Saturday, December 02, 2023

On the Eshbaal inscription

NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY: Who Are You Eshba‘al ben Bad‘a? (unattributed,

The Eshbaal (’Eshba‛al / Ishbaal / ’Ishba‛al) inscription was excavated in 2015 at Khirbet Qeiyafa. Ishbaal is the name of a son of King Saul. The name means "Man of Baal" or Man of the Lord." The Masoretic Text prefers the bowdlerized form Ishboshet, "Man of Shame."

PaleoJudaica posts on the Eshbaal inscription are collected here.

For the Jerubbaal jug, mentioned in the article, see here and follow the links back from here.

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Kynes, An Obituary for "Wisdom Literature" (OUP)

An Obituary for "Wisdom Literature"

The Birth, Death, and Intertextual Reintegration of a Biblical Corpus

Will Kynes


Published: 15 September 2023

352 Pages


ISBN: 9780198898689


An Obituary for "Wisdom Literature" considers the definitional issues long plaguing Wisdom scholarship. Will Kynes argues that Wisdom Literature is not a category used in early Jewish and Christian interpretation. It first emerged in modern scholarship, shaped by its birthplace in nineteenth-century Germany. Kynes casts new light on the traits long associated with the category, such as universalism, humanism, rationalism, empiricism, and secularism, which so closely reflect the ideals of that time. Since it was originally assembled to reflect modern ideals, it is not surprising that biblical scholars have faced serious difficulties defining the corpus on another basis or integrating it into the theology of the Hebrew Bible.

The problem, however, is not only why the texts were perceived in this one way, but that they are perceived in only one way at all. Therefore, Kynes builds on recent theories from literary studies and cognitive science to create a new alternative approach to genre that integrates hermeneutical insight from multiple genre proposals. This theory is then applied to Job, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs, mapping out the complex textual network contributing to their meaning. With the death of the Wisdom Literature category, both the so-called Wisdom texts and the concept of wisdom find new life.

Published in hardback in 2019, but this is the first time I have noted it.

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Friday, December 01, 2023

More on the Mount Ebal curse tablet / fishing weight

NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY OR ANCIENT PISCATORY PROCUREMENT? New Studies Debunk Controversial Biblical ‘Curse Tablet’ From Mt. Ebal. A lead tablet discovered at ‘Joshua’s altar’ in the West Bank was trumpeted as the oldest Hebrew inscription. Skeptics suspect it says nothing and the thing was a fishing weight (Ariel David, Haaretz).
Look! It’s a 3,400-year-old inscribed lead tablet that could prove the historicity of the Bible. But actually there is no discernible writing on it and the purported tablet is likely a fishing-net weight commonly used in ancient times.

That’s the short version of the latest chapter in a bizarre archaeological row centered on a minuscule lead artifact and a contested ancient site in the West Bank, believed by some to be the biblical altar built by Joshua on Mt. Ebal.


Yeah, that about sums it up.

Yesterday I noted a Jerusalem Post article on the as yet unpublished IEJ articles. Follow the links from there for many other posts on the object. This Haaretz piece has more details while we wait for the IEJ articles.

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Himmelfarb Festschrift (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Above, Below, Before, and After. Studies in Judaism and Christianity in Conversation with Martha Himmelfarb. Edited by Ra'anan Boustan, David Frankfurter, and Annette Yoshiko Reed. 2023. VII, 540 pages. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 188. 169,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-162520-6.
Published in English.
The research of Martha Himmelfarb has pushed scholars to re-examine what we thought we knew about the formative histories of Judaism and Christianity. In studies on such topics as apocalypses, pseudepigrapha, and messianism, Himmelfarb opened up new perspectives on Second Temple Judaism and its legacy within its late antique and medieval successor communities. Inspired by the sweeping breadth of her learning and scholarship, this volume explores the transmission and transformation of Jewish and Christian texts and traditions within and across the boundaries of language, culture, and religion. The volume's contributors range widely across sources, genres, and contexts, from the Dead Sea Scrolls and Hellenistic Judaism to Nag Hammadi literature and Jewish and Christian magic, and from classical rabbinic literature and patristic writings, to Hekhalot literature and medieval midrashim. Contributors not only revisit the histories of apocalypticism, sectarianism, and messianism but also take up questions regarding the materiality of manuscripts, the boundaries of religious communities and identities, the ritual uses of heavenly visions, and the history of Jewish priests and priesthood before and after the destruction of Jerusalem Temple. In dialogue with Himmelfarb's work, the volume exemplifies the value of studying Jewish and Christian traditions in concert as well as bridging the disciplinary divides that too often fragment the fields of Biblical Studies, Second Temple Judaism, New Testament Studies, Rabbinics, Patristics, Late Antiquity, and Medieval Studies.
Congratulations to Professor Himmelfarb. Well deserved!

