Thursday, December 14, 2017

Porcupines everywhere!

APPREHENDED: ‘We were just hunting porcupines,’ claims antiquities robber. Twice in one night, Israel Antiquities Authority theft-prevention unit catch suspects excavating at 2,000-year-old sites (Amanda Borschel-Dan).
Tuesday night was busy for the Israel Antiquity Authority’s theft-prevention unit in the Lower Galilee region. In two separate instances, inspectors encountered antiquities robbers in the process of illegal excavations.

“We were just hunting porcupines,” said one of the robbers in explanation of his presence in the middle of the night at a 2,000-year-old grave on Mount Hazon near the Druze/Arab village of Maghar.

[...]
Of course they were.

Sort-of-related porcupine stories are noted here.

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Questions about the Greek First Apocalypse of James fragments

DAVID MEADOWS IS ASKING QUESTIONS: Oxyrhynchus and the First Apocalypse of James: Collection History Just Got Murkier (Rogue Classicism Blog). I leave the reader to decide how much weight to give David's concerns. In any case, it should be a straightforward matter to produce a paper trail showing that the papyrus was excavated in 1904/5 and has been held by the Sackler Library at Oxford since then.

Background here and here.

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The Joseph story as literature

PROF. GARY A. RENDSBURG: The Joseph Story: Ancient Literary Art at Its Best (TheTorah.com).
The Joseph story invites the reader to be transported to Egypt itself through the inclusion of Egyptian words, proper names, and customs; to analyze the unsurpassed use of repetition with variation; and to enter the mind of the character (in this case, especially Pharaoh) through the use of interior monologue.
It's a good story.

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Review of Curtis, Interpreting the Wisdom Books

READING ACTS: Book Review: Edward M. Curtis, Interpreting the Wisdom Books (Phil Long).
Curtis, Edward M. Interpreting the Wisdom Books: An Exegetical Handbook. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Academic, 2017. 204 pp. Pb; $21.99.
Excerpt:
Nevertheless, as with the other contributions to this series, this handbook for the Wisdom books succeeds in its goal of providing students of Old Testament wisdom with the tools for teaching and preaching this difficult material in the Hebrew Bible. This would make a good textbook for a college or seminary class on the Prophets, especially in more conservative circles.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Talmud on the the Talmud's organization

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: The Order of Things. The reasoning behind the Talmud’s categories and sub-categories isn’t always apparent. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the Talmud wonders about its own organization.
The beginning of Tractate Shevuot, which Daf Yomi readers started last week, is one of the rare places where the Talmud wonders explicitly about its own organization. In the order of tractates, Shevuot follows Sanhedrin, which deals with capital crimes, and Makkot, which discusses crimes punishable by lashes or exile. The main subject matter of Shevuot is the taking of oaths—that’s the meaning of the word shevuot—and in its later chapters, we will learn about the oaths administered to witnesses in court. This explains why Shevuot is in Seder Nezikin, following Sanhedrin, which laid out court procedures and the laws of witnesses. It also answers the question of why Shevuot does not follow Nedarim, the tractate devoted to personal vows, even though the subjects of oaths and vows might seem to belong together. The vows in Nedarim were voluntary and had to do with making gratuitous promises to God (which the rabbis generally discourage), while the oaths in Shevuot are part of court procedure.

Yet while the first word of Shevuot is “shevuot,” the first chapter turns out to discuss oaths barely at all. ...
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Hasmonean-era findings at Susya

ARCHAEOLOGY: Ancient Jewish town from Hasmonean period discovered ,100-year-old Jewish community found in Judea, dating back to Hasmonean period, 600 years earlier than previous finds at the site (Mordechai Sones, Arutz Sheva). Previous remains only went back to the Talmudic period.

Past posts involving Susya, which was caught up in a political controversy a couple of years ago, are here and links.

There are lots of news stories about the Hasmonean era this week. Cross-file under 'Tis the Season (Hanukkah Edition).

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

That gold-lettered Turkish Torah is a "crude fake"

HERE WE GO AGAIN: Ancient 'Torah' uncovered in Turkey actually a crude fake: experts (i24 News).
An ancient Torah scroll reportedly seized from smugglers by security forces in Turkey in November is in fact a crude forgery, the museum analyzing it said on Tuesday.

The story of the seizure gained worldwide attention in several media outlets last month after Turkish news agencies said police in the country’s south west had unearthed what they believed was a 700-year old holy text being offered by "smugglers" for $1.93 million.

Pictures of the rare discovery showed a colorful but haphazardly leather-bound book, with Hebrew markings that appeared at first glance to be upside-down and don’t seem to resemble actual Hebrew phrases.

[...]
The writing appeared upside-down because the book was being held upside-down. But, yes, it wasn't a Torah, as I had already said. I should have clarified that it is a book, not a scroll. I don't know if it is a fake per se, or just a crude tourist trinket.

Background here, with links to notices of many other doubtful antiquities that have surfaced recently in Turkey.

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News on St. Catherine's Monastery

REOPENING: Antiquities minister to inaugurate St. Catherine's' library on Saturday (MENA, Egypt Today).
CAIRO - 11 December 2017: Antiquities Minister Khaled el Anani will open on Saturday the library of St. Catherine Monastery and the renovation work of the famous mosaic of the Transfiguration in Church of the Transfiguration, St. Catharine’s largest church.

Director General of Research and Archaeological Studies and Scientific Publications in Lower Egypt and Sinai Abdul Rahim Rayhan told MENA that the library contains six thousand manuscripts, including 2,319 in Greek, 284 in Latin, 600 in Arabic in addition to Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopian, Armenian, English and French manuscripts as well as other religious, historical, geographical and philosophical ones.

[...]
There was a notice of the closing of the monastery "for security reasons" back in 2015. The current article seems to indicate that it is now reopening, which is good news.

For many other past posts on St. Catherine's Monastery and its precious collection of manuscripts, see the last post above, plus here and here, and follow the links.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hanukkah 2017

HAPPY HANUKKAH (CHANUKKAH, CHANUKAH) to all those celebrating! The eight-day festival begins tonight at sundown.

Last year's Hanukkah post is here. It links to past Hanukkah posts with additional historical background. For PaleoJudaica posts in the last year that relate to Hanukkah, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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

Pereginations of an ancient stone menorah-incised door

ARCHAEOLOGY: Archaeologists uncover bittersweet end of 1,800-year-old Tiberias menorah. Once carved on a Jewish grave, the menorah had two more lives -- as the base of a mosque and then in a Crusader-period sugar factory (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
The 68×78-centimeter (27×31 inch) seven-stemmed menorah was uncovered in a dig led by The Hebrew University’s Dr. Katia Cytryn-Silverman, which has been ongoing since 2009. The door the menorah decorated was typical of a Jewish tomb from circa 150-350 CE, said Silverman in conversation with The Times of Israel on Monday.
For many past PaleoJudaica posts on ancient menorahs and representations of menorahs, start here and follow the links. Cross-file under 'Tis the Season (Hanukkah Edition).

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

Maccabean-era candle holder excavated by porcupine

DISCOVERY: MOTHER AND DAUGHTER DISCOVER ANCIENT CLAY LAMP FROM HELLENISTIC PERIOD Second century CE relic dates to Judah Maccabee’s battles against ruler of Antiochus (Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post).
A leisurely afternoon hike in the North’s Beit She’an Valley turned into much more when a mother and daughter discovered an ancient clay candle holder dating to the Hellenistic period – when Judah Maccabee fought against the ruler of Antiochus 2,200 years ago.

While making their way through the mounds near the historic area by the Jordan River Valley one week ago, Hadas Goldberg-Kedar, 7, and her mother, Ayelet, first noticed the well-preserved pottery vessel near the entrance to a porcupine cave.

[...]
Yes, the porcupine was the excavator. For another, similar example of porcupine archaeology, see here. Cross-file under 'Tis the Season (Hanukkah Edition).

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Reprising an ancient menorah sketch

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Understanding the Jewish Menorah. Does this ancient menorah graffito show the Temple menorah?
The Jewish menorah—especially the Temple menorah, a seven-branched candelabra that stood in the Temple—is the most enduring and iconic Jewish symbol. But what did the Temple menorah actually look like?

