Thursday, September 16, 2021

Saving the Tomb of Nahum in Iraq

RESTORATION COMPLETED: Saving Iraq’s Tomb of Nahum, a secret mission resurrects Kurdistan’s Jewish past. With IS just miles away, a US army vet, 2 Israeli engineers and the head of a preservation group carried out an audacious plan to restore an ancient shrine of the biblical prophet (TAL SCHNEIDER, Times of Israel).
This is that story, told for the first time. It included sneaking Israelis into Iraq to assess the damage to the building’s roof and the best way to restore it. It also involved tapping into the deep knowledge of the Kurdish-Jewish community and its unofficial doyen Mordechai Zaken, a scholar who was instrumental in planning the restoration of the tomb and who passed away just a few months ago.

It features the people of Alqosh, who safeguarded the tomb after the area’s Jews fled the pogroms that followed the creation of the State of Israel, along with the tomb’s modern benefactors: a small group of donors, including oil and energy companies from Norway, the local Kurdish government, the US embassy in Iraq and a few private donors who raised $2 million.

Behind it all was ARCH, a nonprofit started by national security expert Cheryl Benard, an expert on national security and post-war rebuilding efforts. Benard, whose husband Zalmay Khalilzad has led US diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, was impressed in her travels around the world by the resilience and creativity of individuals and groups trying to safeguard their national treasures, even under the most trying circumstances.

The restoration was completed in the spring of 2021.

Read the whole story.

I have been following the fate of the (traditional) Tomb of Nahum in Alqosh (al-Qosh, Al Qosh, Al-Quosh) for years. For past posts, start here and follow the links.

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Ancient Jewish Rome

Ancient Jewish Rome. An interview with Micaela Pavoncello (Brenda Lee Bohen, Wall Street International).
Entrepreneur Micaela Pavoncello is an art historian and a local licensed tour guide from Europe's oldest Jewish community in Rome.

She is a Roman Jew who can trace her heritage to the period when Titus conquered Judea and brought Jewish slaves to Rome.

Twenty years later, Pavoncello continues to take tourists on an incredible, spiritual and passionate 'storytelling' journey about her ancestors – the Jews of Rome.

In this brief interview, Micaela Pavoncello shares with me some of the most important highlights about her Ancient Jewish Rome tour.

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Yom Kippur 2021

YOM KIPPUR, the Day of Atonement, begins this evening at sundown. An easy and healthy fast to all those observing it.

Last year's post on Yom Kippur is here, with links to previous posts. See also here. More recent posts are here, here, here, and here. Biblical etc. background is here.

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

Does Yom Kippur atone for the sale of Joseph?

PROF. JASON RADINE: Shoeless on Yom Kippur (TheTorah.com).
The book of Jubilees claims that the brothers sold Joseph on Yom Kippur. Amos accuses the wealthy of selling the righteous for shoes. Reading this as a reference to the sale of Joseph, Eleh Ezkarah tells how Caesar fills his palace with shoes, and executes ten sages as a punishment for this crime. Is this connected to the prohibition to wear shoes on Yom Kippur?
For more on the story of the Ten Martyrs, which also appears in the Hekhalot literature and elsewhere, see here, here, and here. In the story as told in the Hekhalot Rabbati (§108), a textual variant refers to the selling of Joseph as the reason that Samma’el, the evil angelic prince of Rome, received permission to kill the ten martyrs. But there is no reference to shoes.

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Versatile Azazel

DR. ANNA ANGELINI: Is Azazel a Goat, Place, Demon, or Deity? (TheTorah.com).
Azazel plays the role of a deity in the biblical ritual of Yom Kippur, and in early interpretation, he played a central role as the initiator of sin and even the devil, or alternatively, as a protective figure. Later tradition obscured his identity, presenting Azazel as the name of a demon, as the scapegoat itself, and even as a place name.
So the answer to the question in the title seems to be "Yes." This essay gives a good summary of the ancient evidence.

For more on Azazel, see here and here.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Ben Sira, the High Priest, and the Yom Kippur liturgy

PROF. RABBI DALIA MARX: Mareh Kohen: Ben Sira’s Description of Simon the High Priest (TheTorah.com).
Written while the Second Temple was standing, and the Yom Kippur sacrificial service still performed, Ben Sira’s poem traces the history of the world through Simon son of Johanan, the High Priest in his time, thus expressing the cosmic importance of the Temple and its priesthood. The poem appears to be the antecedent or literary inspiration of the Yom Kippur Seder Avodah’s framing liturgy.

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Forthcoming book on the Septuagint

WILLIAM ROSS: BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: THE SEPTUAGINT (CROSSWAY 2021).
I’m excited to announce this morning my newest book that will hit shelves in early November: The Septuagint: What It Is and Why It Matters, which is being published with Crossway. It’s great to see this project come to fruition. Here are the details.

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Monday, September 13, 2021

Not as fraudulent as they thought

ARTIFACT VINDICATED? SORT OF. Tempest Over a “Cheater’s Weight” (David Hendin, Coin Week). Noted by various people over the weekend.

I noted the story of the supposed highly fraudulent First-Temple-era weight here. The claim here is that the archaeologists were reading it sideways!

All the same, the weight of the object comes somewhat under the labeled weight as revised. So it may have been fraudulent in the other direction.

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Free online course on Zoroastrianism

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Zoroastrianism: History, Religion, and Belief. Courtesy of SOAS. For you, special deal!

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Sunday, September 12, 2021

Allen, 1 & 2 Chronicles (T&T Clark)

NEW BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY/T&T CLARK:
1 & 2 Chronicles: An Introduction and Study Guide

A Message for Yehud

Leslie C. Allen (Author)

Paperback
$24.95 $22.45

Hardback
$75.00 $67.50

Ebook (Epub & Mobi)
$22.45< $17.96

Ebook (PDF)
$22.45 $17.96

Product details

Published Aug 12 2021
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 160
ISBN 9780567697011
Imprint T&T Clark
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Series T&T Clark’s Study Guides to the Old Testament
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

Description

Leslie C. Allen introduces students to the 1 & 2 Chronicles in the Old Testament, incorporating insights from over two decades of previous scholarship while grounding his analysis in earlier key works.

“A Message for Yehud” sums up what has been judged to be a fundamental motivation underlying the whole book, a conviction that the obligation to “seek the Lord” in the light of the Torah and prophetic texts must be laid on the hearts of the community of Yehud in the fourth century BCE. To this end, using Samuel-Kings as a basis, Chronicles reviewed pre-exilic royal history for positive and negative clues as to how the generation for which it was written might achieve this spiritual ideal. In the book, Allen shows how this program was communicated all through the book by literary and rhetorical means.

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George F. Bass (1932–2021)

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Milestones: George F. Bass (1932–2021). Pioneer of nautical archaeology (Shelley Wachsmann). Cross-file under Sad News and Maritime (Marine, Underwater) Archaeology.

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Saturday, September 11, 2021

Elder, The Media Matrix of Early Jewish and Christian Narrative (T&T Clark)

NEW BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY/T&T CLARK:
The Media Matrix of Early Jewish and Christian Narrative

Nicholas Elder (Author)

Paperback
$39.95 $35.95

Hardback
$120.00 $108.00

Ebook (PDF)
$35.95 $28.76

Ebook (Epub & Mobi)
$35.95 $28.76

Product details

Published Jul 29 2021
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 224
ISBN 9780567701541
Imprint T&T Clark
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Series The Library of New Testament Studies
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

Description

Generically, theologically, and concerning content, Mark and Joseph and Aseneth are quite different. The former is a product of the nascent Jesus movement and influenced by the Greco-Roman Bioi (“Lives”). It details the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of a wandering Galilean. The latter is a Hellenistic Jewish narrative influenced by Greek romances and Jewish novellas. It expands the laconic account of Joseph's marriage to Aseneth in Genesis 41 into a full-fledged love and adventure story.

