Wednesday, February 28, 2024

A 10th-century-BCE electrum pendant from Jerusalem

PHOENICIAN WATCH (?): Tiny First Temple-era Phoenician pendant is ‘earliest gold artifact’ found in Jerusalem. Just 4 millimeters on a side, the item could provide evidence that Phoenicians were in Jerusalem 3,000 years ago, archaeologist says (Gavriel Fiske, Times of Israel).
The tiny pendant or earring was found a decade ago during excavations in the Ophel, a raised area south of Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But until last year, the item had been largely overlooked, according to archaeologist Brent Nagtegaal of the Armstrong Institute of Biblical Archaeology.

The finely crafted artifact is shaped like a basket with a solid base measuring just 4x4x2 millimeters. Two semicircular “handles” extend 6 millimeters above the base, overlapping each other to form a point where the pendant could be suspended, and narrow gold wire is wrapped around the top of the item.

[...]

The artifact is "'securely dated by archaeological context' to the 10th century BCE." If it is of Phoenician origin, it could be taken as indirect evidence for the claim of the Deuteronomistic History that Phoenicians were active in Jerusalem at that time building Solomon's Temple.

However, it seems that the case for its Phoenician origin has not yet been published. I would withhold judgment until we see how secure that case is.

Anyway, nice pendant. Someone was very upset when it was lost. Cross-file under Ancient Bling and Exhibition.

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

Ancient multi-compartment stone box discovered in Jerusalem

ANICENT ARTIFACT: Rare Second Temple-era merchants box displayed at Israel Museum. 2,000-year old artifact likely used to display wares in ancient Jerusalem’s pilgrims’ market; burned sides might be from Jewish Revolt fires (xGavriel Fiske, Times of Israel).
An unusual, multi-chambered limestone box from the Second Temple period, now on display in the Israel Museum, was likely used to present small items for sale in the pilgrims’ market alongside the main road in ancient Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Tuesday.

[...]

The object was found (excavated, apparently) a couple of years ago. It is on display in the Israel Museum.

For more on ancient Jewish stone vessels and their purity implications, see here and links.

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Evacuated boy finds Alexander Janneus coin near Dead Sea

NUMISMATICS: 2,000-year-old Hasmonean coin discovered by child evacuated on Oct.7. While exploring the area around the hotel that he had been evacuated to along the Dead Sea, Nati Toyikar came across an ancient coin dating back to the Hasmonean period (Jerusalem Post).
According to Dr. Robert Cole, Head of the Coins Branch at the Antiquities Authority, "the coin that Nati found is a well-known coin of the Hasmonean king and high priest Alexander Janai (104-76 BCE). On the face of the coin appears an anchor, and around it appears an inscription in Greek - "Alexander Basileus," which translates to "(of) Alexander the King." On the back of the coin appears a star with eight rays, surrounded by a crown of kings. Between the rays, you can see an inscription, which appears in small letters. Only a part of it can be deciphered here. It recalls the name and title of the king in ancient Hebrew: [Yohan]n/he/mel/[cha]/."
All Israel News also reports the story and says that this coin is a "widow's mite," on which more here and links.

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Monday, February 26, 2024

Otto, Die Mose-Exodus-Tradition in den Korintherbriefen (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Konrad Otto. Die Mose-Exodus-Tradition in den Korintherbriefen. Schriftrezeption und -verarbeitung 'zwischen den Welten'. [The Moses-Exodus Tradition in the Corinthian Correspondence. Scriptural Reception and Processing 'Between the Worlds'.] 2024. XV, 593 pages. Studies in Education and Religion in Ancient and Pre-Modern History in the Mediterranean and Its Environs 20. 94,00 € including VAT. hardcover ISBN 978-3-16-160065-4.
Published in German.
References to biblical traditions are an essential part of the Corinthian correspondence. By taking two extensive references to the Exodus tradition of Moses, Konrad Otto examines the extent to which scriptural references serve to mediate between Paul's intellectual world and that of his addressees.

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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Hagler, Owning Disaster (Routledge)

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
Owning Disaster
Coping with Catastrophe in Abrahamic Narrative Traditions

By Aaron M. Hagler
Copyright 2024

Hardback £104.00
eBook £31.19

ISBN 9781032454740
242 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
Published December 18, 2023 by Routledge

Description

Delving into the intertwined tapestry of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sacred texts, exegesis, philosophy, theology, and historiography, this book explores the similar coping mechanisms across Abrahamic communities in reconciling the implications of disasters without abandoning their faith.

Belief in a single, omnipotent God carries with it the challenge of explaining and contextualizing disasters that seem to contravene God’s supposed will. Through explorations of Jewish responses to the destruction of both the First and Second Temples, Christian responses to the Arab Muslim conquests, Muslim responses to the Crusades, and a variety of responses to the Mongol conquests, Aaron M. Hagler unveils the shared patterns and responses that emerge within these communities when confronted by calamity. Initial responses come in the forms of horrified lamentations, but as the initial shock dissipates, a complex dance of self-blame and collective introspection unfolds, as writers and theologians seek to contextualize the tragedy and guide their communities toward hope, resilience, and renewal.

Of interest to scholars, theologians, and individuals seeking to explore interconnected notions of resilience within Abrahamic communities, Owning Disaster will resonate with readers eager to contemplate the intricate relationship between religious dogma, human resilience, and the profound questions that emerge when confronted with calamity.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Minets & Nowakowski (eds.), Shaping Letters, Shaping Communities (Brill)

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Shaping Letters, Shaping Communities: Multilingualism and Linguistic Practice in the Late Antique Near East and Egypt

Series:
Texts and Studies in Eastern Christianity, Volume: 33

Volume Editors: Yuliya Minets and Paweł Nowakowski

The volume explores linguistic practices and choices in the late antique Eastern Mediterranean. It investigates how linguistic diversity and change influenced the social dimension of human interaction, affected group dynamics, the expression and negotiation of various communal identities, such as professional groups of mosaic-makers, stonecutters, or their supervisors in North Syria, bilingual monastic communities in Palestine, elusive producers of Coptic ritual texts in Egypt, or Jewish communities in Dura Europos and Palmyra. The key question is: what do we learn about social groups and human individuals by studying their multilingualism and language practices reflected in epigraphic and other written sources?

