Friday, November 30, 2012

Vetus Testamentum 62.4 (2012)

VETUS TESTAMENTUM has published a new(-ish) issue (Volume 62, Issue 4, January 2012). Requires a personal or institutional subscription to access the full articles. TOC:
The Fightin’ Mushites*
Author: Mark Leuchter
pp. 479–500 (22)

Looking for Aphek in 1 Kgs 20*
Author: Shuichi Hasegawa
pp. 501–514 (14)

The Merkabah as a Substitute for Messianism in Targum Ezekiel? 1
Author: Alinda Damsma
pp. 515–533 (19)

Reconsidering 4QSama and the Textual Support for the Long and Short Versions of the David and Goliath Story
Author: Benjamin J.M. Johnson
pp. 534–549 (16)

The Structure of Genesis 38: A Thematic Reading*
Author: Dohyung Kim
pp. 550–560 (11)

The Vanishing Character in Biblical Narrative: The Role of Hathach in Esther 4*
Author: Jonathan Grossman
pp. 561–571 (11)

Antiochus IV as the Scorned Prince in Dan 11:21
Author: Benjamin Scolnic
pp. 572–581 (10)

Hearing Psalm 102 within the Context of the Hebrew Psalter
Author: Andrew Witt
pp. 582–606 (25)

“My Beloved Son, Come and Rest in Me“: Job's Return to His Mother's Womb (Job 1:21a) in Light of Egyptian Mythology
Author: Christopher B. Hays
pp. 607–621 (15)

Die Schuld der Väter (er-)tragen-Thr 5 im Kontext exilischer Theologie
Author: Thomas Wagner
pp. 622–635 (14)

Entdämonisierung von Dtn 32:24
Author: Szabolcs Ferencz Kató
pp. 636–641 (6)

The Syntax and Rhetoric of Ruth 1:9a
Author: Jeremy Schipper
pp. 642–645 (4)
Diodorus, Deuteronomy, and Egyptian Agriculture 1
Author: Jaclyn Neel
pp. 646–651 (6)

Book List
pp. 652–663 (12)

The Most Interesting Bible in the World

WHY DO YOU HATE THE PSEUDEPIGRAPHA? The Most Interesting Bible in the World.

Time travel in the Talmud

MOSES THE TIME TRAVELER: The First Science Fiction? This raises all sorts of tempting thoughts for Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day (8 December), doesn't it?

Via James McGrath.

FOR YOU, SPECIAL DEAL at the Aramaic Blog: Help Support

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ancient port at Akko

DISCOVERIES AT AKKO are reported by e! Science News from a University of Rhode Island press release. The nineteenth century shipwrecks are interesting, but the story relevant for PaleoJudaica is the ancient port and the prospect of finding ancient shipwrecks.
URI, IAA archaeologists discover shipwrecks, ancient harbor on coast of Israel

Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 17:04 in Paleontology & Archaeology

Arrchaeologists from the University of Rhode Island, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and the University of Louisville have discovered the remains of a fleet of early-19th century ships and ancient harbor structures from the Hellenistic period (third to first century B.C.) at the city of Akko, one of the major ancient ports of the eastern Mediterranean. The findings shed light on a period of history that is little known and point to how and where additional remains may be found. The discoveries were presented on November 15 and 17 in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research by URI assistant professors Bridget Buxton and William Krieger on behalf of the Israel Coast Exploration project.


"Like many underwater archaeologists I'm very interested in finding a well-preserved example of an ancient multi-decked warship from the Hellenistic age," said Buxton. "These ships were incredible pieces of technology, but we don't know much about their design because no hulls have been found. However, a combination of unusual environmental and historical factors leads us to believe we have a chance of finding the remains of one of these ships off the northern coast of Israel."

Buxton believes that the ships they are looking for are likely buried in the coastal sediment, which has built up over the centuries through natural processes. However, time is not on their side. "That protective silt is now being stripped away," she said. "And it's being stripped away a lot faster than it was originally dumped, by a combination of development, environmental changes, and the effects of the Aswan Dam." The Nile River has historically deposited large quantities of silt in the area, but the dam has significantly reduced the flow of silt.


One line of buried targets detected off the southern seawall of old Akko is particularly suggestive. Continuing excavations in this area over the summer revealed an alignment between these targets and a newly-discovered slipway and shipshed structure, which continued out under the sea floor 25 meters from the Ottoman city wall. The feature resembles other naval shipsheds found in places such as Athens where they were used to haul up ancient warships. The excavation project was initially undertaken to strengthen the eroding sea wall, but it also revealed Hellenistic masonry, pottery vessels, an ancient mooring stone, and a stone quay 1.3 meters below the modern sea level. The possibility that much more of the Hellenistic port lies well-preserved under the sea floor is exciting for the archaeologists, because it means that shipwrecks from earlier centuries that have so far not been found at Akko may simply be buried deeper down in the sediment.

