Saturday, September 17, 2022

Regev, The Social Archaeology of Late Second Temple Judaea (Routledge)

The Social Archaeology of Late Second Temple Judaea
From Purity, Burial, and Art, to Qumran, Herod, and Masada

By Eyal Regev

Copyright Year 2023



ISBN 9781138358881
Published July 20, 2022 by Routledge
286 Pages 45 B/W Illustrations

Book Description

This book analyzes social ideology and social relationships in late Second Temple Judaea, studying a range of archaeological material and sites to better understand both communal and individual trends in Jerusalem and its environs.

Using several different methodologies, the book brings to light new ideas about social trends such as individualism among Jews and Judeans during the late Second Temple period. It provides in-depth analysis of the social aspects of ritual baths, burial caves, ossuaries, and decorated oil lamps, as well as thorough examinations of the sites of Khirbet Qumran, Herod’s palaces, and Masada during the First Jewish Revolt against Rome.

Social Archaeology of the Late Second Temple Judaea is suitable for students and scholars interested in the history, society, and archaeology of the Jews in the Second Temple period as well as the social background of early Christianity, early Rabbinic Judaism, and Levantine archaeology.

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Comparing the Aleppo Codex with the Leningrad Codex

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Comparing Ancient Biblical Manuscripts. The Leningrad Codex and the Aleppo Codex are from the same period, so which is superior?

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

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Friday, September 16, 2022

Those Hanging Gardens of Babylon again

ANCIENT HORTICULTURAL ARCHITECTURE? A 2,500-Year-Old Mystery: The Hanging Gardens World Wonder. Scholars have no direct evidence of this ancient site in Babylon. Speculations vary about where it was located, how it looked and whether it actually existed among the seven wonders of the world (Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine).

This is a good article that covers the ancient evidence and brings the current scholarly debate up to date.

In sum, no archaeological excavation has recovered on evidence for those Hanging Gardens at the site of Babylon. Where does that leave us?

One possibility is that they are entirely legendary. Another is that later Greek authors (who produced what I call the Greek Fantasy Babylon tradition) accidentally misplaced hanging gardens of the Assyrian capital, Nineveh, to Babylon. But at least one Assyriologist thinks they could have been terranced along the huge walls of Babylon. Presumably that means that traces of them might not survive today.

The article asserts that the existence of the legendary Assyrian Queen Semiramis is debated, but I'm not sure what this means. There was an historical Assyrian Queen Shammuramat (cf. here) who ruled in the late eighth century BCE. She was clearly the inspiration for the legendary Queen Semiramis, whose apocryphal exploits included the founding of Babylon. No one doubts her existence or that she didn't found Babylon (which existed for many centuries before her).

Background here and links.

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The Cartagena Festival 2022

PUNIC WATCH: September 16 to 25 Fiestas de Cartaginenses y Romanos Cartagena 2022. The celebration of the Carthagenians and the Romans in Cartagena is one of the biggest Fiestas in the Region of Murcia (Murcia Today).

This is the only annual festival I know of which celebrates a town's Punic/Phoenician heritage. I have not been able to attend, but it sounds like fun.

Cartagena, Spain, was a Punic town (Carthago Nova - New Carthage) founded in the third century B.C.E. For more on its historical importance, notably in the Second Punic War, see here. I noted last year's festival here. Follow the links from there (plus, more recently, here) for more on the archaeology of the site and notices of past festivals.

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Thursday, September 15, 2022

Five books on Kabbalah

KABBALAH WATCH: The Jewish Experience: 5 Must-Read Books on Kabbalah. Kabbalah, literally "reception" or "tradition" in Hebrew, is a vast and rich body of texts, ideas, and practices, dating to antiquity and a living tradition until today. (Yehudah Mirsky, Brandeis University).

I have noted the 2022 De Gruyter reprint (apparently) of the book by Arthur Green with the same title here.

The link for Ariel Evan Mayse, ed. From the Depth of the Well is broken. But you can find the book at the Paulist Press website here.

