Saturday, July 06, 2024

Cohn & Kogman-Appel, Beloved David (Stern Festschrift, SBL)

Beloved David—Advisor, Man of Understanding, and Writer: A Festschrift in Honor of David Stern

Naftali S. Cohn, Katrin Kogman-Appel, editors

ISBN 9781951498979
Volume BJS 373
Status Available
Publication Date May 2024

Paperback $80.00
Hardback $100.00
eBook $80.00

An exploration of Jewish literary creativity honoring David Stern

This volume brings together the latest scholarship on Jewish literary products and the ways in which they can be interpreted from three different perspectives. In part 1, contributors consider texts as literature, as cultural products, and as historical documents to demonstrate the many ways that early Jewish, rabbinic, and modern secular Jewish literary works make meaning and can be read meaningfully. Part 2 focuses on exegesis of specific biblical and rabbinic texts as well as medieval Jewish poetry. Part 3 examines medieval and early modern Jewish books as material objects and explores the history, functions, and reception of these material objects. Contributors include Javier del Barco, Elisheva Carlebach, Ezra Chwat, Evelyn M. Cohen, Naftali S. Cohn, William Cutter, Yaacob Dweck, Talya Fishman, Steven D. Fraade, Dalia-Ruth Halperin, Martha Himmelfarb, Marc Hirshman, Tamar Kadari, Israel Knohl, Susanne Klingenstein, Katrin Kogman-Appel, Jon D. Levenson, Paul Mandel, Annett Martini, Jordan S. Penkower, Annette Yoshiko Reed, Jeffrey L. Rubenstein, Shalom Sabar, Raymond P. Scheindlin, Seth Schwartz, Sarit Shalev-Eyni, Moshe Simon-Shoshan, Peter Stallybrass, Josef Stern, Barry Scott Wimpfheimer, Elliot R. Wolfson, Azzan Yadin-Israel, and Joseph Yahalom.

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Friday, July 05, 2024

The Antikythera mechanism used a lunar calendar?

(ANCIENT) TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Advanced imaging discovers super-accuracy in Greek-era mystery "computer." The Antikythera mechanism, discovered in a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901, is considered the world's oldest known analog computer, dating back to the 2nd century BC (Alchemiq, Israel Hayom).
Recent X-ray imaging and analysis, utilizing statistical modeling techniques like Bayesian methods developed for detecting gravitational waves, revealed that one of the mechanism's rings likely had 354 or 355 regularly spaced holes, corresponding to the days in a Greek lunar calendar, suggesting it followed a lunar calendar instead of the Julian solar calendar.
These results seem still to be preliminary, but it looks as though the Antikythera mechanism used a calendar more similar to the traditional Jewish one than to the Enochic solar calendar. The traditional ("Hebrew") calendar is "luni-solar"; it has twelve lunar months adding up to 354 days, but adds an intercalary month every two or three years to make up a real year.

There's no indication in the article whether the Antikythera mechanism had any intercalary adjustments. I would guess it did, but given how damaged it is, they probably don't know yet. The Greek lunar calendar had the twelve lunar months, which caused predictable confusion, and it made some clumsy intercalary efforts to make up the difference.

The Enochic solar calendar has twelve months that add up to 364 days per year. That handily keeps the festivals on the same day of the week each year, which prevents halachic difficulties if one were to fall on the Sabbath. But it also gradually departs from the 365.25 cycle of the actual solar year. It is unclear whether the Qumran/Enochic sectarians ever applied an intercalary month to make up the difference.

For PaleoJudaica posts on the Antikythera mechanism, see here and links and (on the Antikythera shipwreck) here.

The answer to my question whether the Enochian astronomers would have approved of the Antikythera mechanism seems to be no.

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Barkay Festscrift book launch


I mentioned the Festscrift earlier in another context. Dr. Barkay is, of course, also the director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

Again, congratulations to him on this well-deserved honor.

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They are about to raise the Mazzarón II

PHOENICIAN WATCH: Phoenician ship to be extracted from Mazzaron Seabed. The wreck will be extracted from the bottom of the sea in 22 sections starting from September (Mucia Today).

This project has been in the works for a few years, but it sounds as though they are actually going to do it in a couple of months. I hope so.

For more on the Phoenician shipwreck Mazzarón II and the project to raise and conserve it, see here and links.

There is also another Phoenicial shipwreck of comparable age (the "Mazzarón I"), which has been restored and is on display in the nearby town of Cartagena. See the link in the previous paragraph for more on it.

Note the variable spellings Mazarrón (Mazarron) and Mazzarón (Mazzaron).