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Southwood & Morse (eds.), Psalms and the Use of the Critical Imagination (Gillingham Festschrift; T&T Clark)

Psalms and the Use of the Critical Imagination

Essays in Honour of Professor Susan Gillingham

Katherine E. Southwood (Anthology Editor) , Holly Morse (Anthology Editor)

$39.95 $35.95

$115.00 $103.50

Ebook (PDF)
$35.95 $28.76

Product details

Published Oct 19 2023
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 256
ISBN 9780567706188
Imprint T&T Clark
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Series The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing


The contributors provide fresh insight into the context surrounding the composition and reception of the Psalms, the relationships between the Psalms, and of early audiences who engaged with the material. Close attention is also paid to specific interpretative problems which emerge in the Psalms, both linguistic and theological.

Consequently, there is the creation of a more sophisticated historical reconstruction of how the Psalms were used originally and in subsequent periods, opening up challenges and possibilities for scholars through emphasizing the need in critical Psalms scholarship for vitality and imagination.

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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Is the Mount Ebal "curse tablet" actually a lead fishing weight?

NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY? Experts question claim of 'earliest Hebrew inscription' on Mt. Ebal. “These claims are quite dramatic and require close inspection,” wrote the doubters, covering some 21 pages in the Israel Exploration Journal. (Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Jerusalem Post).
But now, Prof. Aren Maeir – head of the Institute of Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University (BIU) in Ramat Gan, and Christopher Rollston (George Washington University), are critically considering the context and dating of the object, along with questions on the character of the site. Most importantly, the very reading that Stripling et al. suggest for the inner inscription (the outer one was not published) is seriously questioned, and it is shown to be problematic at best, and perhaps even non-existent.
The article reports that a new issue of IEJ contains three articles on the object, but I can't find the issue online yet.

For lots of PaleoJudaica posts on the Mount Ebal "curse tablet" (or whatever it is), start here and here (posts in which I give my own provisional assessment) and follow the links. I share the skepticism reported of the writers of the IEJ articles.

UPDATE: At his blog, Aren Maier explains why I can't find the IEJ issue. (HT Joseph Lauer.)

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Job: Associate Prof in OT/HB at Aarhus University

H-JUDAIC: FEATURED JOB: Associate Professor in Old Testament Studies, Aarhus University.
The position

We are seeking a talented and dedicated colleague with a strong track record and an innovative future research plan in Old Testament Studies. The successful applicant is expected to contribute to the development of the Department of Theology and its core activities in the areas of research, education, talent development and knowledge exchange. The successful applicant will play a key role in the ongoing creation of internationally recognised research areas within Old Testament Studies and take active part in the work of the research group in Biblical Studies, contributing to its current profile with new areas of expertise. The successful applicant will also develop collaborative research initiatives with other disciplines and develop projects with external financing.

We emphasise the importance of taking part in the daily life of the Department of Theology, as well as the significance of good working relationships, both among colleagues and with our students. The successful applicant is expected to be present in the department on a daily basis.

Follow the link for further particulars and application information. Also note: "Applicants must be able to teach and communicate in Danish at university level. If the successful applicant is not fluent in Danish, they will be expected to learn Danish within two years."

This quite long advert mentions an application deadline day, but I can't find a place where it gives one. In any case the post commences on "1 August 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter."

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Tenure-track OT/HB job at Sewanee: The University of the South

Assistant Professor, Old Testament/Hebrew Bible

Sewanee: The University of the South
Sewanee, TN, TN
Position Type
Tenured & Tenure-Track
Employment Type
Full Time
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution
Sewanee: The University of the South

Job Details

Position Overview
The School of Theology of the University of the South, a seminary of the Episcopal Church, invites applications for a tenure-track position in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, beginning July 2024. The successful candidate will be an effective teacher and scholar who can equip students with skills to engage critically with the texts of the Old Testament. They will teach two courses per semester in our degree programs, plus an additional course from time to time in either our summer or non-degree programs.


Follow the link for further particulars and application information. "Review of applications will commence on December 1st, with initial interviews by Zoom to follow in January." Also note: "Ordination in the Episcopal Church is preferred; affinity with the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church is required."

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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Leiden Jewish Studies Association

ANNOUNCEMENT: In-Depth Knowledge on Judaism, Jewish History Crucial Now (Mirage News).
The newly established Leiden Jewish Studies Association aims to bring together Leiden scholars working on Judaism. The first annual conference will take place in Leiden on 6 and 7 December. Leiden professors and co-organisers of the LJSA Sarah Cramsey and J├╝rgen Zangenberg talk about their plans.


