Monday, June 27, 2022

Latest on the Irbid Greco-Aramaic tomb comics

ARAMAIC WATCH PLUS DECORATIVE ART: 'Alas for me, I am dead': Greco-Roman tomb in Jordan offers clues about life in Capitolias. A tomb discovered by a bulldozer may show how the Aramaic population dealt with Greek and Roman overlords (Khaled Yacoub Oweis, The National). HT Rogue Classicism.
Enough details survived, mainly from a red mural on one wall of the tomb, to discern 64 Greek and Aramaic inscriptions written above figures depicting workers and other people.

Jordan's unheralded archaeological gem rivals Syrian neighbour Many were builders of Capitolias, one of a group of cities called the Decapolis League. Pliny the Elder wrote about it in Natural History, his epic work, almost two millennia ago.

The discovery was announced in April of 2018. I had a follow-up post on it later that year. The story has since been quiet.

The main takeaway from this article is the current conservation efforts:

The National was let into the tomb as part of a tour organised by Jordan’s Department of Antiquities for French diplomats and personnel from Ifpo, one of several western organisations working with the department to preserve and study the site through a US-funded project.

Among them is the American Centre of Oriental Research and the Italian Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro, which is has been involved for years in rescuing Qusayr Amra, an Umayyad era gem in Jordan's eastern desert.

The article adds, "There are no plans to open the tomb to the public anytime soon."

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

Moore, Studies in the Language of Targum Canticles (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Studies in the Language of Targum Canticles

with Annotated Transcription of Geniza Fragments

Series: Supplement to Aramaic Studies, Volume: 18

Author: Paul R. Moore

Targum Canticles, composed in the dialectally eclectic idiom of Late Jewish Literary Aramaic (LJLA), had immense historic popularity among Jewish communities worldwide. In this work, Paul R. Moore thoroughly analyses several of the Targum’s grammatical peculiarities overlooked by previous studies. Through this prism, he considers its literary influences, composition, and LJLA as a precursor of the highly eccentric Aramaic of the 13th century Spanish cabalistic masterpiece, The Zohar. The study includes transcriptions and analysis of the previously unpublished of fragments of the Targum from the Cairo Geniza, and what is possibly its earliest, known translation into Judaeo-Arabic.

Copyright Year: 2022

Prices from (excl. VAT): €129.00 / $155.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-51570-3
Publication date: 20 Jun 2022

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-51710-3
Publication date: 23 Jun 2022

I noted the PhD thesis of which this book is a revision here.

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Review of new English translation of Strack-Billerbeck (vol. 2)

READING ACTS: A New English Translation of Strack and Billerbeck, Commentary on the Talmud, Volume 2, ed. and trans. by Jacob N. Cerone (Phil Long).
Conclusion: Is this new English translation of Strack and Billerbeck worth the investment? This is not a reference work for the casual reader, it is a major tool intended for the serious Bible student and scholar. For many, an English translation of Strack and Billerbeck opens up a new world of Rabbinic literature for the first time. In fact, it is very easy to open this book randomly and read something fascinating.

Using Strack and Billerbeck can enhance one’s understanding of the Jewish background to Jesus, Paul, and the rest of the New Testament. But it is a tool which may lead to unintentional consequences and misreading the Rabbinic literature.

That last sentence is an important caution.

Volume 3 came out last year. I noted and commented on Phil's review of it here. The translation of volume 1 is not yet out. I have additional comments, bibliography, and links, on the use of rabbinic literature for the study of Second Temple Judaism here.

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

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Eleazar in the Bible

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Eleazar in the Bible. A High Priest and Leader of Early Israel (Robin Gallaher Branch). You don't hear much about Eleazar, but there he is.
Eleazar’s life is remarkable for the instances the Bible mentions but also for a silence. Unlike the leaders Moses, Aaron, Miriam, and later David, scripture records no rebuke of him. It seems that Eleazar learned a life-long lesson from the deaths of his brothers Nadab and Abihu—he learned obedience.

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YU faculty research grants

YU NEWS: Provost’s Office Awards Grants for Faculty Research.

Congratulations to all the award recipients. Three of the projects are of notable interest to PaleoJudaica.

Dr. Jonathan Dauber, Associate Professor of Jewish Mysticism and Director of the Ph.D. Program

Jewish Philosophy (Bernard Revel)
Project Title: Sefer ha-Bahir: Translation and Commentary

Dr. Shalom E. Holtz, Professor

Bible, Hebrew, Near Eastern Studies
Project Title: Jewish Legal Practice in the Persian Period

Dr. Ari Mermelstein, Associate Professor of Bible and Second Temple Literature

Department of Bible, Hebrew & Near Eastern Studies
Project Title: The Jewish Legal Tradition

For details on the projects, see the article.

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

Saturday, June 25, 2022

The Jewish Catacombs Of Rome

ROMAN CATACOMBS WATCH: The Jewish Catacombs Of Rome (Saul Jay Singer, The Jewish Press).
Ancient Roman law prohibited burial within the city, so catacombs were established in the soft volcanic rock outside the city walls. These Roman catacombs, which feature about a half-million tombs interred in a complex underground network of narrow passageways and dark galleries, contain the largest body of archaeological evidence on the early Christian and Jewish communities of ancient Rome.

[...]

This is an impressive article on the Roman-era and late-antique Jewish catacombs in Rome, their rediscovery in the Middle Ages, and their subsequent rediscoveries, exploration, and conservation up to the present.

For PaleoJudaica posts on the Jewish catacombs in Rome, start here (cf. here) and follow the links.

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

Review of Halbertal, The Birth of Doubt

YU NEWS: What the Straus Center Is Reading — The Birth of Doubt: Confronting Uncertainty in Early Rabbinic Literature.
Moshe Halbertal | Brown Judaic Studies | 2020

Reviewed by Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern

... Surveying concepts such as the kosher status of food found in a public place, purity, possession of property, Shabbat start times, lineage of a mamzer (bastard), and gender identity, Halbertal shows how the rabbis were quite comfortable wrestling with doubt’s very nature. ...

I noted the publication of the book here.

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Friday, June 24, 2022

Review of Fine (ed.), The Arch of Titus

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: The Arch of Titus: from Jerusalem to Rome – and back.
Steven Fine, The Arch of Titus: from Jerusalem to Rome – and back. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2021. Pp. xxvi, 196. ISBN 9789004447783 €110,00.

Review by
Steven Wander, University of Connecticut. steven.wander@uconn.edu

For Steven Fine, the Arch of Titus has been the subject of long study and recently the focus of an exhibition held at the Yeshiva University Museum from 14 September 2017 to 14 January 2018, both to commemorate his achievements and to illuminate its fascinating history. In connection with the exhibit, an international team of scholars provides a broad treatment of The Arch of Titus, From Jerusalem to Rome—and Back. ...

For more on this book, the YU exhibition, and Professor Fine's longstanding work on the Arch of Titus, start here and follow the links.

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

Palmyran portraits

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: Portraits of People and Society From Palmyra (Maura Heyn). With many illustrations.
These Palmyrene reliefs in many ways resemble formal portraits that one might create in the modern era, with the individual depicted in what is presumably their best attire, some holding objects that communicate something about their identity, and many adorned with brooches, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings. In ancient Palmyra, the portraits of men and women were placed side by side in the tombs; they are more or less similar in scale, they are posed in much the same way, and men and women alike hold objects and are identified by name in the accompanying inscriptions.
Cross-file under Palmyra Watch and Funerary Sculpture.

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

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

Manichaean Studies Conference

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Manichaean Studies.
10th International Conference of the International Association of Manichaean Studies ... to be held at Aarhus University (Denmark), Monday 8th – Thursday 11th August 2022
Follow the link for the full program.

Cross-file under Manichean (Manichaean) Watch.

