Saturday, July 16, 2022

Mt. Arbel fortress opening to visitors

RESTORATION: Majestic Mt. Arbel fortress to open following 1.5 years of conservation work. Workers carried 20 to 40 kilos of steel supporting elements up 300 meters along the cliff to the Ottoman-period fortress (Judith Sudilovsky, Jerusalem Post).

Besides the restored Ottoman-era fortress, the site had ancient (and Crusader-era) occupation:

In a secluded plateau on the south and west of the impressive cliff, are the archaeological remains of a Jewish village from the Hellenistic period in the 2nd and 3rd century BC, which was in continued use until the Roman period; inside the cliff is a series of hidden cave dwellings which may have been an extension of the village and which were used as a refuge by Jewish rebels supporters of the last Hasmonean king of Judea, Antigonus II, as they battled, and lost, against the Roman legions of King Herod in 40 BC. ...

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Waters, .... The Life of Cyrus the Great (OUP)


Notice of a New Book: Waters, Matt. 2022. King of the World: The Life of Cyrus the Great. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available for pre-order.

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

McGrath on Pummer, The Samaritans. A Profile

RELIGION PROF: The Samaritans: A Profile. James McGrath gives a brief review of Reinhardt Pummer’s book The Samaritans: A Profile, with a focus on possible Mandaean connections.

For earlier reviews etc. of the book, see here and links. Cross-file under Samaritan Watch and Mandaean (Mandean) Watch.

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Friday, July 15, 2022

Quarry layers excavated at Church of the Holy Sepulcher

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE: Church of the Holy Sepulchre excavation unveils remains from Constantine's time. The researchers said the rock layers of the stone quarry used during the construction of the church during Constantine’s period had been uncovered (Judith Sudilovsky, Jerusalem Post).
Remains of construction dating back to the period of Roman Emperor Constantine at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are among the discoveries uncovered during on-going excavations at the Christian holy site since March 2022 as part of a complex two-year project to repair and restore pavement stones of the ancient church.


For more on the strata with the quarry and the remains of the Hadrianic pagan temple, see here.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Holy Sepulchre), start here and follow the links.

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Looting arrest in Afula

APPRENDED TOO: Busted: Thousands of ancient coins and arrowheads seized from northern Israel home. Israel Antiquities Authority theft prevention unit says Afula man illegally dug up and traded in ancient finds, likely also smuggled items abroad to public auctions (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).

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Open-access volume on the Kingdom of Himyar

THE AWOL BLOG: Late Antique Arabia - Zafar, Capital of Himyar: Rehabilitation of a 'Decadent' Society: Excavations of the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg 1998-2010 in the Highlands of Yemen. Harrassowitz open-access volume, edited by Paul Yule and published in 2013.

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

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Thursday, July 14, 2022

The ancient usage of "Jews" and "Israelites"

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: The Relationship Between “Jews” and “Israelites” After the Babylonian Exile (Jason Staples).
... Far from an inductive proposal based on the nuances found in the ancient texts themselves, Kuhn’s paradigm therefore superimposes the perspective and terminological nuances of Nazi Germany onto antiquity. Remarkably, despite widespread recognition of numerous shortcomings in mapping onto the data, Kuhn’s paradigm has remained the default explanation for the ancient use of these terms well into the twenty-first century.
I noted the publication of the author's book, The Idea of Israel in Second Temple Judaism (CUP), here.

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Meiser, The Septuagint and Its Reception (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Martin Meiser. The Septuagint and Its Reception. Collected Essays. 2022. IX, 603 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 482. 174,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-154917-5.
Published in English.
The Septuagint is an important source for the study of ancient Judaism and, in terms of textual development and theology, is to be embedded in the literature of the last three centuries BCE. At the same time, the Septuagint often is the authoritative reference text of ancient Christian reception of the so-called Old Testament. The essays collected in this volume deal in their first part with the interpretation of the Septuagint, primarily the historical and the prophetic books. Questions of textual criticism and theology are addressed in the two sections on the New Testament (Gospel of Mark, Acts, and Paul) and Patristics (Justin and Jerome, for example). The final section is devoted to the patristic interpretation of Old Testament texts (Gen 2–3; Gen 28:10–22; Jer 10:1–16; Psalms), themes (notion of God; pseudo-prophecy), and figures (Adam, Abraham, Hannah).

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Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Dueling red heifer rites

PROF. VERED NOAM: Preparing the Red Heifer in Purity: The Rabbis’ Polemic against the Sadducees (
Several stories describe how the rabbis of the Second Temple period would force priests to prepare the ashes in the lower state of purity, tevul yom (immersed in water before sunset), and once even discarded ashes prepared in the stringent state of purity, meʿorav shemesh (after sunset), to demonstrate the law is not in accordance with the Sadducees. The Qumran halakhic text, 4QMMT, gives us the perspective of the other side of the debate.
For other PaleoJudaica posts on the red heifer ritual, see here and links.

