Saturday, May 04, 2024

Thambyrajah, Loanwords in Biblical Literature (T&T Clark)

Loanwords in Biblical Literature

Rhetorical Studies in Esther, Daniel, Ezra and Exodus

Jonathan Thambyrajah (Author)

$39.95 $35.95

$120.00 $108.00

Ebook (PDF)
$35.95 $28.76

Product details

Published Apr 18 2024
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 320
ISBN 9780567703095
Imprint T&T Clark
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Series The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing


In contrast to previous scholarship which has approached loanwords from etymological and lexicographic perspectives, Jonathan Thambyrajah considers them not only as data but as rhetorical elements of the literary texts of which they are a part. In the book, he explains why certain biblical texts strongly prefer to use loanwords whereas others have few. In order to explore this, he studies the loanwords of Esther, Daniel, Ezra and Exodus, considering their impact on audiences and readers. He also analyzes and evaluates the many proposed loan hypotheses in Biblical Hebrew and proposes further or different hypotheses.

Loanwords have the potential to carry associations with its culture of origin, and as such are ideal rhetorical tools for shaping a text's audience's view of the nations around them and their own nation. Thambyrajah also focuses on this phenomenon, looking at the court tales in Esther and Daniel, the correspondence in the Hebrew and Aramaic sections of Ezra 1–7, and the accounts of building the tabernacle in Exodus, and paying close attention to how these texts present ethnicity.

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

Thursday, May 02, 2024

Trotter on "Hellenistic Jews and Consolatory Rhetoric"

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Publication Preview: Hellenistic Jews and Consolatory Rhetoric (Christine R. Trotter).
Christine R. Trotter. Hellenistic Jews and Consolatory Rhetoric: 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, 1 Thessalonians, and Hebrews. WUNT 2/600. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2023.

... Ultimately, I decided to narrow my focus on the use of consolatory rhetoric among Hellenistic Jews because I was frustrated by a scholarly conversation about how “Christian consolation” is both similar to and different from “Greco-Roman consolation.” The contributions of ancient Jewish consolatory rhetoric to the development of “Christian consolation” rarely appeared in this debate, even though early Christians drew on both Greco-Roman and Jewish precedents. Why was there not more discussion of how Christian authors utilized the consolatory methods of ancient Jews? ...

I noted the publication of the book here.

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

International Conference on Yehezkel Kaufmann

EVENT: International Conference on Yehezkel Kaufmann (May 7-8) (George Y. Kohler)

:May 7, 2024 - May 8, 2024
Location: Israel
Subject Fields: Jewish History / Studies
International Conference: Yehezkel Kaufmann: His Life, Scholarship, and Legacy - Bar Ilan 7/8 May

The Year 2023 marked the sixtieth anniversary of the death of Yehezkel Kaufmann. His revolutionary thinking had a lasting impact on biblical studies, Jewish thought, and beyond, especially through his two influential multi-volume works. Sixty years after his death, we seek to examine critically the impact of his thought, its intellectual and biographical roots and his legacy. The lectures are in English and in Hebrew.

Follow the link for information on accessing live on Facebook and for a PDF conference program. Looks like the lectures will be in Hebrew and English

PaleoJudaica posts involving the work of Yehezkel Kaufmann are here and here. If you are not familiar with his work, you can read more about him here.

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

Biblical Studies Carnival 217

THE AMATEUR EXEGETE: Biblical Studies Carnival # 217 – April 2024 (Ben).

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

Codex Sinaiticus Rescriptus up for auction

ALSO FOR SALE: Early Christian scripture and ancient codices draw collectors' eyes to Paris (Catherine Pepinster, Christian Century).

I have already noted that the fourth century CE Coptic Crosby-Schoyen Codex is coming up for auction in June. This article mentions it, but also notes that another important manuscript in the Schøyen Collection is to be sold in the same auction.

Another major manuscript going up for sale on June 11 is the Codex Sinaiticus Rescriptus, which is in effect an ancient effort at recycling. In the 10th century, John Zosimos, a monk at a monastery near Jerusalem, acquired a document written on expensive vellum, which he packed up and took to St. Catherine’s monastery in the Sinai Desert to reuse for his own writing. The original writing, itself the earliest surviving piece of the Gospels to be written in Aramaic, dating from the fifth or sixth century, is still visible.

“The underlying text was not scrubbed out very well, so under fluorescent lighting you can still see it, written in the language that Jesus himself would have spoken,” said Donadoni.

The document, valued at £1.5 million, or $1.85 million, is a bargain, as the buyer gets the two texts for the price of one.

The Codex Sinaiticus Rescriptus is not to be confused with the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, another important Syriac/Aramaic biblical manuscript that was sold to the Green collection in 2009.

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

Who crucified Jesus?

PROF. TAMÁS VISI: Did the Jews Crucify Jesus? (
The gospels present Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, condemning Jesus to death, and his soldiers crucifying Jesus at the behest of the priests and the Jewish crowd. How, then, did the claim—found even in the Talmud—that the Jews physically crucified Jesus develop?