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

Thursday, June 23, 2022

More on The Lost Synagogue of Aleppo

EXHIBITION REVIEW: The Lost Synagogue of Aleppo. A new virtual reality exhibit at the Israel Museum brings to life the Great Synagogue, and the great collapse of multinational Jewish life (Matti Friedman, Tablet Magazine).
The new simulation had the effect of bringing the Aleppo synagogue to life for a moment. The impression of being in that building, even if it was only virtual, was so potent for me that it still hasn’t quite worn off. Everyone who can visit the simulation at the Israel Museum should go. But tech has a way of showing us something and leaving us hollow. When the headset came off, I was left with the same feeling I’ve had when reconnecting online with a friend from the past—the knowledge of what existed not long ago, and how truly gone it is.
Background on the exhibition is here.

For PaleoJudaica posts on Matti Friedman's book, The Aleppo Codex, start here and follow the links.

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

Online Event: John the Baptist and the Mandaeans

RELIGION PROF: John the Baptist and the Mandaeans (James McGrath).
For anyone interested in getting a glimpse of some of the exciting insights and groundbreaking new perspectives I’ve already come up with in the early stages of my research project focused on John the Baptist, I’m the keynote speaker at the Apostolic Johannite Church Conclave this weekend. My talk is titled “John the Baptist and the Mandaeans” and presents for a general audience some of what I consider the most interesting discoveries I’ve made thus far. ...
Cross-file under Mandean (Mandaean) Watch.

For more on Professor McGrath's work on John the Baptist, see the links collected here. Likewise, some posts noting his work on the Mandaeans, with some overlap with the preceding, are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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

New editors for Eisenbrauns

PUBLISHING: Penn State University Press announces new editors for Eisenbrauns imprint.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Press has announced the hiring of three new editors for its Eisenbrauns imprint, which specializes in books on ancient Near Eastern and biblical studies. Maria Metzler, who holds a degree in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from Harvard University, joins the imprint as full-time acquisitions editor, and Jennie Ebeling and Nigel Fletcher-Jones will serve as editors-at-large.

[...]

Congratulations to Eisenbrauns and to all three new editors.

For a recent essay by Dr. Metzler on the Shapira fragments, see here. For more on Prof. Ebeling's work, notably on the Jezreel expedition, see here and here and links.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Mokhtarian, Medicine in the Talmud (UC Press)

TALMUD WATCH: Ancient Jewish text preserves real-world remedies (Kate Blackwood, Cornell Chronicle).
In “Medicine in the Talmud: Natural and Supernatural Therapies Between Magic and Science,” Jason Mokhtarian argues that the rabbis subscribed to a common medical culture they shared with pagans, Christians, Mandaeans and other therapeutic schools of thought, while at the same time making it their own.
The full reference is Jason Sion Mokhtarian, Medicine in the Talmud: Natural and Supernatural Therapies between Magic and Science (University of California Press, 2022). The publisher gives the publication as July 2022, but it seems to be available now. Cross-file under New Book.

This article has an interview with the author. I have noted other work by him here, here, and here.

Some PaleoJudaica posts involving medicine in the Talmud are here, here, here, here, and here.

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

VR reconstructs the ancient synagogue of the Aleppo Codex

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: VR tech at Israel Museum resurrects destroyed Aleppo synagogue. Using the advanced technology of virtual reality to produce a digital 3D model of the synagogue, the exhibit brings back to life a community and a period long since vanished (Judith Sudilovsky, Jerusalem Post).
In Aleppo, once the center of a thriving Jewish community, [in 1947, Sarah Shammah] had hired a local Armenian photographer to meticulously photograph the Grand Synagogue building, the treasure of the Aleppo Jewish community where the sacred Aleppo Codex—considered to be the most accurate existing manuscript of the Masoretic text which was written at the beginning of the 10th century CE and is listed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list—was kept carefully protected in what was known as “Elijah’s Cave.” They photographed every corner of the building, including the adjacent cemetery and garden.

As fate would have it, as they completed their work the UN made the partition declaration, the riots broke out in Aleppo and the synagogue was burned and with that the Aleppo Codex disappeared. The Armenian photographer realized the value of the negatives he had taken as the last images of the ancient synagogue, and demanded Shammah return them and the photographs to him, threatening to turn her in as a Zionist spy. That is when she, together with her brother, made their escape to the Lebanon border with the help of a Syrian Muslim friend.

The synagogue reportedly "was built between the fifth and seventh centuries CE."

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

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

Another 7th-century mosque excavated in Rahat

ARCHAEOLOGY: One of the oldest known mosques in the world uncovered in Negev Bedouin city Rahat. New discovery joins a second very early mosque dated to the 7th century, when Islam was just beginning to spread in the Holy Land (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
The small 7th-century CE prayer hall was uncovered during salvage excavations ahead of the construction of new neighborhoods in the Negev Bedouin city of Rahat. It is located some two kilometers from another 7th-century rural mosque that was excavated in 2019.

[...]

What the scholars are seeing is that “Islam came very, very early in the northern Negev and began to live alongside the Christian settlement,” said Kogan-Zehavi.

Aside from the mosque, the archaeologists uncovered a Byzantine-era farmhouse that they said apparently housed Christian farmers. It included a fortified tower and rooms with strong walls surrounding a courtyard.

I missed the report of the early mosque found in 2019, which was not a good summer for me. But a third seventh-century mosque was also found last year in Tiberias. Reportedly, the latter is "the oldest mosque in the world that can be excavated."

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Did Syriac reveal the origin of the Black Death?

SYRIAC WATCH: Central Asia source of Black Death pandemic say researchers. Syriac inscriptions on ancient tombstones in cemeteries in modern-day Kyrgyzstan hinted to a trading community devastated by the plague, leading to a multi-disciplinary international study (Judith Sudilovsky, Jerusalem Post).
Now, by utilizing technology from the relatively new archaeological field of archaeogenetics to analyze DNA from human remains found in ancient graves in Kyrgyzstan over 140 years ago, a multidisciplinary team of international researchers suggest that this Second Plague pandemic originated in Central Asia.

Syriac inscriptions on the numerous tombstones noting that the people had died in the years 1338-1339 of an unknown illness provided the researchers with the evidence the cause of their death may have been the plague.

An article in The Conversation by Philip Slavin, one of the head researchers, gives further details: Black death: how we solved the centuries-old mystery of its origins
Without securely dated ancient DNA from Central Asia, however, the question would ultimately remain unsolved.

This changed when I came across records of the Kara-Djigach cemetary – excavated by the Russian archaeologist Nikolai Pantusov in 1885 and 1886 and analysed by the Russian scholar Daniel Chwolson (1819-1911). Of the total 467 stones, covering the period 1248-1345, 118 are dated to 1338 – a suspiciously large proportions of deaths. Most most of the stones have little detail about the person they commemorate, just bearing the names and death dates, but there are ten longer inscriptions from those years, stating “pestilence” (mawtānā in Syriac, the language of ancient Syria) as a cause of death.

It was intriguing. Not only that “pestilence” was mentioned, but that the associated tombstones were all dated to 1338-9 - just seven to eight years before the arrival of the Black Death in Crimea, and its subsequent spread all over west Eurasia and north Africa. I had a strong gut feeling about the likely connection

Genetic sequencing followed. It demonstrated that three of the "pestilence" victims had the Black Death bacterium.

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

Review of Hellner-Eshed, Seekers of the Face

H-JUDAIC: Verman on Hellner-Eshed, 'Seekers of the Face: Secrets of the Idra Rabba (The Great Assembly) of the Zohar' [review].
Melila Hellner-Eshed. Seekers of the Face: Secrets of the Idra Rabba (The Great Assembly) of the Zohar. Translated by Raphael Dascalu. Stanford Studies in Jewish Mysticism Series. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2021. 480 pp. $75.00 (e-book), ISBN 978-1-5036-2858-8; $75.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-5036-2842-7.

