Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Review of Erickson, The early Seleukids, their gods and their coins

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: The early Seleukids, their gods and their coins
Kyle Erickson, The early Seleukids, their gods and their coins. London; New York: Routledge, 2018. Pp. 190. ISBN 9780415793766 $49.95.

Review by
Oliver Hoover, American Numismatic Society. ohoover@numismatics.org

... Kyle Erickson’s The Early Seleukids, their Gods, and their Coins represents a recent addition to the rapidly expanding secondary literature on the iconography (by necessity heavily based on coins) and ideology of the dynasty. It is a revised version of the author’s 2010 University of Exeter PhD dissertation that, over the course of four chapters framed by an introduction and conclusion, aims to delineate the process by which a Seleukid dynastic identity—in contrast with a purely personal charismatic kingship—was created through multivalent religious images disseminated primarily by coins. ...

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the Seleucid era and its importance for biblical and ancient Jewish studies, start here and follow the links. For posts on Seleucid coinage, see here and links. Cross-file under Numismatics.

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

More on The Eternals and "chatty" Babylonian

CINEMATIC PHILOLOGY: The Eternals – Marvel consulted me to help superheroes chit chat in Babylonian (Martin Worthington, The Conversation).
The difficulty in translating colloquial speech is that Ancient Mesopotamia was a world in which writing was a specific tool, used for specific things. Though we are lucky to have a huge mass of (wonderfully informative) documentation, most things went unwritten, and the tone of what did get written was rarely colloquial. This comes across very clearly in Babylonian private letters: they have a business-like, “transactional” character, with little or no chatty or gossipy messages to family and friends, such as we enjoy reading and writing today. For Babylonians, informal and chatty conversation happened only in speech, not in writing.

So, to come up with “chatty” Babylonian, I had to reassemble what we find in written documents, and generate expressions for which I had no exact models or parallels.

See also here.

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

Monday, January 17, 2022

Tu B'Shevat 2022

TU B'SHEVAT, the "New Year for Trees," began last night at sundown. Best wishes to all those celebrating.

Last year's Tu B'Shevat post is here, with links to earlier posts.

For biblical background, see here. The name "New Year for Trees" comes from Mishnah Rosh HaShanah 1.1. That passage gives two alternative dates for the celebration, one from Shammai and one from Hillel. Hillel's date (15 Shevat) is the one celebrated at present.

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

Galoppin & Bonnet (eds.), Divine Names on the Spot (Peeters, open access)

NEW OPEN-ACCESS BOOK FROM PEETERS:
Divine Names on the Spot
Towards a Dynamic Approach of Divine Denominations in Greek and Semitic Contexts

SERIES:
Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis, 293

EDITORS:
Galoppin T., Bonnet C.

YEAR: 2021
ISBN: 9789042947269
E-ISBN: 9789042947276
PAGES: VIII-256 p.
PRICE: 65 euro

SUMMARY:
Ancient Greek and Semitic languages resorted to a large range of words to name the divine. Gods and goddesses were called by a variety of names and combinations of onomastic attributes. This broad lexicon of names is characterised by plurality and a tendency to build on different sequences of names; therefore, the Mapping Ancient Polytheisms project focuses on the process of naming the divine in order to better understand the ancient divine in terms of a plurality in the making. A fundamental rule for reading ancient divine names is to grasp them in their context ? time and place, a ritual, the form of the discourse, a cultural milieu?: a deity is usually named according to a specific situation. From Artemis Eulochia to al-Lat, al-'Uzza and Manat, from Melqart to "my rock" in the biblical book of Psalms, this volume journeys between the sanctuary on Mount Gerizim and late antique magical practices, revisiting rituals, hymnic poetry, oaths of orators and philosophical prayers. While targeting different names in different contexts, the contributors draft theoretical propositions towards a dynamic approach of naming the divine in antiquity.

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

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Ghormley, Scribes Writing Scripture (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Scribes Writing Scripture

Doublets, Textual Divination, and the Formation of the Book of Jeremiah

Series: Vetus Testamentum, Supplements, Volume: 189

Author: Justus Theodore Ghormley

The biblical book of Jeremiah was frequently expanded and revised through duplication by anonymous scribes in ancient Judea. Who were these scribes? What gave them the authority to revise divinatory texts like Jeremiah? And when creating duplicates, what did they think they were doing? In Scribes Writing Scripture: Doublets, Textual Divination, and the Formation of Jeremiah, Justus Theodore Ghormley explores possible answers to these questions. The scribes who revised Jeremiah are textual diviners akin to divining scribal scholars of ancient Near Eastern royal courts; and their practice of expanding Jeremiah through duplication involves techniques of textual divination comparable the practice of textual divination utilized in the formation of ancient Near Eastern divinatory texts.

Copyright Year: 2022

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

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-47256-3
Publication Date: 29 Nov 2021

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-47247-1
Publication Date: 02 Dec 2021

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Flynn, Children in the Bible and the Ancient World (Routledge)

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
Children in the Bible and the Ancient World
Comparative and Historical Methods in Reading Ancient Children

Edited By Shawn W. Flynn
Copyright Year 2019
ISBN 9781032178301
Paperback
Published September 30, 2021 by Routledge
240 Pages

Book Description

The topic of children in the Bible has long been under-represented, but this has recently changed with the development of childhood studies in broader fields, and the work of several dedicated scholars. While many reading methods are employed in this emerging field, comparative work with children in the ancient world has been an important tool to understand the function of children in biblical texts.

