Saturday, November 18, 2023

2023 BAS Publication Awards

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: 2023 BAS Publication Awards. These prestigious awards have been made possible by a grant from the Rohr Family in memory of Sami Rohr. Congratulations to all the winners!

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Dead Sea Scrolls etc. moved to bunkers

AS A PRECAUTION: Israel's museums enact war protocol to protect most precious treasures ( Ari Rabinovitch and Rami Amichay).
JERUSALEM/TEL AVIV, Nov 14 (Reuters) - When Hamas gunmen stormed southern Israel on Oct. 7 and rocket sirens pierced the early morning quiet across the country, Israel's premier museums went into war mode, rushing to protect their most precious artwork and artefacts.

The Dead Sea Scrolls. Ancient dedication plaques on loan from the Louvre. A 1916 masterpiece by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. These and other treasures were quickly taken off display and brought to special bunkers to ensure they are not damaged during the war.


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Friday, November 17, 2023

What was a "Millo" and where was the one in Jerusalem?

MONUMENTAL ARCHITECTURE: Lost Biblical Monument in Jerusalem Is in Plain Sight, New Theory Claims. Study suggests the monumental fortifications surrounding Jerusalem’s Gihon Spring may be the enigmatic ‘Millo’ that the Bible claims Solomon built (Ariel David, Haaretz).

This is a complicated argument, so take your time reading the article. I am not qualified to evaluate it. The underlying article in JBL is behind a subscription wall.

The gist of the case, according to the Haaretz article, is that the word Millo ("filled thing" or the like) is usually taken to refer to something full of soil, i.e.. a terrace. But it could mean something full of water, i.e., some sort of waterworks. In that case, the fortifications around the Gihon Spring fit the description of the Millo. These fortifications are much older than the time of David and Solomon, but there is some evidence that parts of them were built in the early Iron Age II. Maybe David and Solomon, like Hezekiah later on, were renovating a preexisting larger structure.

Lots of maybes and could bes here. This story is another illustration that archaeology involves many judgment calls and is not an objective science. All the more so when we try to correlate it with the Bible. Not a criticism. It's good that archaeologists and biblical scholars are out there trying.

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The Egyptian Book of the Dead at the Getty Museum

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: Exploring the Book of the Dead through the Getty Collection (Sara E. Cole).
Getty’s Book of the Dead manuscripts include seven papyri and 12 fragments of linen mummy wrappings that are now undergoing new scholarship spearheaded by Foy Scalf, an Egyptologist who is the head of research archives at the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures at the University of Chicago. Along with Getty’s ongoing provenance research (discussed below), Scalf is studying the texts and preparing translations and analysis in order to place them within the broader context of the long history of the Book of the Dead.

The group of writings that we call the Book of the Dead developed from multiple different sources, including earlier funerary inscriptions, priestly oaths, and household spells. It was likely embedded in a strong oral tradition, as most people could not read or write. By the New Kingdom, starting around 1550 BCE, scribes started writing Book of the Dead spells on papyrus scrolls. Vignettes often illustrated key points in the text, as in the example above from spell 125, in which the deceased has his heart weighed in the presence of Osiris. Book of the Dead spells were meant to be spoken aloud. Priests would read from scrolls during the funeral, and much of the text is written as direct speech that the deceased is envisioned reciting in the netherworld.

The Book of the Dead has been getting more attention lately, perhaps due partly to the recently discovered manuscripts in Egypt. But there are many manuscripts already in museum collections. It's good to see work being done on them too.

The essay notes that there is currently a Getty exhibition on their Book of the Dead manuscripts.

As usual, PaleoJudaica has been on top of this trend. See here and links and here for recent posts.

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Upcoming Sifting Project event

For these reasons, we’ve decided to conduct a special online gala event that will take place next month, on the eve of the 4th night of Chanukah. In this event, we will present new discoveries in our research that have not yet been published, with hope of generating interest in helping to fund our operation in 2024.
Follow the link for the program.

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Thursday, November 16, 2023

Archaeological evidence for the United Monarchy?

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE: David and Solomon’s Biblical Kingdom May Have Existed After All, New Study Suggests. Monumental structures at Gezer have been redated to the early 10th century B.C.E., which means maybe Solomon built them after all, biblical archaeologists say. But colleagues remain skeptical (Ariel David, Haaretz).
Most likely, the debate on the existence and extent of the United Monarchy will not be solved by this study, says Prof. Aren Maeir, an archaeologist at Bar-Ilan University who heads the dig at the ancient Philistine city of Gath.

