Saturday, April 30, 2022

Engraves stones excavated at Persepolis

ICONOGRAPHY AND CUNEIFORM: Hundreds of engraved stones discovered in Persepolis (Tehran Times). Again, HT Rogue Classicism.
TEHRAN – Hundreds of engraved stones and fragmented bas-relief carvings have recently been discovered in the ruined Tachara Palace, located in heart of the UNESCO-registered Persepolis, southern Fars province.

[...]

Among the engraved stones there are pieces with human and plant motifs, and at least one of the stones has cuneiform inscriptions, and if the collection of stones is explored fully, it will probably discover more inscribed pieces, he added.

[...]

The report attributes the cuneiform inscription to Xerxes I (ruled c. 486-465 BCE). He is the King Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther. He is also mentioned in Ezra 4:6. The Ahasuerus of Daniel 9:1 may also be intended as he, but the chronology is all wrong (as often in the Book of Daniel) and his supposed son, Darius the Mede, does not seem to be a real person.

For more on the ancient Iranian city of Persepolis, including why it is of interest to PaleoJudaica, see the immediately preceding post and many links.

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

Time travel to Persepolis?

EXHIBITION: U.S. exhibit offers visitors time travel to Achaemenid capital (Tehran Times). HT Rogue Classicism.
TEHRAN – A magnificent exhibition of ancient Iranian arts, which is currently at the Getty Villa Museum in Los Angeles, offers visitors a time travel to the former Achaemenid capital of Persepolis by the means of special music and digital art.

[...]

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the ancient city of Persepolis, the ceremonial royal capital of the Achemenid empire, start here and follow the links.

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

Friday, April 29, 2022

Hellenistic Judaism in 19th-century Germany

MARGINALIA ESSAY: What’s So Jewish about Hellenistic Judaism? Paul Michael Kurtz on the Complexities of Jewish Identity (Paul Michael Kurtz).
Two German Jewish scholars showed the way in the late nineteenth century. Together Jacob Bernays and Jacob Freudenthal forged the modern study of Hellenistic Judaism. Both were active in Breslau, Prussia (Wrocław, Poland), at the Jewish Theological Seminary, also called the Fraenkel Foundation. There, Bernays and Freudenthal worked in one of the leading centers of the flourishing “Science of Judaism” as well as a burgeoning Reform Judaism. In doing so, each made grand discoveries: Jewish authors of Greek works previously thought to be pagan or Christian. Beyond the specific results themselves, their meticulous philological studies exhibited the instability of determining Jewishness in antiquity. At the same time, they displayed the concerns and resonances of ancient Greek Jews for modern German Jews.
Some PaleoJudaica posts on Pseudo-Phocylides are here, here, here, and here.

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Another Crusader hand grenade?

EXPLOSIVE MATERIAL CULTURE Archaeologists Find Fragment of Medieval Hand Grenade (Enrico de Lazaro, Sci-News).
Archaeologists have found sherds from four small sphero-conical vessels in a destruction layer, dating between the 11th and 12th century CE, in Jerusalem, Israel. One of the sherds was from a stoneware sphero-conical vessel with very thick walls and no decoration; it may have held the chemical ingredients — including fatty acids and notable levels of mercury, sulfur, aluminum, potassium, magnesium, nitrates and phosphorous — of an explosive device.
Alas, we used up the Holy Hand Grenade jokes on the last Crusader-era hand grenade, found in 2016.

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

Love, breasts, or wine?

DR. RABBI ZEV FARBER: What Is Better than Wine? (TheTorah.com).
Song of Songs opens with: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for דֹּדֶיךָ (MT “your loving”) or mastoi sou (LXX “your breasts”) are better than wine.” Why does the LXX translate this way and which version is correct?
Whatever the primary sense of the verse, the writer of the Song of Songs was surely aware of both meanings of the unvocalized word.

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

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Review of Schäfer, Two Gods in Heaven

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Two Gods in Heaven: Jewish Concepts of God in Antiquity (Josiah Bisbee).
Peter Schäfer. Two Gods in Heaven: Jewish Concepts of God in Antiquity. Translated by Allison Brown. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2020.

... Schäfer’s overall argument, that binitarian views were more widespread and ongoing in ancient and late antique Judaism than commonly assumed, is provocative, and a number of his examples are convincing. At the same time, his work also raises some questions regarding whether or not so-called binitarinism is a proper label for what is portrayed in some of these texts, as many seem to describe far more than just two powers in heaven ...

I noted the publication of the English translation of this (originally German) book here.