Despite these differences, Elder finds remarkable similarities that the texts share. Elder uses both texts to examine media and modes of composition in antiquity, arguing that they were both composed via dictation from their antecedent oral traditions. Elder's volume offers a fresh approach to the composition of both Joseph and Aseneth and Mark as well as to many of their respective interpretive debates.

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Greek influence on Petra

PHOTO ESSAY: The Stunning Greek-inspired Architecture of the Ancient City of Petra (Kerry Kolasa-Sikiaridi, Greek Reporter). Yet another travel piece on Petra, with some nice photos.

Cross-file under Nabatean (Nabataean) Watch.

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Friday, September 10, 2021

Maqdala artifacts returned to Ethiopia

ETHIOPIC WATCH: Maqdala treasures looted by British troops returned to Ethiopia in 'largest single restitution.' At the ceremony in London, the Ethiopian ambassador renewed calls for museums to return Maqdala objects (Martin Bailey, The Art Newspaper).

I noted the upcoming repatriation of the artifacts here in June. You can find further information on them and on the Maqdala treasures and their background in that post and its links.

This article has some new information about a second group of artifacts that was returned at the same time:

The second group of returned items comes from an unnamed Brussels collector and dealer. They include a processional cross, a priestly crown, a shield, a small icon of the Crucifixion and a talismanic scroll. Most are from the 18th and 19th centuries. The Brussels collection was acquired by [the writer Tahir] Shah for a few thousand pounds.

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The Fast of Gedaliah 2021

THE FAST OF GEDALIAH was yesterday. It is one of the "four minor fasts." I don't recall it receiving much media attention in past years, but this year I have come across a couple of articles on it.

Fast of Gedaliah: What you need to know about the first fast of the year. Here is a rundown for what you need to know about its history, its rules and when it ends (Aaron Reich, Jerusalem Post).

The fast is meant to commemorate the death of Gedaliah, a righteous Jew who was the governor of the land of Judah following the collapse of the First Temple at the hands of the Babylonian Empire. However, he was assassinated by his fellow Jews, specifically by Ishmael Ben Nethaniah, who descended from the Davidic line.

His death was recounted in detail by the Roman-era historian Josephus, and is also described in the book of 2 Kings chapter 25 and, in even more detail, in the Book of Jeremiah chapter 41.

Dr.Tzvi Novick, Tzom Gedaliah: Why Commemorate His Assassination? (TheTorah.com)
Gedaliah ben Ahikam, the governor of Judah after the destruction of the Temple, was assassinated by Ishmael ben Nethaniah, a scion of the Davidic family. This event has been commemorated for millennia with a yearly fast—the only fast over the death of an individual. The Talmud points to his righteousness, while Saadia Gaon emphasizes the tragic consequences to the Judahite people he governed.

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Job in Religions of Western Antiquity at Florida State

H-JUDAIC: FEATURED JOB: Assistant Professor in Religions of Western Antiquity, Florida State University. The specialization is open. The application deadline is 18 October 2021. Follow the link for further particulars.

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Thursday, September 09, 2021

Lyons & Stromberg (eds.), Isaiah's Servants in Early Judaism and Christianity (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Isaiah's Servants in Early Judaism and Christianity. The Isaian Servant and the Exegetical Formation of Community Identity. Edited by Michael A. Lyons and Jacob Stromberg. 2021. XI, 413 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 554. 99,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-155042-3.
Published in English.
The Book of Isaiah describes an Israelite group called the »servants,« who suffered for their righteousness and were promised vindication. This collection of essays shows how the Isaian »servants« texts were used by early Jewish and Christian readers to shape their own community identity. It includes analyses of Psalms 22, 69, and 102, Daniel, Wisdom of Solomon, Mark, Luke and Acts, Romans, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, 1 Peter, Revelation, and Targum Jonathan on Isaiah, as well as investigations into the relationship between exegesis and identity formation and into how the Isaian Servant(s) are presented within the framework of Israel's history.

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A Phoenician sundial fragment survived the Beirut explosion

PHOENICIAN WATCH: In Lebanon, Part of an Ancient Sundial Returns to View. A year after a huge explosion leveled Beirut’s port, the National Museum has reopened, and its Phoenician timepiece is on display (Melanie Abrams, NYT).
The National Museum of Beirut has only one ancient timepiece: part of a second-century-B.C. sundial. It was broken at some point in the past, but the fragment in the museum has survived even the enormous explosion that leveled the nearby Port of Beirut on Aug. 4, 2020, blowing some of the museum’s doors off their hinges and shattering windows.

[...]

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

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

The Ezana Stone

ETHIOPIC WATCH: The “Ezana Stone” of Aksum: A trilingual monument, similar to the “Rosetta Stone.” These liturgical epigraphs were written in various ancient languages, including the Ethiopian Semitic Ge’ez, the South Arabian Sabaean & Greek (Panos, themanews.com).

For more on the Ezana stone, including a summary of its contents, see here. For more on King Ezana of fourth century Aksum, see here. And for past posts on the ancient city of Aksum (Axum), which recently has had hard times, start here and follow the links.

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

Akhmim exhibition

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Egypt’s Forgotten City.
Through September 12, 2021
Berlin State Museums
Berlin, Germany
www.smb.museum

One of the most important religious centers of the ancient world, the city of Akhmim in southern Egypt is presented in the exhibit Akhmim: Egypt’s Forgotten City, currently on display in the James Simon Gallery of the Berlin State Museums.

[...]

Akmim is not forgotten by PaleoJudaica. I have noted that it was the site of the discovery of an importan Greek manuscript containing material from the Book of 1 Enoch, the Gospel of Peter, and the Apocalyse of Peter. See here, here, and here. I have also noted the work of the Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium here. For other events in the vicinity of late-antique Akhmim, see here. And for more on the alchemist Zosimus of Panopolis (another name for Akhmim), see here.

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

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

There are Dead Sea Scrolls in New Jersey?

VARIANT READINGS: The Dead Sea Scrolls of New Jersey (Brent Nongbri).

Incidentally, I published a translation of 1Q34+1Q34bis in chapter 1, "Festival Prayers," of my book Liturgical Works (Eerdmans Commentaries on the Dead Sea Scrolls; Eerdmans, 2000).

Also, I see that back in 2010 I noted that the West Semitic Research Project was photographing 1Q34bis. See here and here.

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

Online Event: Dr. Andrea Berlin, The Rise of the Maccabees

THE BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY SOCIETY: NEW! BAS Scholars Series.
Wednesday, December 1, 2021
8-9 pm Eastern

Virtual
The Rise of the Maccabees:
What Archaeology Reveals About Antiquity’s Last Independent Jewish Kingdom

- Dr. Andrea Berlin, Boston University

For description, cost, and registration informations, see the link. This lecture is part of an ongoing quarterly series.

HT Todd Bolen at the Bible Places Blog.

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Monday, September 06, 2021

Rosh HaShanah 2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR (ROSH HASHANAH - Jewish New Year 5782) to all those celebrating. The New Year begins tonight at sundown. Stay safe! Last year's Rosh HaShanah post, with links, is here. For biblical background, see here.

