Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Yom Kippur 2022

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 and one subsequent one. Biblical etc. background is here and links. For a recent post on the Akitu Festival, to which some have drawn parallels with Yom Kippur, see here.

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

Encyclopedia of Material Culture in the Biblical World (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Encyclopedia of Material Culture in the Biblical World. A New Biblisches Reallexikon. Edited by Angelika Berlejung with P.M. Michèle Daviau, Jens Kamlah, and Gunnar Lehmann. 2022. LXVIII, 617 pages. 169,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-148966-2.
Published in English.
The Encyclopedia of Material Culture in the Biblical World (EBW) builds on the German »Standardwerk« Biblisches Reallexikon (BRL), edited by Kurt Galling 1937, second edition 1977 (2BRL). It is a reference book for biblical scholars, historians, and archaeologists. The EBW focusses on the material culture from the Neolithic Age to the Hellenistic period, giving attention to the material from the Bronze and Iron Ages, including the Persian period. The geographic regions covered by the entries include primarily the records of Palestine (= the Southern Levant) limited by (excl.) the southern fringe of Lebanon and Hermon (North), the Wadi al-Ariš, the Sinai peninsula and North-Arabia (South), the Mediterranean Sea (West) and the Transjordanian desert (East). If appropriate to the entry, the neighboring evidence from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Mesopotamia is included. The Encyclopedia presents and documents the material culture based on the archaeological, epigraphical, and iconographical data in historical order and documents the state of current research. The entries do not only list or mention the most important material data, but try to synthesize and interpret it within the horizon of a history of Southern Levantine culture, economy, technical development, art, and religion.
The EBW consists of around 120 articles and an introductory part pertaining to the chronology of the EBW, archaeology and cultural History, epigraphy, and iconography, written by specialists from 15 different countries.

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Monday, October 03, 2022

Leaman (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Jewish Ritual and Practice

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
Routledge Handbook of Jewish Ritual and Practice

Edited By Oliver Leaman

Copyright Year 2022

Hardback
£190.00

eBook
£35.99

ISBN 9780367470128
Published July 8, 2022 by Routledge
618 Pages 42 B/W Illustrations

Book Description

Ritual and practice are some of the most defining features of religion, linked with its central beliefs. Discussing the wide range of Jewish ritual and practice, this volume provides a contemporary guide to this significant aspect of religious life and experience.

Drawing on a wide range of disciplines, this volume describes not only what takes place, but the reasons behind this and the implications both the theory and practice have for our understanding of Judaism. Organized in terms of texts, periods, practices, languages and relationships with the other, the book includes accounts of prayer, food, history, synagogues and the various legal and ideological debates that exist within Judaism with the focus on how they influence practice. Coming at a time of renewed interest in the role of the body in religion, this book aims to bring the theoretical and scriptural issues which arise in this area of Jewish life and culture up to date.

This volume is aimed at students and researchers working in Jewish studies specifically, and religious studies in general. Designed to be helpful to those on courses in relevant areas, especially in the United States, this book includes substantial bibliographical material.

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

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Review of Paget & Gathercole (eds.), Celsus in his world

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Celsus in his world: philosophy, polemic, and religion in the second century.
James Carleton Paget, Simon Gathercole, Celsus in his world: philosophy, polemic, and religion in the second century. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021. Pp. 350. ISBN 9781108832441 $99.00.

Review by
Juraj Franek, Masaryk University. j.franek@mail.muni.cz

On the face of it, the reviewed work is yet another collection of essays (and responses) derived from the papers presented by their respective authors at the 2018 conference Celsus in his World, organized by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Cambridge. Upon closer inspection, however, the volume successfully avoids the usual pitfalls of such undertakings and its individual contributors together with the editors, James Carleton Paget and Simon Gathercole, are to be congratulated for producing one of the best comprehensive volumes on Celsus in recent memory. ...

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

9 questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls answered

BECAUSE YOU SHOULD KNOW THESE THINGS: The Dead Sea Scrolls: 9 Common Questions, Answered (Drew Longacre, Logos Word by Word).

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

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Cook, Biblical Aramaic and Related Dialects (CUP)

NEW BOOK FROM CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Biblical Aramaic and Related Dialects
An Introduction

TEXTBOOK

AUTHOR: Edward Cook, Catholic University of America, Washington DC
PUBLICATION PLANNED FOR: September 2022
AVAILABILITY: In stock
FORMAT: Paperback
ISBN: 9781108714488

[Currently Available on the Cambridge Higher Education website.]

Description

Biblical Aramaic and Related Dialects is a comprehensive, introductory-level textbook for the acquisition of the language of the Old Testament and related dialects that were in use from the last few centuries BCE. Based on the latest research, it uses a method that guides students into knowledge of the language inductively, with selections taken from the Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and papyrus discoveries from ancient Egypt. The volume offers a comprehensive view of ancient Aramaic that enables students to progress to advanced levels with a solid grounding in historical grammar. Most up-to-date description of Aramaic in light of modern discoveries and methods. Provides more detail than previous textbooks. Includes comprehensive description of Biblical dialect, along with Aramaic of the Persian period and of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Guided readings begin with primary sources, enabling students learn the language by reading historical texts.

  • Only introduction to Biblical Aramaic within the context of contemporary dialects
  • Uses inductive method to learn language by reading primary texts from the beginning
  • Provides a comprehensive view of ancient Aramaic grammar

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

Suchard, Aramaic Daniel (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Aramaic Daniel

A Textual Reconstruction of Chapters 1–7

Series: Studia Semitica Neerlandica, Volume: 73

Author: Benjamin D. Suchard

The first half of the book of Daniel contains world-famous stories like the Writing on the Wall. These stories have mostly been transmitted in Aramaic, not Hebrew, as has the influential apocalypse of Daniel 7. This Aramaic corpus shows clear signs of multiple authorship. Which different textual layers can we tease apart, and what do they tell us about the changing function of the Danielic material during the Second Temple Period? This monograph compares the Masoretic Text of Daniel to ancient manuscripts and translations preserving textual variants. By highlighting tensions in the reconstructed archetype underlying all these texts, it then probes the tales’ prehistory even further, showing how Daniel underwent many transformations to yield the book we know today.

€119.00 Hardback

Copyright Year: 2022
E-Book (PDF) [Open Access!]
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-52130-8
Publication date: 19 Sep 2022

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-52129-2
Publication date: 22 Sep 2022

I repeat: the E-Book is Open Access.

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

Friday, September 30, 2022

More on "Careers in Jewish-Christian Relations"

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW has published the two remaining essays in a series on Careers in Jewish-Christian Relations. For the earlier essays, see here and here.

The Eye, the Sense of Sight, and Seeing God? Reflections on God’s (In)visibility Considering Early Jewish Christian Relations (Deborah Forger)

What might the eye, the sense of sight, and the desire of many in the ancient world to see God tell us about points of continuity and discontinuity between Jews and Christians in antiquity? Moreover, how might this specific question about humanity’s ability to see God offer us fresh perspectives on our primary task for this morning? Namely, to think about and discuss what it means to invest in a career in early Jewish Christian relations—the opportunities, pitfalls, joys, and challenges of centering one’s work on questions related to the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.
Do Rabbis Belong in Early Jewish Christian Relations? (Krista Dalton)
While I’ve raised concerns related to the framing of early Judaism and Christianity as a singular category of knowledge, I want to end by making the case for why the rabbis matter to this category. The rabbis did not arise in a vacuum. Judaism may have “shattered” following the Great Revolt (66-74 CE), as Seth Schwartz famously argued, and the rabbis may have initiated a new kind of grammarian piety using their ancestral texts, but they did so with the tools that they already possessed.