Reviewed by Mark Verman (Wright State University)
Published on H-Judaic (June, 2022)
Commissioned by Robin Buller (University of California - Berkeley)

Melila Hellner-Eshed’s Seekers of the Face is an enchanting work, in terms of both content and style. It constitutes the first monograph in English devoted to one of the most important parts of the Zohar, the crown jewel of medieval Jewish literature. A translation of Hellner-Eshed’s Hebrew book Mevakshei ha-Panim (2017), Seekers of the Face is also a wonderful sequel to her earlier work, A River Flows from Eden: The Language of Mystical Experience in the Zohar (2009), which is a translation of her Hebrew monograph Ve-Nahar Yotse me-'Eden (2005). Both are part of Stanford University Press’s ambitious series, Stanford Studies in Jewish Mysticism, which has published a number of important studies of the Zohar.

[...]

Cross-file under Zohar Watch. For many PaleoJudaica posts on the Zohar, start here and follow the links.

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

Review of Neumann, Antioch in Syria: a history from coins (300 BCE-450 CE)

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Antioch in Syria: a history from coins (300 BCE-450 CE).
Kristina M. Neumann, Antioch in Syria: a history from coins (300 BCE-450 CE). Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021. Pp. xxvii, 410. ISBN 9781108837149 £90.00.

Review by
Alan Stahl, Princeton University. astahl@princeton.edu

... In this new work, Kristina Neumann uses the coinage of the city as a source for an understanding of its history and, especially, as a way to probe into the ways the Antiochians used the imagery and epigraphy on the coins minted in and for the city as a way of creating and projecting their self image.

Cross-file under Numismatics.

For a CoinWeek series on the Seleucid coins, see here, here, here, and here. Other posts on the Seleucid coinage are here, here, here, here [link now corrected], and here. And for more on late-antique Antioch, see here.

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

Monday, June 20, 2022

Zoom Event: The Revelation at Sinai in Early Synagogue Poetry

H-JUDAIC: EVENT: The Revelation at Sinai in Early Synagogue Poetry.
7 July

We are honoured to welcome Professor Raymond Scheindlin, Jewish Theological Seminary, USA, to lead a session on The Revelation at Sinai in Early Synagogue Poetry.

This session is a part of the new International Interfaith Reading Group on Sacred Literature in Interfaith Contexts organised and chaired by Professor Glenda Abramson, Professor Emerita in Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University of Oxford, UK.

Here are the details of this fascinating session.

The event requires free pre-registration.

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

How to make your own Nag Hammadi codex

NAG HAMMADI WATCH: Local Focus: The art of Nag Hammadi bookbinding in just 2 hours. Classical historian Robyn Ramsden teaches the ancient craft of Nag Hammadi bookbinding at Featherston Booktown (Ellie Franco, New Zealand Herald).
Robyn's Booktown workshop condensed the binding process to just two hours, and most of that time was waiting for glue to dry.

"I teach [Nag Hammadi] because they're a one-quire book, with one set of pages and you don't have to get fancy," she said.

Ramsden uses a milliner's needle, scissors, glue and pushpins to construct her books from thick card, paper, greaseproof paper, leather, linen thread and a 3B1 notebook - all tied together in a kangaroo sheath band.

The Nag Hammadi-style books Robyn made at Booktown workshops were done in a simplified process. They're quick and easy to put together and pull apart.

"I cheat, so a 3B1 notebook is the innards, so when you've finished filling up your notebook with however you use notebooks, you can just pop their stitches and stitch a new one in and off you go," she said.

The noncanonical scripture doesn't come with it though. You have to provide that yourself.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the Coptic Gnostic library in the Nag Hammadi Codices, see here and links, plus here and here.

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

Altman, Banned Birds (Mohr Siebeck, open access)

THE AWOL BLOG: Banned Birds: The Birds of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. This 2019 Mohr Siebeck book by Peter Altmann is now open access.

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

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Jabal Ikmah

ARAMAIC (ETC.) WATCH: Jabal Ikmah. Al Ula, Saudi Arabia. The rocks around this mountain are filled with so many carvings that the area became known as the "open library" (Max Cortesi, Atlas Obscura).
Languages represented in these inscriptions include Aramaic, Dadanitic, Safaitic, Thamudic, Minaic, and Nabataean, all languages that predated and eventually influenced Arabic. All these scripts and languages have been deciphered, which increases the historical significance of this place.
For more on the Al Ula (Al-‘Ula) region, see here and here.

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

Martins, Treasures Lost (De Gruyter)

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER:
Treasures Lost
A Literary Study of the Despoliation Notices in the Book of Kings

Francisco Martins

Volume 543 in the series Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110778892

PDF & EPUB £81.50
Hardcover £91.00

eBook
Published: June 6, 2022
ISBN: 9783110778892

Hardcover
Published: June 6, 2022
ISBN: 9783110776119

About this book

The book of Kings repeatedly refers to the despoliation of the treasures of the Jerusalem temple and royal palace. These short notices recounting a foreign invasion and the loss of "national wealth" have been explored only briefly among scholars applying their expertise to the analysis of the book of Kings or the study of the Jerusalem temple and royal palace, from both literary and historical perspectives.

This monograph aims to fill this lacuna. Adopting an approach that combines a more traditional form of literary criticism with a thorough analysis of the narrative role and intertextual connections giving shape to the texts (Sitz in der Literatur), the book offers a more complex and nuanced appreciation of the literary development and ideological profile of the despoliation notices. In addition, it weighs the use of the underlying literary motif in the biblical writings against other Ancient Near Eastern sources.

This study not only provides new perspectives on the role of motifs in biblical historiography but has far-reaching implications for the reconstruction of the process of production and transmission of Kings as part of the Deuteronomistic History.

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Saturday, June 18, 2022

The DSS and 21st-century Judaism

TAKING THE LONG VIEW: The Not-So-Dead Sea Scrolls. How the Dead Sea Scrolls, considered by many to be the most significant archaeological discovery of the 20th century, speak to Jews in the 21st century (Rabbi Mordechai Becher, Aish.com).

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

Arnold (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Genesis

NEW BOOK FROM CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS:
The Cambridge Companion to Genesis

Part of Cambridge Companions to Religion

EDITOR: Bill T. Arnold, Asbury Theological Seminary, Kentucky
DATE PUBLISHED: May 2022
AVAILABILITY: Available
FORMAT: Paperback
ISBN: 9781108438322

£ 28.99 Paperback
Other available formats: Hardback

The Cambridge Companion to Genesis explores the first book of the Bible, the book that serves as the foundation for the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures. Recognizing its unique position in world history, the history of religions, as well as biblical and theological studies, the volume summarizes key developments in Biblical scholarship since the Enlightenment, while offering an overview of the diverse methods and reading strategies that are currently applied to the reading of Genesis. It also explores questions that, in some cases, have been explored for centuries. Written by an international team of scholars whose essays were specially commissioned, the Companion provides a multi-disciplinary update of all relevant issues related to the interpretation of Genesis. Whether the reader is taking the first step on the path or continuing a research journey, this volume will illuminate the role of Genesis in world religions, theology, philosophy, and critical biblical scholarship.

  • Provides an inter-disciplinary or multi-disciplinary update of all relevant issues related to the interpretation of the Book of Genesis
  • Includes summaries by leading experts noted for their work on each topic, and allows them to make innovative proposals and conclusions
  • Introduces the most important developments of each topic since, while also explaining the most recent developments without assuming prior reader knowledge

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

Friday, June 17, 2022

Did the Jewish Kingdom of Himyar succumb to drought?