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

Zoom Event: John Collins on the DSS

TONIGHT AND NEXT MONDAY: The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Light They Shed on Judaism and Christianity with Dr. John Collins (Yale Divinity School).
Event time:
Monday, December 6, 2021 - 8:00pm

Event description:
Zoom | December 6 & 13 | 8 pm Eastern | 2 Sessions

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls is widely regarded as the most important contribution of archeology to Biblical Studies in the twentieth century. The first lecture will ask, what are the Dead Sea Scrolls, who collected them? Are they the product of a marginal sect or representative of Judaism in the time of Jesus. The second lecture will consider some texts found in the Scrolls that are of special interest for Christianity, including one that speaks of a figure who is called Son of God.

Free pre-registration is required to attend. Details are at the link.

HT Joseph I. Lauer.

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

Ancient quarry excavated in Jerusalem

ARCHAEOLOGY: Second Temple period quarry uncovered in Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s ancient quarries were the main source of building stones for monumental construction projects in the city, such as the Temple Mount. (IAA press release via IMFA).
(Communicated by the Israel Antiquities Authority Spokesperson)

Jerusalem’s well-known high-tech industrial zone is called ‘Har Hozvim’ (‘Quarrymen’s Hill’), but not everyone knows why. This week, prior to future development by the Moriah Jerusalem Development Corporation, Israel Antiquities Authority excavations provided evidence of the name’s true meaning with the discovery of a vast ancient quarry that apparently dates from the Second Temple period (some two thousand years ago).

[...]

I have noted the discovery of some other Second Temple-era quarries in the vicinity of Jerusalem here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Cross-file under Temple Mount Watch (sort of).

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

On Kyrenia (Cyrene)

PHOTO ESSAY: KYRENIA: The forgotten Ancient Greek colony of Libya (Greek City Times).
Kyrenia (Ancient Greek: Κυρήνη), or more commonly known today as Cyrene, was founded as a colony of Greeks from Thira (Santorini) in 630 BC and is the birthplace of Eratosthenes, who was the first to calculate the perimeter of the earth.
A relatively little-known Jewish revolt against Rome, the "Kitos War," happened in Cyrene:
At the highest point of the city, is the temple of Zeus, which dates from the 5th century BC. century.

It was destroyed during a Jewish revolt in 115 AD, and was restored 5 years later by the Romans on the orders of Emperor Hadrian.

A Simon of Cyrene is mentioned in the Gospels in Mark 15:21 and parallels. And the source epitomized in 2 Maccabees (see 2:19-32) was written by a Jason of Cyrene.

Related PaleoJudaica posts are here, here, and here.

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

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Siegal & Ben-Dov (eds.), Social History of the Jews in Antiquity (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Social History of the Jews in Antiquity. Studies in Dialogue with Albert Baumgarten. Edited by Michal Bar-Asher Siegal and Jonathan Ben-Dov. 2021. XV, 401 pages. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 185. 159,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-160694-6.
Published in English.
The present volume comprises articles by renowned international scholars in academic dialogue with the work of Albert Baumgarten. They contextualize ancient Jewish texts not only for their own sake, but also as a way of shedding light on antiquity in general. They address texts from the fields of Greco-Roman studies, Hellenistic Judaism, Second Temple sectarianism, rabbinic literature, and various facets of early Christianity. Additionally, there are articles discussing comparative religion, sociology of knowledge, anthropology, and economic history. Together, the articles create an in-depth analysis of the social history of Jews in antiquity.

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

Inscriptions from the Tayma excavation

THE AWOL BLOG: Taymāʾ II: Catalogue of the Inscriptions Discovered in the Saudi-German Excavations at Taymāʾ 2004–2015.

For the importance of Tayma (Teima, Teiman) in the Aramaic Prayer of Nabonidus, with connections to Nebuchadnezzar's madness in Daniel chapter 4, see here and links.

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

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Three archaeologists discuss popular biblical archaeology

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Biblical Archaeology for the People. BAR Editor Glenn J. Corbett talks with distinguished archaeologists Eric H. Cline, Melissa Cradic, and Jodi Magness.
In April 2021, BAR Editor Glenn J. Corbett interviewed three leading scholars who share the same commitment to engaging public interest in biblical archaeology ...

In their conversation, they discuss the importance of public scholarship, new efforts to reach broader audiences, and the critical role BAR plays in bridging the gap between scholars and a public eager to know more. The responses here have been lightly edited and modified for clarity and readability.

The full interview is at the link

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Can divine revelation decide halakhah?

PROF. ANDREW D. GROSS: Does God Have Halakhic Authority? (TheTorah.com).
In the famous story of the Oven of Akhnai, Rabbi Eliezer makes recourse to divine revelation to defend his legal ruling. Rabbi Joshua responds that “the Torah is not in heaven” and God has no say. Elsewhere in the Talmud, however, heavenly voices are considered authoritative, a view which aligns with that of the Qumran sect, which believed God continues to reveal secret details of Torah laws.

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Friday, September 03, 2021

A fraudulent weight from First-Temple Jerusalem?

ARTIFACT: Rare First Temple Era Fraudulent Weight Uncovered in Ancient Jerusalem (Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency/trans. The Jewish Press).
Israeli archeologists digging in the City of David in Jerusalem’s Old City came upon an extremely rare finding from the days of the First Temple – a biblical weight called a gerah that was probably used by a cheater.

Although inscribed as weighing two gerah it weighs three times as much, evidence of possible fraudulent trading dating around the time period of 589 BCE.

[...]

This is a genuine ancient artifact, but it appears to have been used for fraudulent purposes.

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

More on the Church of the Glorious Martyr

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE AND EPIGRAPHY: Byzantine church dedicated to unknown martyr unearthed in Israel (Owen Jarus, Live Science).

A couple of years ago I noted the discovery of the late-antique Church of the Glorious Martyr at Beit Shemesh.

The inscription does not name the martyr or even indicate a grammatical gender. There was speculation at the time that the martyr could have been Thecla, a legendary Christian woman known from the Acts of Paul and Thecla. See also here. The current article suggests that the martyr could have been one Zechariah, known from a nearby shrine.

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

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Press on the Shapira affair

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: The Myth of Moses Shapira (Michael Press).

Michael Press interacts with the two recent books arguing that the Shapira scroll fragments were genuine ancient artifacts. He disagrees. For the books, see here and here (and note the links).

I have noted earlier essays by Dr. Press on the Shapira affair here and here.

For Chanan Tigay's Shapira book, see here and links. And for an article in PEQ by Shlomo Guil arguing for the authenticity of the scroll, see here.

For subsequent PaleoJudaica posts on the subject, see here (also noting work by Press) and links.

This AJR essay has some interesting details that are new to me. Did you know, for example, that Shapira's daughter published a fictionalized account of the Shapira scroll affair in a novel?

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

The Library of Alexandria

THE GREEK REPORTER: Ancient Library of Alexandria One of Greatest Treasures of Mankind (Patricia Claus).

This article gives a nice summary of the history of the Library of Alexandria. For PaleoJudaica posts on the subject, see here and links.

The Library of Alexandria also figures importantly in the Letter of Aristeas, the earliest, albeit still legendary, account of the translation of the Pentateuch into Greek. The Greek Reporter also had an article on the Septuagint story which I noted yesterday.

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

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Biblical Studies Carnival 186

BRENT NIEDERGALL: BIBLICAL STUDIES CARNIVAL 186 FOR AUGUST 2021.

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More relics of the Carthaginian defeat at the Aegates

PUNIC WATCH: Discovery of four ancient 450lb battering rams shed new light on how Rome took command of the Mediterranean 2,000 years ago by smashing through Carthage's ships (Ian Randall, Daily Mail).
  • The ancient artefacts were recovered from the waters to the east of Sicily
  • The rams would have been used in the Battle of the Aegates in March 241 BC
  • Roman vessels surprised and outmanoeuvred the cargo-laden Carthaginian fleet
  • They sunk 50 enemy vessels and captured 70 more, ending the First Punic War
  • Following this, Carthage sued for peace and surrendered Sicily to the Romans
For more on the underwater archaeology of the Battle of the Aegates, with my own commentary, see here.