In early August 2011, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) issued a press release announcing the discovery of “an engraving of the Temple menorah on a stone object” in a 2,000-year-old drainage channel near the City of David, which was being excavated by Professor Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron. (An unusually well preserved iron sword in its leather scabbard, which presumably belonged to a Roman soldier, was also found there.) The IAA release went on to say that “a passerby who saw the [Temple] menorah with his own eyes … incised his impressions on a stone.” The excavators were quoted as saying that this graffito “clarifies [that] the base of the original [ancient] menorah … was apparently tripod shaped.”

But does it?

[...]
I noted the discovery of this menorah sketch at the time here. This BHD essay was first published in 2011, but I missed it then, so here it is.

Another ancient (nine-branched) menorah graffito was discovered in Aphrodisias in Turkey in 2015.

Cross-file under 'Tis the Season (Hanukkah Edition).

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Halvorson-Taylor and Southwood (eds), Women and Exilic Identity in the Hebrew Bible

NEW BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY/T&T CLARK:
Women and Exilic Identity in the Hebrew Bible
Editor(s): Martien A. Halvorson-Taylor, Katherine E. Southwood
Published: 28-12-2017
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 192
ISBN: 9780567668424
Imprint: T&T Clark
Series: The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies
Volume: 631
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm

About Women and Exilic Identity in the Hebrew Bible

Notions of women as found in the Bible have had an incalculable impact on western cultures, influencing perspectives on marriage, kinship, legal practice, political status, and general attitudes. Women and Exilic Identity in the Hebrew Bible is drawn from three separate strands to address and analyse this phenomenon. The first examines how women were conceptualized and represented during the exilic period. The second focuses on methodological possibilities and drawbacks connected to investigating women and exile. The third reviews current prominent literature on the topic, with responses from authors.

With chapters from a range of contributors, topics move from an analysis of Ruth as a woman returning to her homeland, and issues concerning the foreign presence who brings foreign family members into the midst of a community, and how this is dealt with, through the intermarriage crisis portrayed in Ezra 9-10, to an analysis of Judean constructions of gender in the exilic and early post-exilic periods. The contributions show an exciting range of the best scholarship on women and foreign identities, with important consequences for how the foreign/known is perceived, and what that has meant for women through the centuries.

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Stuckenbruck, Angel Veneration & Christology

REISSUED IN PAPERBACK BY BAYLOR UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Title: Angel Veneration & Christology
Sub-title: A Study in Early Judaism & in the Christology of the Apocalypse of John

Series: (Library of Early Christology Series)
By (author): Loren T. Stuckenbruck
ISBN10-13: 1481307983 : 9781481307987
Format: Paperback
Size: 230x155mm
Pages: 366
Weight: .614 Kg.
Published: Baylor University Press (US) - August 2017
List Price: 38.50 Pounds Sterling
Availability: In Stock Qty Available: 8
Subjects: Ancient history: to c 500 CE : History of religion : Church history : New Testaments : Biblical studies & exegesis : Christian theology : Judaism

The public worship of the risen Christ as depicted in John's Apocalypse directly contradicts the guiding angel's emphasis that only God should be worshiped (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). Loren Stuckenbruck explores this contradiction in light of angel veneration in Early Judaism. Stuckenbruck surveys a wide variety of Jewish traditions related to angelic worship and discovers proscriptions against sacrificing to angels; prohibitions against making images of angels; rejections of the "two powers"; second-century Christian apologetic accusations specifically directed against Jews; and, most importantly, the refusal tradition, widespread in Jewish and Jewish-Christian writings, wherein angelic messengers refuse the veneration of the seer and exhort the worship of God alone. While evidence for the practice of angel veneration among Jews of antiquity (Qumran, pseudepigraphal literature, and inscriptions from Asia Minor) does not furnish the immediate background for the worship of Christ, Stuckenbruck demonstrates that the very fact that safeguards to a monotheistic framework were issued at all throws light on the Christian practice of worshiping Jesus. The way the Apocalypse adapts the refusal tradition illuminates Revelation's declarations about and depictions of Jesus. Though the refusal tradition itself only safeguards the worship of God, Stuckenbruck traces how the tradition has been split so that the angelophanic elements were absorbed into the christophany. As Stuckenbruck shows, an angelomorphic Christology, shared by the author of Revelation and its readers, functions to preserve the author's monotheistic emphasis as well as to emphasise Christ's superiority over the angels -- setting the stage for the worship of the Lamb in a monotheistic framework that does not contradict the angelic directive to worship God alone.
Another in Baylor's new Library of Early Christology reprint series, on which more here and links.

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Lehmhaus and Martelli, Collecting Recipes

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRYUTER: Collecting Recipes. Byzantine and Jewish Pharmacology in Dialogue. Ed. by Lehmhaus, Lennart / Martelli, Matteo.
Aims and Scope
With a clear comparative approach, this volume brings together for the first time contributions that cover different periods of the history of ancient pharmacology, from Greek, Byzantine, and Syriac medicine to the Rabbinic-Talmudic medical discourses. This collection opens up new synchronic and diachronic perspectives in the study of the ancient traditions of recipe-books and medical collections. Besides the highly influential Galenic tradition, the contributions will focus on less studied Byzantine and Syriac sources as well as on the Talmudic tradition, which has never been systematically investigated in relation to medicine. This inquiry will highlight the overwhelming mass of information about drugs and remedies, which accumulated over the centuries and was disseminated in a variety of texts belonging to distinct cultural milieus. Through a close analysis of some relevant case studies, this volume will trace some paths of this transmission and transformation of pharmacological knowledge across cultural and linguistic boundaries, by pointing to the variety of disciplines and areas of expertise involved in the process.

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Howell, The Pharisees and Figured Speech in Luke-Acts

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: JUSTIN R. HOWELL, The Pharisees and Figured Speech in Luke-Acts. [Die Pharisäer und die figurierte Rede im lukanischen Doppelwerk.] 2017. XII, 386 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 456. 94,00 €. sewn paper. ISBN 978-3-16-155023-2.
Published in English.
A scholarly consensus holds that Luke is ambivalent toward the Pharisees, or at least that he has left readers with an ambiguous depiction of them. What previous evaluations of the Lukan Pharisees have left unanswered, however, is why Luke would give such an impression of these characters and then what might lie behind the rhetorical effects of ambiguity. Justin R. Howell reevaluates the long-standing debate about the Pharisees in Luke-Acts, arguing the thesis that there is ambiguity in the Lukan Pharisees because, in his portrayals of them, the author has applied what ancient Greco-Roman rhetoricians call “figured speech.” The fact that the Lukan Pharisees appear ambiguous to some readers does not necessarily mean that Luke was also undecided about or ambivalent toward them, for the use of figured speech can presuppose a firm and critical stance on the characters in view.

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

More on the Greek fragment of the First Apocalypse of James

CANDIDA MOSS: ‘New’ Text About James, Brother Of Jesus Isn’t Exactly New. Whatever you might have heard, what was discovered isn’t a previously unknown text. Instead, it’s the first Greek manuscript of a text previously known only from copies in Coptic (The Daily Beast).
Sadly, what was significant about this discovery got lost in reporting. Whatever you might have heard, Landau and Smith did not discover (or claim to discover) a previously unknown text. Instead, they discovered the first Greek manuscript of a text previously known only from copies in Coptic that are presumed to have been translated from the Greek original. Having a copy of the text in the original language makes it easier for scholars to piece together the text’s history. Landau told The Daily Beast that the “probable” date of the fragments is the fifth or sixth century, which makes them “roughly contemporaneous” with the Coptic texts we already have.
Background here. None of the above is news to regular readers of PaleoJudaica. But, with her usual perceptiveness, Professsor Moss succinctly summarizes the main points about this discovery and then explores its implications. Read it all.

