Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Talmud and involuntary manslaughter

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Accident or Crime? How studying Torah could kill a child, and other lessons in involuntary manslaughter from this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study.
This week, Daf Yomi readers completed the second chapter of Tractate Makkot, a short section of the Talmud that deals with non-capital crimes. The subject of this chapter was what American law calls involuntary manslaughter: What happens to someone who accidentally kills another person? Clearly, he cannot be convicted of murder under Jewish law, because we learned in Tractate Sanhedrin, a murderer is only guilty if he is forewarned by two witnesses that he is about to commit a capital crime. But does this mean that an unintentional killer suffers no consequences at all?

[...]
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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

British Library Hebrew manuscripts online with translations

DIGITIZATION: British Library publishes treasure trove of Hebrew manuscripts. New online collection is venerable library's first bilingual online project, letting users search among 1,300 items in English and Hebrew (Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel).
The British Library last week launched a new website showcasing 1,300 Hebrew manuscripts, ranging from ancient Torah scrolls and prayer books to philosophical, theological and scientific works.

The new site is the library’s first bilingual online collection, allowing users to search for scans of the manuscripts in Hebrew and English.

[...]
Past posts on the British Library's Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project are here, here, and here.

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

Windows

PROF. AARON DEMSKY: Looking through the Window: A Gendered Motif (TheTorah.com).
Abimelech, Michal, Sisera’s mother, and Jezebel all look through a window, but their experience is not the same.
Indeed not.

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

Disability theory and Rabbinic literature

LECTURE: Rabbi highlights disability theory and symbolism in Rabbinic literature ( Eliana Padwa, The Justice).
To Rabbi Dr. Julia Watts Belser, an expert in both Judaic studies and disability studies, being knowledgeable about multiple fields provides a unique opportunity to combine and compare disciplines; she analyzes each field in light of the other.

On Tuesday, the annual Jewish Studies Colloquium convened to hear Watts Belser, assistant professor of Jewish Studies at Georgetown University, and to discuss her ongoing work.

Introduced as someone whose scholarship “is a constant reminder of our intellectual, moral and emotional responsibility to break down barriers,” Watts Belser presented briefly on her new project, which attendees had read in advance. The project, an essay titled “Disciplining the Dissident Body: Disability, Gender, and State Violence in Rabbinic Literature,” discusses three “rabbinic stories” — Jewish theological tales — and their physical and symbolic portrayals of disability.

[...]
I noted a review of a book by Dr. Belser here and an essay by her at AJR here.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Timna and the United Monarchy?

ARCHAEOLOGY: Did David and Solomon's United Monarchy Exist? Vast Ancient Mining Operation May Hold Answers. Archaeology has provided precious little evidence for the biblical account of a powerful Judaic kingdom 3,000 years ago, but the sheer extent of copper mining in Timna, when Egypt was in a state of collapse, is otherwise hard to explain (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz).
The biblical narrative may have gone overboard on extolling the virtues of the two kings, but a preponderance of evidence indicates that some kind of powerful polity did rule from Jerusalem. One of the best arguments is the massive copper production during the 10th century B.C.E., at Timna, three hundred kilometers south of Jerusalem.

Mountains of slag

There, in the dry desert, Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University has spent 14 years excavating copper mining and smelting sites of Jordan and Israel, dating to the 10th century B.C.E. The mines in the Aravah valley are in the very territory the Bible says David won from the Edomites, who then became subject to Israel (2 Samuel 8:13-14).
This article is especially interested in the "minimalist-maximalist" debate about whether and to what degree the Hebrew Bible tells us any useful historical information about the so-called United Monarchy. I am more interested in the article's detailed coverage of the Timna Valley excavation. Lots of organic material from the 10th century BCE has been excavated there. This leads me to hope that someday the excavators may recover scroll fragments there from the same period. It's a long shot, but we'll see.

Background on the many fascinating discoveries in the Timna Valley excavation is here and follow the links.

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Greek fragments found of Coptic "First Apocalypse of James"

BRICE C. JONES: First Greek Fragments of a Nag Hammadi Text Discovered among Oxyrhynchus Papyri!.
Very exciting news came out of a session at the 2017 annual Society of Biblical Literature conference in Boston: Geoff Smith and Brent Landau announced their discovery of the first known Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James, a Coptic text known from a Nag Hammadi codex (Codex V) and the famous Codex Tchacos. This early Christian text consists of a dialogue between Jesus and James the brother of Jesus. Scholars have argued that this Coptic text was probably translated from Greek, but until now, no Greek witnesses have been known to exist.

[...]
Very exciting indeed. Bit by bit, a letter at a time, whatever it takes. Until we're done.

Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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Review of Hasselhoff and Strothmann (eds.), "Religio licita?"

BRYN MARY CLASSICAL REVIEW: Görge K. Hasselhoff, Meret Strothmann (ed.), "Religio licita?": Rom und die Juden. Studia Judaica, 84. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2017. Pp. viii, 230. ISBN 9783110406559. $126.00. Reviewed by Arco den Heijer, Theological University Kampen (ajdenheijer@tukampen.nl).
The introductory chapter situates the book within a number of scholarly debates: the debate on Jewish or Judean identity within the Mediterranean world (is it primarily ethnic or primarily religious, or does it evolve from the one into the other?), the debate on the legal status of the Judeans within the Roman empire and the question how conflictual the relationship between Judeans and other inhabitants of the Roman empire was on a social level. Scholars generally acknowledge the relatively large degree of freedom accorded in a number of decrees to Judeans to live according to their ancestral customs,1 but disagree about the extent to which they could actually participate in Greco-Roman society without getting involved in various kinds of cultural conflict.2

This volume contributes to these debates by collecting a number of essays by leading scholars in the field. The strengths of the book are its detailed attention to the ancient sources and its wide chronological and geographical scope, ranging from the speeches of Cicero to the Judean community of Cologne in the fourth century. However, the book as a whole fails to move forward on the debates mentioned above, both because a number of the contributors have already presented their views in more detail in earlier publications and because the book lacks a concluding chapter that could bring the various contributions together to answer the questions posed in the introduction. Still, the quality of the individual papers is generally high in its argumentative strength and adequate use of the evidence. I cannot discuss all papers in detail, but will highlight some of them.

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Fan Fiction and Ancient Scribal Cultures?

RELIGION PROF BLOG: Fan Fiction and Ancient Scribal Cultures #CFP (James McGrath). The comparison seems anachronistic to me, but it will be very interesting to see what this special issue of Transformative Works and Cultures produces.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

New analysis of Qumran skeletons

OSTEOLOGY: Skeletons could provide clues to who wrote or protected the Dead Sea Scrolls. Few women or children have been found at Qumran burial site, suggesting similarities to Byzantine monastery cemeteries (Bruce Bower, Science News).
Analyses of 33 newly excavated skeletons of people buried at the West Bank site, Qumran, supports a view that the community consisted of a religious sect of celibate men. Anthropologist Yossi Nagar of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem presented the findings November 16 at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Preliminary radiocarbon dating of one of the Qumran bones indicates that the interred bodies are around 2,200 years old — close to the same age as the ancient texts, which are estimated to have been written between around 150 B.C. and A.D. 70.

Plus, reexamination of 53 previously unearthed human skeletons from Qumran’s cemetery, now housed in France, found that six of seven individuals formerly tagged as women were actually men, Nagar said. A small number of children have also been excavated at Qumran.

[...]
The skeletons excavated at Qumran have been controversial for quite some time, mainly because analysis of them is so difficult. These latest results are interesting and could be important for our understanding of the site of Qumran and even for our understanding of the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls — if the results are upheld in peer-review publication. Cross-file under Technology Watch.

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Judaism and the Museum of the Bible

MUSEUM REVIEW: JUDAISM IS THE STAR AT A BIBLE MUSEUM BUILT BY HOBBY LOBBY. $500 million Bible musuem opened on National Mall park in Washington D.C. (JTA/Jerusalem Post).
The museum celebrates Jews and Judaism as the noble, beloved and even feared antecedents to Christianity, and argues that its best modern expression is in the State of Israel. And it makes the case that the Bible is not merely to be studied but to be believed.