Cross-file under Maritime (Marine) Archaeology.

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The Septuagint in the news

THE GREEK REPORTER: First Translation of the Bible, the Septuagint, was in Greek (Luisa Rosenstiehl).

The article is mainly a recounting of the legend of the translation of the Pentateuch into Greek in the Letter of Aristeas, plus some later legends. It is substantially accurate, except that it takes the Letter of Aristeas at face value as recounting what actually happened. All indications are that it is a later legendary account whose historical value is at best unclear. For more on that, see here and links.

Nevertheless, I am always happy to see the Septuagint and the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha receiving media attention.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Photo essay on the Tel Motza temple

ARCHAEOLOGY: IN PHOTOS: Excavating the Great Temple at Motza Near Jerusalem (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).

For more on the recently discovered Iron-Age temple at Tel Moza (Tel Motza, Tel Moẓa, Tel Moẓah), see here and here.

UPDATE: Bad link now fixed!

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Did the Golem inspire Frankenstein's monster?

GOLEM WATCH? The secret Jewish history of Frankenstein (Seth Rogovoy, The Forward).
Author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born on this day, Aug. 30, in 1797 in London. Shelley is best known as the author of the Gothic novel “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus” and as the wife of the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary Shelley was something of a radical in her time: a believer in free love, a proto-feminist, an atheist and a prolific female author when the prevailing notions of womanhood did not include writing novels and biographies. Among dozens of writings that challenged her father’s political theories and her husband’s notion of Romanticism, Shelley’s legacy includes the age-old question: Was the premise of her “Frankenstein” based on the Jewish folktale of the Golem?

[...]

It doesn't sound likely, but it's an intriguing question.

Last year I linked to another article that explored the same question. But it has succumbed to link rot. For many PaleoJudaica posts on the Golem tradition, start at that post and follow the links.

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

Monday, August 30, 2021

New Tiqqunei Soferim (scribal corrections to the Bible) from the Cairo Geniza

GENIZA FRAGMENT OF THE MONTH (JULY 2021): New Tiqqunei Soferim: T-S A4.10 and T-S D1.37 (Joseph Ginsberg).
One of the most celebrated and infamous topics relating to the Masorah is the Tiqqunei Soferim, or “emendations of the scribes”. The Tiqqunei Soferim are a group of words that are deliberately written in the Masoretic Text differently than intended, in order to protect the honor of God. Whether these instances are indeed emendations by an early group of scribes (a term often referring to the biblical figures Ezra and Nehemia) or just euphemisms employed by the original authors of the text is a controversy that is as old as the Tiqqunei Soferim themselves, with some sources employing the term “tiqqun soferim” – “emendation of the scribes”, and others the term “kinnah hakatuv”, or “the text is euphemistic” (a less contentious interpretation, as it does not imply that the biblical text was actually tampered with).1

The number of Tiqqunei Soferim is most commonly given as 18, though there are some sources that list fewer.2

Four entirly new Tiqqunei Soferim seem like a big deal to me.

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

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

Was Qumran a festival gathering site?

ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE DAMASCUS DOCUMENT: Cairo Genizah paper may hold key to secrets of Qumran, Dead Sea Scrolls. An ancient religious ceremony, described in several Dead Sea Scrolls, could explain the mysteries of the archaeological site of Qumra (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
Why have archaeologists only found remains of public buildings and not of private dwellings? How is it possible to explain the presence of thousands of pottery vessels in a place that had a few dozen residents at most? And why did the area feature such a multiplicity of mikvaot ritual baths, including very large ones, for such a small population?

According to [Dr. Daniel] Vainstub [of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev], Qumran was intimately connected to the Essenes, but rather than a permanent settlement of the group, it was the site where all its members and candidates would flock from communities all over the country to hold their annual celebration of the “passing of the covenant.”

Could be. I don't know the archaeology of Qumran well enough to have an opinion on this one.

You can read the full text of the underlying open-access article in the journal Religions here and make up your own mind.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the debate over the archaeology of Qumran and how the site is connected to the scrolls, see here and links, plus here.

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

Sunday, August 29, 2021

McGrath defends online conferencing

RELIGION PROF: Are Academics Really So Unimaginative? In Defense of Online Conferences and Networking (James McGrath).

For what it's worth, my experience of online conferencing during the pandemic has been entirely positive.

A related post is here.

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

On Deuteronomy's beautiful captive woman

DR. RABBI DAVID RESNICK: The Captive Woman at the Intersection of War and Family Laws (TheTorah.com).
Deuteronomy’s law of the beautiful captive woman protects the non-Israelite woman taken in war from rape and from being re-enslaved after marriage. At the same time, it discourages the man from marrying her, in order to preserve the interests of the Israelite family.

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Saturday, August 28, 2021

Who was the first sinner?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Origin of Sin and Death in the Bible. Who sinned first—Adam or Cain? (Megan Sauter).
What is the origin of sin and death in the Bible? Who was the first sinner?

To answer the latter question, today people would probably debate whether Adam or Eve sinned first, but in antiquity, it was a different argument altogether. They debated whether Adam or Cain committed the first sin.

[...]

This essay summarizes a 2017 BAR article by John Byron. The article itself is behind the subscription wall, but the essay has some points of interest.

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

On the Cambridge Greek Lexicon

LEXICOGRAPHY: Cambridge’s New Look at Ancient Greek: A 23-Year Project. Faculty lead on the Cambridge Greek Lexicon James Diggle says, ‘It took over my life’ during the effort’s final 15 years (Porter Anderson, Publishing Perspectives). HT Rogue Classicism.

I noted the publication of the Lexicon here. I noted an interview with James Diggle by William Ross here. For links to a review of the Lexicon by Dirk Jonkind, see here and links.

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

Friday, August 27, 2021

Writing and scribes in ancient Israel

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: From Texts to Scribes: Evidence for Writing in Ancient Israel (Philip Zhakevich).
But what about the act of writing and the scribal culture that produced written documents? Here we must glance at the occurrences of two words in the biblical text, the verb ‘write’ (katav) and the noun ‘scribe’ (sofer). How much information about writing from the biblical text can we extract while focusing on two words central to the act of writing?
PaleoJudaica has published many posts relevant to this essay.

For the Lachish inscribed ostraca, see here and here and links. For the inscribed Arad ostraca, see here and links. For the inscribed Samaria ostraca, see here.

For the Gezer Calendar, see here and links. For the Siloam Tunnel inscription, see here and links (cf. here). For the Aramaic Tel Dan inscription, see here and links.

For the Balaam inscription from Tel Deir 'Alla (Deir Alla), see here and links. For the Hebrew inscriptions found at Kuntillet Ajrud, see here and here and links.

For the LMLK stamps, see here and links.

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

Ritmeyer on Hellenistic Jerusalem & Temple Mount

LEEN RITMEYER: Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in the Hellenistic period. Very informative.

Cross-file under Temple Mount Watch.