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

The Akitu festival

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: The Babylonian Akītu Festival and the Ritual Humiliation of the King (Sam Mirelman).
The Babylonian akītu festivals reflect a common ritual structure of status reversal, for which there are many examples from other cultures around the world. On the other hand such festivals may be considered as a reflection of the political context in which they were written and/or performed. ...
This is a good summary of what we know about the Akitu Festival. It includes some new (at least to me) information.

For PaleoJudaica posts involving the ancient Mesopotamian Akitu Festival, see here and links. And see here and links for the modern Akitu Festival.

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

IAA raid seizes Medusa figurines & other artifacts

APPREHENDED: Hundreds of ancient artifacts seized from home in northern Israel. About 270 ancient artifacts were found in the search, including coins from different periods and figurines of Medusa (Jerusalem Post).

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

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Another review of Star, Apocalypse and golden age

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Apocalypse and golden age: the end of the world in Greek and Roman thought.
Christopher Star, Apocalypse and golden age: the end of the world in Greek and Roman thought. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021. Pp. 320. ISBN 9781421441634 $54.95.

Review by
Joseph Gerbasi, University of Toronto. joseph.gerbasi@utoronto.ca

... The aim of Christopher Star’s book is to show that there is an “underappreciated tradition” of apocalyptic thought among the pagans of Greco-Roman antiquity too (p. 5). The book’s ambition, being both interdisciplinary and indeed timely, is exciting and worthwhile. However, I do not think the book accomplishes all that it sets out to do. ...

I noted another review of the book here.

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Exhibition on the myth of Alexander the Great

AT THE BRITISH LIBRARY: How did Alexander become ‘the Great’? A new exhibition explores the making of a myth (Ursula Sims-Williams, Scroll.in). HT Rogue Classicism.
The exhibition, however, is not about history, but the first of its kind to explore 2,000 years of storytelling and mythmaking. With objects from 25 countries in 21 languages, it shows how one figure could serve so many purposes, creating shared narratives of universal appeal. The Alexander Romance, composed originally in Greek in the third century AD, was at the heart of this storytelling. But legends also found their way into epic poetry and drama, and more recently into novels, comics, films and video games. You will see examples of all of these in the exhibition.
It opens on 21 October.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on Alexander and his connection with ancient Jewish traditions, start here and follow the links. For posts on the Alexander Romance, see here and links.

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

Long, The Book of Enoch for Beginners

READING ACTS: The Book of Enoch for Beginners. Phil Long has a new book out:
The Book of Enoch for Beginners: A Guide to Expand Your Understanding of the Biblical World (Rockridge Press, 2022)
His blog post gives the details and a link to the Amazon page.

Cross-file under New Book.

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

Another coin from Elymais

APPREHENDED: Elymais, Seleucid and Parthian relics recovered by police (Tehran Times). HT Rogue Classicism.
The relics, which include an Elymais-era bronze coin and pieces of a marble vessel were seized from smugglers in Dezful of Khuzestan province, CHTN reported on Wednesday.

In addition, an ancient Roman gold coin attributed to Julius Caesar was recovered from the suspects by police forces in charge of protecting cultural heritage, the report said.

[...]

For more on the region of Elymais, and why PaleoJudaica is interested in it, see here. Cross-file under Numismatics.

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Temple Mount sifters find stone vessel fragments

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT BLOG: FIND AND FINDERS OF THE MONTH: ANDRÉ AND DANIELA LOPES FOUND A PIECE OF A STONE VESSEL. Two other sifters, at present unidentified, also found stone vessel fragments.

For more on ancient Jewish stone vessels, see here and links.

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

More on the Gaza mosaic

MORE COVERAGE OF THE BYZANTINE-ERA MOSAIC FROM GAZA:

Work Continues on Byzantine Mosaic Discovered by Palestinian Farmer in Gaza (Yahoo/Storyful.).

The ministry of tourism and antiquities also said that along with the mosaics, the discovery included evidence of the ancient walls, pottery, and glass bottles.
With a video showing good views of the mosaic. Plus disquieting scenes of what appear to be lots of separate mosaic stones being put into receptacles. Does that imply that part of the mosaic was damaged? The next article seems to indicate not.

Photos: Byzantine mosaics discovered under Gaza farm. The mosaics, latest in a series of Byzantine archaeological finds in Gaza, are “in a perfect state of conservation” (Al Jazeera).

Background here.

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

Monday, September 26, 2022

Review of Flower, Empire and religion in the Roman world

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Empire and religion in the Roman world.
Harriet I. Flower, Empire and religion in the Roman world. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021. Pp. xiii, 277. ISBN 9781108831925 $99.99.

Review by
David Woods, University College Cork. d.woods@ucc.ie

This article is notable for PaleoJudaica's interests:
Contingency and Context: The Origins of the Jewish War against Rome (Erich S. Gruen)

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

Ancient Babylon

THE WORLD IS FULL OF HISTORY: Ancient Babylon, the iconic Mesopotamian city that survived for 2,000 years. Babylon is known for Hammurabi's laws and its hanging gardens (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
Ancient Babylon was an influential city that served as a center of Mesopotamian civilization for nearly two millennia, from roughly 2000 B.C. to 540 B.C. It was located near the Euphrates River, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Baghdad in what is now Iraq.

Babylon had a significant impact on Mesopotamia. One of its early rulers, Hammurabi, created a harsh system of laws, while in later times, the Babylonian language was used across the Middle East as a way of communicating across borders. The law code, while not the oldest in the Middle East, is one of the most famous. The city is also famous for the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (if the ancient stories are true), a wonder of the ancient world that some people believe was built by the biblical king Nebuchadnezzar II.

[...]

This is a long, informative article. It surveys the entire history of the city of Babylon from antiquity to the present.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on Babylon see the links collected here, plus here and here. For the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which, if they existed at all, may not have been at Babylon, see here and links. See the latter link, and follow the links, for what I like to call the Greek Fantasy Babylon tradition. For the parallel Aramaic Fantasy Babylon tradition, especially in relation to the Book of Daniel, see here and here.

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

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Rosh HaShanah 2022

HAPPY NEW YEAR (ROSH HASHANAH - Jewish New Year 5783) to all those celebrating. The New Year begins tonight at sundown.

Last year's Rosh HaShanah post, with links, is here. A more recent post is here. For biblical background, see here.

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

Treasures in vessels of clay?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Treasures in Clay Jars (Mark Wilson).
The ubiquity of hoards in antiquity, both in time and region, suggests that the phenomenon was so well known that Paul could reasonably use it as an analogy. However, these treasures—the coin hoards mentioned in 2 Corinthians 4:7—were never placed in clay lamps but rather in clay jars.
Cross-file under Numismatics and Metaphor.

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

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Review of Ran Zadok Festschrift

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Individuals and institutions in the ancient Near East: a tribute to Ran Zadok.
Uri Gabbay, Shai Gordin, Individuals and institutions in the ancient Near East: a tribute to Ran Zadok. Studies in ancient Near Eastern records, 27. Boston; Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021. Pp. xxii, 294. ISBN 9781501520525 $124.99.

Review by
Michaela Weszeli, Universität Wien. michaela.weszeli@univie.ac.at

This small volume is dedicated to a scientist who has a name in Ancient Near Eastern, Iranian and Jewish studies. His specialty is onomastics (personal, geographic, tribal names), ethnolinguistics and lexical studies of single words, as his extensive list of publications (p. xiii-xxii) shows. His studies concern, i.a., Old Iranian Anthroponyms as well as ancient survivals in modern Palestinian Toponymy, Jewish Onomastics, as well as historical and linguistic studies in the wide region of the Ancient Near East.

[...]