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CFP: EAJS panel on pre-modern Jewish medicine and sciences

H-JUDAIC: CFP: Panel on pre-modern Jewish medicine and sciences, EAJS Congress, July 2018, Krakow.
CALL for PAPERS - EAJS Conference 2018, Krakow: Pre-organized Panel on Jewish medicine and sciences

Jewish Roots and routes of knowledge - approaches to medicine, sciences and knowledge in pre-modern Jewish cultures

The Berlin based research project on “Talmudic medicine” (Prof. Mark Geller, Dr. Lennart Lehmhaus) seeks to organize for the EAJS Congress 2018 in Krakow, Poland a pre-organized panel. The sessions will explore Jewish approaches to medicine and adjacent scientific fields (astrology/astronomy; physiognomy; zoology/biology etc.) in their respective historical and cultural contexts. The panel, thus, addresses knowledge of medicine, illness and the body, and its complex entanglement with other scientific and religious discourses (various scientific fields as well as cosmology and medical approaches in Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah, philosophy) throughout pre-modern Jewish history.

[...]
Follow the link for more details. The deadline for proposals is 16 December 2017.

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First-century Jewish coin replica at the U. N. Security Council

POLITICS AND NUMISMATICS: Second Temple coin at the UN Security Council. Israeli Ambassador Danon tells UN Security Council, 'All the nations of the world should join us this year in Jerusalem' (Arutz Sheva).
Addressing to the Council members, [Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny] Danon held up a replica of a first-century coin, stressing the fact that the Jews are indigenous to the land.

"I have here a replica of an ancient coin found on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It is dated from the year 67 A.D. during the time of the second Jewish Temple. The words 'Jerusalem the Holy' are written on it," Danon said.
This was, of course, in the context of a session on the recent U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the U.S. embassy there.

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

Menorahs

'TIS THE SEASON (HANUKKAH EDITION): From high art to Disney-esque, menorahs of all kinds light the way during Hanukkah (Colleen Smith, Denver Post).
Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, has for centuries outshined the darkness of bigotry.

“Hanukkah is even more important this year because this holiday brings light and hope into the world at a time when it’s really needed,” said Melanie Avner of the Mizel Museum, a Jewish cultural center in Denver.

That Hanukkah light originates from menorahs, which come in all sizes and shapes and are made of a variety of materials and range in tone from somber to silly.

This year, Hanukkah begins the evening of Dec. 12.

[...]
Cross-file under Exhibition. For many past PaleoJudaica posts on ancient menorahs and representations of menorahs, start here and here and follow the links.

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

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Niehoff (ed.), Journeys in the Roman East: Imagined and Real

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Journeys in the Roman East: Imagined and Real Ed. by Maren R. Niehoff. [Reisen im Osten des Römischen Reichs: Fiktiv und Real.] 2017. XI, 440 pages. Culture, Religion, and Politics in the Greco-Roman World 1. 59,00 €. cloth. ISBN 978-3-16-155111-6.
Published in English.
In the Roman Empire, travelling was something of a central feature, facilitating commerce, pilgrimage, study abroad, tourism, and ethnographic explorations. The present volume investigates for the first time intellectual aspects of this phenomenon by giving equal attention to pagan, Jewish, and Christian perspectives. A team of experts from different fields argues that journeys helped construct cultural identities and negotiate between the local and the particular on the one hand, and wider imperial discourses on the other. A special point of interest is the question of how Rome engages the attention of intellectuals from the Greek East and offers new opportunities of self-fashioning. Pagans, Jews, and Christians shared similar experiences and constructed comparable identities in dialogue, sometimes polemics, with each other. The collection addresses the following themes: real and imagined geography, reconstructing encounters in distant places, between the bodily and the holy, Jesus' travels from different perspectives, and destination Rome. The articles in each section are arranged in chronological order, ranging from early imperial texts to rabbinic and patristic literature.

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Review of Howe and Brice (eds.), Brill's Companion to Insurgency and Terrorism in the Ancient Mediterranean

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Timothy Howe, Lee L. Brice (ed.), Brill's Companion to Insurgency and Terrorism in the Ancient Mediterranean. Brill's Companions in Classical Studies: Warfare in the Ancient Mediterranean World. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2016. Pp. xvi, 372. ISBN 9789004222359. $175.00. Reviewed by Gabriel Moss, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (gwmoss@live.unc.edu).
From its very title, Brill’s Companion to Insurgency and Terrorism in the Ancient Mediterranean invites controversy. Setting out to test the validity and utility of applying modern military terminology to ancient evidence, this volume dares critics to charge it with gross anachronism. Yet its best chapters make a strong claim that, with cautious and considered application, the theoretical toolsets of insurgency, counterinsurgency, and terrorism provide useful ways to narrate and analyze conflict in the ancient world. This said, in contrast to modern, popular understandings of the term, the terrorism discussed in this volume is mostly perpetrated on behalf of states, not against them. The relative silence of ancient sources on non-state terrorism certainly justifies this focus, although co-editor Lee Brice’s technologically deterministic argument that non-state terrorism was all but impossible before the invention of gunpowder and mass media fails to convince.

[...]
Of special interest is the article by Frank Russell: “Roman Counterinsurgency Policy and Practice in Judaea.”

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This is what a manger looks like

'TIS THE SEASON: Away in a Manger (feeding trough!) (Carl Rasmussen, The Holy Land Photos' Blog). Kind of cool, even though we are now told that Jesus wasn't born in a stable.

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Review of Diaspora

REVIEW Diaspora: A Fantastic Play Besieged By Questionable Content (Matthew Silkin,YU Commentator).
Diaspora, a new play written by Nathaniel Sam Shapiro and directed by Saheem Ali, tells two separate but intertwined stories - it follows a Birthright group on their tour of Masada in the present day, as well as the struggles of the Jewish fighters in Masada in 73 CE, during their last days before committing mass suicide rather than falling to the Romans. Shapiro makes the interesting artistic decision to have the scenes weave between the present day and 73 CE, rather than have specific breaks in between the timelines, made easier by the minimal -- to the point of lacking -- set design. This is also benefitted by having the actors portray multiple characters in both the present and the past, making the audience connect the story of the Birthright students to the story of the Jewish rebellion.
He thought the play was excellent, but unnecessarily crude.

Background here. Cross-file under Performing Arts.

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Friday, December 08, 2017

Greek influence on Jewish martyrdom traditions

'TIS THE SEASON (HANUKKAH EDITION): Chanukah: The Greek Influence of Martyrdom (Prof. Rabbi Martin Lockshin, TheTorah.com).
On Chanukah we celebrate the miraculous military victories of the “few over the many,” and of Jewish culture over Greek. Ironically, however, Chanukah has also bequeathed to us a new genre of Jewish literature, one that has been in frequent use ever since: Greek-style stories of bravery in defeat and dying for the cause.

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Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day 2017

IT'S THAT DAY AGAIN: Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day.

This is the tenth anniversary of its founding. One of the original announcements, with some instructions, is here. The Facebook page is here.

Here's someone who got started early on his pretending.

I assume he's pretending. He makes predictions for 2021. What do you think?

Follow this link for past posts on the day and related links.

Have fun and try to stay out of trouble.

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Review of Rabbinic Judaism 20 (2017) issue 2

A NEW ISSUE OF REVIEW OF RABBINIC JUDAISM: Volume 20, Issue 2, 2017. TOC:
Research Article
The People, Not the Peoples: The Talmud Bavli’s “Charitable” Contribution to the Jewish-Christian Conversation in Mesopotamia
Author: Alyssa M. Gray
pp.: 137–167 (31)

Research Article
Early Rabbinic Judaism and the Danger in Ezekiel 1
Author: Rick Van De Water
pp.: 168–192 (25)

Research Article
The Use of Numbers as an Editing Device in Rabbinic Literature
Authors: Ariel Ram Pasternak and Shamir Yona
pp.: 193–234 (42)

Research Article
The Death of Honi the Circle Maker
Author: Zvi Ron
pp.: 235–250 (16)

Research Article
The Individual vs. Society in Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s Halakhic Rulings
Author: Amir Mashiach
pp.: 251–271 (21)

Other
Machiavelli and Sforno
Authors: Bernard Pinchuk and Lawrence Zalcman
pp.: 273–278 (6)

Book Review
Matthew and the Mishnah. Redefining Identity and Ethos in the Shadow of the Second Temple’s Destruction, written by Akiva Cohen
Author: Bruce Chilton
pp.: 279–281 (3)

Book Review
Revelation and Authority: Sinai in Jewish Scripture and Tradition. The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library, written by Benjamin D. Sommer
Author: Gary G. Porton
pp.: 282–286 (5)

Book Review
The Value of the Particular: Lessons from Judaism and the Modern Jewish Experience, written by Michael Zank and Ingrid Anderson
Author: David Ellenson
pp.: 287–289 (3)

Book Review
Modern Orthodox Judaism: A Documentary History, written by Zev Eleff
Author: Aaron I. Reichel
pp.: 290–297 (8)
Requires a paid personal or institutional subscription for full access.

