Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Coin hoard excavated in Lod dated to Gallus Revolt

ARCHAEOLOGY AND NUMISMATICS: Archaeologists Find Evidence of the Last Jewish Revolt Against Rome. Around 1,650 years ago, the Jews of Lod and the Galilee arose against Rome. The Gallus Revolt didn't go any better than the previous rebellions had (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
Thus the hoard of 94 coins from the time of the Gallus Revolt, the last Jewish rebellion against Rome, was belatedly regained, the IAA revealed on Sunday.

The stash had been placed under the floor of a 4th century building probably associated with the ancient Jewish community of Late Roman Lod on what is today Nordau Street. The coins were dated between 221 and 354 C.E.

The story is also covered by the Times of Israel:

Ancient Lod coin hoard reveals details of little-known 4th-century Jewish uprising. 94 coins found in a destroyed Jewish public building were buried during the short-lived Gallus Revolt, undertaken by the Jews during a time of Roman civil war (Gavriel Fiske)

and Live Science:

1,700-year-old 'emergency hoard' of coins dates to last revolt of Jews against Roman rule. Many of the silver and bronze coins were minted during the Gallus. Revolt during the Roman era (Jennifer Nalewicki)

For many PaleoJudaica posts on ancient Lod and its remarkable mosaics, start here and follow the links.

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Review of Wollenberg, The Closed Book

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Written and Spoken Scripture in Wollenberg's The Closed Book (Tzvi Novick).
Wollenberg’s book compels us to keep firmly in mind what the trope of Written Torah v. Oral Torah tends to obscure, namely, that the rabbis absorbed, studied, and taught Scripture chiefly as an oral text. Surely, renewed attention to this fact will lead us to new conclusions about rabbinic scholasticism and perhaps also rabbinic theology.
For a statement by the author about her book, also at AJR, see here.

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The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament. What do the Dead Sea Scrolls say about Jesus? (Megan Sauter).
What do the Dead Sea Scrolls say about Jesus? Nothing.

What do they say about the world in which Jesus lived? Lots.

[...]

I tend to turn the picture around and look at the New Testament as contemporary evidence for a first-century messianic Jewish sect. But your roadmap may differ.

The 2015 underlying Bibical Archaeology Review article by James VanderKam is behind the subscription wall. But this summary essay is worth reading.

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

Monday, June 17, 2024

Review of McGrath, Christmaker: A Life of John the Baptist

READING ACTS: James F. McGrath, Christmaker: A Life of John the Baptist (Phil Long).
McGrath makes some rather bold claims in this popular-level book on John the Baptist. For example, “What became Christianity was an offshoot of the Baptist movement” (124). Jesus was a disciple or apostle of John (93), and “Jesus’s teaching was the gist of John’s message” (74). Christmaker challenges much of what most Bible readers think they know about John the Baptist.
The book was published last week.

Background here and links, plus here.

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The Comparative Textual Criticism of Religious Scriptures (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
The Comparative Textual Criticism of Religious Scriptures

Series:
Supplements to the Textual History of the Bible, Volume: 8

Volume Editors: Karin Finsterbusch, Russell Fuller, Armin Lange, and Jason Driesbach

This collection of articles uniquely brings into scholarly dialogue the textual history and criticism of authoritative literatures from diverse cultures: they study Mesopotamian literature, the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, the Homeric epics, the Quran, and Hindu and Buddhist literatures with an interest in all matters of their textual transmission. Contributors address questions such as: What role does textual criticism play in the study of authoritative texts in these fields? How much variation exists in these textual traditions? Can you observe processes of textual standardization? What role does the oral transmission play? How are critical editions prepared? While these questions have produced a wealth of scholarly literature for each individual field, this volume is the first to study them from a comparative perspective.

Copyright Year: 2024

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-69362-3
Publication: 13 May 2024
EUR €129.00

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-69175-9
Publication: 30 May 2024
EUR €129.00

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Sunday, June 16, 2024

O’Connor, The Moral Life According to Mark (T&T Clark)

NEW(ISH) BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY/T&T CLARK:
The Moral Life According to Mark

M. John-Patrick O’Connor (Author)

Paperback
$39.95 $35.95

Hardback
$120.00 $108.00

Ebook (PDF)
$35.95 $28.76

Ebook (Epub & Mobi)
$35.95 $28.76

Product details

Published Nov 30 2023
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 216
ISBN 9780567705624
Imprint T&T Clark
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Series The Library of New Testament Studies
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

Description

M. John-Patrick O'Connor proposes that - in contrast to recent contemporary scholarship that rarely focuses on the ethical implications of discipleship and Christology - Mark's Gospel, as our earliest life of Jesus, presents a theological description of the moral life.

Arguing for Mark's ethical validity in comparison to Matthew and Luke, O'Connor begins with an analysis of the moral environment of ancient biographies, exploring what types of Jewish and Greco-Romanic conceptions of morality found their way into Hellenistic biographies. Turning to the Gospel's own examples of morality, O'Connor examines moral accountability according to Mark, including moral reasoning, the nature of a world in conflict, and accountability in both God's family and to God's authority. He then turns to images of the accountable self, including an analysis of virtues and virtuous practices within the Gospel. O'Connor concludes with the personification of evil, human responsibility, punitive consequences, and evil's role in Mark's moral landscape.

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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Claude, Akhmîm et la 9e province de Haute Égypte (Harrassowitz)

NEW BOOK FROM HARRASSOWITZ:
Claude, Marion
Akhmîm et la 9e province de Haute Égypte
Étude de géographie religieuse

series: Studien zur spätägyptischen Religion
volume: 41
pages/dimensions: XI, 412 pages, 48 ill.
language: French
binding: Book (Hardback)
dimensions: 21.00 × 29.70 cm
weight: 1835g
publishing date: 03.05.2024
prices: 128,00 Eur[D] / 131,60 Eur[A]
ISBN: 978-3-447-12070-8

978-3-447-12070-8 Printed Version 128,00 Eur
978-3-447-39451-2 E-Book (pdf) 128,00 Eur

The 9th Upper Egyptian province, with its capital city Akhmîm (also known as Ipu, Khenty-Min, or Panopolis), was a renowned cult center throughout Antiquity yet it has so far been largely neglected, due mostly to circumstances of archaeological discoveries and research.
This book, which stems from the author’s doctoral research, aims at summarizing, for the first time, the current knowledge about the religious geography of this area and its development from the Old Kingdom to the Roman Period. Starting with a study of the modern physical geography of the province as a frame of reflection for ancient landscape mobility, it moves on with an analysis of the archaeological sites and discoveries of the area. The next two chapters are dedicated to the toponyms attested for the province, and the question of their identification, as well as to the various deities, starting with Min, Horus, Isis or Repyt, who received a cult in these places. Finally, the last chapter proposes a diachronical overview of the development of temples and cults in the area. The whole book is illustrated with many maps and aims at providing an insight into the religious life of provincial cities, in a place rather remote from Egypt’s wellknown centers of power, be it Thebes or Memphis.

An important Greek manuscript containing material from the Book of 1 Enoch, the Gospel of Peter, and the Apocalyse of Peter was discovered at Akhmîm (Akhmim). The city was also the site of the activity of the late-antique alchemist Zosimus of Panopolis.

For PaleoJudaica posts on these and other matters pertaining to Akhmim, see here and links plus here.

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Friday, June 14, 2024

The true colors of Qumran tefillin

MATERIAL CULTURE: Study: Ancient phylacteries’ natural leather color illustrates evolution of Jewish law. Analysis of 2,000-year-old tefillin found in Judean Desert caves shows no dye was used in their construction; deep black is mandated by contemporary Jewish Law (Gavriel Fiske, Times of Israel).

The Jerusalem Post also covers the story, with additional details: Phylacteries were not colored black 2,000 years ago, new study reveals. Tefillin are small leather cases containing miniscule parchment scrolls inscribed with biblical verses. They are worn even today by observant Jews as part of their morning prayers (Judy Siegel-Itzkovich).