Speaking at the dedication Friday, Steven Green, the president of Hobby Lobby and the museum’s chairman of the board, said museumgoers should come away realizing that the Bible “has had a positive impact on their lives in so many different ways and when they leave they will be inspired to open it.”

It especially celebrates the Bible’s Jewish origins, notably those made manifest in modern Israel. The dedication included a rabbi, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, the Israeli minister of tourism and the director of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

At times, the event seemed like a pro-Israel gala. Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador, celebrated the museum as a signifier of the Jewish claim to Jerusalem. The Bible nurtured Jews through 2,000 years of exile until they were able to “rebuild the original DC — David’s Capital,” he said.
This review is basically positive, but not without criticisms.

Background on the Museum of the Bible, Hobby Lobby, and the Green Collection, is here and follow the many links.

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Dubious DSS fragments in the Museum of the Bible

THIS IS A PROBLEM: Forgeries May Hide in Museum of the Bible's Dead Sea Scrolls. With the museum’s support, scholars are racing to understand the disputed Biblical texts (Michael Greshko, National Geographic).
Widely respected Biblical scholar David Trobisch now directs the collection—and the Museum of the Bible has supported the very work on the Dead Sea Scrolls which has uncovered evidence of forgery.

“Anybody who thinks that in a gigantic museum that there’s going to be no item [with disputed authenticity], it’s like believing that there’s no amoeba in your water,” says New York University Biblical scholar Lawrence Schiffman, who consulted the museum on its presentation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. “The museum did everything they’re supposed to do.”
Regular readers of PaleoJudaica will be familiar with most of what is covered in this article. But the article assembles the information conveniently in one place.

Background on those dubious Dead Sea Scrolls fragments is here and links. Background on the Museum of the Bible, Hobby Lobby, and the Green Collection, is here and many links.

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

More on the Good Ship Ma’agan Michael II

REPLICA UPDATE: Sailing a 2,400-year-old Ship That Sank Off Israel's Coast. Over many centuries, hundreds of ships sank along what is now the coast of Israel. Report from a cruise on a replica of the oldest found so far (Moshe Gilad, Haaretz).
Sunk on its maiden voyage

The ancient ship was discovered in 1985. It lay 70 meters from the shore, its bow pointing landward, at a depth of about two meters, under a layer of sand of similar thickness. Dr. Elisha Linder, a marine archaeologist from the University of Haifa, was in charge of researching the unique find. The quantity of wood used in the ship’s construction, and its quality, together with the precise dating, reflected the ship’s importance. Its one-armed anchor was the first of its type to be found whole. It took a full 15 years for the vessel to be lifted out of the water, dismantled, preserved and reassembled. It’s now a fine exhibit in the Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa. The findings on display, which constitute about a third of the original ship, were the foundation for the construction of the replica.

In the past three years, Prof. Yaacov Kahanov of Haifa University’s Department of Maritime Civilizations, a world expert in the study of ancient ships, led the initiative to build the replica. The resulting full-scale ship, constructed using methods that were in use in the Mediterranean around 400 BCE, is faithful to the original. Kahanov passed away just before the work was completed.
(Stop and read this premium article now, before it goes behind the subscription wall.)

The excavators think the ship was likely crewed by Greeks rather than Phoenicians. Background to the story is here and here.

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Lieu (ed.), Manichaeism East and West

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Manichaeism East and West. Notice of a new book: Lieu, Samuel N. C. (ed.). 2017. Manichaeism east and west (Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum. Analecta Manichaica 1). Turnhout: Brepols.

Follow the link for the TOC. The Book of Giants figures in a couple of the articles. For many past PaleoJudaica posts involving the Book of Giants, see here, here, here, and links.

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

Hurtado on Psalm 110

LARRY HURTADO: Early Christian Use of “Messianic” Psalms. With focus on a surprising fact about Psalm 110:1.

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

Surrogacy in an Assyrian prenup

MODERN THEMES, ANCIENT SOLUTIONS: 4,000-year-old prenup pushes for surrogacy in case of infertility. Cuneiform tablet calls for a contractual sex slave to be freed after a son's birth -- and would have prevented the bitter rivalry between biblical Hagar and Sarah. I'm not sure how much relevance this text really has for the legends about Sarah and Hagar in the Bible. But it is of considerable historical interest in itself.

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Fossum, The Name of God & the Angel of the Lord

REISSUED IN PAPERBACK BY BAYLOR UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Title: Name of God & the Angel of the Lord
Sub-title: Samaritan & Jewish Concepts of Intermediation & the Origin of Gnosticism

Series: (Library of Early Christology Series)
By (author): Jarl E. Fossum
ISBN10-13: 1481307932 : 9781481307932
Format: Paperback
Size: 230x155mm
Pages: 391
Weight: .650 Kg.
Published: Baylor University Press (US) - August 2017
List Price: 38.50 Pounds Sterling
Availability: In Stock Qty Available: 8
Subjects: History of religion : Church history : New Testaments : Biblical studies & exegesis : Christian theology

The relationship among Judaism, Gnosticism, and Christianity perpetually eludes easy description. While it is clear that by the second and third centuries of the Common Era these three religious groups worked hard to distinguish themselves from each other, it is also true that the three religious traditions share common religious perspectives. Jarl Fossum examines this common heritage by proposing that the emergence of an anticosmic gnostic demiurge was not simply Gnosticism's critique of the Jewish God or a metaphysical anti-semitism. The figure of the gnostic demiurge arose from Judaism itself. Fossum demonstrates that the first gnostic versions of the demiurge constituted a subordinated dualism. Fossum then turns to Judaism, in particular Samaritanism's portrayal of a principal angel. In distinction from non-Samaritan Jewish examples -- where the Angel of the Lord bears the Divine Name but is not a demiurge, or examples where the Divine Name is said to be the instrument of creation but is not an angel or personal being -- Fossum discovers a figure who bore God's name, was distinct from God, and was God's instrument for creation. Only in Samaritan texts is God's vice-regent personalised, angelic, demiurgic, and the bearer of God's name. In the end the book reveals that not all gnostic speculation was anti-Jewish and, indeed, emerging gnostic and Christian traditions borrowed as much from Judaism as they criticised and rejected.
Another in Baylor's new Library of Early Christology reprint series, on which more here and links.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

The Museum of the Bible opens today

SOME MEDIA ATTENTION FOR TODAY'S OPENING OF THE MUSEUM OF THE BIBLE:

Museum of the Bible: A First Look. On the high-tech, new museum and the agenda of the family behind it (Christine Rosen, Weekly Standard)
Thus the Museum of the Bible, opening on November 17 not far from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., appears at a critical time. How do you engage the citizens of an increasingly secular country, whose founding was nevertheless indelibly marked by principles found in this book, with its history? How do you create a space that acknowledges the cultural primacy of the Bible while also respecting the heterodox religious past and present of the United States? How can an institution talk about one of the world’s most controversial texts without itself becoming a flashpoint for controversy?

The short answer: It can’t.
Washington’s Bible museum won’t touch political hot potatoes. Funded by evangelical Christian Steve Green, the controversial Hobby Lobby head, institution claims 'non-sectarian' mission (MAGGY DONALDSON, AFP/Times of Israel).

Read the actual Dead Sea scrolls, see the Nile turn to blood and visit Jesus World: Billionaire's $500m Bible Museum opens in DC after he was caught buying stolen artefacts from Iraq (Rory Tingle, Daily Mail).

There are other articles, but I think these give a reasonably rounded picture. And they have some good photos and videos.

For much past PaleoJudaica coverage of the Museum of the Bible, and also of 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.

CFP: IOTS 2018

CALL FOR PAPERS: 9th International Meeting, International Organization for Targum Studies (IOTS) July 9-11, 2018, University College London.

There is special interest in proposals that deal with one of the following two thematic focuses:
The Aramaic dialects within their Late Antique environment;
The development of the Targums within their wider interpretative milieu.