Although the agenda of the Association is more general, it looks like it has a good bit of interest in ancient Judaism.

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The last of the Ptolemies—Guess who?

THE WORLD IS FULL OF HISTORY: The last of the Ptolemies. Zahi Hawass describes the life and background of Cleopatra VII, Egypt’s last and most famous Ptolemaic queen (ahram online).

This essay gives detailed information on the historical, cultural, and geographic background of Cleoptra—starting with the Pyramid Age of the Old Kingdom! Very useful in that regard. But it says little about the life of Cleopatra herself. It reads like part one of a series, but there is no other indication of that.

Dr. Hawass also published an earlier series on the world of Cleopatra but, again, the current essay is not presented as a continuation.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on Cleopatra VII (the Cleopatra), who reportedly spoke Hebrew and Aramaic, start there, plus here and here, and follow the links.

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Mastnjak, Before the Scrolls (OUP)

Before the Scrolls

A Material Approach to Israel's Prophetic Library

Nathan Mastnjak


Published: 29 August 2023
264 Pages
ISBN: 9780190911096


Before the Scrolls traces the media history of the biblical prophetic corpus to propose a material approach to biblical literature. Although scholars understand that the material of composition was the scroll rather than the codex, they persist in imagining the form as a single textual object. This assumption pervades centuries of scholarship and drives many of the questions asked about biblical composition. Nathan Mastnjak raises the question of the original physical format of biblical texts and argues that many of the literary works that would eventually become the Bible's prophetic books were not written initially as books. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel were originally composed on loosely organized collections of multiple short papyrus scrolls and sheets. Though rarely considered in scholarship, the realia of a text's form, format, production, and material substance have a profound influence on the meaning of the text. Unlike works committed to single book-scrolls, these collections did not have predetermined orders of reading and were susceptible to multiple arrangements. Only in the Hellenistic era were these compositions edited, organized, and copied into single volume book-scrolls such as those known from the Dead Sea.

By investigating the relationship between form and meaning and the transition from the collection to the book, Mastnjak suggests novel solutions to classic problems in biblical scholarship, such as the relationships between the MT and LXX of Jeremiah and that between First and Second Isaiah. The failure to account for the materiality of the prophetic corpus has led scholarship to occasionally ask the wrong questions of these compositions and has blinded it to the vital role that Hellenistic bookmakers played in the creation of the Bible as we know it. Reconceiving much Judean literature on a collection-model rather than book-model has significant implications for our understanding of how the Bible itself was composed and read.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Schiffman: No, the Vatican doesn't have the Temple treasures


Professor Schiffman explains why he concludes that the Vatican does not, and indeed could not, have the Temple treasures.

I've also seen some of these recent claims about the Vatican having these artifacts, but I did not post on them. I tend to ignore such stories and the related ones on how the Ark of the Covenant has been located and is about to be revealed. If someone wants to produce some actual authenticated artifacts, I will be happy to reconsider.

Background here and many links. I have commented on the matter here and here.

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The West Semitic Research Project

THE AWOL BLOG: West Semitic Research Project.
The West Semitic Research Project is an academic project affiliated with the University of Southern California School of Religion and directed by Professor Emeritus Bruce Zuckerman. For the past 40 years WSRP has used advanced photographic and computer imaging techniques to document artifacts and texts from the ancient Near East and Mediterranean worlds. In doing this we have built a vast collection of images that are available to scholars, students, educators and the general public through the USC Digital Library.
It's always good to have an excuse to mention the West Semitic Research Project. Jeepers, has it really been 40 years since I was its first research assistant?

For many past posts on it, see here and links, plus, here, here, and here.

UPDATE: Broken link fixed!

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Burr, Authenticating Criteria in Jesus Research and Beyond (Brill)

Authenticating Criteria in Jesus Research and Beyond

An Interdisciplinary Methodology

Series: Biblical Interpretation Series

Author: Kevin B. Burr

Are the criteria of authenticity of Jesus research idiosyncratic to New Testament studies, vehicles of subjectivity, and fundamentally flawed vestiges of form criticism as some claim today? If so, why do opponents of the criteria-approach still use them? Or, are the criteria the tools of general historiography as others assert? If true, none have adequately demonstrated where and how principles such as multiple attestation, general and historical coherence, dissimilarity and embarrassment feature in general historiographic method—until now. This study analyzes the methods of general historians and Jesus researchers (who favor or oppose the criteria) and demonstrates that, regardless of sub-discipline, authenticating criteria are inherent to the practice of historiography.