Children in the Bible and the Ancient World broadly introduces children in the ancient world, and specifically children in the Bible. It brings together an international group of experts who help readers understand how children are constructed in biblical literature across three broad areas: children in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East, children in Christian writings and the Greco-Roman world, and children and materiality. The diverse essays cover topics such as: vows in Ugarit and the Hebrew Bible, obstetric knowledge, infant abandonment, the role of marriage, Greek abandonment texts, ritual entry for children into Christian communities, education, sexual abuse, and the role of archeological figurines in children’s lives. The volume also includes expertise in biological anthropology to study the skeletal remains of ancient children, as well as how ancient texts illuminate Mary’s female maturity. The volume is written in an accessible style suitable for non-specialists, and it is equipped with a helpful resource bibliography that organizes select secondary sources from these essays into meaningful categories for further study.

Children in the Bible and the Ancient World is a helpful introduction to any who study children and childhood in the ancient world. In addition, the volume will be of interest to experts who are engaged in historical approaches to biblical studies, while appreciating how the ancient world continues to illuminate select topics in biblical texts.

This book is a couple of years old and is just out in paperback. I have not noted it before.

For related work by Shawn W. Flynn, see here and here.

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

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Greenstein Festschrift (SBL)

NEW BOOK (TWO VOLUMES) FROM SBL PRESS:
Ve-’Ed Ya‘aleh (Gen 2:6), Volume 1: Essays in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies Presented to Edward L. Greenstein

Peter Machinist, Robert A. Harris, Joshua A. Berman, Nili Samet, Noga Ayali-Darshan, editors

ISBN 9781628372977
Volume WAWSup 5
Status Available
Publication Date September 2021
Paperback $80.00
Hardback $100.00
eBook $80.00

Sixty-six colleagues, friends, and former students of Edward L. Greenstein present essays honoring him upon his retirement. Throughout Greenstein’s half-century career he demonstrated expertise in a host of areas astonishing in its breadth and depth, and each of the essays in these two volumes focuses on an area of particular interest to him. Volume 1 includes essays on ancient Near Eastern studies, Biblical Hebrew and Northwest Semitic languages, and biblical law and narrative. Volume 2 includes essays on biblical wisdom and poetry, biblical reception and exegesis, and postmodern readings of the Bible.

For volume 2, see here.

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

Lozinskyy, The Feasts of the Calendar in the Book of Numbers (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Hryhoriy Lozinskyy. The Feasts of the Calendar in the Book of Numbers. Num 28:16–30:1 in the Light of Related Biblical Texts and Some Ancient Sources of 200 BCE-100 CE. 2022. XVII, 283 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe 132. 79,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-160782-0.
Published in English.
In this monograph, Hryhoriy Lozinskyy studies five feasts contained in Num 28:16–30:1. Each of them is first treated in the light of biblical calendars and other related texts. The calendar in Numbers is later than an earlier version of Leviticus 23; yet the final form of Lev 23:1–44 is also a result of some later additions that took place after Num 28:1–30:1 had been composed. The author also focuses on the history of interpretation: he examines several pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and ancient Jewish writers from 200 BCE to 100 CE. He shows how these ancient sources reworked the biblical texts by expansions, clarifications, and omissions. In sum, the calendar in Numbers employs several previous traditions that dealt with the feasts, sacrifices, and calendars in order to compose the detailed list of the offerings for the appointed times. Moreover, it is a text that has been used by many ancient sources, especially in the matter of the sacrifices.

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

Friday, January 14, 2022

The Bible as a tour guide?

HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHY AND TRAVEL: Using the Bible as an Archaeological Travel Guide to Israel. There are hundreds of biblical sites in Israel – some have been identified with certainty by archaeologists while others require an act of faith. To what extent can we use the Tanakh, and its stories of David and Goliath, Samson et al, as a reliable tour guide? (Moshe Gilad, Haaretz).
Is it generally possible to use the Tanakh as our guidebook? At what sites should that be done? How certain is the identification of biblical sites with contemporary landmarks? And what is the attraction of a tour with the Tanakh? Is a Tel Azeqa tour in the company of David and Goliath more interesting than a tour observing the trees and cyclamens that are beginning to bloom all around? And of course: is there anyone who exploits the connection between the present site and the legendary-historical past? Is it proof of our “right” to the Valley of Elah?
Even if we think of the stories in the Bible primarily as stories, the tellers generally set these stories in familiar locations. Most of the settings are real, whatever you make of the stories.

An informative article that interviews two archaeologists and an anthropologist.

For related thoughts on the Bible, see the immediately preceding post here.

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

Review of Dever, Has Archaeology Buried the Bible?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Review: Has Archaeology Buried the Bible? (Jennie Ebeling).
Has Archaeology Buried the Bible?
By William G. Dever
(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2020), x + 158 pp., 24 maps and drawings, $25.99 (hardcover)
Reviewed by Jennie Ebeling

... In this book, the prolific and outspoken archaeologist who played an important role in orienting biblical archaeology away from the concerns of its early parochial practitioners boldly asserts that archaeological discoveries can serve as moral guides. In addition to its value for illuminating the biblical world in general and ancient Israel in particular, Dever argues, archaeology can help modern readers “find things that they can still believe in reading the Bible—things for which they need to offer no apologies” (p. 144). ...

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

William Ross was reading in 2021

WILLIAM A ROSS: MY 2021 READING. He read about the Septuagint, of course, but also many other things

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

Thursday, January 13, 2022

On Yadin and Sukenik

ARCHAEOLOGICAL BIOGRAPHY: ‘Digging’ Into The Yadin/Sukenik Archaeological Family (Saul Jay Singer, The Jewish Press).
Yigael Yadin nee Sukenik (he changed his name at Ben Gurion’s request based upon Genesis 49:16, “Dan yadin amo – the tribe of Dan will judge his nation”) was a warrior, scholar, and statesman who achieved great success and fame in three distinct areas. First, he was an outstanding military commander who played an important role in achieving Israel’s birth as a Jewish state and served as Israel’s chief of staff; second, he was a world-renowned archaeologist who achieved great fame for the two greatest archaeological finds of modern Israel, the Dead Sea Scrolls and Masada; and third, he was a statesman who founded a new Knesset party and served as Israel’s deputy prime minister. [...]
This article has a long account of the life and work of Yadin and a shorter one of his father, Eliezer Sukenik. For more on Yadin and the Bar Kokhba letters, see here, here and here. For the complicated problem of the archaeology of the fall of Masada, see here, here, here, and follow the links.