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The Language of Colour in the Bible (De Gruyter)

The Language of Colour in the Bible
Embodied Colour Terms related to Green

Lourdes García Ureña, Emanuela Valeriani, Anna Angelini, Carlos Santos Carretero and Marina Salvador Gimeno Translated by: Donald Murphy
Volume 11 in the series Fontes et Subsidia ad Bibliam pertinentes

PDF & EPUB £94.00

Hardcover £94.00

Published: April 19, 2022
ISBN: 9783110767704

Published: May 3, 2022
ISBN: 9783110766394

About this book

The Bible is one of the books that has aroused the most interest throughout history to the present day. However, there is one topic that has mostly been neglected and which today constitutes one of the most emblematic elements of the visual culture in which we live immersed: the language of colour. Colour is present in the biblical text from its beginning to its end, but it has hardly been studied, and we appear to have forgotten that the detailed study of the colour terms in the Bible is essential to understanding the use and symbolism that the language of colour has acquired in the literature that has forged European culture and art.

The objective of the present study is to provide the modern reader with the meaning of colour terms of the lexical families related to the green tonality in order to determine whether they denote only color and, if so, what is the coloration expressed, or whether, together with the chromatic denotation, another reality inseparable from colour underlies/along with the chromatic denotation, there is another underlying reality that is inseparable from colour. We will study the symbolism that/which underpins some of these colour terms, and which European culture has inherited. 

This lexicographical study requires a methodology that allows us to approach colour not in accordance with our modern and abstract concept of colour, but with the concept of the ancient civilations. This is why the concept of colour that emerges from each of the versions of the Bible is studied and compared with that found in theoretical reflection in both Greek and Latin. Colour thus emerges as a concrete reality, visible on the surface of objects, reflecting in many cases, not an intrinsic quality, but their state. This concept has a reflection in the biblical languages, since the terms of colour always describe an entity (in this sense one can say that they are embodied) and include within them a wide chromatic spectrum, that is, they are mostly polysemic. Structuralism through the componential analysis, although providing interesting contributions, had at the same time serious shortcomings when it came to the study of colour. These were addressed through the theoretical framework provided by cognitive linguistics and some of its tools such as: cognitive domains, metonymy and metaphor. Our study, then, is one of the first to apply some of the contributions of cognitive linguistics to lexicography in general, and particularly with reference to the Hebrew, Greek and Latin versions of the Bible.

A further novel contribution of this research is that the meaning is expressed through a definition and not through a list of possible colour terms as happens in dictionaries or in studies referring to colour in antiquity. The definition allows us to delve deeper and discover new nuances that enrich the understanding of colour in the three great civilizations involved in our study: Israel, Greece and Rome.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Dots are important too

THE CREWS PROJECT BLOG: Dots between words in Northwest Semitic inscriptions (Robert Crellin).
So much for the way of separating words on the page (or, as the case may be, stone or clay tablet), but what is a word anyway? It turns out that this question is harder to answer than it might first appear, and furthermore, that the ancients had a rather different view than we do.
The essay includes a link to the author's 2022 monograph, The Semantics of word division in Northwest Semitic writing systems: Ugaritic, Phoenician, Hebrew, Moabite and Greek (Oxbow). HT Rogue Classicism.

This is the first time I have run across Cambridge University's CREWS (Contexts of and Relations between Early Writing Systems) Project. Their website has lots of valuable material.

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Twigg, The Valentinian Temple (Routledge)

The Valentinian Temple
Visions, Revelations, and the Nag Hammadi Apocalypse of Paul

By Matthew Twigg
Copyright Year 2022



ISBN 9781032160092
Published April 12, 2022 by Routledge
254 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

Book Description

Is the Nag Hammadi Apocalypse of Paul a Valentinian text? Many would say no, few would say yes. The Valentinian Temple brings together all the available evidence to produce a systematic argument in favour of the Apocalypse of Paul’s Valentinian origins.

From Valentinus himself to the Gospel of Truth and the Gospel of Philip, this book traces one of the most neglected trajectories in Valentinian Christianity, namely the pursuit of mystical experiences oriented around a heavenly temple. Starting with the divine Name in the fragments of Valentinus, the development of a high-priestly Christology is uncovered across a range of primary sources, culminating in the Gospel of Philip’s temple-based rituals of initiation. The Valentinian Temple argues that it is against this intellectual background that the Apocalypse of Paul ought to be understood.

This book will be of interest to experts and students in Gnosticism, Valentinianism, early Christianity, Coptic and biblical literature, and Pauline studies.

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Monday, July 11, 2022

Did the Talmud know a lost book of Balaam?

LOST BOOKS WATCH: The mysterious ‘passage of Balaam.’ How much has been lost because written works of value never made it from the ancient world to the modern day? (Balak) (Dr. Chana Tannenbaum, Times of Israel Blogs).

