Wednesday, June 16, 2021

John J. Collins is retiring

YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL: Professor John Collins looks back on stellar academic career (Timothy Cahill). Best wishes to Professor Collins for a long and productive retirement.

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Circumcision conference with Edinburgh New College

ZOOM EVENT announced by ChristianOrigins:
We are excited to announce our forthcoming conference: Circumcision, Gender, and Ethnicity in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity. The conference will take place over Zoom on three Mondays in August (16/23/30).
Follow the link for the flier and registration information.

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Hannibal's nemesis

PUNIC WATCH: Rome’s Greatest General: Who Was Scipio Africanus? Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus was a Roman general and statesman who saved Rome and defeated Hannibal, laying the foundation for Rome’s overseas expansion (Vedran Bileta, The Collector).
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (236-183 BCE) had a fascinating life. Scipio’s youth was marked by one of the most traumatic events in Rome’s history – the invasion of Italy by Hannibal Barca. An eyewitness to the massacre at Cannae, Scipio spent the following years studying his nemesis – Hannibal – in order to eventually outwit the master-tactician. [...]
For many PaleoJudaica posts on Hannibal Barca, see the links collected here. As the article says, Hannibal receives much more attention that Scipio, but I have mentioned the latter now and again.

For the disastrous Roman defeat by Hannibal at the Battle of Cannae, see that same link.

Scipio's conquest of Cathago Nova in Spain turned the tide in favor of the Romans. This city survives today with the name Cartagena. The modern city makes full use of the archaeological and tourism potential of its Punic history, not least in its annual Romans and Carthaginians Festival in September. More recently, see here, here, and here.

Scipio went on to defeat the Carthaginians decisively at the Battle of Zama.

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Borgen, Illuminations by Philo of Alexandria (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Illuminations by Philo of Alexandria: Selected Studies on Interpretation in Philo, Paul and the Revelation of John

Series: Studies in Philo of Alexandria, Volume: 12

Author: Peder Borgen
Volume Editor: Torrey Seland

This volume contains a collection of 17 essays on Philo written by Peder Borgen between 1987 and 2018. The first six studies deal with important issues in Philo’s religious thought and social world, such as his views on Flaccus, prayers, and his eschatology. The next five essays illustrate how an understanding of Philo can contribute to the interpretation of Paul, especially his Letter to the Galatians. The final six studies deal with the importance of Philo’s writings for the interpretation of the Revelation of John, a subject too rarely touched upon in recent scholarship.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €138.00 / $166.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-45278-7
Publication Date: 25 May 2021
Copyright Date: 01 Jan 2021

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-45276-3
Publication Date: 20 May 2021
Copyright Date: 01 Jan 2021

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Ezekiel's Merkavah anniversary 2021

TODAY IS THE 5TH OF TAMUZ, the anniversary of Ezekiel's Merkavah Vision: Tuesday, 5 Tammuz, 5781 June 15, 2021.
Jewish History
Ezekiel's Vision of the "Chariot" (429 BCE)
On the 5th of Tammuz of the year 3332 from creation (429 BCE), Ezekiel, among the only prophets to prophesy outside of the Holy Land, beheld a vision of the Divine "Chariot" representing the spiritual infrastructure of creation.
I give Chabad credit for noticing the date. It isn't receiving much attention elsewhere. They are using a rabbinic chronology that differs from the scholarly date by a good bit. The vision took place in the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin (Ezekiel 1:2), which according to the scholarly chronology was 593 BCE.

Ezekiel's wild vision of heaven and its denizens is recorded in chapter 1 of his book. A follow-up vision from a year later (September 592, Ezek 8:1) is recorded in chapter 10. This vision is the foundation for Western mysticism. I have discussed it in detail here with links. Additional relevant post are here, here, and here. The vision also acquired some connections with the Festival of Shavuot. See here and here.

And here's something I've been saving up. This seems like a good time to post it. Cross-file under Just For Fun: The secret Jewish history of UFOs (and why Ezekiel might have had a close encounter) (Seth Rogovoy, The Forward).

Ezekiel’s vision of a merkavah, or chariot, the foundation of a whole school of kabbalistic thought called Merkavah mysticism, is perhaps the best-known Bible story that can be read as an account of a close encounter.

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Hebrew Bible job at the Harvard Divinity School

RECEIVED FROM THE HARVARD DIVINITY SCHOOL:
HARVARD DIVINITY SCHOOL
May 2021
Position in Hebrew Bible

Harvard University’s Faculty of Divinity seeks to make a full-time, tenure-track appointment in the field of Hebrew Bible. The search is open to a variety of approaches and to any area of specialization within the field, understood as the critical study of the Hebrew Bible within the broader context of the history, literature, and religious thought of ancient Israel and Second Temple Judaism. The successful candidate should be proficient in the appropriate languages and demonstrate promise of excellence in research and teaching in the field of Hebrew Bible.

The successful candidate will work closely with students in the Divinity School’s Masters programs and the doctoral program in the Committee on the Study of Religion in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. They will also likely teach and advise undergraduates in the College, as well as graduate students in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and related departments and programs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Applicants should also be able to contribute to the Divinity School’s degree programs, including its multi-religious Master of Divinity program. We therefore seek a candidate who is attentive to the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh, Old Testament) within later communities of reception, and who is familiar with forms of analysis that address race, gender, and social location.

If travel and on-campus visits during the next academic year prove difficult or even impossible, the Faculty of Divinity intends to proceed with online interviews and visits.

Applications should be made online at: http://academicpositions.harvard.edu. The application includes a CV, a cover letter, and the names of three references whom the School will contact. Thereafter it will be the responsibility of the candidates to ensure that three references have been uploaded by the referees to their applications. Review of applications will begin on September 1, 2021, although applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled.

Letters of nomination are also welcome and should be sent to Dean David N. Hempton at hdsdeansoffice@hds.harvard.edu. Applicants should address any questions regarding the position itself or the online application system to the HDS Faculty Search Office at hebrewbiblesearch@hds.harvard.edu.

HDS is an equal opportunity, affirmative-action employer, and encourages applications and nominations of women and/or ethnic minority candidates, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, pregnancy and pregnancy related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law.

UPDATE: Part of the announcement was cut off in the original posting. Now corrected!

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The lost Roman altar on Mount Gerizim

THE AWOL BLOG: Open Access Articles in the Journal of Roman Archaeology. One article is of particular interest:
A Roman altar on Mount Gerizim: Rediscovering a civic icon on tetradrachms of Neapolis (Samaria) (Andreas J. M. Kropp)

Abstract

This article examines the iconography of a type of Caracalla tetradrachm that has been newly attributed to Neapolis in Roman Palestine and whose reverse depicts a monumental altar decorated with statues of Tyche, Ephesian Artemis, and Kore Persephone. The study contextualizes these deities in the religious life of Neapolis and identifies the monument as an altar often depicted as a miniscule element in panoramic views of Mount Gerizim on the bronze coins of Neapolis. The tetradrachms provide, for the first time, a close-up view of this long-lost civic monument.

We hear a lot about the altar on Mount Ebal (more recently, here and links) and the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim. It seems there was a Roman altar on Mount Gerizim too. I had not heard of it before.

Cross-file under Numismatics.

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Willi, Roman Writing Equipment

THE ETC BLOG: Roman Writing Equipment (Peter M. Head). A new e-book by Anna Willi from The LatinNow Project. Good to know.