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Postdoc at Princeton

H-JUDAIC: JOB: Princeton University, Program in Judaic Studies, Postdoctoral Research Associate.

A renewable one-year post "to pursue research on any aspect of Judaic Studies" and to do some teaching at Princeton. The application deadline for full consideration is 15 December 2017.

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Aristophil auction plan

300 AUCTIONS OVER SIX YEARS: Multi-million-pound collection of manuscripts from the scandal-hit Aristophil to be auctioned in Paris. A huge collection of manuscripts from investment scheme Aristophil will finally be resold in Paris after a two-year wait (Laura Chesters, Antiques Trade Gazette).
Included in the sales are treasures such as the will of Louis XVI, the original 39ft-long manuscript of the Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom, fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls and a 15th-century translation in French of Alexander the Great’s biography by Quintus Curtius.
I've been following this story since 2015, because of the report that there are fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the collection. I have not been able to find any specific information on these. The story of how we got here is complicated and involves an alleged "Ponzi scheme." I have gone over it in more detail here. Follow the links there for past coverage.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

An advance tour of the Museum of the Bible

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Museum of the Bible: Part Museum, Part Holy Land Experience. Bible museum opens in Washington, DC (Robin Ngo). The museum opens tomorrow. It sounds as though they have been taking the various criticisms on board and responding. Excerpt:
In a way, the Museum of the Bible will open as a work in progress: while all of its exhibition spaces and interactive rooms will be ready for visitors, museum leaders give the impression that the museum’s approach to displaying artifacts—especially problematic ones—is subject to change. This does not detract from the spectacular experience the visitor is bound to have—especially the nearly overwhelming experience of the grand entrance and the appreciation of the efforts of faithful scholars who over the centuries tirelessly produced the Biblical manuscripts in the History of the Bible exhibition. But the Museum of the Bible has also inadvertently yanked the debate over the ownership of history and the dark underbelly of the antiquities black market into the public realm, which will hopefully inspire visitors to pause and reflect on how “Biblical” artifacts are properly acquired, researched, and displayed.
Background on the Museum of the Bible, Hobby Lobby, and the Green Collection is here and many links.

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

On scholars and those dubious DSS fragments

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
Soli Deo Gloria?
The Scholars, the Market, and the Dubious
Post-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls-like Fragments

Meanwhile, however, since the early 1990s, researchers in fields like archaeology and heritage studies have expressed growing concern about the role of academics as facilitators of illicit trading in ancient texts and objects from countries suffering from extensive looting and unlawful removal of prehistoric material. Despite this widespread awareness, reflected in a growing number of laws, regulations and international policies to prevent looting, smuggling and illegal trade in cultural objects, many scholars in the field of biblical studies continue to receive unprovenanced material with enthusiasm.

By Årstein Justnes
Professor, Department of Religion
University of Agder, Norway
Leader of the Lying Pen of Scribes Project

Josephine Munch Rasmussen
Ph.D., lecturer
University of Oslo
November 2017
Background on those dubious Dead Sea Scrolls fragments is here, here, here, and links.

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Interview with Ben Wright

WILLIAM ROSS: LXX SCHOLAR INTERVIEW – DR. BEN WRIGHT (Septuaginta &C. Blog).

I have noted some past interviews of LXX scholars by William Ross here and links.

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A late-antique synagogue in the Galilee

THE HOLY LAND PHOTOS' BLOG: Baram — The Synagogue (Carl Rasmussen).
Almost all travelers to Israel will visit the justly famous synagogue at Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee—and some will even visit the one at nearby Chorazin. However, the best preserved of the “Galilean Type” synagogues is the one located at the not-too-frequently visited site of Baram. It is located in Upper Galilee, about 1.2 mi. [2 km.] south of the Israeli Lebanese border.
Nice photos, as usual. An earlier PaleoJudaica post on the Baram Synagogue is here. Sorry about the bad link

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Review of Kemezis (ed.), Urban Dreams and Realities in Antiquity

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Urban Dreams and Realities in Antiquity: Remains and Representations of the Ancient City (Jordan Conley).
Adam M. Kemezis, ed. Urban Dreams and Realities in Antiquity: Remains and Representations of the Ancient City. Leiden: Brill, 2015.
Jerusalem, both New and otherwise, receives its due.

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Provenance and the Museum of the Bible

BUT IT'S OPENING SOON: The Provenance Problem. Why a cloud hangs over the new Museum of the Bible (Tom Bartlett, Chronicle of Higher Education). As the article explains, there is an authenticity problem too.

Background on the Museum of the Bible, Hobby Lobby, and the Green Collection is here and many links.

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

Review of the Tyndale House NT

BRICE C. JONES: A Review of The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge.

I noted the volume recently here.

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Rebecca's father?

DR. RABBI ZEV FARBER AND RABBI DANIEL M. ZUCKER D.D: Rebekah Ran to her “Mother’s Household”: Where Was her Father? (TheTorah.com).
Betuel, Rebekah’s father, mysteriously appears and disappears in the negotiations over Rebekah’s marriage.
It seems that many solutions to the problem have been proposed. Redaction criticism has, not surprisingly, gotten involved too.

Not mentioned in this essay, but Aramaic Levi 62 seems to solve the problem by assuming that Laban had a son who was named Bethuel after his grandfather.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Talmud and false witnesses

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: On Bearing False Witness. Talmudic rabbis debate what’s to be done with the liars who help hide crimes—and who to believe in such cases—in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi.’
But what about other kinds of punishments, which are not capable of being so symmetrically applied? Tractate Makkot begins by inquiring about a case in which witnesses falsely testify that a priest is ineligible for the priesthood because he is the son of a divorced woman. If their lie is exposed, does that mean that the witnesses should be declared ineligible for the priesthood? This is what a plain reading of the biblical verse might suggest, but in practice, this would make no sense—what if the witnesses were Israelites, not Kohanim, and therefore ineligible for the priesthood to begin with? To ensure that such conspiring witnesses don’t get off scot-free, the Mishna imposes a punishment of 40 lashes.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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The Museum of the Bible is opening soon

OPENING THIS FRIDAY: In the Capitol’s shadow, massive Museum of the Bible readies for opening (Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service). Lots of good background information in this one.

For many other past posts on the Museum of the Bible, Hobby Lobby, and the Green Collection, start here and follow the links.

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

What to make of Rebecca?

DR. MALKA Z. SIMCOVICH: Rebecca’s Character (TheTorah.com).
Rebecca, informed by God of her sons’ destinies, thwarts her husband’s effort to bless Esau. The Torah thus portrays an assertive Rebecca in contrast to a weak and uninformed Isaac. Early Jewish interpreters took conflicting approaches to this unusual depiction of a patriarchal couple.

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The Gospel of Judas was for sale?

THE FACES AND VOICES BLOG: The Gospel of Judas on Sale? (Roberta Mazza). Not now, some years ago. Another interesting story in Moss and Baden, Bible Nation, on which more here and links.

Background on the Gospel of Judas is here with many links.

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

Monday, November 13, 2017

Valmadonna Library auction mystery

VALMADONNA LIBRARY UPDATE: Valmadonna Trust Library auction in NY brings record sales. But who benefits? Private sale of Jewish books sees lots reaching far beyond their estimated values, including the trust's complete reference and bibliographic library for $190,000 (Times of Israel).
It is a mystery who benefitted from the proceeds earned at the November 9 private sale of 209 rare items from the esteemed Valmadonna Trust Library. But as the hammer struck on the final lot — sold for almost four times its estimate at $190,000 in an auction held at New York-based Kestenbaum & Company — the anonymous benefactor was doubtless pleased with the results.

Amassed over four decades by the late Jack V. Lunzer, the Valmadonna Library consists of more than 11,000 printed books and broadsheets, as well as some 300 manuscripts. Lunzer, a British industrial diamond merchant and bibliophile, charted the history of Hebrew printing through his collection, which reflects the worldwide dissemination of Jewish culture through the printed word.