The underlying PlosOne article is open access:

Black surfaces on ancient leather tefillin cases and straps from the Judean Desert: Macroscopic, microscopic and spectroscopic analyses

Yonatan Adler, Ilit Cohen-Ofri, Yonah Maor, Theresa Emmerich Kamper, Iddo Pinkas

Published: June 13, 2024
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0303635

Abstract

Tefillin are Jewish ritual artifacts consisting of leather cases, containing inscribed slips, which are affixed with leather straps to the body of the tefillin practitioner. According to current Jewish ritual law, the tefillin cases and straps are to be colored black. The present study examines seventeen ancient tefillin cases discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls in caves in the Judean Desert. All seventeen cases display grain surfaces with a very dark, nearly black appearance. We start with a hypothesis that the cases were intentionally colored black in antiquity using either a carbon-based or iron-gall-based paint or dye. The aim of this study is to test this hypothesis by subjecting these tefillin cases to a battery of examinations to assess the presence of carbon and iron used as pigments, and of organic materials which may have been used as binding agents in a paint. The tests deployed are: (1) macroscopic and microscopic analyses; (2) multispectral imaging using infrared wavelengths; (3) Raman spectroscopy; (4) Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR); and (5) scanning electron microscope (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectroscopy. The results of these tests found no traces of carbon-based or iron-gall-based pigments, nor of organic compounds which may have served as binders in a paint. These results suggest that our posited hypothesis is unlikely. Instead, results of the SEM examination suggest it more likely that the black color on the surfaces of the tefillin cases is the result of natural degradation of the leather through gelatinization. The Judean Desert tefillin likely represent tefillin practices prior to when the rabbinic prescription on blackening tefillin was widely practiced. Our study suggests that the kind of non-blackened tefillin which the later rabbis rejected in their own times may well have been quite common in earlier times.

This makes sense to me. The leather of the Dead Sea Scrolls sometimes has aged to a black color that is about the same as the ink. The ink is only visible on infra-red photographs. An example is 4QGenesisb, which I published in DJD 12.

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Neumann, The Gospel of the Son of God (T&T Clark)

NEW(ISH) BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY/T&T CLARK:
The Gospel of the Son of God

Psalm 2 and Mark’s Narrative Christology

James M. Neumann (Author)

Hardback
$115.00 $103.50

Ebook (PDF)
$103.50 $82.80

Ebook (Epub & Mobi)
$103.50 $82.80

Product details

Published Nov 16 2023
Format Hardback
Edition 1st
Extent 256
ISBN 9780567711489
Imprint T&T Clark
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Series The Library of New Testament Studies
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

Description

James M. Neumann proposes that there is far more at work in Mark's portrayal of Jesus as Son of God, and what it means for Mark to depict him as such, than past scholarship has recognized. He argues that Mark presents Jesus's life from beginning to end as the actualization of Psalm 2: a coronation hymn describing the Davidic king as God's “son,” which was interpreted messianically in early Judaism and christologically in early Christianity. Rather than a simple title, the designation of Jesus as God's “Son” in Mark contains and encapsulates an entire story of its own.

Beginning with an analysis of why this most important identity of Jesus in the Gospel has been under-studied, Neumann retraces the interpretive traditions surrounding Psalm 2 in early Judaism and Christianity alike. Pointing to Mark's first introduction of Jesus as God's Son into the narrative via an allusion to Ps 2:7 and portraying his baptism as a royal anointing, he demonstrates how Jesus begins to realize the implications of his anointment through his disestablishment of Satan's kingdom. Focusing on the repetition of the allusion to Ps 2:7 at Jesus's transfiguration and exploring how the Parable of the Vineyard uniquely encapsulates the Gospel as a whole, Neumann traces the use of the psalm throughout the Markan passion narrative, contending that, in Mark's vision, the hope envisaged by the psalm has been realized: the Son begins to inherit (the worship of) the nations. He concludes that Mark paradoxically portrays the accomplishment of the Messiah's victory through Jesus's crucifixion.

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A Maaloula short

MODERN ARAMAIC WATCH: Remote village still speaks same Aramaic that Jesus did. With only about half a million speakers worldwide, this ancient language that has existed since at least the 11th century BC is almost extinct. (Sarah Robsdottir, Aleitea).
A popular reel about an out-of-the-way village in Syria where a small portion of the residents still speak what linguists believe to be the specific Aramaic dialect that Jesus spoke is catching a lot of attention on social media. With over 234,000 "likes" and 12,000 comments, the informational short by @AuthenticTraveling is certainly resonating with its audience.

[...]

The bold-font emphasis is theirs. To say "the specific Aramaic dialect that Jesus spoke" is overly precise, but it is true that Maaloula preserves a Western dialect of Aramaic which is of the same general type as ancient Palestinian Aramaic, in contrast to Eastern Aramaic, notably Syriac.

I am pleased to hear from the clip that Maaloula continues to recover from the ravages of war.

For PaleoJudaica posts on Maaloula (Ma'aloula, Malula, Maalula - etc!), start here and follow the links.

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Thursday, June 13, 2024

New early Greek fragment of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Early Copy of Infancy Gospel of Thomas Identified. Papyrus preserves early stories of Jesus’s childhood (Nathan Steinmeyer ).
While working through collections of unstudied papyri at the Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky State and University Library in Germany, two scholars made a shocking discovery: the earliest known copy of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Although the small papyrus contains only 13 lines of fragmentary Greek text, it provides an incredible window into the history of this early Christian apocryphal gospel.

[...]

For more on the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, including plans for a horror movie based on it, see the links collected here.

Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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So many shipwrecks!

MARINE ARCHAEOLOGY: 32 haunting shipwrecks from the ancient world. Shipwrecks can reveal information about traded goods and even which rituals people partook in centuries ago. Here's a look at shipwrecks from ancient times found around the world (Owen Jarus, Live Science).

The list includes shipwrecks found in or around Israel, and Phoenician and Punic shipwrecks. Also, the Antikythera shipwreck. Most of those, and more, have coverage in the PaleoJudaica archives.

Cross-file under Maritime (Underwater) Archaeology and under Phoenician and Punic Watch.

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The Crosby-Schøyen Codex as an investment

VARIANT READINGS: The Sale of the Crosby-Schøyen Codex and its Cost Over Time (Brent Nongbri).

The purchaser made a good investment. But it belongs in a museum. Donating it to one would be the best investment in humanity.

Background here and links.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Crosby-Schøyen Codex sells for >£3M

ALSO SOLD! Oldest Christian book sells for more than £3m (James W Kelly, BBC).
Christianity's oldest religious book, according to auction house Christie's, has been sold for more than £3m.

The Crosby-Schøyen Codex, written in Coptic script on papyrus in Egypt, dates to between 250 to 350AD.

The book, believed to be one of the oldest in existence, was auctioned off for £3,065,000 on Tuesday, Christie's in London told BBC News.

[...]

To be a bit more precise, as are some of the other headlines, this is now the oldest privately owned Christian codex. For a possible (not certain) candidate for the oldest surviving codex, see the comments here.

Be that as it may, this codex has now been sold to an anonymous buyer. As before, I encourage the buyer to donate it to a museum. The buyer of the Codex Sinaiticus Rescriptus at the same auction has already set a good example.

Background here and links.

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Codex Sinaiticus Rescriptus auctioned and is to be donated to a museum

SOLD! Ruling party founder Bidzina Ivanishvili donates John Zosimos’ unique manuscript to Georgian National Museum (Agenda.Ge).
Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder and the Honorary Chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party, on Tuesday purchased a unique handwritten manuscript of the 10th-century by the famed Georgian calligrapher, author, translator and bookbinder-monk John Zosimos at Christie's auction in London.

The GD’s press office announced that the Codex Sinaiticus Rescriptus, the unique manuscript of the 5th-7th century, would be donated to the Georgian National Museum.

[...]

The manuscript is a palimpsest, whose underlying text contains excerpts from an early Aramaic translation of the Gospels and other Aramaic texts.

It belongs in a museum. I commend the buyer for doing the right thing.

Background here.

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Another review of Fine, The Madwoman in the Rabbi's Attic

BOOK REVIEW: A redemptive reading of Talmudic women reveals ‘radical truths’ hidden by the rabbis. Perfect for Shavuot learning, a new book by thinker Gila Fine reexamines the complex narratives of women in the Talmud, giving them new life with insightful second readings (MAYA ZANGER-NADIS, Times of Israel).

