Saturday, January 06, 2024

Haxby, The First Apocalypse of James (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Mikael Haxby. The First Apocalypse of James. Martyrdom and Sexual Difference. 2023. XI, 163 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 591. 74,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-162560-2.
Published in English.
In this study, Mikael Haxbyoffers a comprehensive reading of a little-studied ancient Christian text, making use of recently discovered manuscript evidence. This text was originally found in the Nag Hammadi Codices and has historically been classified as Gnostic or heretical. Using new manuscript evidence, the author shows that the First Apocalypse of James intervenes in ancient Christian debates about martyrdom, ritual practice, scriptural interpretation, and questions of gender in both theology and social order. By bringing the First Apocalypse of James back into dialogue with other Christian texts, whether later classified as heretical or not, this study offers new insights into how Christians responded to the threat of political violence, engaged with holy texts, and produced new social formations in which women might hold authoritative positions.
For more on that "new manuscript evidence" for the First Apocalypse of James, see here, here, and here. I hadn't heard anything more about it since late 2017. It's good to see a monograph out that now takes into account the new material. Presumably the book will address the questions that were being raised about its provenance.

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Soul Matters: Plato and Platonists on the Nature of the Soul (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Soul Matters: Plato and Platonists on the Nature of the Soul
Sara Ahbel-Rappe, Danielle A. Layne, Crystal Addey, editors

ISBN 9781628375480
Volume WGRWSup 22v Status Available

Publication Date October 2023

Hardback $100.00
Paperback $80.00
eBook $80.00

Platonic discourses concerning the soul are incredibly rich and multitiered. Plato's own diverse and disparate arguments and images offer competing accounts of how we are to understand the nature of the soul. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that the accounts of Platonists who engage Plato’s dialogues are often riddled with questions. This volume takes up the theories of well-known philosophers and theologians, including Plato, Plotinus, Proclus, the emperor Julian, and Origen, as well as lesser-known but equally important figures in a collection of essays on topics such as transmigration of the soul, the nature of the Platonist enlightenment experience, soul and gender, pagan ritual practices, Christian and pagan differences about the soul, mental health and illness, and many other topics. Contributors include Crystal Addey, Sara Ahbel-Rappe, Dirk Baltzly, Robert Berchman, Jay Bregman, Luc Brisson, Kevin Corrigan, John Dillon, John F. Finamore, Lloyd P. Gerson, Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum, Elizabeth Hill, Sarah Klitenic Wear, Danielle A. Layne, Ilaria L. E. Ramelli, Gregory Shaw, Svetla Slaveva-Griffine, Suzanne Stern-Gillet, Harold Tarrant, Van Tu, and John D. Turner.

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Friday, January 05, 2024

Stories from BAS 2023 Dig Scholarship winners

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Tales from the Trench. 2023 BAS Dig Scholarship winners share their stories.
Every year, the Biblical Archaeology Society offers dig scholarships to selected applicants who wish to participate in a dig and demonstrate sufficient need. In this Bible History Daily article, a few of our 2023 BAS Dig Scholarship winners share what made their dig experiences so special.

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Lecture on 2 Esdras by Matthew Goff

UPCOMING LECTURE: Matthew Goff: “The Book of 2 Esdras: Jewish, Christian, Both, Neither” (Jewish Boston).
As part of the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning’s Jewish-Christian Lecture Series, professor Matthew Goff will present his lecture, “The Book of 2 Esdras: Jewish, Christian, Both, Neither” in professor Yonder Gillihan’s course, “Early Christianity in Its Jewish Context.”
On 21 March. Follow the link for a summary.

The Book of 4 Ezra was dropped by Judaism shortly after it was written (c. 100 CE). But it has a long history of transmission by Christians. Notably, "2 Esdras" is a Latin translation of 4 Ezra that includes two other short works (5-6 Ezra).

This is a good excuse to mention that our forthcoming Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, volume 2, (MOTP2) reprints Michael Stone's English translation of the Armenian version of 4 Ezra, with a new introduction by Vered Hillel.

The Armenian version translates a Greek version of 4 Ezra that had been heavily edited in late antiquity by Christians, with changes that are sometimes of considerable theological interest.