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Monday, June 14, 2021

More on that evil-eye amulet

NAUGHTY APOTROPAIC AMULET: New Discovery Highlights How Jews and Christians Were Once Naughty with Magic (Candida Moss, Daily Beast/Yahoo News).
While the amulet was certainly used to protect the wearer from hostile supernatural forces, and for most people this will be news, the IAA’s framing of the discovery as novel is overstated. The collection of images shown attacking the evil eye on the amulet is remarkably similar to a mosaic from ancient Antioch.
I didn't know that. The link in the quote leads to a post at Dr. Bond's blog. You can see an image of the "House of the Evil Eye" mosaic there.

Professor Moss also discusses the challenges for establishing the provenance of the object.

Background here.

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Starts today! Caesarea Maritima International Conference

ONLINE CONFERENCE: Caesarea Maritima International Conference (Charles Savelle, The BibleExposition Blog). It takes place on 13-15 June and begins in just a few hours. Follow the link for the program and the viewing link.

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Who really destroyed the first Temple?

HERE'S SOMETHING DIFFERENT: Who Really Destroyed Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem? Renowned biblical scholar Richard Elliott Friedman suggests we got it wrong all along: that the real culprits weren’t the Babylonians (Elon Gilad, Haaretz).
... This, says renowned biblical scholar Richard Elliott Friedman, a professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia and author of the best-selling book “Who Wrote the Bible?” may have been a case of mistaken identity. The Babylonians may have destroyed Judah and kicked out its populace, but they did not destroy the temple. The culprits were the Edomites, a small kingdom in the southern Transjordan, he posits.
Just when you think there is something in biblical studies that everyone agrees on ...

I am skeptical about this one. But you decide. You can read the underlying article by Professor Friedman here. Link courtesy of Joseph Lauer.

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Just like Jonah?

IT HAPPENS: Humpback whale swallows diver whole, then spits him out. 56-year-old Michael Packard lives to tell tale after spending 30 to 40 seconds inside huge marine mammal (Times of Israel/AP). Granted, Jonah was in the big fish for three days, but 30 seconds of that would feel like three days. I bet he was praying like Jonah was too. I would be praying.

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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Mermelstein, Power and Emotion in Ancient Judaism (CUP)

NEW BOOK FROM CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Power and Emotion in Ancient Judaism
Community and Identity in Formation

AUTHOR: Ari Mermelstein, Yeshiva University, New York
DATE PUBLISHED: June 2021
AVAILABILITY: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
FORMAT: Adobe eBook Reader
ISBN: 9781108934633

$ 80.00 USD Adobe eBook Reader

Description

In this book, Ari Mermelstein examines the mutually-reinforcing relationship between power and emotion in ancient Judaism. Ancient Jewish writers in both Palestine and the diaspora contended that Jewish identity entails not simply allegiance to God and performance of the commandments but also the acquisition of specific emotional norms. These rules regarding feeling were both shaped by and responses to networks of power - God, the foreign empire, and other groups of Jews - which threatened Jews' sense of agency. According to these writers, emotional communities that felt Jewish would succeed in neutralizing the power wielded over them by others and, depending on the circumstances, restore their power to acculturate, maintain their Jewish identity, and achieve redemption. An important contribution to the history of emotions, this book argues that power relations are the basis for historical changes in emotion discourse.

  • Theorizes the relationship between power, emotion, and identity
  • Analyses a broad array of ancient Jewish sources to demonstrate the importance of this relationship
  • Provides an account of Jewish identity which includes not just practice and belief but also emotion

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Rashi and Charlemagne

PROF. RABBI ROBERT HARRIS: On the Origins of Rashi's Peshat Commentary (TheTorah.com).
The shift in biblical exegesis from homiletic readings to literary, contextual commentaries has its roots in Charlemagne's 9th century Carolingian Revolution. It comes to the fore only in the 11th century with Rashi's quasi-peshat commentary, soon followed by the peshat approach of R. Joseph Kara and Rashbam.
The section on the reign of Charlemagne is also of interest. By one reckoning, his reign marks the end of late antiquty. His patronage of scribal scholarship helped to preserve much ancient literature that otherwise might have been lost.

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Review of A catalogue of Greek manuscripts at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: A catalogue of Greek manuscripts at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann, Pablo Alvarez, A catalogue of Greek manuscripts at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2021. Pp. xxxiii, 321. ISBN 9780472131891 $99.00.

Review by
Georgi Parpulov, University of Binghamton. g.r.parpulov@bham.ac.uk

This looks like a useful resource. It seems to have a good online counterpart as well.

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Fertility charms or erotica?

ICONOGRAPHY: Birth Rites in Canaan: The Enigma of the Nude Female Figurines. Canaanite homes in the Bronze Age had nude female figurines but none showing birth. Other areas did have birth figurines. What could this mean? (Haaretz, Ruth Schuster).

One such figurine was found in Israel this March.

For some thoughts on fertility and infertility in the Bible, see here.

For more on that perplexing drawing from Kultillet Ajrud, see here and links and here.

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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Miqra’ot Gedolot Torah translation (JPS)

FROM THE JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIETY:
The Commentators' Bible, 5-volume set The Rubin JPS Miqra'ot Gedolot

Edited, translated, and annotated by Michael Carasik

Commentators' Bible Series 1798 pages

Set August 2018
978-0-8276-1351-5
$360.00

About the Book

The biblical commentaries known as Miqra’ot Gedolot have inspired and educated generations of Hebrew readers. Now, with the five volumes of the acclaimed English edition of Miqra’ot Gedolot—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy—the voices of Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Nachmanides, Rashbam, Abarbanel, Kimhi, and other medieval Bible commentators come alive, speaking in a contemporary English translation annotated and explicated for lay readers.

Each page in this five-volume series contains the biblical text in Hebrew surrounded by both the 1917 and 1985 JPS translations, and by new contemporary English translations of the major commentators. The books also include an introduction, a glossary of terms, a list of names used in the text, notes on source texts, a special topics list, and resources for further study.

The large-format volumes are beautifully designed for easy navigation among the many elements on each page, including explanatory notes and selected additional comments from the works of Bekhor Shor, Sforno, Gersonides, and Hizkuni, among others.

I noted the inception of this project in 2006 and the publication of a volume in 2009. The Torah volumes are now finished. I don't know if there are plans for more.

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Butts & Young (eds.), Syriac Christian Culture (CUAP)

NEW BOOK FROM THE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA PRESS:
Syriac Christian Culture: Beginnings to Renaissance Hardcover – March 5, 2021
by Aaron Michael Butts (Editor), Robin Darling Young (Editor)

Hardcover
from $76.35

Syriac Christianity developed in the first centuries CE in the Middle East, where it continued to flourish throughout Late Antiquity and the Medieval period, while also spreading widely, as far as India and China. Today, Syriac Christians are found in the Middle East, in India, as well in diasporas scattered across the globe. Over this extended time period and across this vast geographic expanse, Syriac Christians have built impressive churches and monasteries, crafted fine pieces of art, and written and transmitted a sizable body of literature. Though often overlooked, neglected, and even persecuted, Syriac Christianity has been – and continues to be – an important part of the humanistic heritage of the last two millennia.

The present volume brings together fourteen studies that offer fresh perspectives on Syriac Christianity, especially its literary texts and authors. The timeframes of the individual studies span from the second-century Syriac translation of the Hebrew Bible up to the thirteenth century with the end of the Syriac Renaissance. Several studies analyze key authors from Late Antiquity, such as Aphrahat, Ephrem, Narsai, and Jacob of Serugh. Others investigate translations into Syriac, both from Hebrew and from Greek, while still others examine hagiography, especially its formation and transmission. Reflecting a growing trend in the field, the volume also devotes significant attention to the Medieval period, during which Syriac Christians lived under Islamic rule. The studies in the volume are united in their quest to explore the richness, diversity, and vibrance of Syriac Christianity.

Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

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Photo Companion to the Bible: 2 Samuel

THE HOLY LAND PHOTOS' BLOG: A Photo Resource for 2 Samuel (Carl Rasmussen). That resource has been published by Todd Bolen, whom we all know well from the Bible Places Blog.

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Aramaic on BBC Radio

ARAMAIC WATCH: Aramaic: an imperial language without an empire (The Forum, BBC Radio).
A history of a language that was once spoken from Egypt to Afghanistan and played an important role in the creation of great religious writings.
A 40-minute episode that is being broadcasted this week. You can listen to the recording at the link, at least if you are in the UK. I'm not sure about elsewhere.

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Friday, June 11, 2021

Archaeology (July/August 2021)

ARCHAEOLOGY MAGAZINE has a new issue out (July/August 2021). Access is by paid subscription, but parts of the issue are open access. The two following are of interest:

The Ugarit Archives. Thousands of cuneiform tablets written in a distinctive script tell the dramatic story of a Bronze Age merchant city in Syria (Roger Atwood). Note also the sidebars: Women in Ugarit and A Poem for Ugarit.

A Challenging World (Jarrett A. Lobell). That "world" is the cliff caves around Qumran, where archaeologists recently discovered more scroll fragments and other artifacts (in the "Cave of Horror"). See here and here.

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Ancient anchor found at Tel Dor

BUILT TO LAST: Ancient stone anchor used for 2,000 years found on Israel’s northern coast. Parks authority says the artifact, uncovered in an underwater dig at Tel Dor, was first used in the Bronze Age (Times of Israel).
The anchor, which was found in an underwater dig at the Tel Dor archaeological site in northern Israel, was first used in the Bronze Age some 3,300 years ago and remained in use during the Byzantine period until roughly 500 CE, according to the parks authority.
Ancient anchors turn up now and then. A Roman-era wooden anchor was found in the Dead Sea in 2004. See here and here. Another (see here and here) was reported in 2005. Also in 2004, a stone anchor, attached to ship wreckage dated to the ninth century BCE, was found at Hof Dor. In 2011, three late antique iron anchors were recovered at Bat Yam beach.

Cross-file under marine (maritime, underwater) archaeology.

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The (Church Slavonic) Writing on the Wall

CHURCH SLAVONIC WATCH: The Walls Speak: Ancient Graffiti Deciphered In Kyiv Cathedral. After 15 years of work, Ukrainian researchers have published a study of thousands of messages -- some dating back nearly 1,000 years -- scratched onto the walls of Kyiv’s St. Sophia Cathedral (Radio Free Europe, Ukraine). The cited graffiti range from the pious to the personal to the whimsical. The oldest one is a drawing of a duck, signed by "Petro" in 1065.

It's always nice to have graffiti in an old language alongside the literary texts. Graffiti give us a better idea of what regular people were thinking and talking about.

For PaleoJudaica posts on (Old) Church Slavonic, with explanation of why we're interested, see here and links.

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BAS Publication Awards 2021

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: BAS Publication Awards – Call for Entries. Nominations close on June 15, 2021—just 5 days left!

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Thursday, June 10, 2021

The chicken egg and the thousand-year-old privy

NO YOLK! 1,000-year-old chicken egg perfectly preserved in human feces inside an ancient cesspit is unearthed in Israel (Stacy Liberatore, Daily Mail).

It was more an eggshell than an egg. Most of the contents had leaked out through a crack. But that makes its survival all the more remarkable. And contrary to my dreadful pun above, a little of of the yolk was left inside. The researchers hope to get some DNA from it.

They also found three bone dolls ("Coptic dolls") in the cesspit.

For the fourth-century mosaic found recently at the site (Yavne) and mentioned in the article, see here.

For another story on ancient chicken eggshells (from Jerusalem), see here. For the ancient domestication of the chicken, see here.

Add this story to our growing corpus of latrine news.

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What do Bethsaida and the Etruscans have in common?

UNEXPECTED COLLABORATION: Israeli, Italian Colleges to Collaborate on ‘Bethsaida,’ Etruscan Archaeology. The site where Jesus’ disciplines were born and the birthplace of pre-Roman culture have much to teach archaeologists from the two teams, explains Kinneret College’s Prof. Mordechai Aviam (Haaretz). HT Rogue Classicisim.

“It will enable us to better understand two cultures and how they connect,” Aviam told Haaretz. “The Etruscan roots in Rome run deep, just for instance, in their building methods. The Etruscans built round temples and that eventually reached Israel. Herod’s grave, called the tolus, is round – a style that apparently originated not in Israel but in Etruscan Italy.”

Ultimately, such collaboration helps broaden the archaeologists’ horizon to learn about worlds with which they are unfamiliar, he says: to see their homes, their pottery, their coinage, their things. They can learn about cultural influences going back millennia. When they can travel, that is. Aviam is hopeful they can start implementing the collaboration in July.

This Bethsaida is the site of el-Araj. For the ongoing controversy over which site is the actual ancient city of Bethsaida (the main alternative location is et-Tell), see here and many links. Apparently el-Araj is also called Beit Habek, although this is first I remember hearing that. The site remains flooded, but the excavators aim to work around that and excavate anyway.

The Etruscans have come up occasionally on PaleoJudaica, notably regarding the bilingual Phoencian-Etruscan gold tablets from Pyrgi.

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From BAR's new editor

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: A Moment for Reflection…And New Beginnings. Hershel Shanks’s passing and the transition to a new editor is an opportunity for BAR to honor the past while looking forward to new horizons (Glenn J. Corbett). With highlights from the current issue.

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Digital Corpus of Literary Papyrology

THE AWOL BLOG: DCLP: Digital Corpus of Literary Papyrology. This website is an impressive resource. It has entries for seemingly every ancient papyrus, covering every ancient author and work you have ever heard of and some that you haven't.

Besides the Classical works and authors, I found entries for Hebrew Bible and Old Testament (translations in many languages) papyri; New Testament papyri (Greek and many translations); various Old Testament Apocrypha, New Testament Apocrypha, and Old Testament Pseudepigrapha; Flavius Josephus; the Hegesippus Latin Josephus; and Philo of Alexandria.

Many of the entries include transcriptions and/or photographs.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2021

On toilets at Qumran

LATRINE LECTURE: Dead Sea Scrolls scholar flushes out mystery. How did Jews in the land of Israel use the toilet some 2,000 years ago? The legendary Dead Sea Scrolls offer some answers (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
How did Jews in the land of Israel use the toilet some 2,000 years ago? What kind of facilities did they build, and which social habits did they develop?

Some answers are offered by the legendary Dead Sea Scrolls and the archaeological remains in ancient Qumran, Prof. Jodi Magness, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, revealed in an online lecture on Monday.

[...]

This lecture was on a latrine discovered at the site of Qumran. Another was discovered nearby in 2006. See the links collected here. For other posts on ancient latrines, see here and links.

UPDATE (10 June): Note Joe Lauer's (JoeL) comment to the article:

Although the article states that there was a “lack of a toilet seat at the site” in Qumran, during her very interesting lecture Dr. Magness showed a picture of a toilet seat near the locus of the toilet discovered in the excavation at Qumran led by Roland de Vaux. Dr. Magness found the photo of the toilet seat in the recently published volume on de Vaux’s excavation.

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The Pseudo-Neros

THE COLLECTOR: Emperor Nero’s Death & The Curious Case Of The Pseudo Neros. In 68 CE, Nero, the notorious Emperor, was forced to commit suicide. Nero’s death sparked a sequence of imposters that kept emerging for up to a generation after his passing (Colin J Campbell). HT Rogue Classicism.