After Lunzer’s death in December 2016, the Valmadonna was jointly acquired by the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem and Dr. David and Jemima Jeselsohn, collectors of archaeology, books and Judaica, in a private transaction with the Valmadonna Trust.

As explored in an in-depth Times of Israel article earlier this week, both NLI and the Jeselsohns deny being behind the November 9 auction, with each intimating that it is the other.

[...]
This story just keeps getting more complicated. Past PaloeJudaica posts on the fate of the Valmadonna Library are collected here.

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

Rebekah's father

DR. RABBI ZEV FARBER: Who Was Rebekah’s Father? (TheTorah.com).
“I am the daughter of Betuel the son of Milkah, whom she bore to Nahor” (Gen 24:24) – Why the unusual and cumbersome genealogical description?
Redaction criticism to the rescue.

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More on the DRUNK celebration

TALMUD WATCH (?): To Really Dig the Talmud, Try Reading It Drunk. What wine goes well with Rabbi Zeira? An upcoming evening of text, art, and booze has the answer (Gordon Haber, Tablet Magazine).
[Wine merchant H. Ronald] Jordan has a full head of silver hair with an equally full silver mustache. We’ve met to discuss DRUNK, an evening of art and performance inspired by Jewish texts, coming Saturday, November 18th, at the 14th Street Y. Jordan is the official sommelier for the event, which was put together by LABA, a kind of incubator for Jewish art and culture sponsored by the Y. (Full disclosure: I was a LABA fellow in the 2016-17 season, and the spiritual guides for the evening are the Tablet’s Liel Leibovitz and noted novelist Ruby Namdar).

DRUNK combines nine LABA artists with five texts and five wines. Jordan’s letting me taste three wines, in order to “keep a little mystery for the audience.” It also seems prudent to limit the number of tastings, because I had to bring my six-year-old son to the interview.
Hopefully the event will go better than this Talmudic story:
The next text is less tendentious. It’s the famous Talmudic tale of Rabbi Rabbah and Rabbi Zeira and their ill-fated Purim party. The rabbis get hammered, as you do on Purim. But later that night, Rabbah is so drunk that he slays Zeira. The next morning, Rabbah begs God for mercy, and Zeira is revived. The following Purim, it’s no surprise when Zeira refuses Rabbah’s invitation: “Not every time does a miracle occur,” says Zeira. Meaning: Who knows if Hashem will bring me back the next time, and anyway Rabbi Zeira is a mean drunk.
Background here.

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Karl Katz z'l'

SAD NEWS: Karl Katz, Museum Director in New York and Israel, Dies at 88 (SAM ROBERTS, NYT).
Karl Katz, who was so entranced by an art history lecture in college that he went on to become a founding curator of the Israel Museum, convey the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s vast collection to wider audiences by video, and play a key role in finding a home for the International Center of Photography, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 88.

[...]

He earned a bachelor’s degree in art history and Semitic studies and a master’s in fine arts and archaeology at Columbia. He completed his doctoral thesis in early Hebrew manuscripts from Yemen but never fulfilled the language requirement for his doctorate; he said he could not bring himself to learn German so soon after the Holocaust.

[...]
May his memory be for a blessing.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Review of Mendelsohn, Behold the Man

BOOK REVIEW: Mendelsohn, Amitai. Behold the Man—Jesus in Israeli Art. Jerusalem: Israel Museum, Jerusalem and the Magnes Press, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2017. Pp. 312 + 210 color illustrations. $ 40.00 cloth. By David Sperber in Religion and the Arts 21 (2017) 567–581. Posted online by Magnes Press.

I noted the exhibition here and the book here.

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Boda, Exploring Zechariah (2 vols.)

NEW BOOKS FROM THE SOCIETY OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE:
Exploring Zechariah, Volume 1: The Development of Zechariah and Its Role within the Twelve
Mark J. Boda

ISBN 9781628371628
Status Available
Price: $37.95
Binding Paperback
Publication Date April 2017
Pages 290

A decade of research on Zechariah

This first volume of Mark J. Boda's two-volume set on Zechariah showcases a series of studies on the development of Zechariah as a book and its role within the development and rhetoric of the Book of the Twelve.
  • Examination of the role that the final section of the Book of the Twelve played in drawing the corpus together into its final form
  • Articles drawn from a variety of journals
  • Ten essays that represent advances into Book of the Twelve research

Exploring Zechariah, Volume 2: The Development and Role of Biblical Traditions in Zechariah Mark J. Boda

ISBN 9780884142003 Status Available Price: $36.95 Binding Paperback Publication Date April 2017 Pages 270

A decade of research on Zechariah

This second volume of Mark J. Boda’s two-volume set on Zechariah showcases a series of studies tracing the impact of earlier Hebrew Bible traditions on various passages and sections of the book of Zechariah: 1:7–6:15; 1:1–6/7;1–8:23; and chapters 9–14. These two volumes showcase a series of studies on Zechariah that Boda wrote over the past decade.

Features:

  • Examination of the role that the final section of the Book of the Twelve played in drawing the corpus together into its final form
  • Articles drawn from a variety of journals
  • Twelve essays that represent advances into Book of the Twelve research
You can also download both volumes for free as pdf files here and here.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Jones on reading the Book of Ruth

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
The Book of Ruth: Origin and Purpose

As a last option for understanding Ruth, I would offer that Ruth does fit well when set against the background of the early post-exilic period. The literature on this time is vast and continues to grow, but it is safe to say that the small community in Judea in the late 500s to early 400s B.C.E. conflicted over various societal issues, one of which was how they should define the boundaries of their community. The prophet Zechariah believed that Jerusalem would throng with foreigners who would count as Yhwh’s people (Zech 2:15[EV 11]), but other persons from the Ezra-Nehemiah narrative feel that foreigners have no part in the community (Ezra 4:1-3; 9:1-4; Neh 13:1-3). This is not to say that Ruth reacts directly to the Ezra-Nehemiah text, nor should we read Ezra-Nehemiah uncritically as plain history, but it is reasonable to hold that community cohesion and in-group/out-group questions were live topics at the time. Within this debate, we can see how Ruth provides a counterfactual to a certain exclusivist perspective toward outsiders. The text is not so bold as to claim that all non-Israelites/Judeans should count as people of Yhwh, but it does demonstrate that there are cases where a foreigner can reasonably measure up to the standard of a true Israelite.

See Also: Reading Ruth in the Restoration Period (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016).

By E. Allen Jones III, PhD
Associate Professor of Bible
Corban University
November 2017

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Review of Muntz, Diodorus Siculus and the World of the Late Roman Republic

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Charles E. Muntz, Diodorus Siculus and the World of the Late Roman Republic. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xii, 284. ISBN 9780190498726. $85.00. Reviewed by Lisa Irene Hau, University of Glasgow (Lisa.hau@glasgow.ac.uk).
Diodorus Siculus and the World of the Late Roman Republic is part of the wave of scholarship which since the 1980s and ’90s has attempted to rehabilitate Diodorus as a thinker and/or as a historian. It accomplishes this purpose more successfully than many other publications of the same persuasion: Muntz applies careful and critical scholarship both to Diodorus’ own text and to control texts that were (probably) based on the same sources, and he reaches balanced and nuanced conclusions. His main goal throughout is to show that, although Diodorus undeniably based his work closely on written sources and took over ideas from other writers and—primarily—from current trends in his time, he moulded his material to reflect on the current issues of the Late Roman Republic even when writing about mythological times or far-away places. Overall, Muntz’s analysis and argument are convincing, and it is good to see such care and attention being paid to Diodorus’ text and its historical context rather than to preconceived ideas about its sources.
It is good to see Diodorus receiving so much attention lately. For past PaleoJudaica posts on Diodorus and the importance of his work for the history of Second Temple Judaism, start here and follow the links.