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

Interview with Robert Alter

PODCAST: UC-Berkeley Prof. Robert Alter on the Hebrew Bible’s Wide Literary Influence. Hosted by Cara Candal & Gerard Robinson. With guest Robert Alter (The Learning Curve #83).
This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Robert Alter, Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, and author of the landmark three-volume book, The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary. As Jews around the world celebrate Passover this week, Dr. Alter shares why the Hebrew Bible is probably the most influential book in human history, and the larger lessons 21st century teachers and students should draw from its timeless wisdom. They also discuss the text as a record of the Jewish people, and vital historical lessons of persecution, resilience, and survival. Professor Alter describes how the Psalms and the Book of Exodus’ stories of liberation and Moses’ leadership inspired several of the major figures of the Civil Rights Movement. The interview concludes with Dr. Alter reading from his trilogy.

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

Unsung local workers at the Tell en-Nasbeh excavation

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Unsilencing the Archives. Badè Museum of Biblical Archaeology.
Developed with support from the Palestine Exploration Fund, [the exhibition] portrays the role of local laborers and Egyptian foremen in excavating Tell en-Nasbeh, an archaeological site about 8 miles northwest of Jerusalem in what was British Mandate Palestine.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Review of Keddie, Class and Power in Roman Palestine

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Class and Power in Roman Palestine: The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins (Taylor M. Weaver).
Anthony Keddie. Class and Power in Roman Palestine: The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

... Anthony Keddie joins this rising movement of scholars interacting with class in a serious way, and his Class and Power in Roman Palestine: The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins stands as a welcome addition to recent provocative publications. Keddie’s volume provides a fulsome account, touching on a wide variety of archaeological and textual materials to sketch a more detailed depiction of the socioeconomic situation. ...

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

Review of Nikki & Valkama, Magic in the ancient eastern Mediterranean

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Magic in the ancient eastern Mediterranean: cognitive, historical, and material perspectives on the Bible and its contexts.
Nina Nikki, Kirsi M.J. Valkama, Magic in the ancient eastern Mediterranean: cognitive, historical, and material perspectives on the Bible and its contexts. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2021. Pp. 331. ISBN 9783525522189 €50,00.

Review by
Raquel Martín Hernández, Universidad Complutense Madrid. raquelma@pdi.ucm.es

... The book, therefore, constitutes a contribution of great interest for the study of magic in Antiquity in general and the Biblical tradition in particular. The study of magic in the Bible has been deeply anchored in a dichotomous and strongly negative comparison with religion. Studies such as those developed in this book, especially those based on cognitive theories of the study of magic, are extremely suggestive and contribute to advancing a better understanding of the ritual practices of ancient cultures.

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

Temple of Zeus excavated in Pelusium

ARCHAEOLOGY: Egyptian archaeologists excavate temple for Zeus destroyed by ancient earthquake. Tourism and Antiquities Ministry in Cairo says temple ruins discovered at Pelesium, now known as Tell el-Farma (AP & Israel HaYom).

As I have noted before, Pelusium is mentioned (cursed, actually) in Ezekiel 30:15-16.

Herodotus also tells a story of about the miraculous thwarting of the Assyrian King Sennacherib's invasion of Egypt at the city of Pelusium. This was on the same campaign as his invasion of Palestine and his unsuccessful attempt to capture King Hezekiah's Jerusalem. For details, see here and links.

UPDATE (28 April): This Jerusalem Post article has more on the mythological background of the Zeus temple: Remains of temple to god Zeus Kasios uncovered in Sinai. A merger of ancient religious traditions, Zeus Kasios is an example of the legacy of religious multiculturalism in antiquity (Judith Sudilovsky).

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Ginormous LXX bibliography

WILLIAM ROSS: AN ABSOLUTELY GIGANTIC SEPTUAGINT BIBLIOGRAPHY.
No I don’t think you really understand. This bibliography is massive. It’s titanic. It’s stupendous.

In fact, it’s currently at over seven hundred and fifty items…

and it’s all for you.

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

The material culture of Ugaritic writing

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: The Social Context of Writing in Ancient Ugarit (Philip Boyes).
This contextual approach to writing is at the heart of the CREWS Project (Contexts of and Relations between Early Writing Systems), led by Dr Philippa Steele and based in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge. Our research interests cover much of the East Mediterranean and Levant during the second and first millennia BCE. My own research as a member of CREWS has focused on one of the most fascinating and important sites in the region for the history of writing, the Syrian coastal city of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), about 10km from modern Latakia.

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

BHD on the Mount Ebal amulet

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: An Early Israelite Curse Inscription from Mt. Ebal? Questions abound following announcement of sensational new find (Nathan Steinmeyer). There is nothing new in this essay, but it is a good summary of the current state of the question.

