Saturday, November 11, 2023

Discoveries at Jerusalem's Golden Gate.

LEEN RITMEYER: The Golden Gate interior. Discovery of previously unknown Hebrew inscriptions.

The inscriptions probably date to the 9th-11th centuries CE.

Cross-file under Temple Mount Watch.

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Three Persian martyr acts (Gorgias)

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Three Persian Martyr Acts. Notice of a New Book: Harvey, Susan Ashbrook, Reyhan Durmaz, Michael L. Payne, Daniel Picus & Noah Tetenbaum. 2023. Three Persian martyr acts (Persian Martyr Acts in Syriac: Text and Translation 9). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press.

Follow the link for description and link to publisher's page. Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

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Friday, November 10, 2023

Online lecture: The beginnings of Judaean Coinage

H-JUDAIC: Event: The beginnings of Judaean Coinage (Sara Ben-Isaac).
Lecture Date: November 16, 2023

Subject Fields: Ancient History, Archaeology, Jewish History / Studies

Online lecture by David Jacobson

There were, in effect, two beginnings of Judaean coinage, the first towards the end of Achaemenid Persian rule in the Levant, in the late 5th century BCE. This run of coin production ended in the mid-3rd century BCE, during Ptolemaic rule. The second sequence of Judaean coins began more than a century later, under the Hasmonaeans, initially under the patronage to the Seleucid monarch, Antiochus VII Euergetes (Sidetes). The Hasmonaean coins end with the overthrow of Antigonus Mattathias in 37 BCE by Herod (the Great). These two phases of coin issues are widely different in character. These differences are examined and some of the historical insights that they provide are discussed.

Follow the link for the eventbrite link. The lecture is free or by donation.

For more on the work of David Jacobson, see here, here, here and links, and here.

Cross-file under Numismatics.

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Online lecture: "Akkadian Midrash?"

H-JUDAIC: Event: Akkadian Midrash? Thoughts on the Connections between Akkadian Commentaries and Jewish Midrash (Sara Ben-Isaac).

November 15, 2023

Subject Fields: Ancient History, Jewish History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology

Online lecture from Uri Gabbay, Associate Professor of Assyriology at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near East, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The lecture will focus on hermeneutical techniques, and the terms used for these techniques, in Akkadian commentaries on cuneiform clay tablets from the first millennium BCE. The speaker will compare these techniques and terms to Rabbinic Midrash, and will raise the question whether we can assume a connection between the two corpora. Uri Gabbay deals with the religious and intellectual history of ancient Mesopotamia, especially in the first millennium BCE. He is the author of the book The Exetetical Terminology of Akkadian Commentaries (Brill, 2016).

Follow the link for additional details and the eventbrite link. The lecture is free.

For more on Uri Gabbay's work, see here, here, here and links.

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Dozeman, Joshua 13-24 (Anchor Bible Commentary)

Joshua 13-24
A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary

by Thomas B. Dozeman

Series: The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries

440 Pages, 6.12 x 9.25 in, 3 b-w illus.

Published: Tuesday, 10 Oct 2023

The second installment of Thomas B. Dozeman’s authoritative commentary on the book of Joshua

Following the Pentateuch in the traditional canon, the book of Joshua chronicles the conquest of the Canaanite nations, the distribution of the newly acquired land to the twelve tribes of Israel, and Joshua’s death at the conclusion of the covenant ceremony at Shechem. The second half of the book traces the development of a burgeoning pan-Israelite identity as the tribes receive territorial assignments, form a political league, and unite in the worship of Yahweh, the God of Israel.

In the second volume of his two-volume commentary on the book of Joshua, Thomas B. Dozeman provides an overview of critical debates surrounding the composition of the book, its function in relationship to the Pentateuch and the Former Prophets, and the role of geography in ancient literature. He shows how the book of Joshua originated as an independent Samarian myth of tribal conquest and land distribution, and outlines how it evolved into its role as an Israelite origin story. Complete with a thorough introduction and a new translation of these twelve chapters, this volume explores how the book of Joshua employs the twin themes of genealogy and geography to underscore both unity and difference among the tribes, conveying ancient Israelite beliefs about ownership, identity, and power.

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Thursday, November 09, 2023

A wall from Peter's house at Bethsaida? Maybe.