I noted another review of The Madwoman in the Rabbi's Attic here.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Shavuot 2024

THE FESTIVAL OF SHAVUOT (Weeks, Pentecost) begins tonight at sundown. Best wishes to all those celebrating.

Last year's Shavuot post, with links, is here. For biblical references, see here.

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On Yehezkel Kaufmann

DR. ALY ELREFAEI: Yehezkel Kaufmann: An Academic Defender of Israel’s Religious Spirit. (TheTorah.com).
Israelite religion developed from a revolutionary idea: monotheism. And religion alone, not external factors, accounted for the remarkable preservation of Jewish national identity and consciousness in exile.
For more on Yehezekel Kaufmann and his work, see here and links.

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Alan R. Millard (1937-2024)

SAD NEWS: Word has been coming in from multiple sources that Alan R. Millard has passed away. Jack Sasson posted the following message om the Agade List:
Lawson Younger <lyounger@tiu.edu> shared the unhappy news that Alan Millard passed away a couple of days ago. I will post funeral arrangements that come to me ============

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Alan Millard, FSA, of Leamington Spa, England on 5 June 2024 at the age of 86 after a heart attack. Millard was Rankin Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages, and Honorary Senior Fellow (Ancient Near East), at the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology (SACE) in the University of Liverpool.

Millard was born 1 December 1937. His experiences as a youth investigating Roman ruins in Britain begot a life-long interest in archaeology of the ancient past. He was involved in British archaeological expeditions in Syria: Tell Nebi Mend (ancient Qadesh) and Tell Rifʿat (ancient Arpad), and in Iraq: Nimrud (ancient Kalḫu), publishing the important alphabetic inscriptions on ivories from Nimrud. He rediscovered the Epic of Atrahasis, which had remained in a drawer at the British Museum unrecognized for several decades (published with W. G. Lambert, 1969). From 1964 to 1970 he was Librarian at Tyndale House, Cambridge. In 1970, he was appointed Rankin Lecturer in Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages at the University of Liverpool. He was a Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1984, studying with a team led by Yigael Yadin. Millard’s greatest interest was in ancient Semitic epigraphy, and in editing Akkadian cuneiform tablets and Aramaic inscriptions.

The practices of ancient Near Eastern scribes was a subject that was a continual interest since this bore on his Evangelical Christian belief in the essential historicity of the Bible. Millard was Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, a member of the Society for Old Testament Study, and served as the Vice-Chairman of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq. He was the recipient of two Festschriften.

Alan Millard was a true Christian gentleman and scholar, a mentor and friend. He will be greatly missed.

His Wikipedia page is here (courtesy of Todd Bolen at the Bible Places Blog).

I never met Professor Millard, but I was fortunate to read his and Lambert's edition of the Akkadian Atrahasis Epic with William Moran in the mid-1980s.

Requiescat in pace.

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Sad News: J. K. Elliott (1943–2024)

THE ETC BLOG: J. K. Elliott (1943–2024) (Peter Gurrey).

This memorial notice focuses on Professor Elliott's extensive work on New Testament textual criticism. But he is also well known for his foundational volume of New Testament Apocrypha.

J. K. Elliott, The Apocryphal New Testament. A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation (OUP, orig. pub. 1993)
There has been much work on New Testament Apocrypha since then, notably by Tony Burke and his colleagues, but Elliott's volume is still in print and is still widely consulted.

Requiescat in pace.

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Monday, June 10, 2024

Drawnel (ed.), The Aramaic Books of Enoch and Related Literature from Qumran (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
The Aramaic Books of Enoch and Related Literature from Qumran

Proceedings of the International Online Conference Organized by the Center for the Study of Second Temple Judaism of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, in Cooperation with Enoch Seminar, 20–22 October 2020

Series:
Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism

Volume Editor: Henryk Drawnel

This volume contains studies that explore the content and meaning of the Qumran manuscripts of the Aramaic Books of Enoch, the Book of Giants, and related literature. The essays shed new light on the lexicon, orthography and grammar of the Aramaic scrolls, as well as their relationship to schematic astronomy in ancient Mesopotamia. Contributors examine the origin of the angelic tradition of the Watchers, the textual and literary relationship of the Aramaic scrolls to the Book of the Watchers, and the culpability of humanity in the spread of evil on earth according to the myth of the fallen angels.

Copyright Year: 2024

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-69671-6
Publication: 13 May 2024
EUR €135.00

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-69670-9
Publication: 15 May 2024
EUR €135.00

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Sunday, June 09, 2024

Vette, Writing With Scripture (T&T Clark)

RECENT BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY/T&T CLARK:
Writing With Scripture

Scripturalized Narrative in the Gospel of Mark

Nathanael Vette (Author)

Paperback
$39.95 $35.95

Hardback
$120.00 $108.00

Ebook (PDF)
$35.95 $28.76

Ebook (Epub & Mobi)
$35.95 $28.76

Product details

Published Jul 27 2023
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 272
ISBN 9780567704689
Imprint T&T Clark
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Series The Library of New Testament Studies
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

Description

Nathanael Vette proposes that the Gospel of Mark, like other narrative works in the Second Temple period, uses the Jewish scriptures as a model to compose episodes and tell a new story. Vette compares Mark's use of scripture with roughly contemporary works like Pseudo-Philo, the Genesis Apocryphon, 1 Maccabees, Judith, and the Testament of Abraham; diverse texts which, combined, support the existence of shared compositional techniques.

This volume identifies five scripturalized narratives in the Gospel: Jesus' forty-day sojourn in the wilderness and call of the disciples; the feeding of the multitudes; the execution of John the Baptist; and the Crucifixion of Jesus. This fresh understanding of how the Jewish scriptures were used to compose new narratives across diverse genres in the Second Temple period holds important lessons for how scholars read the Gospel of Mark. Instead of treating scriptural allusions and echoes as keys which unlock the hidden meaning of the Gospel, Vette argues that Mark often uses the Jewish scriptures simply for their ability to tell a story.

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Saturday, June 08, 2024

New Trends in the Research on the Apocryphal Acts of Thomas (Peeters)

NEW OPEN-ACCESS BOOK FROM PEETERS PRESS:
New Trends in the Research on the Apocryphal Acts of Thomas

SERIES:
Studies on Early Christian Apocrypha, 20

EDITORS:
Muñoz Gallarte I., Roig Lanzillotta L.

PRICE: 87 euro
YEAR: 2024
ISBN: 9789042951815
E-ISBN: 9789042951822
PAGES: XVIII-210 p.

SUMMARY: Much has been written on the Apocryphal Acts of Thomas since the work of Lipisus, Wright, and Bonnet. However, many of the crucial questions concerning the text remain still today open: When was the text composed? In which language was it written, Greek or Syriac? And most importantly, where in the ancient world did the text see the light? Also the nature and structure of the text remain in doubt: What is the nature of the text we have at our disposal? And how was it transmitted throughout the Middle Ages? The present volume intends to provide answers at least to some of these questions. Its title, New Trends in the Research on the Apocryphal Acts of Thomas, however, shows that it at the same time intends to break new ground in the analysis of the text, revising some old, vexed problems.

Follow the link for the open-access link to the book.

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Friday, June 07, 2024

What Matters Now to archaeologist Jodi Magness

PODCAST: What Matters Now to archaeologist Jodi Magness: Ever-changing, eternal Jerusalem. To mark Jerusalem Day, we speak with the ‘Jerusalem Through the Ages’ author and learn about the archaeological record of the peoples who have resided in the Holy City (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).

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

Meyer, Naming God in Early Judaism (Brill)

RECENT BOOK FROM BRILL:
Naming God in Early Judaism

Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek

Series:
Studies in Cultural Contexts of the Bible, Volume: 2

Author: Anthony Meyer

During the Second Temple period (516 BCE–70 CE), Jews became reticent to speak and write the divine name, YHWH, also known by its four letters in Greek as the tetragrammaton. Priestly, pious, and scribal circles limitted the use of God’s name, and then it disappeared. The variables are poorly understood and the evidence is scattered. This study brings together all ancient Jewish literary and epigraphic evidence in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek to describe how, when, and in what sources Jews either used or avoided the divine name. Instead of a diachronic contrast from use to avoidance, as is often the scholarly assumption, the evidence suggests diverse and overlapping naming practices that draw specific meaning from linguistic, geographic, and social contexts.

