Saturday, November 02, 2013

Friday, November 01, 2013

OT/HB job at St Andrews

THREE-YEAR POST: Temporary Lecturer in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
University of St Andrews -School of Divinity
. I hear it's a great place.

2 Baruch at Oxyrhynchus

This is a picture of the verso page of P. Oxy 3 403, a Greek papyrus fragment, possibly dating from the late fourth century ce, containing the oldest known fragment of 2 Bar. 12:1-13:2 and 13:11-14:2. The fragment was published by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt in 1903, but it has generally received far too little attention in scholarship. I am pretty sure that you have never seen this fragment before, and if you happen to have seen it reproduced in Grenfell and Hunt’s edition, you still have not seen the verso page: their list of plates shows only the recto.

Follow the link to see the photo.

For much more on the Oxyrhynchus papyri, see the immediately preceding post here.

Some posts on 2 Baruch, including photos of the Syriac manuscript (and of Liv and some other 2 Baruchians and Enochians), are here, here, here, and here.

Justin Martyr's First Apology at Oxyrhynchus

BRICE C. JONES: New Discovery: The Earliest Manuscript of Justin Martyr (P.Oxy. 5129). Exciting news.

For Justin Martyr and why he is of interest to PaleoJudaica, see here.

Some posts on Oxyrhynchus and its papyri from the last few years are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, and don't forget to follow those links.

UPDATE: One more Oxyrhuchus post here (above).

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Brand, Evil Within and Without

Miryam Brand
Evil Within and Without
The Source of Sin and Its Nature as Portrayed in Second Temple Literature

1. Edition 2013
331 pages
ISBN 978-3-525-35407-0
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

Journal of Ancient Judaism. Supplements -

Miryam T. Brand explores how texts of the Second Temple period address the theological problem of the existence of sin and describe the source of human sin. By surveying the relevant Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, and Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as the works of Philo and (where relevant) Josephus, the study determines the extent to which texts’ presentation of sin is influenced by genre and sectarian identification and identifies central worldviews regarding sin in the Second Temple period. The analysis is divided into two parts; the first explores texts that reflect a conviction that the source of sin is an innate human inclination, and the second analyzes texts that depict sin as caused by demons. The author demonstrates that the genre or purpose of a text is frequently a determining factor in its representation of sin, particularly influencing the text’s portrayal of sin as the result of human inclination versus demonic influence and sin as a free choice or as predetermined fact. Second Temple authors and redactors chose representations of sin in accordance with their aims. Thus prayers, reflecting the experience of helplessness when encountering God, present the desire to sin as impossible to overcome without divine assistance. In contrast, covenantal texts (sectarian texts explaining the nature of the covenant) emphasize freedom of choice and the human ability to turn away from the desire to sin. Genre, however, is not the only determining factor regarding how sin is presented in these texts. Approaches to sin in sectarian texts frequently built upon already accepted ideas reflected in nonsectarian literature, adding aspects such as predestination, the periodization of evil, and a division of humanity into righteous members and evil nonmembers.
Noted as forthcoming here.

Intertextuality bibliography

JOSEPH KELLY: Intertextuality in Biblical Studies: A Core Bibliography .

There was some debate in a Facebook post on how "core" this bibliography is, but it's certainly a good place to start.

My doctoral student Sam Giere wrote a now-published thesis using intertextuality, so this is an area in which I have some interest: S.D. Giere, A New Glimpse of Day One: Intertextuality, History of Interpretation, and Genesis 1.1-5 (BZNW 172; de Gruyter, 2009).

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

EerdWord post on MOTP

OLD TESTAMENT PSEUDEPIGRAPHA WATCH: “Old Testament Pseudepigrapha” by James R. Davila. I have a blog post up at EerdWord about our new collection Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, Volume 1.

I can't come up with much of a Talmud Day angle for this one, but a number of contributions to the volume, such as my translation of the Treatise of the Vessels and Helen Spurling's translation of Hebrew Visions of Hell and Paradise, deal with some Talmudic material.

Oh, and do order the book.

Talmud Day: Review of Friedman, Studies in Tannaitic Literature (Heb.)