Copyright Year: 2024

E-Book (PDF)
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-68233-7
Publication: 11 Dec 2023
EUR €149.00

Hardback
Availability: Published
ISBN: 978-90-04-68230-6
Publication: 20 Dec 2023
EUR €149.00

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Monday, February 19, 2024

Semi-hiatus

YES, I know I haven't been posting much. Bear with me. I will get back to regular posting as soon as I can. Soon, I hope.

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Popa, The Making of Syriac Jerusalem (Routledge)

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
The Making of Syriac Jerusalem
Representations of the Holy City in Syriac Literature of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

By Catalin-Stefan Popa
Copyright 2023

Hardback £96.00
eBook £31.19

ISBN 9781032470993
324 Pages
Published May 31, 2023 by Routledge

Description

This book discusses hagiographic, historiographical, hymnological, and theological sources that contributed to the formation of the sacred picture of the physical as well as metaphysical Jerusalem in the literature of two Eastern Christian denominations, East and West Syrians.

Popa analyses the question of Syrian beliefs about the Holy City, their interaction with holy places, and how they travelled in the Holy Land. He also explores how they imagined and reflected the theology of this itinerary through literature in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, set alongside a well-defined local tradition that was at times at odds with Jerusalem. Even though the image of Jerusalem as a land of sacred spaces is unanimously accepted in the history of Christianity, there were also various competing positions and attitudes. This often promoted the attempt at mitigating and replacing Jerusalem’s sacred centrality to the Christian experience with local sacred heritage, which is also explored in this study. Popa argues that despite this rhetoric of artificial boundaries, the general picture epitomises a fluid and animated intersection of Syriac Christians with the Holy City especially in the medieval era and the subsequent period, through a standardised process of pilgrimage, well-integrated in the custom of advanced Christian life and monastic canon.

The Making of Syriac Jerusalem is suitable for students and scholars working on the history, literature, and theology of Syriac Christianity in the late antique and medieval periods.

HT Bibliographia Iranica. Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

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Friday, February 16, 2024

Bühner, Paulus im Kontext des Diasporajudentums (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Ruben A. Bühner. Paulus im Kontext des Diasporajudentums. Judenchristliche Lebensweise nach den paulinischen Briefen und die Debatten um »Paul within Judaism.« [Paul in the Context of Diaspora Judaism. Jewish-Christian Life after the Pauline Epistles and the Debates about »Paul within Judaism.«] 2023. XIV, 435 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 511. 159,00 € including VAT. cloth ISBN 978-3-16-162749-1.
Published in German.
Under the umbrella term »Paul within Judaism,« new interpretations of Paul's letters have recently emerged. In this context, Ruben A. Bühner examines the continuity of a Jewish way of life before and after Jews turned to Christ. By interpreting Paul in the context of a diverse Diaspora Judaism, he argues for a mediating position in an increasingly ideological debate. Thus Paul understands himself both as a Jew and as committed to a Jewish way of life, while at the same time seeing himself as »in Christ« also committed to community with non-Jews.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Long, Dynamics of Charity and Reciprocity in the Book of Sirach (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Stephen Arden Long. Dynamics of Charity and Reciprocity in the Book of Sirach. 2024. XV, 339 pages. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe 147. 99,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-162384-4 available.
Published in English.
In this study, Stephen Long explores the role of reciprocity and gift exchange in the wisdom-instruction of Ben Sira, contextualizing the sage's prescriptions in relation to comparative data from Greco-Roman antiquity and his own teaching on »charity«. While tangible human returns are the normal expectation in response to acts of generosity, Ben Sira is seen to have inflected this cultural expectation in a uniquely Jewish and theological manner. First, sacrifice is understood as a »gift« for the deity, a gift which the God of Israel will »repay«; second, acts of both ordinary, »self-interested« generosity as well as more »altruistic« acts are brought within the ambit of »sacrifice«. Ben Sira appears to think that he thereby followed the lead of prior, pentateuchal tradition, and drew out implications of a theology of creation whereby the cosmos is so ordered that every »need« is – or should be – met »at the right time«. Thus, Long elucidates a second century BCE sage's theological construal of the relation between charity and reciprocity.

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Monday, February 12, 2024

Kim, Hebrew Forms of Address (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Hebrew Forms of Address: A Sociolinguistic Analysis
Young Bok Kim

ISBN 9781628373639
Volume ANEM 31
Status Available
Publication Date December 2023

Paperback
$40.00

Hardback
$60.00

Young Bok Kim investigates the patterns of nominal forms of address in Biblical and Epigraphic Hebrew, examining their role in expressing various social relationships between speakers and addressees. Drawing on modern sociolinguistic theories on address and politeness, as well as insights from Hebrew studies, Kim elucidates the underlying rules governing address usage. This essential resource, complete with data tables and illustrative figures, provides valuable insights into the social structure of ancient Israel and the exegetical significance of address variations, making it indispensable for scholars and students of Hebrew interested in its potential for biblical interpretation.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2024

A Grand Prize winner for the Vesuvius Challenge

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: An Ancient Roman Scroll on Pleasure Was Just Decoded Using AI (Will Henshall, Time Magazine).
Papyrologists working with the Vesuvius Challenge believe the scroll contains “never-before-seen text from antiquity,” and the text in question is a piece of Epicurean philosophy on the subject of pleasure. The winning submission shows ancient Greek letters on a large patch of scroll, and the author seems to be discussing the question: are things that are scarce more pleasurable as a result?

... In accordance with the criteria set in March 2023, the winning submission contains four passages of 140 characters each, with at least 85% of the characters in each of those passages recoverable by professional papyrologists. It also contains a further 11 columns of text.