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

Ishoʿdad of Merv: Commentary on Daniel (ed. Schmidt; Gorgias)

NEW BOOK FROM GORGIAS PRESS:
ISHO‛DAD OF MERV
Commentary on Daniel

By T. C. Schmidt

Ishoʿdad of Merv’s (fl. 850 AD) Commentary on Daniel provides an important witness to East Syriac exegetical technique. In it Ishoʿdad typically emphasizes an historical reading of the Old Testament above any kind of allegorical, spiritual, or even Christological interpretation. Most notable is Ishoʿdad’s belief that the Maccabees fulfilled several of the visions described in the book of Daniel, even including the Heavenly Kingdom of Daniel chapters 2, 7, and 8, and the physical resurrection of Daniel 12. These interpretations dramatically depart from most eastern and western commentators who considered Daniel’s visions to portend the rise of the Roman Empire and the advent of Christ. Ishoʿdad’s commentary is translated here into English for the first time.

Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4278-7
Formats: Paperback, eBook

Publication Status: In Print
Series: Texts from Christian Late Antiquity 62
Publication Date: Aug 23,2022
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 7 x 10
Page Count: 106
Languages: English, Syriac
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4278-7

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

Friday, September 23, 2022

Review of Matt, Becoming Elijah

BOOK REVIEW: Becoming Elijah: Prophet of transformation by Daniel C. Matt. Anthony Phillips reads about Elijah and how he has been revered (Church Times).
It is the elusiveness of Elijah which Matt seeks to explore, as he uncovers “the various portrayals of the immortal prophet”; for, whoever Elijah was in real life, he is still active.
I noted the publication of the book here.

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

SBL Seminar Papers volumes now online

THE AWOL BLOG: Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting Seminar Papers.

The first link in the AWOL post is (at present) incorrect. It should go here.

This Emory University archive contains the full text of all the SBL Seminar Papers volumes from 1971 to 2003. Note that they are still copyrighted.

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

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Lieu on "The Parting of the Ways"

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: "The Parting of the Ways": Reflections on the Journey (Judith M. Lieu).
A common thread through much of what precedes here is the dilemma regarding how we negotiate the largely inaccessible patterns of life and personal interaction “on the ground” together with the inevitable degree of abstraction and narrative projection — and hence the need for descriptive terms and even labels — with which the historian must labour. ...
This essay is the second in a series on Careers in Jewish-Christian Relations, on which see here.

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

Yale academic post: Judaism in 1st to 11th centuries CE

H-JUDAIC: FEATURED JOB: Assistant/Associate Professor, Judaism of 1st–11th Centuries, CE, Yale University.

Follow the link for details. Review of the applications commences on 24 October 2022.

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

Himmelfarb becomes professor emerita at Princeton

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Sixteen faculty members transfer to emeritus status. Sixteen Princeton University faculty members were transferred to emeritus status earlier this year by the Board of Trustees. Transfers were effective July 1, 2022, except where noted.

Congratulations to all sixteen, but especially to Martha Himmelfarb.

Follow the link and scroll down for her entry.

Martha Himmelfarb is a leading scholar of ancient Judaism and early Christianity. A member of Princeton’s faculty for more than 40 years, she joined the University in 1978.

[...]

Her scholarly work has had a profound impact on the study of ancient Judaism and early Christianity, challenging and reorienting the long-standing paradigm that assumed the inevitability of Judaism and Christianity diverging into distinct religious traditions. Her research has pioneered new ways of understanding this ongoing relationship from the Second Temple period through the Middle Ages.

[...]

Related recent post here. Professor Himmelfarb has appeared many times in PaleoJudaica posts. See the archive.

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

AJR on "Careers in Jewish-Christian Relations"

ANCIENTJEW REVIEW has commenced a new series: Careers in Jewish-Christian Relations.
At the 2021 annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, two senior scholars (Adele Reinhartz and Judith Perkins) and two junior scholars (Deborah Forger and Krista Dalton) whose work relates to the study of early Jews and Christians convened to reflect upon their career trajectories.
One essay is published so far.

The Study of Early Jewish Christian Relations: Then and Now A personal reflection (Adele Reinhartz)

The growth in expertise, the move towards more complex and nuanced understandings of the history, text, and peoples of the ancient Mediterranean, the opening up of boundaries not only between early Christian and early Jewish studies but also with the field of classics, and the availability of new approaches and methods all bode well for the study of early Jewish Christian relations. The sky is the limit when it comes to the new questions that can be addressed, and the old questions that can be approached from new and exciting perspectives.

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

Canaanite opium obsequies?

ORGANIC REMAINS: Israeli archaeologists uncover earliest known use of opium in the ancient world. Traces of psychoactive drug found in pottery from Tel Yehud; with new forensic scientific protocols at sites in Israel, discovery may herald many exciting new ‘firsts’ (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
The opium residue was found in high-quality ceramic base-ring juglets that were imported from Cyprus and others used in a burial assemblage discovered at Tel Yehud, in a salvage excavation conducted by Israel Antiquities Authority dig director Eriola Jakoel in 2012-2017.

A number of Canaanite graves from the Late Bronze Age were discovered and the vessels removed for further residue analysis.

The opium traces were found in grave goods, which could imply some sort of funerary-ritual use. But we should be cautious about drawing too many inferences from this context. And to her credit, the lead researcher, Dr. Vanessa Linares, is cautious.

Ariel David's article on this story in Haaretz deserves a mention just for the title: Bong Age? Israeli Archaeologists Find Opium in Bronze Age Ceramics. Residue analysis of 3,300-year-old vessels from Canaanite tombs at Tel Yehud sheds light on ancient drug trade between Cyprus and the Levant.

There is archaeological evidence from Arad that ancient Israelites used a psychoactive substance (cannabis) in a ritual context. There is also evidence that the Philistines of three-thousand years ago used other psychoactive substances in their rituals.

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

What was a "teruah" trumpet blast?

ROSH HASHANAH IS COMING: Rosh Hashanah: The Original Meaning of Blowing a Teruah (Rabbi Shawn Ruby, TheTorah.com).
Rosh Hashanah in the Torah is described as a day of teruah, a reference to one of the two types of blasts: a regular horn blast (tekiah) and a teruah blast. Interpreters ancient and modern understand the distinction as differing in sound, length, or pitch, but the biblical description of the shofar blowing during the siege of Jericho implies that the nature of a teruah lies in the people’s response to the blast.

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

From Paul to John within Judaism

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: SBL 2021 Panel I Adele Reinhartz on John Within Judaism.
My main argument is that situating John within Judaism provides a comfortable answer to the uncomfortable question of anti-Judaism. I pinpoint three basic strategies, which I identify as historiographical, logical, and evangelical. All three are examples of Christian apologetics, at least in my view, if not in the view of their proponents.
This essay is part of a series. I noted the first three essays in it here.

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

More on "The Samaritans"

EXHIBITION: New museum exhibit seeks to show Samaritans are more than a biblical parable. The Samaritans: A Biblical People,' opened Sept. 16 at the Museum of the Bible and includes artifacts spanning from the second century before the Common Era to contemporary paintings made in the past couple of years (Menachem Wecker, Religion News Service).
[Steven] Fine co-curated the exhibit “The Samaritans: A Biblical People,” which opened Sept. 16 at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, and edited a new scholarly volume of the same title. He was academic adviser to the first-ever Samaritan cookbook in 2020 and to a new documentary about Samaritans by filmmaker Moshe Alafi.
An informative article.

Background here and links.

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

Review of Berthelot, Jews and their Roman rivals

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Jews and their Roman rivals: pagan Rome’s challenge to Israel.
Katell Berthelot, Jews and their Roman rivals: pagan Rome's challenge to Israel. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021. Pp. 552. ISBN 9780691199290 $45.00.

Review by
Amit Gvaryahu, Hebrew University. amit.gvaryahu@mail.huji.ac.il

... This is a broad and ambitious book. Even without accepting all of its readings, or even the broadest version of its thesis, it will be an important reference point for years to come. Berthelot’s Jewish corpus spans four centuries, from the books of Maccabees to the middle stratum of rabbinic literature, known as amoraic literature. ...