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

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Plato's last night revealed in Herculaneum scroll?

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Plato’s final hours recounted in scroll found in Vesuvius ash. Newly deciphered passages outline Greek philosopher’s burial place and describe critique of slave musician (Lorenzo Tondo, The Guardian).
In a groundbreaking discovery, the ancient scroll was found to contain a previously unknown narrative detailing how the Greek philosopher spent his last evening, describing how he listened to music played on a flute by a Thracian slave girl.

Despite battling a fever and being on the brink of death, Plato – who was known as a disciple of Socrates and a mentor to Aristotle, and who died in Athens around 348BC – retained enough lucidity to critique the musician for her lack of rhythm, the account suggests.

This announcement is so remarkable that at first I thought it was a joke. But it is real. Prof Graziano Ranocchia of the University of Pisa has reported that his team has recovered material from a carbonized Herculaneum scroll which gives new information about the life and death of Plato, including an account of the last evening of his life and a more precise indication of his burial place. It also tells a story of his enslavement somewhat different from the one already known.

How much does this new scroll tell us about the actual life of Plato? Hard to say. Philodemus lived in the first century BCE, a few centuries after the death of Plato. But we don't know what contemporary sources he had that are now lost.

I would take the account of Plato's last night with a grain of salt. If no one knew what happened, someone would surely made up a story like the one Philodemus gives us. But at worst we now have an additional piece of comparatively early Plato apocrypha.

Comparatively early? For comparison, there is the Life of Plato written by Diogenes Laërtius in his Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. (The 1925 LCL translation by R. D. Hicks is reprinted at the link at the Livius site.) Diogenes lived no earlier than the first half of the third century CE, so perhaps a few centuries farther from Plato's time than Philodemus.

Diogenes says that Plato died at a wedding feast (or possibly from lice infestation!), that there are conflicting reports of the date, and that he was buried in the Academy (2-3, 40-41, 45). He gives no more information about the night of his death. He also reports that Plato was sentenced to be sold into slavery by Dionysius I of Syracuse, but an admirer ransomed him and sent him back to Athens (18-20).

One cautionary note. Let's remember that none of the new information has been published yet. I want to see what it looks like when it's published and how persuaded specialists are of the reconstruction and decipherment. But it sounds promising.

I know this story has nothing to do with ancient Judaism, but it's of interest to anyone following the decipherment of the Heculaneum scrolls, as I have been. Maybe the next big discovery will be more relevant.

For many PaleoJudaica posts on the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE and its destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and on the efforts to reconstruct and decipher the carbonized library at Herculaneum, start here and follow the links.

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

Review of Hamori, God’s Monsters

RELIGION PROF: Esther Hamori, God’s Monsters. A book review by James McGrath.

I noted the publication of the book here. For more on monsters in the biblical world, see the links collected here.

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

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Review of Anagnostou-Laoutides & Pfeiffer (eds.), Culture and ideology under the Seleukids

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Culture and ideology under the Seleukids: unframing a dynasty.
Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides, Stefan Pfeiffer, Culture and ideology under the Seleukids: unframing a dynasty. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2022. Pp. xxii, 360. ISBN 9783110755626.

Review by
Benjamin Pedersen, The Danish Institute at Athens.

The book under review aims to put forth “a multi-angled (re-)appraisal of the cultural dynamics under the Seleukid regime from its establishment to its eventual submission to the Romans” (p. 1). The overarching goal is to treat the cultural and ideological lines of development in the Seleucid empire by embracing “the plurality of ancient evidence and examining the ideologies appended to it” to unframe issues “still palpable in the scholarship and offer a platform for debating them” (preface). ...

For PaleoJudaica posts on the Seleucid dynasty and its importance for the Bible and Second Temple Judaism, start here (cf. here) and follow the links.

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

C14 evidence for a larger Davidic Jerusalem?

RADIOCARBON DATING: Jerusalem in King David's Time Was Much Larger Than Previously Thought, Researchers Say. First large-scale radiocarbon study of Jerusalem casts doubt on the paradigm that David's capital was a small village. It already extended over a vast area more than 3,000 years ago (Ariel David, Haaretz).
A first-of-its-kind radiocarbon study of Jerusalem in the First Temple Period is now offering new insight into the city's history in biblical times. On one hand it brings tantalizing clues that the city was already an important urban center in David and Solomon's time and not an insignificant village, as scholars more skeptical of biblical historicity have long maintained .

On the other hand, the new radiocarbon data contradict the biblical text on who exactly built what and when in Jerusalem during the First Temple Period.

The underlying article in PNAS is online, but behind a subscription wall: Radiocarbon chronology of Iron Age Jerusalem reveals calibration offsets and architectural developments (Johanna Regev, Yuval Gadot, Joe Uziel, and Elisabetta Boaretto). You can read a Significance paragraph and the Abstract there. The Haaretz article is quite informative too.