Copyright Year: 2022

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-3-657-70350-0
Publication: 10 Oct 2022
EUR €92.52

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-3-506-70350-7
Publication: 11 Nov 2022
EUR €92.52

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Review of Balch, Jesus, Paul, Luke-Acts, and 1 Clement

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Jesus, Paul, Luke-Acts, and 1 Clement: studies in class, ethnicity, gender, and orientation.
David L. Balch, Jesus, Paul, Luke-Acts, and 1 Clement: studies in class, ethnicity, gender, and orientation. Eugene: Cascade Books, 2023. Pp. 382. ISBN 9781532659577.

Review by
Harry O. Maier, Vancouver School of Theology. hmaier@vst.edu

This volume is a collection of eleven essays, most of which were published in edited volumes or journals between 2016 and 2023. David Balch, 80 at the time of publication and a prolific contributor to New Testament studies, calls this his “final collection of essays” (xi). The book’s extensive title encapsulates the volume’s broad range. The theme that unites them is a focus on a political and social reading of biblical and early Christian texts. ...

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Thursday, June 06, 2024

McDonald, Before There Was a Bible (T&T Clark)

RECENT BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY/T&T CLARK:
Before There Was a Bible

Authorities in Early Christianity

Lee Martin McDonald (Author)

Paperback
$39.95 $35.95

Hardback
$120.00 $108.00

Ebook (PDF)
$35.95 $28.76

Ebook (Epub & Mobi)
$35.95 $28.76

Product details

Published Feb 23 2023
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 264
ISBN 9780567705785
Imprint T&T Clark
Dimensions 10 x 7 inches
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

Description

How did authority function before the bible as we know it emerged? Lee Martin McDonald examines the authorities that existed from the Church's beginning: the appeal to the texts containing the words of Jesus, and that would become the New Testament, the not yet finalized Hebrew Scriptures (referred to mostly in Greek) and the apostolic leadership of the churches.

McDonald traces several sacred core traditions that broadly identified the essence of Christianity before there was a bible summarized in early creeds, hymns and spiritual songs, baptismal and Eucharistic affirmations, and in lectionaries and catalogues from the fourth century and following. McDonald shows how those traditions were included in the early Christian writings later recognized as the New Testament. He also shows how Christians were never fully agreed on the scope of their Old Testament canon (Hebrew scriptures) and that it took centuries before there was universal acceptance of all of the books now included in the Christian bible. Further, McDonald shows that whilst writings such as the canonical gospels were read as authoritative texts likely from their beginning, they were not yet called or cited as scripture. What was cited in an authoritative manner were the words of Jesus in those texts, alongside the multiple affirmations and creeds that were circulated in the early Church and formed its key authorities and core sacred traditions.

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

Halberstam, Trial Stories in Jewish Antiquity (OUP)

NEW BOOK FROM OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Trial Stories in Jewish Antiquity

Counternarratives of Justice

Chaya T. Halberstam

The Bible and the Humanities

  • Identifies a trial-scene motif that appears in many different contexts and genres of ancient Jewish literature
  • Places a variety of Jewish trial narratives over time in conversation with each other as a counter-discourse to mainstream ancient legal thought
  • Offers close readings of familiar texts through the lens of legal thought about judgment and justice
£76.00

Hardback
Published: 21 May 2024
272 Pages
234x156mm
ISBN: 9780198865148
Also Available As: Ebook

Description

What can early Jewish courtroom narratives tell us about the capacity and limits of human justice? By exploring how judges and the act of judging are depicted in these narratives, Trial Stories in Jewish Antiquity: Counternarratives of Justice challenges the prevailing notion, both then and now, of the ideal impartial judge. As a work of intellectual history, the book also contributes to contemporary debates about the role of legal decision-making in shaping a just society. Chaya T. Halberstam shows that instead of modelling a system in which lofty, inaccessible judges follow objective and rational rules, ancient Jewish trial narratives depict a legal practice dependent upon the individual judge's personal relationships, reactive emotions, and impulse to care.

Drawing from affect theory and feminist legal thought, Halberstam offers original readings of some of the most famous trials in ancient Jewish writings alongside minor case stories in Josephus and rabbinic literature. She shows both the consistency of a counter-tradition that sees legal practice as contingent upon relationship and emotion, and the specific ways in which that perspective was manifest in changing times and contexts.

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Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Cohen, The Jewish Family in Antiquity (Brown Judaic Studies)

RECENT BOOK, OPEN-ACCESSS VIA PROJECT MUSE:
The Jewish Family in Antiquity
Book
Shaye J.D. Cohen
2020
Published by: Brown Judaic Studies

SUMMARY

This volume serves as a contribution to the study of diasporas in antiquity and a stimulus to further investigations of other ancient diasporas and their effect. It is a culmination of discussions that took place during the conference, Diasporas in Antiquity, held on the 30th of April, 1992.

HT the AWOL Blog.

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Hjelm, Samaritans and Jews in History and Tradition (Routledge)

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
Samaritans and Jews in History and Tradition
Changing Perspectives 10

By Ingrid Hjelm
Copyright 2024

Hardback £130.00
eBook £35.09
ISBN 9781032702858
316 Pages
Published May 7, 2024 by Routledge

Description

This volume presents an anthology of 19 seminal studies, some for the first time in English, that explore the history and tradition of the ancient relationship between Samaritans and Jews.

The book is arranged into three parts: Methods, Traditions, and History; Samaritan and Jewish Pentateuchs; and Studies in Bible and Tradition, each of which is chronologically ordered. It represents a collection of the author’s previous publications on the relationship between Samaritans and Jews, expanding and supplementing the conclusions of her published books. Recent archaeological developments on Mount Gerizim have demonstrated that our paradigms for writing the ancient histories of the kingdoms and provinces of Samaria and Judah in the Iron II, Persian, and Hellenistic periods must change. These developments also affect how we evaluate and read ancient literary traditions, and several chapters offer challenging new perspectives on well-known themes, narratives, and compositions in this subject area.

Samaritans and Jews in History and Tradition: Changing Perspectives 10 will be of interest to students and scholars of biblical studies, theology, comparative religion, the ancient Near East, and in particular, Samaritan and Jewish studies.

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BAS’s 2024 Dig Scholarship Winners

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: 2024 Dig Scholarship Winners. Congratulating BAS’s 2024 Scholarship Winners.

Yes, congratulations to all the winners. I am pleased to see that one of them is a University of St. Andrews graduate.

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Tuesday, June 04, 2024

The rest was commentary in Akkadian too

DR. URI GABBAY: Commentaries Were Written as Soon as Ancient Texts Were Composed. (TheTorah.com).
The creative exegetical methods of reading texts both literally and non-literally are not limited to the interpretation of the Bible. Commentaries on ancient cuneiform literature from Mesopotamia have been found dating all the way back to the end of the 8th century B.C.E.
The abstract doesn't specify this, but the essay has many comparisons of the Akkadian commentaries to Rabbinic exegesis of the Bible.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on Akkadian and why it is important, see the links collected here.

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

Mobile Megiddo mosaic moving to Museum of the Bible (on loan)

DECORATIVE ART EXHIBITION: Israel Lending 'Jesus Mosaic' From Armageddon to Controversial Bible Museum. Mosaic found in extremely early Christian prayer hall removed from prison home, to be displayed at the evangelical-backed Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. (Ariel David and Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
Last week, expert conservators working at an archaeological site in a northern Israeli prison quietly completed the job of packing up and loading onto trucks one of the most important discoveries made in Israel this century.

The Megiddo Mosaic, which decorated one of oldest Christian prayer halls ever found, will soon fly overseas for a 9-months loan to the Museum of the Bible, Haaretz has learned.

[...]

I noted last year that the loan was being raised as a possibility. For background on the Megiddo "Jesus" mosaic and on the Museum of the Bible, see the links there. For more on the loan and on the evidently separate decision to move the mosaic from its context, see here and here.

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Biblical Studies Carnival 218

THE DUST BLOG: Biblical Studies Carnival 218 (Bob MacDonald).

My experience with current AI is similar to Bob's. It would rather give a wrong answer than say it doesn't know. In that it is all too human.