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Dreams and Visions in the Bible and Related Literature (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Dreams and Visions in the Bible and Related Literature
Richard J. Bautch, Jean-Fran├žois Racine, editors

ISBN 9781628375534
Volume SemeiaSt 101
Status Available
Price $40.00
Publication Date November 2023

Paperback
$40.00

Hardback $60.00
Paperback $40.00
eBook $40.00

The essays in Dreams and Visions in the Bible and Related Literature focus on how the reading community interprets dreams or visions and what is at stake for whom in a dream or vision’s interpretation. Contributors explore the hermeneutics of readership, the relationship between reading and intertextuality, and the interplay of affect and emotion within dreams and visions in religious texts. A variety of methodologies are employed, including rhetorical analysis, critical theory, trauma studies, the analysis of space and society, and the history of emotions. Contributors are Richard J. Bautch, Genevive Dibley, Roy Fisher, Gina Hens-Piazza, Joseph McDonald, Deborah Thompson Prince, Jean-Fran├žois Racine, Andrea Spatafora, and Rodney A. Werline.

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Thursday, January 04, 2024

Review of Mastnjak, Before the Scrolls

THE BIBLICAL REVIEW BLOG: Review: “Before the Scrolls: A Material Approach to Israel’s Prophetic Library” by Nathan Mastnjak (William Brown).
Nathan Mastnjak. Before the Scrolls: A Material Approach to Israel’s Prophetic Library. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2023. 250 pp.

... Shifting from Jeremiah and in light of his discussions on book history, Mastnjak argues that the redactional history of the Book of the Twelve is a helpful model for thinking about Jeremiah via a collection model. Subsequently, Mastnjak brings colophons from the Hebrew Bible and Akkadian literature, as well as Jeremiah’s mention of a “single scroll,” to strengthen his claim for a collection model in Jeremiah. This model likewise works for Psalms, the Book of the Twelve, Ezekiel, Daniel, Proverbs, and Samuel and the Song of Hannah. Simply put, the evidence that Mastnjak proposes for the claim that versions of Jeremiah reflect “a thematically and redactionally unified collection” as opposed to steps in composition history “suggest a reorientation of how biblical scholarship imagines its objects of study” (107). ...

It's nice to have another typically thorough review from William Brown.

I noted the publication of this book here.

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Nabucco is playing in Idaho

OPERA: ‘Nabucco’ Offers Operatic Version of King Nebuchadnezzer and the Jews (KAREN BOSSICK, Eye on Sun Valley).
Ancient Babylon will come to life when the Metropolitan Opera presents an opera of biblical proportions on Saturday.

Sun Valley Opera and Broadway will present the live simulcast of Met Opera’s “Nabucco” at 10:55 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, at the Magic Lantern Cinemas in Ketchum

[...]

For PaleoJudaica posts on this opera by Verdi, including a 2010 performance at Masada, see here, here, here and links, and here (cf. here).

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

What William Ross read in 2023

WILLIAM A. ROSS: MY 2023 READING LIST.

This is his "mostly pleasure reading" list. Perhaps that's why the Septuagint doesn't show up. I hope that he will also give us a list of recommended new Septuagint publications, as he did last year.

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

HNY from Bibliographia Iranica

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Happy New Year. Arash Zeini gives some stats and updates on BiblioIranica's 2023.

I find this blog very useful for keeping up with what is going on in the field of ancient Iranian studies. And often it overlaps with ancient Judaism. I linked to it a dozen times in 2023. And happy belated ten-year anniversary!

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

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Biblical Studies Carnival 213

ZWINGLIUS REVIVUS: The December ‘Out with the Old in with the New’ Stupendous Biblical Studies Carnival of Stupendousness.

Jim West reviews the history of Bible blogging ("biblioblogging") and kindly presents me and Mark Goodacre as its orginators. But we should also mention that AKMA Adams was blogging, often on Bible-related matters, at AKMA’s Random Thoughts before either of us, and he continues in 2024.

David Meadows was another early adopter, with his Classics blog rogueclassicism. It too is still running, although David has not posted lately, due to ill health. Get well soon, David!

Jim also links to his history of biblioblogging published in 2010. I too wrote account of my blogging experience in 2005. It is still available, although Blogger unhelpfully wiped many of the links in it in a few years later. Alas, my 2005 paper on blogging has been link-rotted away. You can read the abstract here.