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

More from the Sifting Project on those Hebrew seals

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT BLOG: ANALYSIS OF CLAY SEALINGS REVEALED EVIDENCE OF THE TEMPLE TREASURY AND THE ROYAL TREASURY OF THE KINGDOM OF JUDAH IN THE FIRST TEMPLE PERIOD.
Is not this laid up in store with Me, sealed up in My treasuries?

Deut. 32:34

A study we have conducted on dozens of clay sealings recovered in sifting of Temple Mount soil and in excavations at the Ophel Park (adjacent to the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount) has successfully identified evidence of both the Temple Treasury and the Royal Treasury of the Kingdom of Judah.

The post contains a link to the text of the full article forthcoming in the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology.

I noted the story here last week.

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

Review of Gordon, Land and Temple

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Land and Temple: Field Sacralization and the Agrarian Priesthood of Second Temple Judaism (Joseph Scales).
Gordon, Benjamin D. Land and Temple: Field Sacralization and the Agrarian Priesthood of Second Temple Judaism. SJ 87. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2020.

... In some way, approaching an all-encompassing theme like “economy” while simultaneously trying to limit the discussion to elements related specifically to the Jerusalem Temple achieves few tangible and overarching conclusions, but the book does succeed in providing many new insights into a wide range of discussions. The volume is therefore of great use to scholars and students in many related sub-fields of biblical studies, ancient history and archaeology. ...

I noted the publication of the book here and a related essay by its author here.

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

Pseudo-Philo on women in Judges

DR. CARYN TAMBER-ROSENAU: Deborah, Yael and Sisera’s Mother, Themech (TheTorah.com).
Biblical Antiquities, circa 1st cent. C.E., retells the story of Judges 4–5. It expands the maternal imagery of Deborah and Yael, develops the character of Sisera’s mother, and adds sexual innuendo to Yael’s interactions with Sisera.
For more on Pseudo-Philo's Biblical Antiquities (Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum) see here here. For more on its treatment of the Book of Judges, see here.

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

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Abandoned Jewish town in Morocco rediscovered

SALVAGE ARCHAEOLOGY: Synagogue Ruins Tell Secrets of Jewish Community in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. A team of Israeli, Moroccan and French researchers on a rescue excavation at a ruined synagogue in Morocco found amulets, the last remnants of a bygone community. The project will soon be expanded to the entire region, under royal sponsorship (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz).
Remainders of a Jewish-Moroccan community that existed for centuries were recently found in a remote town in the Atlas Mountains, on the edge of the Sahara Desert. The small Jewish community of Tamanart lived there from the 16th century to the early 19th century. Recently, researchers from Israel, Morocco and France conducted salvage excavations in its ruined synagogue.

Along with the building’s walls, they found Scriptures and pages from the synagogue’s genizah, a repository for damaged written matter and ritual objects, as well as a few paper amulets. One was meant to protect a woman in labor and her newborn, another a personal charm meant to protect its owner from trouble and disease. “The texts in these amulets are based on formulas found in the Book of Raziel, an ancient Kabbalist book,” says Orit Ouaknine-Yekutieli, a researcher of modern Morocco who teaches at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The book, which includes texts for charms, was in use by Jewish communities in Morocco.

[...]

This discovery falls far outside PaleoJudaica's usual range, but it is too interesting not to note.

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

Was Job a zombie?

MONSTER THEORY: Goliath, Job and Other Monsters of the Hebrew Bible (S.I. Rosenbaum, The Jewish Experience - Brandeis University)
People read the Hebrew Bible for all sorts of things — spiritual guidance, literary inspiration, moral enlightenment.

Assistant professor of Hebrew Bible Madadh Richey looks for monsters.

She finds them everywhere — in the Book of Numbers, where God sends snakes to punish the Israelites; to the mysterious nephilim, sons of God, in Genesis who cohabitate with human women; to the more well-known ones such as the Leviathan, the giant fish in Jonah, and the demoness Lilith.

[...]

Another post on Monster Theory and the Hebrew Bible is here. See also here.

For PaleoJudaica posts on the Nephilim, see here and links. For some posts on Leviathan and its land counterpart Behemoth, see here and links. For many posts on Lilith, see here and links. Some posts on the biblical giant Goliath are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. I have collected some other giant-related posts here. And how can we omit the post-biblical monster the Golem in this discussion?

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

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

More on Cleopatra and Judaism

QUEEN CLEOPATRA VII (THE CLEOPATRA) has been in the news a lot lately, ever since the media heard about the the upcoming movie starring Gal Gadot. Ms. Gadot stirred things up last week in a interview:
"I can't reveal a lot, but I can tell you that we're going to celebrate the Cleopatra story," she told InStyle. "We're going to show not just how sexy and appealing she was, but how strategic and smart, and how much impact she had and still has on the world we're living in today.

"I've watched all the Cleopatra movies throughout history, but I feel like we're telling the story the world needs to hear now."