The paper provides “seemingly solid dating to the 10th century B.C.E. for the fortifications and public structures at Gezer 8. This very logically could be connected to the United Monarchy,” Maeir tells Haaretz. “I doubt though this can provide a final answer for the historicity of David and Solomon.”

Probably not.

Those six-chambered city gates at Gezer, Megiddo, and Hazor sure have given archaeologists something to argue about since Yadin noticed them.

The underlying PLOS ONE article has a lot more going on than just the 10th century dating of a stratum. The Haaretz article gives a nicely readable summary. If you want the nitty-gritty details:

The chronology of Gezer from the end of the late bronze age to iron age II: A meeting point for radiocarbon, archaeology egyptology and the Bible

Lyndelle C. Webster , Samuel R. Wolff, Steven M. Ortiz, Marcella Barbosa, Cameron Coyle, Gary P. Arbino, Michael W. Dee, Quan Hua, Geraldine E. Jacobsen

Published: November 15, 2023


The ancient southern Levantine city of Gezer is well-known from Egyptian, Biblical and Assyrian sources, associated with power struggles, conquests, and intriguing tales involving figures such as Milkilu and Amenhotep III, Merneptah, the Philistines, Solomon and his unidentified pharaonic father-in-law, and Shishak / Sheshonq I. Since the identity of Gezer with “Tell Jezer” is quite literally ‘set in stone’ by some dozen boundary inscriptions, along with impressive Bronze and Iron Age remains, research at this site provides a unique opportunity to compare text and archaeology, as well as bring to light the undocumented everyday lives of the city’s inhabitants. In this endeavour, independent scientific dating is crucial for anchoring the remains chronologically. This paper presents the first substantial radiocarbon dataset and Bayesian chronological analysis for Gezer spanning the last part of the Late Bronze Age (LBA; LB IIB) through Iron Age II. The dataset derives from an essentially continuous stratigraphic sequence exposed in recent years by the Tandy expedition along the central-southern edge of the site. The results allow us for the first time to independently determine the site chronology, test the viability (from a chronological perspective) of proposed historical correlations, and contribute to debates on Philistine and Iron Age chronology.

For some PaleoJudaica posts on whether archaeology supports the existence of a Davidic and Solomonic United Monarchy, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and links.

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The Lailashi Codex

H-JUDAIC: NEW PUBLICATION: The New Ancient Masoretic Pentateuch: The Lailashi Codex - The Crown of Georgian Jewry.

I have never heard of this Hebrew Bible codex before. The claim that it could be as early as the tenth century CE doesn't sound very well established, so I would receive it with caution. But I look forward to following the reception of this new volume to see what specialists think.

The most informative link I can find on this codex is this JewTh!nk Blog post by Thea Gomelauri, cited at the bottom of the History of the Book Blog post noted in the H--Judaic post: Introducing the best kept secret of Georgian Jewry: The Lailashi Codex.

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More on Wright and “Why The Bible Began"

AUTHOR PROFILE: Emory Professor Jacob Wright Thrives on Big Ideas. His new work about the origins of the Bible is already acclaimed as one of the best books of 2023 (Bob Bahr, Atlanta Jewish Times).
Now Wright, who is also an active congregant of the Modern Orthodox Congregation Ohr HaTorah on LaVista Road, has taken a new and distinctly iconoclastic view of the scriptural foundation of Judaism. His new book, “Why The Bible Began,” has been hailed by the New Yorker magazine and Publisher’s Weekly as one of the best books of 2023. It’s likely to be a lively contender for a National Jewish Book Award and other significant prizes. ...

What he theorizes, based on both historical and archeological courses, is that the intellectuals of the time, the courtly scribes and educated elite of both Israel and Judah, realized the need for a new approach to survival. This new generation of thinkers came to believe that their lack of worldly success might not doom them. A deeper study of their fate they believed, might yet be able to rescue victory from the jaws of defeat. The direct result, Wright says, is our Torah.

For more on Professor Wright and his new book, see here and links.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Denzel Washington as Hannibal Barca?

PUNIC WATCH MEETS CINEMA: Denzel Washington reunites with director Antoine Fuqua to play Carthaginian warrior Hannibal in a new Netflix action epic (Brian Gallagher, Daily Mail).
Now Washington and Fuqua are coming together again for Hannibal, with Washington playing the commander of Carthage forces during the Second Punic War between 183 and 181 BC, via Deadline.

Fuqua will direct from a script by John Logan (Gladiator), with this project coming together 20 years after Washington first wanted to play Hannibal, considered by many historians to be one of the greatest military minds of all time.