This is an extraordinary achievement. All indications are that this new technology is opening the door to transcribing and deciphering the many hundreds of carbonized scrolls from Heculaneum. With the possibility of thousands more still unexcavated.

The contest was announced in March of last year. The current prizewinners have already won a couple of lesser prizes in the 2023 competition. See here and here. There is a new grand prize for 2024, so let's look forward to more good news this time next year.

Bit by bit, a letter at a time, whatever it takes. Until we're done.

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The latest on muon detection under Jerusalem

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Unable to dig, researchers look to cosmic rays to unlock Jerusalem’s ancient underworld. A Tel Aviv University team is using muon detectors to track powerful particles, hoping to build a 3D map of undiscovered tunnels, chambers and fortifications under the hole-y city (DIANA BLETTER, Times of Israel).
The device, which had been built by the Tel Aviv University team, was designed to capture and register the angular distribution of muons, tiny but powerful particles created when cosmic rays smash into the earth’s atmosphere.

For archaeologists, using particle physics to peer into solid ground offers a tantalizing way to glimpse the history of a city densely packed with strata upon strata of ancient settlement, but just as chock full of religious sensitivities. This makes invasive digs under many of its most important sites — especially the Temple Mount — a fraught, if not impossible, endeavor.

Everything is proceeding as I have have foreseen.

For more on the use of muon detection technology at the Temple Mount and elsewhere, see here and links. And here is an old post that I missed.

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Singing grape pips from the Negev?

ARCHAEOBOTANY: The ancient history of Israeli grape pips and wine. Excavations have given proof of a flourishing wine industry in the Byzantine and early Arab period, especially at sites like Shivta, Halutza, Nitzana, and Avdat (Adam Montefiore, Jerusalem Post).
Prof. Guy Bar-Oz of the University of Haifa is the person responsible for the research. He is a bioarchaeologist at the School of Archaeology and Maritime Cultures. He has been involved in ongoing, groundbreaking research regarding the history of the wine industry in the Negev Desert.
I have posted on this project here and (appears to be the underlying technical article) here. For posts involving the Nabatean (Nabataean) site of Avdat (‘Avedat, Ovdat, Uvdat), see the links collected here.

Cross-file under Ancient Viticulture.

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News about the Coptic Magical Papyri Project

COPTIC WATCH: Love and hate in ancient times: New anthology on 'magical' texts published (Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg press release at Phys.org).
"Magical" texts from Egypt in Coptic script and language are at the center of a research project at the University of Würzburg. They have now been collected and scientifically annotated for the first time in a 600-page book.

[...]

This is an announcement of the culminating work of the Coptic Magical Papyri Project, which PaleoJudaica has been following through its blog since its inception. The blog also announced this last autumn.

The new information in this article is the good news that the project has been funded for an additional three years, now under the rubric the Corpus of Coptic Magical Formularies. Congratulations to the project and its researchers. I look forward to following their future work.

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

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Trotter, Hellenistic Jews and Consolatory Rhetoric (Mohr Siebeck)

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Christine R. Trotter. Hellenistic Jews and Consolatory Rhetoric. 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, 1 Thessalonians, and Hebrews. 2023. XII, 385 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 600. 99,00 € including VAT. sewn paper ISBN 978-3-16-162475-9.
Published in English.
Christine R. Trotter elucidates how Hellenistic Jewish writers attempted to comfort those living in the midst of and in the wake of persecution and violence. While past scholarship has explored this question primarily in terms of the development of Jewish apocalypticism and afterlife beliefs, Christine R. Trotter takes a comprehensive approach by investigating how Hellenistic Jewish authors engaged with ancient consolatory rhetoric, that is, the means of persuasion intended to move a suffering person out of grief and into joy. Through studies on 2 Maccabees, the Wisdom of Solomon, 1 Thessalonians, and Hebrews, the author explicates how Hellenistic Jewish authors navigated the diverse traditions of consolation within their biblical heritage and Greco-Roman culture. Her work has important implications for the genre of 1 Thessalonians and the dates of composition of the Wisdom of Solomon and Hebrews.

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

Saturday, February 03, 2024

Smith, Luke and the Jewish Other (Routledge)

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
Luke and the Jewish Other
Politics of Identity in the Third Gospel

By David Andrew Smith
Copyright 2024

Hardback
£104.00

eBook
£31.19

ISBN 9781032450483
230 Pages

Description

Luke and the Jewish Other takes up the debated question of the orientation of Luke toward the Jewish people. Building on recent studies in the social history of early Jewish-Christian relations, it offers an analysis of Luke’s portrayal of Jewish and Christian identities that challenges the common assumption that the construction of religious identity in antiquity necessarily depended upon antagonistic relations with others. Taking account of the deep and often divisive difference that belief in Jesus made in Luke’s community, the author argues that Luke hoped to bring about both a rapprochement with and the conversion of contemporary Jews. Through this account of identity and alterity in the Gospel of Luke, the book cuts across boundaries of biblical studies, history, theology, and social theory, proposing a way forward for the study of Luke’s relation to Judaism and of the "parting of the ways" between Jews and Christians in the early Common Era.

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Friday, February 02, 2024

Biblical Studies Carnival 214

THE PURSUING VERITAS BLOG: January 2024 Biblical Studies Carnival (Jacob J. Prahlow).

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The author on Ritual and Religious Experience in Early Christianities

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Ritual and Religious Experience in Early Christianities (David J. McCollough).
David J. McCollough. Ritual and Religious Experience in Early Christianities: The Spirit In Between. WUNT II (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2022).

Interest in ritual behavior and religious experience is a fundamental concern in anthropological approaches to religion. Giovanni Bazzana’s recent study of spirit possession among the early Christ Groups demonstrates the applicability of these questions to the early Jesus Movement.[1] My research participates in this ongoing conversation by exploring fresh methodological approaches to uncover the ways New Testament literature bears witness to ritual practices among early Christians.

[...]

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What exactly did Ezra do with (or to) the Torah?