My history of (SBL paper on) biblioblogging from 2010 is still up: What Just Happened. The rise of "biblioblogging" in the first decade of the twenty-first century. It links to the 2005 essay.

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Armstrong Institute's top ten 2023 archaeological discoveries

ANNUAL ARCHAEOLOGY LIST WATCH: Top 10 Biblical Archaeology Discoveries of 2023. Our take on the top discoveries in 2023 (Armstrong Institute of Biblical Archaeology).
Another year in biblical archaeology is behind us—and a big year it was, particularly in discoveries and research relating to kings David and Solomon.

What follows is our top 10 list of biblical archaeology discoveries for 2023. Some of these are in the form of individual small finds, some are broader site finds, and some are the product of general research and publication. Where applicable, our podcast videos with the researchers in question are posted below.

Enjoy!

[...]

One could debate the interpretations of some of these discoveries, but all of them are interesting. PaleoJudaica has also posted on many of them.

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

Top 2023 Greek Archaeological Discoveries

ANNUAL ARCHAEOLOGY LIST WATCH: Top Greek Archaeological Discoveries of 2023 (unattributed, Greek City Times).
2023 has been a remarkable year for Greek archaeology, offering thrilling glimpses into the ancient world and enriching our understanding of history. Here’s a spotlight on some of the most captivating discoveries ...
This top-four list is mostly of interest for the history of Greek mythology, but it includes that courtesan's (?) tomb discovered in Israel.

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

Were the lost gospels really lost?

NOT SO MUCH: Were the lost gospels really lost? The myth that alternative gospels were suppressed by empire and only recently rediscovered is too good to be true (Philip Jenkins, The Christian Century).
We also need to be very skeptical about claims that all those ancient visions of an alternative Jesus were lost until very modern times—indeed, until the 1970s. In fact, any educated person in 1900 had access to a substantial library of texts and translations that told you all you needed to know about the “Gnostic Jesus,” and new finds continued steadily throughout the early 20th century.
Professor Jenkins has published a book and many essays (the latter especially at the Anxious Bench Blog) on this topic. PaleoJudaica has linked to some of his essays and to related articles, but a reminder is alway in order.

For those past links, which cover in detail many point raised in this short article, see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Lundhaug & Bull (eds.), The Nag Hammadi Codices as Monastic Books (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: The Nag Hammadi Codices as Monastic Books. Edited by Hugo Lundhaug and Christian H. Bull. 2023. XIII, 384 pages. Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum / Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity 134. 99,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-162232-8.
Published in English.
Since their discovery in 1945, the significance of the texts contained in the thirteen papyrus manuscripts now known as the Nag Hammadi Codices has been fiercely debated. In the history of scholarship, the texts have primarily been analyzed in light of the contexts of their hypothetical Greek originals, which in a majority of cases have been thought to have been authored in the second and third centuries CE in a variety of contexts. The articles in this volume take a different approach. Instead of focusing on hypothetical originals, they ask how the texts may have been used and understood by those who read the Coptic papyrus codices in which the texts have been preserved and take as their point of departure recent research indicating that these manuscripts were produced and used by early Egyptian monastics. It is shown that the reading habits and theological ideas attested historically for Upper Egyptian monasticism in the fourth and fifth centuries resonate well with several of the texts within the Nag Hammadi Codices.

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Monday, January 01, 2024

18 Facts About the Cairo Geniza

CAIRO GENIZA WATCH: 18 Facts About the Cairo Geniza (Menachem Posner and Mordechai Rubin, Chabad.org).

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the Cairo Geniza, start here and just follow those links!

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

Koch & Sergi (eds.), Studies in the History and Archaeology of Ancient Israel and Judah (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Studies in the History and Archaeology of Ancient Israel and Judah. Edited by Ido Koch and Omer Sergi. 2023. VI, 247 pages. Archaeology and Bible 7. 99,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-162383-7.
Published in English.
The archaeological and historical study of the southern Levant during the first millennium BCE – the Iron Age kingdoms and their societies as well as their successors during the Persian and Hellenistic periods -has dramatically developed in recent decades. This is the result of two common and overlapping trends: the vast archaeological exploration of the southern Levant and the shift in the studies of biblical literature. The ten contributions in this volume demonstrate the range of questions, methods, and theoretical frameworks employed in the current study of Judah and neighbouring regions during the first millennium BCE and beyond.