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

Hunt on Hannibal

PUNIC WATCH: Archeologist Patrick Hunt traces Hannibal’s path (Skye Nguyen, Manitou Messenger).
A historian who looks at the human effect on climate change over the course of time. An author who wrote a book on Hannibal Barca, the ancient Carthaginian leader and enemy of Rome. An environmentalist who asks tough questions about our planet. Meet Dr. Patrick Hunt of Stanford University. Bringing his suitcase packed with experience and expertise from his many expeditions, Hunt paid a visit to St. Olaf College last Friday, Nov. 3 and talked about his new book “Hannibal” in Regents Hall of Natural Science.

[...]
I have more on Dr. Hunt's new book and his research here and links.

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

Balberg, Blood for Thought

NEW BOOK FROM UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS:
Blood for Thought
The Reinvention of Sacrifice in Early Rabbinic Literature

Mira Balberg (Author)
Available worldwide

Hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN: 9780520295926
September 2017
$95.00, £79.95

Blood for Thought delves into a relatively unexplored area of rabbinic literature: the vast corpus of laws, regulations, and instructions pertaining to sacrificial rituals. Mira Balberg traces and analyzes the ways in which the early rabbis interpreted and conceived of biblical sacrifices, reinventing them as a site through which to negotiate intellectual, cultural, and religious trends and practices in their surrounding world. Rather than viewing the rabbinic project as an attempt to generate a nonsacrificial version of Judaism, she argues that the rabbis developed a new sacrificial Jewish tradition altogether, consisting of not merely substitutes to sacrifice but elaborate practical manuals that redefined the processes themselves, radically transforming the meanings of sacrifice, its efficacy, and its value.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Bauckham event in St. Andrews

SLIGHTLY BELATEDLY, I want to mention that Richard Bauckham's book launch lecture in St. Andrews went well last week. He discussed some of the responses to his book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Eerdmans) over the last ten years. If you are interested, be sure to get a copy of the newly published second edition of the book. Here I am with Richard after the lecture:


(Photo courtesy of Sarah Whittle.)

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The stories of Sodom and the Flood

DR. BARUCH ALSTER: Why Does the Sodom Story Parallel the Flood Traditions? (TheTorah.com).
A closer look at the thematic and verbal parallels between the accounts of the flood and the destruction of Sodom, as well as comparison with other ANE flood/destruction stories, helps us better understand the genre and function of the Sodom story.

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Schäfer, Jesus im Talmud (3rd ed.)

NEW (REVISED AND TRANSLATED) BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK:
PETER SCHÄFER
Jesus im Talmud
Übers. a.d. Englischen v. Barbara Schäfer


[Jesus in the Talmud. 3rd revised edition.]
3rd revised and corrected edition 2017. XXI, 320 pages.

29,00 €
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-155531-2

Published in German.
This is a thorough investigation of the passages about Jesus in the rabbinic literature, mainly in the Babylonian Talmud. In his lucid and accessible book, Peter Schäfer examines how the rabbis read and used the New Testament to assert Judaism's superiority over Christianity. The Talmudic texts focus on the virgin birth of Jesus, his behavior as a bad and frivolous disciple, his teachings, the healing capacities Jesus and his disciples possessed, the execution of Jesus and his disciples, and finally his punishment forever in hell. The center of this critique of Jesus and his fate was Babylonia under Sassanian rule, quite in contrast to Palestinian Judaism, which was increasingly threatened by the dominant power of Christianity.
I noted the publication of the original English edition here and here.

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Arch of Titus lecture

ICONOGRAPHY: Symbolism of Arch of Titus focus of Nov. 14 lecture (CARLO WOLFF, Cleveland Jewish News).
Professor Steven Fine, who has been researching this Arch for decades, will probe it and the various meanings it has spawned for some 2,000 years in “The Arch of Titus: From Jerusalem and Back,” at 6 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Maltz Performing Arts Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. Fine’s free talk is the annual Julius Lecture in Ancient Art, hosted by the CWRU Department of Art History and Art.

An exhibition of the same name as Fine’s lecture is on view through Jan. 14, 2018, at the Yeshiva University Museum in New York City.
More on that exhibition is here. And for much more on the Arch of Titus, follow the links there and here.

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

Thursday, November 09, 2017

More on Joshua and that eclipse

PHILOLOGOS: No, the Book of Joshua Does Not Tell of a Rare Solar Eclipse. Despite the claim of two recent scientific papers (Mosaic Magazine). PaleoJudaica is cited.
This is something that our British and Israeli scholars do not appear to have thought of. It’s not enough, in interpreting the Bible, to know Akkadian and astronomy. You also have to know how to read a simple story.
Yep.

Background here and here.

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Moss and Baden on Hobby Lobby

INTERVIEW: Investigating the Hobby Lobby Family: An Interview with Candida Moss and Joel S. Baden (Gordon Haber, Religion and Politics). For more on their new book, Bible Nation, see here and links. And follow the links there (and also here) for many other past posts on the Museum of the Bible, Hobby Lobby, and the Green Collection.

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

AJR on PSCO 2017-18

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins (PSCO) 2017-2018.
AJR will be sharing highlights from the Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins. This year's theme "science and the scientific" asks, "Does considering knowledge as practiced in the ancient world disrupt, modify, and nuance our understanding of the “scientific”?"
Looks like a good lineup.

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Zurawski and Boccaccini (eds.), Second Temple Jewish “Paideia” in Context

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER: Second Temple Jewish “Paideia” in Context. Ed. by Zurawski, Jason M. / Boccaccini, Gabriele. Series: Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 228.
Aims and Scope
Despite the impressive strides made in the past century in the understanding of Second Temple Jewish history and the strong scholarly interest in paideia within ancient Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, and late antique Christian cultures, the nature of Jewish paideia during the period has, until recently, received surprisingly little attention. The essays collected here were first offered for discussion at the Fifth Enoch Seminar Nangeroni Meeting, held in Naples, Italy, from June 30 – July 4, 2015, the purpose of which was to gain greater insight into the diversity of views of Jewish education during the period, both in Judea and Diaspora communities, by viewing them in light of their contemporary Greco-Roman backgrounds and Ancient Near Eastern influences. Together, they represent the broad array of approaches and specialties required to comprehend this complex and multi-faceted subject, and they demonstrate the fundamental importance of the topic for a fuller understanding of the period. The volume will be of particular interest to students and scholars of the history and culture of the Jewish people during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, ancient education, and Greek and Roman history.

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

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

More on Christians in the late-antique Galilee

ARCHAEOLOGY: 1,600-year-old church mosaic puzzles out key role of women in early Christianity. Female donor memorialized in one of seven Greek inscriptions found recently in Byzantine village churches in the Galilee (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
A newly uncovered mosaic in the western Galilee speaks to the relatively high status of women in the early Church. Dating to the 5th century, a Greek-language inscription memorializes one “Sausann” (or Shoshana) as a donor for the construction of a village church. It is one of seven inscriptions — including a massive five-meter long text — which were found in three Byzantine churches during this summer’s excavations by Kinneret College archaeologist Mordechai Aviam and historian Jacob Ashkenazi.

Unusual in a patriarchal society, the donor Sausann is credited in the inscription independently of any spouse or male guardian. This Sausann is thought to have been a woman of some standing, perhaps following in the footsteps of her presumed namesake, the female disciple Susannah, who was among the women named in Luke 8:3 who provided for Jesus “out of their resources.”

[...]
I noted another article on these finds a few days ago here. But this article has some more details and, unlike the Haaretz premium article, it will not vanish behind a subscription wall.

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

Salvage archaeology in a West Bank military-fire zone

ARCHAEOLOGY: IDF combat soldiers make exciting archaeological discovery in West Bank military fire zone. Over the past nine days, hundreds of soldiers from the IDF's elite 'Duvdevan' unit participated in archeological excavations in a military fire zone in the West Bank. During their excavations, the soldiers uncovered an ancient and magnificent structure that was likely served as a palace during the Byzantine period (Jerusalem online). The site is called Horkania. The article reports that the salvage operation was undertaken because of heavy looting at the site.