DR. REBECCA SCHARBACK WOLLENBERG: Did Ezra Reconstruct the Torah or Just Change the Script? (TheTorah.com.
In the second century C.E., 4 Ezra and Irenaeus tell a story of how the Torah was burned by Nebuchadnezzar and reconstructed by Ezra through divine inspiration. Rabbinic texts know of this tradition, but in their version, Ezra’s contribution is changing the Torah into Aramaic writing, or even Aramaic language.
This essay gives some fascinating background to 4 Ezra in Christian and Rabbinic tradition which I didn't know about.

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Thursday, February 01, 2024

Epistemic supersessionism in the Epistle to Diognetus

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Anti-Judaism, Meddlesomeness, and Epistemic Supersessionism in the Epistle to Diognetus (Chance E. Bonar).
In this article, I want to contextualize the term polupragmosunēas it is used in the works of other writers in the Roman imperial period (particularly Plutarch, Apuleius, Lucian, and Tertullian) and demonstrate how polupragmosunē is a key component of Diognetus’s anti-Jewish rhetoric and construction of uniquely Christian knowledge. ...

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Only non-Israelites bless God in the Pentateuch?

"STAFF EDITORS": Baruch Hashem: Only Non-Israelites Bless God in the Torah (TheTorah.com).
Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham’s servant, Laban, and Jethro all bless YHWH, but, as Rabbi Pappias notes in the Mekhilta, the Israelites don’t. Only later in the Bible do we find David and Solomon blessing YHWH, but so do Hiram King of Tyre and the Queen of Sheba.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The authors on Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean (Shayna Sheinfeld, Sara Parks, and Meredith Warren).
When AJR reached out to see if we (Shayna Sheinfeld, Sara Parks, and Meredith Warren) would be willing to outline why we saw the need for a textbook on ancient Mediterranean religions that did not ignore or compartmentalize Jewish and Christian women, but instead centered them, we jumped at the chance. It was a need–both practical and ethical–that we keenly felt during our first teaching experience. In this piece, we’ll explain the steps that led to the process of building a collaborative textbook, and provide some ideas for how colleagues might use it.

[...]

I noted the publication of the book here and an AJR review here.

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Review of Sauvage & Lorre, À la découverte du royaume d'Ougarit (Syrie du IIe millénaire)

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: À la découverte du royaume d’Ougarit (Syrie du IIe millénaire): les fouilles de C.F.A. Schaeffer à Minet el-Beida et Ras Shamra (1929-1937).
Caroline Sauvage, Christine Lorre, À la découverte du royaume d'Ougarit (Syrie du IIe millénaire): les fouilles de C.F.A. Schaeffer à Minet el-Beida et Ras Shamra (1929-1937). Contributions to the archaeology of Egypt, Nubia and the Levant, 7; Denkschriften der Gesamtakademie, 89. Vienna: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2023. Pp. 472. ISBN 9783700179986

Review by
Mark S. Smith, Princeton Theological Seminary. mark.s.smith@ptsem.edu

... Thanks to this volume, students of ancient Ugarit now enjoy yet another important resource for understanding different dimensions of its culture. Often noting information lacking in or missing from Schaeffer’s records, the editors and authors are to be applauded for their wonderful excavations of his excavation materials housed in the MAN.

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The "killer wife" in Judaism, from antiquity to the present

DR. ELAINE GOODFRIEND: Qatlanit: The “Killer-Wife” (TheTorah.com).
Tamar, Judah’s daughter-in-law, is twice-widowed, but the Torah still expects Judah to allow his third son Shelah to marry her. In the Second Temple period book, Tobit marries his seven-times widowed cousin upon the advice of the angel Raphael. And yet, the Talmud prohibits marrying twice widowed women, for fear they are dangerous.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2024

On the ancient balsam industry

PERFUMERY AND DECORATIVE MALEDICTION ART: Buildings In The Desert, and A Curse Written Into A Synagogue Mosaic In Ein Gedi (crownheights.info).
In the course of a survey of the Judean Desert carried out a few years ago by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Ministry of Heritage, and the Civil Administration Staff Officer for Archaeology in Judea and Samaria, a group of buildings dating to the last days of the Kingdom of Judah was discovered alongside the road ascending from Ein Gedi to the Judean Mountain ridge and the major cities of Hebron and Jerusalem.

Saar Ganor, Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist and researcher of the First Temple period proposes that these buildings may have safeguarded the route along which convoys transported the coveted expensive persimmon perfume.

This would be balsam (צרי), the biblical "balm of Gilead," which in the Mishaic period was apparently also known as "persimmon" (אפרסמן). (I think I have that right.) For more on balsam in the Second Temple period, see here and here. (There is also the claim that the balm of Gilead came from the resin of the pistachio tree.)

I had heard of the Aramaic Ein Gedi synagogue curse mosaic, but this article gives additional details.

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

Online Workshop: Exploring the Apocrypha (etc.)

EVENT: Online Workshop: Exploring the Apocrypha: Uncovering Hidden Christian Texts (Medievalists.net).
The Orthodox Academy of Crete, Medievalists.net, and After Constantine Journal are inviting you to join the online international workshop “Exploring the Apocrypha: Discovering Hidden Christian Texts.”, which will take place on Zoom on February 18, 2024, at 11:00 (Eastern US time).
Some details:
In this course we will discover biblically adjacent texts that present themselves as scriptural revelation by named biblical authors but which are not accepted as such (the pseudepigrapha ‘spuriously attributed writings’), books accepted by some traditions but not others (deuterocanonical books), and works that provide supplementary background information, alternative versions of events, or which expand on biblical narratives, episodes, and figures (apocrypha in the broadest sense). Through a series of mini-lectures, activities, and group discussions, this one-day programme will grapple with the historical, theological, and cultural significances of a wide body of Jewish and Christian writings that fall outside the Bible.
In other words (1) by "apocrypha" the title means what PaleoJudaica would call New Testament apocrypha, Old Testament pseudepigrapha, Old Testament Apocrypha (Deuterocanonica), and more; and (2) despite the title, the workshop looks at both Jewish and Christian texts.