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

New PhD thesis on Targum Canticles

ARAMAIC WATCH: Paul Moore has recently completed a doctoral thesis at University College London: Studies in the Language of Targum Canticles, with Annotated Transcription of Geniza Fragments.
ABSTRACT

While the language of Targum Canticles—a species of Late Jewish Literary Aramaic—has attracted previous study, many of its peculiarities have been overlooked, or accorded but cursory treatment. The present work investigates a range of morphological, syntactic, and semantic anomalies that punctuate the text. These impinge on various domains, including predicate argument marking, verbal stems, the nominal dimensions of state and gender, and particle usage. Attending to these phenomena, with descriptive sensitivity and comparative perspective, yields insight into literary influences, the process of composition, and the conceptions of Aramaic—both grammatical and aesthetic—of the Jewish literati who adopted this dialectally eclectic idiom. This study also probes the still under-researched nexus between Late Jewish Literary Aramaic and the Aramaic of Zoharic literature. It concludes with an annotated transcription of the fragments of Targum Canticles from the Cairo Geniza: Cambridge, T-S B11.81, T-S NS 312—which are among the earliest, known, extant witnesses to the text—and Oxford Heb. f. 56, whose colophon bears the date 1416 CE. The latter features a Judaeo-Arabic translation of the Targum—possibly the earliest known example—which is included in the transcription. The alignments of the readings of these fragments with other witnesses are highlighted, accompanied by ad hoc textual and exegetical commentary.

It is available for open-access download at the link.

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Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Sibyl's Cave in Cumae

OLD TESTAMENT PSEUDEPIGRAPHA GEOGRAPHY?The Cave of the Sibyl. (Heritage Daily). HT Rogue Classicism.
The Cave of the Sibyl is a subterranean complex beneath the ancient city of Cumae, located on the outskirts of the present-day Metropolitan City of Naples in Campania, Italy.

The cave has been associated with the Cumaean Sibyl, a priestess presiding over the Apollonian oracle, who according to legend, prophesied from the depths of the earth beneath the temple to Apollo, where she wrote her prophecies on leaves that were then displayed at the cave’s entrance.

[...]

For a PaleoJudaica post discussing the Cumaean Sibyl and another discovery at Cumae, see here. This is the first time I remember seeing her cave.

The Roman Sibylline oracles are virtually entirely lost, but ancient Jews and Christians adopted the Sibyl as their own prophetess and composed various oracles in her name. These are generally filed as Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. For more posts on the ancient Sibylline oracles, start in the links in the above post, plus here, here, and here.

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

Porter (ed.), James Barr Assessed (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
James Barr Assessed

Evaluating His Legacy over the Last Sixty Years

Series: Biblical Interpretation Series, Volume: 192

Volume Editor: Stanley E. Porter

James Barr is a widely recognized name in biblical studies, even if he is still best known for his The Semantics of Biblical Language. Barr’s Semantics, although first published in 1961, still generates animated discussion of its claims. However, over his lengthy career Barr published significant scholarship on a wide variety of topics within Old Testament studies and beyond. This volume provides an assessment of Barr’s contribution to biblical studies sixty years after the publication of his first and still memorable volume on biblical semantics. As a result, this volume includes essays on major topics such as the Hebrew language, lexical semantics, lexicography, the Septuagint, and biblical theology.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €123.00 / $148.00

Copyright Year: 2021

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-46566-4
Publication Date: 16 Aug 2021

Hardback
Availability: Not Yet Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-46552-7
Publication Date: 19 Aug 2021

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A Syriac liturgy in Cairo and China?

THE GENIZA FRAGMENTS BLOG: Throwback Thursday: A surprise in Syriac script (Melonie Schmierer-Lee). The surprise is the discovery in the early 1980s of Nestorian Syriac liturgical fragments, some unparalleled. That is notable in itself, but what caught my eye is the following:
Very little is known of the dwindling “Nestorian” community in Cairo after the end of the twelfth century, and so these small fragments provide tangible evidence for its continuing existence into the thirteenth or even fourteenth century; perhaps the manuscript was sold as scrap when the community finally faded out of existence.

It is a remarkable coincidence that one of the fragments contains a text which overlaps with one that occurs in an even earlier Syriac liturgical fragment – found in Chinese Turkestan! These two identical liturgical fragments thus provide unexpected testimony to the far-flung geographical extension of the Church of the East in the Middle Ages.

I don't know which discovery in Turkestan is involved here. PaleoJudaica posts on Syriac discoveries in China are collected here (final paragraph).

A parallel Nestorian liturgical fragment from medieval Cairo and earlier Chinese Turkestan is intriguing. This is well outside my expertise, but was there regular communication between Egypt and China in the Middle Ages? Or was this liturgy disseminated independently to both countries in late antiquity?

Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Looted coins apprehended in Israel

NUMISMATICS APPREHENSION: Ancient gold coins looted from archaeological sites found in Bnei Brak home. Hundreds of artifacts from the Hasmonean, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic period were saved from an illegal antique dealer (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).

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

Olyan & Rosenblum (eds.), Animals and the Law in Antiquity (SBL Press)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Animals and the Law in Antiquity

Saul M. Olyan, Jordan D. Rosenblum, editors

ISBN 9781951498825
Volume BJS 368
Status Available

Publication Date
August 2021

Paperback
$29.00

Hardback
$82.00

eBook
$29.00

Original studies at the intersection of animals and the law in antiquity

Animal law has become a topic of growing importance internationally, with animal welfare and animal rights often assuming center stage in contemporary debates about the legal status of animals. While nonspecialists routinely decontextualize ancient texts to support or deny rights to animals, experts in fields such as classics, biblical studies, Assyriology, Egyptology, rabbinics, and late antique Christianity have only just begun to engage the topic of animals and the law in their respective areas. This volume consists of studies by scholars from a range of Mediterranean and West Asian fields on animals and the law. Contributors include Rozenn Bailleul-LeSuer, Beth Berkowitz, Andrew McGowan, F. S. Naiden, Saul M. Olyan, Seth Richardson, Jordan D. Rosenblum, Andreas Schüle, Miira Tuominen, and Daniel Ullucci. The volume is essential reading for scholars and students of both the ancient world and contemporary law.

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

MNTA 3 nearing completion

THE APOCRYPHYCITY BLOG: New Testament Apocrypha 3 Near Completion (Tony Burke). Good news!

For more on the More New Testament Apocrypha Project (MNTA), see here and here and links.

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

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Bauks & Olyan (eds.), Pain in Biblical Texts and Other Materials of the Ancient Mediterranean (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK:
Pain in Biblical Texts and Other Materials of the Ancient Mediterranean. Edited by Michaela Bauks and Saul M. Olyan. 2021. VIII, 267 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe 130. 79,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-160641-0.

Published in English.
This volume includes a wide range of studies on pain and its representation in texts and non-literary remains of the ancient Eastern Mediterranean, suggesting both the richness and complexity of the topic and the need for scholars to address it from a variety of perspectives. The essays engage the subject of pain and its representation in a multitude of ways, including consideration of the representation of physical pain, of psychological anguish, and the often complex relationship between the two. Several essays focus on the representation of pain in a particular genre of ancient literature such as Greek medical texts, narratives, prophetic texts, poetry, or legal texts. The volume also explores descriptions of concrete pain and the metaphorical use of pain imagery and idioms, as well as pain's relationship to shame, illness and torture. Finally, both communal and individual dimensions of pain are of interest to the contributors, as is the role pain might have had in ritual action and the part rites might play in the imposition of pain.

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Dell (ed.), The BIblical World, 2nd ed. (Routledge)

NEW (2ND EDITION) BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
2nd Edition
The Biblical World

Edited By Katharine J. Dell
Copyright Year 2021

Hardback
£152.00

eBook
£31.99

ISBN 9781138932920
Published July 30, 2021 by Routledge
1098 Pages 115 B/W Illustrations

Book Description

The Biblical World is a comprehensive guide to the contents, historical settings, and social context of the Bible. This new edition is updated with several new chapters as well as a new section on biblical interpretation. 