STALAGMITE STUDY: Megadrought Contributed to Fall of Jewish Kingdom in Arabia, Rise of Islam, Study Suggests (Ariel David, Haaretz).
Around 1,500 years ago, southern Arabia was hit by a multi-decade megadrought, a new study of ancient climate data has found. This likely contributed to the downfall of a once powerful Jewish kingdom that ruled over large swaths of what is today Yemen, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

The demise of the ancient kingdom of Himyar in the sixth century and the ensuing power vacuum in Arabia may have then favored the rise and expansion of Islam throughout the region less than a hundred years later, suggests the paper published Thursday in Science.

[...]

The underlying Science article by Dominik Fleitman et al. is behind a subscription wall: Droughts and societal change: The environmental context for the emergence of Islam in late Antique Arabia.
Abstract

In Arabia, the first half of the sixth century CE was marked by the demise of Himyar, the dominant power in Arabia until 525 CE. Important social and political changes followed, which promoted the disintegration of the major Arabian polities. Here, we present hydroclimate records from around Southern Arabia, including a new high-resolution stalagmite record from northern Oman. These records clearly indicate unprecedented droughts during the sixth century CE, with the most severe aridity persisting between ~500 and 530 CE. We suggest that such droughts undermined the resilience of Himyar and thereby contributed to the societal changes from which Islam emerged.

For more on the late-antique Kingdom of Himyar, see here and links and here.

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

On Sassanian coinage

NUMISMATICS: Sassanian Silver Drachms (Michael Shutterly, CoinWeek).

This article has some nice images of Sassanian coins etc. and it indirectly provides a brief history of the empire. The prophet Mani shows up too.

There are many connections between ancient Judaism and the late-antique Sassanian (Sasanian) Empire in Iran. For many PaleoJudaica posts, see here and links and here. And cross-file under Manichean (Manichaean) Watch.

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

About that camel and that needle

CANDIDA MOSS: Your Understanding of Eye of the Needle is Probably Wrong (The Daily Beast). Any attempt to soften Jesus' logion about the camel and the eye of the needle misses its point. It is supposed to be shocking.

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Thursday, June 16, 2022

Is the new Oxford Mishnah "accessible?"

EXPENSIVE ACCESS: They set out to produce an ‘accessible’ Mishnah. The price tag: $645 (Jackie Hajdenberg, JTA).

Yes, this is a problem. This article gives a fair account of all sides. It is expensive to compose, copyedit, and produce such an ambitious three-volume work. And OUP reasonably wants to recover its costs.

They hint that a less expensive version could be in the works. I hope it is. I don't know what that would involve. Certainly something in paperback/electronic format. I think there would also be a market for an inexpensive nonspecialist edition with limited or no notes.

Meanwhile, if you have enough interest in rabbinics to want this annotated translation, here are some suggestions. If you are an academic, make sure your institution's library buys it. If you are not an academic, get a membership with your local university or seminary library and press them to buy it. You might try your local public library too, but I imagine it would have to be a large branch for them to be interested.

Background here.

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This Week in the Ancient Near East Podcast

THE AWOL BLOG: This Week in the Ancient Near East Podcast.
The podcast that takes archaeology exactly as seriously as it deserves.

Two real professors of archaeology and one guy from a fake institution discuss cutting edge archaeological discoveries at a high professional level using technical knowledge and stuff. A scholarly podcast for the discerning listener, it’s handmade, artisanal, and bespoke!

[...]

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

Upcoming ToI archaeology event in Jerusalem

LIVE EVENT: Hi-tech archaeology reveals secrets of ancient Jerusalem’s destructions. Join us for the 2nd in the ToI@10 series July 6: Archaeologists Jodi Magness and Joe Uziel in conversation with ToI’s Amanda Borschel-Dan at the Begin Center — plus live music! (Times of Israel).

Looks like this is an in-person event only. There's nothing about any online video feed. But if you're in Jerusalem next month, it sounds great. Requires advance ticket purchase.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Deyrul Zafaran Monastery in Turkey

SYRIAC WATCH: The Early Christian Monastery Built on a Sun God Temple in Turkey. Deyrul Zafaran, or the Saffron Monastery, of Mardin arose in the fifth century – and what lies beneath indicates the site in southeastern Turkey had been sacred before (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
A few kilometers southeast of the city of Mardin is Deyrul Zafaran Monastery, the first incarnation of which was built on the mountain slope about 1,600 years ago. Deyr means monastery and zafaran means saffron in Arabic, so yes its name is technically the Saffron Monastery Monastery, and it was built smack on top of a temple to Shams, Shamash, Shamsum or call him what you will: the sun god.
The article mentions the recently discovered Neo-Assyrian panel that depicts Aramean gods, also in southeastern Turkey. Shamash is one of those gods.

PaleoJudaica has not had occasion to mention the remarkable twelve-thousand-year-old ruins discovered at Göbekli Tepe, in that same region. But if you are interested, Ms. Schuster recently published a long article on that site: Visiting Göbekli Tepe: The World’s ‘Earliest Temple,’ Built in a Paradise That Is No More. Around 12,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers made a vast social leap and built monumental public sites. What was different in prehistoric southeast Turkey? And what did they actually create? Reducing these stone circles to ‘temples’ is to underrate them, says head archaeologist Necmi Karul (Haaretz).

Some Syriac mosaics were also recently found in Mardin province. And the Syriac Mor Gabriel Monastery is in Mardin.

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

Who was Palmyra's anonymous god?

PALMYRA WATCH: Warsaw archaeologist solves 100-year-old mystery surrounding identity of anonymous god (Jo Harper, THEfirstNEWS)).
Around 200 [Aramaic epigraphic] texts dated mainly to the 2nd and 3rd centuries contained mysterious references to a deity: "Blessed is his name forever, Lord of the World and Merciful.”

Ever since scientists have been trying to work out which god the specific phrase was directed to and used the stopgap term “Palmyrene Anonymous God.”

Now [Dr. Aleksandra] Kubiak-Schneider says she thinks she has cracked it.

Her answer may surprise you. Hint: it's a trick question.

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

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

What's with that Nazirite hair?

DR. RICHARD LEDERMAN: What Is a Nazir, and Why the Wild Hair? (TheTorah.com).
Like many prophets, a nazirite once characterized holy people living on the periphery of society, with wild flowing hair to mark their separate status. Some were divine messengers, like the prophets Elijah and Samuel. Others were warriors, like Samson, a wild-man warrior reminiscent of the Sumerian hero Enkidu. The priestly legislation neutralizes the nazir, making the hair itself the focus.

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

An Achaemenid Aramaic grammar at the Arshama Project

ARAMAIC WATCH: Aramaic lessons and reading classes. These are useful class materials posted for an Aramaic course run by David Taylor at Oxford University in 2010 as part of the Arshama Project.

I noted the Arshama Project here and here. I just became aware of the Aramaic class materials thanks to Drew Longacre.

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

On the Jerusalem aqueduct

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Excavating the Jerusalem Aqueduct. New sections of city’s ancient water system found (Nathan Steinmeyer).
For much of the past 2,000 years, the Jerusalem aqueduct has provided water to the ancient city, with portions still used well into the 20th century. Now, excavations by the Israel Antiquity Authority (IAA) are uncovering this ancient water system. The IAA has uncovered a large section of the lower aqueduct in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon Hanatsiv, south of the Old City. The IAA intends to carry out conservation work on a portion of the aqueduct, which they will eventually interpret and display for the public.

[...]

For PaleoJudaica posts on the Jerusalem aqueduct, see here and here and links. The dating of the "Bier/Biar aqueduct" section to as early as Pontius Pilate is not as secure as the essay implies.