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Kaniel, Birth in Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis (De Gruyter)

Birth in Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis

Ruth Kara-Ivanov Kaniel

Volume 18 in the series Perspectives on Jewish Texts and Contexts

PDF & EPUB £91.00

Hardcover £91.00

Published: July 5, 2022
ISBN: 9783110688023

Published: July 18, 2022
ISBN: 9783110687491

About this book

Birth in Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis examines the centrality of "birth" in Jewish literature, gender theory, and psychoanalysis, thus challenging the centrality of death in Western culture and existential philosophy. In this groundbreaking study, Ruth Kara-Ivanov Kaniel discuss similarities between Biblical, Midrashic, Kabbalistic, and Hasidic perceptions of birth, as well as its place in contemporary cultural and psychoanalytic discourse. In addition, this study shows how birth functions as a vital metaphor that has been foundational to art, philosophy, religion, and literature. Medieval Kabbalistic literature compared human birth to divine emanation, and presented human sexuality and procreation as a reflection of the sefirotic structure of the Godhead – an attempt, Kaniel claims, to marginalize the fear of death by linking the humane and divine acts of birth. This book sheds new light on the image of God as the "Great Mother" and the crucial role of the Shekhinah as a cosmic womb. 

Birth in Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis won the Gorgias Prize and garnered significant appreciation from psychoanalytic therapists in clinical practice dealing with birth trauma, postpartum depression, and in early infancy distress.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Tar Heels at Huqoq

VOLUNTEER REPORT: UNC students participate in successful dig at an ancient synagogue. (Reagan Allen, The Daily Tar Heel).
While some students took on internships or indulged in travels this summer, 11 students and specialists from UNC participated in a dig at an ancient Jewish synagogue in Israel.

The group unearthed mosaics almost 1,600 years old in a synagogue at Huqoq, a village in Lower Galilee.


For the new Huqoq mosaics depicting Deborah and Jael, see here. Follow the links from there for much more on the Huqoq excavation.

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Ancient coins etc. seized in Hebron

APPREHENDED: Rare artifacts seized from man's home in Hebron.The items were reportedly looted from a cave near Tel Hebron and kept illegally by the man (Jerusalem Post).

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Dell (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Biblical Wisdom Literature

The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Wisdom Literature

Part of Cambridge Companions to Religion

EDITOR: Katherine J. Dell, University of Cambridge
FORMAT: Paperback
ISBN: 9781108716475

£ 34.99 Paperback


Study of the wisdom literature in the Hebrew Bible and the contemporary cultures in the ancient Near Eastern world is evolving rapidly as old definitions and assumptions are questioned. Scholars are now interrogating the role of oral culture, the rhetoric of teaching and didacticism, the understanding of genre, and the relationship of these factors to the corpus of writings. The scribal culture in which wisdom literature arose is also under investigation, alongside questions of social context and character formation. This Companion serves as an essential guide to wisdom texts, a body of biblical literature with ancient origins that continue to have universal and timeless appeal. Reflecting new interpretive approaches, including virtue ethics and intertextuality, the volume includes essays by an international team of leading scholars. They engage with the texts, provide authoritative summaries of the state of the field, and open up to readers the exciting world of biblical wisdom.

  • Offers a high quality overview of the state of studies of the wisdom literature at the present time
  • Makes the volume user-friendly and accessible as a reference book to a wide range of readers
  • Provides depth and breadth to readers with a range of relevant topics and overviews by key scholars

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Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Silver quarter shekel from Great Revolt returned to Israel

RECOVERED: U.S. Returns Rare Coin Minted by Jews During Rebellion From Rome. The silver quarter shekel, estimated to be worth as much as $1 million, was minted in the first century by Jews who created it as a statement of sovereignty during the uprising known as The Great Revolt (Tom Mashberg and Graham Bowley, New York Times).
American investigators returned a rare silver coin to Israel on Monday that they say was minted as a marker of independence during the Great Revolt against Roman oppression of A.D. 66-73 and centuries later was looted from an archaeological site in the Valley of Elah.

The coin was seized in 2017 when collectors tried to sell it at an auction in Denver, where it was listed as having an estimated value between $500,000 and $1 million. But it did not clear the legal hurdles to be returned to Israel until this summer.


If you can't get past the NYT subscription wall, the story is also covered in the Denver Post: A 2,000-year-old coin, looted from Israel, was up for auction in Denver. Now it’s headed home. The silver shekel, valued at $1 million, dates to A.D. 69 (Sam Tabachnik).

Cross-file under Numismatics.

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Not ancient synagogues after all?

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE: Monumental Ancient Structure in Central Israel Isn’t a Synagogue After All. On the road to Beit Guvrin, Israeli archaeologists found two structures they thought were synagogues. Wrong both times (Viktoria Greenboim Rich, Haaretz).

Oddly, the article does not name the site where the two ruins are located. It appears to be Khirbet Midras (Horvat Midras, Hirbet Madras) on which more here and links.

