Tuesday, November 24, 2020

More on Hegra and the Nabateans

NABATEAN (NABATAEAN) WATCH: HEGRA, AN ANCIENT CITY IN SAUDI ARABIA UNTOUCHED FOR MILLENNIA, MAKES ITS PUBLIC DEBUT. The archaeological site, now open to tourists, offers clues about the mysterious empire that built it and its more famous sister city of Petra in Jordan (LAUREN KEITH, Smithsonian Magazine).
Once a thriving international trade hub, the archeological site of Hegra (also known as Madain Saleh) has been left practically undisturbed for almost 2,000 years. But now for the first time, Saudi Arabia has opened the site to tourists. Astute visitors will notice that the rock-cut constructions at Hegra look similar to its more famous sister site of Petra, a few hundred miles to the north in Jordan. Hegra was the second city of the Nabataean kingdom, but Hegra does much more than simply play second fiddle to Petra: it could hold the key to unlocking the secrets of an almost-forgotten ancient civilization.
A long, informative, and well illustrated article on one of the most important archaeological sites in Saudi Arabia. It is a major source of information on the ancient Nabateans, still relatively untapped. The Nabateans spoke Arabic, but wrote in Aramaic for commercial, government, and diplomatic purposes.

PaleoJudaica posts on Hegra (Madain Saleh), "Saudi Arabia's answer to Petra," are collected here. For many posts on Petra and the Nabateans and their language, see here and links (cf. here).

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Maiden, Cognitive Science and Ancient Israelite Religion

Cognitive Science and Ancient Israelite Religion
New Perspectives on Texts, Artifacts, and Culture

Part of Society for Old Testament Study Monographs

AUTHOR: Brett E. Maiden, Emory University, Atlanta
DATE PUBLISHED: October 2020
FORMAT: Hardback
ISBN: 9781108487788

$ 99.99 (C) Hardback


In this book, Brett Maiden employs the tools, research, and theories from the cognitive science of religion to explore religious thought and behavior in ancient Israel. His study focuses on a key set of distinctions between intuitive and reflective types of cognitive processing, implicit and explicit concepts, and cognitively optimal and costly religious traditions. Through a series of case studies, Maiden examines a range of topics including popular and official religion, Deuteronomic theology, hybrid monsters in ancient iconography, divine cult statues in ancient Mesopotamia and the biblical idol polemics, and the Day of Atonement ritual in Leviticus 16. The range of media, including ancient texts, art, and archaeological data from ancient Israel, as well theoretical perspectives demonstrates how a dialogue between biblical scholars and cognitive researchers can be fostered.

  • Offers an accessible introduction to the current state of the cognitive study of religion, especially for biblical scholars and historians of religion
  • Provides theoretical discussion and concrete examples, in the form of case studies, of interdisciplinary scholarship in action
  • Examines different interrelated topics in the study Israelite religion, including theoretical, artistic, and textual

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

The house that Jesus grew up in?

'TIS THE SEASON, ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE EDITION: Is this the childhood home of Jesus Christ? British archaeologist excavates domestic dwelling under ruins of the Sisters of Nazareth Convent (Jonathan Chadwic, Daily Mail).

It could be. I noted the story here back in 2015. I was skeptical then and remain so today. It is clear that when a church was built over the site in the fourth century, there was a tradition that this was Jesus' house. But a lot of legends can start up in two or three hundred years.

Professor Dark has done much good archaeological work on ancient Nazareth, as I have noted here and links. I doubt that we will ever know if he is right on this specific point. But who knows? Conclusive proof might show up someday.

Whatever the merits of the claim, this article has many good photos of the site.

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Van Hecke, The Song of Songs in its Context

The Song of Songs in its Context. Words for Love, Love for Words

Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, 310

Van Hecke P.

YEAR: 2020
ISBN: 9789042942394
E-ISBN: 9789042942400
PRICE: 95 euro

Ever since its composition, the Song of Songs has fascinated generation upon generation of readers. The words for love expressed in the book have captivated the imagination and have inspired many, in each time and age, to interpret its meaning. Also the Song’s love for words – its intricate poetry and its rich and often daring imagery – has caught the attention of its readership. After two centuries of diminished interest in the book, the last two decades have witnessed a remarkable return of scholarly attention for the Song of Songs. In this volume, twenty-nine papers read at the 67th Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense (Leuven, July 25-27, 2018), not only bring together the current state of the art, but also sketch new perspectives and future avenues for the study of this shortest but most fascinating book in the Hebrew Bible. Attention is paid, by established and emerging scholars alike, to the Song’s origin and development, to its poetic features and metaphors, and to its rich and complex reception history.