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

Buster, Remembering the Story of Israel (CUP)

NEW BOOK FROM CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Remembering the Story of Israel Historical Summaries and Memory Formation in Second Temple Judaism

AUTHOR: Aubrey E. Buster, Wheaton College, Illinois
DATE PUBLISHED: May 2022
AVAILABILITY: Available
FORMAT: Hardback
ISBN: 9781009150682

£ 90.00 Hardback
Other available formats: eBook

Description

In this book, Aubrey Buster demonstrates how methods adapted from cultural and social memory studies and the new formalism can illuminate the communal function of biblical and extra-biblical historical summaries in Second Temple Judaism. Refining models drawn from memory studies, she applies them to ancient texts and demonstrates the development of Judah's speech about their past across the Second Temple period. Buster's wide-ranging study demonstrates how and where the historical summary functions in the book of Psalms, Nehemiah, 1 and 2 Chronicles, as well as the Qumran Psalms Scrolls, Words of the Luminaries, Paraphrase of Genesis and Exodus, and Pseudo-Daniel. She shows how the historical summary proves to be a generative, replicable, and ultimately productive form of memory. Crossing the boundaries of genre categories and time periods, liturgical performances, and literary works, historical summaries crafted a highly selective but broadly useful mode of commemoration of key events from Israel's past.

  • Includes models from cultural and memory studies that inform our reading of texts from the Hebrew Bible
  • Provides the first book-length treatment of the historical summaries in the Hebrew Bible and Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Explores a more precise distinction between genre and form, and shows how such a distinction benefits the analysis of texts, and the literary analyses of the Bible

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

Monday, June 13, 2022

The Oxford Annotated Mishnah

NEW BOOK FROM OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS:
The Oxford Annotated Mishnah

Edited by Shaye J.D. Cohen, Robert Goldenberg, and Hayim Lapin

  • An accessible version of the Mishnah in three volumes
  • Assembled by an expert group of translators and annotators
  • Includes explanations of technical terms and impressions, and reference to the New Testament and ancient Jewish works
£495.00

Published: 09 June 2022

1256 Pages

246x171mm

ISBN: 9780192846143

Description

The Mishnah is the foundational document of rabbinic law and, one could say, of rabbinic Judaism itself. It is overwhelmingly technical and focused on matters of practice, custom, and law. The Oxford Annotated Mishnah is the first annotated translation of this work, making the text accessible to all.

With explanations of all technical terms and expressions, The Oxford Annotated Mishnah brings together an expert group of translators and annotators to assemble a version of the Mishnah that requires no specialist knowledge.

This seems like a big deal. I am surprised I have not heard more about it.

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

Volunteering at the Ein Gedi dig in 1972

MEMORIES: Roots Amid the Rubble (Claudia Chotzen, Hadassah Magazine).
Like so many others at the height of the Covid-19 lockdowns, I escaped isolation by turning to television. When I watched The Dig, a movie on Netflix about amateur archaeologist Basil Brown’s discovery of a seventh-century Anglo-Saxon ship buried at Sutton Hoo on Edith Pretty’s estate in Suffolk, England in 1939, I was reminded of my own life-changing archaeology experience in Israel half a century ago.

[...]

This is a lovely story.

HT the Bible Places Blog.

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

Review of Phoenicians and the making of the Mediterranean

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Phoenicians and the making of the Mediterranean.
Carolina López-Ruiz, Phoenicians and the making of the Mediterranean. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2021. $45.00. ISBN 9780674988187 $45.00.

Review by
Hélène Sader, American University of Beirut. hsader@aub.edu.lb

... López-Ruiz’ s work does justice to the Phoenicians’ role in shaping Mediterranean culture by providing rational and factual argumentation and by setting the record straight. It also speaks volumes about the author’s mastery of both Classics and Phoenicio-Punic studies which enables her to deconstruct false interpretations and long-lived biases. The long-debated issue of Orientalizing culture finds in the book a clear definition, a meticulous study of its various elements, and a convincing presentation of how Phoenicians and locals interacted in each different context. ...

Cross-file under Phoenician Watch.

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

Sunday, June 12, 2022

The treasures in the Cairo Geniza

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Text Treasures: Cairo Geniza. 300,000 documents found in an attic storeroom (Marek Dospěl). A nice, brief introduction.

For many, many PaleoJudaica posts on the Cairo Geniza and its wondrous trove of manuscript fragments, start here (cf. here and here) and follow the links

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

Ilan et al. (eds.), Rabbinic Literature (SBL Bible and Women series)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Rabbinic Literature

Tal Ilan, Lorena Miralles-Macia, Ronit Nikolsky, editors

ISBN 9781589835719
Volume BW 4.1
Status Available
Price $65.00
Publication Date April 2022
Paperback $65.00
Hardback $85.00
eBook $65.00

This volume in the Bible and Women series is devoted to rabbinic literature from late Jewish antiquity to the early Middle Ages. Fifteen contributions feature different approaches to the question of biblical women and gender and encompass a wide variety of rabbinic corpora, including the Mishnah-Tosefta, halakhic and aggadic midrashim, Talmud, and late midrash. Some essays analyze biblical law and gender relations as they are reflected in the rabbinic sages’ argumentation, while others examine either the rabbinic portrayal of a certain woman or a group of women or the role of biblical women in a specific rabbinic context. Contributors include Judith R. Baskin, Yuval Blankovsky, Alexander A. Dubrau, Cecilia Haendler, Tal Ilan, Gail Labovitz, Moshe Lavee, Lorena Miralles-Maciá, Ronit Nikolsky, Susanne Plietzsch, Natalie C. Polzer, Olga I. Ruiz-Morell, Devora Steinmetz, Christiane Hannah Tzuberi, and Dvora Weisberg.

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

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Podcast on Christian and Jewish Magic

THE COPTIC MAGICAL PAPYRI BLOG: Podcast #11: Intersection between Christian and Jewish Magic with Joseph Sanzo.

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

Salvage archaeology in Israel

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Salvage Excavation in Israel. BAR Interviews IAA’s Head Archaeologist, Gideon Avni (Nathan Steinmeyer). Unusually for BHD, this essay contains the full text of the interview.

For more on the recent excavations at Yavneh Yam, mentioned in the essay, see here and links.

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

Friday, June 10, 2022

Everyday life for the Babylonian exiles

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: Everyday Life in Exile: Judean Deportees in Babylonian Texts (Tero Alstola).
All the Babylonian texts discussed above are legal and administrative documents that were written by Babylonian scribes. They allow a detailed study of the socioeconomic status of Judeans and an investigation of the Babylonian and Persian policies towards them. At the same time, questions related to religion, identity, and exilic experience remain mostly unanswered.
I noted a review of Dr. Alstola's book, Judeans in Babylonia, here. And for many posts on the (unprovenanced) Babylonian-Jewish cuneiform archive of Al-Yahudu, start there (cf. here) and follow the links.

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

Interview with James VanderKam

THE SECOND EDITION, THAT IS: An Introduction to Early Judaism (Frank Viola).
James C. Vanderkam has written An Introduction to Early Judaism.

I caught up with James recently to discuss his book.

Enjoy!

I noted the publication of the revised edition of this book here.

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

Ross, Postclassical Greek and Septuagint Lexicography (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Postclassical Greek and Septuagint Lexicography

William A. Ross

ISBN 9781628374209
Volume SCS 75
Status Available
Publication Date March 2022
Paperback $45.00
Hardback $65.00
eBook $45.00

A long-standing tradition within biblical scholarship sets the Greek text of the Septuagint constantly in relationship with its supposed Hebrew or Aramaic Vorlage, examining the two together in terms of their grammatical alignment as a standard. Yet another tradition frames the discussion in different terms, preferring instead to address the Septuagint first of all in light of its contemporary Greek linguistic environment and only then attempting to describe its language and style as a text. It is this latter approach that William A. Ross employs in this textually based study of the Greek versions of Judges, a so-called double text in the textual history of the Septuagint. The results of his study offer a window into the Old Greek translation and its later revision, two distinct stages of Greek Judges with numerous instances of divergent vocabulary choices that reflect deliberateness in both the original selection and the subsequent change within the textual development of the book. Ross’s study illustrates the practicalities and payoff of a Greek-oriented lexicographical method that situates the language of the Septuagint squarely within its contemporary historical and linguistic context.