At last some attention to the post-Nero Neronic traditions! There were three Nero imposters (Nero rediturus, "Nero shall return") after his death. This article has the details, along with an analysis of Nero's reign.

My view? The entire Nero tradition has almost no credibility. The main accounts are hostile to him. Many of their claims involve unsources stories about events that supposedly happened in private. That includes the account of his death. Any or all of them could be true, but many sound outrageous and are just the sort of thing people would make up about their enemies. I assume much of this material is fake news. Even the accounts of public events were written many years later when few people who witnessed them would still be alive.

I doubt that Nero was a nice Emperor. But about all we can say with confidence is that he was remembered with hatred by some, including those in the ruling class who wrote about him. But he was remembered with love by others. Apparently a lot of people were willing to support Nero when they thought he had come back.

Three men showed up after his supposed death and started revolts that had to be put down. Was one of them Nero? Did he go into hiding and later try for a comeback? It doesn't seem likely, but I don't see how we can rule out the possibility.

For PaleoJudaica posts on the current British Museum's Nero exhibition, see here and links. Earlier posts on Nero and his post-mortem mythology (Nero redivivus, Nero shall come back to life), especially the Beast in the Book of Revelation, are collected here.

UPDATE: I have corrected the name of the publication. Please excuse the error.

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The PA PM and the archaeology of the Temple Mount

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Palestinian PM: No proof Jewish Temple ever existed on Temple Mount. Speaking to Al Jazeera while on a visit to Qatar, Mohammad Shtayyeh says any escalation in Jerusalem is in the interest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and that the world is showing "unprecedented support for the Palestinians" (Shahar Klaiman, Israel HaYom).
The years of archaeological excavations Israel has conducted at the Temple Mount have yielded no proof that the Temple ever existed in Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Monday evening in an interview to Al Jazeera.

When asked about current tensions in Jerusalem, Shtayyeh said that Jerusalem was at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

"Since 1967 and the occupation of the West Bank, Israel has carried out a series of excavations underneath Al-Aqsa Mosque which haven't proved any connection whatsoever to the hall [Temple] or anything similar," Shtayyeh claimed.

[...]

As always, I would like to see the quotation in full context, but it does not sound helpful. The assertion seems to be that the Jerusalem tunnel excavations, which the PM claims go under the Al-Aqsa Mosque, provide no evidence for the existence of the Jewish Temple. That's a paraphrase, but I think that is what he means to say. In the context of the report of the full interview, the implication is that this lack of proof is damaging to the claim that there were Jewish Temples on the Temple Mount.

The Jerusalem tunnel excavations are not, as far as I can tell, in areas that would produce evidence for the existence of the Temples. So, not surprisingly, it is true that they display no connection to the Temple. I know of no excavation actually going under the Al-Aqsa Mosque and I doubt there is any such thing. If someone knows of one, please send me a report. For many PaleoJudaica posts on the tunnel excavations see here, here, and here and follow the links.

The only "excavations" on the Temple Mount that could be relevant for the question of the existence of the Jewish Temples are the illicit ones conducted by the Waqf many years ago. The excavated dirt was dumped in the Kidron Valley. Fortunately, the Temple Mount Sifting Project has been sifting this dirt for many years and has found many priceless archaeological artifacts. For countless PaleoJudaica posts on the Project, start here and follow the links.

The renovation of the Herodian Temple seems to have demolished most of the Second Temple and whatever remains there may have been of the First Temple. The Herodian Temple was then thorougly demolished by the Romans in 70 CE. So there is little hope of finding significant architectural remains of any of the Temples on the Temple Mount.

That said, there is some significant archaeological evidence for the existence of the later Temples. There is the first-century CE Greek Temple warning inscription. Also in 2016 the Sifting Project published tiles that they concluded came from floor of the Temple courtyard. See here and here.

There is considerable additional evidence for the existence of the Jewish Temples on the Temple Mount, but most of it is more inferential. For the First Temple see here and for the Second and Herodian Temples, see here.

For the unfortunate 2015 New York Times article on the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount which offered crediblity to Temple denial and had to be corrected, see here and links.

A couple of other recent posts on the subject of Jewish Temple denial are here and here.

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

Gribetz on Time and Difference in Rabbinic Judaism

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Time and Difference in Rabbinic Judaism (Sarit Kattan Gribetz).
I submitted the final manuscript of my book, Time and Difference in Rabbinic Judaism, for publication in February 2020. By the time it was published, in November 2020, the world was a very different place.

[...]

Published by Princeton University Press. Cross-file under New Book. Dr. Gribetz is a frequent contributor to AJR.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions (CPI)

THE AWOL BLOG: Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions (CPI).

The Ptolemaic dynasty is important for the study of Second Temple-era Judaism, especially in Egypt. And some of the kings and queens of the dynasty appear in the Bible, especially in the Book of Daniel.

This website gives you access to, among other things, many of the official decrees of the Ptolemaic kings and queens.

I have posted on the coinage of the Ptolemaic dynasty here and links, with commentary on the biblical background. For posts on Cleopatra VII (THE Cleopatra), see here and here and links. Other recent posts on Ptolemaic-related matters are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Follow the links in those for earlier posts.

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Looting arrests in northern Israel

APPREHENDED: Suspects arrested after destroying antiquities in illegal excavation. The suspects were equipped with manual digging tools and a backhoe and were carrying out destructive and illegal excavations on Khirbat al-Jahush land (Jerusalem Post).

Israel HaYom has photos of the damage here.

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The Early History of the Codex Project

VARIANT READINGS: A New Project: The Early History of the Codex (Brent Nongbri).
A busy semester is now winding down, and I’m happy to announce that in August, I’ll be kicking off a new, five-year project: The Early History of the Codex: A New Methodology and Ethics for Manuscript Studies (EthiCodex) based here in Oslo at MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion, and Society, thanks to the support of the Research Council of Norway.

[...]

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On running an online seminar

THE STECA BLOG: How to run an online seminar? (Marieke Dhonte). In 2019 online conferences and seminars seemed a thing of the future, if at all. Last week I attended two and I have another lined up this week.

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

Monday, June 07, 2021

Book event essays (4): Feldman, The Story of Sacrifice

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Leviticus as a Mission Statement (Martha Himmelfarb).

Another essay on Liane Feldman's recent book, The Story of Sacrifice: Ritual and Narrative in the Priestly Source (Mohr Siebeck, 2020).

I noted the earlier essays in the series here and links.

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Fassberg, Hebrew Texts and Language of the Second Temple Period (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Hebrew Texts and Language of the Second Temple Period

Proceedings of an Eighth Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira

Series: Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah, Volume: 134

Volume Editor: Steven Fassberg

The 21 essays in this volume deal with the language and text of Hebrew corpora from the Second Temple period. They were originally presented at the Eighth International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira, held in January 2016 in Jerusalem. Most of the papers focus on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the light of First and Second Temple Hebrew. A few of the contributions are devoted primarily to the language of Ben Sira, Samaritan Hebrew, and Mishnaic Hebrew. You will find discussions of orthography, phonology, morphology, syntax, lexicon, language contact, and sociolinguistics.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €134.00 / $161.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-44798-1
Publication Date: 25 May 2021
Copyright Date: 01 Jan 2021

Hardback
Availability: Not Yet Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-44797-4
Publication Date: 21 Jul 2021
Copyright Date: 01 Jan 2021

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Nongbri on the Hobby Lobby lawsuit

VARIANT READINGS: Hobby Lobby Inc. vs Dirk Obbink. As usual, Brent Nongbri draws some interesting inferences and questions out of this latest development in the saga of the Oxford missing papyri and their alleged relationship to Dirk Obbink and the Museum of the Bible. As I have said before, I have no opinion on the story or on this case. Presumably we shall learn more if and when it goes to court.