Prices from (excl. shipping): €109.00

Copyright Year: 2024

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-54902-9
Publication: 16 Oct 2023
EUR €109.00

Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-54901-2
Publication: 19 Oct 2023
EUR €109.00

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Monday, November 27, 2023

Review of Nutzman, Contested Cures

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Contested Cures: Identity and Ritual Healing in Roman and Late Antique Palestine (Mika Ahuvia).
Megan S. Nutzman. Contested Cures: Identity and Ritual Healing in Roman and Late Antique Palestine. Edinburgh Studies in Religion in Antiquity. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2022. Pp. xvii + 272.

A gift to those of us in Jewish and Christian Studies, Nutzman presents a regional study of Roman Palestine that focuses on its non-Jewish and non-Christian populations and their shared ritual practices. ...

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The latest on Christian Apocrypha studies

THE APOCRYPHICITY BLOG: What More Do You Need? The Next Wave in Christian Apocrypha Texts and Translations. The following paper was presented at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (Tony Burke).

If you are interested in ancient Christian Apocrypha, or the heavily overlapping category New Testament Apocrypha, read this paper. It has the latest news on both from an immensely authoritative expert on the subject.

I was at that historic 2006 meeting, held at a conference organized by Pierluigi Piovanelli at the University of Ottawa. I reported on the conference here, here, and here. The end of the third post has my notes on the meeting.

Tony kindly mentions the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project, which was the inspiration for his More New Testament Apocrypha Project. MOTP volume 2 is in the hands of the publisher, Eerdmans. It should be out by early 2025.

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National Library of Israel's new building opens

RENOVATED: Unveiling the new National Library of Israel's building. About a month after the postponement of the official opening date, most of the people who used to spend hours in the old building are going to National Library of Israel in its new building (Peggy Cidor, Jerusalem Post).
Founded in Jerusalem in 1892, NLI serves as the major institution of national memory for the Jewish people worldwide and Israelis of all backgrounds and faiths. Its collection includes handwritten works by Maimonides and Sir Isaac Newton, Islamic manuscripts dating back to the 9th century, and the personal archives of leading cultural and intellectual figures such as Gershon Sholem, Martin Buber, Natan Sharansky, and Naomi Shemer. The NLI also holds the world’s largest collections of textual Judaica, Jewish and Israeli music, and maps of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, as well as world-class collections of manuscripts, ancient maps, rare books, photographs, and communal and personal archival material.
Background on the renovation of the Israel National Library is here and links.

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Sunday, November 26, 2023

The Medinet Madi Library of Manichaean Codices at 90 (Brill)

The Medinet Madi Library of Manichaean Codices at 90

Papers from the Symposium at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, 18-19 October 2019

Series: Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies, Volume: 104

Volume Editors: Jason D. Beduhn , Paul Dilley , and Professor Iain Gardner

The Medinet Madi Library comes of age in this landmark volume as one of the 20th century’s major finds of religious manuscripts. Discovered in Egypt’s Fayum region in 1929, these Coptic codices contain a cross-section of the sacred literature of the Manichaean religion. Early work on the collection in the 1930s was cut short by the ravages of the second world war. Recent decades have brought multiple new editorial projects, on which this volume offers a comprehensive set of status reports, as well as individual studies on aspects of the Manichaean religion informed by the library’s contents.

Prices from (excl. shipping): €124.00

Copyright Year: 2023

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-54293-8
Publication: 26 Jun 2023
EUR €124.00

Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-53982-2
Publication: 04 Jul 2023
EUR €124.00

Cross-file under Manichean (Manichaean) Watch.

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T&T Clark Handbook of Food in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel

T&T Clark Handbook of Food in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel

Janling Fu (Anthology Editor) , Cynthia Shafer-Elliott (Anthology Editor) , Carol Meyers (Anthology Editor)

$54.95 $49.45

$175.00 $157.50

Ebook (Epub & Mobi)
$49.45 $39.56

Ebook (PDF)
$49.45 $39.56

Product details

Published Aug 24 2023
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 640
ISBN 9780567702913
Imprint T&T Clark
Illustrations 39 bw illus
Dimensions 10 x 7 inches
Series T&T Clark Handbooks
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing


Food and feasting are key themes in the Hebrew Bible and the culture it represents. The contributors to this handbook draw on a multitude of disciplines to offer an overview of food in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Israel. Archaeological materials from biblical lands, along with the recent interest in ethnographic data, a new focus in anthropology, and emerging technologies provide valuable information about ancient foodways.

The contributors examine not only the textual materials of the Hebrew Bible and related epigraphic works, but also engage in a wider archaeological, environmental, and historical understanding of ancient Israel as it pertains to food.

Divided into five parts, this handbook examines and considers environmental and socio-economic issues such as climate and trade, the production of raw materials, and the technology of harvesting and food processing. The cultural role of food and meals in festivals, holidays, and biblical regulations is also discussed, as is the way food and drink are treated in biblical texts, in related epigraphic materials, and in iconography.

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