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

Monday, June 03, 2024

Machines agree that those special Talmud tractates are special

ALGORITHM WATCH: Rashi was right: Machine learning confirms unique status of some Talmudic tracts. New study shows that the ‘special tractates’ of the Babylonian Talmud have distinct linguistic features, as commented on by medieval sages (Gavriel Fiske, Times of Israel.)
Rabbinical commentators on the Talmud noted in the medieval era that a handful of sections of the great corpus stood out linguistically from the rest. Over generations of scholars, the existence of these so-called “special tractates” was considered to be a clue that could further elucidate how the Talmud was compiled and edited.

Now via modern data analysis, a team of contemporary researchers has shown that these “special tractates” do indeed display a distinct use of language. After feeding nearly the entire Talmudic corpus into machine learning algorithms to parse the Aramaic, they confirmed the theories of Rashi and other medieval scholars.

[...]

It is worth underlining that these insights came originally from human intuition, which is the normal source of major advances in human knowledge. AI can test and confirm the ideas, but it isn't capable of original intuitions itself. We don't even know where they come from.

In this case it is telling that the machine learning can recognize what the human scholars saw, but it brings us no closer to understanding what the idiosyncratic language in these tractates and passages means. We need human insight to make progress on that.

It is of course possible that some future AI will be able to replicate human intuition, but nothing that currently passes for Artificial Intelligence is going to do so. AI as we have it can only rearrange what we already know.

I commend the researchers for recognizing and acknowledging all this. They are doing good work and are aware of its limitations.

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

The history of Rafah

IN GAZA: A historical Jewish rediscovery in Rafah amid modern conflict. Prime Minister Netanyahu's incursion into Rafah displaced over a million Palestinians, highlighting the area's complex history, including significant Jewish presence since the Hasmonean era (Jerusalem Post).
Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defied international calls by sending Israeli troops into Rafah, a key Hamas stronghold, leading to the displacement of over a million Palestinians. The current conflict is a stark reminder of the longstanding and complex history that has shaped this area over millennia.

[...]

The article mentions the Jewish Virtual Library article on Rafah, which contains more information on Rafah in antiquity.

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

Review of Fine, The Madwoman in the Rabbi’s Attic

BOOK REVIEW: The Madwoman in the Rabbi’s Attic: the Talmud and feminine dichotomy. 'The Madwoman in the Rabbi’s Attic' discusses the six women in the Talmud who are cited by name, and matches them with six paradigms of the female (ELLIOTT MALAMET, Jerusalem Post).
But [author Gila] Fine refuses to succumb to a surface impression, and her book’s extended argument is that although one can find ample evidence for these stereotypical depictions of women in Talmudic literature, a more careful analysis can reveal subtle reversals of these clichés and, at times, a subversive defense of female agency and ability.
Cross-file under Talmud Watch.

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Sunday, June 02, 2024

de Bruin, Fan Fiction and Early Christian Writings (T&T Clark)

NEW BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY/T&T CLARK:
Fan Fiction and Early Christian Writings

Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, and Canon

Tom de Bruin (Author)

Hardback
£85.00 £76.50

Ebook (PDF)
£76.50 £61.20

Ebook (Epub & Mobi)
£76.50 £61.20

Product details

Published 13 Jun 2024
Format Hardback
Edition 1st
Extent 216
ISBN 9780567706638
Imprint T&T Clark
Dimensions 234 x 156 mm
Series Scriptural Traces
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

Description

What can contemporary media fandoms, like Anne Rice, Star Wars, Batman, or Sherlock Holmes, tell us about ancient Christianity?

Tom de Bruin demonstrates how fandom and fan fiction are both analogous and incongruous with Christian derivative works. The often-disparaging terms applied to Christian apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, such as fakes, forgeries or corruptions, are not sufficient to capture the production, consumption, and value of these writings. De Bruin reimagines a range of early Christian works as fan practices. Exploring these ancient texts in new ways, he takes the reader on a journey from the 'fix-it fic' endings of the Gospel of Mark to the subversive fan fictions of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and from the densely populated storyworld of early Christian art to the gatekeeping of Christian orthodoxy.

Using theory developed in fan studies, De Bruin revisits fundamental questions about ancient derivative texts: Why where they written? How do they interact with more established texts? In what ways does the consumption of derivative works influence the reception of existing traditions? And how does the community react to these works? This book sheds exciting and new light on ancient Christian literary production, consumption and transmission.

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Saturday, June 01, 2024

Jeal (ed.), Exploring Sublime Rhetoric in Biblical Literature (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Exploring Sublime Rhetoric in Biblical Literature
Roy R. Jeal, editor

ISBN 9781628375626
Volume ESEC 28
Status Available
Publication Date March 2024
Paperback $43.00
eBook $43.00
Hardback $63.00

In scholarly study of the New Testament and early Christian rhetoric, one key element is often overlooked: the sublime. To address this omission, contributors to this volume explore how the awe-inspiring, dislocating, and sometimes horrifying language that characterizes sublime rhetoric exerts cognitive, emotional, and physiological force on its audiences, transporting them to new realities as they go along. The essays lay a foundation for scholars and students to identify and interpretsublime rhetoric in biblical literature. Contributors include Murray J. Evans, Alan P. R. Gregory, Christopher T. Holmes, Roy R. Jeal, Harry O. Maier, Erika Mae Olbricht, Thomas H. Olbricht†, Vernon K. Robbins, and Jonathan Thiessen.

Includes a chapter on 1 Enoch.

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Friday, May 31, 2024

Scales on Spaces of ancient Galilee

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION
Spaces of ancient Galilee: How Judaism created Galilee and Galilee created Judaism in the time of the Hasmoneans

The importance of removing impurity can be seen in the shaping of space. Objects and installations were used in ancient Judaism to deal with impurity (or achieve purity). As such, we see in specific sites, such as Jerusalem and Qumran (where many of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found) the giving over of large areas to washing facilities. This use of space reflects ideologies and practices, and subsequently shapes how people understand the space around them.

See also Galilean Spaces of Identity (Brill, 2024).

By Joseph Scales
Department of Religion
University of Agder May 2024

I noted the publication of the book here.

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Jerusalem’s Herodian Quarter is reopening

RENOVATION: Unveiling Jerusalem’s priestly neighborhood from Herodian era. "History is being revived in the Jewish Quarter" as ancient homes of Temple priests reopen after a major renovation. (YORI YALON, JNS).
(May 31, 2024 / Israel Hayom) After two years of extensive development and renovations costing $5 million, Jerusalem’s ancient Herodian Quarter is reopening to the public this week.

This remarkable archaeological site in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter features an affluent residential neighborhood from the Second Temple period, spanning 2,600 square meters (about 28,000 square feet). It includes luxurious homes, exquisite mosaics, paved streets and numerous ritual baths.

[...]

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

Still more on the Crosby-Schøyen Codex

MORE ON THE CODEX'S CONTENTS: Crosby-Schøyen Codex: ancient Coptic manuscript reveals sermon that spurred violence against Jews (M J C Warren, The Conversation).

The article tells us that there are five texts in this Sahidic Coptic codex. We already knew it contains Jonah and 1 Peter. The article adds that it also has excerpts from 2 Maccabees and (the headline text) a copy of Melito's homily on Passover (Peri Pascha). The fifth text, unmentioned, is an otherwise unknown Easter sermon. For additional detains see here.

PaleoJudaica posts on the codex are here, here, here, and here (cf. here).

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

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Macaskill, The Entangled Enoch: 2 Enoch and the Cultures of Late Antiquity (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
The Entangled Enoch: 2 Enoch and the Cultures of Late Antiquity

Series:
Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pseudepigrapha, Volume: 28

Author: Grant Macaskill

This study reframes and reorients the study of 2 Enoch, moving beyond debates about Christian or Jewish authorship and considering the work in the context of eclectic and erudite cultures in late antiquity, particularly Syria. The study compares the work with the Parables of Enoch and then with a variety of writings associated with late antique Syrian theology, demonstrating the distinctively eclectic character of 2 Enoch. It offers new paradigms for research into the pseudepigrapha.