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE: Archaeologists May Have Found Traditional Home of Jesus' Apostles by the Sea of Galilee. Below an early church in the village they think was Bethsaida, archaeologists uncovered a ‘sacred wall’ – that couldn’t have been from Peter the Apostle’s house. However, the one next to it could have been (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
By the Sea of Galilee, smack beneath the apse of a Byzantine-period basilica in what may be the lost village of Bethsaida, archaeologists have found remnants of a wall that predates the church. The builders of the ancient church may have believed that the wall, which they seem to have venerated and carefully ensconced below the apse of their edifice, belonged to the home of Jesus' apostles: Peter and Andrew.

It can't have, though. That wall is from the second or third century, aver the researchers directing the excavation at el-Araj, Prof. Mordechai Aviam of the Kinneret Academic College and Prof. R. Steven Notley of Kinneret Academic College and Yeshiva University.

But perpendicular to it, in a lower archaeological layer also beneath the apse floor, was another wall. This remnant actually is from the first century – the time of Jesus and his apostles. Whether it was actually part of Peter’s home we cannot know, but it’s from the right time.


This is a big development.

There are two main contenders for the site of the city of Bethsaida in the time of Jesus. This one, el-Araj, is one. The other is et-Tell/e-Tell. Discoveries at el-Araj in the last couple of years have persuaded me that the weight of evidence is in favor of it. (Disclaimer: I am not an archaeologist.) For background and discussion, see here and here and links. I have been following this debate for years. If you are interested, just keep following those links.

The state of the question up to now is that this fifth-century church had a dedication to the Apostle Peter (mentioned by title but not by name), which seems to clinch its identification as the Church of the Apostles. This means that in the fifth century the site was identified with Bethsaida.

Now, below the church, archaeologists have excavated carefully preserved (venerated?) remains of a second/third century wall, which is in turn built over remnants of a wall dating to the first century CE. That implies, but does not prove, that this identification is very early and is likely correct.

This is not yet a first-century "Welcome to Bethsaida" sign. But it tips the weight of evidence further in the direction of el-Araj being Jesus' Bethsaida.

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Og the giant and AI Hollywood?

CINEMA? What Hollywood Can Learn from the Ancient Rabbis. (Stuart Halpern, Jewish Journal).
While studios, actors and writers continue to wage their own epic battle, all parties would be wise to remember the rabbinic riffs on Og. Balancing consistency with creativity, ensuring a diverse set of influences, and emerging from the unexpendable fountain that is human feeling, his stories’ lessons remain timeless. Now if only there was a studio out there looking for a giant-sized pitch.
This article is a fun recounting of the cycle of stories about Og the giant. The attempt to connect Og with the rapidly approaching demise of Hollywood acting in favor of ultra-realistic AI simulations seemes a little forced to me. But you can read it and decide for yourself.

Og is an old friend to PaleoJudaica. For many posts on him, start here and follow the links, notably here and here.

The suggestion that Og is found in an ancient Phoenician inscription was advanced by Wolfgang Rölling in the 1970s and retracted by him and rejected, as far as I know, by everyone who has commented on it. For discussion, see here and here.

Not mentioned in the article, but Og was also confused with the antediluvian giant Ohyah from the Book of Giants.

That gives me the opportunity again to promote Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, volume 2, edited by myself and Richard Bauckham, now in press with Eerdmans. It it includes translations of all surviving fragments of the Book of Giants. Og gets a mention or two as well.

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Fixed-term job in Rabbinics & Classical Judaism at Vanderbilt

H-JUDAIC: FEATURED JOB: Visiting Assistant Professor of Rabbinics and Classical Judaism, Vanderbilt University.

The Department of Jewish Studies seeks a Visiting Assistant Professor with expertise in Rabbinics and Classical Judaism. The successful candidate should be able to teach Introduction to Judaism and survey or thematic courses on post-Second Temple Judaism, Jewish law, or the Talmud. We are especially interested in scholars who bring interdisciplinary approaches to traditional texts, including but not limited to religious studies, gender and sexuality studies, disability studies, environmental studies, and legal studies.

This non-tenure-track position is for a two-year term with a 3-2 teaching load. Deadline for the applications is January 7, 2024.


Follow the link for further particulars.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Review of Huebner & Ratzan (eds.), Missing mothers

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Missing mothers: maternal absence in antiquity.
Sabine R. Huebner, David M. Ratzan, Missing mothers: maternal absence in antiquity. Interdisciplinary studies in ancient culture and religion, 22. Leuven: Peeters, 2021. Pp. viii, 347. ISBN 9789042943131

Review by
Sophie Laribi Glaudel, Université de Lorraine.