THE TALMUD BLOG: A Collector’s Item: Shamma Friedman’s Le-Toratam Shel Tannaim.
Shamma Friedman is the teacher not only of his students, but of everyone who has spent significant time with rabbinic sources. His work has made an indelible mark on Talmudic scholarship. This collection is not only evidence of this mark but a call for all of us to engage with his ideas again and use them to expand our horizons even further.
(Yes, every day is Talmud Day at PaleoJudaica, but I had a backlog of Talmud-related posts, so here they are.)

Talmud Day: The BBC on the Talmud

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: The Talmud: Why has a Jewish law book become so popular?
The Talmud, the book of Jewish law, is one of the most challenging religious texts in the world. But it is being read in ever larger numbers, partly thanks to digital tools that make it easier to grasp, and growing interest from women - who see no reason why men should have it to themselves.
A nice article from the BBC.

For the ArtScroll/Schottenstein Talmud, see here and links. For the iPad Talmud ap, see here. The 2005 and 2012 conclusions of the Daf Yomi cycle are noted at the links. At Tablet Magazine, Adam Kirsch has been writing a weekly column on the readings in the current Daf Yomi cycle. And you can find more on MK Calderon's Talmud lesson here.

Talmud Day: Those money-changers in the Temple

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: There Are Thieves in the Temple. Or Are They Sacred Messengers? Daf Yomi: The Talmud provides the Jewish version of well-known Christian gospel about money-changers.. Excerpt:
Take, for instance, the story of Jesus throwing the money-changers out of the Temple. In Matthew 21:12, we read about how Jesus violently overturned the tables of the money-changers doing business on Temple grounds, rebuking them with the famous words: “It is written, my house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” This episode from the New Testament vividly frames the contest between Christianity and Judaism as a contrast of values—worldly Jews, obsessed with money and indifferent to holiness, are rebuked by Jesus, who cares only about purity of heart. It is such a famous story that I imagine many American Jews are familiar with it, even if they’ve never read the Gospels. But how many of us, I wonder, could explain what the money-changers were doing in the Temple in the first place? Were these people merely profiteers, defiling the Holy Temple, as we might assume—or were they actually serving a sacred purpose themselves? We know the Christian version of this story, but what is the Jewish version?

It is partly in order to be able to answer such questions that I have been reading Daf Yomi. The Talmud is a text much maligned in Western culture, both in its Christian and post-Christian phases. In English, the very word “talmudic” is pejorative, implying a needless and possibly corrupt complexity. Actually reading the Talmud, however, has allowed me to begin to understand why the rabbis thought and legislated as they did—to grasp the logic and the spirituality that guided their work. It helps me to see Judaism in its own historical terms instead of non-Jewish ones.
I had a similar experience, back as an undergraduate, when I started working with the Mishnah (in the Danby translation) for a research project.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ken Johnson, Ancient Book of Enoch

BUYER BEWARE: Book review: Ken Johnson, “Ancient Book of Enoch” (reviewed by Mariano Grinbank in The Examiner). This 2012 ("AD") book seems to be a mixture of New Age mysticism and Christian Fundamentalist reaction to 1 Enoch. I wasn't aware of it until now but, especially thanks to this Examiner article, there is some danger that people will use it to learn about the book of Enoch, which would be a pity when there are far better resources available.
What Ken Johnson’s book Ancient Book of Enoch presents is some historical background, a translation of the entire Ethiopic Book of Enoch and concludes with points to ponder such as details about the Nephilim, “includes a previously unknown chapter from the Dead Sea Scrolls that actually explains how they did their genetic tampering” and actually offers, based on the premise that prophetic sections of Enoch are accurate, a chart whereby to ascertain the “window of time” of the Messiah Jesus’ return.
The material quoted in the review is a wild mixture of accurate information, misunderstandings, and the book's author's own idiosyncratic theological reflections. The translation in the book is not familiar to me. It may be a paraphrase of the Charles translation, which was good in its day, a century ago, but is now very outdated.