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Günzburg Hebrew Collection going online

DIGITIZATION: Soon We'll Be Able to Look at a Treasure That the Russians Have Kept From Israel for 100 Years. The Günzburg collection contains over 14,000 items, including thousands of rare Hebrew books, as well as manuscripts in Hebrew and many other languages (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz).
The Günzburg Collection, one of the most important collections of Jewish books and manuscripts in the world, which is kept in the Russian State Library in Moscow, will be digitized and made accessible to the general public by the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem.

On Tuesday, a historic agreement will be signed between the National Library and its counterpart in Moscow. The agreement is a significant milestone in the contacts between the two institutions, which began exactly 100 years ago, when the National Library was still the Beit Hasfarim Haleumi.


[...]

The Günzburg collection is a rich and unique collection of books and manuscripts that contains over 14,000 items, including thousands of rare Hebrew books, as well as manuscripts in Hebrew and many other languages. It includes medieval works in science, philosophy and Jewish studies, midrashim, copies of the writings of Maimonides and the Rashba (Rabbi Shlomo ibn Aderet), biblical commentaries, books of Hebrew grammar and halakha (religious law), medieval poetry, Kabbalistic and medical texts.

[...]

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

Pajunen and Penner (eds.), Functions of Psalms and Prayers in the Late Second Temple Period

NEW BOOK FROM DE GRUYTER: Functions of Psalms and Prayers in the Late Second Temple Period.. Ed. by Pajunen, Mika S. / Penner, Jeremy. Series: Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 486.
Aims and Scope
When thinking about psalms and prayers in the Second Temple period, the Masoretic Psalter and its reception is often given priority because of modern academic or theological interests. This emphasis tends to skew our understanding of the corpus we call psalms and prayers and often dampens or mutes the lived context within which these texts were composed and used. This volume is comprised of a collection of articles that explore the diverse settings in which psalms and prayers were used and circulated in the late Second Temple period.

The book includes essays by experts in the Hebrew bible, the Dead Sea scrolls, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, and the New Testament, in which a wide variety of topics, approaches, and methods both old and new are utilized to explore the many functions of psalms and prayers in the late Second Temple period. Included in this volume are essays examining how psalms were read as prophecy, as history, as liturgy, and as literature. A variety methodologies are employed, and include the use of cognitive sciences and poetics, linguistic theory, psychology, redaction criticism, and literary theory.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The Talmud, the Messiah, and the World to Come

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Peeking Into the World to Come. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis delve into the practical questions around the Jewish afterlife. Like: will it be here on Earth? Will the Messiah be there, or will we be led there by his arrival? And what does redemption look like? Also, is the food kosher there?
As we saw last week, the final chapter of Tractate Sanhedrin is concerned with the World to Come. But what exactly is the World to Come, olam haba? Is it heaven, or the afterlife, or the end of the world, or the resurrection of the dead, or the messianic era? Will we all get to see it, or does it require extraordinary spiritual merit? These are the kinds of questions the rabbis ask in Chapter 11 of Sanhedrin. At the center of their speculations is the figure of the Messiah, whom the rabbis refer to simply as the Son of David, ben David, since he will be a descendant of the biblical king. At some point in the future, the rabbis are sure, the Messiah will come to redeem the Jewish people. But what exactly will this involve, and when is it going to happen?

[...]
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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

Some useful links

THE BIBLICAL REVIEW BLOG: Weekly Digest (October 27, 2017). William Brown has collected some useful links, including to articles on Northwest Semitic epigraphy and a bibliography for ancient Jewish magic, posted on Academia.edu.

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Festschrift for Ross Shepard Kraemer

NEW BOOK FROM THE SOCIETY OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE:
A Most Reliable Witness: Essays in Honor of Ross Shepard Kraemer
Susan Ashbrook Harvey (Editor), Nathaniel Desrosiers (Editor), Shira L. Lander (Editor), Jacqueline Pastis (Editor), Daniel Ullucci (Editor)

ISBN 9781930675940
Status Available
Price: $59.95
Binding Hardback
Publication Date October 2015
Pages 324

Celebrate a trailblazer in the areas of women and religion, Jews and Judaism, and earliest Christianity in the ancient Mediterranean

Ross Kraemer is Professor Emerita in the Department of Religious Studies at Brown University. This volume of essays, conceived and produced by students, colleagues, and friends bears witness to the breadth of her own scholarly interests. Contributors include Theodore A. Bergren, Debra Bucher, Lynn Cohick, Mary Rose D’Angelo, Nathaniel P. DesRosiers, Robert Doran, Jennifer Eyl, Paula Fredriksen, John G. Gager, Maxine Grossman, Kim Haines-Eitzen, Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Jordan Kraemer, Robert A. Kraft, Shira L. Lander, Amy-Jill Levine, Susan Marks, E. Ann Matter, Renee Levine Melammed, Susan Niditch, Elaine Pagels, Adele Reinhartz, Jordan Rosenblum, Sarah Schwarz, Karen B. Stern, Stanley K. Stowers, Daniel Ullucci, Arthur Urbano, Heidi Wendt, and Benjamin G. Wright.

Features:
  • Articles that examine both ancient and modern texts in cross-cultural and trans-historical perspective
  • Twenty-eight original essays on ancient Judaism, Christianity, and women in the Greco-Roman world
Congratulations to Professor Kraemer on this well-deserved honor.

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A Greek-Aramaic-Middle Persian text from the Cairo Geniza

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Trilingual Greek-Aramaic-Middle Persian Pharmaceutical Lexical List. This is a very early (9th-10th century) text from the Cairo Geniza. It is published in an article by Christa Müller-Kessler in the journal Le Muséon. It looks as though you need a paid subscription to access the whole article. I can't tell for sure, because I have a subscription automatically through the University of St. Andrews.

For many, many past posts on the Cairo Geniza, start here and follow the links.

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

Monday, November 06, 2017

Late-antique chicken-shaped relic from the Sea of Galilee

DISCOVERY: Woman Goes Swimming in the Kinneret, Stumbles on Priceless 1,500-Year-Old Relic. The chicken-shaped object was probably used in early Christian funerary rituals (Liel Leibovitz, Tablet Magazine). Click through to the Hebrew article for some better photos of the object.

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

Lion helmet from the Battle of the Egadi Islands

PUNIC WATCH: Diving Archaeologists Find Unique Lion Helmet From Punic Wars 2,300 Years Ago. Carthage fought the Roman Navy with ships captured from them in previous battle, but lost anyway, which explains why the Sicilian seafloor is littered with remains of ships built by the side that won (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz).
A unique bronze helmet discovered in the deep by marine archaeologists off the Sicilian coast, which they have dated to a sea battle of 241 B.C.E. may have been a precursor of the lion-themed helmets used by Rome's Praetorian Guards, the personal bodyguards of the Roman emperors.

The corps of the Praetorian Guards were established more than two centuries after that battle, by Emperor Augustus. Praetorian helmets also sported a lion-shaped relief, and were sometimes adorned with real lion skin.

The helmet's dating is based, among other things, on pottery jars and other debris discovered on the sea floor at the site.

Recovered from the site of the Battle of the Egadi Islands (Aegadian islands), northwest of Sicily, the helmet is a Montefortino, a Celtic style-helmet that had been worn across Europe, also popularly known as a "Roman helmet". These are easily identified: they look like half a watermelon with a knob on top and cheek flaps down the sides that tie at the chin. But this one had a difference: the lion decoration.

[...]

Cross-file under Marine Archaeology.

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

Terahertz imaging

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Examining Hidden Text in a New Light (Kendra Redmond, Physics Central).

Regular readers will be familiar with the X-ray technology used to read the Ein Gedi Leviticus scroll (on which more here and links). But the new terahertz imaging technology also sounds promising. It was recently used in an experiment to read the text on nine pages of stacked paper.
This technique is still being refined, but the team anticipates that it could be applied to ancient books too fragile to open and other artifacts as well. As technology improves so that we can measure smaller and smaller differences in the arrival time of terahertz pulses, the quality of the images should get better and better. This work was published in September 2016 in the journal Nature Communications.