Contributions from leading scholars in the field present wide-ranging views not just of biblical materials and their literary and linguistic context, but also of the social institutions, history and archaeology, and religious concepts. New chapters cover topics such as the priesthood and festivals, creation and covenant, ethics, and family life, while a new section on biblical interpretation discusses Jewish and Christian bible translation and key thematic emphases, and modern reader-response and cultural approaches. 

This revised edition of The Biblical World offers an up-to-date and thorough survey of the Bible and its world, and will continue to be an invaluable resource for students and scholars of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament and their history and interpretation, as well as anyone working on the societies, religions, and political and cultural institutions that created and influenced these texts.

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Rotasperti, Decoding the Language of Metaphor in the Book of Proverbs (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Metaphors in Proverbs

Decoding the Language of Metaphor in the Book of Proverbs

Series: Vetus Testamentum, Supplements, Volume: 188

Author: Sergio Rotasperti

Proverbs is a poetic book full of images and metaphors, many of which are often obscure and enigmatic. In this volume, Rotasperti offers a contribution to the understanding of figurative language in Proverbs by looking at the grammatical and social contexts in which many of the book’s metaphors appear. The brief introduction explains the process and methodological assumptions used for identifying metaphors. The study then continues with a lexical review of four semantic categories: the body, urban fabric, nature and animals. The result of this survey is a deep analysis of several key metaphors that looks at their composition, structure, and interpretation.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €109.00 / $131.00

Copyright Year: 2021

E-Book (PDF) Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-46605-0
Publication Date: 29 Jun 2021

Hardback
Availability: Not Yet Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-46410-0
Publication Date: 22 Jul 2021

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Monday, August 23, 2021

Review of Gitin's autobiography

NEW BOOK REVIEWED: Sy Gitin and the Albright (Deb Reich, Times of Israel Blogs).
Renowned biblical archaeologist Seymour (Sy) Gitin is a great storyteller. So naturally his new memoir, The Road Taken: An Archaeologist’s Journey to the Land of the Bible, is a fascinating read.

[...]

The book came out this month.

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

Does the Vatican have Dead Sea Scrolls?

VARIANT READINGS: Dead Sea Scrolls at the Vatican. Brent Nongbri has been on a visit to the Vatican Museum. He has noticed something interesting.

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

The HMML has received a $5M grant

NICE PROFILE OF THE LIBRARY: Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John's University works to preserve history (BECCA MOST, St. Cloud Times).
Earlier this month the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, housed at St. John's University, received a $5 million grant to continue their work digitizing, archiving and cataloguing endangered manuscripts outside Europe, like in South Asia, the Middle East and West Africa. The grant was the largest HMML had ever received in its 56 years of operation.
Congratulations and keep up the good work!

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, start here and follow the links.

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

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Review of Allison, Saving one another

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Saving one another: Philodemus and Paul on moral formation in community.
Justin Allison, Saving one another: Philodemus and Paul on moral formation in community. Ancient philosophy and religion, volume 3. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2020. Pp. xii, 238. ISBN 9789004434004 €127,00.

Review by
David Douglas, McGill University. david.douglas2@mail.mcgill.ca

For more on the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus, whose work has mainly been recovered from the carbonized Herculaneum scrolls, see here.

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

Lederman-Daniely, Sarai: Is She the Goddess of Ancient Israel? (Wipf & Stock)

NEW BOOK FROM WIPF AND STOCK:
Sarai
Is She the Goddess of Ancient Israel?

by Dvora Lederman-Daniely
Imprint: Wipf and Stock
74 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 x 0.15 in

Paperback
9781725298880
Published: June 2021
$12.00 / £9.00 / AU$17.00

Hardcover
9781725298897
Published: June 2021
$27.00 / £20.00 / AU$37.00

eBook
9781725298903
Published: June 2021
$12.00 / £9.00 / AU$17.00

DESCRIPTION

Who was the mother goddess of the ancient religion of Israel, the spouse of the god Yahweh? Archaeological and literary-biblical studies refer to her as "Asherah," yet, they cannot explain why this name is not mentioned in the book of Genesis, a book that portrays the formation of Israel's religion. In this groundbreaking book, Dvora Lederman-Daniely provides an answer to this enigmatic question. Based on meticulous research she argues the goddess's name does appear in the book of Genesis but it is concealed within the name of the first human matriarch of the people of Israel: Sarai. Deciphering and identifying the forgotten and censored name of the divine spouse of Yahweh opens the door to a revolutionary understanding of the relationship between Yahweh and the people of Israel, as perceived during the formation of the Hebrew people. Moreover, biblical images and metaphors are stripped back and their outrageous mythological content is laid bare. Through careful argument Lederman-Daniely excavates the very origins of Jewish customs and decrees exposing how they embody the ancient worship of a goddess who was Yahweh's spouse.

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Saturday, August 21, 2021

Chilton on "The Herods"

INTERVIEW: New book plumbs the role of the Herods in forming early Jewish, Christian views. In his book “The Herods: Murder, Politics, and the Art of Succession,” Bruce Chilton, a professor of religion at Bard College, places the dynastic family that ruled Judea and Israel for the Romans front and center (Yonat Shimron, RNS).

I noted the book and an essay on it by Professor Chilton here.

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

Long-form, literary, Levirate law

PROF. SARA MILSTEIN: The Levirate Law: A Marriage Contract Clause that became Legislation (TheTorah.com).
Upon a childless husband's death, Deuteronomy states "his wife shall not marry a strange man outside." This phrase originated as a contract clause, and the case was a practice exercise for scribes who were learning contract clauses.

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

Friday, August 20, 2021

A Bar Kokhba coin is going into space

ASTRO-NUMISMATICS: Israeli astronaut to take 1,900-year-old Bar Kochba revolt coin to space. As part of next year’s Rakia mission to International Space Station, Eytan Stibbe says he’ll bring along ancient artifact as a ‘symbol of Jewish history’ (Michael Bachner, Times of Israel).
Israel’s second-ever astronaut, Eytan Stibbe, has chosen to take the 1,900-year-old coin with him on the Rakia mission to the International Space Station, scheduled for early next year. Stibbe said that he is taking the artifact with him as a symbol of his Jewish heritage.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said in a statement on Thursday that Stibbe has recently visited the IAA’s Dead Sea Scrolls laboratory in Jerusalem, where he was shown various artifacts, including the coin, as well as 2,000-year-old fragments of the Book of Enoch.

That book tells the story of Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, who ascended to the heavens and was accompanied by angels who showed him the sun, the moon and the stars.

Stibbe ultimately elected to take the coin along, rather than the ancient fragments.

This is very cool, but I totally would have chosen the Enoch fragments.

The coin was discovered in the Cave of Horror in Nahal Hever, where archaeologists recently recovered new fragments of an ancient Greek scroll of the Minor Prophets.

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

Interview with Khaled al-Asaad's son

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Return to Palmyra. An interview with heroic Khaled al-Asaad's son about his father's legacy, and the importance of the ruins and museum collection at Palmyra that al-Assad died protecting.

For more on Khaled al-Asaad and his heroic, fatal resistance to ISIS, see here and links.

More on the Getty's Palmyra exhibition is here and here.

For many posts on the ancient metropolis of Palmyra, its history and archaeology, the Aramaic dialect once spoken there (Palmyrene), and the city's tragic reversals of fortune, now trending for the better, start here and follow the links. Cross-file under Palmyra Watch.

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

Night-shift archaeology

NOCTURNAL EXCAVATOR: Excavations by night. Initially, archaeology was only a passion, something Navot Rom studied to fulfill his interests, but he didn’t plan it as a career (BASIA MONKA, Jerusalem Post).
“There is something magical and Gothic about it,” he says.

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

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Nero's wife went to heaven on a chariot?