I noted the publication of the book here.

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

Monday, September 19, 2022

Byzantine-era mosaic found in Gaza

DECORATIVE ART: Unearthed Byzantine mosaic hailed as one of Gaza’s greatest archaeological treasures. Discovered and painstakingly excavated by an olive farmer planting a tree, find sparks excitement among archeologists, but also concern it could be damaged in conflict-ravaged zone (FARES AKRAM, Times of Israel).
The patch of land holding the mosaic is about 500 square meters (5,400 square feet) and three dug-out spots reveal glimpses of the mosaic.

The largest of the holes in the ground, about 2 meters by 3 meters (6 feet by 9 feet), has the 17 drawings of animals. The other two show intricate patterns of tiles. Roots of an old olive tree have damaged parts of the mosaic, which appears to be about 23 square meters (250 square feet) altogether in size.

According to archaeologist René Elter, the mosaic dates to the fifth to seventh centuries CE. There are photos.

The Jerusalem Post also covers the story: Gaza farmer uncovers Ancient Byzantine-era mosaic floors - watch. The Byzantine-era site was uncovered about half a mile away from the border with Israel by Suleiman al-Nabahin, a Gazan farmer (Tzvi Joffre). There is a video.

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

Four Aramaic inscriptions excavated in eastern Turkey

ARAMAIC WATCH: Aramaic four inscriptions found for the first time in eastern Turkey (Oğuz Büyükyıldırım, Arkeonews).

The excavation director, Erol Uslu, is quoted as follows:

“Four inscriptions with Aramaic inscriptions carved into the surface of the outer walls were found. Scientific studies are continuing on these inscriptions. Four inscriptions need to be analyzed and translated in order to provide a clear periodical information. The first data is that this structure belongs to the Parthian Empire period. It must say that there are serious data and findings that the Persians and Parthians established dominance in this region after the Urartian period. Apart from the ancient city of Zernaki Tepe [that is, the site being excavated - JRD], no architectural remains from the Parthian Empire period have been recorded in the museum records to date. We saw that these typefaces, which we define as Aramaic, were used for the first time in this ancient city.”
It sounds as though the inscriptions have not been deciphered. There is a photo, but it is not very informative.

For more on the Parthian Empire, see here and links, plus here.

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

"The Samaritans" at the Museum of the Bible

EXHIBITION: First-of-its-kind exhibition about Samaritans opens in Washington. The exhibition at the Museum of the Bible features some of the most important objects from Samaria’s history (All Israel News).
“Created in partnership with the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies, directed by Dr. Steven Fine, the exhibition is the first of its kind,” the Museum of the Bible said on its website, noting that it “will offer unprecedented access to the life, culture and history of the Samaritans.”
For more on the exhibition at YU, see here.

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Sunday, September 18, 2022

Oegema et al. (eds.), Overcoming Dichotomies (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK:Overcoming Dichotomies. Parables, Fables, and Similes in the Graeco-Roman World. Edited by Albertina Oegema, Jonathan Pater, and Martijn Stoutjesdijk. 2022. XV, 508 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 483. 164,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-161157-5.
Published in English.
This volume aims to broaden our understanding of the related genres of parables, fables, and similes in the Graeco-Roman world. These genres, which make use of narrative analogy, appear in early Christian and ancient Jewish literatures and in various Graeco-Roman sources. However, despite the fact that these texts were part of the wider cultural context of Graeco-Roman antiquity, they have not yet been thoroughly studied in relation to each other. The present volume brings together contributions on a range of Graeco-Roman, Jewish, and Christian sources, so as to contribute to the study of parables, fables, and similes across disciplinary boundaries. The contributions highlight the fluid boundaries between these different genres, but also demonstrate how their adoption and adaption in different literary works give expression to the distinct identities of the composers.

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Was Elizabeth a "Palestinian?"

RELIGION PROF: Elizabeth the Palestinian? I agree with James McGrath that applying the term to Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist in this context is misleading.

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Saturday, September 17, 2022

Regev, The Social Archaeology of Late Second Temple Judaea (Routledge)

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
The Social Archaeology of Late Second Temple Judaea
From Purity, Burial, and Art, to Qumran, Herod, and Masada

By Eyal Regev

Copyright Year 2023

Hardback
£120.00

eBook
£33.29

ISBN 9781138358881
Published July 20, 2022 by Routledge
286 Pages 45 B/W Illustrations

Book Description

This book analyzes social ideology and social relationships in late Second Temple Judaea, studying a range of archaeological material and sites to better understand both communal and individual trends in Jerusalem and its environs.

Using several different methodologies, the book brings to light new ideas about social trends such as individualism among Jews and Judeans during the late Second Temple period. It provides in-depth analysis of the social aspects of ritual baths, burial caves, ossuaries, and decorated oil lamps, as well as thorough examinations of the sites of Khirbet Qumran, Herod’s palaces, and Masada during the First Jewish Revolt against Rome.

Social Archaeology of the Late Second Temple Judaea is suitable for students and scholars interested in the history, society, and archaeology of the Jews in the Second Temple period as well as the social background of early Christianity, early Rabbinic Judaism, and Levantine archaeology.

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Comparing the Aleppo Codex with the Leningrad Codex

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Comparing Ancient Biblical Manuscripts. The Leningrad Codex and the Aleppo Codex are from the same period, so which is superior?

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the Aleppo Codex, start here and here and follow the links. For posts on the Leningrad Codex, see here and links (cf. here and here).

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Friday, September 16, 2022

Those Hanging Gardens of Babylon again

ANCIENT HORTICULTURAL ARCHITECTURE? A 2,500-Year-Old Mystery: The Hanging Gardens World Wonder. Scholars have no direct evidence of this ancient site in Babylon. Speculations vary about where it was located, how it looked and whether it actually existed among the seven wonders of the world (Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine).

This is a good article that covers the ancient evidence and brings the current scholarly debate up to date.

In sum, no archaeological excavation has recovered on evidence for those Hanging Gardens at the site of Babylon. Where does that leave us?

One possibility is that they are entirely legendary. Another is that later Greek authors (who produced what I call the Greek Fantasy Babylon tradition) accidentally misplaced hanging gardens of the Assyrian capital, Nineveh, to Babylon. But at least one Assyriologist thinks they could have been terranced along the huge walls of Babylon. Presumably that means that traces of them might not survive today.

The article asserts that the existence of the legendary Assyrian Queen Semiramis is debated, but I'm not sure what this means. There was an historical Assyrian Queen Shammuramat (cf. here) who ruled in the late eighth century BCE. She was clearly the inspiration for the legendary Queen Semiramis, whose apocryphal exploits included the founding of Babylon. No one doubts her existence or that she didn't found Babylon (which existed for many centuries before her).

Background here and links.

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The Cartagena Festival 2022

PUNIC WATCH: September 16 to 25 Fiestas de Cartaginenses y Romanos Cartagena 2022. The celebration of the Carthagenians and the Romans in Cartagena is one of the biggest Fiestas in the Region of Murcia (Murcia Today).

This is the only annual festival I know of which celebrates a town's Punic/Phoenician heritage. I have not been able to attend, but it sounds like fun.

Cartagena, Spain, was a Punic town (Carthago Nova - New Carthage) founded in the third century B.C.E. For more on its historical importance, notably in the Second Punic War, see here. I noted last year's festival here. Follow the links from there (plus, more recently, here) for more on the archaeology of the site and notices of past festivals.

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Thursday, September 15, 2022

Five books on Kabbalah

KABBALAH WATCH: The Jewish Experience: 5 Must-Read Books on Kabbalah. Kabbalah, literally "reception" or "tradition" in Hebrew, is a vast and rich body of texts, ideas, and practices, dating to antiquity and a living tradition until today. (Yehudah Mirsky, Brandeis University).