Vin Diesel has been working on a Hannibal movie for many years. I first noted his plan in 2005. But he is not mentioned as associated with this production. This is the first I have heard of Antoine Fuqua being involved.

Denzel Washington has been prospectively connected with the Hannibal film in the role Hannibal himself or as his father, Hamilcar Barca. Washington is currently 68, older than Hannibal when he died, long after the Second Punic War (and much older than Hamilcar when he died).

The date for the war quoted above is wrong. Carthage declared the Second Punic War in 218 BCE. Hannibal famously crossed the Alps and won his first victory against Rome at the Battle of Trebia in that year. The war concluded with the decisive defeat of Hannibal at the Battle of Zama in 202 BCE.

The Mail article seems to have confused Hannibal's date of death (in his mid-60s) with the date of the war. Hannibal fought the war from his late-twenties to his mid-forties, so the casting of Washington now seems a bit surprising. But perhaps we should not underestimate Hollywood CGI rejuvenation potential.

For many other PaleoJudaica posts on Hannibal Barca and his role in the Second Punic War, start here and follow the links.

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AJR on Teaching Abortion in Bible and Religious Studies Courses

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Teaching Abortion in Bible and Religious Studies Courses (Eric J. Harvey).

Some relevant PaleoJudaica posts are collected here.

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NTA books at SBL

THE APOCRYPHYCITY BLOG: Christian Apocrypha Books to Look for at SBL 2023 (Tony Burke).
The SBL Annual Meeting presents an ideal opportunity to check out new books on Christian apocrypha. As you make your way through the publishers’ exhibition, keep an eye out for these publications. If there is a book missing in the list, please pass along the details.


Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Armitage, From Qumran to Jude (Sheffield Phoenix)

From Qumran to Jude: A History of Social Crisis at Qumran and in Early Jewish Christianity

By Chris Armitage


Many have noted the Qumran-like language of Jude. Chris Armitage provides a detailed comparative consideration of the similarities between Jude and the Dead Sea Scrolls peshers in the Hebrew Bible. The writers, in each of these texts, frequently appeal to examples of eschatological punishment for deviant theology and conduct, from the Hebrew Bible.

This study delves systematically into Jude’s use of pesher technique—appropriating a Hebrew Bible example of deviant teaching and behaviour and its eschatological consequences and applying it to the present—and shows, across the divide of Koine Greek and Classical Hebrew, that this is same technique as found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Armitage infers that similar socio-theological crises faced Jude’s and the Qumran community, requiring each to generate literature containing purity and pollution rhetoric, derived from remodelling Hebrew Bible predictions of eschatological punishment to fit its own time, in order to ensure internal solidarity.

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Interview with new SBL Executive Director Steed Davidson

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Guiding SBL into the Future. An interview with SBL Executive Director Steed Davidson.
Steed Davidson is the new Executive Director of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), the largest and oldest academic society devoted to critical biblical studies. He previously served as Professor of Hebrew Bible, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Dean of the Faculty at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. BAR had a chance to talk with Davidson about his vision for the future of SBL—and biblical studies.

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Sidg 2023 observance canceled due to the war

ETHIOPIC WATCH: The annual Jewish-Ethiopian holiday ceremony was canceled due to the war. "The essence of Sigd is the renewal of the covenant between our people and God, reflecting our yearning for Zion and Jerusalem," Ethiopian-Israeli MK Dr. Tsega Melaku said on X (Zvika Klein, Maariv/Jerusalem Post).
Due to the war, the Sigd annual national holiday ceremony, celebrating the ancient Ethiopian Jewish tradition, was canceled and only a few of the leaders participated in a small ceremony. The event was due to take place on Monday in Jerusalem, and usually hosts senior figures such as the Israeli president, as well as the rabbis of the Ethiopian communities.


Sidg observance was also much scaled down during the Covid lockdown in 2020. For more on the Sidg holiday, follow the links from there.

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Monday, November 13, 2023

Human Interaction with the Natural World in Wisdom Literature and Beyond (Forti Festschrift; T&T Clark)

Human Interaction with the Natural World in Wisdom Literature and Beyond

Essays in Honour of Tova L. Forti

Mordechai Cogan (Anthology Editor) , Katharine J. Dell (Anthology Editor) , David A. Glatt-Gilad (Anthology Editor)

Hardback $120.00 $108.00

Ebook (PDF) $108.00 $86.40

Product details

Published Jun 01 2023
Format Hardback
Edition 1st
Extent 330
ISBN 9780567701206
Imprint T&T Clark
Illustrations 36 black and white images
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Series The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing


Created in honor of the work of Professor Tova Forti, this collection considers the natural world in key wisdom books - Proverbs, Job and Qoheleth/Ecclesiastes, Ben Sira and Song of Songs/Solomon - and also examines particular animal and plant imagery in other texts in the Hebrew Bible. It crucially involves ancient Near Eastern parallels and like texts from the classical world, but also draws on rabbinic tradition and broader interpretative works, as well as different textual traditions such as the LXX and Qumran scrolls.