Meanwhile, Dr. Yvette Alt Miller has published an article in Florida Jewish News on Cleopatra and the Jews.
Cleopatra was a complex figure. Cleopatra VII (there were many Queen Cleopatras in Egypt. The final queen is the most famous) lived 69-30 BCE, and reigned during a tumultuous time in Egyptian history. Her political life touched on many regions, including far away Israel and Rome. Cleopatra didn't rule in a vacuum - she was a real woman, who played a central role in Middle Eastern politics. No matter how much we think we know about Cleopatra, there's always more to discover.

Here are seven surprising facts about Cleopatra and her important relationship with the land of Israel and ancient Jews.

I have mentioned before that (according to Plutarch) Cleopatra spoke Aramaic and Hebrew. This article adds quite a lot about her connections with first-century BCE Judaism.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on Cleopatra VII, start here and follow the links.

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

Mary the "Tower of Faith?"

NICKNAME ONONMASTICS: Was Mary Magdalene really from Magdala? Two scholars examine the evidence. The two scholars suggest Magdalene may well be an honorific from the Hebrew and Aramaic words meaning ‘tower’ or ‘magnify’ (Yonat Shimron, RNS).
In a paper published last month, Elizabeth Schrader, a Ph.D. student at Duke University, and Joan Taylor, a professor at King’s College, London, argue that the assumption Magdala refers to Mary’s place of origin is entirely speculative.

Instead, they say, Magdalene may well be an honorific from the Hebrew and Aramaic roots for “tower” or “magnified.”

Just as the Apostle Peter is given the epithet “rock,” (“You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church”), Mary could well have acquired a title “Magdalene” meaning “tower of faith,” or “Mary the magnified.”

The link to the underlying article the Journal of Biblical Literature is via JSTOR. The abstract is free, but the article is behind a subscription wall.

Some PaleoJudaica posts on Mary Magdalene in recent years are here, here, here, here, and here.

For many posts on the ancient city of Magdala (Migdal today), the two first-century synagogues excavated there, and the Magdala Stone found in the first synagogue, start here and follow the links.

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

A Sasanian-era inscription mentioning Zoroaster

PAHLAVI EPIGRAPHY: Centuries-old inscription discovered near Istakhr ancient city (Tehran Times).
TEHRAN –A Sassanid-era (224–651) rock-carved inscription has recently been discovered near the ancient city of Istakhr, in Marvdasht plain, which is home to the UNESCO-registered sites of Persepolis and Pasargadae as well as tens of other magnificent structures, in southern Fars province.

The inscription bears Middle Persian (or Pahlavi) script in six lines, Said Hamid Fadai who presides over Persepolis World Heritage site.

Because of erosion of the inscription, specialized archaeologists and historians have read and translated it carefully, the official added.

The name of Zarathustra [Zoroaster] is engraved on this inscription that measures 40 by 35 centimeters, he noted.

The name Zarathustra has appeared in historical paper documents, but this is the first time it has been identified on an inscription, he explained.

[...]

Some PaleoJudaica posts on or involving the Persian prophet Zoroaster are here, here, here, here, here, and here. Zoroastrianism had some influence – how much is debated – on ancient Judaism.

For more on the Sasanian (Sassanian) Empire, see here and links.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the ancient city of Persepolis, see here and links. The Tomb of Cyrus the Great is at Pasargade.

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

Monday, January 10, 2022

Steinhardt artifacts at the Israel Museum

PROBLEM ARTIFACTS: Billionaire's looted art still on display at Israel Museum (Ilan Ben Zion, PhysOrg.).
One of the Israel Museum's biggest patrons, American billionaire Michael Steinhardt, approached the flagship Israeli art institution in 2007 with an artifact he had recently bought: a 2,200-year-old Greek text carved into limestone.

But shortly after it went on display, an expert noticed something odd—two chunks of text found a year earlier during a dig near Jerusalem fit the limestone slab like a jigsaw puzzle. It soon became clear that Steinhardt's tablet came from the same cave where the other fragments were excavated.

Last month, Steinhardt surrendered the piece, known as the Heliodorus Stele, and 179 other artifacts valued at roughly $70 million as part of a landmark deal with the Manhattan District Attorney's office to avoid prosecution. Eight Neolithic masks loaned by Steinhardt to the Israel Museum for a major exhibition in 2014 were also seized under the deal, including two that remain exhibited at the museum.

[...]

I have been following the Steinhardt saga, but have not posted on it until now. This is the first time it has overlapped with PaleoJudaica's interests. You can read the full story, for example, in this Live Science article by Ben Turner: Billionaire hands over $70 million of stolen artifacts. The haul includes stone death masks and a chest for human remains. Executive summary:
A billionaire hedge-fund manager has surrendered 180 stolen artifacts worth $70 million and has received a lifetime ban on acquiring more relics as part of a deal struck with the Manhattan district attorney's office.
No one is accusing the Israel Museum of any wrongdoing. According to the PhysOrg article, the Manhattan DA says that the three objects still on display "are 'effectively seized in place.'" The DA "has opened talks with Israel to coordinate the return of" some artifacts.

As for the artifacts discussed in the current article, I posted on the Heliodorus inscription here, here, here, and here. By the end of 2009 it was clear that it was genuine, after fragments of it were excavated at Maresha. There were also serious concerns by then about whether it had been looted. The Greek City Times has an article on this object: US billionaire’s stolen ancient Greek Heliodorus Stele remain on display at Israel Museum. The other two surrended artifacts still on display there are the abovementioned neolithic masks.

I don't think I knew about the Royal Moabite Inscription loaned to the Israel Museum by Steinhardt. It is on display at the Israel Museum, but is not part of the Mahattan DA's looting investigation.

The best-known Moabite inscription is, of course, the Mesha Stele (or Moabite stone), on which PaleoJudaica has many posts. Another fragment of a lapidary inscription in Moabite was found in El-Kerak in 1958. It is in the Jordan Archaeological Museum. And 2019 saw the publication of an inscribed Moabite altar that was excavated in Jordan.