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Thursday, July 04, 2024

The Reception of Biblical Figures (Brepols)

The Reception of Biblical Figures
Essays in Method

David Hamidovic, Eleonora Serra, Philippe Therrien (eds)

Pages: 312 p.
Size:156 x 234 mm
Illustrations:1 b/w, 8 col.
Language(s):English, French
Publication Year:2024

BOOK SERIES Judaïsme ancien et origines du christianisme, vol. 27

€ 70,00 EXCL. VAT
ISBN: 978-2-503-60076-5

€ 70,00 EXCL. VAT
ISBN: 978-2-503-60077-2

The papers included in this volume study the transmission, reception, and evolution of traditions regarding specific biblical figures in extra-biblical texts


This volume explores the reception of biblical figures in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, with a particular focus on Antiquity and incursions in the Middle Ages and modernity. The contributions included here offer a glimpse of the complexity of the mechanics of transmission to which these figures were subjected in extra-biblical texts, either concentrating on one author or corpus in particular, or broadening the scope across time and cultural contexts. The volume intends to shed light on how these biblical figures and their legacies appear as channels of collective memory and identity; how they became tools for authors to achieve specific goals; how they gained new and powerful authority for communities; and how they transcend traditions and cultural boundaries. As a result, the vitality and fluidity of the developments of traditions become clear and prompt caution when using modern categories.

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Geljon & Runia, Philo of Alexandria, On Cultivation (SBL)

Philo of Alexandria, On Cultivation: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary

Albert C. Geljon, David T. Runia

ISBN 9781628373707
Volume 4
Status Available
Price $65.00
Publication Date May 2024

Now Available in Paperback

This fourth volume of the Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series, originally published by Brill in hardcover, presents the first readable, modern English translation and commentary on Philo’s De agricultura (On Cultivation), which gives an elaborate allegorical interpretation of Genesis 9:20. Noah’s role as a cultivator is analyzed in terms of the ethical and spiritual quest of the soul making progress toward its goal. Albert C. Geljon and David T. Runia focus on the treatise’s structure, biblical sources, and exegetical and philosophical contents. The volume provides valuable insights into Philo’s highly influential allegorical method of biblical interpretation.

As the blurb indicates, this volume was published previously in hardback. But this is the first time I have noted it.

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Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Progress on dating the reign of King Hezekiah?

(UNPROVENANCED) NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY: When Did King Hezekiah Reign? Controversial Artifacts May Resolve Biblical Controversy. The Bible contradicts itself on the regnal years of the king of Judah who rebelled against Assyria. Study of seal impressions from the antiquities market claims to break the impasse (Ariel David, Haaretz).
A private collection of artifacts that had been bought on the antiquities market and has since disappeared may, nonetheless, hold the key to resolving a biblical mystery that has bedeviled researchers for more than a century, a leading Israeli scholar says.

The new study by Nadav Na'aman, emeritus professor of Jewish history from Tel Aviv University, uses information from the collection's tiny clay seal impressions, ostensibly dating to more than 2,700 years ago, to clear up contradictory information in the Bible on the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah.


I do not have access to the underlying Festschrift article (by the way, congratulations to Gabriel Barkay!), so my comments are based on this Haaretz article summary.

As I have said for a long time, our default assumption should be that an unprovenanced inscription is a forgery unless and until scholars present a credible case that it is genuine. And establishing "credible" isn't getting any easier.

I have summed up the current situation with unprovenanced artifacts, notably inscribed bullae, here. Briefly, even artifacts seemingly thoroughly authenticated by laboratory tests can and do turn out to be forgeries. And the unprovenanced bullae that are the subject of this article are lost. We can't even authenticate them.

There are some arguments in favor of their being genuine. I'm not sure if they add up to "credible." I blog, you decide.

The study summarized here is potentially signficant. I accept it as part of the discussion, but flagged as based on doubly doubtful evidence (unprovenanced and lost). Any historical reconstructions based on it should bear this in mind.

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Sneak-peek tours for new IAA campus

ARCHITECTURE: IAA offers sneak peek tours of long-awaited new campus. Official opening of facility near the Israel Museum in Jerusalem still at least a year away (Gavriel Fiske, Times of Israel).
The Israel Antiquities Authority is offering limited tours this summer of its Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, a new and modern facility, long under construction next to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the IAA said in a press release.


This project has been in the works for a long time. I'm glad to hear it is almost complete. Background here and links.

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Tuesday, July 02, 2024

PaleoJudaica page views

PALEOJUDAICA had over 150,000 page views in June of 2024. That's not quite a record. August of 2023 had 182,000. The last year has been the busiest since its inception, with nearly 1.2 million views.

Some of those are bots, sure. But lots are real.

I don't know how many views we've had since the blog began in March of 2003. But there have been almost 8.4 million in the last 14 years.

I really enjoy running this blog. And I appreciate you taking the time to look at it.

Thanks again to you regular readers, who keep coming back. And welcome to you newcomers. It's good to see you all.

UPDATE (3 July): The last 30 days have just surpassed the previous record, with 183,000 and counting views.

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

Scale beam sifted from Temple Mount


No word on the date of the beam fragment. I imagine it would be hard to date. There won't be many ancient ones to compare with it. Wood deteriorates too easily. And it has been buried out of its original context for a long time, so I doubt that radiocarbon dating woud be reliable. But it's not my area of expertise. We'll see.