I have noted the 2022 De Gruyter reprint (apparently) of the book by Arthur Green with the same title here.

The link for Ariel Evan Mayse, ed. From the Depth of the Well is broken. But you can find the book at the Paulist Press website here.

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Kaniel, Birth in Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis (De Gruyter)

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
Birth in Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis

Ruth Kara-Ivanov Kaniel

Volume 18 in the series Perspectives on Jewish Texts and Contexts
https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110688023

PDF & EPUB £91.00

Hardcover £91.00

eBook
Published: July 5, 2022
ISBN: 9783110688023

Hardcover
Published: July 18, 2022
ISBN: 9783110687491

About this book

Birth in Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis examines the centrality of "birth" in Jewish literature, gender theory, and psychoanalysis, thus challenging the centrality of death in Western culture and existential philosophy. In this groundbreaking study, Ruth Kara-Ivanov Kaniel discuss similarities between Biblical, Midrashic, Kabbalistic, and Hasidic perceptions of birth, as well as its place in contemporary cultural and psychoanalytic discourse. In addition, this study shows how birth functions as a vital metaphor that has been foundational to art, philosophy, religion, and literature. Medieval Kabbalistic literature compared human birth to divine emanation, and presented human sexuality and procreation as a reflection of the sefirotic structure of the Godhead – an attempt, Kaniel claims, to marginalize the fear of death by linking the humane and divine acts of birth. This book sheds new light on the image of God as the "Great Mother" and the crucial role of the Shekhinah as a cosmic womb. 

Birth in Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis won the Gorgias Prize and garnered significant appreciation from psychoanalytic therapists in clinical practice dealing with birth trauma, postpartum depression, and in early infancy distress.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Tar Heels at Huqoq

VOLUNTEER REPORT: UNC students participate in successful dig at an ancient synagogue. (Reagan Allen, The Daily Tar Heel).
While some students took on internships or indulged in travels this summer, 11 students and specialists from UNC participated in a dig at an ancient Jewish synagogue in Israel.

The group unearthed mosaics almost 1,600 years old in a synagogue at Huqoq, a village in Lower Galilee.

[...]

For the new Huqoq mosaics depicting Deborah and Jael, see here. Follow the links from there for much more on the Huqoq excavation.

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Ancient coins etc. seized in Hebron

APPREHENDED: Rare artifacts seized from man's home in Hebron.The items were reportedly looted from a cave near Tel Hebron and kept illegally by the man (Jerusalem Post).

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Dell (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Biblical Wisdom Literature

NEW BOOK FROM CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS:
The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Wisdom Literature

Part of Cambridge Companions to Religion

EDITOR: Katherine J. Dell, University of Cambridge
DATE PUBLISHED: June 2022
AVAILABILITY: Available
FORMAT: Paperback
ISBN: 9781108716475

£ 34.99 Paperback

Description

Study of the wisdom literature in the Hebrew Bible and the contemporary cultures in the ancient Near Eastern world is evolving rapidly as old definitions and assumptions are questioned. Scholars are now interrogating the role of oral culture, the rhetoric of teaching and didacticism, the understanding of genre, and the relationship of these factors to the corpus of writings. The scribal culture in which wisdom literature arose is also under investigation, alongside questions of social context and character formation. This Companion serves as an essential guide to wisdom texts, a body of biblical literature with ancient origins that continue to have universal and timeless appeal. Reflecting new interpretive approaches, including virtue ethics and intertextuality, the volume includes essays by an international team of leading scholars. They engage with the texts, provide authoritative summaries of the state of the field, and open up to readers the exciting world of biblical wisdom.

  • Offers a high quality overview of the state of studies of the wisdom literature at the present time
  • Makes the volume user-friendly and accessible as a reference book to a wide range of readers
  • Provides depth and breadth to readers with a range of relevant topics and overviews by key scholars

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Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Silver quarter shekel from Great Revolt returned to Israel

RECOVERED: U.S. Returns Rare Coin Minted by Jews During Rebellion From Rome. The silver quarter shekel, estimated to be worth as much as $1 million, was minted in the first century by Jews who created it as a statement of sovereignty during the uprising known as The Great Revolt (Tom Mashberg and Graham Bowley, New York Times).
American investigators returned a rare silver coin to Israel on Monday that they say was minted as a marker of independence during the Great Revolt against Roman oppression of A.D. 66-73 and centuries later was looted from an archaeological site in the Valley of Elah.

The coin was seized in 2017 when collectors tried to sell it at an auction in Denver, where it was listed as having an estimated value between $500,000 and $1 million. But it did not clear the legal hurdles to be returned to Israel until this summer.

[...]

If you can't get past the NYT subscription wall, the story is also covered in the Denver Post: A 2,000-year-old coin, looted from Israel, was up for auction in Denver. Now it’s headed home. The silver shekel, valued at $1 million, dates to A.D. 69 (Sam Tabachnik).

Cross-file under Numismatics.

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Not ancient synagogues after all?

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE: Monumental Ancient Structure in Central Israel Isn’t a Synagogue After All. On the road to Beit Guvrin, Israeli archaeologists found two structures they thought were synagogues. Wrong both times (Viktoria Greenboim Rich, Haaretz).

Oddly, the article does not name the site where the two ruins are located. It appears to be Khirbet Midras (Horvat Midras, Hirbet Madras) on which more here and links.

Results like these illustrate how cautious we should be about identification of ancient ruins as certain types of buildings or as used for certain purposes.

I have some related thoughts here, albeit involving a much older site.

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SBL panel on Paul within Judaism

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: SBL 2021 Panel I Paul Within Judaism.
AJR is happy to host the Society of Biblical Literature’s panel discussion on what “Paul Within Judaism” means. The panel, organized by SBL’s “Paul Within Judaism” Unit, met virtually at the 2021 annual meeting.
Two of the four essays are published so far:

SBL 2021 Panel I John Van Maaren on Paul Within Judaism

“Sociologists and anthropologists agree that identity, whether ethnic, religious, or national cannot be determined by a list of shared or defining characteristics exhibited by all group members. Rather, identity is primarily a matter of ascription—that is, a person is Jewish, Greek, Roman, or Syrian first and foremost because they think and claim they are.”
SBL 2021 Panel I Matthew V. Novenson on Paul Within Judaism
Thus my goal in my own research is not to prove that Paul was an [x] Jew, as if proving such a thing could tell us very much. I do think that Paul was an apocalyptic Jew, and a Second-Temple Jew, and a diaspora Jew, and a great many other things—all suitably defined and qualified, of course. But I do not think that to apply any of those labels is to understand him.

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Monday, September 12, 2022

Interview with Joe Uziel on the Ishmael papyrus

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: First Temple Papyrus? Exclusive Interview with Joe Uziel.
Watch an EXCLUSIVE interview with Joe Uziel, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls Unit, who discusses the recovery of a papyrus that the IAA believes dates to the time of Jerusalem’s First Temple.
The video is up on YouTube:

Background, with discussion of how skeptical we should be about the genuineness of this fragment, is here and links.

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An ode to Petra

CONTEMPORARY MUSIC: An ode to the rose-red city: Jordanian soprano Barhoum set to release music video ‘Petra’ (Jessi Amason, Jordan Times).
AMMAN — For artists recording new music, consulting academic journals and learning an archaic language are not typically part of the creative process. Yet, for Jordanian classical singer Zeina Barhoum, the work behind her upcoming song and music video, titled “Petra”, involved research, expert collaborators and the study of Nabataean Aramaic. [...]
The music video is scheduled for release next month.

For lots of PaleoJudaica posts on the ancient Nabatean capital city of Petra in Jordan, see here and links, plus here and here.