THE ANTIGONE BLOG: TO HEAVEN ON A CHARIOT: THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF POPPAEA SABINA (Paul Schubert).
According to the Roman historian Tacitus, in AD 65 Poppaea Sabina was killed by her husband, Emperor Nero, who had lost his temper with her. She was heavily pregnant and a kick in the belly was enough to end her life. Is this true, or was Tacitus spreading evil slander about Nero? We may never know for sure, but evidence recently found on a frayed piece of papyrus indicates that there was another version of the story, where Poppaea Sabina made a loving farewell speech to Nero before darting off to heaven on a chariot driven by a goddess.

[...]

HT Rogue Classicism.

This fragmentary third-century papyrus from Oxyrhynchus may add some support for a revisionist view of Nero, which argues that the surviving records about him were written by his enemies and lack credibility. The current British Museum exhibition on Nero is sympathetic to ths view. If Paul Schubert's interpretation of the papyrus is correct (it mentions Nero by name, but not Poppaea), it gives us a glimpse outside the narrative.

This essay also deals more generally with the subject of apotheosis traditions in the Roman period. Jesus wasn't the only one to ascend to heaven and Elijah wasn't the only one to go theren in a chariot.

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

Late-antique site salvaged near Tel Aviv

ARCHAEOLOGY: Building project unearths ancient history in Tel Aviv suburb. Construction of new residential neighborhood in Ramat Hasharon reveals human activity dating back 1,500 years, including a winepress and gold coin much prized by its owner (Stuart Winer, Times of Israel).

For more on Heraclius coins, see here. The IAA excavated a hoard of them in Jerusalem in 2008.

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

Review of Burnett, Studying the New Testament through inscriptions

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Studying the New Testament through inscriptions: an introduction.
David Clint Burnett, Studying the New Testament through inscriptions: an introduction. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2020. Pp. 216. ISBN 9781683071372 $39.95.

Review by
W. Andrew Smith, Shepherds Theological Seminary.
w.andrew.smith@gmail.com

For more on the book and the author, see here and links.

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

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Arzhanov (ed.), Porphyry, ›On Principles and Matter‹ (De Gruyter)

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
Porphyry, ›On Principles and Matter‹
A Syriac Version of a Lost Greek Text with an English Translation, Introduction, and Glossaries

Yury Arzhanov and Porphyry
Volume 34 in the series Scientia Graeco-Arabica
https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110747027

About this book

The Syriac treatise published in the present volume is in many respects a unique text. Though it has been preserved anonymously, there remains little doubt that it belongs to Porphyry of Tyre. Accordingly, it enlarges our knowledge of the views of the most famous disciple of Plotinus. The text is an important witness to Platonist discussions on First Principles and on Plato’s concept of Prime Matter in the Timaeus. It contains extensive quotations from Atticus, Severus, and Boethus. This text thus provides us with new textual witnesses to these philosophers, whose legacy remains very poorly attested and little known. Additionally, the treatise is a rare example of a Platonist work preserved in the Syriac language. The Syriac reception of Plato and Platonic teachings has left rather sparse textual traces, and the question of what precisely Syriac Christians knew about Plato and his philosophy remains a debated issue. The treatise provides evidence for the close acquaintance of Syriac scholars with Platonic cosmology and with philosophical commentaries on Plato’s Timaeus.

eBook
Published: August 2, 2021
ISBN: 9783110747027

Hardcover
Published: August 2, 2021
ISBN: 9783110745771

For more on Porphyry and why he is of interest to PaleoJudaica, see here and links, here, and here.

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

How were the Psalms originally performed?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: How Were Biblical Psalms Originally Performed? Ancient music and the Biblical psalms. This essay is based on a 2018 BAR article by Thomas Staubli. The article itself is behind the subscription wall, but the essay is of some interest on its own.

For much more on Papyrus Amherst 63, start here and follow the links.

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

Looted sarcophagus returned to IAA

LARGE LOOTED ARTIFACT: 'Hand over that sarcophagus, citizen!' Roman-era artifact excavated illegally at an unidentified site in Israel returned to Israel Antiquities Authority (Israel HaYom). Actually, the citizen received the object from a deceased antiquities dealer and alerted the IAA so they could come and get it. Well done.

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

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Stamped jars showing cultural shift in late-Iron-Age Judah?

EPIGRAPHY AND ICONOGRAPHY: Pottery shows new culture in biblical Judah after Assyrian conquest. Analyzing stamped jars, Hebrew University archaeologists raised new questions on what happened in the land of Israel after the war with King Sennacherib (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
From the 7th century, the LMLK jars were not produced any more, while by the end of the century and the beginning of the 6th century the rosetta jars appeared in Jerusalem and its surroundings and were used until the Babylonian destruction in 586 BCE.
For more on the LMLK jars, see the links collected here.

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

Interview with Alison Salvesen

WILLIAM ROSS: ALISON SALVESEN & THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF THE SEPTUAGINT.

I noted the publication of the Oxford Handbook of the Septuagint (ed. Salvesen & Law) here. For notice of Dr. Ross's previous interviews with Septuagint scholars, see here and links.

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

YHWH's conquering name in Deuteronomy?

PROF. SANDRA L. RICHTER: Does YHWH’s Name Dwell in the Temple? (TheTorah.com).
Deuteronomy refers to the central cult site as the place where YHWH chooses לְשַׁכֵּן שְׁמוֹ שָׁם, an unusual phrase often translated “to cause His name to dwell there,” and interpreted to mean that an abstracted aspect or hypostasis of YHWH takes up residence in the Temple. A parallel phrase found in many Akkadian inscriptions refutes this understanding, offering us a critically important correction to our reading of Deuteronomy.

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Monday, August 16, 2021

Niebuhr, Tora und Weisheit (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK:
Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr. Tora und Weisheit. Studien zur frühjüdischen Literatur. [Torah and Wisdom. Studies on Early Jewish Literature.] 2021. XI, 717 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 466. 184,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-160799-8

Published in German.
This volume features essays by Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr on the Jewish Law and wisdom traditions in early Jewish literature. It is introduced by two comprehensive studies on the development and the reception of the concept of Torah in the Hebrew Bible and in early Jewish literature, including the Septuagint, and on the relationship between biblical wisdom and Greek philosophy in ancient Judaism.

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Blob of late-antique coins found on Israeli beach

NUMISMATICS: Ancient 1,700-year-old coins found on Israeli beach. Israel Antiquities Authority marine archeology department head Yaakov Sharvit noted the coins might have belonged to an ancient ship sailing the Mediterranean Sea (Jerusalem Post).

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Sunday, August 15, 2021

Frey & Nägele Eds.) Der Nous bei Paulus (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Der Nous bei Paulus und in seiner Umwelt. Griechisch-römische, frühjüdische und frühchristliche Perspektiven. Herausgegeben von Jörg Frey und Manuel Nägele. [The Nous in Paul and his Environment. Greco-Roman, Early Jewish, and Early Christian Perspectives.] 2021. XII, 375 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 464. 139,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-160231-3.
Published in German.
What is it that characterizes the human being? Is it the composition of somatic and psychic parts? Is it the mutual interaction of both? Or is it the cognitive ability of humans, self-reflection and self-awareness? Are humans mainly reason-driven, or are their actions rather guided by instincts? The issue of the meaning of νοῦς (nous, gr. »mind"/"spirit«) in Antiquity and its anthropological implications leads straight to fundamental issues of contemporary anthropological discourses. In the present volume, philologists and theologians enter an interdisciplinary encounter. The central relevance of the term νοῦς, which has so far received little attention in Pauline exegesis, becomes evident in the various intellectual milieus around the New Testament.