Cross-file under Material Culture.

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Geniza fragment: The Song of the Sea in Christian Arabic

THE GENIZA FRAGMENTS BLOG: Q&A Wednesday: Christian Arabic Canticles, with Nick Posegay (Melonie Schmierer-Lee and Nick Posegay).
Nick, you’ve recently published an article about a Bible fragment.

That’s right. Two fragments in fact: T-S NS 305.198 and T-S NS 305.210. They join together to make a single bifolium from an Arabic psalter manuscript. So, a book of Psalms and other liturgical songs that would’ve been sung in Arabic church services. This page is the beginning of the ‘canticles’, a selection of songs from other parts of the Bible that Orthodox churches included at the end of their psalters. The first canticle here is from Exodus 15:1–120 [Sic - read 15:1-12]. It’s known as the ‘Song of the Sea’, the song which the Israelites supposedly sang after escaping from Pharaoh’s army in Egypt.


For PaleoJudaica posts on the Arabic Bible, see the links collected here.

For two other early copies of the Song of the Sea, apparently both from the Cairo Geniza, see here and links (especially here and here), plus here.

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Monday, July 01, 2024

Persistence pays off for Targum on toast

THE GENIZA FRAGMENTS BLOG: Targum on Toast (Marc Michaels).
My colleague, Estara Arrant posted an image on social media of one of the nine fragments that constitutes T-S K22.16, jokingly remarking that the streaky brown mess resembled a slice of toast.

As one might expect the catalogue entry on these fragments is short. Very short. It consists of one word - ‘illegible’. This of course piqued my interest. What was the ‘toast’ hiding? Also, I love a challenge. Thus, the day after the 2024 Ullendorff lecture, Estara brought the manuscript into the Genizah Unit and we set to work to solve the puzzle.


They did manage to identify the document, but there is plenty of work left to do on it - someday when the technology is better.

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Review of Hauptman, The Stories They Tell

TALMUD WATCH: Hidden messages: a novel way of reading Talmudic stories. The Talmud, edited around 1,500 years ago, contains rabbinic statements, discussions, and anecdotes from over three centuries (MARTIN LOCKSHIN).
But curiously, this example of the relationship between legal statements and anecdotes about Halacha (Jewish law) is not the standard one in the Babylonian Talmud. In The Stories They Tell: Halakhic Anecdotes in the Babylonian Talmud, Prof. (emerita) Judith Hauptman of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, a leading scholar of rabbinic literature, explains, “Since halachic anecdotes, the subject of this volume, appear only sporadically in the Talmud... a traditional commentary fails to note their cumulative message.”
I noted the publication of the book here.

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The Bible in Its Traditions

WEBSITE PROJECT: The Bible in Its Traditions.
What this website is about

The Bible in Its Traditions is a project of the École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem, the creators of the Jerusalem Bible.

The goal of this project

We intend to create the most extensive and helpful set of notes for the entire bible, with information of interest both to biblical scholars and casual readers. View this sample passage

Unique Features

The Bible in Its Traditions will present significant differences between different versions of the text of the Bible in the text itself, rather than in footnotes. In addition, the text is accompanied by extensive notes divided into different topics, such as vocabulary, social and cultural milieu, and Jewish and Christian tradition, among others.

In French, English, and Spanish. The project is in its early stages, but it looks promising.

HT Todd Bolen at the Bible Places Blog.

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Sunday, June 30, 2024

Theis & Vitellozzi (eds.), Textual Amulets from Antiquity to Early Modern Times (Bloomsbury)

Textual Amulets from Antiquity to Early Modern Times

The Shape of Words

Christoffer Theis (Anthology Editor) , Paolo Vitellozzi (Anthology Editor)

$39.95 $35.95

$120.00 $108.00

Ebook (PDF)
$35.95 $28.76

Ebook (Epub & Mobi)
$35.95 $28.76

Product details

Published May 30 2024
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 216
ISBN 9781350254572
Imprint Bloomsbury Academic
Illustrations 50 bw illus
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Series Bloomsbury Studies in Material Religion
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing


Comparing amulets over time and space, this volume focuses on the function of written words on these fascinating artefacts. Ranging from Roman Egypt to the Middle Ages and the Modern period, this book provides an overview on these artefacts in the Mediterranean world and beyond, including Europe, Iran, and Turkey.

A deep analysis of the textuality of amulets provides comparative information on themes and structures of the religious traditions examined. A strong emphasis is placed on the material features of the amulets and their connections to ritual purposes. The textual content, as well as other characteristics, is examined systematically, in order to establish patterns of influence and diffusion. The question of production, which includes the relationships that linked professional magicians, artists and craftsmen to their clientele, is also discussed, as well as the sacred and cultural economies involved.

Originally published in 2022, but I missed it then. Now out in paperback.

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