Background here and here and links.

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

Monday, April 25, 2022

Review of Ben-Dov & Rojas (eds.), Afterlives of ancient rock-cut monuments in the Near East

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Afterlives of ancient rock-cut monuments in the Near East.
Jonathan Ben-Dov, Felipe Rojas, Afterlives of ancient rock-cut monuments in the Near East. Culture and history of the ancient Near East, volume 123. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2021. Pp. xxiv, 441. ISBN 9789004462083 €158.00 / $190.00.

Review by
Marc Van De Mieroop, Columbia University. mv1@columbia.edu

... The editors are not concerned with the moments of carving, however. Their interest lies rather in the afterlives, the reinterpretations of these monuments in changing contexts after some type of rupture (p. 1). They thus explore the special impression they made on those who encountered them after they had been carved, and some of the contributors take this discussion as late as the 19th century AD.

I noted the publication of the book here.

PaleoJudaica readers will be interested especially in the articles by Ben-Dov, Adler, and Steele:

Jonathan Ben-Dov, Neo-Babylonian Rock Reliefs and the Jewish Literary Imagination, p. 345
William Adler, Translatio studii: Stelae Traditions in Second Temple Judaism and Their Legacy in Byzantium, p. 380
John Steele, The Long History of an Imaginary Inscription: Josephus’ Two Pillars in Early Modern European Histories of Astronomy, p. 402
For more on Professor Ben-Dov's ideas about the influence of Mesopotamian monumental inscriptions on Second Temple Jewish literature, see here and here.

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

Stein et al. (eds), Routledge Companion to Ecstatic Experience in the Ancient World

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
The Routledge Companion to Ecstatic Experience in the Ancient World

Edited By Diana Stein, Sarah Kielt Costello, Karen Polinger Foster

Copyright Year 2022

Hardback
£152.00
eBook
£31.99

ISBN 9780367480325
Published December 31, 2021 by Routledge
560 Pages 33 Color & 61 B/W Illustrations

Book Description

For millennia, people have universally engaged in ecstatic experience as an essential element in ritual practice, spiritual belief and cultural identification. This volume offers the first systematic investigation of its myriad roles and manifestations in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East.

The twenty-nine contributors represent a broad range of scholarly disciplines, seeking answers to fundamental questions regarding the patterns and commonalities of this vital aspect of the past. How was the experience construed and by what means was it achieved? Who was involved? Where and when were rites carried out? How was it reflected in pictorial arts and written records? What was its relation to other components of the sociocultural compact? In proposing responses, the authors draw upon a wealth of original research in many fields, generating new perspectives and thought-provoking, often surprising, conclusions. With their abundant cross-cultural and cross-temporal references, the chapters mutually enrich each other and collectively deepen our understanding of ecstatic phenomena thousands of years ago. Another noteworthy feature of the book is its illustrative content, including commissioned reconstructions of ecstatic scenarios and pairings of works of Bronze Age and modern psychedelic art.

Scholars, students and other readers interested in antiquity, comparative religion and the social and cognitive sciences will find much to explore in the fascinating realm of ecstatic experience in the ancient world.

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

Folmer (ed.), Elephantine Revisited (Eisenbrauns)

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Elephantine Revisited. Notice of a New Book: Folmer, Margaretha (ed.). 2022. Elephantine Revisited: New Insights into the Judean Community and Its Neighbors. Pennsylvania: Eisenbrauns.

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

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

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Canticles and Qoheleth, sex and death

PROF. FRANCIS LANDRY: Is Love an Answer to the Meaninglessness of Life? (TheTorah.com).
Ecclesiastes versus Song of Songs

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

Neusner on Judaism, Vol. 1: History (Routledge paperback)

NEW PAPERBACK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
Neusner on Judaism
Volume 1: History

By Jacob Neusner

Copyright Year 2004

Paperback
£27.99
Hardback
£96.00
eBook
£27.99

ISBN 9781138619937
Published March 31, 2022 by Routledge
560 Pages

Book Description

Jacob Neusner has published more than 1000 books and articles, scholarly and academic, popular and journalistic, and is one of the most published humanities scholars in the world. Over a period of fifty years he has made significant, insightful and challenging contributions to the study of Rabbinic Judaism, particularly in the disciplines covered in the three volumes which make up Neusner on Judaism: the study of history (volume 1), literature (volume 2), and religion and theology (volume 3). These unique volumes of selective writings by Jacob Neusner, with new introductions by the author, offer scholars an invaluable resource in the field of Judaic Studies.

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