William A. Ross runs the Septuaginta &C. Blog to which PaleoJudaica links from time to time.

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

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Deadly Dead Sea Scrolls?

NEW NOVEL: 'Deadly Scrolls': Jewish mystery book takes place in Jerusalem, Qumran. Ellen Frankel’s new novel, The Deadly Scrolls, book one in the “Jerusalem Mysteries” series, may be the first Jewish contender for the crown (Haley Cohen, Jerusalem Post).
Since The Da Vinci Code hit shelves nearly two decades ago, publishers have eagerly proclaimed a number of titles “the next Da Vinci.” But Ellen Frankel’s new novel, The Deadly Scrolls, book one in the “Jerusalem Mysteries” series, may be the first Jewish contender for the crown.

Set in modern Jerusalem and the desert ruins of Qumran, an American professor’s murder reveals his discovery of a lost Dead Sea Scroll, whose text encodes the secret hiding places of the lost Second Temple treasures. Meanwhile, the protagonist, Israeli intelligence agent Maya Rimon, races against the clock to stop a religious extremist from launching a deadly terrorist attack at the next Blood Moon, bringing the apocalypse to Jerusalem.

[...]

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

Lafitaga, Apocalyptic Sheep and Goats in Matthew and 1 Enoch (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Apocalyptic Sheep and Goats in Matthew and 1 Enoch

Elekosi F. Lafitaga

ISBN 9781628373073
Volume ESEC 24
Status Available
Publication Date March 2022
Hardback $80.00
Paperback $60.00
eBook$60.00

An alternative understanding of apocalyptic eschatology in the Gospel of Matthew

Matthew’s eschatological imageries of judgment are often identified as apocalyptic and referred to as Matthew’s apocalyptic discourses. In this volume Elekosi F. Lafitaga reexamines Matthew’s vision of the sheep and goats in the judgment of the nations, which are often interpreted as metaphors for the saved and the condemned. Lafitaga views these images in the wider context of the rhetoric of apocalyptic communication stretching back to Matthew 3. This broader context reveals that the vision of Matthew 25 serves to exhort Israel in the here and now according to the torah, with salvation for Israel involving an indispensable responsibility to love and serve humanity. Central to Lafitaga’s analysis is the highly probable scenario that the material in Matthew is dependent on the Book of Dreams (1 Enoch 83–90).

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

Getty Exhibition: Persia and the Classical World

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Persia and the Classical World.
Through August 8, 2022
The Getty Villa
Pacific Palisades, California
www.getty.edu

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

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Nero - convert to Judaism??

ANOTHER NERO STORY: The Surge of Converts to Judaism in Ancient Rome (Rabbi Pinchas Landis, Aish.com).

According to a legend in the Talmud, Nero converted to Judaism!

The passage is b. Gitten 56a.

No, I'm not proposing that this really happened. But it's entertaining to look at the ancient stories about Nero that don't fit the narrative. I noted another one here.

The question of the historical Nero is instructive, because it confronts us with how little we actually know about ancient history. The recent British Museum exhibition on Nero was sympathetic to the idea that he may not have been as bad as the mainstream narratives (all in sources hostile to him) portrayed him. And the narrative about his death is not credible. Did he really kill himself? Or did he go into hiding and later try and fail to make a comeback? Who knows?

Cross-file under Talmud Watch.

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

Graves (ed. & trans.), Jerome, Epistle 106 (On the Psalms) (SBL Press)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Jerome, Epistle 106 (On the Psalms)

Michael Graves

ISBN 9781628374193
Volume WGRW 47
Status Available
Price $56.00
Publication Date May 2022
Paperback $56.00
Hardback $76.00
eBook $56.00

A fresh interpretation of the nature, purpose, and date of Jerome’s Epistle 106

In this volume of the Writings from the Greco-Roman World series, Michael Graves offers the first accessible English translation and commentary on Jerome’s Epistle 106, an important work of patristic biblical interpretation. In his treatise Jerome discusses different textual and exegetical options according to various Greek and Latin copies of the Psalms with input from the Hebrew. Epistle 106 provides insightful commentary on the Gallican Psalter, Jerome’s translation of Origen’s hexaplaric edition. Jerome’s work offers a unique window into the complex textual state of the Psalter in the late fourth century and serves as an outstanding example of ancient philological scholarship on the Bible. Graves’s translation and commentary is an essential resource for scholars and students of patristic exegesis, biblical textual criticism, and late antique Christianity.

HT the ETC Blog.

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

The Arabic Bible

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: The Bible in Arabic (Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala).
The earliest references to Arabic translations of the Bible date back to the pre-Islamic period, although at the present time we have no textual evidence that can prove this hypothesis. The first known evidence would date, according to some authors, to the end of the 8th century CE. This is the case of a fragment of Psalm 78 (Septuagint 77) from the Qubbet el-Khazneh (a repository located in the courtyard of the Umayyad mosque in Damascus) specifically verses 20-31 and 51-61, taken from a Greek text of the LXX, together with the corresponding Arabic translation in Greek script.

[...]

Some PaleoJudaica posts on the Bible in Arabic are here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Jewish catacomb inscriptions and literary manuscripts

VARIANT READINGS: The Inscriptions of the Jewish Catacomb at Vigna Randanini (Brent Nongbri).
While the texts are familiar from publications, the inscriptions themselves as material artifacts are something else altogether. For instance, I did not realize how much similarity exists between the scripts used to copy literary manuscripts and the writing used in these inscriptions.
Cross-file under Paleography.

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

Review of Wilson, Ancient Wisdom

READING ACTS: Walter T. Wilson, Ancient Wisdom: An Introduction to Sayings Collections. (Phil Long).
Wilson, Walter T. Ancient Wisdom: An Introduction to Sayings Collections. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2022. 321 pp. Hb; $34.99.

... Wilson’s Ancient Wisdom is an excellent introduction to non-biblical wisdom literature found in the ancient world. Each chapter provides sufficient background material to place the wisdom collection into a historical context and examples to illustrate the interests of the author. ...

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

Foster, The Semantics of רע (bad) in Ancient and Mishnaic Hebrew (Peeters)

NEW BOOK FROM PEETERS PUBLISHERS:
The Semantics of רע (bad) in Ancient and Mishnaic Hebrew

SERIES: Contributions to Biblical Exegesis & Theology, 106

AUTHOR: Foster P.D.

YEAR: 2022
ISBN: 9789042946668
E-ISBN: 9789042946675
PAGES: XIV-336 p.
PRICE: 89 euro

SUMMARY:

In this monograph, the semantics of the word רע (bad) is examined across the corpus of Ancient Hebrew and the Mishnah. The study takes cognitive linguistic theories as its theoretical base and proceeds by first examining the schematic content that רע tends to modify (as an adjective). It moves on to map the lexical semantic domains of רע and then examines רע with reference to some major terms within these domains. The study concludes by presenting a thorough description of רע derived from the analysis. It relates these findings to the previous studies on רע as well as the lexica before suggesting how a new entry on רע might be written. In addition to the important findings on רע, the study points to what is likely an important difference between עון and און which requires further investigation.

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

Monday, June 06, 2022

God's body in the news

DIVINE ANATOMY: Is God circumcised? How people in ancient times viewed the Heavenly Body. In new book, Francesca Stavrakopoulou displays God as portrayed by His early worshipers: with genitals, passions, powers – and a penchant for the monstrous (Rich Tenorio, Times of Israel).
The book touts itself as an “astonishing and revelatory history” that “represents God as he was originally envisioned by ancient worshippers — with a distinctly male body, superhuman powers, earthly passions, and a penchant for the fantastic and monstrous.”

“By mapping God’s body, rather than the Bible itself, we can better navigate the transformation of this ancient southern Levantine deity into the God with whom we are now culturally more familiar,” Stavrakopoulou writes.