One of the instructors, John J. Gallagher, is also an honorary lecturer in the School of English at the University of St. Andrews.

The cost of the one-day workshop is USD $69.

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

Monday, January 29, 2024

Review of Hadas-Lebel, Les Pharisiens

RELIGION PROF: Review Of Mireille Hadas-Lebel, Les Pharisiens (James McGrath).
On the whole Hadas-Lebel offers a presentation of the Pharisees that recognizes their diversity, their positive contributions in their era, and the resemblance of Jesus of Nazareth to them. In seeking to adjudicate between an array of literature with polemical features, it is perhaps inevitable that the Pharisees, what became Christianity, and other groups will all at times be cast in a negative light because the only lens through which we can view them is one provided by their opponents. That Hadas-Lebel for the most part manages to avoid this is remarkable. ...
For more on the Pharisees, see here and follow the links.

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Regina tombstone on loan to British Museum

ARAMAIC WATCH: The South Shields tomb is on loan to the British Museum (Muhammad, Pi News).
The Regina tombstone featured in the recent BBC Radio 4 series ‘Being Roman’ by renowned historian Mary Beard was erected by a man named Barates from Palmyra, Syria.

Originally from southeast England, Regina was a slave, but Barates freed her and later married her. When she died at the age of 30, he made her an expensive tombstone.

... A replica of the tombstone is currently on display at the British Museum, but is now acquiring the original for a major new exhibition Legion: Life in the Roman Army, which looks at what it was like to be in one of the most elite fighting forces. ...

The stone has two epitaphs, one in Latin and one in (Palmyrene) Aramaic. Follow the link for photos.

There is a long PaleoJudaica post on this tombstone here.

Cross-file under Exhibition.

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

Friday, January 26, 2024

More on the Nabateans

NABATEAN (NABATAEAN) WATCH: Saeb Rawashdeh continues a series on the Nabateans at the Jordan Times:

Lasting Legacy of Nabataean Dushara: From Petra’s temples to all corners of Roman Empire

Assimilated with Zeus, Dushara was considered the supreme god of the Nabataeans.
From Madaba map to Saint Lot Monastery: Tracing Byzantine heritage, Nabataean influences. The vibrant Christian community continued to thrive during Umayyad dynasty
During an archaeological survey in 1986, the research team found remains of an ancient site near the spring Ain Abata, located in Ghor Safi. Very soon it was established that these ruins belonged to the Saint Lot monastery, near the biblical city of Zoara/Ghor Safi, since it shared the same geographic location as the church depicted on the 6th century AD mosaic floor map at Saint George Church of Madaba.
For PaleoJudaica posts on the Madaba Map see here and links plus here and links.

Epigraphic journey: Unveiling the enigmatic society of Ancient Nabataeans

I noted earlier articles in the series here and here.

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

Evidence for a Byzantine church on the Temple Mount?

THE TEMPLE MOUNT SIFTING PROJECT BLOG: UNIQUE WEIGHTS DISCOVERED IN TEMPLE MOUNT SOIL SUGGEST PRESENCE OF BYZANTINE CHURCH.
... Consequently, these weights add credence to the growing body of evidence showing that activity upon the Temple Mount during the Byzantine period was greater than previously assumed. The TMSP has unearthed a multitude of artifacts dating to the Byzantine era, such as pieces of Corinthian capitals, chancel screens, patterned floor (opus sectile) tiles, around half a million tesserae from mosaic floors and thousands of roof tile fragments, as well as numerous Byzantine pottery shards and coins. This abundance of Byzantine-period artifacts stands in contrast to a commonly held view that in the Byzantine era the Temple Mount was desolate and undeveloped, and together with the recently discovered weights suggest that there might even have been a Byzantine church upon the Temple Mount. ...
UPDATE (29 January): The story is now covered in the Times of Israel in an article by Gavriel Fiske: Tiny weights hint at pre-Muslim Christian presence on Temple Mount – archaeologists. Byzantine-era coin weights, newly discovered in debris from the Jerusalem holy site, are of a type used in 6th century church settings.

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

Abracadabra again

ARAMAIC WATCH? Is Abracadabra a Jewish word? Widely believed to derive from Aramaic, the phrase appears nowhere in classical Jewish sources (unattributed, My Jewish Learning).

I agree that the case is circumstantial, but I think it is strong. Abracadabra looks like it is a mixed Aramaic and Aramaicized Hebrew phrase אברא כדברא, which would mean something like "I create according to the word" (perhaps meaning "I create as I speak"). The translation offered in the article looks a bit off.

For the philological specifics, see here. And for more posts on Abracadabra, follow the links from there and from here.

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

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Tu B'Shevat 2024

TU B'SHEVAT, the "New Year for Trees," begins this evening at sundown. Best wishes to all those celebrating.

Last year's Tu B'Shevat post is here, with links to earlier posts.

For biblical background, see here. The name "New Year for Trees" comes from Mishnah Rosh HaShanah 1.1. That passage gives two alternative dates for the celebration, one from Shammai and one from Hillel. Hillel's date (15 Shevat) is the one celebrated at present.

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

BHD on Beth Shean

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: OnSite: Beth Shean. Exploring one of the best-preserved Roman cities in Israel (Nathan Steinmeyer).

Some PaleoJudiaca posts on Beth Shean are here, here, here and links, and here. Also, as Beit She'an/Scythopolis, here, here, and here.

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

Review of Kugler, Resolving disputes in second century BCE Herakleopolis

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Resolving disputes in second century BCE Herakleopolis: a study in Jewish legal reasoning in Hellenistic Egypt.
Robert A. Kugler, Resolving disputes in second century BCE Herakleopolis: a study in Jewish legal reasoning in Hellenistic Egypt. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, 201. Leiden: Brill, 2022. Pp. xii, 274. ISBN 9789004505636

Review by
Patrick Sänger, University of Münster. saengerp@uni-muenster.de

... Kugler has undeniably achieved the goal he set out to accomplish with his study. He has unequivocally demonstrated that the petitions of P.Polit.Iud. suggest an awareness of Jewish legal thinking based on the Torah, that corresponding elements were utilized within the underlying argumentative strategy, that the legal reality reflected in the petitions was characterized by legal pluralism, and that the recourse to Jewish legal principles can be attributed to a certain pragmatism serving the purpose of substantiating and ultimately enforcing the petitioner’s position (p. 255). ...