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Hempel and Brooke (eds.), T&T Clark Companion to the Dead Sea Scrolls

NEW BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY/T&T CLARK:
T&T Clark Companion to the Dead Sea Scrolls

Editor(s): Charlotte Hempel, George J. Brooke
Media of T&T Clark Companion to the Dead Sea Scrolls
See larger image
Published: 12-07-2018
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 512
ISBN: 9780567352057
Imprint: T&T Clark
Series: Bloomsbury Companions
Illustrations: 60 bw and colour illus
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm

RRP: £130.00
Online price: £117.00

About T&T Clark Companion to the Dead Sea Scrolls
This companion provides the ideal resource for those seriously engaging with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In 30 concise articles all of the key texts and documents are examined. A section on the complex methods used in anaylzing the scrolls then follows before the focus moves to consideration of the scrolls in their various contexts; political, religious, cultural, economic, historical. The genres ascribed to groups of texts within the scrolls are examined in the next section with due attention given to both past and present scholarship. The main body of the companion then concludes with crucial issues and topics discussed by leading scholars. The book finishes with appendices and indexes giving: timelines, lists of kings, family trees of the Seleucids, Ptolemies, Hasmoneans, lists of places and scrolls, information on electronic resources and classified bibliographies. The volume is illustrated throughout with some 60 images enabling readers to consider key texts from the scrolls not only in transcription but simultaneously with photographs.

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

Judah the Hammer

PHILOLOGOS: Judah the Maccabee, Judah the Mace-Man. A modest suggestion for a new way of thinking about the original meaning of the word “Maccabee” (Mosaic Magazine).
The derivation of makkabi from makevet or makava certainly makes better sense than any of the contending explanations. What I would take issue with is the assertion made by First and others before him that since a hammer “is not a military weapon,” Judah Maccabee must have been likened to one because of his physical appearance, or else because of his physical power or strength of character.
I agree with Philologos that this is not really a problem. Philologos's solution, that "Maccabee" refers to a hammer in the sense of a mace — hence a military weapon — is possible. But I don't think it is necessary.

Not for the first time I've seen, this problem arises only because scholars sometimes seem incapable of thinking like regular people or imagining language being used the way regular people use it. If you meet someone whose nickname is "The Hammer," you don't think "A hammer is not technically a weapon, so maybe this is about the shape of his head." You think, "I don't want to mess with this guy." It's just a vivid metaphor, something quite common in nicknames.

Think, for example, of "The Rock." A rock is not technically a weapon either, but someone with that nickname is probably a good wrestler.

"The Hammer" makes perfectly good sense as a nickname for Judah, who hammered his enemies on the battlefield.

Cross-file under 'Tis the Season (Hanukkah Edition).

UPDATE (8 December): Perhaps I should have included a link for "The Rock" above. Readers have also written to draw my attention to Thor's hammer and to an early medieval comparison of Charles Martel to a hammer, because he broke his enemies and foreigners in battle.

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

Landman on the biblical law of bailment

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Dissertation Spotlight | Yael Landman (Yael Landman Wermuth).
Yael Landman, “The Biblical Law of Bailment in Its Ancient Near Eastern Contexts,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Yeshiva University, 2017
Excerpt:
Through its study of a multifaceted legal institution thickly embedded in the socio-economic fabric of ancient Israel and the ANE, this dissertation offers a window into models of jurisprudence in the biblical world. When viewed in conjunction with the wealth of pertinent biblical and ANE sources, the biblical law of bailment can tell us about a law in its many contexts, about divine justice and compassion, about the interactions of law with literature, about everyday life in ancient societies, and about the earliest articulations of a legal topic whose relevance has persisted into the modern era.

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

Hurtado on Philo of Alexandria and Early Christianity

LARRY HURTADO: Philo of Alexandria and Early Christianity. Professor Hurtado posts a previously published article of his on this topic.

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

Fertility in the Bible

PROF. JOEL BADEN: “God Opened Her Womb”: The Biblical Conception of Fertility (TheTorah.com).
Is infertility a divine punishment?
He argues that it is not.

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

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Festschrift for Moshe Bernstein

A WELL-DESERVED HONOR FOR A SENIOR LEADER IN THE FIELD: Scholars Pay Tribute to Bernstein in New Festschrift. Volume Published in Dr. Moshe Bernstein’s Honor Explores Jewish Scriptural Interpretation (YU News).
At the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in November in Boston, MA, Dr. Moshe Bernstein ’62YUHS, ’66YC, ’69R, ’69BR , The David A. and Fannie M. Denenberg Chair in Biblical Studies, was presented with a Festschrift titled HĀ-‘ÎSH MŌSHE: Studies in Scriptural Interpretation in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature in Honor of Moshe J. Bernstein (Brill). The book, featuring 19 essays related to his work in biblical interpretation in antiquity (a bibliography of which runs eight single-spaced pages), was edited by Binyamin Goldstein (currently a PhD student at Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies), Michael Segal ’93YC, Father Takeji Otsuki, professor of Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Dr. George Brooke, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis Emeritus at the University of Manchester.

[...]

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

Divination

THE ANXIOUS BENCH BLOG: Divination – A Most Neglected Most Important Element of Religion (Philip Jenkins).
Now this is a treat! I was recently corresponding with the excellent English scholar of religion Linda Woodhead, who made some very interesting comments about the importance of divination as a badly under-studied theme within religion – in fact, within all religions. At my request, she put together a summary of her views, and it is a privilege to include her guest contribution to the blog. As you see, she ranges widely in the examples she offers. Reading her observations makes us look afresh at the many examples of divination in various forms that we find in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.

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

On child sacrifice in ancient Israel

THE ASOR BLOG: Child Sacrifice in Ancient Israel (Heath D. Dewrell).
In my recent monograph, Child Sacrifice in Ancient Israel, I address these arguments and, like most scholars, argue that at least some Israelites did sacrifice their children, probably to Yahweh. My primary objective, however, is not merely to address the existence or non-existence of Israelite child sacrifice. Instead, I collect all of the different types of evidence—biblical, archaeological, and epigraphic—to attempt to untangle the various forms of child sacrifice. “Child sacrifice” was not a homogeneous phenomenon any more than “sheep sacrifice.”
Cross-file under Punic Watch. Some related posts on this ghastly topic are here and links.

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The meaning of the Dinah story

DR. ALISON L. JOSEPH: Who Is the Victim in the Dinah Story? (TheTorah.com).
We can not imagine anyone but Dinah as the victim, but does the Torah? Do the Rabbis? Understanding the story of Dinah and its reception in historical context can help us reflect on the role of women in ancient Israel and the meaning of sexual violence in a patriarchal society.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Persepolis: the Supreme Court sounds skeptical

PERSEPOLIS ARCHIVE CASE: US justices cast doubt over Hamas bomb victims’ claim to Iran artifacts. Judges express skepticism that five US citizens maimed in 1997 Jerusalem bombing can use act to seize items from Chicago museums (AP and Times of Israel).

Background here. Follow the links from there for past posts on the legal case, my own comments on it, and past posts on the Persepolis Fortification Archive and links.

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Kuhn and Hebrew philology?

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
Counting and Weighing: On the Role of Intuition in Philology and Linguistics, with Some Thoughts on Linguistic Comments by R. E. Friedman in The Exodus

The intuition of established scholars often holds them back from appreciating revolutionary advances in the understanding of how the biblical texts evolved and how to view their language in that context. Kuhn’s theory of paradigm shifts helps elucidate what is currently going on in our field. We use Richard Friedman’s new book on the exodus as an example of the old paradigm and juxtapose it with the emerging paradigm that is founded on more robust data collection and analysis.