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Saturday, August 14, 2021

Maimonides on true and false prophets

PROF. JAMES A. DIAMOND: How Do We Know a True Prophet? Jeremiah vs. Hananiah (TheTorah.com).
Jeremiah urges Judah to submit to Babylon while Hananiah claims that Babylon will soon fall. Both use the same prophetic tropes to convince their listeners. Maimonides reads this story as a blueprint for distinguishing true prophets from false ones.

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Friday, August 13, 2021

The Van Kampen Collection

VARIANT READINGS: The Fate of the Van Kampen Collection (Brent Nongbri).

I know next to nothing about the Van Kampen Collection. I see that I have blogged a couple of times on the Holy Land Experience theme park (see final paragraph of this post). One of those posts from 2007 mentions the Scriptorium museum, which consisted of biblical manuscripts owned by the Van Kampen family.

In any case, Brent Nongbri tells us that the collection includes pages from a late-antique Coptic codex with Jeremianic biblical material. Cross-file under Coptic Watch

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Judaism in ancient Crete

Ancient Greek synagogue resurrected in Crete After decades in ruins, Nikos Stavroulakis set out to revitalize Jewish life on the Greek island of Crete (ALEXANDRA ARIOTTI/NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL, Jerusalem Post).

I don't see a clear indication that this synagogue is itself "ancient," at least in the way I use the term. But the Jewish community in Crete goes back to antiquity. For on the complicated question of an ancient synagogue at Delos, see here and here.

This article gives a brief history of the Jewish community in Crete from antiquity to the present.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Liverani, Historiography, Ideology and Politics in the Ancient Near East and Israel (Routledge)

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
Historiography, Ideology and Politics in the Ancient Near East and Israel
Changing Perspectives 5

By Mario Liverani, Niels Peter Lemche, Emanuel Pfoh
Copyright Year 2021

Hardback
£96.00

eBook
£29.59

ISBN 9780367742485
Published July 16, 2021 by Routledge
338 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

Book Description

In this volume, Niels Peter Lemche and Emanuel Pfoh present an anthology of seminal studies by Mario Liverani, a foremost scholar of the Ancient Near East.

This collection contains 18 essays, 11 of which have originally been published in Italian and are now published in English for the first time. It represents an important contribution to Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Studies, exposing the innovative interpretations of Liverani on many historical and ideological aspects of ancient society. Topics range from the Amarna letters and the Ugaritic epic, to the ‘origins’ of Israel.

Historiography, Ideology and Politics in the Ancient Near East and Israel will be an invaluable resource for Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical scholars, as well as graduate and post-graduate students.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Toher, Nicolaus of Damascus (CUP)

NEWLY IN PAPERBACK FROM CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Nicolaus of Damascus: The Life of Augustus and The Autobiography

Edited with Introduction, Translations and Historical Commentary>

REAL AUTHOR: Nicolaus of Damascus
EDITOR AND TRANSLATOR: Mark Toher, Union College, New York
DATE PUBLISHED: July 2021
AVAILABILITY: Available
FORMAT: Paperback
ISBN: 9781107428324

£ 39.99
Paperback

Description

Nicolaus of Damascus, the chief minister of Herod the Great, was an exact contemporary of the first Roman emperor Augustus; he spent considerable time in Roman society and knew Augustus. The extensive remains of his Bios Kaisaros contain the earliest and most detailed account of the conspiracy against Julius Caesar and his assassination. The Bios also presents the most extensive account of the boyhood and early development of Augustus. This edition presents the Greek text and translation of the Bios and Nicolaus' autobiography, along with a historical and historiographical commentary. The Introduction situates the text in relation to the considerable evidence for the life and career of Nicolaus preserved in the works of Josephus, addresses the problem of its date of composition, analyses the language and narrative technique of Nicolaus and discusses the Bios in relation to the evidence for Greek biographical encomium.

  • The first critical text of the Life of Augustus in almost a century, based on a re-examination of the manuscript tradition and providing a full apparatus criticus
  • Provides an edition and translation of the fragments of the author's autobiography, which is virtually unavailable in English
  • The introduction and commentary provide an historiographical analysis of the text that is crucial to understanding its value as an historical document
This book was pubished in Hardback in 2016, but I didn't note it then and it is worth noting. For more on Nicolaus of Damascus, see here and here.

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Monday, August 09, 2021

Gröger, Wellhausen's Forerunners (Mohr Siebeck - in German)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Martin Gröger. Wellhausens Wegbereiter. Studien zur alttestamentlichen Hermeneutik im 19. Jahrhundert. [Wellhausen's Forerunners. Studies on Old Testament Hermeneutics in the 19th Century.] 2021. XIII, 416 pages. Beiträge zur historischen Theologie 202. 119,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-160662-5.
Published in German.
Julius Wellhausen, probably the most famous representative of nineteenth century Old Testament scholarship, cannot be understood without those who blazed a trail before him. Martin Gröger examines the works of de Wette, George, Ewald, Graf, Vatke, Kuenen, and Geiger to show that Wellhausen's studies on the religious-historical development of the Old Testament takes further the findings of these researchers.

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Schick, Intention in Talmudic Law (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Intention in Talmudic Law

Between Thought and Deed

Series: The Brill Reference Library of Judaism, Volume: 65

Author: Shana Strauch Schick

In Intention in Talmudic Law: Between Thought and Deed, Shana Strauch Schick offers the first comprehensive history of intention in classical Jewish law (1st-6th centuries CE). Through close readings of rabbinic texts and explorations of contemporaneous legal-religious traditions, Strauch Schick constructs an intellectual history that reveals remarkable consistency within the rulings of particular sages, locales, and schools of thought. The book carefully traces developments across generations and among groups of rabbis, uncovering competing lineages of evolving legal and religious thought, and demonstrating how intention gradually became a nuanced, differentially applied concept across a wide array of legal realms.

Copyright Year: 2021

Prices from (excl. VAT):€112.00 / $135.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-43304-5
Publication Date: 29 Jun 2021

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-43303-8
Publication Date: 01 Jul 2021

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Sunday, August 08, 2021

Pouchelle et al. (eds.), The Psalms of Solomon: Texts, Contexts, and Intertexts (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
The Psalms of Solomon: Texts, Contexts, and Intertexts
Patrick Pouchelle, G. Anthony Keddie, Kenneth Atkinson, editors

ISBN 9781628374049

Volume EJL 54

Status Available

Publication Date June 2021

Paperback $49.00

eBook $49.00

Hardback $69.00

Explore new approaches to the Psalms of Solomon

The Psalms of Solomon: Texts, Contexts, and Intertexts explores a unique pseudepigraphal document that bears witness to the 63 BCE Roman conquest of Jerusalem. Essays address a variety of themes, notably their political, social, religious, and historical contexts, through the lens of anthropology of religion, cognitive science, socioeconomic theory, and more. Contributors include Kenneth Atkinson, Eberhard Bons, Johanna Erzberger, Angela Kim Harkins, G. Anthony Keddie, Patrick Pouchelle, Stefan Schreiber, Shani Tzoref, and Rodney A. Werline.

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Röhrig, Innerbiblische Auslegung und priesterliche Fortschreibungen in Lev 8–10 (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Meike J. Röhrig. Innerbiblische Auslegung und priesterliche Fortschreibungen in Lev 8–10. [Inner-Biblical Interpretation and Priestly Additions in Lev 8–10.]2021. XII, 277 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe 128. 79,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-160686-1.
Published in German.
Meike J. Röhrig demonstrates in a redaction-critical study how several layers of priestly additions and »inner-biblical interpretation« have successively formed the stories about the investiture of the Aaronides (Lev 8–10). The results contribute to a clearer demarcation of the term »inner-biblical interpretation« among multiple forms of diachronic text-text-relationships.

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