Background here and links.

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The Guardian reviews Nero

EXHIBITION: Nero: The Man Behind the Myth review – legend and truth (Laura Cumming, The Guardian). She gives it 4/5 stars.
But what makes this show so unusual is precisely its offer of different truths. Nothing in it convinces me that Nero was a hero, but neither does it damn him on the basis of Tacitus and his colleagues. Its true subject, in a sense, is the way that history calcifies into dogma, but may come alive again, in all its complexity, through modern minds and eyes.
Background and additional reviews are noted here and links.

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Sunday, June 06, 2021

Levy & Levy, The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary

RECENT-ISH BOOK FROM THE JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIETY:
The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary

Steven and Sarah Levy
JPS Study Bible Series
216 pages
2 indexes

Paperback
January 2018
978-0-8276-1269-3
$29.95

eBook (PDF)
(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)
January 2018
978-0-8276-1347-8v $29.95

About the Book

Rashi, the medieval French rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040–1105), authored monumental commentaries on the Hebrew Bible and the Babylonian Talmud. With The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary, his commentary on the Torah—regarded as the most authoritative of all Torah commentaries—is finally accessible to the entire Jewish community.

Steven and Sarah Levy quote from the biblical text in both Hebrew and English, highlight Rashi’s comments relating to the parashah, and delve into his perceptive moral messages in the context of twenty-first-century dilemmas. Each portion features three essays with analysis and discussion questions that draw on universal human experiences, enabling families and Shabbat study groups to deepen their understanding of Rashi and the portion over the three Sabbath meals.

Readers with little or no knowledge of Hebrew, the Torah, or Jewish practice will feel comfortable diving into this discussion commentary. All Hebrew terms are defined, quoted verses contextualized, and less familiar Jewish concepts explained.

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Stroup, The Christians Who Became Jews (Yale)

RECENT BOOK FROM YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS:
The Christians Who Became Jews
Acts of the Apostles and Ethnicity in the Roman City

Christopher Stroup

Description

A fresh look at Acts of the Apostles and its depiction of Jewish identity within the larger Roman era

When considering Jewish identity in Acts of the Apostles, scholars have often emphasized Jewish and Christian religious difference, an emphasis that masks the intersections of civic, ethnic, and religious identifications in antiquity. Christopher Stroup’s innovative work explores the depiction of Jewish and Christian identity by analyzing ethnicity within a broader material and epigraphic context. Examining Acts through a new lens, he shows that the text presents Jews and Jewish identity in multiple, complex ways, rather than as a simple foil for Christianity.

Stroup convincingly argues that when the modern distinctions among ethnic, religious, and civic identities are suspended, the innovative ethnic rhetoric of the author of Acts comes into focus. The author of Acts leverages the power of gods, ancestry, and physical space to legitimate Christian identity as a type of Jewish identity and to present Christian non-Jews as Jewish converts through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $65.00

ISBN: 9780300247893
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
240 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4

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Persepolis is now open to the public

TOURISM: Persepolis: once awe-inspiring gateway opens to public after millennia (Tehran Times).
Named Tall-e Ajori, the archaeological site and its surroundings, which has been subject to archaeological work over the past decade, was officially inaugurated as an open-air museum by the visiting Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Minister on Monday.

According to local experts, tours of Persepolis can start from Tall-e Ajor to have a more detailed introduction of the Iranian culture of the time, allowing tourists and researchers to see the art of the Achaemenids from another angle.

The gateway is made of brick and clay materials and the whole exterior has been decorated with painted bricks. The lower parts and the plinth of the walls are decorated with [themes of] lotus flowers, the body, and facade of the walls are embellished with various colored panels of mythical animals, symbols, and belief symbols of ancient Iranians, Elamites, and Mesopotamians.

[...]

For background on the ancient Iranian city of Persepolis and why it is of interest to PaleoJudaica, see here (with photos at the link) and here (cf. here) and many links .

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

The Latin Josephus Project

ROGER PEARSE: Online: The Latin Josephus Project. I mentioned this important project back in 2014, but it's worth flagging again. For more on Latin Josephus, see here.

It is also worth mentioning Pseudo-Hegisippus' De excidio Hierosolymitano, a free, Christianized, Latin version of Josephus' Jewish War. See here with a link to Roger Pearse's English translation. For related Ethiopic material, see here.

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Saturday, June 05, 2021

The Ark of the Covenant as Egyptian ritual furniture?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Ark of the Covenant in its Egyptian Context ( David A. Falk ). I noted the publication of Dr. Falk's book with the same title here.

For many, many PaleoJudaica posts on the the Ark of the Covenant in the Bible and tradition and in light of archaeology, start here and follow the links. And don't miss the results of the Winter 2020 BAR caption contest here.

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

The salads Goliath's ancestors ate

CUNLIARY ARCHAEOLOGY: What kind of salads did the Canaanites eat? The researchers analyzed more than 3,500 plant finds and identified emmer, lentils, pistachio, grass peas, figs, olives, flax, barley and grapes, among others (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
The botanical finds, mostly charred seeds and other plant remains, allowed the researchers to understand not only what kind of food the ancient Canaanites ate, but also how they warmed up their houses, where their fields were located, the seasons of the crops, how work was split between agriculture and herding, and how Gath related to the contemporary commercial routes.
The JP article refers to an underlying article in the Journal of Archaeological Science, but that paper does not yet appear on the journal's website.

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Another review of Stanley, A Rooster for Asklepios

THE BIBLE PLACES BLOG: Recommended: A Rooster for Asklepios. Todd Bolen reviews the book.
As a scholar whose expertise is in the social and religious history of the Greco-Roman world, Professor Stanley knows well the background of the New Testament world. My common sentiment as I read was gratitude—gratitude for the author’s careful research and his ability to weave a fascinating story. Sometimes his descriptions confirmed what I knew, but he usually delved much more deeply than I ever have, and I thoroughly enjoyed soaking it in.
I noted another review by Phil Long at Reading Acts.

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

Punic tomb found in Zabbar, Malta

PUNIC WATCH: Punic tomb discovered during water works in Zabbar (Malta Independent). There seems to be lots of Punic and Phoenician archaeology yet to be done in Malta.

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

Friday, June 04, 2021

Fake and real news about the Shapira scroll affair

SOME NINETEENTH CENTURY FAKE NEWS is debunked by Michael Press in a Twitter thread. Shapira didn't ask for £1,000,000.

HT Rogue Classicism.

Now here's some real Shapira news from Daniel Stoekl, circulated in various places:

A scholarly webinar on Idan Dershowitz' recent reassessment of the Shapira documents

Please register here: https://tinyurl.com/bfdjjn9a

June 10, 2021
3-8 pm CEST // 9 am - 2 pm EDT
---------------------------
3 pm CEST

Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra (EPHE, PSL), Introduction - 10'
Idan Dershowitz (U Potsdam) and Naama Pat-El (UT Austin), New
Observations and Reactions on the Valediction of Moses - 30'
Rebecca Jefferson (U Florida), Moses Shapira’s Manuscript Sales - 10'
Benjamin Sass (Tel Aviv U), A Note on the Palaeography - 10'
Matthieu Richelle (UCLouvain), Paleography- 10'

Pause 30 min

4:40 pm CEST Robert Holmstedt (U Toronto), Linguistics - 15'
Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra (EPHE, PSL), Dead Sea Scrolls - 10'
Konrad Schmid (U Zurich), Is V a Literary Precursor to Deuteronomy? - 15'
Jeffrey Stackert (U Chicago), Hebrew Bible - 10'

Pause 30 min

From 6 pm CEST: General Discussion

Please register here https://tinyurl.com/bfdjjn9a in order to receive the webinar link.