See Also: An Unsettling Divide in Linguistic Dating and Historical Linguistics

Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts

Unhistorical Hebrew Linguistics: A Cautionary Tale

A Very Tall “Cautionary Tale”: A Response to Ron Hendel

By Martin Ehrensvärd
Associate Professor
Faculty of Theology
University of Copenhagen

with collaboration by

Robert Rezetko
Research Associate
Radboud University Nijmegen & University of Sydney

Ian Young
Associate Professor
Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies
University of Sydney
November 2017
I think that if comparative philology could establish a decisive diachronic typology of Biblical Hebrew with anchored absolute dates, it would have by now. The discussion would basically be over and we would just be mopping up the details. But the situation seems to be more complicated. That is perhaps not surprising, given the complicated (and still poorly understood) history of the transmission of the Hebrew Bible.

That said, I find appeals to Kuhn's model of paradigm shift almost always to be unpersuasive. Everyone just imagines that they are part of the new paradigm and their opponents are stuck in the old one. Then the confirmation bias of both sides makes them see only the evidence that their paradigm is the shift.

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Review of Bolin, Ecclesiastes and the Riddle of Authorship

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Ecclesiastes and the Riddle of Authorship (Brennan Breed).
Thomas Bolin, Ecclesiastes and the Riddle of Authorship. New York: Routledge, 2017.
Excerpt:
In short, Bolin argues that the well-known interpretive problems posed by the book of Ecclesiastes, and in particular the shadowy figure of Qohelet, are generative. Namely, they have provoked interpreters over the centuries to construct a seemingly endless series of authorial portraits that they then use to exclude certain interpretive possibilities and to ground their reading of the text. ...

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Biblical Studies Carnival November 2017

The Wide-Ranging 2017 Biblical Studies Carnival and SBL Annual Meeting Edition (Jim West).

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Monday, December 04, 2017

Detective work on 1970s Temple archaeology

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Temple Mount Riddles Resolved by Tens of Thousands of Tiny Pieces. The monumental buildings on Temple Mount, Jerusalem turn out to have been decorated chiefly with images of plants and geometric forms, patient researcher finds (Nir Hasson, Haaretz).
What did the Temple Mount compound look like over 2,000 years ago? How were its buildings decorated? The literature and the archaeology do not always coincide, but new research may have put some of the questions to rest. Including the enigma of who built a set of subterranean domes. Who completed the construction however will have to remain a mystery for now.

Much of what we know, or think we know, comes from the 1st century C.E. traitor-cum-historian Josephus Flavius, who devoted a section in one of his books to the Mount and the temple itself, which is associated with the massive construction drive by the Roman vassal king of the Jews, Herod. And we also have some knowledge from archaeological research.

[...]

A recent new study by Dr. Orit Peleg-Barkat of the Hebrew University archaeology department reexamined Josephus’ text in comparison with archaeological finds from Temple Mount digs in the 1970s. Focusing on fragments of decoration found from the time, she extrapolates to the construction of the buildings, and does propose answers to some questions – including that issue of the 162 columns that don’t divide by four. She also raises new questions too.

[...]
For the coin evidence that the Temple platform was completed after Herod's time, see here. For the second Arch of Titus, see here.

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

Emek Shaveh vs. Elad

POLITICS: ARCHEOLOGY IN ISRAEL AS A POLITICAL WEAPON. Emek Shaveh’s Mizrachi: When you control the past, you control the present and the future (Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post).
The battle between right- and left-wing ideologues is evident at archeological sites in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, where discoveries are routinely exhibited to the world as evidence of Israeli sovereignty in the Jewish homeland or as an occupier.

The two main opponents in the ongoing war over rightful sovereignty between Jews and Palestinians are the left-wing archeological political activist NGO Emek Shaveh, and its right-wing counterpart, the City of David Foundation (also known as Elad).

The former is primarily funded by European countries with a decidedly “anti-occupation” stance, while the latter deems the term “occupation” an incendiary insult to a people with thousands of years of history in Jerusalem.

This protracted war came to a fevered pitch in May, when UNESCO approved a resolution rejecting Jewish ties to Jerusalem – including its holiest site, the Temple Mount – prompting claims of flagrant antisemitism against the international body.

Last week, the heads of Emek Shaveh and the City of David Foundation explained why they allege the other is attempting to manipulate history to further their respective political narratives at the expense of science itself.
This is a long, informative article that gives both organizations a good deal of space to defend themselves and define their opponent.

Past PaleoJudaica posts involving Emek Shaveh are here and links. Past posts on Elad are here and here and links. Not surprisingly, the two organizations often intersect in these posts.

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

Looting arrests at Khirbet Ma'on

APPREHENDED: Antiquities theft: 'A widespread and destructive phenomenon.' Arab antiquities thieves nabbed at archaeological site mentioned in the Book of Joshua (Mordechai Sones, Arutz Sheva).
Members of the Archaeology Unit of the Civil Administration arrested a large group of antiquities thieves who broke into a burial cave in Khirbet Ma'on, which lies southeast of Hevron. Khirbet added to the name of a site means "the ruins of."

Ma'on was one of the main settlements in the southern Hevron hills of Judea and is mentioned in the Book of Joshua on the list of cities of Judea, dating back to the MIddle Bronze Age and the First Temple Period.

[...]
The site also contains remains from the Second Temple period and a Byzantine-era synagogue.

I have noted other recent looting and smuggling arrests in Israel and on the West Bank here, here, here, and links.

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

Exhibition on the Birmingham Qur'an fragments in Abu Dhabi

DIGITAL, THAT IS: Exhibition on ‘Birmingham Quran’ opens (The Gulf Today).
BU DHABI: A digital exhibition of the manuscript of the ‘Birmingham Quran’, one of the oldest surviving parts of the Quran in the world, was inaugurated last night at the Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi.

The manuscript includes parts of Surahs 18-20 of the Quran, written in ink on parchment using an early Arabic Hijazi script. Part of the University’s Mingana collection of manuscripts, it is believed to date to the 7th Century AD.

The exhibition is being staged by the British Council in collaboration with the University of Birmingham as part of the UAE/UK Year of Creative Collaboration 2017 and was opened by the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Noura Al Kaabi, and the British Ambassador, Philip Parham.

[...]
The manuscript is on display "in digital form" and a replica is also present. Presumably the original is still in the Mingana Collection in Birmingham.

For past posts on the very old and very important Birmingham Qur'an fragments, start here and follow the links.

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

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Exhibition canceled: Germany won't guarantee return of DSS to Israel

WELL, THAT'S AWKWARD: ISRAEL PULLS OUT OF DEAD SEA SCROLLS EXHIBIT IN GERMANY. Frankfurt museum couldn’t guarantee scrolls’ return if claimed by Palestinians or Jordanians (BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JTA/Jerusalem Post).
Israel has pulled out of a planned exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Frankfurt because the German government would not guarantee their return if claimed by Palestinians or Jordanians.

The Frankfurt Bible Museum announced that it has canceled the exhibit which was scheduled for a September 2019 opening. Its director, Jürgen Schefzyk, said he regretted the German government’s decision, adding that neither Holland nor Austria would have hesitated to issue general immunity guarantees.

According to German news reports, the government guarantee would have blocked Palestinian or Jordanian authorities from contesting the provenance of the scrolls, which are among the oldest known texts related to the Hebrew Bible.

[...]
The deputy mayor of Frankfurt is not pleased with the German government.

Some past PaleoJudaica posts that bear on this subject are here and links.

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

Supreme Court hearing on Persepolis Archive case starts tomorrow

PERSEPOLIS ARCHIVE UPDATE: Will Ancient Persian Artifacts Be Sold To The Highest Bidder? (Shayan Modarres, The Iranian).
On December 4th, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a case that will decide the fate of the Persepolis tablets – ancient Persian artifacts that are currently on display in the United States. The Persepolis tablets are clay tablets written in Aramaic and other ancient languages dating back to the fifth century BC, and contain important clues about the religion, administration, society, and economy inside the ancient Persian empire. Millions of Iranian descendants of the Persian empire across the globe today treasure these precious artifacts as historical records of their lineage. If successful, the plaintiffs may be able to seize these precious artifacts from the museums that are currently displaying them to sell them off to the highest bidder.