Copyright Year: 2024

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-69509-2
Publication: 21 May 2024
EUR €139.00

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-69508-5
Publication: 23 May 2024
EUR €139.00

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Kirk, Agur’s Wisdom and the Coherence of Proverbs 30 (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS;
Agur’s Wisdom and the Coherence of Proverbs 30
Alexander T. Kirk

ISBN 9781628375657
Volume AIL 50
Status Available
Publication Date May 2024v Paperback $50.00
eBook $50.00
Hardback $70.00

In this first in-depth study of Proverbs 30, the Words of Agur, Alexander T. Kirk examines a puzzling text attributed to an unknown figure that has long fascinated scholars. While this material has been read as everything from a devout confession to a cry of despair, few interpreters have found any real coherence in the chapter. In this detailed philological study engaging both genre and tone, Kirk demonstrates that the chapter is best read as a coherent collection that mocks pride and greed while it commends humility and contentment. Kirk draws out many subtle literary features that augment Agur’s message, including humor and animal imagery. Ultimately, Proverbs 30 deepens the presentation of wisdom in the book of Proverbs by orienting it toward a proper relationship with God.

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Josephus on the Essenes

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Josephus on the Essenes.

I've linked to this one before, but it's back, and the information is good to have handy.

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Forthcoming: The Illustrated Cairo Genizah (Gorgias Press)

THE GENIZA FRAGMENTS BLOG: The Illustrated Cairo Genizah – now available to pre-order (Nick Posegay and Melonie Schmierer-Lee).
We are very excited to announce that our new book, The Illustrated Cairo Genizah, is now available for pre-order! See https://linktr.ee/CambridgeGRU to order.

[...]

Estimated shipping date is 1 October 2024.

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Bakhos & Gray (eds.), Kalmin Festschrift (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Making History: Studies in Rabbinic History, Literature, and Culture in Honor of Richard L. Kalmin
Carol Bakhos, Alyssa M. Gray, editors

ISBN 9781951498948
Volume BJS 372
Status Available
Publication Date March 2024
Paperback $80.00
eBook $80.00
Hardback $100.00

Essays in this volume honor Richard L. Kalmin, one of the leading scholars of rabbinic literature. Volume contributors explore a variety of topics related to Kalmin’s wide-ranging work from the development of the Talmud to rabbinic storytelling, from the transmission of tales across geographic and cultural boundaries to ancient Jewish and Iranian interactions. Many of the essays reflect current trends in how scholars use ancient Jewish literary sources to address questions of historical import. Contributors include Carol Bakhos, Beth A. Berkowitz, Noah Bickart, Robert Brody, Joshua Cahan, Shaye J. D. Cohen, Steven D. Fraade, Shamma Friedman, Alyssa M. Gray, Judith Hauptman, Christine Hayes, Catherine Hezser, Marc Hirshman, David Kraemer, Marjorie Lehman, Kristen Lindbeck, Jonathan S. Milgram, Chaim Milikowsky, Michael L. Satlow, Marcus Mordecai Schwartz, Seth Schwartz, Burton L. Visotzky, and Sarah Wolf.

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UHaifa adds a new archaeology master's program

HIGHER EDUCATION: The University of Haifa Presents: Dig, Dive and Discover. University of Haifa’s School of Archaeology and Maritime Cultures (SAMC), has launched a new science-oriented international master’s program in archaeological research. (Times of Israel).
The first of its kind to integrate the full scope of archaeological activities on land, at sea and in the lab under one roof, and building on its globally renowned reputation, University of Haifa’s School of Archaeology and Maritime Cultures (SAMC) has recently launched a new international Master’s program, offering an MSc in Archaeological Sciences.

Home to the largest community of archaeology researchers, state-of-the-art research labs and seven prestigious grants from the European Research Council, SAMC is reshaping archaeology as never before. Its four departments – Archaeology, Maritime Civilizations (underwater and coastal archaeology), Archaeological Sciences and Cultural Heritage, are an exceptionally unique combination world-wide. “Our strength lies both in exposing our students to all sides of archaeology on land, underwater, heritage and the sciences, and in our strong partnerships with the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) and leading universities abroad,” says Prof. Israel Finkelstein, head of SAMC.

Together with the University of Haifa’s International School, SAMC now offers three groundbreaking one-year English-taught International Master’s programs, on land, underwater and in the lab.

[...]

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

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Niehoff, Judentum und Hellenismus (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Maren R. Niehoff. Judentum und Hellenismus. Herausgegeben von Birgit Weyel unter Mitarbeit von Florian Zacher. Übers. v. Daniel Schumann, Matthew Chaldekas. [Judaism and Hellenism.] 2024. 122 pages. Lucas-Preis 2022. 29,00 € including VAT hardcover ISBN 978-3-16-163536-6.
Published in German.
In this acceptance speech, Maren Niehoff provides an exemplary insight into her innovative studies on the relationship between Jewish and Hellenistic culture in antiquity. Using the reception of Alexander the Great in Greco-Roman, Jewish-Hellenistic and rabbinic literature, she paradigmatically demonstrates the interrelationships and negotiation processes between Judaism and Hellenism.
We are fortunate to have Prof. Niehoff visiting St. Andrews this week. She gave a fascinating lecture in the School of Divinity yesterday on Paul's and Philo's developing concepts of law.

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

Online course on the history of biblical translations

MEDIEVALISTS.NET: Online course starting this week: The History of Biblical Translation.
Starting, Saturday, June 1st: This six-week course includes live 2-hour sessions with the instructor each week at 1:00pm Eastern U.S. time (6:00pm BST). Sessions consist of lecture, discussion of readings, and Q&A.
Looks very informative. Starts with the Bible in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; moves to the Latin Bible; then surveys the mutitude of translations that followed.

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What John the Baptist wasn't

RELIGION PROF: John The Baptist Was Not A Hermit. And he didn't necessarily live in the "desert."

For more on James McGrath's work on John the Baptist—and also on the Mandeans (Mandaeans)—including two imminently forthcoming books, see here and links.

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

Monday, May 27, 2024

Ancient gold ring excavated in Jerusalem

MORE ANCIENT BLING: Ancient gold ring, 2,300 years old, discovered in City of David. “This is an unusual and deeply moving find, not one found every day,” the IAA stated in their announcement (Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Jerusalem Post).
Archaeologists in Jerusalem’s City of David were recently amazed and moved to uncover a rare small gold ring set with a precious stone – apparently made for and worn by a little boy or girl who lived there during the Hellenistic period some 2,300 years ago.

[...]

Or possibly by a woman wearing it on her pinkie.

Another important find from the Givati parking lot excavation.

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

Hannibal was here?

PUNIC WATCH? Hidden gold earring reveals forgotten episode of Carthage-Rome war (Mining.com).
A gold earring found in a stash at the Iron Age site of Tossal de Baltarga in Spain has revealed what could potentially be a forgotten episode of the war between Carthage and Rome.

The jewelry piece was discovered inside a ruined building in the middle of the Pyrenees. The building is believed to have been part of a devastating fire that burned the settlement to the ground.“

[...]

So far, so good. But ...
This could be just an unexpected local fire. But the presence of a hidden gold earring indicates the anticipation by the local people of some kind of threat, likely the arrival of an enemy,” Olesti Vila said. “Also, the keeping of such a high number of animals in a little stall suggests the anticipation of danger.”
Connecting this fire with Hannibal's campaign is possible, but speculative. No one left graffiti saying "Hannibal was here." But in any case, the recovery of the gold earring is exciting.

Cross-file under Ancient Bling.

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Review of Kubiak-Schneider, Palmyra and the east

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Palmyra and the east.
Kenneth Lapatin, Rubina Raja, Palmyra and the East. Studies in Palmyrene archaeology and history, 6. Turnhout: Brepols, 2022. Pp. xx, 180. ISBN 9782503598253.

Review by
Aleksandra Kubiak-Schneider, University of Wrocław. aleksandra.kubiak-schneider@uwr.edu.pl

... With rich discussions on various issues relating to the Palmyrene and neighbouring cultures, the reviewed volume is an important voice contributing to the perception of the region’s “Easterness”, often overshadowed by approaches that privilege the impact of the “Classical” civilizations. ...

The first article has lots of information about Aramaic at Palmyra.

Cross-file under Palmyra Watch.

