Saturday, July 02, 2022

Review of Harrington, The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (NICOT, Eerdmans)

READING ACTS: Hannah K. Harrington, The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (NICOT) (Phil Long).
Harrington, Hannah K. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2022. 529 pp. Hb; $52.00


Conclusion. Hannah Harrington’s commentary on Ezra-Nehemiah is an excellent contribution to the study of these two books, but also an introduction to the theology and practice of Second Temple Judaism. Her focus on Ezra-Nehemiah as an early witness to developments in later Judaism and Christianity makes this an especially valuable book. The excurses are worth the price of the commentary alone!

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

Schmidt, Hippolytus of Rome's Commentary on Daniel (Gorgias)

By T. C. Schmidt

Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4436-1
Formats: Paperback

Publication Status: In Print
Series: Gorgias Studies in Early Christianity and Patristics 79
Publication Date: Apr 26,2022
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 217
Language: Englishv ISBN: 978-1-4632-4436-1

Price: $37.00
Your price: $29.60

In his Commentary on Daniel, the earliest extant Christian commentary, Hippolytus interprets the deeds and visions of Daniel against the backdrop of contemporary Roman persecution and eschatological expectation, thus providing much information about Christian affairs in the early third century. Throughout the commentary Hippolytus further discusses his distinctive Logos theology and also makes mention of various liturgical practices evolving baptism, anointing, the celebration of Easter and perhaps the date of Christmas.

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

Friday, July 01, 2022

Review of Marlow et al. (eds.), Eschatology in antiquity: forms and functions

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Eschatology in antiquity: forms and functions.
Hilary Marlow, Karla Pollmann, Helen Van Noorden, Eschatology in antiquity: forms and functions. Rewriting antiquity. Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge, 2021. Pp. xxiv, 629. ISBN 9781138208315 $200.00.

Review by
Joel Gordon, University of Otago.

Eschatology in antiquity is, as its editors rightly claim (p.1), the first volume of its kind: an exploration of various eschatologies originating from the numerous societies and cultures within the Mediterranean throughout the period broadly identified as ‘antiquity’ (25th century BCE to 9th century CE). While such breadth of scope is a common feature of Routledge’s Rewriting Antiquity series, this is the first time that (ancient) eschatology has been addressed within a single tome. ...

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

SOTS Book List 2022

John Jarick (ed.), Society for Old Testament Study Book List 2022 (= JSOT 46.5) (London: Sage, 2021)

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

New funding for the Gozo shipwreck

PUNIC WATCH: Government to fund further studies on Punic wreck off Xlendi (Malta Independent).
The government has committed €140,000 through an agreement with the University of Malta for continued studies on an underwater Punic wreck off the coast of Xlendi.


This is also known as the Gozo Phoenician shipwreck. Xlendi Bay is at the village of Xlendi on the island of Gozo. Cross-file under Phoenician Watch.

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

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

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Ashkelon reinstates Roman gods

ANCIENT STATUARY: Statues of Roman goddesses returned to rightful place of honor at Tel Ashkelon. The remains of five marble statues have been rescued from anonymity and placed standing using a special frame between the southern portion of the basilica and the odeon, a small covered theater (Judith Sudilovsky, Jerusalem Post).

Not mentioned by name in the article, but the late Prof. Larry Stager directed the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon from 1985 to 2016.

There are many PaleoJudaica posts on Ashkelon and its excavation.

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

Open-rank Rabbinics job(s) at U Chicago Divinity School

Rabbinic Judaism (open rank), Divinity School

Divinity School
Position Type: Faculty
Hyde Park
Jun 27, 2022


The University of Chicago Divinity School seeks scholar(s) for one or more positions in the study of Rabbinic Judaism for an appointment date of July 1, 2023. Rank and salary are open. We welcome applications at the assistant professor, associate professor, and full professor ranks.


Follow the link for further particulars. "Review of applications will begin on September 1, 2022, and will continue until the position(s) is/are filled or the search is closed."

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

Prof. David Weiss Halivni z'l'

SAD NEWS: David Weiss Halivni, pillar of Talmudic scholarship, Holocaust survivor, dies age 94. A prodigy, Halivni received rabbinic ordination at 15, won the Israel Prize and molded generations of scholars in US and Israel, teaching well into his 90s (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).

H-JUDAIC also has a note of his passing, with links and the full text of the Encyclopaedia Judaica article about him: Passing of Prof. David Weiss Halivni.

Some PaleoJudaica posts on his work are here, here, and here.

May his memory be for a blessing.

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Who Was Josephus?

BIOGRAPHY: Who Was Josephus? The Controversial Backstory of the Famed Historian. When Yosef ben Matityahu, a great warrior, defected to the Romans and became Josephus Flavius (Dr. Henry Abramson,
Scholars and students of ancient Israel are heavily indebted to a Jewish historian named Josephus. Born Yosef ben Matityahu to an aristocratic family of Kohanim around the year 37 CE, he lived through one of the most tumultuous centuries in Jewish history, culminating in the disastrous Roman-Jewish war of 66-74 CE and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, events he recorded in his many books in great detail and gripping prose.

His backstory, however, is quite complicated, even troubling.


It's a story worth retelling now and again.