The Court is faced with one question: can United States citizen victims of terror sue foreign countries designated as state sponsors of terror, win judgments for money damages, and seize and sell the property of the foreign country to satisfy the judgment? That is the question that will ultimately decide whether the Supreme Court of the United States will allow ancient artifacts from the Persian empire to be seized from museums and sold into private hands after it hears the case of Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran in less than two weeks.

[...]
PaleoJudaica has been following this case for years. For past posts, start here (cf. here) and follow the links.

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

Multispectral imaging

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: What Is Multispectral Imaging And How Is It Changing Archaeology And Digital Humanities Today? (Sarah Bond, Forbes).
What is multispectral imaging and how is the technology changing the face of archaeology, art history and digital humanities today? The non-invasive digital technique is making the past visible in ways we never thought possible.

In the world of archaeology and art history, even objects that have long been known to the world are now providing new information for researchers. This is in part due to an approach called multispectral imaging (MSI). Multispectral imaging first began as bulky and expensive remote sensing equipment used by high-tech astronomy labs like those at NASA interested in planetary science and mapping mineral deposits.

Improvements to sensors and apertures have downsized MSI technology and made it more cost-efficient in recent years. Consequently, the technique has become a more regularized part of the fields of digital archaeology and art preservation as a novel means of revealing hidden materials, pigments and inks that the naked eye alone cannot decipher.

[...]
Some recent PaleoJudaica posts involving multispectral imaging are here, here, and here, plus links. And for older posts on the subject, use the blog search engine.

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

The keyholder of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

ECUMENICAL: The Muslim Who Holds the Ancient Key to Jesus' Tomb in Jerusalem. As Christian denominations vie for control over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the 800-year-old key rests with a Muslim man named Adeeb Joudeh (Reuters/Haaretz).

Due to archaeologically-informative restorations, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Holy Sepulchre) has been in the news recently. For past PaleoJudaica posts on the Church, start here and follow the links.

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

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Dello Russo on the Roman Jewish catacombs

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Dissertation Spotlight | Jessica Dello Russo.
Jessica Dello Russo, "Jewish Shadows of Subterranean Christian Rome," Ph.D. dissertation, Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology, 2017.

My research for the doctorate from the Vatican’s Pontifical Institute for Christian Archaeology concentrates on the material testimony and modern discovery accounts of burials dating to the Ancient Roman era. Whether for reasons of context or content these tombs are identified as belonging to Jews.

My work spans many centuries of scholarship on different types of archaeological finds. What really interests me is this: from the two types of data, literary and archaeological, what are the “essential differences”, if any, between Jewish and contemporaneous non-Jewish, notably Christian, burial arrangements and tomb monuments?

[...]
Past PaleoJudaica posts on the Roman Jewish catacombs are here and links.

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

Review of Kaplan, My Perfect One

REVIEWS OF THE ENOCH SEMINAR: Laura Lieber reviews My Perfect One: Typology and Early Rabbinic Interpretation of the Song of Songs (Jonathan Kaplan).
Jonathan Kaplan, My Perfect One: Typology and Early Rabbinic Interpretation of the Song of Songs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-0199359332. Pp. 245. $74.00 cloth/ebook.

Laura Suzanne Lieber
Duke University
Excerpt:
Most of the most readily accessible and familiar early Jewish interpretations of the Song of Songs—notably Song of Songs Rabbah (the major midrash explicating the Song) and the Targum (Aramaic version) of the Song—significantly postdate the Tannaitic material studied by Kaplan. Songs Rabbah is often dated to around the fifth century CE (although it surely contains earlier material) while the Targum is likely from the seventh century CE. In their received form, these works offer verse-by-verse commentaries on the Song, as do a number of late antique liturgical poems composed for use during Passover. The Tannaitic readings of the Song explored by Kaplan are, by contrast, episodic and occasional, and they cluster in the midrashic sources around specifically evocative sources from the Torah, such as the Song at the Sea (Exod 15). Kaplan’s analysis culls and organizes these deployments of the Song along thematic lines.

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Pigeons and doves

THE ASOR BLOG: Not Just for the Birds: Pigeons in the Roman and Byzantine Near East (Jennifer Ramsay). Doves are, of course, mentioned occasionally in the Bible. Then there's this:
Archaeologically we know that pigeon-rearing was already well established on the southern coastal plains of the Levant by the Hellenistic period. Hundreds of hewn underground installations date to this period and there are also many structures from the Roman and Byzantine Periods all over the region. Pigeon structures have been identified in archaeological contexts at Jericho, Jerusalem, Masada, Herodium, and Petra, to name a few. A newly discovered dovecote at ‘Ain al-Baida/‘Amman in Jordan, dating to the Iron Age, may help date other regional dovecotes to earlier periods than originally assumed. An excellent example of pictorial evidence dated to 100 BCE comes from a scene on the Palestrina mosaic located east of Rome at the sanctuary of Fortuna Primagenia. The mosaic illustrates landscape scenes along the Nile and includes an often overlooked example of a pigeon tower.
And there's also that Masada miniseries, "The Dovekeepers." Plus much else of interest in this essay.

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

Landau lectures on The Revelation of the Magi

'TIS THE SEASON: Apocryphal text sheds light on Wise Men story (Courtney Sosnowski, Baylor Lariat).
Many people, Christian or not, could tell you about the three wise men who followed a star from the east and presented the baby Jesus with gold, frankincense and myrrh.

However, the mere 12 verses in the Gospel of Matthew leave many details to question about these mysterious men. Brent Landau, lecturer in the department of religious studies at the University of Texas at Austin shared a relatively unheard story about the Magi of the Bible, in his Thursday lecture “Christmas from the Wise Men’s Point of View.”

The lecture addressed the apocryphal text, “The Revelation of the Magi,” which gives the Magi’s account of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth.

[...]
The Revelation of the Magi, a Syriac apocryphal New Testament text that was published a few years ago by Dr. Landau, has become a fixture in Christmas-Season media stories. Deservedly so: it's a great text, even though it tells us nothing about the historical Magi or the birth of Jesus.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on it are here and links and here.

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

Friday, December 01, 2017

News from Tigay on the Shapira scroll

FORGERY OR THE REAL THING? Was this the first Dead Sea Scroll? More than a century ago, an antiquities dealer from Jerusalem claimed he had discovered an ancient version of the book of Deuteronomy. But was it a fake? (Chanan Tigay, BBC). Excerpt:
For those following the affair, Shapira’s death at the age of 54 seemed to be the sad end of his story. But fast forward more than 60 years to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, thousands of ancient biblical scrolls and scroll fragments first uncovered in 1947. Shapira’s Deuteronomy was said to have been stashed away in a cave. So, too, were the Dead Sea Scrolls. Shapira’s manuscript was full of interesting departures from the traditional Bible text. So, too, were the Dead Sea Scrolls. Shapira’s text was found by Bedouin wandering the deserts near the Dead Sea. So, too, were the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The similarities were too striking to dismiss. Beginning in the 1950s, a number of scholars decided to return to Shapira’s manuscript, using methods not available to Ginsburg in 1883, to prove once and for all whether it was real or fake.

But there was a problem: Shapira’s scrolls had mysteriously vanished.
Mr. Tigay's adventures are both entertaining and informative, so take some time to sit down and read the whole article. It contains some revelations that I have not seen before.

As for the rhetorical question in the headline: on the one hand, it has recently been argued in a peer-review journal article that the Shapira scroll was a genuine ancient artifact. On the other hand, Mr. Tigay has uncovered some striking circumstantial evidence that points pretty strongly in a different direction. Again, read it all. For more on his book, start with the latter link and follow the links from there.

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

An Idumean temple/palace near Lachish?

BEYOND THE PALACE HEMI-POWERED DRONES SCREAM DOWN THE BOULEVARD: Drone Spots 2,200-year-old Edomite Temple in Israeli Live-fire Zone. The temple, or it may have been a palace, had been burned down by Jewish forces who conquered the region, converted surviving locals and built ritual baths (Ruth Schuster and Nir Hasson, Haaretz).
Archaeologists using drones have found what seems to be a rare Edomite temple dating to 2,200 years ago, smack in the middle of a live-fire zone. The structure seems to have been destroyed by Jewish forces, possibly under Judah Maccabee himself, who then converted the surviving locals.