Motherhood and maternity are at the intersection of gender studies, the history of childhood, and the history of the family, and have been the subject of much scholarship since the 2010s. This collection of essays explores the theme of maternal absence and its impact on both affected families and society as a whole. The scope is broad, spanning the history of the Mediterranean basin from Classical Greece to Late Antiquity, but with a special focus on Christian and Rabbinic documentation. ...

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The mosaics of the Bardo National Museum

PUNIC WATCH: Postcard from Tunis: Inside the world's largest mosaic museum. Tunisia’s Bardo National Museum has a Roman mosaic collection that covers 5,000 square metres (Ghaya Ben Mbarek, The National).
“The Punic [section] reflects both the legacy of the native Tunisian Nubians and the Phoencians who came and established Carthage later. This laid the ground for what we call now the Punic civilisation,” Mr Khalloufi told The National.

After its reopening in September, the Bardo Museum introduced a number of new areas such as the Althiburos room, which used to be the music room for Moncef Bey.

The room showcases a series of mosaics, including two that document the daily lives of the Punic people, showing ships and fishing techniques from Althiburos in the 4th century and the complete representation of a banquet in Carthage, also from the 4th century.

Cross-file under Decorative Art.

The Bardo Museum was subjected to a terrorist attack in 2015, but it reopened shortly afterwards.

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Stiles, Jesus' Fulfilment of the Torah and Prophets (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Steven James Stiles. Jesus' Fulfilment of the Torah and Prophets. Inherited Strategies and Torah Interpretation in Matthew's Gospel. 2023. XIV, 278 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 594. 94,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-162181-9.
Published in English.
Steven James Stiles examines Jesus' teaching about the Torah in the Gospel according to Matthew as a participant and contributor to the larger phenomenon of writing texts about the Torah in Second Temple Judaism. In this light, Matthew's presentation of Jesus and his teaching concerning the Torah align well with other interpretation strategies and patterns in Second Temple Judaism. Jesus' teaching on the Torah also addresses many of the same concerns other Jewish groups in antiquity had for following the Torah properly. This approach to examining Torah interpretation in Matthew's Gospel highlights the shared concerns and assumptions between Jesus followers and other Jewish groups in antiquity. It also provides significant insight into Matthew's depiction of Jesus as Israel's Davidic-Messianic and ultimate teacher of all things concerning the kingdom of heaven.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Two ghost stories in the Talmud

TALMUD WATCH, BELATED HALLOWEEN EDITION: The Best Jewish Ghost Stories Are in the Talmud. Have you heard the one about the ghost who asked her mother to send her a comb and a tube of eyeshadow? (Susannah Brodnitz, heyalma).

Yes, both stories really are in the Talmud in b Berakhot 18b. Follow the link in the article to read the original.

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Today! Marquette Zoom (hybrid) lecture on Talmudic and Syriac Aramaic

TALMUD WATCH AND SYRIAC WATCH: Lecture on the language of the Talmud and Syriac Christians, Nov. 7 (Marquette Today).
The Department of Theology will host a lecture by Dr. Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 3:30 p.m. in Marquette Hall 105.

The lecture is titled “How Many Grammars Does a Language Have? The Case of Syriac and Jewish Babylonian Aramaic,” and is open to the public with no registration required. Those interested can also join virtually via Zoom. ...

Follow the link for more details and the Zoom link.

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

Did the New Testament refer to the OT Apocrypha?

OLD TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA WATCH: Did the Deuterocanonical Books Influence the New Testament? (Rory Fox, Catholic Stand).
The New Testament contains quotes from, and allusions to, other literature. Some sources identify as many as 132 such influences. A question sometimes raised is whether Deuterocanonical books have influenced the New Testament.


Part 1, the list of Old Testament Apocrypha (Deuterocanonical books), is good, except that 7Q2 is written in Greek, not Hebrew. I would also add the chapters in Esther and Daniel not found in the Masoretic Text.

Part 2 gives a few examples of supposed influences from the Book of Tobit on the New Testament. Only one looks interesting to me.

  • 2A:Matthew 7:12 and Tobit 4:15—These are just two generic versions of the Golden Rule. And they are rather different. The first is the positive expression and the second the negative one. There is no indication of influence here.
  • 2C: Acts 10:31 and Tobit 4:10—These are just rather two different expressions of the undisputed view that almsgiving is good. Again, no indication of influence.
  • 2B: Matthew 22:25–26 and Tobit 7:11—I had never noticed the similarity to these two stories. Both are about a woman who was married seven times, but all seven husbands predeceased her without producing children. But there are problems with positing influence.