I have some conflicting meetings on that day, but I shall be able to attend part of it.

For background on the Shapira affair and recent reassessments arguing that his scroll was a genuine ancient artifact, see here, here, here and links.

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

Review of Schmalzgruber, Speaking animals in ancient literature

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Speaking animals in ancient literature.
Hedwig Schmalzgruber, Speaking animals in ancient literature. Kalliope - Studien zur griechischen und lateinischen Poesie, 20. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2020. Pp. 619. ISBN 9783825346904 €78,00.

Review by
Diego De Brasi, Universität Trier. debrasi@uni-trier.de

As you would expect, the serpent in the Garden and Balaam's donkey receive attention. So do Philo of Alexandria and the Acts of Thomas.

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Interview with BAR's new editor

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: 5 Questions: Meet BAR’s New Editor. Glenn J. Corbett became Editor of Biblical Archaeology Review in March, 2021.
Glenn J. Corbett, the new Editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, answers 5 Questions about his training and experience that led him to fill this new role at the Biblical Archaeology Society. From South Carolina to Petra, it’s been an exciting journey!

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BAR Caption Contest

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Summer 2021 Caption Contest. Biblical Archaeology Review Summer 2021 Contest. "No John, it's carobs!"

For posts on the diet of John the Baptist, see here and links.

For more on and from the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, see here and links.

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

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Hobby Lobby sues Dirk Obbink

LITIGATION: Hobby Lobby Sues Oxford Professor Over Stolen Bible Artifacts. Facing separate criminal charges over the theft of ancient Egyptian papyrus, professor Dirk Obbink has called allegations against him “entirely false” (NINA PULLANO, Courthouse News Service).
BROOKLYN (CN) — Craft chain Hobby Lobby is going to court again, this time to recover some $7 million it paid a former Oxford University classics professor for ancient fragments of the Christian gospels and other artifacts that turned out to be stolen.

[...]

The full text of the federal complaint is here. The article posts, summarizes, and discusses it.

Over at Evangelical Textual Criticism, Peter Gurry links to the article and complaint and has a briefer summary and discussion: Hobby Lobby Sues Obbink for $7m.

For PaleoJudaica posts on the Oxford missing-papyri scandal and its alleged connections with Dirk Obbink and Hobby Lobby, see here and here and links. For the various other problems with the provenance and authenticity of artifacts associated with the Museum of the Bible and the Green Collection, see here and here and follow the many links.

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

20 bizarre stories from A Most Peculiar Book

THAT'S IN THE BIBLE? 20 of the most bizarre stories from the bible (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
From a talking donkey to a man being eaten by a giant fish, the Bible has no shortage of strange stories. In her new book "A Most Peculiar Book: The Inherent Strangeness of the Bible" (Oxford University Press, 2021), Kristin Swenson, an associate professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, delves into these stories and many others. Here's a look at 20 of the more bizarre biblical stories that Swenson discusses in the book.
This is a good list. The examples could, of course, be multiplied. And it leaves out some of the most disturbing stories. Perhaps that is good thing.

For more on Prof. Swenson's new book, see here.

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Moses' Kushite wife

PROF. SIDNIE WHITE CRAWFORD: Moses’ Black-Skinned Wife: What Does the Torah Think of Her? (TheTorah.com).
Miriam and Aaron speak negatively about Moses for marrying a Kushite woman. Does their issue have to do with her skin color? Miriam’s punishment may hold the key.
For more on Cushites (Kushites) in the Bible, see here and here.

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Pirke Avot in the news

MISHNAH WATCH: White House science adviser to be sworn in on a 500-year-old Jewish text. The minute we realized the question was values, we all went to tikkun olam,’ said Eric Lander, incoming director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service).
His family picked up on a similar sentiment. “The minute we realized the question was values, we all went to tikkun olam,” Lander said, explaining that tikkun olam has particular resonance in his family: “What is our purpose here? Our purpose is to repair the world, to help others in need of help, to take in strangers, to have empathy.”

That realization, in turn, reminded Lander of an expression found in the Mishnah, the earliest collections of rabbinic interpretations of oral Jewish law: “It’s not required that you complete the work, but neither may you refrain from it.”

In scouring the Library of Congress catalog for a copy of Mishnah, however, Lander stumbled upon something a bit more specific: a 13-page volume containing the Pirkei Avot, a subset of the Mishnah that focuses on ethics and contains the expression.

Lander couldn’t help but notice the publication date: 1492, an era when Jewish populations were expelled from the Kingdom of Spain. ...

Dr. Lander was sworn in by the Vice President yesterday.

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

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

DSS "paperbacks?"

ALGORITHM WATCH: Dead Sea Scrolls: 2,000 years ago Jews used biblical ‘paperbacks.’ (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
Some 2,000 years ago, Jews used formal beautifully written biblical manuscripts for public reading, but also informal and sloppily written biblical texts for personal use, new research on the Dead Sea Scrolls has shown.

In addition, some of the scrolls might be more ancient than previously thought, suggesting that the current canonical form of the Book of Psalms might date earlier than previously believed.

[...]

For more on "The Hands that Wrote the Bible Project," see here, here, here, here, and here.

The Jerusalem Post article interviews Dr. Drew Longacre, whose Old Testament Textual Criticism blog I link to from time to time. He comments on the article here.

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

Litwa, How the Gospels Became History (Yale)

RECENT BOOK FROM YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS:
How the Gospels Became History
Jesus and Mediterranean Myths

M. David Litwa

A compelling comparison of the gospels and Greco-Roman mythology which shows that the gospels were not perceived as myths, but as historical records

Did the early Christians believe their myths? Like most ancient—and modern—people, early Christians made efforts to present their myths in the most believable ways.

In this eye-opening work, M. David Litwa explores how and why what later became the four canonical gospels take on a historical cast that remains vitally important for many Christians today. Offering an in-depth comparison with other Greco-Roman stories that have been shaped to seem like history, Litwa shows how the evangelists responded to the pressures of Greco-Roman literary culture by using well-known historiographical tropes such as the mention of famous rulers and kings, geographical notices, the introduction of eyewitnesses, vivid presentation, alternative reports, and so on. In this way, the evangelists deliberately shaped myths about Jesus into historical discourse to maximize their believability for ancient audiences.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $65.00

ISBN: 9780300242638
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
312 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4

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Spatial arrangements in ancient Galilee

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Dissertation Spotlight | Religious Identity and Spatiality in Hasmonean and Herodian Galilee (Joseph Scales).
Joseph Scales, “Religious Identity and Spatiality in Hasmonean and Herodian Galilee” (Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Birmingham, 2021).

During the 2nd century BCE, the Hasmonean kingdom began to expand beyond the confines of ancient Judea. The region known as “Galilee” appears to have been incorporated into the kingdom around 100 BCE. My dissertation argues that this incorporation generated various spatial arrangements in the region that enabled Jewish expression.

[...]

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Biblical Studies Carnival 183

THE LIBRARY MUSINGS: Biblical Studies Carnival # 183 (Bobby Howell).

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

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

More non-invasive archaeology

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: A non-invasive procedure allows obtaining archaeological information without excavating (Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Barcelona press release, Phys.org).
An international archaeological study, led by researchers from the Culture and Socio-Ecological Dynamics (CaSEs) research group at Pompeu Fabra University, has advanced in the understanding and preservation of archaeological sites and in improving their analysis and surveying, thanks to the application of pXRF (portable X-ray fluorescence analysis) to anthropogenic sediments in Africa. It is a rapid, inexpensive, non-invasive procedure, which enables generating an additional archaeological record from the anthropogenic deposit by analyzing chemical elements, combined with geostatistics.