The structure could be a temple, or a palace, and in any case seems to have been destroyed in one of the incessant upheavals of the region. In this case, the building, evidently a large one, may have been destroyed during the Hasmonean conquest of the region in 112 B.C.E. Following the Hasmonean victory, the locals were forced to convert to Judaism.

The structure was found on a hill at Horvat 'Amuda, in the Lachish region. After decades of being barred from the site because of its use for military training, excavation commenced a couple of months ago and uncovered this structure, from the Hellenistic period.

[...]
With apologies to Bruce Springsteen. Couldn't resist.

Seriously, this sounds like an extraordinarily important discovery which may tell us a lot about the Edomites/Idumeans. Cross-file under Archaeology.

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

Torah scroll seized in Turkey

APPREHENDED: Four Arrested in Turkey for Stealing 700-Year Old Torah Scroll (Sputnik News).
Four people were arrested in Turkey last week after attempting to sell an ancient Torah scroll to undercover police officers for almost $2 million.

The Torah, the holiest book in Judaism, contains the entire Hebrew text of the Five Books of Moses and is read aloud in all synagogues. The one recently recovered in Turkey is believed to be 700 years old.

[...]
It's possible that they had a 700-year-old Torah scroll, but I am skeptical of all details of the story until I see some independent verification. I note it because in recent years there have been many stories about supposedly-ancient Jewish artifacts being seized from smugglers in Turkey.

I like to keep track of these. I have collected my past posts here (follow-ups here and here). Often the claims about the artifacts have seemed dubious. This case is one of the more plausible stories, although the asking price strikes me as awfully high.

Again, well done to the Turkish authorities for all their efforts against antiquities smuggling.

The photo at the top of the article is not of the Torah scroll in question. It is of a printed volume and the text isn't even the Pentateuch.

UPDATE: Reader Roberto Labanti points us to this Daily Sabah article, which has photos of what is reported to be this Torah manuscript: 700-year-old Torah seized in Turkey's Muğla. It is written in gold ink (cf. here, here and here). The first and third image are upside-down, but I can make out enough of the text to see that it isn't a Torah text. It has more recent Hebrew forms in it. Also, it isn't nearly big enough to be a complete Torah scroll. I don't know what it is, but I very much doubt that it is worth $1.9 million.

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

Of mummy masks, Mark, and the Museum of the Bible

MANUSCRIPTS: Why did the Museum of the Bible’s scholars destroy ancient Egyptian artifacts? Christian apologists say they found New Testament fragments in mummy masks. It’s a dubious claim (Candida R. Moss and Joel S. Baden, The Christian Century). Excerpt:
The fragment touted by Carroll and others as part of a first-century version of the Gospel of Mark remains unpublished. Only a handful of people have claimed to have seen it, and many in the scholarly world doubt that it exists, though Green declares that he had authorized its purchase. The claim that it was discovered in a mummy mask has since been walked back. And while until recently the Museum of the Bible’s website still referred to the potential for discovering biblical texts in mummy masks, current and recent employees have told us that the practice of purchasing and dismantling these artifacts is no longer part of the museum’s practice.

What, then, of McDowell’s remarkable discoveries? In a fundraising document written in the wake of the Discover the Evidence event, McDowell describes how Carroll had extracted papyri from the cartonnage and found seven biblical texts. McDowell even provides images of the fragments: they are from fourth-century manuscripts of Matthew, Mark, John, and Galatians, and a fifth-century text of Jeremiah. What he does not make clear, however, is that none of these fragments actually came from the two mummy masks that Carroll dissolved that day. They came, rather, from cartonnage used in book bindings from centuries later. (It is not even clear that these texts are what Carroll and McDowell purport them to be. A specialist in papyrology has questioned both the dates assigned to the manuscripts and their identification.) What did come out of McDowell’s mummy masks was exactly what one would ex­pect from Ptolemaic Egypt: economic texts, letters, and burial documents.

Carroll told us, “I can only say I know what I’ve seen.” No one else has seen the materials, though. And to date, not a single Christian text has been published, formally or informally, that has come from a mummy mask.
More on the mummy masks and the Palmolive soap is here and links. And for more on that report of a first-century manuscript of the Gospel of Mark, see here and links. And for background on the Museum of the Bible, Hobby Lobby, and the Green Collection, start here and follow the many links.

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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Textiles from Iron Age I Meggido

ARCHAEOLOGY: Hidden hoard hints at how ancient elites protected the family treasures. A find from Israel reveals clues about Iron Age wealth protection (Bruce Bower, Science News).
BOSTON — Long before anyone opened a bank account or rented a safe deposit box, wealth protection demanded a bit of guile and a broken beer jug. A 3,100-year-old jewelry stash was discovered in just such a vessel, unearthed from an ancient settlement in Israel called Megiddo in 2010. Now the find is providing clues to how affluent folk hoarded their valuables at a time when fortunes rested on fancy metalwork, not money.

[...]
This is outside PaleoJudaica's usual range, but a detail of this story caught my eye. This jewelry hoard from about 1100 BCE Megiddo was wrapped in two linen cloths and the linen cloths still survived. You can see them wadded up in the photo. They aren't in great shape, but they are there. So some textiles that had been hidden in a jar survived for 3000 years. Regular readers will see where I am going with this. The implication is that if someone in the time of the United Monarchy had sealed up some scrolls in a jar (like some of the Dead Sea Scrolls) in the region of Megiddo, they would have had a reasonable chance of surviving to the present.

This and the evidence from the Timna Valley excavation give us some hope that someday we may find inscribed scroll fragments from the time of the United Monarchy, or even a bit earlier. If someone hid them in jars, they could still be there. We have no way of know whether such scrolls were hidden, but there is clear evidence that if they were, their survival to the present is within the realm of possibility.

Let's just keep that in mind.

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Review of Mason, A History of the Jewish War, A.D. 66-74

CAMWS (CJ-ONLINE): A History of the Jewish War, A.D. 66-74. by Steven Mason. New York: CambridgeUniversity Press, 2016. Pp. xii + 690. Hardcover, $150.00. ISBN 978-0-521-85329-3. Reviewed by Yaron Eliav, University of Michigan (yzeliav@umich.edu). Excerpt:
Such deficiencies in argument, when taken together with other blunders that dilute the book-its unnecessary length and murky structure, its numerous typos,[1] the author's flimsy, usually second-hand knowledge of Hebrew and/or Aramaic,[2] the spoken vernacular of one of the major groups of people he is studying, and his limited acquaintance with other literatures of the time that provide insight into the events he is studying, such as the Qumran and rabbinic corpuses[3]-all undermine the validity of this work. Those well-trained in the history of the revolt will find value in the questions Mason raises and in his provocative suggestions, even if only to reject them. Others, seeking a good and thorough presentation of this key moment in ancient history, will have to await for future, or revert to earlier, more solid discussions by others.
An earlier, and more positive, review of the book was noted here.

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Lipton (ed.), From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey

NEW BOOK FROM URIM PUBLICATIONS: From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey: A Commentary on Food in the Torah by Diana Lipton.
Urim Publications, 2018
Hardcover, 302 pages
ISBN:978-965-524-252-2

Food is at the heart of Jewish life and culture as the subject of many recent studies - popular and academic - and countless Jewish jokes. From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey spotlights food in the Torah – where it’s used to explore such themes as love and compassion, commitment, character, justice, belonging and exclusion, deception, and life and death. Originally created as an online project to support the innovative food rescue charity, Leket Israel, From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey comprises short essays on food and eating in the parasha by 52 internationally acclaimed scholars and Jewish educators and a commentary by Diana Lipton.
Proceeds from sales of this book will go to Leket Israel.
Follow the link for the TOC and ordering information.