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

Happy 2024

HAPPY NEW YEAR from PaleoJudaica!

Best wishes and prayers for goodness and peace this year. And do continue to make PaleoJudaica a regular part of your year.

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

Sunday, December 31, 2023

PaleoJudaica's top ten for 2023

ONE LAST 2023 TOP TEN LIST

I used to give an annual list of top PaleoJudaica stories in my anniversary posts, but in recent years I have been too busy in March to get around to it. So ...

Below is my own list of PaleoJudaica's top ten stories/posts for 2023. My criterion is stories that I found most interesting. They are in no particular order.

• The Mount Ebal tablet was in the news a lot, either as an important inscription or a comparatively insignificant fishing weight. I am not persuaded that there is any writing on it. Start at Latest on the Mount Ebal curse tablet / fishing weight and follow the links back.

• The "Vesuvius Challenge" competition (for deciphering a carbonized Herculaneum scroll) has produced an early winner. Start at Profile of the Vesuvius Challenge prizewinner and follow the links.

• The Egyptian Book of the Dead was also in the news, not least with reports of two new manuscripts discovered at Saqqara. Follow the links from The Egyptian Book of the Dead at the Getty Museum. An ancient mummification workshop was also excavated in Saqqara this year. See the links.

• The Codex Sassoon, roughly the oldest nearly complete Hebrew Bible, was auctioned by Sotheby's in May: Oldest Hebrew Bible up for auction. I suggested that the owner should donate it to a museum in Israel. The new owner, former US Ambassador to Romania Alfred H. Moses, dutifully did so: Codex Sassoon sold for $38.1M, is going to Israel. Well done. For all the 2023 posts on the Codex, start at Codex Sassoon is in Israel and work back through the links.

• A tomb was excavated in Israel which may have been of a courtesan around the time of Alexander the Great. The headlines kept getting better and more unlikely: The courtesan story has jumped the shark.

• A very important announcement: News about the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project. Cf here and here. Look for MOTP volume 2 by early in 2025. Watch here for updates in the meantime.

• My post about The Coronation of King Charles III is among the (all time) top five most-read PaleoJudaica posts. See also here.

• The initial authentication of the fake showpiece Darius ostracon was and remains a serious challenge to the credibility of lab tests for authenticating unprovenanced ancient artifacts. See Lessons from the fake Darius ostracon and follow the links.

• Yonatan Adler's book, The Origins of Judaism, with its late dating of those origins, received a good bit of attention this year. I have interacted with it and Adler's work in a few posts. See Adler on the origins of Judaism and Passover, Review of Adler, The Origins of Judaism and When did the Qumran sectarians observe the Day of Atonement?

• The report of the discovery of what appears to be an Old Bablyonian-era Amorite-Akkadian glossary made a splash early this year: An Amorite glossary from the time of Hammurapi? But the tablets are unprovenanced, which raises some concerns which I touched on in my post. See also here. As I noted in another 2023 post, we are seeing an increasing debate over how, if at all, scholars should deal with unprovenanced artifacts.

Bonus stories:

Late-antique underworld portal excavated near Jerusalem? and More on that "underworld portal" cave.

• Tony Burke's SBL paper gave us The latest on Christian Apocrypha studies.

Have a good and safe New Year's Eve 2023!

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

Roundup of top ten lists for 2023

ANNUAL ARCHAEOLOGY LISTS have abounded for 2023. Below are the ones that PaleoJudaica has noted.

• The best of the lot: Bible Places annual archaeology list

• BHD top ten for 2023

• (ASOR's) Ten big ANE discoveries in 2023

• Haaretz's top 2023 archaeology stories

• 2023: A big year for Egyptian archaeology (ahramonline)

• Sword discovery is National Geographic's best of the year

• 2023 BAS Publication Awards

Not strictly archaeology-related, but still important:

• AJR top ten for 2023

UPDATE: One more, also very important: PaleoJudaica's top ten for 2023.

UPDATE (3 January): I have noted two more archaeology lists:

Top 2023 Greek Archaeological Discoveries

Armstrong Institute's top ten 2023 archaeological discoveries

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