Cross-file under Nabatean (Nabataean) Watch.

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A word that proves the Exodus?

PHILOLOGOS: The Proof of the Exodus Hidden in the Ancient Word Sha’atnez The word, like a small number of other Egyptian loanwords in the Bible, testifies to a period in which the early Israelite nation, or a part of it, was in intimate contact with Egyptian life. (Mosaic).

This is an interesting word, but "the proof of the Exodus" is quite a lot to get out of it. I know that is from the headline, but it accurately represents the claim in the article.

In any case, it is good to see Philologos out from behind the Mosaic subscription wall.

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Sunday, September 11, 2022

XVII Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM THE SOCIETY OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE:
XVII Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies: Aberdeen, 2019

Gideon Kotze, Michael Van Der Meer, Martin Rosel, editors

ISBN 9781628375152
Volume SCS 75
Status Available
Publication Date August 2022
Paperback $100.00
Hardback $120.00
eBook $100.00

This volume from the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS) includes the papers given at the XVII Congress of the IOSCS, which was held in Aberdeen in 2019. Essays in the collection fall into five areas of focus: textual history, historical context, syntax and semantics, exegesis and theology, and commentary. Scholars examine a range of Old Testament and New Testament texts. Contributors include Kenneth Atkinson, Bryan Beeckman, Elena Belenkaja, Beatrice Bonanno, Eberhard Bons, Cameron Boyd-Taylor, Ryan Comins, S. Peter Cowe, Claude Cox, Dries De Crom, Paul L. Danove, Crispin Fletcher-Louis, Frank Feder, W. Edward Glenny, Roger Good, Robert J. V. Hiebert, Gideon R. Kotzé, Robert Kugler, Nathan LaMontagne, Giulia Leonardi, Ekaterina Matusova, Jean Maurais, Michaël N. van der Meer, Martin Meiser, Douglas C. Mohrmann, Daniel Olariou, Vladimir Olivero, Luke Neubert, Daniel Prokop, Alison Salvesen, Daniela Scialabba, Leonardo Pessoa da Silva Pinto, Martin Tscheu, and Jelle Verburg.

William Ross has a blog post on the volume here.

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Saturday, September 10, 2022

Review of Drucker, Inventing the Alphabet

PHOENICIAN WATCH: Easy as ABC. What were the origins of the alphabet, before the Greeks? (Katherine McDonald, History Today). A review of:
Inventing the Alphabet: The Origins of Letters from Antiquity to the Present
Johanna Drucker
University of Chicago Press 384pp £32

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Burns & Goff (eds.), The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Codices (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Codices

Selected Papers from the Conference “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Codices” in Berlin, 20–22 July 2018

Series: Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies, Volume: 103

Volume Editors: Dylan M. Burns and Matthew J. Goff

The discoveries of Coptic books containing “Gnostic” scriptures in Upper Egypt in 1945 and of the Dead Sea Scrolls near Khirbet Qumran in 1946 are commonly reckoned as the most important archaeological finds of the twentieth century for the study of early Christianity and ancient Judaism. Yet, impeded by academic insularity and delays in publication, scholars never conducted a full-scale, comparative investigation of these two sensational corpora—until now. Featuring articles by an all-star, international lineup of scholars, this book offers the first sustained, interdisciplinary study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Codices.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €139.00 / $167.00 Hardback

Copyright Year: 2022

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-51756-1
Publication date: 08 Aug 2022

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-51302-0
Publication date: 11 Aug 2022

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Friday, September 09, 2022

Rollston on the new Hebrew scroll fragment

EPIGRAPHER CHRISTOPHER ROLLSTON has now weighed in on the newly announced "Ishmael Papyrus": The Old Hebrew Ishmael Papyrus: Tapping the Brakes (Times of Israel Blogs).
At this time, therefore, I simply wish (at this preliminary stage) to mention certain things that need to be considered as part of the totality of the discussion of this find….and things which (therefore) require that we refrain from drawing too many rapid conclusions, or making too many problematic assumptions. In other words, I hope that we can “tap the brakes” a little with regard to this “find.”
He gives his reasons for skepticism in detail. One point is that he finds elements of the script anomalous for the period. I leave that question to him.

He raises many other valid concerns, some of which I have also raised in earlier posts.

Regarding the following, I will repeat a point I have already mentioned:

The press reports seem to suggest that this radiometric dating confirms the antiquity of the inscription itself. However, I would emphasize that the antiquity of the medium of an inscription certainly does not demonstrate that the inscription itself is ancient. After all, ancient potsherds, ancient leather, and ancient papyrus (the last of which is the most relevant in this case) are all available, either on ancient tels (in the case of potsherds) or on the antiquities market (in the case of leather and papyrus). Modern forgers can, have, and still do, use such ancient media to produce forgeries in the modern period (and forged inscriptions have been a constant, for several millennia, believe it or not).
(His italics.) Rollston is correct in principle, of course. My question is, how easy is it to acquire blank leather and papyrus dating as early as the Iron Age II (i.e. c. 700 BCE in this case)? I would think there would be very little of either available. But I could be wrong. Are there specifice examples of such early blank writing materials?

Background here and here.

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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022)

SAD NEWS: I join many others in the UK and the world mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96. The United Kingdom's longest reigning monarch, her remarkable life encompassed perhaps the most significant and challenging century in human history.

Again with many others, I extend my best wishes to the new British monarch, King Charles III, who comes to the throne in a time of many continued challenges.

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New project on the Penn Aramaic incantation bowls

ARAMAIC WATCH: The story the bowls tell (Penn Today).
In an ambitious new project, historian Simcha Gross and Harvard’s Rivka Elitzur-Leiman are studying hundreds of ancient incantation bowls housed at the Penn Museum. They hope to better understand the objects and eventually, build a database of all these bowls worldwide.
As the article notes, the corpus of nearly 300 Babylonian Aramaic incantation bowls from Nippur is especially important because they were recovered in a scientific archaeological excavation.

James Montgomery's 1913 edition, mostly of the best preserved ones (about 15% of the corpus), is out of copyright and is available at the Internet Archive: Aramaic incantation texts from Nippur.

It is great that the remaining, more difficult, bowls in the corpus are now receiving attention.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the ancient Babylonian Aramaic incantation bowls, start here (cf. here and here) and follow the links.

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King Solomon's "throne" in Jerusalem?

MATERIAL CULTURE: The Strange Story of 'King Solomon’s Throne’ Found in Jerusalem. Did a group of amateurs unearth a monumental Iron Age toilet seat over a century ago in the heart of biblical Jerusalem? A modern-day archaeologist lifts the lid on a bizarre mystery (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).

For more on other ancient toilets found in Israel and elsewhere, as well on ancient intestinal parasites, see the links collected here. Cross-file under Latrine News.

For more on European archaeology in Jerusalem in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, see here and links, plus here.

UPDATE: Links now corrected!

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Thursday, September 08, 2022

More on the new Hebrew scroll fragment

UPDATE: Extremely rare document from the First Temple-period repatriated to Israel. The extremely rare document, composed of four torn lines, will be presented for the first time to the public at the First Judean Desert Conference that will be held next week at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs). This is the original press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority. (HT Joseph Lauer.) It contains additional information. One important detail that I did not see in yesterday's press coverage:
The Dead Sea Scrolls Unit conserved the papyrus and documented it with the modern multispectral system used to monitor the state of the scrolls.
In order to confirm that the document was genuine, a small sample was radiometrically dated in the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot. The sample provided a date similar to that determined by the paleographic evaluation (based on the letter forms), thus consolidating the dating towards the end of the First Temple period.
The C-14 dating of the fragment is an important piece of evidence in favor of it being a genuine ancient artifact.