Whilst the natural world, notably plants and animals, is a key uniting element, the human aspect is also crucial. To explore this, contributors also treat the wider concerns within wisdom literature on human beings in relation to their social context, and in comparison with neighbouring nations. They emphasize that the human, animal and plant worlds act together in synthesis, all enhanced and imbued by the world-view of wisdom literature.

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Hogue, The Ten Commandments (CUP)

The Ten Commandments
Monuments of Memory, Belief, and Interpretation

AUTHOR: Timothy S. Hogue, University of Pennsylvania
DATE PUBLISHED: September 2023
FORMAT: Hardback
ISBN: 9781009366892


The Decalogue, commonly known as the Ten Commandments, is usually analysed as a text. Within the Hebrew Bible, however, it is depicted as a monument– an artifact embedded in rituals that a community uses to define itself. Indeed, the phraseology, visual representations, and ritual practices of contemporary monuments used to describe the Ten Commandments imbue them with authority. In this volume, Timothy Hogue, presents a new translation, commentary, and literary analysis of the Decalogue through a comparative study of the commandments with inscribed monuments in the ancient Levant. Drawing on archaeological and art historical studies of monumentality, he grounds the Decalogue's composition and redaction in the material culture and political history of ancient Israel and ancient West Asia. Presenting a new inner-biblical reception history of the text, Hogue's book also provides a new model for dating biblical texts that is based on archaeological and historical evidence, rather than purely literary critical methods.

  • Provides a fresh look at one of the Bible's most famous texts and introduces scholars to a corpus of ancient West Asian texts that has yet to be fully appreciated in biblical studies
  • Develops a new approach to the comparative method in biblical studies that is grounded in archaeology, art history, and material culture studies
  • Provides scholars with a new model for dating biblical texts that is based on concrete archaeological and historical evidence as opposed to purely literary critical methods, as well as a new approach to analyzing the reception history of biblical texts

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Knohl, The Messiah Confrontation (JPS)

The Messiah Confrontation
Pharisees versus Sadducees and the Death of Jesus

Israel Knohl
Translated by David Maisel

224 pages
2 indexes

November 2022

eBook (PDF)
November 2022

eBook (EPUB)
November 2022
$29.95Add to Cart

About the Book

2023 Top Ten Book from the Academy of Parish Clergy

The Messiah Confrontation casts new and fascinating light on why Jesus was killed. v Grounded in meticulous research on the messianism debates in the Bible and during the Second Temple period, biblical scholar Israel Knohl argues that Jesus’s trial was in reality a dramatic clash between two Jewish groups holding opposing ideologies of messianism and anti-messianism, with both ideologies running through the Bible. The Pharisees (forefathers of the rabbinic sages) and most of the Jewish people had a conception of a Messiah similar to Jesus: like the prophets and most psalmists, they expected the arrival of a godlike Messiah. However, the judges who sentenced Jesus to death were Sadducees, who were fighting with the Pharisees largely because they repudiated the Messiah idea. Thus, the trial of Jesus was not a clash between Jewish and what would become Christian doctrines but a confrontation between two internal Jewish positions—expecting a Messiah or rejecting the Messiah idea—in which Jesus and the Pharisees were actually on the same side.

Knohl contends that had the assigned judges been Pharisees rather than Sadducees, Jesus would not have been convicted and crucified. The Pharisees’ disagreement with Jesus was solely over whether Jesus was the Messiah—but historically, for Jews, arguing about who was or wasn’t the Messiah was not uncommon.

The Messiah Confrontation has far-reaching consequences for the relationship between Christians and Jews.

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Sunday, November 12, 2023

What Is Akkadian?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: What Is Akkadian? Exploring the language of the Babylonians and Assyrians (Nathan Steinmeyer).

Because you should know these things.

There are many, many PaleoJudaica posts on the Akkadian language and its literature. A few highlights are here, here, here, here, here, here, and links.

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Gross, Babylonian Jews and Sasanian imperialism in late antiquity (CUP, forthcoming)

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Babylonian Jews and Sasanian Imperialism. Notice of a Forthcoming Book: Gross, Simcha. 2023. Babylonian Jews and Sasanian imperialism in late antiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Publication is scheduled for February 2024. Follow the link for description and link to the publisher's page.

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