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

Lim (ed.), When Texts Are Canonized

NEW BOOK FROM THE SOCIETY OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE:
When Texts Are Canonized
(Timothy H. Lim [Editor]).
ISBN 9781946527004
Status Available
Price: $29.95
Binding Paperback
Publication Date April 2017
Pages 200

How did canonization take place, and what difference does it make?

Essays in this collection probe the canonical process: Why were certain books, but not others, included in the canon? What criteria were used to select the books of the canon? Was canonization a divine fiat or human act? What was the nature of the authority of the laws and narratives of the Torah? How did prophecy come to be included in the canon? Others reflect on the consequences of canonization: What are the effects in elevating certain writings to the status of “Holy Scriptures”? What happens when a text is included in an official list? What theological and hermeneutical questions are at stake in the fact of the canon? Should the canon be unsealed or reopened to include other writings?

Features:
  • Essays that contribute to our understanding of the complex processes of canonization
  • Exploration of early concepts of canonicity
  • Discussion of reopening the New Testament canon

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

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Christians in the late-antique Galilee

ARCHAEOLOGY: Pagans in Northern, late-Roman Palestine Embraced Christianity Early, Archaeologists Say. By the fifth century, some Galilean villages had at least one church with elaborate mosaics and a bishop, and at least one had a female donor (Nir Hasson and Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
Excavations in western Galilee villages dating to about 1,600 years ago show that Christianity won over the pagan locals very fast, and strongly, archaeologists say.

A little more than a century after the Roman Empire converted from paganism to Christianity, each of the villages in the western Galilee explored so far had at least one church and its own bishop, excavator Mordechai Aviam told Haaretz.

Aviam and Jacob Ashkenazi, both of Kinneret College, uncovered a previously unknown church. That and two churches discovered earlier all had elaborate mosaic floors on which the two researchers found seven new inscriptions.

[...]
Many interesting finds.

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

Hawass on that "void" in the Great Pyramid

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Egypt archaeologist criticizes pyramid void ‘discovery.’ Zahi Hawass, who heads the ScanPyramids science committee overseeing the project, says the find is not new (AFP). I noted a possibly related story a couple of years ago here.

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

Foreskin as defect?

DR. DAVID BERNAT: Circumcision: Interpreting the Foreskin as a Defect (TheTorah.com).
Genesis 17 states that circumcision will be a sign of the covenant, but is silent about the significance of the act itself. Some Jewish interpreters filled this gap by constructing orlah, possession of a foreskin, as a physical defect or disability, and circumcision as an act of healing or perfection.

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

“Kadesh Shalem”

ART EXHIBITION: BETWEEN THE HOLY AND THE MYTHOLOGY. This year’s Bezalel prize winner for photography, Barak Rubin, presents his solo show that explores the creation of myths (SARAH LEVI, Jerusalem Post).
Barak Rubin, a Tel Aviv-based artist and photographer, is the latest recipient of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design’s prize for photography.

The prize is awarded annually and the winner receives a NIS 12,000 grant plus a solo show held in Bezalel’s photography department gallery.

Using the First Temple as his inspiration, Rubin’s show, “Kadesh Shalem,” which opened last week, is a part of an ongoing body of work that explores the creation of myths.

In this work, he delves into his own Jewish history and identity and attempts to take an unconventional and unbiased look at the artifacts of a time and place that no longer exists, and examines the remnants in a historical, archeological and religious framework.

[...]

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

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Goodman, A History of Judaism

NEW BOOK FROM ALLEN LANE: A history of Judaism: Charting our history, texts — and disputes (Simon Rocker, The Jewish Chronicle).
In the first century BCE, the Hasmonean King of Judea, Alexander Jannaeus was conducting sacrifices in the Temple of Jerusalem during Succot.

But some of his subjects were less than convinced about his High Priestly credentials and they conveyed disapproval in a novel form of protest: they pelted him with etrogs.

Judaism has “a rich history of rifts,” observes Professor Martin Goodman in A History of Judaism, published this week. But while there may have been controversy and confrontation down the ages, that is not the central theme of his 650-page book.

“It is easy to write a story of conflicts,” says the 64-year-old president of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, “but that would be terribly misleading”.

[...]

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Briquel Chatonnet et Debié, Le Monde syriaque

NEW BOOK FROM LES BELLES LETTRES, PARIS:
FRANÇOISE BRIQUEL CHATONNET, MURIEL DEBIÉ
Le Monde syriaque

Sur les routes d'un christianisme ignoré


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PRÉSENTATION

Le syriaque a été une langue de culture majeure en Syrie-Mésopotamie du IIe au XIIIe siècle de l’ère chrétienne. Fruit des contacts et du métissage à la frontière des Empires romain et parthe, cette forme d’araméen n’était la langue ni d’un État ni d’un peuple particulier. Mais avec la christianisation, le syriaque a connu un développement exceptionnel. Il s’est répandu de la Méditerranée à l’Asie orientale et constitue aujourd’hui encore la langue classique, littéraire et religieuse de plusieurs Églises orientales.

Le syriaque est à côté du latin et du grec la troisième composante du christianisme ancien, ancrée dans l’hellénisme mais également descendante de l’antiquité proche-orientale et sémitique. Dès les premiers siècles, dans un mouvement symétrique à celui de la tradition chrétienne gréco-latine vers l’ouest, le christianisme syriaque s’est développé vers l’est, jusqu’en Inde et en Chine. Il a aussi été la branche du christianisme la plus en contact avec l’islam au sein duquel il a continué à vivre.

Avec plus de 100 illustrations, 11 cartes en couleurs, une chronologie et de nombreux textes des différentes époques cités en encarts, cet ouvrage sans précédent invite à la découverte de plus de 2000 ans d’histoire et de culture syriaques.
Follow the link for TOC etc. and ordering information. And some additional information is here.

Cross-file under Syriac Watch.

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Fraade Festschrift

NEW BOOK FROM VANDENHOECK AND RUPRECHT: Michal Bar-Asher Siegal, Tzvi Novick, Christine Hayes (Ed.). The Faces of Torah. Studies in the Texts and Contexts of Ancient Judaism in Honor of Steven Fraade.
1. Edition 2017
660 pages
ISBN 978-3-525-55254-4
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Journal of Ancient Judaism. Supplements. - Band 022

This volume is a festschrift in honor of Steven Fraade, the Mark Taper Professor of the History of Judaism at Yale University. The contributions to the volume, written by colleagues and former students of Professor Fraade, reflect many of his scholarly interests. The scholarly credentials of the contributors are exceedingly high. The volume is divided into three sections, one on Second Temple literature and its afterlife, a second on rabbinic literature and rabbinic history, and a third on prayer and the ancient synagogue.Contributors are Alan Applebaum, Joshua Burns , Elizabeth Shanks Alexander , Chaya Halberstam , John J. Collins, Marc Bregman, Aharon Shemesh, Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Vered Noam, Robert Brody, Albert Baumgarten, Marc Hirshman, Moshe Bar-Asher, Aaron Amit, Yose Yahalom, Lee Levine, Jan Joosten, Daniel Boyarin, Charlotte Hempel, David Stern, Beth Berkowitz, Azzan Yadin, Joshua Levinson, Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal, Michal Bar-Asher Siegal, Tzvi Novick, Devora Diamant, Richard Kalmin, Carol Bakhos, Judith Hauptman, Jeff Rubenstein, Martha Himmelfarb, Stuart Miller, Esther Chazon, James Kugel, Chaim Milikowsky, Maren Niehoff, Peter Schaefer, and Adiel Schremer.

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Profile of a Phoenician scholar

PHOENICIAN WATCH: Ancient histories and new arrivals (Caroline Maas, Wofford Old Gold and Black).
Dr. Helen Dixon is one of around five Ancient Phoenician scholars in America. She is also the newest addition to Wofford’s religion department.

[...]
Dr. Dixon's Academia.edu page is here.