The results sound interesting, especially regarding the dating of the city wall. Their bearing on the size of the city in David's time seems more controversial.

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

Report on Durham Syriac conference

SYRIAC WATCH: Landmark Syriac Studies conference brings international research excellence to UK (Durham University).
A landmark conference about Syriac Studies brought more than 70 researchers from 20 countries to Durham last month. The event was a hub for academic collaboration and knowledge sharing. It was also a formative experience for early-career scholars. Here, the organisers reflect on the key highlights of the conference and why there has recently been a major revival of academic interest in Syriac Studies.


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

Monday, April 29, 2024

Was Abimelech Pyrrhus, Jephtha's daughter Iphigenia, and Samson Heracles?

272 BCE – A Terminus a Quo

272 BCE is the first an until now only indisputable terminus a quo for the emergence of Old Testament literature. In 272 the Greek general Pyrrhus was killed during a street battle in the city of Argos, when a woman threw a tile from the roof of a house and hid Pyrrhus immobilizing him. Pyrrhus was eliminated by a bystander. Pyrrhus’ fate was undoubtedly the inspiration for the story in Judg 9, followed by the sacrifice of Jiphta’s daughter, so often likened to the fate of Agamemnon’s daughter Iphigenia, and the story of Samson, very easily identified as Heracles.

Chapter from If I Forget You, Jerusalem! Studies on the Old Testament (Equinox Publishing (May 15, 2024).

By Niels Lemche
University of Copenhagen April 2024

Nope, not buying it.

The three comparisons are very weak. They wrest stories from the Book of Judges and from widely varied places in Classical literature from their contexts, identify them on the basis of a few parallels, and claim that the argument constitutes a convincing cumulative case.

In context, the stories are very different. Abimelech is finished off with a spear by one of his own men at his own request whereas Pyrrhus is beheaded by an enemy. Prof. Lemche acknowledges the weakness of the comparison of Jephthah's daughter to Iphigenia, but still advances it as part of his argument. We can add that in the best-known version of the story, by Euripides, Iphigenia isn't even sacrificed. Unlike Samson, Heracles was deified through his own self-immolation. I could go on and on, but this illustrates my point.

Multiplying weak arguments does not add up to a cumulatively strong one.

I don't have a firm opinion about the composition date of the Book of Judges. The Hebrew looks more like epigraphic Iron Age II Hebrew than Qumran Hebrew, but it is somewhat different from both. And we don't have much in between. Judges seems to remember some old information (although cf. here), but that doesn't establish its date of composition. Neither does the argument advanced in this essay.

UPDATE (30 April): I see that Prof. Lemche has replied to this post in a comment to his essay. I have responded there.

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

Upcoming Mel Gibson movies?


‘Resurrection’ to be release in April 2025. The sequel of The Passion of the Christ will premier on Good Friday 2025. It brings back actors from the original cast, including Jim Caviezel as Jesus (Evangelical Focus).

Mel Gibson to film story of Judah Maccabee (Jewish Chronicle)

It sounds as though the Resurrection film is actually happening. Background here and links.

There has been talk for a long time about a Gibson movie on the Maccabean Revolt. This latest announcement is more talk. The script is not even written yet. The first script was rejected by Warner Bros in 2012. We'll see if anything comes of this round of talk. Background here and links.

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

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions (SBL Press)

Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions: Methodological Encounters and Debates

Martti Nissinen, Jutta Jokiranta, editors

ISBN 9781628375718
Volume RBS 106
Status Available
Publication Date April 2024

Paperback $93.00
eBook $93.00
Hardback $113.00

This volume presents the work of the international, interdisciplinary research project Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions (CSTT), whose members focused on cultural, ideological, and material changes in the period when the sacred traditions of the Hebrew Bible were created, transmitted, and transformed. Specialists in the textual study of the Hebrew and Greek Bibles, archaeology, Assyriology, and history, working across their fields of expertise, trace how changes occurred in biblical and ancient Near Eastern texts and traditions. Contributors Tero Alstola, Anneli Aejmelaeus , Rick Bonnie, Francis Borchardt, George J. Brooke, Cynthia Edenburg, Sebastian Fink, Izaak J. deHulster , Patrik Jansson, Jutta Jokiranta, Tuukka Kauhanen, Gina Konstantopoulos, Lauri Laine, Michael C. Legaspi, Christoph Levin, Ville Mäkipelto, Reinhard Müller, Martti Nissinen, Jessi Orpana, Juha Pakkala, Dalit Rom-Shiloni, Christian Seppänen, Jason M. Silverman, Saana Svärd, Timo Tekoniemi, Hanna Tervanotko, Joanna Töyräänvuori, and Miika Tucker demonstrate that rigorous yet respectful debate results in a nuanced and complex understanding of how ancient texts developed.

The project ran a blog to which I linked occasionally. But it appears to have been taken down.

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