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Monday, November 23, 2020

Lecture on Israelite Aramaic in Egypt

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: BASONOVA—Wandering Arameans in Egypt. New light on the Samarian and Judean diaspora.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 8 pm EST via Zoom
Wandering Arameans in Egypt: New Light on the Samarian and Judean Diaspora

Tawny Holm, Penn State University
The more I look into Papyrus Amherst 63, the more fascinating it becomes. It is a collection of Aramaic and Canaanite(?) texts written in Egyptian Demotic Script. They have Israelite, Samaritan, and Babylonian-Aramaic connections. Arguably the document has some connection with the fifth-century Aramaic-speaking Judeans at Elephantine, Egypt as well.

Professor Holm has been working on a translation of this remarkable text. I believe it is near publication.

For lots of PaleoJudaica posts on Papyrus Amherst 63 is here and links.

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Review of The Hellenistic court (ed. Erskine et al.)

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: The Hellenistic court: monarchic power and elite society from Alexander to Cleopatra.
Andrew Erskine, Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, Shane Wallace, The Hellenistic court: monarchic power and elite society from Alexander to Cleopatra. Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 2017. Pp. 473. ISBN 9781910589625 £60.00.

Review by
Monica D'Agostini, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano. dagostini.monica@gmail.com

Only one of the essays deals with Jews in the Hellenistic court ("Deserving the Court’s Trust: Jews in Ptolemaic Egypt," by Livia Capponi). But the book looks full of information on the Seleucid and Ptolemaic monarchies during the Second Temple period.

For more on the Seleucid era and its importance for biblical and ancient Jewish studies, see here and links (cf. here). Likewise for the Ptolemaic era here and here and links.

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Dura-Europos exhibition catalogue

THE AWOL BLOG: Dura-Europos: Crossroad of Antiquity. With links to the cataloge and e-book for this 2011 exhibition at the Boston College McMullen Museum of Art. The catalogue price is a little steep ("from $1,935.96"), but the e-book is free.

For PaleoJudaica posts on the McMullen Museum exhibition, see here and links. The NYU/ISAW exhibition on Dura-Europos was also in 2011. And the World between Empires exibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2019 also involved Dura-Europos. Follow that last link for many other posts on this important Syrian site known particularly for its late-antique synagogue murals.

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T&T Clark Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism (2 vols.)

T&T Clark Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism Volumes I and II

Editor(s): Loren T. Stuckenbruck, Daniel M. Gurtner

Published: 12-26-2019
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
ISBN: 9780567661449
Imprint: T&T Clark
Illustrations: 16 color maps and 192 bw illus
List price: $440.00

About T&T Clark Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism Volumes I and II

The T&T Clark Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism provides a comprehensive reference resource of over 600 scholarly articles aimed at those studying Judaism in the Second Temple Period, and the numerous texts and artefacts related to it.

The work is split into four parts across two volumes.

Part One locates the discipline in relation to other relevant fields (for example the Hebrew Bible, Rabbinics, Christian Origins) and provides an orientation to the discipline's distinctive nomenclatures and debates. The history of research in the area is also presented in full.

Part Two presents an overview of respective contexts of the discipline set within the broad framework of historical chronology. Social/cultural, literary, linguistic, geographical, political, and religious contexts are all explained, from the time period of the conquests of Alexander the Great (332 B.C.E.) through to the reign of Hadrian (135 C.E.).

Part Three focuses specifically on the literature of the Second Temple period, summarizing the content of key texts, and examining their similarities and differences with other texts of the period. This section includes surveys of scholarship on date, provenance, location, language(s), and interpretative issues. The reception history of texts is considered.

Part Four addresses topics, specifically those relevant to Second Temple literature such as places, practices, historical figures and artefacts. v The volumes include 14 specially created color maps and over 60 charts and illustrations.

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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Ancient silver counterfeiting?

METAL MONEY MISCHIEF: Dirty old money: Researchers reveal Iron Age silver forgery. "It is likely that they used money that was already in the area from previous periods, to which they added the copper from the Timna area" (Hannah Brown, Jerusalem Post).