It is true that forgeries have been made using ancient materials. But I would be surprised if there is any blank parchment from the late Iron Age II available for such a purpose.

That said, we had exactly the same situation with one of the other two First Temple-era scroll fragments. The Jerusalem Papyrus was carbon dated to around the same time. Nevertheless, Northwest Semitic epigrapher Christopher Rollston had reservations about its genuineness, based on anomalies in its script. I don't know whether that debate was resolved. For details, follow the link.

I would be interested in hearing what Professor Rollston has to say about this latest discovery. Unfortunately his blog appears to be down – or at least I can't access it.

I would now say that there is a good case that this new scroll fragment is genuine.

This article by Amanda Borschel-Dan in the Times of Israel also has new details about the process of recovering the fragment: Ingathering of the exiles? Extremely rare First Temple-era papyrus repatriated. 2,700-year-old inscribed papyrus, a letter to ‘Ishmael’ written in early Hebrew script, joins only two others from biblical times. But that’s just the beginning of the story.

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What else is in the Qumran caves?

NOTE: I prepared this post a few days ago. Events have overtaken it before I got around to posting. I post it now, unrevised. The discussion seems prophetic, doesn't it?

IT'S WORTH ASKING THE QUESTION: What other secrets are hidden in the Qumran caves? Besides the Dead Sea Scrolls, the caves may contain items from the First Temple (GARY SCHIFF, Jewish News Syndicate).

If an article headline speculates on what might be found in the future at a site, it's a good bet that it's not reporting any actual new finds.

Nevertheless, we all like to speculate. Here are some comments on the speculation in this article.

Regarding items from the Temple, David Yehuda, an author involved in historical research on the subject, has been involved for decades with the work at Qumran. He cited several ancient documents that cross-reference each other, noting that all seem to point to Qumran as an area that may contain items of great significance, possibly from the Temple.

As an example, the Copper Scroll, which sits in a museum in Amman, Jordan, lists many locations—a number of which seem to point to the Qumran area—where certain items from the First Temple were supposedly hidden before the exile.

I have not encountered David Yehuda before.

As for the Copper Scroll, it is possible that it lists hiding places treasures from the Herodian Temple after its destruction in 70 CE. No one thinks it lists treasures from the First Temple hidden before the exile. The Copper Scroll was produced many centuries after the destruction of the First Temple. For many other PaleoJudaica posts on th Copper Scroll, start here and follow the links.

Yehuda also notes that the Kabbalistic book Emek HaMelech, written by R. Naftali Ben Yaakov Elchanan in 1648, lists hidden items from the First Temple. Yehuda points out that, according to the text, the location where these items were hidden was inscribed on a copper plate.

The Copper Scroll was evidently flat when it was first made, but then coated with clay and rolled like a scroll. The clay was presumably added to seal the surface to prevent oxidation. The care that its authors took to preserve it for the future is remarkable in and of itself. Further, Yehuda says, according to Revue Biblique there were two marble tablets found in the basement of a museum in Lebanon that contain the same text as that written in Emek HaMelech.

The relevant part of Emek HaMelech is the same text as the Treatise of the Vessels. I published the first complete English translation of it in 2013. Much as I love this text, it is late – somewhere between post-Talmudic and early modern. It doesn't tell us anything about the actual fate of any of the treasures of either Temple. For many PaleoJudica posts on the Treatise of the Vessels, start here and follow the links.

As for the larger interest of the article, who knows what could still be found in the Qumran caves? People are still looking (cf. here). Those particular caves have been explored very throroughly. I would be surprised by any major discoveries. The could still be odd scraps left.

The Judean Desert caves in general have also been searched pretty thoroughly. But I would not entirely exclude the possibility of important new finds in them. From as early as the First Temple? I doubt it, but who knows? The earliest discovery of artifacts in a Dead Sea cave was from the Chalcolithic period (4th millennium BCE; the Nahal Mishmar hoard).

I have occasionally pointed out that even some very early sites have preserved surprising amounts of organic material. That seems to point to conditions that could preserve scroll fragments. For the Timna Valley excavation (10th-century BCE) see here and links and here and links. For the Megiddo excavation, see here and links. Megiddo Tomb 50 dates to c. 1600 BCE. Textiles dating to c. 1100 BCE were also preserved in a jar at Megiddo.

Do I think it is likely there are scrolls from 1100 BCE buried in jars somewhere at Megiddo? No. But there is evidence that it is possible, so we may hope.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2022

A new First-Temple-era Hebrew scroll fragment?

NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY: Ancient Hebrew letter from First Temple period returned to Israel - watch. The letter written in ancient Hebrew, originally found in the Judean Desert caves, ended up in Montana and was then returned to Israel (Jerusalem Post).
A letter written in ancient Hebrew dating back to the First Temple period, around the sixth or seventh century, was returned to Israel on Wednesday. It was probably found in the Judean Desert caves.

Archaeologists estimated that it dates back to the sixth century BCE which joins two other documents in this time period in the Israel Antiquities Authority Dead Sea Scrolls collection. The script on the extremely rare ripped document starts with "To Ishmael send...", hinting that it is a fragment of a letter.

[...]

[UPDATE (8 September): More here. I now think that this fragment is probably genuine.]

[UPDATE (9 September): Epigrapher Christopher Rollston has published some concerns about the papyrus. He makes many good points. I have replied provisionally to one of them. Developing ...]

This is potentially an extremely important discovery ... but ... you knew this was coming ... we should be skeptical of its authenticity.

It is unprovenanced. The owner reports that it was sold to his mother by an antiquities dealer in the 1960s. It was not recovered in a scientific excavation. There is no indication that the dealer even claimed to know its place of origin, although we may learn more about that in time.

As I have said for a long time, our default assumption should be that an unprovenanced inscription is a forgery unless and until scholars present a credible case that it is genuine.

All that said, it could be the real thing. I very much hope that my initial skepticism turns out to be wrong and that someone makes a solid case for its authenticity. I look forward to hearing more next week.

Meanwhile, all praise to the owner for turning it over to scholars for analysis.

I may have more to say later, but that's all I have time for today.

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Maurais, Characterizing Old Greek Deuteronomy as an Ancient Translation (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Characterizing Old Greek Deuteronomy as an Ancient Translation

Series: Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, Volume: 203

Author: Jean Maurais

Much can be learned about a translation’s linguistic and cultural context by studying it as a text, a literary artifact of the culture that produced it. However, its nature as a translation warrants a careful approach, one that pays attention to the process by which its various features came about. In Characterizing Old Greek Deuteronomy as an Ancient Translation, Jean Maurais develops a framework derived from Descriptive Translation Studies to bring both these aspects in conversation. He then outlines how the Deuteronomy translator went about his task and provides a characterization of the work as a literary product.

Prices from (excl. VAT): €139.00 / $167.00

Copyright Year: 2022
E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-51658-8v Publication date: 27 Jun 2022

Hardback
Availability: Not Yet Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-51657-1
Publication date: 01 Aug 2022

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Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Archaeology, history, and the Book of Daniel

BIBLE ARCHAEOLOGY REPORT: Top Ten Discoveries Related to the Book of Daniel (Bryan Windle). HT Todd Bolen at the Bible Places Blog.

This is a good list of archaeological discoveries that illuminate the Book of Daniel.

They do not, however, show that the book was actually written in the sixth century BCE. They don't even imply that.

Specialists are united in dating the book to the second century BCE, sometime around the Maccabean revolt.

Bryan Windle writes: "This late date is assumed largely on the basis of the presupposition of modern scholars that supernatural fore-telling of events is not possible," Sometimes people have made this argument, but it isn't very strong and it isn't the primary argument for a second century date. Who could know whether supernatural foretelling of events is possible or not?

It is fair, however, to invoke the Sagan standard that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." I don't see anything like extraordinary evidence that Daniel was composed in the sixth century. Quite the contrary. But again, that is not the chief argument.