[...]

I keep saying it: non-invasive and non-destructive technologies are the future of archaeology. Also see here.

HT Archaeologica News (28 May) and Joseph I. Lauer. Joe also notes:

The underlying journal article, “Identifying anthropogenic features at Seoke (Botswana) using pXRF: Expanding the record of southern African Stone Walled Sites,” was published in PLoS ONE on May 12, 2021, and may be read at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0250776
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0250776

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

Berlin & Kosmin (eds.), The Middle Maccabees (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
The Middle Maccabees: Archaeology, History, and the Rise of the Hasmonean Kingdom

Andrea M. Berlin, Paul J. Kosmin, editors

ISBN 9781628373059
Volume ABS 28
Status Available
Publication DateMarch 2021

Paperback
$73.00

eBook
$73.00

Hardback $93.00

A focused, interdisciplinary examination of a tumultuous, history-making era

The Middle Maccabees lays out the charged, complicated beginnings of the independent Jewish state founded in the second century BCE. Contributors offer focused analyses of the archaeological, epigraphic, numismatic, and textual evidence, framed within a wider world of conflicts between the Ptolemies of Egypt, the Seleucids of Syria, and the Romans. The result is a holistic view of the Hasmonean rise to power that acknowledges broader political developments, evolving social responses, and the particularities of local history. Contributors include Uzi ‘Ad, Donald T. Ariel, Andrea M. Berlin, Efrat Bocher, Altay Coşkun, Benedikt Eckhardt, Gerald Finkielsztejn, Christelle Fischer-Bovet, Yuval Gadot, Erich Gruen, Sylvie Honigman, Jutta Jokiranta, Paul J. Kosmin, Uzi Leibner, Catharine Lorber, Duncan E. MacRae, Dvir Raviv, Helena Roth, Débora Sandhaus, Yiftah Shalev, Nitsan Shalom, Danny Syon, Yehiel Zelinger, and Ayala Zilberstein.

Features

  • Up-to-date, generously illustrated essays analyzing the relevant archaeological remains
  • A revised understanding of how local and imperial histories overlapped and intersected
  • New analysis of the book of 1 Maccabees as a tool of Hasmonean strategic interest

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

Berlejung, Divine Secrets and Human Imaginations (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FRO MOHR SIEBECK: Angelika Berlejung. Divine Secrets and Human Imaginations. Studies on the History of Religion and Anthropology of the Ancient Near East and the Old Testament. 2021. XVI, 678 pages. Orientalische Religionen in der Antike 42. 169,00 € including VAT. eBook PDF ISBN 978-3-16-160098-2 DOI 10.1628/978-3-16-160098-2.
Published in English.
The articles in this volume of collected essays, written over the last two decades and all revised, updated, and supplemented with unpublished material, are grouped around two themes: Divine Secrets and Human Imaginations. The first essays deal with the production, initiation, use and function, the abduction, repatriation, and the replacement of divine images, their outer appearance, and the many facets of the divine presence theology in Ancient Mesopotamia. The essays on the second topic deal with human imaginations, human constructs, and constructed memories, which assign meaning to the past or to things or experiences that are beyond human control. Thematically, several aspects of the human condition are examined, such as the ideas associated in the Old Testament and the Ancient Near East with death, corporeality, enemies, disasters, utopias, and passionate love.

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BAR letters, Summer 2021

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: More Queries & Comments, Summer 2021. For more on and from the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, see here, here, and here.

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Monday, May 31, 2021

Ashkelon basilica

ANCIENT ARCHTECTURE: 2,000-year-old basilica unearthed in Ashkelon. “The basilica was first discovered in the 1920s by British archaeologist John Garstang who then covered it once again,” said Dr. Rachel Bar Nathan, IAA director of excavation. (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
The remains of a magnificent 2,000-year-old Roman basilica, the largest in Israel, have been uncovered in Ashkelon in an excavation conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority within a development project of the Tel Ashkelon National Park and will soon be accessible to the public, the Nature and Parks Authority announced on Monday.

[...]

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

Fishbones pushback

THAT STUDY ON THE FISH DIET OF THE ANCIENT JUDEANS is receving some critical responses.

Those fishy reports on ancient Israelites eating non-kosher seafood. Analysis of fish remains in ancient Israel actually confirms what the Bible tells us and indicates these laws were widely known during the biblical period (JOSHUA BERMAN and ARI Z. ZIVOTOFSKY, Times of Israel). (HT the Bible Places Blog).

The truth is that archeologists have long known that non-kosher fish remains are widely found in ancient Israel. What Adler and Lernau maintain, however, goes much further. They claim that during the first temple period, “all the fish assemblages from Judah available for analysis contained significant numbers of scaleless fish remains, especially catfish.” This, however, is not true, as brought out by the very evidence they adduce.
The authors also argue that the Book of Isaiah alludes to the the kosher laws on fish.

Also, Dr. Sarah Bond addresses the study in a Twitter thread. (HT Rogue Classicism.) She does not dispute its conclusions, but she too points to earlier research that discusses the archaeology of catfish bones in the region.

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

Mazar obituary

THE TELEGRAPH: Eilat Mazar, leading light of Israeli biblical archaeology who uncovered what she claimed was the palace of King David – obituary. Her discoveries included a hoard of gold coins and other treasure possibly left after the 7th century Persian conquest of Jerusalem. (You can read a limited number of Telegraph articles with free registration.)

Background here and links.

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

Salvage archaeology at Beth Shemesh

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Other Side of Beth Shemesh. Salvage archaeology exposes deep history of famed biblical site (Boaz Gross).
In 2018, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) mandated salvage excavations at the ruins of the Arab village, Tel Beth Shemesh (East), to allow for the expansion of Highway 38. The excavations, which I directed, were carried out by the Israeli Institute of Archaeology, on behalf of Tel Aviv University and the IAA, with the assistance of Dr. Aaron Tavger and Yoram Haimi, from 2018 to 2020. The excavations were funded by Israel’s National Transport Infrastructure Company (Netivei Israel).[i] Until our excavations, there had been no investigation of what lay under the abandoned village bordering the site on the east, except for the examination probes conducted by the IAA’s Eli Hadad and Nathan Ben Ari.
This appears to be the full article from the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

For many posts on Beth Shemesh (Beit Shemesh) and its archaeology, see here and links and here.

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Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Studia Philonica Annual XXXII, 2020 (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
The Studia Philonica Annual XXXII, 2020: Studies in Hellenistic Judaism
David T. Runia, Gregory E. Sterling

ISBN 9780884144878
Volume SPhiloA 32
Status Available

eBook
$65.00

Hardback
$65.00

Celebrate the contributions of Gregory E. Sterling

Friends and colleagues of Professor Gregory E. Sterling offer essays honoring his life and work in this special edition of the The Studia Philonica Annual. This volume includes Sterling’s biography and a bibliography of his scholarship. Contributors include Harold W. Attridge, Ellen Birnbaum, Adela Yarbro Collins, John J. Collins, Michael B. Cover, Jan Willem van Henten, Carl R. Holladay, Andrew McGowan, Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr, Maren R. Niehoff, James R. Royse, and David T. Runia. Essays cover a range of topics of related to Hellenistic Judaism, including Philo, the Bible, and Josephus.

Sterling is listed as a co-editor above, but that seems to be an error. I don't think he would be co-editing his own Festschrift. And at the bottom of the page Michael B. Cover is listed as the co-editor.

