the evoked landscape is dense with symbolical associations, and the journey through it reflects deliberate narrative patterns. The scroll was written against the background of the social and political turmoil of Jewish Palestine in the 1st century CE, and reflects contemporary concerns and interests.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €116.00 / $140.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-42958-1
Publication Date: 13 Jul 2020
Hardback
Availability: Not Yet Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-42855-3
Publication Date: 19 Aug 2020
For many, many PaleoJudaica posts on the mysterious Copper Scroll, start here and just follow those links.

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Sunday, August 23, 2020

Testing the Canon of Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology (ed. Gansell & Shafer)

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Testing the Canon of Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology. Notice of a new book: Gansell, Amy & Ann Shafer (eds.). 2020. Testing the canon of ancient near eastern art and archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The articles on the Cyrus Cylinder (cf. here) and on Hazor-Masada look particularly interesting.

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When God sends lying prophets

PROF. JAMES A. DIAMOND: Discerning False Prophecy: The Story of Ahab and the Lying Spirit (TheTorah.com).
Ahab’s 400 court prophets all assure him that he will defeat Aram, but the prophet Micaiah tells him that these prophets are being enticed by a lying spirit, sent by YHWH himself, for the purpose of destroying Ahab. If Ahab had been willing to face his own position vis-a-vis God honestly, he would have known who was telling the truth.

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Authoritative Writings in Early Judaism and Early Christianity (ed. Nicklas & Schröter)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Authoritative Writings in Early Judaism and Early Christianity: Their Origin, Collection, and Meaning. Ed. by Tobias Nicklas and Jens Schröter. 2020. VI, 356 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 441.139,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-156094-1.
Published in English.
Recent scholarship on the history of the biblical canons has increasingly recognised that the Jewish and Christian Bibles were not formed independently of each other but amid controversial debate and competition. But what does it mean that the formation of the Christian Bible cannot be separated from the developments that led to the Jewish Bible? The articles in this collection start with the assumption that the authorization of writings had already begun in Israel and Judaism before the emergence of Christianity and was continued in the first centuries CE by Judaism and Christianity in their respective ways. They deal with a broad range of sources, such as writings which came to be part of the Hebrew Bible, literature from Qumran, the Septuagint, or early Jewish apocalypses. At the same time they deal, for example, with structures of authorization related to New Testament writings, examine the role of authoritative texts in so-called Gnostic schools, and discuss the authority of late antique apocryphal literature.

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Consolino & Herrin, The Early Middle Ages (Bible and Women series)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
The Early Middle Ages
Franca Ela Consolino (Editor), Judith Herrin (Editor)

ISBN 9781589835757
Status Available
Price: $59.00
Binding Paperback
Publication Date July 2020
Pages 420

Examine the creative, profound dialogue between medieval women and biblical traditions

The latest volume in the Bible and Women series examines the relationship between women and the Bible’s reception during the early Middle Ages (500–1100 CE) in both the Greek East and the Latin West. Essays focus on interactions between women and the Bible through biblical precepts on women and for women, biblical women as the subjects of action or objects of discussion, and writings by women that refer to the Bible as a moral authority. The women discussed in the volume range from the well-known—including the nuns Kassia in Byzantium and Hrosvita in the West; the aristocrat Dhuoda, author of a moral guide for her son; Gisela, the sister of Charlemagne and abbess of Chelles; and her niece Rotrude—to those who remain anonymous. Contributions also explore how the Old and New Testaments exercised influence on emerging Islam.

Features:
  • Analysis of images of the Virgin Mary as a means of tracing the spread of her cult and feast days from East to West
  • Exploration of the significance of classical culture for medieval women who composed poems for a Christian audience
  • Evaluation of art as a means of establishing devotional relationships not necessarily mediated by the voices of preachers or the reading of texts
The volume focuses on Christian women and Christian reception, but it includes an article by Martha Himmelfarb on "The Virgin Mary and Ancient Jewish Literature."

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