I noted the publication of the book here.

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

Serach the centenarian?

PROF. RABBI RACHEL ADELMAN: Serach, Jacob’s Immortal Granddaughter (TheTorah.com).
Serach, daughter of Asher, is mentioned by name twice in the Torah—in the list of Jacob’s descendants who go down to Egypt and in the census in Numbers—without any details about her life. As a reward for breaking the news to Jacob that Joseph is still alive, the Midrash grants her immortality, gives her a key role during the exodus, and identifies her as the wise woman during King David’s reign.

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

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Zoom event: What to Expect When You’re Expecting (in Ancient Judaism)

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON: What to Expect When You’re Expecting (in Ancient Judaism) Seminar (Professor Laura Quick).
Date: 20 February 2024
Venue: Online via Zoom

Event details

In this talk, we will explore ancient Jewish ideas about childbirth and childrearing, including sex, conception, and lactation. Using comparative evidence from the ancient eastern Mediterranean alongside close readings of biblical and ancient Jewish texts, we will consider what it meant to conceive, birth, and look after a baby, and in particular how gender figured into the embodied practices of childbirth and childrearing.

The event is free, but requires pr-registration at the link.

PaleoJudaica has notes some of Professor Quick's wide-ranging work here, here, here, and here.

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

Review of Strong, The fables of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: The fables of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke: a new foundation for the study of parables.
Justin David Strong, The fables of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke: a new foundation for the study of parables. Studies in cultural contexts of the Bible, 5. Paderborn: Brill, 2021. Pp. xvii, 629. ISBN 9783506760654

Review by
Aaron T. Lockhart, Denver University, Iliff School of Theology. Aaron.Lockhart@du.edu

The fifth volume in Brill’s Studies in Cultural Contexts of the Bible series, Strong’s monograph on the fables of Jesus is a work whose value cannot be overstated. Adding to an already rich series, Strong’s volume engages in a literary and historical examination that bridges the chasm between parable and fable scholarship and brings the latter to the attention of those engaged in New Testament studies.

[...]

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

Monday, January 22, 2024

'Atiqot 113 (2023) (open access)

A NEW ISSUE OF THE JOURNAL 'ATIQOT focuses on "the archaeology of purity." TOC:
• Front Matter & Editorial Atiqot 113
Keywords: Front Matter & Editorial

• A First-Century BCE Chalk-Vessel Assemblage from Har Ḥoma, Jerusalem, and the Beginning of the Chalk-Vessel Industry (pp. 1–27)
Dennis Mizzi, Ayala Zilberstein, Débora Sandhaus, Rina Avner and Shua Kisilevitz
Keywords: Chalk vessels, chalk-quarry workshops, Jewish ritual purity, late Second Temple period, Har Ḥoma, Jerusalem

• Ritual Purification and Bathing: The Location and Function of Siloam Pool and Solomon’s Pool in Second Temple Period Jerusalem (pp. 29–44)
Nahshon Szanton
Keywords: purification, bathing, First Wall, Silwan Pool, Siloam Pool, Birkat el-Ḥamra, Pool of Solomon, Tyropoeon Valley

• Jewish Pilgrimage, Temple Sacrifices and ‘Disposable’ Cooking Pots (pp. 45–58)
Omri Abadi
Keywords: Second Temple period, Jerusalem, pilgrimage, cooking-pot production, ritual purity, ceremonial feasting

• Late Roman–Byzantine-Period Ritual Baths at Ḥorbat Susya in Daroma (pp. 59–96)
Yuval Baruch and Ronny Reich
Keywords: purity, ritual bath, miqweh, Daroma, synagogue, Jewish village, Late Roman period, Byzantine period, priest, oil press, winepress

• Archaeology, Purity and Society: Some Methodological Reflections (pp. 97–113)
Eyal Regev
Keywords: Purity, ritual baths, stone vessels, social archaeology, ethnicity, individualism

• The Rise and Fall of ‘Purity Culture’ in the Land of Israel: A Historic Perspective (pp. 115–157)
Zeev Safrai
Keywords: Purity, social development, miqweh, priests, Rabbis, sages, sects

• Jewish Ritual Immersion in the Longue Durée: From Earliest Manifestations until Today (159–181)
Yonatan Adler
Keywords: Judaism, ritual purity, ritual immersion, ritual immersion pools, ritual baths

• A Second-Temple Period Chalk Quarry and Vessel- Production Cave Complex on Mount Scopus, Jerusalem (pp. 185–274)
Jon Seligman, David Amit and Irina Zilberbod
Keywords: Jewish, Halakha, purity, chalk vessel industry, workshop, quarry, technology, quantification

• The Pottery Assemblage from the Mount Scopus Chalk-Vessel Production Cave (pp. 275–286)
Débora Sandhaus
Keywords: Pottery, Roman period, Herodian period, between the Revolts

• Stratigraphic Setting and Lithology of Mount Scopus Chalk Quarry Cave (pp. 287–293)
Amos Frumkin and Ze’ev Lewy
Keywords: bedrock stratigraphy, lithology, depositional paleoenvironment

HT the Bible Places Blog.

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

Judaism and the calendar

DR. SARIT KATTAN GRIBETZ: Whoever Controls the Calendar, Controls Judaism (TheTorah.com).
Calendrical disputes, which recurred frequently in ancient and medieval Jewish communities, created alternative dates for festivals such as Yom Kippur and Passover. Here, we look at four disputes and the different ways that communities navigated them.
For more on the Jewish calendar and the Pesher to Habakkuk, see here.