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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Israeli & Ilan, Massekhet Gittin Chapters 4–5 (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Anat Israeli / Tal Ilan. Massekhet Gittin Chapters 4–5. Volume III/6/d-e. Text, Translation, and Commentary. 2024. XI, 503 pages. 169,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-163551-9.
Published in English.
Tractate Gittin of the Mishnah is located in the Order of Women and discusses divorce proceedings. Chapters 4 and 5 of the Tractate address a specific topic – “the improvement of the world” – and list a number of rules (most of them devoted to women and gender issues) which were enacted so as to improve a certain undesirable condition. This volume provides a feminist commentary on these gender-relevant mishnaic texts, and on the commentary of the Babylonian Talmud on them. The Babylonian commentary includes an extended literary unit that describes and comments on the conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple. Anat Israeli and Tal Ilan address the gendered issues that arise from this literary unit and raise the question of women’s place (and victimhood) in the male economy of war.

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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Lag B'Omer 2024

LAG B'OMER, the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer, begins tonight at sundown. Best wishes to all observing it.

My 2023 Lag B'Omer post is here with links.

For the biblical and rabbinic background of the holiday, see here and here.

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

Smith, Luke Was Not A Christian (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Luke Was Not A Christian: Reading the Third Gospel and Acts within Judaism

Series: Biblical Interpretation Series, Volume: 218

Author: Joshua Paul Smith

In this volume Joshua Paul Smith challenges the long-held assumption that Luke and Acts were written by a gentile, arguing instead that the author of these texts was educated and enculturated within a Second-Temple Jewish context. Advancing from a consciously interdisciplinary perspective, Smith considers the question of Lukan authorship from multiple fronts, including reception history and social memory theory, literary criticism, and the emerging discipline of cognitive sociolinguistics. The result is an alternative portrait of Luke the Evangelist, one who sees the mission to the gentiles not as a supersession of Jewish law and tradition, but rather as a fulfillment and expansion of Israel’s own salvation history.

Copyright Year: 2024

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-68472-0
Publication: 18 Dec 2023
EUR €119.00

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-68471-3
Publication: 20 Dec 2023
EUR €119.00

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Friday, May 24, 2024

Epigraphic finds at Berenike, Egypt

GREEK EPIGRAPHY: Letters from Roman Centurions Found in Ancient Berenike, Egypt: “I Send Them with Dromedarius, Take Care of Them” (Guillermo Carvajal, LBV).
The correspondence preserved on the papyri are letters from centurions or commanders of Roman legions. Names appear in the letters: Haosus, Lucinius, and Petronius.

In this correspondence, Petronius asks Lucinius, stationed in Berenice, about the prices of certain exclusive goods. There is also a statement: I give you the money, I send them with dromedarius (a troop of legionaries who move on dromedaries). Take care of them, so that they are provided with calves and tent poles, describes the archaeologist [Dr. Marta Osypińska].

Berenike Trogodytika was a port on the coast of the Red Sea in Ptolemaic times. It is named after Queen Berenike I (Berenice I), the wife of Ptolemy I. The latter appears under the code name "king of the south" in Daniel 11:5. I have mentioned the site here, here, here, and here.

Berenike continues to produce interesting finds, including, last year, a Roman-era Buddha statue. This year's excavation found inscribed ostraca and papyri, as well as an international assemblage of pottery and a cloak fastener.

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

Should we trust reconstructions of fragmentary texts?

THE ETC BLOG: What level of confidence we should have in reconstructions of fragmentary papyrus texts? (Peter M. Head).
But someone might say: “I wish we had a test case where a published text of a NT papyrus manuscript was later supplemented by the publication of a fragment or two which gave total clarity on the beginnings and endings of lines and could help us with an assessment of what level of confidence we should have in reconstructed texts.”
My provisional reply to the headline question would be Very Low.

The empirical test of the question described in this post yielded a surprising high score; nearly 50%. But it was of a biblical manuscript, in which the base text would have been more or less set. I would actually have expected the score to be higher, but the evaluation included word divisions, spelling, and punctuation. Such things often have a high rate of variation in ancient manuscripts.

The real test would be to revisit scholarly reconstructions of a fragmentary, otherwise unknown, nonbiblical ancient text after new fragments had been found which filled in some of the missing text. I expect the success rate would be well below 50%.

I know there have been cases where new fragments of a fragmentary (leather) text have been discovered; for example, Aramaic Levi and the Damascus Document. But I don't know if anyone has done a comparision of previous reconstructions after new material was found. If anyone knows of one, please drop me a note.

UPDATE (27 May): Reader Ounieh Carlson points to the Greek fragments of the Gospel of Thomas, which were discovered before the complete Coptic text was. "The reconstructions provided by scholars proved to be wildly off." A couple of links on the Greek Gospel of Thomas are here and here, but I don't have time right now to follow up the pre-Coptic reconstructions of the Greek.

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Cyril and Methodius Day

OLD CHURCH SLAVONIC WATCH: May 24: Bulgaria Celebrates the Legacy of Cyril and Methodius - Culture, Enlightenment, and the Slavonic Alphabet (novinite.com).
May 24 holds significant cultural and historical importance for Bulgarians, marking the celebration of the Bulgarian Education and Culture, and Slavonic Literature Day, known as "Saints Cyril and Methodius Day." This day commemorates the brothers Cyril and Methodius, who are credited with devising the Glagolitic alphabet, which later evolved into the Cyrillic script. The Cyrillic alphabet is used by many Slavic languages, including Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, and Ukrainian, among others.

[...]

The brothers translated much of the Bible into Slavonic. And they and their successors also translated other religious texts, including some important Old Testament Pseudepigrapha that might otherwise have been mostly lost.

The day is celebrated on 24 May in Bulgaria, Ukraine, Macedonia, and Russia, and on 5 July in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates their saints' feast day on 14 February. It is celebrated on other days in other churches. For posts on these various days and on Old Church Slavonic in general, see here and links, plus here and here.

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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Ancient ship etchings found in church near Rahat

GRAFFITI ART: 1,500-year-old Byzantine-era ship etchings revealed at Negev church. Site, just south of the Bedouin city of Rahat, was likely the first inland stop for Christian pilgrims touring the Holy Land after arriving by sea at Gaza (Gavriel Fiske, Times of Israel).

Two late-antique mosques have also been excavated recently at Rahat.

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More on the Crosby-Schøyen Codex

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: An ancient manuscript up for sale gives a glimpse into the history of early Christianity (Ian N. Mills, The Conversation).
The Crosby-Schøyen Codex was discovered alongside more than 20 other codices near Dishna, Egypt, in 1952. These manuscripts are collectively known as “the Dishna Papers” or “the Bodmer Papyri,” after the Swiss collector Martin Bodmer.

Though often overshadowed by other 20th century discoveries, this trove of ancient manuscripts represents one of the most significant finds for understanding the history of early Christianity. ...

I didn't realize that the Crosby-Schøyen Codex was part of the Bodmer collection. For many PaleoJudaica posts on the Bodmer papyri, see here and links plus here, here, here, and here.

The Crosby-Schøyen Codex goes up for auction next month. Background here and here.

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Biblical archaeology conference at Lipscomb University

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Debating the Future of Biblical Archaeology (Glenn J. Corbett).
This past January, prominent archaeologists and biblical scholars from around the world gathered for a weekend of lectures and discussion at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston. The event, organized by Lipscomb University, was primarily a commemoration of the work and legacy of William Dever, the longtime leading voice of American biblical archaeology,* who celebrated his 90th birthday in November 2023. ...
For more on Lipscomb University and biblical archaeology, see here and links.

For more on William Dever's work on biblical archaeology, see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

On the Molekh sacrifice

DR. DANIEL VAINSTUB: Molekh: The Sacrifice of Babies (TheTorah.com).
Jeremiah excoriates the Judahites for sacrificing babies to Baʿal at the Tophet, in a valley near Jerusalem. Archaeological excavations throughout Carthage uncovered the remains of thousands of babies offered to Baʿal and his consort Tanit, together with dedicatory inscriptions, referring to the offering as a molekh, the very term the Bible uses to prohibit child sacrifice.
For more on the Molekh (Molech) sacrifice and the evidence from Carthage that it involved a child-sacrifice cult, see here and links plus here.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the Aqedah (the binding of Isaac, Genesis 22), see here and links, especially here.