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Harland & Last, Group Survival in the Ancient Mediterranean

Group Survival in the Ancient Mediterranean
Rethinking Material Conditions in the Landscape of Jews and Christians

By: Philip A. Harland, Richard Last

Published: 04-16-2020
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 240
ISBN: 9780567657480
Imprint: T&T Clark
Illustrations: 17 bw illus
Dimensions: 6 1/8" x 9 1/4"
List price: $115.00
Online price: $80.50
Save $34.50 (30%)

About Group Survival in the Ancient Mediterranean

Philip A. Harland and Richard Last consider the economics of early Christian group life within its social, cultural and economic contexts, by drawing on extensive epigraphic and archaeological evidence. In exploring the informal associations, immigrant groups, and guilds that dotted the world of the early Christians, Harland and Last provide fresh perspective on the question of how Christian assemblies and Judean/Jewish gatherings gained necessary resources to pursue their social, religious, and additional aims. By considering both neglected archaeological discoveries and literary evidence, the authors analyse financial and material aspects of group life, both sources of income and various areas of expenditure. Harland and Last then turn to the use of material resources for mutual support of members in various groups, including the importance of burial and the practice of interest-free loans. Christian and Judean evidence is explored throughout this book, culminating in a discussion of texts detailing the internal financial life of Christian assemblies as seen in first and second century sources, including Paul, the Didache, Justin Martyr, and Tertullian. In shedding new light on early Christian financial organisation, this volume aids further understanding of how some Christian groups survived and developed in the Greco-Roman world.

More on Philip Harland's work is here and links.

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Baker et al. (eds.), Exploring the Composition of the Pentateuch

Exploring the Composition of the Pentateuch

Edited by L. S. Baker Jr., Kenneth Bergland, Felipe A. Masotti, and A. Rahel Wells

$89.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-1-57506-985-2

314 pages
6" × 9"
3 b&w illustrations

Bulletin for Biblical Research Supplement


For many years, the historical-critical quest for a reconstruction of the origin(s) and development of the Pentateuch or Hexateuch has been dominated by the documentary hypothesis, the heuristic power of which has produced a consensus so strong that an interpreter who did not operate within its framework was hardly regarded as a scholar. However, the relentless march of research on this topic has continued to yield new and refined analyses, data, methodological tools, and criticism. In this spirit, the contributions to this volume investigate new ideas about the composition of the Pentateuch arising from careful analysis of the biblical text against its ancient Near Eastern background.

Covering a wide spectrum of topics and diverging perspectives, the chapters in this book are grouped into two parts. The first is primarily concerned with the history of scholarship and alternative approaches to the development of the Pentateuch. The second focuses on the exegesis of particular texts relevant to the composition of the Torah. The aim of the project is to foster investigation and collegial dialogue in a spirit of humility and frankness, without imposing uniformity.

In addition to the editors, the contributors include Tiago Arrais, Richard E. Averbeck, John S. Bergsma, Joshua A. Berman, Daniel I. Block, Richard Davidson, Roy E. Gane, Duane A. Garrett, Richard S. Hess, Benjamin Kilchör, Michael LeFebvre, Jiří Moskala, and Christian Vogel.

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Barbu & Deutsch, Toledot Yeshu in Context

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Toledot Yeshu in Context. The Jewish »Life of Jesus« in Ancient, Medieval, and Modern History. Edited by Daniel Barbu and Yaacov Deutsch. 2020. VIII, 358 pages. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 182. 144,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-159300-0.
Published in English.
The Jewish »Life of Jesus« or Toledot Yeshu provides one of the most extraordinary accounts of the beginnings of Christianity. The narrative describes Jesus as child born of adultery, a charlatan, and a false prophet who performed would-be miracles through the use of magic. Throughout the centuries, the story aroused the ire of anti-Jewish polemicists, delighted anti-clerical authors, and was viewed by Jewish scholars as a subject of embarrassment. Toledot Yeshu presents us with a formidable counter-history of the origins of Christianity. In the eighteenth century, Voltaire went so far as to proclaim that Toledot Yeshu, however extravagant, was perhaps more truthful than the Christian gospels. The object of this volume is to consider this narrative as an object of history, to question its transmission, reception and function within the various historical settings in which it circulated, and seek to understand its meaning for both Jews and non-Jews from antiquity to the modern era.
For more on Toledot Yeshu, see here, here, and here.

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