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Newman, Paul's Glory-Christology

REISSUED IN PAPERBACK BY BAYLOR UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Title: Paul's Glory-Christology
Sub-title: Tradition & Rhetoric

Series: (Library of Early Christology Series)
By (author): Carey C. Newman
ISBN10-13: 1481307967 : 9781481307963
Illustrations: 5 illus
Format: Paperback
Size: 230x155mm
Pages: 323
Weight: .542 Kg.
Published: Baylor University Press (US) - August 2017
List Price: 38.50 Pounds Sterling
Availability: In Stock Qty Available: 7
Subjects: History of religion : Church history : New Testaments : Biblical studies & exegesis : Christian theology

Glory formed an essential part of early Christianity's christological vocabulary. Along with "word", "image" and "wisdom" Glory (doxa) language worked to define the identity, status, and even uniqueness of Christian belief in Jesus. In this book Carey C Newman, using methodology developed in semantics, semiotics, and literary theory, examines the origin and rhetoric of Paul's Glory-language. Newman divides the investigation into three distinct tasks: (1) to plot the tradition -- history of Glory that formed part of Paul's linguistic world, (2) to examine Paul's letters, in light of the reconstructed tradition -- history of Glory, in order to discern the rationale of Paul's identification of Christ as Glory, and (3) to map out the implications of such an identification for Paul's theological and rhetorical strategy. Newman reaches four conclusions for understanding Paul. First, Paul inherited a symbolic universe with signs already full of signification. Second, awareness of the connotative range of a surface symbol aids in discerning Paul's precise contingent strategy. Third, knowing a symbol's referential power defines and contributes to the deeper structure of Paul's theological grammar. Finally, the heuristic power within the construals of the Glory tradition coalesce in Paul's Christophany and thus provide coherence at the deepest level of Paul's Christology. Taken together, these conclusions reveal that nothing less than Paul's declaration of Jesus as God is expressed in his designation of Jesus as Glory.
Another in Baylor's new Library of Early Christology reprint series, on which more here and links.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A new DSS edition and translation

PROJECT: Alison Schofield Tackles New Translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. DU professor is one of three editors on an international project (Jon Stone, University of Denver).
Alison Schofield is truly living her childhood dream. An associate professor of religious and Judaic studies, she works with some of the most intriguing ancient manuscripts in Judaism and Christianity.

“I was always a fan of Indiana Jones, and I was always interested in the Middle East,” Schofield says. “I’ve been interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls for as long as I can remember.”

That interest has paid off. Today, she is part of a three-editor team working to create a new translation of the famous scrolls. “My field tends to be male-dominated,” Schofield says. “For the first time in history a woman has been selected to one of the highest roles of editing, and also being an American, because generally it has been European scholars.”

[...]

Schofield joins Daniel Falk of Penn State University and retired professor Martin Abegg Jr. of Trinity Western University in piecing together the fragments, creating a translation and providing textual notes and commentary to help readers make sense of all the different copies of the scrolls.

[...]

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4th-century mortar at the tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

MATERIAL CULTURE: Mortar Found in 'Tomb of Jesus' Cave Dates to Constantine Era One mystery surrounding the tomb had been the origin and date of the marble slab at the bottom of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Haaretz).
Mortar found in the limestone cave at the bottom of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has been dated to the time of Emperor Constantine, who reigned in the 4th century C.E., National Geographic reported on Tuesday.

Chemical tests of the mortar between the limestone and the marble slab covering the purported tomb date it to around 345 C.E., NatGeo reports. It certainly could be the tomb found by envoys of Emperor Constantine and the Holy Roman Empire around 20 years earlier.

[...]
This seems a bit gratuitous:
There is no archaeological evidence whatsoever for the existence of Jesus, let alone for the identity of the person who might have been buried in that cave, if any.
I wouldn't expect much in the way of direct archaeological evidence for the existence of a first-century Palestinian itinerant healer. But there is plenty of textual evidence. What we can say about the historical Jesus which goes beyond his mere existence is, of course, a matter of considerable debate. Likewise, we have no way of being sure who was buried in this tomb. The really interesting thing from an archaeological perspective is that it does seem to be a first-century tomb.

More on the recent repairs at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Holy Sepulchre) is here and links (cf. here.

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"Diaspora" and Masada

THE PERFORMING ARTS: Death And Sex At Masada. Politics, Birthright Israel trips and a powerful myth animate ‘Diaspora’ (Ted Merwin, Jewish Week).
Few places are as iconic in Jewish life as Masada, the desert stronghold where, as the story goes, a courageous group of Jews chose to die at their own hands rather than perish by the sword of the conquering Roman army. Each year, tens of thousands of young American Jews make a pilgrimage to the site, where they learn about its importance in Jewish history. And just two years ago, a pair of pop culture versions of the Masada story hit our screens, the melodramatic CBS movie, “The Dovekeepers,” with its implicit call for religious tolerance, and “The Siege of Masada,” a documentary by the Smithsonian Channel that called Masada the “Alamo of the ancient world.”

Now comes Nathaniel Sam Shapiro’s Off-Broadway comedy “Diaspora,” directed by Saheem Ali, in which a group of Birthright Israel students touring Masada travel back in time to 73 C.E. and encounter a small band of women and children who survived the catastrophe. The play also comes as Birthright is in the news for its recent decision to disqualify the Reform movement from participating as a trip provider, even as both Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox groups are increasing their share of free, 10-day trips to Israel.

[...]
For past PaleoJudaica posts on the history and archaeology of, and revisionist views on, Masada, start here and follow the links. Past posts on the Dovekeepers series are here and here and links. And for the Smithsonian documentary, see here.

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

Phoenicians on a Sicilian Island

PHOENICIAN WATCH: Homesick Phoenicians Imported Plants, Animals to New Sicilian Island Home 3,000 Years Ago. DNA analysis of seeds and bones unearthed on the tiny island of Motya show that they came from the ancient Levant, brought by the Phoenicians to Sicily (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz).
Over 3,000 years ago, as the Phoenicians spread west from the Levantine coasts of the Mediterranean to Sicily and beyond, it turns out they had not only animals on board, but plants and tableware too, bringing with them the taste of home.

Archaeologists excavating a village the seafaring Phoenicians established on the tiny island of Motya, on the western tip of Sicily, found plant seeds and animal bones that they had brought from home, possibly the coast of today's Lebanon.

The Phoenicians seem to have first landed on Motya, an island with protected anchorage and with access to mainland agriculture, sometime in the 10th to 11th century B.C.E. By the late 9th century B.C.E., they had developed it into a proper colony, thanks to no small part to the safe harbor.

Pottery and inscriptions to their gods, among other things, seal the case that the town was Phoenician. 

[...]
There are many interesting finds at this site. Cross-file under Archaeology and Material Culture.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Talmud on flogging

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: To Flog or Not to Flog. Which sinners are to taste the lash, how many strokes of it, in what circumstances, with what intention, and as just punishment in which cases, and with what exceptions: As always, the Talmud leaves no contingency unaccounted for.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Review of Ker and Pieper (eds.), Valuing the past in the Greco-Roman World

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Valuing the past in the Greco-Roman World (Kelsi Morrison-Atkins).
James Ker and Christoph Pieper, eds. Valuing the past in the Greco-Roman World: Proceedings from the Penn-Leiden Colloquia on Ancient Values VII. Leiden: Brill, 2014.
The review concludes:
Valuing the Past in the Greco-Roman World asks how the past was defined, accessed, and valued in that period of time so often considered “our” antiquity (18) and provides an array of fascinating examples that work together to undercut notions of the value of the past in the past as in any way uniform or monolithic. This range of historical perspectives calls for further reflection on the ethics and politics underlying our own individual and institutional practices of valuing the past in the present and contributes much to our understanding of the range of values ascribed to the past in the past.

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Sinai palimpsests on display in Athens

EXHIBITION: Ancient hidden texts from St Catherine’s Monastery in Mt Sinai displayed in Athens (video) (Tornos News).
Ancient texts from St Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, Egypt, that were kept secret for centuries under other texts until they were revealed through the use of state-of-the-art technology will go on display for four days starting on Monday at the Greek Foreign Ministry.

The texts will be showcased as part of an international conference titled “The Other Voice of the Desert: The palimpsest manuscripts of the Sinai Monastery, new technologies for reading, discovery of unknown texts, prospects for research,” at the ministry’s Yiannos Kranidiotis Auditorium.

[...]
For more on the palimpsests from St. Catherine's Monastery, see here and links.

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