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

The Talmudic Encyclopedia is 75

TALMUD WATCH: The Talmudic Encyclopedia Reaches 75 (Toby Klein Greenwald, The Jewish Press).
An event honoring the 75th anniversary of the Talmudic Encyclopedia took place on December 30 at the residence of the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog. It was especially moving because it also marked three generations of involvement of the Herzog family in the project.

The event was also to honor Rabbi Hershel Schachter, the leading rosh yeshiva and rosh kollel at Yeshiva University, halachic advisor for the Orthodox Union, advisor and mentor for the Rabbinical Council of America, and world-renowned posek. The Talmudic Encyclopedia will dedicate a future volume to Rav Shachter.

The 48th volume was released just a few days before the event. It is hoped that the project will be completed by 2024.

{...]

This is a long and informative article.

I noted this project in 2015, when the editors annouced plans to put it online. The project's website is here. It was conceived of in 1942 and the first volume was published in 1947. In 2015 there were 33 volumes out, so there has been good progress in the intervening years.

Cross-file under Encyclopedia Talmudit.

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

Volume 6 of Italian Talmud translation published

TALMUD WATCH: Sixth volume of Italian translation of Talmud released. The sixth volume of an Italian translation of the Talmud was recently published in Italy (Arutz Sheva).

I have nicknamed this translation the cyborg's Talmud, for reasons explained here. Follow the links from there for more posts on the Italian Talmud. Cross-file under Algorithm Watch.

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

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Kazen, Impurity and Purification in Early Judaism and the Jesus Tradition (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Impurity and Purification in Early Judaism and the Jesus Tradition
Thomas Kazen

ISBN 9781628374100
Volume RBS 98
Status Available
Publication Date October 2021
Paperback $55.00
Hardback $75.00
eBook $55.00

This collection of essays by Thomas Kazen focuses on issues of purity and purification in early Judaism and the Jesus tradition. During the late Second Temple period, Jewish purity practices became more prominent than before and underwent substantial developments. These essays advance the ongoing conversation and debate about a number of key issues in the field, such as the relationship between ritual and morality, the role and function of metaphor, and the use of evolutionary and embodied perspectives. Kazen’s research stands in constant dialogue with the major currents and main figures in purity research, including both historical (origin, development, practice) and cognitive (evolutionary, emotional, conceptual) approaches.

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

Croy, Sequencing the Hebrew Bible (Sheffield Phoenix/SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SHEFFIELD PHOENIX/SBL PRESS:
Sequencing the Hebrew Bible: The Order of the Books
Casey K. Croy

ISBN 9781910928882
Status Available
Publication Date
September 2021
Hardback$75.00

If the order of the Hebrew Bible’s books is significant, as many believe, why did differing arrangements of the Hebrew Bible emerge over time? This is a crucial question for Bible readers generally and especially for scholars of compilational criticism—the study of how the books of the Hebrew Bible were arranged in their various orders. Yet few compilational critics offer a solution to this problem and several fail even to recognize the issue.

Sequencing the Hebrew Bible makes the novel proposal that multiple orders are part of the compositional intent of the framers of the Hebrew Bible. That is, those responsible for producing the final form of the Hebrew Bible’s text created multiple ways in which its books could be meaningfully arranged. No single arrangement, as found in ancient manuscripts and lists of the books, can fully account for the compositional intent of these framers. The task of the compilational critic is to identify these arrangements, classify them, and evaluate the effect of these varying arrangements.

This solution has implications both for the production of modern Bibles and for biblical theology. While some interested in compilational criticism argue that modern Bibles should be reorganized to reflect earlier arrangements of the biblical books, this study would suggest that such attempts would be limited in value. For only one of the several attested arrangements could be presented in any printed Bible. As for the idea of attempting to arrange the Bible chronologically, this study argues that to do so would inhibit the reader’s understanding of the design of the biblical authors. Since biblical theology bridges the gap between historical-critical and theological studies, internal tensions between historical and theological analyses are often apparent within biblical theology. Compilational criticism helps to relieve these tensions by showing how theology underlies the formation of the Hebrew Bible.

SBL Press is the North American distributor for Sheffield Phoenix Press. Customers outside of North America can purchase this book directly from Sheffield Phoenix by clicking here.

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

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Viezel, The Intention of the Torah and the Intention of Its Readers (Magnes Press, in Hebrew)

NEW BOOK FROM MAGNES PRESS:
The Intention of the Torah and the Intention of Its Readers
Episodes of Contention

By: Eran Viezel

Publisher: Magnes Press
Year: 2021
Catalog number: 45-131160
ISBN: 978-965-7790-14-4
Pages: 451
Language: Hebrew
Weight: 800 gr.
Cover: Paperback

Synopsis

The Intention of the Torah and the Intention of Its Readers surveys how traditional Jewish exegesis throughout the ages has coped with the literary and topical difficulties found in the Torah, in the context of the belief in the Torah’s divine source and sanctity. “All problems stem from expectations.” Readers and exegetes of the Torah throughout the ages supposed, and many continue to suppose, that the Torah is perfect and flawless. They expect the Torah to reflect superior and timeless standards of morality, as well as precise and eternal theological principles. They believe that everything written in the Torah is true, essential, and well thought out. The history of Torah scholarship from the end of the Second Temple period until our day can be conceived of as an uninterrupted continuum of challenges which this unique and, frankly, impossible level of expectations has imposed upon its readers and exegetes. These are glorious attempts to bring the Torah nearer the time and place of its devotees and to adapt its meaning to theirs. This book is the first attempt of its kind to examine the history of the enterprise of Torah exegesis from a distance. It contains an examination of dozens of key texts from the end of the Second Temple period, from Talmudic and Midrashic sources, dicta of medieval Sages, and the reflections and research penned by scholars of the Enlightenment (Haskalah) and the modern era. A bird’s eye view blurs the details which differentiate between these texts, enabling us to more easily focus upon the similarities; this point of view also allows us to note the central crossroads of change and development which characterize each period. This is an indispensable book for anyone interested in the changing nature of biblical exegesis over the generations.