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Whitt, Exodus Commentary

THE AWOL BLOG: Exodus: A new translation with commentary.
by William Whitt
Publication date 2021-05-22
There is also a link there to his other commentaries on Deuteronomy, Genesis and Samuel. The main link is to the Archive.org version. PDF versions are also available at Dr. Whitt's Academia.edu page. See the bottom of the post linked to above.

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The Byzantine Church mosaic at Aluma

THROWBACK PHOTO: Byzantine Church Excavated In Southern Israel. I noted the discovery of the pictured mosaic back in 2014. Follow that link for better photos. But this one seems to capture the historic moments of its uncovering.

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Sørensen & Petersen (eds.), Theoretical and Empirical Investigations of Divination and Magic (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Theoretical and Empirical Investigations of Divination and Magic

Manipulating the Divine

Series: Numen Book Series, Volume: 171

Editors: Jesper Sørensen and Anders Klostergaard Petersen

In Theoretical and Empirical Investigations of Divination and Magic ten leading scholars of religion provide up-to-date investigations into the classic domains of divination and magic. Spanning historical, anthropological, cognitive, philosophical and theoretical chapters, the volume’s authors invite the reader to explore how divinatory practices and magical rituals, both apart and in interaction, can be reconceptualized in line with 21st century scholarship.

Following an introduction addressing the ever-pertinent discussion of the status and epistemological value of the categories inherited from our scholarly predecessors, the volume includes analyses of divinatory and magic practices in particular historical areas, as well as comparative, theoretical and philosophical discussions, making this an indispensable volume for anyone interested in broader comparative approaches to magic and divination.

Contributors are Lars Albinus, Edward Bever, Gideon Bohak, Corby Kelly, Lars Madsen, Anders Klostergaard Petersen, Jörg Rüpke, Jesper Frøkjær Sørensen, Jørgen Podemann Sørensen, Dimitris Xygalatas.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €119.00 / $144.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-44758-5
Publication Date: 03 May 2021
Copyright Date: 01 Jan 2021

Hardback
Availability: Not Yet Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-44757-8
Publication Date: 06 May 2021
Copyright Date: 01 Jan 2021

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Saturday, May 29, 2021

Tigay & Berlin (eds.), The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization (Yale)

NEW BOOK FROM YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS:
The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, Volume 1
Ancient Israel, from Its Beginnings through 332 BCE

Edited by Jeffrey H. Tigay and Adele Berlin

The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, Volume 1, covers the earliest period of Jewish civilization, from the second millennium BCE through 332 BCE. Organized by genre, this book presents a collection of some of the earliest products of Jewish culture, including extensive selections from the Tanakh and the Hebrew Bible; extrabiblical inscriptions and documents by and about Israelites and Jews, found by archaeologists in the lands of Israel, Egypt, and Mesopotamia; and images representing the visual culture of ancient Israel. Combining genres that have never been presented together in a single publication, Volume 1 illustrates ancient Israel’s cultural innovations and commonalities with neighboring societies.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $175.00

ISBN: 9780300135503
Publication Date: March 23, 2021
600 pages, 8 x 10
140 color illus. + 149 b/w illus.

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Knoppers, Prophets, Priests, and Promises (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Prophets, Priests, and Promises

Essays on the Deuteronomistic History, Chronicles, and Ezra-Nehemiah

Series: Vetus Testamentum, Supplements, Volume: 186

Author: Gary N. Knoppers
Editors: Christl M. Maier and Hugh G. M. Williamson

Shortly before his untimely death Gary Knoppers prepared a number of articles on the historical books in the Hebrew Bible for this volume. Many had not previously been published and the others were heavily revised. They combine a fine attention to historical method with sensitivity for literary-critical analysis, constructive use of classical as well as other sources for comparative evidence, and wide-ranging attention to economic, social, religious, and political circumstances relating in particular to the Persian and early Hellenistic periods. Knoppers advances many new suggestions about significant themes in these texts, about how they relate one to another, and about the light they shed on the various communities’ self-consciousness at a time when new religious identities were being forged.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €120.00 / $144.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-44489-8
Publication Date: 03 May 2021
Copyright Date: 01 Jan 2021

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-44485-0
Publication Date: 15 Feb 2021
Copyright Date: 01 Jan 2021

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Review of Flower & Ludlow (eds.), Rhetoric and religious identity in late antiquity

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Rhetoric and religious identity in late antiquity.
Richard Flower, Morwenna Ludlow, Rhetoric and religious identity in late antiquity. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2020. Pp. 304. ISBN 9780198813194 $100.00.

Review by
Jaclyn Maxwell, Ohio University. maxwelj1@ohio.edu

Mostly the essays address Christianity and paganism. But some glance at Judaism and one is about rhetoric in the Manichaean Kephalaia.

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Evans & Johnston (eds.), Scribes and Their Remains (T&T Clark)

NEW BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY (T&T CLARK):
Scribes and Their Remains

Editor(s): Craig A. Evans, Jeremiah J. Johnston

Published: 05-20-2021
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 336
ISBN: 9780567700407
Imprint: T&T Clark
Series: The Library of Second Temple Studies
Illustrations: 182 b&w illustrations
Dimensions: 6 1/8" x 9 1/4"
List price: $39.95
Online price: $35.96
Save $4.00 (10%)

Paperback $35.96

Hardback $117.00

EPUB/MOBI eBook (Watermarked) $28.76

PDF eBook (Watermarked) $28.76

About Scribes and Their Remains

Scribes and Their Remains begins with an introductory essay by Stanley Porter which addresses the principal theme of the book: the text as artifact.

The rest of the volume is then split into two major sections. In the first, five studies appear on the theme of 'Scribes, Letters, and Literacy.' In the first of these Craig A. Evans offers a lengthy piece that argues that the archaeological, artifactual, and historical evidence suggests that New Testament autographs and first copies may well have remained in circulation for one century or more, having the effect of stabilizing the text. Other pieces in the section address literacy, orality and paleography of early Christian papyri.

In the second section there are five pieces on 'Writing, Reading, and Abbreviating Christian Scripture.' These range across numerous topics, including an examination of the stauros (cross) as a nomen sacrum.

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Friday, May 28, 2021

Hammer, Akiva (JPS)

RECENT-ISH BOOK FROM THE JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIETY:
Akiva
Life, Legend, Legacy

Reuven Hammer

272 pages
1 timeline

Hardcover
October 2015
978-0-8276-1215-0
$29.95

eBook (PDF)
(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)
October 2015
978-0-8276-1275-4
$29.95

eBook (EPUB)
(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)
October 2015
978-0-8276-1248-8
$29.95

About the Book

The legendary Akiva ben Yosef has fascinated Jews for centuries. Arguably the most important of the Tannaim, or early Jewish sages, Akiva lived during a crucial era in the development of Judaism as we know it today, and his theology played a major part in the development of Rabbinic Judaism. Reuven Hammer details Akiva’s life as it led to a martyr’s death and he delves into the rich legacy Akiva left us.

That legacy played an extraordinarily important role in helping the Jewish people survive difficult challenges to forge a vibrant religious life anew, and it continues to influence Jewish law, ethics, and theology even today. Akiva’s contribution to the development of Oral Torah cannot be overestimated, and in this first book written in English about the sage since 1936 Hammer reassesses Akiva’s role from the period before the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE until the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE. He also assesses new findings about the growth of early Judaism, the reasons why Akiva was so outspoken about “Christian Jews,” the influence of Hellenism, the Septuagint, and the canonization of the Hebrew Bible. Ultimately Hammer shows that Judaism without Akiva would be a very different religion.

This book was published back in 2015, but I missed it then. It seems worth noting.

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