Results like these illustrate how cautious we should be about identification of ancient ruins as certain types of buildings or as used for certain purposes.

I have some related thoughts here, albeit involving a much older site.

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SBL panel on Paul within Judaism

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: SBL 2021 Panel I Paul Within Judaism.
AJR is happy to host the Society of Biblical Literature’s panel discussion on what “Paul Within Judaism” means. The panel, organized by SBL’s “Paul Within Judaism” Unit, met virtually at the 2021 annual meeting.
Two of the four essays are published so far:

SBL 2021 Panel I John Van Maaren on Paul Within Judaism

“Sociologists and anthropologists agree that identity, whether ethnic, religious, or national cannot be determined by a list of shared or defining characteristics exhibited by all group members. Rather, identity is primarily a matter of ascription—that is, a person is Jewish, Greek, Roman, or Syrian first and foremost because they think and claim they are.”
SBL 2021 Panel I Matthew V. Novenson on Paul Within Judaism
Thus my goal in my own research is not to prove that Paul was an [x] Jew, as if proving such a thing could tell us very much. I do think that Paul was an apocalyptic Jew, and a Second-Temple Jew, and a diaspora Jew, and a great many other things—all suitably defined and qualified, of course. But I do not think that to apply any of those labels is to understand him.

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Monday, September 12, 2022

Interview with Joe Uziel on the Ishmael papyrus

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: First Temple Papyrus? Exclusive Interview with Joe Uziel.
Watch an EXCLUSIVE interview with Joe Uziel, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls Unit, who discusses the recovery of a papyrus that the IAA believes dates to the time of Jerusalem’s First Temple.
The video is up on YouTube:

Background, with discussion of how skeptical we should be about the genuineness of this fragment, is here and links.

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An ode to Petra

CONTEMPORARY MUSIC: An ode to the rose-red city: Jordanian soprano Barhoum set to release music video ‘Petra’ (Jessi Amason, Jordan Times).
AMMAN — For artists recording new music, consulting academic journals and learning an archaic language are not typically part of the creative process. Yet, for Jordanian classical singer Zeina Barhoum, the work behind her upcoming song and music video, titled “Petra”, involved research, expert collaborators and the study of Nabataean Aramaic. [...]
The music video is scheduled for release next month.

For lots of PaleoJudaica posts on the ancient Nabatean capital city of Petra in Jordan, see here and links, plus here and here.

Cross-file under Nabatean (Nabataean) Watch.

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

A word that proves the Exodus?

PHILOLOGOS: The Proof of the Exodus Hidden in the Ancient Word Sha’atnez The word, like a small number of other Egyptian loanwords in the Bible, testifies to a period in which the early Israelite nation, or a part of it, was in intimate contact with Egyptian life. (Mosaic).

This is an interesting word, but "the proof of the Exodus" is quite a lot to get out of it. I know that is from the headline, but it accurately represents the claim in the article.

In any case, it is good to see Philologos out from behind the Mosaic subscription wall.

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Sunday, September 11, 2022

XVII Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (SBL)

XVII Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies: Aberdeen, 2019

Gideon Kotze, Michael Van Der Meer, Martin Rosel, editors

ISBN 9781628375152
Volume SCS 75
Status Available
Publication Date August 2022
Paperback $100.00
Hardback $120.00
eBook $100.00

This volume from the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS) includes the papers given at the XVII Congress of the IOSCS, which was held in Aberdeen in 2019. Essays in the collection fall into five areas of focus: textual history, historical context, syntax and semantics, exegesis and theology, and commentary. Scholars examine a range of Old Testament and New Testament texts. Contributors include Kenneth Atkinson, Bryan Beeckman, Elena Belenkaja, Beatrice Bonanno, Eberhard Bons, Cameron Boyd-Taylor, Ryan Comins, S. Peter Cowe, Claude Cox, Dries De Crom, Paul L. Danove, Crispin Fletcher-Louis, Frank Feder, W. Edward Glenny, Roger Good, Robert J. V. Hiebert, Gideon R. Kotzé, Robert Kugler, Nathan LaMontagne, Giulia Leonardi, Ekaterina Matusova, Jean Maurais, Michaël N. van der Meer, Martin Meiser, Douglas C. Mohrmann, Daniel Olariou, Vladimir Olivero, Luke Neubert, Daniel Prokop, Alison Salvesen, Daniela Scialabba, Leonardo Pessoa da Silva Pinto, Martin Tscheu, and Jelle Verburg.

William Ross has a blog post on the volume here.

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