"We've got fragmentary historic records for this area in the Hellenistic period, and now we've found a very important feature from the ancient harbor. Ancient shipwrecks are another piece of the puzzle that will help us to rewrite the story of this region at a critical time in Mediterranean history," she said.

Located on the northern coast of Israel, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Akko is one of the few cities in the Mediterranean with more than 5,000 years of maritime history. Also known as Acre, Ake and Ptolemais, its port was an important waypoint for the Phoenicians, Romans, Crusaders, Ottomans and other ancient maritime empires. In the Hellenistic period, it was bitterly fought over by the rival empires of Egypt and Syria.

"Understanding the history and archaeology of Akko's port is crucial to understanding the broader issues of maritime connectivity and the great power struggles that defined the history of the Eastern Mediterranean during the Hellenistic Age," Buxton said.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Go out and intend."

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN by Adam Kirsh in Tablet: The Power of Positive Thinking: This week, deduction and analogy propel the Talmud from the mundane to the miraculous. Excerpt:
This kind of reasoning grants to intention an almost magical power: If you think that you are going to use something on the Sabbath, you change its legal status, almost its existential status. You see a dramatic example of this with Rabbi Chanina ben Akiva, who once “went to a certain place and found branches of a date palm that were harvested for the sake of firewood, and he said to his students, ‘Go out and intend, so that we may sit on them tomorrow.’ ” “Go out and intend”: With this wonderful phrase, Chanina shows how much power merely thinking can have in Talmudic law. However, the Talmud goes on to explain, there are limits to such intention. It is only when you do not have time to tie the bundles of wood that it is acceptable merely to “intend” them. That is why Chanina’s “go out and intend” was spoken at “a house of feasting or a house of mourning,” that is, a place where people were too busy with other preparations to actually tie the wood together.

Hendel, The Book of Genesis: A Biography

THE BOOK OF GENESIS: A BIOGRAPHY, by Ronald Hendel, is reviewed by
Scott McLemee in Inside Higher Ed: In the Beginning. Excerpt:
... To write the biography of a book -- portraying it as having, in effect, a personality and a career -- is a literary conceit. But it is a justified and effective one in the case of texts which seem, to a great many of their readers, almost literally alive, or at least integral to understanding life itself.

On that score, no book could be more exemplary than Genesis. “Over the generations,” Hendel writes, “the ways that people have understood Genesis tend to correlate with the ways that people have understood reality. It is not just that Genesis provides an account of the origins of reality -- which it does -- but that the kinds of meaning that people expect to find in Genesis are the same kinds that they expect to find in the outside world.”

And for good reason: “Genesis envisions a single, God-created universe in which human life is limited by the boundaries of knowledge and death. We are earth-bound, intermittently wise, often immoral, mortal creatures.” Within the first few words, the reader will encounter temptation, disobedience, sex, death, violence, and exile. It’s not necessary to believe in the historical reality of a single person named in Genesis -- nor even that God exists, let alone gets byline credit for either Genesis or the universe itself -- to recognize much of this world. De te fabula narrator. The tale is told about you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The BBC on the fake metal codices

FAKE METAL CODICES WATCH: The BBC has finally gotten around to doing some real investigative reporting on the codices and on their promoter, David Elkington, and his background. Almost half a segment of yesterday's Inside Out South program is devoted to the story. If you are in the UK, you can watch it here. If you are elsewhere, the segment is summarized here: Jordan Codices 'expert' David Elkington's claims queried.

Bottom line: the metal codices are still fake. My most recent posts on the subject are here and here and they lead to other posts in which I explain in detail the reasons for regarding the codices to be inauthentic. Regular readers of PaleoJudaica will be familiar with many of the points made belatedly in the BBC program, but it does include information that is new or that has been poorly circulated up to now, so watch it if you can.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ghost sectarianism in m. Hallah?

THE TALMUD BLOG: The Mishnah and Second Temple Polemics: A Note on Tractate Hallah (Yitz Landes).
But are we overreading here? Can polemics be found here even though they aren’t brought up explicitly? Can the structural choices of the Mishnah’s editor(s) speak of points of conflict between the rabbis and other Jews? I’m not sure if the Mishnah works this way, and I’m wondering what other people have to say.

Sherwood, Paul and The Restoration of Humanity ...

Paul and The Restoration of Humanity in Light of Ancient Jewish Traditions

Aaron Sherwood

In Paul and The Restoration of Humanity in Light of Ancient Jewish Traditions, Aaron Sherwood questions the assumption of universalism in Pauline thought, and finds instead that relevant Pauline traditions depict a partly restricted and particularly Israelite restoration of humanity. This important Jewish component of Paul’s thought remains largely unrecognized, but Pauline and other ancient Jewish traditions consistently present Israel and non-Israelites' uniting in their worship of Yhwh as the restoration of both Israel and humanity.

Aaron Sherwood demonstrates in Pauline traditions the same deployment of Israel-nations unification as in biblical and post-biblical traditions. This suggests that rather than secondarily finding space for Gentile justification, the restoration of humanity plays a generative role in Paul’s theology, mission, and apostolic self-identity.