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

Friday, January 19, 2024

Ancient Jewish tunnel complexes in Israel

ARCHAEOLOGY: The True History of Ancient Jewish Underground Hiding Places in Israel. New finds show that the rock-cut shelters, once linked to the Bar Kochba Revolt, originated earlier as a Jewish strategy to resist all foreign encroachment (Ariel David, Haaretz).
Crucially, coins and other finds from the site [of Nesher-Ramla] date from the end of the Hasmonean period, in the first half of the first century B.C.E., to the first century C.E. The almost total lack of finds from the second century C.E. indicates the settlement had already been abandoned by then, possibly as a consequence of the devastation wrought during the First Revolt, Melamed says.

More broadly, only some two dozen coins from the Bar Kochba Revolt have been found in the hundreds of hiding complexes across Israel, [excavator Alexander] Melamed noted in a 2022 study.

This indicates that scholars may have been too quick to link them so closely to this revolt and interpret them as part of a centralized preparation plan ahead of the war, he says.

Not surprisingly, not all archaeologists agree with his conclusions.

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

Archaeomagnetic dating of Babylon's Ishtar Gate

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Babylon's Ishtar Gate may have a totally different purpose than we thought, magnetic field measurements suggest (Jennifer Nalewicki, Live Science).
Babylon's bright-blue Ishtar Gate was thought to have been built to celebrate the conquest of Jerusalem — but a new analysis finds that it may have been erected years later.

[...]

The Live Science article seems to assume, and the Plos One article to hint, that specialists thought that the Ishtar Gate was built to celebrate the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II. I try to keep up with the archaeology of ancient Babylon, but this question is outside my expertise. Still, I have never seen anyone propose this before and Nebuchadnezzar's dedicatory inscription on the gate (which you can read in translation here) says nothing about the conquest of Jerusalem. But apparently the connection has been suggested.

Be that as it may, the key points of interest from this project are (1) the relatively precise dating this new technique provides and (2) that it can work on architectual elements such as mud brick (and, in the case of Jerusalem, floor tiles).

The conclusions are that the Ishtar Gate was built well after the destruction of Jerusalem and that the whole gate was built more or less at the same time, not in stages over a substantial length of time. These are more fine-grained results than we could get from C-14 dating.

There is a recent book on the Ishtar Gate of Babylon by Helen Gries.

For the use of archaeomagnetic dating to anchor the date of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, see here, here, and here.

Many PaleoJudaica posts on ancient Babylon are collected here.

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

Thursday, January 18, 2024

C14 dating of a Bodmer Greek Psalms manuscript

VARIANT READINGS: Radiocarbon Analysis of Museum of the Bible Manuscripts: Bodmer Psalms (Brent Nongbri).

Neither radicarbon analysis nor paleography is a very precise tool for dating manuscripts. But its nice when they sort of agree.

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

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Very early coin and other goodies excavated in the Judean Hills

SALVAGE ARCHAEOLOGY: Extremely rare 2,550-year-old silver coin unearthed in Judean Hills . Stone shekel weight and ancient arrowhead also found during excavation of First Temple-era house uncovered during highway expansion (GAVRIEL FISKE, Times of Israel).

Cross-file under Numismatics.

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Bauckham, "Son of Man," volume 1

IN THE MAIL:
Richard Bauckham, "Son of Man" Early Jewish Literature (Eerdmans 2023)
A copy kindly sent to me by the author.

Noted earlier here and link.

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Revelation and Material Religion in the Roman East (Friesen Festschrift, Routledge)

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
Revelation and Material Religion in the Roman East
Essays in Honor of Steven J. Friesen

Edited By Nathan Leach, Daniel Charles Smith, Tony Keddie
Copyright 2024

Hardback £104.00
eBook £31.19

ISBN 9781032382678
344 Pages 38 B/W Illustrations
Published November 30, 2023 by Routledge

Description

This collection of essays from a diverse group of internationally recognized scholars builds on the work of Steven J. Friesen to analyze the material and ideological dimensions of John’s Apocalypse and the religious landscape of the Roman East.

Readers will gain new perspectives on the interpretation of John’s Apocalypse, the religion of Hellenistic cities in the Roman Empire, and the political and economic forces that shaped life in the Eastern Mediterranean. The chapters in this volume examine texts and material culture through carefully localized analysis that attends to ideological and socioeconomic contexts, expanding upon aspects of Friesen’s research and methodology while also forging new directions. The book brings together a diverse and international set of experts including emerging voices in the fields of biblical studies, Roman social history, and classical archeology, and each essay presents fresh, critically informed analysis of key sites and texts from the periods of Christian origins and Roman imperial rule.

Revelation and Material Religion in the Roman East is of interest to students and scholars working on Christian origins, ancient Judaism, Roman religion, classical archeology, and the social history of the Roman Empire, as well as material religion in the ancient Mediterranean more broadly. It is also suitable for religious practitioners within Christian contexts.

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

Friday, January 12, 2024

Review of Mitchell, Cyrus the Great

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Cyrus the Great: a biography of kingship.
Lynette Mitchell, Cyrus the Great: a biography of kingship. Routledge ancient biographies. New York: Routledge, 2023. Pp. 206. ISBN 9781138024106

Review by
Bodil Due, Aarhus University. bdue@au.dk

... A central merit of the book is the demonstration of the rich pool of storytelling that existed in the Near East. Its different patterns of narrative, which emerge in stories of the King as warrior, or as gardener, or as stranger king, destroyer of cities as well as builder, as elected and protected by the gods and maybe in Cyrus’ case their equal. The many different Cyruses incorporate almost all of these patterns, but differently in different works and authors. ...

I noted the publication of the book here. For many PaleoJudaica posts on Cyrus, follow the links from there, plus here.