For another recent overview essay on Flavius Josephus, see here. And for that suicide pact during the siege of Jotapata (Yodfat), see the posts on the "Josephus Problem" linked to there.

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

Matt, Becoming Elijah (Yale)

Becoming Elijah
Prophet of Transformation

by Daniel C. Matt
Imprint: Yale University Press
Series: Jewish Lives

248 Pages, 5.75 x 8.25 in, 1 b-w illus.

Published: Tuesday, 15 Mar 2022


The story of the prophet Elijah’s transformation from fierce zealot to compassionate hero and cherished figure in Jewish tradition

“In a series on Jewish Lives, this volume is about the Jewish life—the one that goes on forever. Becoming Elijah blends meticulous scholarship with bold literary and poetic imagination. Don’t miss it!”—Arthur Green, author of Judaism for the World

"The author’s erudite prose and masterful command of history and faith traditions bring his subject to vibrant life. This is an edifying and accessible chronicle of a towering religious figure."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

In the Bible Elijah is a zealous prophet, attacking idolatry and injustice, championing God. He performs miracles, restoring life and calling down fire. When his earthly life ends, he vanishes in a whirlwind, carried off to heaven in a fiery chariot. Was this a spectacular death, or did Elijah escape death entirely? The latter view prevailed. Though residing in heaven, Elijah revisits earth—to help, rescue, enlighten, and eventually herald the Messiah. Because of his messianic role, Jews open the door for Elijah during each seder—the meal commemorating liberation from slavery and anticipating final redemption.

How did this zealot turn into a compassionate hero—apparently the most popular figure in Jewish tradition? Becoming Elijah explores this question, tracing how Elijah develops from the Bible to Rabbinic Judaism, Kabbalah, and Jewish ritual (as well as Christianity and Islam). His transformation is pertinent and inspirational for our polarized, fanatical world.

I noted a couple of other recent books on Elijah here and here.

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

Van Maaren, The Boundaries of Jewishness in the Southern Levant 200 BCE–132 CE (De Gruyter)

The Boundaries of Jewishness in the Southern Levant 200 BCE–132 CE
Power, Strategies, and Ethnic Configurations

John Van Maaren Volume 118 in the series Studia Judaica

PDF & EPUB £79.00
Hardcover £79.00

Published: June 6, 2022
ISBN: 9783110787450

Published: June 6, 2022
ISBN: 9783110787382

About this book

Recent research has considered how changing imperial contexts influence conceptions of Jewishness among ruling elites (esp. Eckhardt, Ethnos und Herrschaft, 2013). This study integrates other, often marginal, conceptions with elite perspectives. It uses the ethnic boundary making model, an empirically based sociological model, to link macro-level characteristics of the social field with individual agency in ethnic construction. It uses a wide range of written sources as evidence for constructions of Jewishness and relates these to a local-specific understanding of demographic and institutional characteristics, informed by material culture. The result is a diachronic study of how institutional changes under Seleucid, Hasmonean, and Early Roman rule influenced the ways that members of the ruling elite, retainer class, and marginalized groups presented their preferred visions of Jewishness. These sometimes-competing visions advance different strategies to maintain, rework, or blur the boundaries between Jews and others. The study provides the next step toward a thick description of Jewishness in antiquity by introducing needed systematization for relating written sources from different social strata with their contexts.

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Lod Mosaic is back in Lod

BACK HOME: Stunning Ancient Mosaic Found Near Tel Aviv Returns Home After World Tour. After being on display in the likes of the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the magnificent 1,700-year-old Lod mosaic – featuring animals, plants and fish – is back on show at the purpose-built Shelby White and Leon Levy Mosaic Archaeological Center (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
Its tour included the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: “It was such as thrill to see the name Lod on the Metropolitan Museum,” White says. Its itinerary also included the Louvre in Paris; the Altes Museum in Berlin; Waddesdon Manor (a country house popular among tourists) in England; the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg; the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio; the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology in Philadelphia; the Field Museum in Chicago; Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice; and the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami.
PaleoJudaica followed the peregrinations of the mosaic on its world tour for some years.

In this article Ms. Schuster gives a characteristically comprehensive account of the Lod Mosaic: its discovery, its contents, the background of its ancient city (Lydda), and its archaeological context, including the other two mosaics found at the site in recent years.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on all three Lod Mosaics, start here and follow the links. Cross-file under Decorative Art.

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

Open-access Pentateuchal Sources

ONLINE SOURCE CRITICISM: Founding Documents of the Bible: The Priestly Tradition. With a provisional reconstruction of the Priestly Source in English translation.

This is a project developed at UC Davis, apparently with Prof. Seth Sanders at the helm. It looks promising. It is clearly a work in progress. The website is not yet very user-friendly. The best place to start is with Hebrew Literature Before the Bible: The Purpose of the Site.

HT the AWOL Blog.

For some of my own thoughts on Pentateuchal source criticism, see here and links.

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

McGrath in the footsteps of John the Baptist

RELIGION PROF.: In the Footsteps of John the Baptist Part 1: From the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee (James McGrath).
As I prepared for my recent trip to the Holy Land focused on John the Baptist, there were moments when I wondered whether it would accomplish what I hoped for. Would standing in the same places that John, his followers, and his critics stood lead to any new insights or raise new questions? ...
For many background posts, see here and links.

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

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)

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.