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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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 Ã…rstein 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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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