If you have come to this blog post through a search engine to find out more about the book of Enoch (1 Enoch), for heaven's sake, don't bother with Johnson's book. The place to start is with the recent translation of 1 Enoch by two of the top specialists in the field of Enochic studies. (Yes, there is a scholarly field of Enochic studies and many of the specialists meet every couple of years in the Enoch Seminar.) The translation is:
George W. E. Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam, 1 Enoch: The Hermeneia Translation (Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2012)
It also has an excellent introduction. Beyond that, have a look at VanderKam's An Introduction to Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2001) for more on 1 Enoch, its historical and cultural background, and related literature. Then go from there with more work by serious scholars.

Cross-file under "Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch."

State Department on Iraqi Jewish archive

State Department Rebuffs Schumer On Iraqi Jewish Artifacts

Stewart Ain
Staff Writer
The Jewish Week

The State Department has rebuffed the request of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) not to return to Iraq the treasure trove of Jewish artifacts found by American troops in Baghdad in 2003. Schumer said the items were “stolen” from the Iraqi Jewish community.

Under an agreement with the Bush administration at the time, the more than 2,700 artifacts – including partial Torah parchments and ancient prayer books –were to be returned to Iraq in 2014 after being restored and preserved by the National Archives in Washington.

In response to Schumer’s letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, a State Department spokesman, Pooja Jhunjhunwala, told The Jewish Week in an e-mail that the Department would abide by its August 2003 agreement with Iraq.


The State Department spokesman in his e-mail said the primary reason for bringing the artifacts to the United States was so that they could be “preserved, conserved, and restored for the benefit of the Iraqi Jewish community, as well as posterity.”

Er ... Iraqi Jewish community?

Background here with many links.

Review of Cohn and Millar, Handbook of Jewish Literature from Late Antiquity

Eyal Ben-Eliyahu, Yehudah Cohn and Fergus Millar: Handbook of Jewish Literature from Late Antiquity, 135–700 ce . xxv, 162 pp. Oxford: Oxford University Press, for the British Academy, 2013. £25. ISBN 978 0 19 726522 2.

Looting indictments

JUST "GATHERING MEDICINAL PLANTS": Antiquities thieves who allegedly sneaked into Israel on donkeys to face indictment (Ben Hartman, Jerusalem Post)
The three men reportedly said in their defense that they were at the site gathering medicinal plants and not illegally digging in archeological sites.

In the coming days the Jerusalem District prosecutor's office plans to present an indictment against them the IAA said.

The IAA said Monday the three men, from Bethlehem and Kfar Nehilin snuck into Israel from the West Bank riding on donkeys through a mountainous area where the separation fence had still not been completed.

According to the IAA , the site where they were caught includes relics from the Hellenistic, Roman , and Byzantine eras.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blog varia


Alin Suciu: On Coptic Literary Fragments and the Principles of Editing Them. Editors of the Dead Sea Scrolls face some similar problems.

The Talmud Blog: Reading List. Some interesting-looking articles.

hmmlorientalia: Syro-Georgian trisagion. The concept of Syro-Georgian blows my mind.

Evangelical Textual Criticism: Blog Dinner SBL Baltimore 2013. Don't think I'll make it to this one. I usually scrounge food at the multitude of receptions on Sunday evening. But I hope it goes well.

Exploring Our Matrix: Jesus was NOT a Zombie. Oh no, no indeed. Some potentially relevant posts are collected here.

Okay, maybe I'm stretching the concept of "biblioblogger," but I believe in big tents.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Review of Michalak, Angels and Warriors in Late Second Temple Jewish Literature

DIGLOTTING (KEVIN BROWN): Book Review: Angels and Warriors in Late Second Temple Jewish Literature. Excerpt:
What I learned from this book is the (somewhat previously neglected) literary presentations of militaristic and warlike functions of angelic beings. Michalak presents his study in such a way so as to show how the growth of militaristic angelology may be the result of an increasing focus on particular biblical motifs, e.g. the divine council and the Divine Warrior depiction of Yahweh. The increasing representation of angels as warriors should not come as a major surprise, however, when one takes into account the trend in the Second Temple period of angels adopting functions that were originally ascribed to Yahweh. Thus, Yahweh’s role as the Divine Warrior gradually shifts onto his heavenly retinue.
I don't seem to have noted this Mohr Siebeck book. How on earth did I miss it?

(HT James McGrath on Facebook.)