It is certainly possible that the Talmud knew a now-lost apocryphal book of Balaam. But the normal sense of the phrase "the portion of Balaam" (וּפָרָשַׁת בִּלְעָם) in b. Bava Batra 14b would be that it was a section in the Torah of Moses (as the English translation over-translates). Still, the "notebook of Balaam" (פנקסיה דבלעם) in b. Sanhedrin 106 in could conceivably be an apocryphal work.

That said, it is wildly unlikely that the sages of the Talmud knew the Deir 'Alla Balaam inscription. We know it only from a wall inscription in Jordan, written in an obscure Northwest Semitic dialect, and dating to a thousand years and more before their time.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on ancient lost books, start here and follow the links. For posts on lost books mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, see here and links, especially here and here. I published an article on the latter topic. The reference is here.

For posts on the Balaam inscription from Tel Deir 'Alla (Deir Alla), see here and links.

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Dawson, The Message of the Jerusalem Council in the Acts of the Apostles (Brill)

The Message of the Jerusalem Council in the Acts of the Apostles

A Linguistic Stylistic Analysis

Series: Linguistic Biblical Studies, Volume: 22

Author: Zachary K. Dawson

By applying a stylistic analysis within a systemic-functional linguistic framework, this study argues that Luke's construal of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 and its co-thematic passages attempt to persuade Jewish believers of Luke's audience not to separate from multi-ethnic churches, a goal that is accomplished through subverting the value orientations of a prominent Noahic tradition within Second Temple Jewish literature that promotes strict Jewish isolation from Gentiles. As a result, this study breaks fresh methodological ground in the linguistic study on the New Testament and also advances critical scholarship on the book of Acts.

Copyright Year: 2022

Prices from (excl. VAT): €199.00 / $239.00

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-51018-0
Publication date: 28 Mar 2022

Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-51008-1
Publication date: 01 Apr 2022

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Sunday, July 10, 2022

Destro & Pesce (eds.), From Jesus to Christian Origins (Brepols)

From Jesus to Christian Origins
Second Annual Meeting of Bertinoro (1-4 October, 2015)

Adriana Destro, Mauro Pesce (eds)

Pages: 534 p.
Size:156 x 234 mm
Illustrations:32 b/w
Language(s):English, Italian, French
Publication Year:2020

Buy print version
€ 115,00 EXCL. VAT
ISBN: 978-2-503-58327-3

Buy e-version
€ 115,00 EXCL. VAT
ISBN: 978-2-503-58328-0

This book provides a survey on new methodologies for the study of Jesus and Early Christianity and on the fractionation of the post-Jesus movement and its passage from Jewish to Roman—Hellenistic cultures


Within the contemporary renewal of the exegetical and historical research on Jesus and early Christianity, this book stresses the importance of new epistemological and methodological perspectives in exegesis and History of Christianity (from the point of view of Cultural Anthropology and Comparative Religion). The articles of the first section present a consequent interpretation of Jesus within Jewish culture of the First century. Jesus activity is located within the Jewish movement of John the Baptizer. His words and political attitude is interpreted in the Jewish context of the Land of Israel under Roman administration. His movement is seen as a sub-group within Jewish society. The section dedicated to the first groups of Jesus’ disciples in the Land of Israel and in the ancient Mediterranean world mainly focuses on three constellations of questions: (a) the multiplicity and fractionation of Jesus’ groups, for example in Jerusalem in the period between 30 an 70 of the First century, (b) the fact that the post-Jesus Movement was sociologically characterized by a multiplicity of sub-groups of Jewish groups and movements; (c) the radical modifications provoked by the abandonment of Jewish contexts when the majority of followers was composed by Gentiles with limited relation with the daily practice of Jewish life and religion. Particular attention is dedicated to the connection of contemporary research with the interpretations of Jesus and early Christianity developed in the modern age.

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Ge'ez Psalter taken from Ethiopia to Israel

ETHIOPIC WATCH: Israeli family risks it all to retrieve rare Ethiopian version of the Book of Psalms. Ayanawo Ferada Senebato and his cousins go to civil war-torn Ethiopia to ransom a book of the Orit, a version of the Bible in an ancient dialect that belonged to their ancestors (CNAAN LIPHSHIZ, JTA/Times of Israel).

The book is written in Ge'ez, the old form of the Ethiopic language. I would not say that the book is "ancient." The report is that it is 200 to 300 years old.

The article indicates that removing it from Ethiopia was legally problematic. I do not endorse any illegal activity. I link to the piece to keep you informed of news involving the Ethiopic Bible.

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Biblical Studies Carnival 196

THE SECULAR FRONTIER: June 2022 Biblical Studies Carnival (John MacDonald). This month's Carnival has an unusual host and some unusual content. It came out a bit late and I've only just noticed it.

Also, Phil Long is still looking for Carnival hosts for the next couple of months. Let him know if you are interested.

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