The article also touches on Asherah and the goddess tradition in ancient Israel.

The book is God: An Anatomy (Picador, 2021).

For another recent book edited by Professor Stavrakopoulou, see here. For more about her work on Asherah, see here.

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

Kutash on goddesses and cultural memory

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: Goddesses of Myth and Cultural Memory (Emilie Kutash).
Goddesses, it seems, are still among us today. The contemporary goddess movement reflects a quest for an antidote to male divinity and a means to enact a woman-centered religious practice. But goddesses are far more pervasive and far older. Goddesses of Myth and Cultural Memory documents the presence of goddesses in a wide range of literature, philosophy and theology across the centuries. They appear in such divergent contexts as Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Kabbalah, Medieval allegory, and in our time, feminist and psychoanalytic literature.

[...]

I noted the publication of the book last year.

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

Were ancient Israelite women in charge of beer?

ALE AGENCY AND ARCHAEOLOGY? PODCAST: In ancient Israel, a woman’s place was in the home making beer. Through careful analysis of oven placement and grindstones, archaeologist Prof. Jennie Ebeling shows how women in antiquity had much more agency than previously thought (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).

I noted a recent essay by Prof. Ebeling here. For more on her work on the Jezreel Expedition, see here.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on ancient beer, see here and links (cf. here).

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

Sunday, June 05, 2022

Shavuot and Pentecost

FOR SHAVUOT: Between Shavuot and Pentecost (Prof. John Barton and Dr. Rabbi Michael C Hilton, TheTorah.com).
Both Shavuot and Pentecost celebrate the culmination of a fifty-day season in the spring, after Passover and Easter respectively.

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

Raja, ... A History of Palmyra (OUP)

NEW BOOK FROM OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Pearl of the Desert

A History of Palmyra

Rubina Raja

$29.95
Hardcover
Published: 25 January 2022
248 Pages | 38 illustrations
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
ISBN: 9780190852221

Description

Palmyra has long attracted the attention of the world. Well before its rediscovery in the seventeenth century, the ancient city gained legendary status because of its Queen Zenobia, who in the third century CE rebelled against Rome and expanded Palmyra's territory into what is now modern Turkey and Egypt. Even though Zenobia's empire was a fairly short interlude and the Romans struck back hard, devastating the city, her path to imperial power was one which tells us much about Palmyrene identity in the period before the defeat. While Zenobia has gained renewed interest among both scholars and the press, and while she has served as a political symbol for Syria's president Assad--a statue of her was recently erected in Damascus--the time leading up to her reign still remains underexplored.Â

Pearl of the Desert is the most comprehensive history of this fabled ancient city in English. Assimilating the rich archaeological and literary evidence, Rubina Raja unfolds the story chronologically, from the earliest evidence of settlement in the Bronze Age to Palmyra's rise as an urban center in the late Hellenistic and Roman periods, its destruction by Rome in 273 CE, and its survival in the Byzantine and medieval Islamic periods. The book ends with a discussion of Palmyra's modern rediscovery and, more recently, its chaotic misfortunes during the Syrian civil war when it was used as a symbol of, alternately, the resistance of the rebels, the power of ISIS, and the supremacy of the Syrian state. After several years of destruction and looting, securing of the site has begun as well as planning for its restoration. At this turning point in Palmyra's long history, there is no better time to assess the past, present, and future of this remarkable city.

Cross-file under Palmyra Watch. HT the Bible Places Blog.

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

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

Saturday, June 04, 2022

Shavuot 2022

THE FESTIVAL OF SHAVUOT (Weeks, Pentecost) begins tonight at sundown. Best wishes to all those celebrating.

Last year's Shavuot post, with links, is here. Subsequent Shavuot-related posts are here and here.

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

McCarter Festschrift (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honor of P. Kyle McCarter Jr.

Christopher Rollston, Susanna Garfein, Neal H. Walls, editors

ISBN 9781628374056
Volume ANEM 27
Status Forthcoming [No, it's out!]
Publication Date May 2022
Paperback $99.00
Hardback $119.00

This collection of thirty-one essays by colleagues, students, and friends of P. Kyle McCarter Jr. covers a range of topics of interest to McCarter. Essays approach the Hebrew Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Septuagint using various methods, including philology, narrative criticism, and political theory. Contributions on epigraphy cover a range of inscriptions, including Phoenician, Aramaic, and Ugaritic. A final section on archaeology covers sites, architecture, and artifacts. Contributors include Adam L. Bean, Joel S. Burnett, Aaron Demsky, Heath D. Dewrell, F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp, Daniel E. Fleming, Erin E. Fleming, Pamela Gaber, Yosef Garfinkel, Maria Giulia Amadasi Guzzo, Jo Ann Hackett, Baruch Halpern, Ronald Hendel, John Huehnergard, Yoo-ki Kim, Andrew Knapp, André Lemaire, Theodore J. Lewis, Steven L. McKenzie, Christopher A. Rollston, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Joe D. Seger, Hershel Shanks, Mark S. Smith, Ron E. Tappy, John Tracy Thames Jr., Eugene Ulrich, James C. VanderKam, Erin Guinn Villareal, Roger D. Woodard, and K. Lawson Younger Jr.

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

Friday, June 03, 2022

The Mandean Book of Kings

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: A Universal History from the Late Sasanian Empire. Notice of a New Book: Häberl, Charles G. The Book of Kings and the Explanations of This World. A Universal History from the Late Sasanian Empire. Liverpool University Press, 2022.

Cross-file under Mandean (Mandaean) Watch.

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

Second Temple Mikveh excavated at Western Wall plaza

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Ancient Mikveh Discovered While Excavating Foundation for Western Wall Elevator (Jewish Press).
Excavation and construction work is currently being undertaken at the Kotel (Western Wall) plaza, as they build an elevator to provide easier access from the upper Old City area to the holy site.

Archaeologists discovered steps and an archway while digging the foundations for the elevator. The steps led down to a kosher Mikveh (ritual bath) from the Second Temple period.

Cross-file under Ancient Architecture.

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

Thursday, June 02, 2022

BAR Summer 2022 Issue

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY (VIDEO): Preview the Summer 2022 Issue. Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Glenn Corbett, highlights articles in the newest issue of BAR. Bibical Archaeology Review, that is.

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Biblical Studies Carnival 195

THE DUST BLOG: Biblical Studies Carnival 195 - May 2022 (Bob MacDonald).

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A first-century Galilean fortress

ARCHAEOLOGY: Galilee fort part of string of forts made to fortify Hasmonean territory. Finds at Horvat Tefen also shed light on the little-known material culture of the Hasmonean period in the Galilee (Judith Sudilovsky, Jerusalem Post).
The massive fortification ruins of Horvat Tefen are located in a secluded spot on a prominent hilltop in the Western Galilee overlooking Acre. It is very likely hikers trekking along the path across the ruins are completely unaware that they may well be walking past a unique part of Galilee history: a military fortress built by Hasmonean King Alexander Jannaeus in the early first century BCE.

[...]