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Friday, November 03, 2017

Bauckham book and book-launch lecture

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: RICHARD BAUCKHAM, The Christian World Around the New Testament Collected Essays II. [Die Christliche Welt und das Neue Testament. Gesammelte Aufsätze II.] 2017. X, 757 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 386, 259,00 €, cloth, ISBN 978-3-16-153305-1.
Published in English.
Most of these thirty-one essays by Richard Bauckham, a well-known New Testament scholar, were first published between 1979 and 2015 in journals and multi-authored volumes. Two are previously unpublished and one has not been published in English before. They range widely over early Christianity and early Christian literature in both the New Testament period and the early patristic period, reflecting the author's conviction that the historical study of early Christianity should not isolate the New Testament literature from other early Christian sources, such as the apostolic fathers and the Christian apocryphal literature. Some of the essays develop further the themes of the author's books on aspects of the Gospels, such as the intended audiences of the Gospels, the way in which Gospel traditions were transmitted, the role of the eyewitnesses in the origins of the Gospels, the importance of Papias's evidence about Gospel traditions, and the relationship between canonical and Gnostic Gospels. Some of the essays relate to important persons, such as Peter, Barnabas, Paul and James. These include a full investigation of the evidence for the martyrdom of Peter and an attempt to locate the estate of Publius where Paul stayed on Malta. There are studies of the Sabbath and the Lord's Day in both the New Testament and patristic periods. There are studies that survey most of the main categories of apocryphal Christian literature, including apocryphal Gospels and Acts, and with a special focus on the non-canonical apocalypses, such as the Apocalypse of Peter and the Latin Vision of Ezra.
It happens that Professor Bauckham retired from his position at the University of St. Andrews ten years ago this week. And he is back in St. Andrews today. This afternoon he is giving a lecture on "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses Ten Years Later." This is to launch the new edition of his book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, which was also originally published ten years ago. I'm looking forward very much to his lecture.

UPDATE: Oh, yes, I also meant to link to this description of Richard's forthcoming book on Magdala.

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Nahash the Ammonite in the DSS

TEXTUAL VARIANT: The Most Important Dead Sea Text: A Lost Paragraph From the Book of Samuel (Mitchell First, Jewish Link of New Jersey).

I wouldn't necessarily consider this fragment the most important Dead Sea text, but it is an interesting one. Most scholars seem to regard it as more original that what we have in the Masoretic Text. I did once hear a paper arguing that it is secondary, but I don't know whether that was ever published.

Last year I noted another essay by Mr. First in which he mentioned this fragment, but this essay goes into more detail.

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Isaac’s Divine Conception?

DR. RABBI SAMUEL Z. GLASER: Isaac’s Divine Conception? (TheTorah.com).
“The Lord visited Sarah” (Gen 21:1) – When God (and his angels) appears to Abraham to announce the birth of Isaac, the text implies a hidden visit to Sarah. Does this mean, as both Philo and Paul claim, that Isaac was born from a divine conception?

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Dever, Beyond the Texts

THE ASOR BLOG: Beyond the Texts: An Archaeological Portrait of Ancient Israel and Judah. William Dever introduces his new book of the same title.
Countless books have been written about ancient Israel. But this work is the first mainstream history of ancient Israel to be published in English in 40 years. It also differs from previous scholarship by attempting to prove an alternative, archaeological based history, or as the title has it, a “portrait.” I am a veteran of more than 50 years of fieldwork and research in the archaeology of Israel, with hundreds of publications. Even so, I believe that a portrait is the best that I, or anyone, can offer.

The distinguishing feature of this book is the employment of a rich array of archaeological data on ancient Israel and her neighbors as the primary evidence for illustrating the origins, the settlement horizon, and the monarchy, ca. 1300-586 BCE. In each chapter the biblical texts are brought into the picture only secondarily, and then only to compare and contrast their idealistic narratives with the “real-life” portrait that archaeology now provides.

[...]

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Thursday, November 02, 2017

Rollston again on the Jerusalem Papyrus

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The King of Judah, Jars of Wine, and the City of Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Papyrus and the forged words on it (Christopher Rollston).
Ultimately, the case against the Jerusalem Papyrus is pretty strong. To be sure, there are, and will continue to be, people who believe that it’s ancient. But for my money, I think that it’s of recent vintage. And the modern forger is pretty good at his craft, but not perfect. And, as I mentioned, I suspect that the forger of this inscription is studying up on construct forms right now.
If Professor Rollston thinks the Jerusalem Papyrus is a forgery, that possibility needs to be taken very seriously. For concerns he raised about it last year, see here and here.

For past PaleoJudaica posts on the Jerusalem Papyrus, see here and here and links.

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Orlov, "The Greatest Mirror," now out

NEW BOOK FROM SUNY PRESS:
The Greatest Mirror
Heavenly Counterparts in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha


Andrei A. Orlov - Author
Price: $95.00
Hardcover - 318 pages
Release Date: November 2017
ISBN10: N/A
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-6691-0

Summary

A wide-ranging analysis of heavenly twin imagery in early Jewish extrabiblical texts.

The idea of a heavenly double—an angelic twin of an earthbound human—can be found in Christian, Manichaean, Islamic, and Kabbalistic traditions. Scholars have long traced the lineage of these ideas to Greco-Roman and Iranian sources. In The Greatest Mirror, Andrei A. Orlov shows that heavenly twin imagery drew in large part from early Jewish writings. The Jewish pseudepigrapha—books from the Second Temple period that were attributed to biblical figures but excluded from the Hebrew Bible—contain accounts of heavenly twins in the form of spirits, images, faces, children, mirrors, and angels of the Presence. Orlov provides a comprehensive analysis of these traditions in their full historical and interpretive complexity. He focuses on heavenly alter egos of Enoch, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, and Aseneth in often neglected books, including Animal Apocalypse, Book of the Watchers, 2 Enoch, Ladder of Jacob, and Joseph and Aseneth, some of which are preserved solely in the Slavonic language.
Follow the link for ordering information, TOC, and further particulars.

I noted the book as forthcoming back in February. Follow the links there for related posts.

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Biblical Studies Carnival 10/17

THE BIBLICAL STUDIES CARNIVAL FOR OCTOBER 2017 has been posted by Doug Chaplin. PaleoJudaica is well represented this month.

I should mention that October's most popular PaleoJudaica post (by far) is not included. That one was Metal codices seized in Turkey on 6 October. So far it has received over 1000 individual views.

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The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

IN THE MAIL:
The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge (Crossway, 2017)
The publishers have kindly sent me a complimentary, advance copy. The publication date is 15 November 2017. For more on the volume, see the The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge Blog.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Schiffman on the DSS at 70

ANNIVERSARY ARTICLE: SEVENTY YEARS OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956. After an initial flurry of excitement, the scrolls went into a period of quiet withdrawal (Lawrence Schiffman, Jerusalem Post).
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956. After an initial flurry of excitement, the scrolls went into a period of quiet withdrawal. When I entered the field in the 1960s, only a few of the scrolls had been published. Those were the ones that were preserved in the Israel Museum that, in 1965, built a home for them known as the Shrine of the Book. A small number of the many texts discovered in the early 1950s while the West Bank was under Jordanian administration had also subsequently appeared. I was fascinated by the study of the scrolls, a then little-known and under-appreciated group of documents.

Since then, everything has changed. The full corpus of materials found at Qumran has been released. Anyone can consult the full set of volumes, with English translations, or get digital images online of all the scrolls. If you want to see the scrolls in person without traveling to Israel, look out for an exhibit coming soon to your neighborhood. The enormous number of visitors to these exhibits throughout the world and the tremendous public interest testify to the way in which the Dead Sea Scrolls have become part of our public culture.

[...]
This long article is a good summary of the history of the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls up to their full public release in 1991. It also gives a good overview of the current scholarly understanding of them. My one criticism is that the mention of John Strugnell's infamous Haaretz interview in 1990 should have added that he suffered from bipolar disorder and that he gave the interview during a manic episode. I have commented at greater length here.

Some other PaleoJudaica posts possibly relevant to the article are collected here. A couple of other recent articles on the Dead Sea Scrolls at 70 were noted here and here.

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