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Finkelstein, Essays on Biblical Historiography (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Israel Finkelstein. Essays on Biblical Historiography: From Jeroboam II to John Hyrcanus I. 2022. IX, 592 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 148. 164,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-160853-7.
Published in English.
This volume is a collection of articles and new essays by Israel Finkelstein that offers an outline for reconstructing the evolution of biblical historiography over 700 years, starting with Israel in the early eighth century BCE and ending with the days of the Hasmoneans in the late second century BCE. Special emphasis is given to North Israelite traditions which were committed to writing in the days of Jeroboam II; to the arrival of these traditions in Judah after the takeover of Israel by Assyria; to Judahite ideology of the seventh century BCE; and to the legitimacy needs of the Hasmoneans in the days of John Hyrcanus. The analysis is based on the most recent archaeological discoveries, biblical exegesis and ancient Near Eastern records.

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Laderman, Jewish Art in Late Antiquity (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Jewish Art in Late Antiquity

The State of Research in Ancient Jewish Art

Series:
Brill Research Perspectives in Humanities and Social Sciences
Brill Research Perspectives in Religion and the Arts

Author: Dr Shulamit Laderman

Antique Jewish art visualized the idea that the essence of God is beyond the world of forms. In the Bible, the Israelites were commanded to build sanctuaries without cult statues. Following the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews turned to literary and visual aids to fill the void. In this accessible survey, Shulamit Laderman traces the visualizations of the Tabernacle implements, including the seven-branch menorah, the Torah ark, the shofar, the four species, and other motifs associated with the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish calendar. These motifs evolved into iconographic symbols visualized in a range of media, including coins, funerary art, and synagogue decorations in both Israel and the Diaspora. Particular attention is given to important discoveries such as the frescoes of the third-century CE synagogue in Dura-Europos, mosaic floors in synagogues in Galilee, and architectural and carved motifs that decorated burial places.

Copyright Year: 2022

Prices from (excl. VAT): €70.00 / $84.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-50958-0
Publication Date: 06 Dec 2021

Paperback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-42857-7
Publication Date: 09 Dec 2021

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Friday, January 07, 2022

More on Sefaria's Jerusalem Talmud

(JERUSALEM) TALMUD WATCH: New online translation by Sefaria may be the Jerusalem Talmud’s ‘Cinderella moment.’ The nonprofit offers free access to Jewish texts, and debuts one of its most ambitious projects yet – an interactive version of a cryptic and oft-overlooked version of the Talmud (DAVID STROMBERG, Times of Israel).
The Jerusalem Talmud was not completely forgotten — but its scarcity, as well as its style, made it more difficult to apply. It’s also written in a different Aramaic from the one that became familiar to yeshiva students who pored over the Babylonian Talmud. As Dr. Moshe Simon-Shoshan, a scholar of rabbinic literature and senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan University, explains, the Jerusalem Talmud is shorter, more cryptic, and less edited than the Babylonian Talmud, also known merely as the Bavli. It’s harder to make sense of the text, he adds, and so that people have to be more careful in reading and interpreting the Jerusalem Talmud — or Yerushalmi, as it is also known — especially since the links in the text aren’t as clear.

“I often say,” says Simon-Shoshan, “that you will never complain about the Bavli being unclear after you open the Yerushalmi.”

This article gives a helpful account of what the Talmud Yerushalmi (Palestinian Talmud) is and why it is important.

For more on Sefaria's new online English translation of the Yerushalmi, see here, with lots of background links.

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New information on ancient Hebrew inscribed seals

NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY: Biblical name, seals shed light on First Temple treasuries. New research published in the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology offers insights on where the Kingdom of Judah kept its wealth some 2,600 years ago (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).

It finally occurred to someone to look at the backs of those inscribed seals. They turn out to bear unexpectedly important information.

For more on the Immer seal, see here, here, and here.

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On Matthew's Magi

'TIS THE SEASON, EPIPHANY EDITION: So Who Were the Magi—AKA the Three Kings—Who Visited Jesus? (Candida Moss, Daily Beast via Yahoo News).

I am bored with the whole magi thing, but I suppose it's good to post on it once a year. According to Matthew 2 some "magi" (magoi) came to Judea to see the "king of the Jews," because they saw "his star in the east." Magos is a Greek spelling of a Persian term for a type of priest. This word, incidentally, is the basis for the English word "magic." They are not called kings, they don't have names, and the text does not say how many there were. People infer there were three because of the three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. There are later traditions and books about Matthew's magi which make them kings, assign them names, and claim there were up to twelve of them.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on Matthew's magi, see here and links, plus here and here.

While we're on the subject, past posts on the Star of Bethlehem are here and many links. There are many notions about what it may have been. I think it was a midrash on Numbers 24:17.

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

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Harper, Paul and Philo on the Politics of the Land, Jerusalem, and Temple (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: John-Paul Harper. Paul and Philo on the Politics of the Land, Jerusalem, and Temple. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 562. 84,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-160646-5.
Published in English.
In this study, John-Paul Harper critically compares how Paul and Philo rethought the significant Jewish symbols of Land, Jerusalem, and Temple. Drawing particular attention to their political significance, he demonstrates how these symbols offer important insights into how both Paul and Philo conceptualised authority in the local community (Temple), within the wider »people of God« (Jerusalem), and in relation to the Roman Empire (Land). The author argues that, while both conceptualised authority in charismatic terms, Philo's appropriation tended to be more individualistic and focussed on otherworldly realities, whereas Paul's tended to be more communal and focussed on this-worldly realities. Along the way, the author contributes to contemporary discussions of Paul and Philo's Jewish identity, their perspectives on community leadership and order, and their perspectives on the Roman Empire.