As the article notes, the underlying technical article is in the current issue of BASOR (387, May 2022). The full text is behind the subscription wall. The abstract:
Pp. 55–85: “Ḥorvat Tefen: A Hasmonean Fortress in the Hinterland of ʿAkko-Ptolemais,” by Roi Sabar

Ḥorvat Tefen is located on a prominent hilltop in the Western Galilee, overlooking ʿAkko-Ptolemais and its vicinity. The remains of several rectangular towers, curtain walls, a single gate, and reservoirs are well discernible and suggest it was a military post. This article describes the results of the first excavation undertaken at the site, conducted in 2019 on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The excavations in four of the towers uncovered accumulations above floors as well as the foundations of the walls. The finds indicate this was a short-lived military site that was apparently founded by Alexander Jannaeus in the last years of his reign and abandoned shortly thereafter. The finds are unique in their well-defined chronological range and shed important light on the material culture of the early 1st century b.c.e. Galilee—the heyday of the Hasmonean territorial expansion. Two appendices present the coins and the amphorae finds, both crucial for dating the foundation of the fortress and identifying it as a Hasmonean initiative. In this context, the location of Ḥorvat Tefen suggests it was built to defend a sensitive part of the northwestern border of the Hasmonean state facing ʿAkko-Ptolemais.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2022

A proselyte's "hex" tombstone at Beit She’arim

FUNERARY EPIGRAPHY: Convert’s ‘Bloody’ Curse Against Robbers Found in Ancient Galilee Grave. The first inscription to be found at Beit She’arim, Israel in over six decades warns would-be thieves that Jacob the Proselyte will curse them (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
About 1,800 years ago, a convert to Judaism named Yaakov died and was interred in a cave at Beit She’arim, with a hex designed to deter grave robbers that looks like it was scrawled on the limestone slab in blood.

It wasn’t. It was scribbled in uneven Greek writing in scarlet paint. We know he was a convert to Judaism because the full reference to the deceased is “Yaakov HaGer” – Jacob the Proselyte. We may also surmise that he died at age 60.

[...]

Other red-painted epitaphs from a century or two later are known from Zoar, in southern Jordan near the Dead Sea. An unprovenanced one, reportedly also from Zoar, turned up some years ago in California. It is now, I believe, at Yeshiva University. These other painted gravestones are written in Aramaic.

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Hakola et al. (eds.) Scriptures in the Making (Peeters)

NEW BOOK FROM PEETERS PUBLISHERS:
Scriptures in the Making
Texts and Their Transmission in Late Second Temple Judaism

SERIES:
Contributions to Biblical Exegesis & Theology, 109

EDITORS:
Hakola R., Orpana J., Huotari P.

YEAR: 2022
ISBN: 9789042946798
E-ISBN: 9789042946804
PAGES: XXII-405 p.
PRICE: 110 euro

SUMMARY:
The volume examines how the making and the transmission of scriptures was shaped and influenced by major changes in the Second Temple societies. The book contains both detailed readings of biblical and related texts (the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, Qumran Scrolls, and the New Testament) and analyses of what can be known about the societal preconditions of their emergence and use. Many essays discuss the theoretical and methodological premises of our knowledge regarding various social, material, and religious aspects of life in the Eastern Mediterranean in the first centuries before and after the turn of the Common Era. The book offers critical and up-to-date insights into such questions as textual plurality, cultural interaction, the nature of scribal culture and spatial contexts of textual transmission. The essays clarify how the texts and their transmission became an integral part of religious and communal identity building strategies during the Second Temple period.

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Ancient Roman amphitheatre near Megiddo

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE: First Roman military amphitheater in Southern Levant revealed at excavations near Megiddo. Less lavish than amphitheaters for the civilian population, the military amphitheaters were used for training and entertainment by the troops (Judith Sudilovsky, Jerusalem Post).
Their work has been made more difficult, noted Tepper, because the stones from the structure were used as building material by the subsequent inhabitants of the area, including residents of a nearby Ottoman-era village on to personnel of a British military camp.

“The main question we were looking to answer was if the bowl shape we were seeing on the ground was actually an amphitheater, and basically we have proved it,” said Adams. “We have determined the shape is artificially made... it looks like they flattened the entire area down to a natural clay source that was already there. Just today we are starting to see monumental stones from the entrance into the amphitheater gate, which is nice and promising because it is clear that at least the foundation of the wall is there.”

It sounds as though this amphitheatre is basically ghost architechture: most of the stones are missing, leaving a bowl-shaped depression in the ground.

For more on the remains of the Sixth Legion Roman camp ("Legio") and on the Megiddo excavation in general, start here and follow the links.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Moore, New Aramaic Papyri from Elephantine in Berlin (Brill, open access)

NEW OPEN-ACCESS BOOK FROM BRILL:
New Aramaic Papyri from Elephantine in Berlin

Series: Studies on Elephantine, Volume: 1

Author: James D. Moore

The famous German excavations between 1906 and 1908 of Elephantine Island in Egypt produced some of the most important Aramaic sources for understanding the history of Judeans and Arameans living in 5th century BCE Egypt under Persian occupation. Unknown to the world, many papyri fragments from those excavations remained uncatalogued in the Berlin Museum. In New Aramaic Papyri from Elephantine in Berlin James D. Moore edits the remaining legible Aramaic fragments, which belong to letters, contracts, and administrative texts.

Copyright Year: 2022

€99.00 / $119.00 Hardback

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-50556-8
Publication Date: 20 May 2022

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-50557-5v Publication Date: 19 May 2022

HT the AWOL Blog.

For technological efforts to recover illegible text from Elephantine papyri in Aramaic, Coptic, and other languages, see here and here. I don't know whether this volume has any relation to that project.

For many, many additional PaleoJudaica posts on the Elephantine Papyri and the site of Elephantine, see here and links. Cross-file under Aramaic Watch.

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Muraoka, The Books of Hosea and Micah in Hebrew and Greek (Peeters, open access)

NEW OPEN-ACCESS BOOK FROM PEETERS PUBLISHERS:
The Books of Hosea and Micah in Hebrew and Greek

SERIES:
Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis, 294

AUTHOR:
Muraoka T.

YEAR: 2022
ISBN: 9789042944732
E-ISBN: 9789042944749
PAGES: XIV-277 p.
PRICE: 85 euro

SUMMARY:
This is a verse-by-verse, text-critical study of two important books out of the Minor Prophets. An English translation by the author is provided alongside its Hebrew original as found in Biblia Hebreaica. The Septuagint text studied is the edition prepared by Ziegler. The main purpose of the monograph is not to discover evidences which could be valuable for reconstructing the original Hebrew text of these books, but to read the LXX as a Greek document of its own, not merely as a translation. Much attention has been directed to a whole range of linguistic issues relating to the Greek and Hebrew grammar and lexicography. Ancient fragments found in the Judaean Desert and Qumran caves of these books in Hebrew and Greek have also been looked at.
The book of Hosea has been published in the series La Bible d'Alexandrie, but not that of Micah yet. Unlike this series we have paid only minimum attention to documents such as patristic commentaries from which one can learn how the LXX was interpreted without reference to its Semitic original.

Follow the link for the link to the free, open-access version.

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Monday, May 30, 2022

New segment of Lower Aqueduct to Jerusalem uncovered

ANCIENT INFRASTRUCTURE: New segment of Jerusalem’s 2,000-year-old Low-Level aqueduct revealed. Excavations in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood uncover a 40-meter piece of the capital’s main water carrier, 21 kilometers long, which was used until British Mandate (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
[IAA archaeologist Yaakov] Billig said that the new excavations are not being conducting merely for the sake of nostalgia, however. Rather, researchers are still amazed and even somewhat mystified by the precision technology constructed in antiquity without the aid of GPS or modern computation methods.
The story is also covered by Judith Sudilovsky in the Jerusalem Post: New segment of Hasmonean aqueduct to Jerusalem exposed in capital neighborhood. An engineering feat of ingenuity allowed the aqueduct that served as Jerusalem's main water supply to be in use for 2000 years. A new section of it was found in Armon Hanatsiv.

For more on the Lower Aqueduct to Jerusalem, see here and here.

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Restoration of Hasmonean-era fortress near Jerusalem

ARCHAEOLOGY: Remains of a 2,200 year old outpost found near Jerusalem hospital. The outpost, called Ma'ale Romaim, was built during the Hasmonean period, near the road that led to Jerusalem (Jerusalem Post).
In the area of ​​the Herzog Medical Center in Givat Shaul, Jerusalem, the restoration of an ancient archeological outpost was completed this month.

The outpost, called Ma'ale Romaim, was built during the Hasmonean period, near the road that led to Jerusalem.

[...]

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