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Goodman Festschrift (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Looking In, Looking Out: Jews and Non-Jews in Mutual Contemplation

Essays for Martin Goodman on His 70th Birthday

Series:
Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, Volume: 212

Volume Editors: David A. Friedman and Kimberley Czajkowski

Martin Goodman’s forty years of scholarship in Roman history and ancient Judaism demonstrates how each discipline illuminates the other: Jewish history makes best sense in a broader Greco-Roman context; Roman history has much to learn from Jewish sources and evidence.
In this volume, Martin’s colleagues and students follow his example by examining Jews and non-Jews in mutual contemplation. Part 1 explores Jews’ views of inter-communal stasis, the causes of the Bar Kochba revolt, tales of Herodian intrigue, and the meaning of “Israel.” Part 2 investigates Jews depiction of outsiders: Moabites, Greeks, Arabs, and Roman authorities. Part 3 explores early Christians’ (Luke, Jerome, Rufinus, Syriac poetry, Pionius, ordinary individuals) views of Jews and use of Jewish sources, and Josephus’s relevance for girls in 19th century Britain.

Copyright Year: 2024

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-68505-5
Publication: 08 Apr 2024
EUR €140.00

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-68503-1
Publication: 29 Nov 2023
EUR €140.00

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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The earliest manuscript of the Tosefta

MICHAEL L. SATLOW: Ms. or. fol. 1220, or: A Walk through Jewish History.
The Erfurt manuscript is the earliest and best witness to the Tosefta. Yet the Tosefta is itself a somewhat mysterious document. It reads much like the Mishnah, largely following its order. Some parts of it are identical to the Mishnah; others presuppose and comment on passages found in the Mishnah; and yet others seem to precede the Mishnah. While the Mishnah became the base text for two Talmuds (Palestinian and Babylonian), we do not know where, when, or why the Tosefta was redacted as a single document, nor how it was used. The Erfurt manuscript is our earliest manuscript that people were actually reading the Tosefta as an independent document.

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Patrich, The Jerusalem Temple and the Temple Mount (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Joseph Patrich. The Jerusalem Temple and the Temple Mount. Collected Essays. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 514. 149,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-163269-3.
Published in English.
The Temple eclipsed in its splendor and importance all other institutions of the Jews, both in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora. It was the center of religious and national life; a goal of pilgrimage.
Already in the 19th century, 'The Quest for the Temple' had spread beyond the limited circles of Jewish commentators, becoming an interest also of Christian scholars. The Dead Sea Scrolls, especially the Temple Scroll, first published in 1977, brought new source materials pertaining to the pre-Herodian Temple to the fore. Some water cisterns still extant under the upper platform of the present Muslim compound are hiding a telling story, left unnoticed so far. Its unravelling in an interdisciplinary approach, an attentive re-reading of all available literary sources, and a re-evaluation of the said archaeological remains, lie at the core of the studies presented here.

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Monday, May 20, 2024

Forthcoming John the Baptist books by James McGrath

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Publication Preview | Two Portraits of John the Baptist (James F. McGrath).
Christmaker: A Life of John the Baptist. Eerdmans, June 2024.

and

John of History, Baptist of Faith: The Quest for the Historical Baptizer. Eerdmans, October 2024.

At the outset of my first (and hopefully not last) full-year sabbatical, I set out to do something I had never done before. I planned to write two books about John the Baptist: a biography accessible to a general audience and a monograph detailing the distinctive methodology and contributions of my study. As the publication date of the former approaches, it seems appropriate to provide not only a preview of both but also a reflection on how (and why) I’ve undertaken this larger project.

[...]

For many PaleoJudaica posts noting Professor McGrath's work on John the Baptist and on the Mandeans (Mandaeans), see here and here. And for still more on John the Baptist, start here and follow the links.

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The Hebrew Bible and its ruins

THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST TODAY: The Hebrew Bible and the Meanings Ruins Hold (Daniel Pioske).
The Hebrew Bible is in many ways a book of ruins, written in a world where wreckage and loss, or the threat thereof, were common.
I noted the publication of Daniel Pioske's book, The Bible Among Ruins, here.

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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Themes and Texts, Exodus and Beyond (T&T Clark)

NEW BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY/T&T CLARK:
Themes and Texts, Exodus and Beyond

Robert J. V. Hiebert (Anthology Editor), Jonathan Numada (Anthology Editor), Dongshin Don Chang (Anthology Editor), Kyung S. Baek (Anthology Editor)

Hardback
$175.00 $157.50

Ebook (PDF)
$157.50 $126.00

Ebook (Epub & Mobi)
$157.50 $126.00

Product details

Published Feb 22 2024
Format Hardback
Edition 1st
Extent 384
ISBN 9780567705488
Imprint T&T Clark
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Series The Library of Second Temple Studies
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

Description

This volume of essays is focused on the significance of the book of Exodus for studies in the Septuagint, Second Temple Jewish literature, the New Testament, and Christian theology. A diverse group of scholars from various parts of the world, many of whom are well-known in their fields, employs a range of methodologies in the treatment of text-critical, linguistic, literary, historical, cultural, exegetical, intertextual, and theological topics. Parts of the relevant literary corpus that are dealt with in relation to the book of Exodus include Genesis, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Zechariah, 3 Maccabees, the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the Epistles of 1 Thessalonians, Hebrews, and 1 Peter, as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls. This book will be a valuable resource for scholars and students in the areas of biblical and theological studies, as well as clergy.

The distinguished contributors include Emanuel Tov, Albert Pietersma, Daniela Scialabba, Craig A. Evans, James M. Scott, Martin G. Abegg Jr., and Wolfgang Kraus.

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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Kazen & Roitto, Revenge, Compensation, and Forgiveness in the Ancient World (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Thomas Kazen / Rikard Roitto. Revenge, Compensation, and Forgiveness in the Ancient World. A Comparative Study of Interpersonal Infringement and Moral Repair. 2024. XIV, 542 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 515 164,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-162465-0.
Published in English.
Handling moral infringement is complicated and this was as true in antiquity as it is today. Should one retaliate, demand compensation, be merciful, ignore the infringement, or forgive? Thomas Kazen and Rikard Roitto compare how Greeks, Romans, Jews, and Christians in antiquity navigated different ideas, practices, and rituals for moral repair. How did they think about morality and did this affect ideas about moral repair? What practices of moral repair did they use, within and beyond the court? In what different ways did they involve the gods in interpersonal conflicts through ritual? Insights from contemporary research on human behaviour guide the comparative work, since, as the authors argue, human moral behaviour and cognition is the result of both innate and cultural factors.

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Friday, May 17, 2024

Nongbri on recent Coptic codicological matters

OVER AT THE VARIANT READINGS BLOG, Brent Nongbri has a couple of technical posts on the codicology of two Coptic biblical manuscripts:

The Crosby-Schøyen Codex, the Length of kollēmata, and Dates of Codices.

The main takeaway is that the length of the individual papyrus sheets (the kollēmata) in the Crosby-Schøyen Codex may be evidence that it was written no earlier than the fourth century CE. That would fit with the likeliest range of C-14 dating. For more on this codex, which goes up for auction next month, see here and here.

Hugo Ibscher and the Cover of the Berlin Akhmimic Proverbs Codex

For me as a non-codicologist, the most interesting takeaway from Brent's posts on this codex (another was noted here) is the fact that we have a late-antique manuscript of an Akhmimic translation of Proverbs. It's good to know these things.

Cross-file under Coptic Watch.

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Review of Lafontaine, Hellénisme et prophétie. Les Oracles sibyllins juifs et chrétiens

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Hellénisme et prophétie. Les Oracles sibyllins juifs et chrétiens.
Xavier Lafontaine, Hellénisme et prophétie. Les Oracles sibyllins juifs et chrétiens. Semitica & classica supplementa, 4. Turnhout: Brepols, 2023. Pp. 368. ISBN 9782503607962.

Review by
Oliver Parkes, King’s College, Cambridge. ojhp2@cam.ac.uk

... Lafontaine’s new monograph is the first recent book to treat the whole corpus, and aims to contribute to these wider discussions. Despite the book’s general title, he focuses on the Oracles’ re-writing of scripture, paying particular attention to how this re-writing interweaves ‘allusions’ to Greek literature. Whilst Lafontaine’s ambitious scope should be commended, along with some of his more focused discussions, the monograph is flawed both methodologically and on matters of detail.

[...]

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