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Online Second Temple Judaism Conference (Jan 2022)

THE ENOCH SEMINAR: Studies in Second Temple Judaism: A Global Enterprise. An International Online Conference (January 10-13, 2022).
Chairs: Kelley Coblentz Bautch, Rodney Caruthers, Shayna Sheinfeld, with Gabriele Boccaccini, Amy-Jill Levine, John Collins

Secretary: Joshua Scott

Language: English

The study of Second Temple Jewish history, practice and belief is a global enterprise. The Frankel Institute for Advanced Studies and the Enoch Seminar have invited 44 scholars from across the globe to present their work and engage in a conversation about the present status and the future prospects of the field. Specialists and students in Biblical Studies, Judaic Studies, Classics, and Christian Origins are invited to attend.

Follow the link for registration information and a provisional schedule.

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Online seminar: "Traditions in the Land"

THE BIBLE PLACES BLOG: JUC Online Seminar Schedule. Todd Bolen draws attention to an upcoming online event. He is one of the presenters.
Jerusalem University College, where I studied biblical geography, history, and archaeology, first as an undergrad and later for a graduate degree, is hosting an online seminar this weekend. “Transitions in the Land” will feature eight speakers discussing a variety of topics. The schedule has now been released; all times are US Eastern.

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

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

A biography of Baruch A. Levine

PROFESSOR LAWRENCE H. SCHIFFMAN: BARUCH A. LEVINE: A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY. Professor Schiffman links to a De Gruyter open-access article of his on the career of the late Professor Levine.

Background here and here and links.

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The Victorian archaeology of Jerusalem

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: How 19th Century Western Archaeologists Made Jerusalem a Zionist Dream. The search for biblical treasures starting in the 19th century fundamentally changed the way Westerners, including Jews, saw Jerusalem. The consequences were enormous (Andrew Lawler, Haaretz). HT Rogue Classicism.

Andrew Lawler is the author of the new book, Under Jerusalem, on which more here. I noted a recent article by him on the search for the Ark of the Covenant in the nineteenth century here and another by him on the historical background of the Gaza conflict here.

For more on Sir Charles Warren, see here and links.

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Review of new translation of Eusebius' Church History

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Review | The History of the Church: A New Translation (Peter Z. Fraser-Morris).
Jeremy Schott’s translation is a remarkable work of scholarship. The translator manages to convey the idiosyncrasies and ancient conventions of Eusebius’ Greek palpable to English-speaking readers.

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Intestinal parasites among the ancient Jerusalem elite

ARCHAEOPARASITOLOGY: Ancient toilet shows Jerusalem’s rich wallowed in luxury – and discomfort. Sediment samples swiped from 2,700-year-old privy reveal the presence of intestinal worm eggs that would have caused abdominal pain, diarrhea and itching (Stuart Winer, Times of Israel).

I noted the discovery of the ancient toilet a few months ago. Follow the links from there for more Latrine News.

The latrine at Qumran likewise showed a high incidence of intestinal parasites. For more on the parasitology of antiquity and the Middle Ages, see here and here.

Sanitation was not much of a thing until surprisingly recently. As I have said repeatedly, the ancients lived in a world whose casual degradation and brutality is hard for us to imagine.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Archaeology conversations with Israel Finkelstein

THE AWOL BLOG: Free Content for your Bible and Archaeology Classes from the F. W. Albright Institute. Featuring the Shmunis Family Conversations in the Archaeology and History of Ancient Israel with Israel Finkelstein (interviewed by Matthew J. Adams, Director of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem).

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

Who copied and who canceled the Apocryphal Acts?

THE APOCRYPHICITY BLOG: What Has Apocrypha to Do with Hagiographa? A Reconsideration of the “Editing” of Apocryphal Acts. The following paper was presented at the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (Tony Burke).
Our field today is increasingly skeptical about what church writers say about the texts we study and about their ability to prevent their transmission. We are also moving away from the pursuit of original forms; informed by new philology, we are learning to embrace the variety of text types reflected in the manuscript evidence.
This is a fascinating, albeit technical, account of the transmission of the big-five Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles (Peter, Paul, Thomas, Andrew, and John).

Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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Monday, January 03, 2022

Archaeological digs to watch in 2022

PREDICTIONS: 5 archaeological 'digs' to watch in 2022. Live Science makes predictions about what archaeologists will uncover in the new year (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
There are a number of archaeological finds and stories we might hear about in 2022. These include discoveries from Egypt's "lost golden city," new finds from Qumran — the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in nearby caves — as well as finds that may shed light on what life was like 11,000 years ago, when humans started building large ceremonial sites. In this countdown, Live Science makes five archaeology predictions for 2022.
I noted Mr. Jarus's predictions for 2017 here. How do you think he did?

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Egyptian sites in Sohag

PHOTO ESSAY: UNCOVER SOHAG’S COLOURFUL HISTORY THROUGH THESE 7 STUNNING SITES. From ancient necropolises to medieval mosques, Sohag is a unique cultural and spiritual experience that encapsulates the diversity of Egyptian heritage (MENNA SHANAB, Cairo Scene).
Steeped in Pharaonic traditions and Coptic heritage, Sohag played a pivotal role in the development of Egypt’s cultural and religious identity with a handful of historical sites to show for it. The seldom-visited governorate hugs Upper Egypt’s stretch of the Nile and is located about 470 kilometres from Cairo. From Pharaonic-inspired monasteries and medieval mosques to ancient necropolises and lavishly decorated temples, Sohag is a unique cultural and spiritual experience that encapsulates the diversity of Egyptian heritage.