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

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

CFP (deadline soon): LXX colloquium at McGill University

WILLIAM A. ROSS: SEPTUAGINT COLLOQUIUM AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY (CALL FOR PAPERS).
This event colloquium is an initiative of the John William Wevers Institute for Septuagint Studies at Trinity Western University and the School of Religious Studies at McGill University. It’s being organized by my friend and colleague Jean Maurais, along with others from McGill University (Gerbern Oegema), McMaster Divinity College (Mark Boda), and Trinity Western University (Dirk Büchner). It will take place from 19-20 June 2024 at McGill University and the call for papers is now open and will remain so through 15 January.
Bold-font emphasis his. Follow the link for full details.

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

Monday, January 08, 2024

Magic and Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World (Faraone Festschrift, Routledge)

NEW BOOK FROM ROUTLEDGE:
Magic and Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World
Studies in Honor of Christopher A. Faraone

Edited By Radcliffe G. Edmonds III, Carolina López-Ruiz, Sofía Torallas-Tovar
Copyright 2024

Hardback £104.00
eBook £31.19

ISBN 9781032341262
396 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations
Published November 17, 2023 by Routledge

Description

This volume explores aspects of ancient magic and religion in the ancient Mediterranean, specifically ways in which religious and mythical ideas, including the knowledge and practice of magic, were transmitted and adapted through time and across Greco-Roman, Near Eastern, and Egyptian cultures.

Offering an original and innovative combination of case studies on the material aspects and cross-cultural transfers of magic and religion, this book brings together a range of contributions that cross and connect sub-fields with a pan-Mediterranean, comparative scope. Section I investigates the material aspects of magical practices, including first editions and original studies on papyri, gems, lamellae containing binding curses and protective texts, and other textual media in ancient book culture. Several chapters feature the Greco-Egyptian Magical Papyri, the compilation of magical recipes in the formularies, and the role of physical book-forms in the transmission of magical knowledge. Section II explores magic and religion as nodes of cultural exchange in the ancient Mediterranean. Case studies range from Egypt to Anatolia and from Syria-Phoenicia to Sicily, with Greco-Roman religion and myth integrated in a diverse and interconnected Mediterranean landscape. Readers encounter studies featuring charismatic figures of Magi and itinerant begging priests, the multiple understandings of deities such as Hekate, Herakles, or Aphrodite, or the perceived exotic origin of cult statues, mummies, amulets, and cursing formulae, which bring to light the rich intercultural networks of the ancient Mediterranean, and the crucial role of magic and religion in the process of cross-cultural adaptation and innovation.

Magic and Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World appeals to both specialized and non-specialized audiences, with expert contributions written in an accessible way. This is a fascinating resource for students and scholars working on magic, religion, and mythology in the ancient Mediterranean.

For more on Christopher A. Faraone's work, see here and here.

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

Darshan, Stories of Origins in the Bible and Ancient Mediterranean Literature (CUP)

NEW BOOK FROM CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Stories of Origins in the Bible and Ancient Mediterranean Literature

AUTHOR: Guy Darshan, Tel Aviv University
DATE PUBLISHED: December 2023
AVAILABILITY: Available
FORMAT: Hardback
ISBN: 9781009344487

£ 85.00
Hardback

Description

In this book, Guy Darshan explores stories of origins that lie at the heart of Pentateuchal sources in the context of literature created in neighboring societies of the ancient Mediterranean world. A comparative study, his volume analyses the parallels between Biblical origin stories – the narrative traditions arranged in geneaological sequence that recount the beginnings of humanity and origins of peoples -- in tandem with ancient Greek genealogical writings from the 7–5th centuries BCE onwards. He also considers Phoenician and Anatolian sources from the first millennium, several of which have only been published in recent years. This is the first scholarly study to trace the origins of this genre of narrative and the circumstances that led to appearances in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Mediterranean literature. It sheds new light on our knowledge of the history of literature, as well as the interconnections and interrelations between civilizations of the pre-Hellenistic eastern Mediterranean and Near East.

  • Sheds new light on our knowledge of the interconnections and interrelations between civilizations of the pre-Hellenistic eastern Mediterranean and the Near East
  • Enlightens the question of the formation of the Pentateuch, and Genesis in particular, from a fresh comparative approach
  • Broadens our knowledge of the history of literature in the ancient Levant, and the eastern Mediterranean in general

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

Sunday, January 07, 2024

Sherman, Plant Metaphors in Prophetic Condemnations of Israel and Judah (SBL)

NEW BOOK FROM SBL PRESS:
Plant Metaphors in Prophetic Condemnations of Israel and Judah
Tina M. Sherman

ISBN 9781628375510
Volume AIL 49
Status Available
Publication Date November 2023

Hardback $73.00
Paperback $53.00
eBook $53.00

Tina M. Sherman offers a first-of-its-kind, detailed analysis of prophetic passages that depict people as plants—from grasses and grains to fruit trees and grapevines—examining how the biblical authors exploited these metaphors to portray the condemnation and punishment of Israel and Judah in terms of the everyday work of crop farming and plant husbandry. Additionally, she explores how the prophetic authors employed plant imagery to construct national identities that emphasize the people’s collective responsibility for the kingdoms’ fate. Plant Metaphors in Prophetic Condemnations of Israel and Judah demonstrates the usefulness of combining conceptual metaphor theory with aspects of frame semantics in the analysis of patterns of thought and expression in biblical metaphor.

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

Schiffman on Gaza and the Hasmoneans

PROF. LAWRENCE H. SCHIFFMAN: GAZA AND THE CHASHMONAIM. THE HISTORY THAT GOES BEYOND THE DAYS OF CHANUKAH.
Everyone knows the story of Chanukah, but for some reason the years of the Chashmonean Empire that followed from 152 BCE to the Roman conquest of Eretz Yisrael in 63 BCE are barely understood. In this period, the Jewish people came into conflict for the second time with the occupants of what is now the Gaza Strip and the southern coastal plain of Israel. In antiquity, this area ran farther north than today’s Gaza, continuing northward up through Ashkelon and Ashdod

[...]

The post links to a pdf reprint of the full article in Ami Magazine.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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-François 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-François Racine, Andrea Spatafora, and Rodney A. Werline.

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

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.

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

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).

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.