The primary argument for the second century date of Daniel is that the predictions in the book are meticulously accurate (one could even say supernaturally accurate) up to the Maccabean Revolt, but then they go wildly wrong.

All indicators are that the author was writing during the revolt, made predictions after the fact (the most accurate kind), then made real predictions. The real predictions, predictably, went wrong. I have made the case for this with one passage (there are others) here, here, and here.

The second-century writer did draw on earlier Aramaic legends, especially in chapters 2-6. More on that here, here, here, and here.

For more on the Nebo-Sarsekim tablet, see here and links. For more on the Esagila, see here. There is a new book on the Ishtar Gate by Helen Gries. (HT the Bible Places Blog again.) For more on the Nabonidus Chronicle and on Belshazzar, see here. There are many PaleoJudaica posts on the Cyrus Cylinder - start at the link in the last sentence. For Danielic apocrypha in the Dead Sea Scrolls, see here.

As for the Qumran fragments of the Book of Daniel itself, yes, some of them may have been copied within fifty years of the Maccabean Revolt and the book's composition. But does it hold up to argue that "There simply is not enough time for the book to have been composed, circulated and accepted as canonical in such a short period of time." Nope. Fifty years is a long time, not far off an average lifespan in antiquity.

I make no claim about canonicity in this period. It's hard to know what that would even have meant. But certainly the book could have been circulated and accepted by many Palestinian Jews as a genuine revelation quite quickly - in weeks or months during the revolt. And once a group of people accept a book as divine revelation, confirmation bias makes it very difficult to get them to un-accept it. It is entirely plausible that the book could have been widely copied, read, and believed in fifty years later.

The fact that some predictions went wrong wouldn't have had much effect. When prophecy fails, many followers will just adjust their understanding of the prophecy and continue to believe. There is some evidence that this was already happening in the early years after the publication of the book. It looks like there are recalculations of the end date appended to the book (12:11-12, cf. 8:14).

The whole history of the interpretation of Daniel involves each generation trying to make the predictions fit the current situation.

I am teaching an honours course on the Book of Daniel again this semester, so all these matters are on my mind.

Despite my criticisms, I am grateful to Bryan Windle for collecting this interesting archaeological material pertaining to the Book of Daniel.

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Re-dating the Ashkenazic "genetic bottleneck?"

ARCHAEOGENETICS: 17 people found in a medieval well in England were victims of an antisemitic massacre, DNA reveals (Tom Metcalfe, Live Science).

This article is about a discovery in Norwich, England. It is of considerable importance in itself, but it is outside the date range of PaleoJudaica. I note it because the genetic analysis of the excavated remains has potential implications for our understanding of Jewish genetics as early as late antiquity:

The modern Ashkenazi population has a greater-than-usual incidence of certain genetic disorders, such as Tay-Sachs disease and some hereditary cancers, he said; and the genetics of four the people in the well in Norwich showed the same frequency of such disorders, although there's only a very limited number of victims from which to draw such conclusions.

The cause of these disorders was thought to be a "genetic bottleneck" probably caused by a drop in the population between about 600 and 800 years ago, he said. But their frequency in the victims meant the genetic bottleneck must have happened much earlier, possibly as early as the late stages of the Western Roman Empire from the fifth century, he said.

My bold-font emphasis. For more on Ashkenazic genetics, and ancient Jewish and Israelite genetics in general, see here and links, plus here, here, here, and here.

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Monday, September 05, 2022

Ivory plaques from First-Temple Jerusalem

DECORATIVE ART: First-Temple Period Decorated Ivories Found in City of David. (David Israel, The Jewish Press).
An extraordinary treasure was unearthed in Jerusalem: ivory plaques from the First Temple period, the first of their kind to be found in Jerusalem. They were discovered in the excavations of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University at the Givati Parking Lot in the City of David at the Jerusalem Walls National Park, funded by the City of David Foundation.

[...]

The ivories will be on display next Tuesday, September 13, at the 23rd Conference of the City of David Studies of Ancient Jerusalem. They will also be displayed in October at the Jerusalem Conference of the IAA, Tel Aviv University, and the Hebrew University.

The article mentions that the site also produced residue of ancient vanilla-flavored wine. More on that here. For more on ancient ivory plaques in the Middle East, see here.

For more on the Nathan-Melech bulla, also discovered there, see the links here. And follow the links from there (plus here) for additional posts on the many discoveries at the Givati Parking Lot excavation.

UPDATE (6 September): Todd Bolen comments on the story here.

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The Iraqi Jewish archives and Iraq's anti-Israel legislation

IRAQI JEWISH ARCHIVES WATCH: Iraqi Jewish archives need to be returned to Iraqi Jews - opinion. The Iraqi Jewish Archive is now at grave risk at the hands of an Iraqi government that has criminalized relations with Jewish people (CAROL BASRI, SARAH LEVIN, Jerusalem Post).

This story has been quiet for a while. For background, including some information about Ms. Basri, one of the authors of the current article, see here. For many PaleoJudaica posts going back to the discovery of the archives in 2003, follow the links from there.

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Sunday, September 04, 2022

Phoenician sarcophagus exhibition in Malta

PHOENICIAN WATCH: A Valletta museum unveils an ancient Phoenician sarcophagus. Sarcophagus excavated in Rabat makes its debut at Museum of Archaeology (Times of Malta).
A Phoenician stone sarcophagus excavated last year at Għajn Klieb, on the outskirts of Rabat, is one of the major attractions at an exhibition which has just been inaugurated at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta.

The exhibition brings to light the results of months of painstaking studies by a multidisciplinary team researching the sarcophagus and two other tombs discovered in the area, as well as their contents.

[...]

For more on the sarcophagus, see here. Malta makes many contributions to Phoenician and Punic archaeology. See the archives for details.

Cross-file under Punic Watch, if you define Punic broadly as Mediterranian colonial Phoenician, rather than narrowly as Carthaginian.

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Saturday, September 03, 2022

Khan Festschrift

THE AWOL BLOG: Studies in Semitic Linguistics and Manuscripts: A Liber Discipulorum in Honour of Professor Geoffrey Khan. Congratulations to Professor Khan!

The volume is open access. For you, special deal!

For a 2018 interview with Geoffrey Khan, see here.

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Fear, Mithras (Routledge)

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
Mithras

By Andrew Fear

Copyright Year 2022

Hardback
£120.00

eBook
£33.29

ISBN 9781138499799
Published June 24, 2022 by Routledge
224 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations

Book Description

Mithras explores the history and practices of the ancient mystery religion Mithraism, looking at both literary and material evidence for the god Mithras and the reception and allure of his mysteries in the present.

The genesis and spread of Mithraism remain highly controversial. This book examines our current state of knowledge on the pre-classical Indo-Iranian god, Mitra, and argues that Mithraism was a product of Mitra’s encounter with the religious thought of the classical world. It then charts the life history of Mithraism in the Roman Empire, exploring the social background of its initiates and the reasons for their attraction to the religion. The rituals and beliefs of the cult are as mysterious as its origins; in studying Mithraic "caves" and paintings found in some Mithraic temples, we can better understand and reconstruct the rituals the Mithraists practiced. While "bull-slaying", or tauroctony, lies at the core of the Mithraic mythos, this volume explores other incidents in the god’s life depicted in ancient art, including his miraculous birth and his banquet with the sun, as well as the disconcerting lion-headed "enveloped god". After a fall from grace in the post-classical world, Mithras has resurrected himself in the present, establishing himself as one of the most recognisable if elusive gods of antiquity.

Mithras provides a fascinating study of this complex god that will be of interest to scholars and students of Roman and Late Antique religion, mystery cults, as well as those working on society and religion in antiquity more broadly.

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