Saturday, August 05, 2023

Which Ten Commandments? And whose?

PROF. J. CORNELIS DE VOS: Adapting the Decalogue to Your Religion (
Jewish Greek philosophy, the New Testament, Christian theology, Samaritan law, Rabbinic Judaism, the Church Fathers—all shaped and interpreted the Decalogue to meet the needs of their community.

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Friday, August 04, 2023

Demon-repellant magic mirror excavated at Usha?

APOTROPAIC ARTIFACT: Israeli High-schooler on Day Dig Finds Mirror Plaque Against Demons. The broken artifact found in northern Israel is missing its mirror, but it’s a type found from the Late Roman to the Islamic period (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
The mirror itself is missing, but archaeologists believe that what emerged from the Israel Antiquities Authority dig may be a 1,500-year-old “mirror plaque” demon repellent dating to the late Roman or Byzantine period (from the fourth to the sixth century), the IAA announced on Thursday.

Theoretically, it could alternatively have served in catoptromancy – the Roman art of divination using mirrors – or had some other use. But use of mirrors to ward off demonic spirits was a practice in more than one religious circle in antiquity.

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Thursday, August 03, 2023

Biblical Studies Carnival 208

READING ACTS: Biblical Studies Carnival 208 for June and July 2023. Phil Long has a consolidated carnival for the two months.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Tu B'Av 2023

THE FESTIVAL OF TU B'AV began yesterday evening at sundown. Best wishes to all those celebrating.

Tu B'Av (which just means the 15th day of the month of Av) is an ancient matchmaking festival. Its first mention is in the Mishnah (Ta’anit 4). It has been revived in recent years as a kind of Jewish Valentine's Day. For past posts on it, see here and links.

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More on the Megiddo amphitheater

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE: Archaeologists Find Roman Military Amphitheater in Israel, With Blood-red Walls. The Roman legion camp next door to Tell Megiddo was home to more than 5,000 soldiers. I'ts the only one known in the east of the Empire, and now Israeli archaeologists unveil the secrets of Legio, with the help of ground-penetrating radar (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
In a sense, Legio – home to the Ironclads in the Jezreel Valley – didn’t have one amphitheater, it had two. The archaeologists excavating amid the chickpea fields of Kibbutz Megiddo have identified two phases of this monumental structure: a smaller, earlier phase and a later, expanded one. Situated to one side of the camp, it was clearly a ludus: a training ground for soldiers and/or gladiators to practice the arts of weaponry and armor, explains excavation leader Dr. Yotam Tepper. Maybe the troops were also treated to the odd Greek tragedy but that wasn’t the purpose, and we just note that this edifice was conveniently close to the camp cemetery.

The locations of excavations at Legio this year were no coincidence. The team co-directed by Tepper and archaeologist Dr. Matthew Adams, on behalf of the JVRP and the Albright Institute in Jerusalem with the support of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funding of American Archaeology Abroad, knew where hidden sites of interest were thanks to charting part of the Legio using ground-penetrating radar, flown over from Sweden.

I noted the excavation of this amphitheater here and here, labeling it "ghost architecture," because the stones used for it seemed mostly to have been looted. But it sounds as though they are recovering some of its architecture now. For more on the Legio VI Ferrata, see here.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Fiano, Three Powers in Heaven (Yale)

Three Powers in Heaven
The Emergence of Theology and the Parting of the Ways

by Emanuel Fiano

Series: Synkrisis

440 Pages, 6.12 x 9.25 in

Published: Thursday, 1 Jun 2023

Published: Tuesday, 20 Jun 2023


A fresh look at how Christianity and Judaism became two distinct religions through the parting of their intellectual traditions

How, when, and why did Christianity and Judaism diverge into separate religions? Emanuel Fiano reinterprets the parting of the ways between Jews and Christians as a split between two intellectual traditions, a split that emerged within the context of ancient debates about Jesus’s relationship to God and the world.

Fiano explores how Christianity moved away from Judaism through the development of new practices for religious inquiry. By demonstrating that the constitution of communal borders coincided with the elaboration of different methods for producing religious knowledge, the author shows that Christian theological controversies, often thought to teach us nothing beyond the history of dogma, can cast light on the broader religious landscape of late antiquity. Three Powers in Heaven thus marks not only a historical but also a methodological intervention in the study of the parting of the ways and in scholarship on ancient religion.

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Monday, July 31, 2023

Reinhartz Festschrift (T&T Clark)

The Ties that Bind

Negotiating Relationships in Early Jewish and Christian Texts, Contexts, and Reception History

Esther Kobel (Anthology Editor), Meredith Warren (Anthology Editor), Jo-Ann A. Brant (Anthology Editor)

Hardback $115.00 $103.50

Ebook (PDF) $103.50 $82.80

Ebook (Epub & Mobi) $103.50 $82.80

Product details

Published Jul 13 2023
Format Hardback
Edition 1st
Extent 262
ISBN 9780567702586
Imprint T&T Clark
Illustrations 9 bw illus
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Series The Library of New Testament Studies
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing


Friendship and other intimate (but not always amicable) relationships have received some attention in the greater field of research on early Judaism and Christianity, though not as much as deserved. This volume celebrates and builds upon the life-long work of Adele Reinhartz, covering the various permutations of relationships that can be found in the Gospel of John, the wider corpus of early Jewish and Christian literature, and cinematic re-imaginings thereof.

While the issue of whether one can 'befriend' the Fourth Gospel in light of the book's legacy of antisemitism is central to many of the essays in this volume, others address other more or less likely friendships: Pilate, Paul, Lazarus, Judas, or Mary Magdalene. Likewise, the bonds between ancient texts and contemporary retellings of their stories feature prominently, with contributors asking what kinds of relationships filmmakers encourage their audiences to have with their subjects. This volume explores some of the rich variety of relationships in the ancient world, and unpacks the intricate and dynamic processes and interactions by which human relationships and societies are generated, maintained, and dissolved.

By the way, blogging may be light for a while. I'm fine, I'm just taking some time off. I'll try still to have something for you every day.

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Sunday, July 30, 2023

Eskenazi, Ezra (AB Commentary)


A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary

by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi

Series: The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries

504 Pages, 6.12 x 9.25 in, 2 b-w illus.

Published: Tuesday, 11 Jul 2023

Published: Tuesday, 11 Jul 2023


A new translation and commentary on the biblical book of Ezra by the renowned author of two award-winning biblical commentaries

The book of Ezra is a remarkable testament to a nation’s ability to survive and develop a distinctive identity under imperial rule. But Ezra is far more than a simple chronicle; it constitutes a new biblical model for political, religious, and social order in the Persian Empire.

In this new volume, Tamara Cohn Eskenazi illustrates how the book of Ezra envisions the radical transformation that followed reconstruction after the fall of Jerusalem and Judah. The extensive introduction highlights the book’s innovations, including its textualization of the tradition, as well as the unprecedented role of the people as chief protagonists. The translation and commentary incorporate evidence from ancient and contemporaneous primary sources from Egypt, Babylonia, Greece, and Persia, along with new archaeological studies of Judah. With great care and detail, Eskenazi demonstrates how the book of Ezra creates a blueprint for survival after destruction, shaping a new kind of society and forging a new communal identity.

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