Saturday, June 15, 2024

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


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)

The Gospel of the Son of God

Psalm 2 and Mark’s Narrative Christology

James M. Neumann (Author)

$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


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. (
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 <> 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)

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

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

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)

Writing With Scripture

Scripturalized Narrative in the Gospel of Mark

Nathanael Vette (Author)

$39.95 $35.95

$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


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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