    In Jesus' parable the woman marries seven brothers in succession. All die without fathering children. If one had fathered children with her, he would have fulfilled the Levirate obligation. Would that mean that he would be her husband in the afterlife? Or would that be the first husband, who now officially had children? I don't know. But then the woman herself dies, leaving the question open.

    In Tobit, Sarah marries seven husbands who die without giving her children. But there is no indication they were brothers. The Levirate obligation does not enter the situation. Then she marries Tobias, the eighth husband, and they have sons together (14:3, 12). That would seem to confirm him as her husband in the afterlife, at least by the assumed rule in Jesus' story (which Jesus himself disputes).

    I conclude, therefore, that Jesus was not alluding to the story in Tobit. The presence of the eighth husband who gave the woman children would have spoiled the point he wanted to make.

    It sounds as though the idea of a woman who married seven husbands in a row who all died leaving her childless was some kind of motif or meme in this period and that Tobit and Jesus both used it for different purposes.

There may be stronger arguments for the use of the OTA in the New Testament. But I don't find these persuasive.

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Monday, November 06, 2023

Review of Fraade, The Damascus Document (Oxford Commentary)

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: The Damascus Document, Oxford Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls (Tianruo Jiang).
Fraade, Steven D. The Damascus Document, Oxford Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021.

... Fraade’s balanced and succinct style of commentary is congruous with the mission of the Oxford Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls series— “to provide scholarship of the highest level that is accessible to non-specialists.” The commentary is a product of and testament to the author’s meticulous use of the comparative method and will surely contribute to conversations between scholars of Scrolls and specialists in cognate fields.

For more on the book, see here and links.

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Review of Klein & Wienand (eds.), City of Caesar, city of God

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: City of Caesar, city of God: Constantinople and Jerusalem in late antiquity.
Konstantin M. Klein, Johannes Wienand, City of Caesar, city of God: Constantinople and Jerusalem in late antiquity. Millennium studies, 97. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2022. Pp. xvi, 349. ISBN 9783110717204

Review by
Euan Croman, Queen's University Belfast.

... For those interested in the ideology of imperial power and Christianity in late antiquity, this book is easy to recommend, even for a relative newcomer. This recommendation is helped by the fact that City of Caesar, City of God is Open Access, which will no doubt increase the volume’s impact. While there are missed opportunities and areas for expansion, as a whole this book presents a diverse, yet cohesive, look at the late antique world of Constantinople and Jerusalem.

I noted the publication of the book here.

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Jacob Wright on "Why the Bible Began"

INTERVIEW: New book examines how the Bible came to be — a loser’s tale. Successive expulsions and exiles forced the ancient scribes to forge from their defeats a new identity as a people (Yonat Shimron).
(RNS) — Studying the Bible from a historic and critical lens is a longstanding project dating back to the 18th century. As new archaeological evidence comes to light, that project of better understanding the ancient world and its most influential text keeps evolving.

Jacob L. Wright, a professor of Hebrew Bible at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, has now written a book that takes all the latest findings to help illustrate how the Hebrew Bible came together — and critically, why.

In “Why the Bible Began,” he concludes that successive expulsions and exiles — first the Assyrians, then the Babylonians, the Persians, and later the Greeks and Romans — forced the ancient scribes to forge from their defeats a new identity as a people.


New Book: Jacob L. Wright, Why the Bible Began: An Alternative History of Scripture and its Origins (Cambridge University Press, 2023).

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Sunday, November 05, 2023

Website: Official Inscriptions of the Middle East in Antiquity

THE AWOL BLOG: Official Inscriptions of the Middle East in Antiquity.

This looks like a promising site. I look forward to the addition of the Aramaic, Phoenician, etc. components.

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Westwood, Moses among the Greek Lawgivers (Brill)

Moses among the Greek Lawgivers

Reading Josephus’ Antiquities through Plutarch’s Lives

Series: Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, Volume: 210

Author: Ursula Westwood

Josephus’ Antiquities introduces Moses as the Jewish lawgiver, adapting the biblical account for a new audience. But who was that audience, and what did they understand by the term lawgiver (νομοθέτης)? This book uses Plutarch’s Lives as a proxy for an imagined audience, providing a historically grounded but flexible model of a lawgiver, against which some of the otherwise invisible forces shaping Josephus’ choices are thrown into sharp relief. This method reveals patterns of appeal and challenge in Josephus’ intriguing and lively account of Moses’ legislative activities.

Copyright Year: 2023
E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-68193-4
Publication: 04 Sep 2023
EUR €116.00

Availability: Not Yet Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-68134-7
Publication: 28 Sep 2023
EUR €116.00

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