Athribis (Atribis) has just been in the news for the cache of 13,000 inscribed ostraca discovered there. (There is another Athribis in Lower Egypt, north of Cairo, which makes matters confusing.) For more on the White Monastery, of crucial importance for the transmission of ancient manuscripts in Egypt, see here and links. Last year there was an exhibition on the city of Akhmin (Akhmim) at the Berlin State Museum. Ahkmim was the site of the discovery of an important Greek manuscript containing material from the Book of 1 Enoch, the Gospel of Peter, and the Apocalyse of Peter. For still more on Ahkmim, follow the link

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Studia Orientalia 9.2 (2021)

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Identity and Empire in the Ancient Near East.
The latest issue of Studia Orientalia Electronica (Vol. 9 No. 2) is dedicated to the theme, “Identity and Empire in the Ancient Near East.” It conveys, inter alia, three articles that fall into the scope of ancient Iranian history and culture:
There are also articles on the Idrimi inscription from Alalakh, religion at ancient Ugarit, and the Chaldean kings of Babylon.

Studia Orientalia is an open-access journal.

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Sunday, January 02, 2022

Biblical Studies Carnival 190

READING ACTS: Biblical Studies Carnival 190 for December 2021 (Phil Long).

Phil links to the first ever Biblical Studies Carnival at the Ebla Logs in March of 2005. It turns out that the first link in that carnival was to PaleoJudaica. Good times. Thanks for the reminder, Phil.

By the way, Norman Golb passed away in December of 2020, not 2021.

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Royse Festschrift (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Ancient Texts, Papyri, and Manuscripts

Studies in Honor of James R. Royse

Series: New Testament Tools, Studies and Documents, Volume: 64

Volume Editors: Alan Taylor Farnes, Scott D. Mackie, and David Runia

This volume honors Prof. James R. Royse on the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday and celebrates his scholarly achievement in the fields of New Testament textual criticism and Philonic studies. An introductory section contains a biographical notice on the honoratus and a complete list of his scholarly publications. Part one contains nine articles on New Testament textual criticism, focusing on methodological issues, difficult passages and various textual witnesses. Part two presents eight studies on the thought, writings, textual record, and reception of Philo of Alexandria. This wide-ranging collection of articles will introduce the reader to new findings in the scholarly fields to which Prof. Royse continues to make such an outstanding contribution.

Copyright Year: 2021

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

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-46557-2
Publication Date: 02 Dec 2021

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Paulsen-Reed, The Apocalypse of Abraham ... (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
The Apocalypse of Abraham in Its Ancient and Medieval Contexts

Series: The Brill Reference Library of Judaism, Volume: 69

Author: Amy Paulsen-Reed

The Apocalypse of Abraham is a pseudepigraphal work that narrates Abraham’s rejection of idol worship and his subsequent ascent to heaven, where he is shown eschatological secrets through angelic mediation. This fascinating text was only preserved in Old Church Slavonic and must be studied as both a medieval Christian and an ancient Jewish text. This monograph addresses the following questions: -Why were medieval Slavs translating and reading Jewish pseudepigrapha? -How much, if at all, did they emend or edit the Apocalypse of Abraham? -When in antiquity was it most likely written? -What were its ancient Jewish social and theological contexts?

Prices from (excl. VAT): €108.00 / $130.00

Copyright Year: 2022

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-43062-4
Publication Date: 22 Nov 2021

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-43061-7
Publication Date: 25 Nov 2021

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Saturday, January 01, 2022

BAS's 2021 archaeology top 10

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: 2021’s Top Ten Biblical Archaeology Stories. BHD's year in review: from new Dead Sea Scrolls to early Canaanite writing (Nathan Steinmeyer).

Again, PaleoJudaica noted all of these stories. You can find links for some of them in the 2021 archaeology roundup posts collected here.

For the revival of the debate over the Shapira scroll fragments, see here and links. For the discussion of King David's Judah, see here. For the passing of Hershel Shanks in 2021, see here, here, and here and links. For the new inscribed Lachish ostracon, see here. For the First-Temple-era weight that has been accused of cheating, see here and here. And I have mentioned the new manuscript of the Book of the Dead found in a funerary temple at Saqqara here.

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The underwater ecology of a Punic warship ram

MARINE ARCHAEOLOGY: More than 100 animal species are found living on the ancient ruins of a 2,000-year-old warship that sank during a battle between Romans and Carthaginians off the coast of Sicily (Stacy Liberatore, Daily Mail).

For more on the underwater archaeology of the Carthaginian defeat at the Aegates in the First Punic War, see here and here.

For many other posts on ancient shipwrecks, see here and links. Cross-file under Punic Watch and Marine (Maritime, Underwater) Archaeology.

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Review of Myers & Kline, A Hebrew Reader for the Psalms

WILLIAM A. ROSS: REVIEW: A NEW HEBREW READER FOR THE PSALMS.
It’s been a while since I did a book review, but I want to make sure to highlight a great new resource that is likely to interest my readers. Hendrickson Publishers has just produced A Hebrew Reader for the Psalms: 40 Beloved Texts, compiled and edited by Pete Myers and Jonathan G. Kline.

[...]

The volume was published by Hendrickson in 2021.

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Happy 2022!

HAPPY NEW YEAR from PaleoJudaica!

Best wishes again for a safe, healthy, and better new year. And do keep PaleoJudaica as a regular part of it.

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