Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Mikveh Trail

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: On the Mikveh Trail, follow the rugged path of Jerusalem’s ancient pilgrims. Newly opened park takes you past many of the capital’s 200 ritual baths, used by visitors in the Second Temple era (AVIVA AND SHMUEL BAR-AM, Times of Israel).
Yet the hardships of the long expedition were quickly forgotten as the pilgrims approached Jerusalem. Bursting with excitement, they knew that soon they would be part of the hustle and bustle of the Holy City and able to worship the Lord just as He had commanded.

Of course, when they finally arrived, there was no way they could ascend to the Mount covered in dust and dirt from their travels. Even after bathing in the clear waters of the Shiloah Pool at David’s City, they were not yet ready to sacrifice in the Temple: They would still have to purify their minds and souls in a ritual bath called a mikveh. And that is why, of the 700 ritual baths uncovered so far throughout Israel, 200 are found in Jerusalem and, of these, fully 50 of them are located near the Temple Mount.
Lots of photos and interesting details in this article. Related post here.

The genuineness of the Ivory Pomegranate, mentioned in this article, is debated. The object is an ancient artifact, but the inscription may be a modern addition. Background here and links.

Starr, Classifying the Aramaic Texts from Qumran

NEW BOOK FROM BLOOMSBURY:
Classifying the Aramaic Texts from Qumran
A Statistical Analysis of Linguistic Features


By: John Starr

Published: 15-12-2016
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 376
ISBN: 9780567667823
Imprint: Bloomsbury T&T Clark
Series: The Library of Second Temple Studies
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £85.00
Online price: £76.50

About Classifying the Aramaic Texts from Qumran

Analysis of the scroll fragments of the Qumran Aramaic scrolls has been plentiful to date. Their shared characteristics of being written in Aramaic, the common language of the region, not focused on the Qumran Community, and dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 1st century CE have enabled the creation of a shared identity, distinguishing them from other fragments found in the same place at the same time. This classification, however, could yet be too simplistic as here, for the first time, John Starr applies sophisticated statistical analyses to newly available electronic versions of these fragments. In so doing, Starr presents a potential new classification which comprises six different text types which bear distinctive textual features, and thus is able to narrow down the classification both temporally and geographically.

Starr's re-visited classification presents fresh insights into the Aramaic texts at Qumran, with important implications for our understanding of the many strands that made up Judaism in the period leading to the writing of the New Testament.

4 Maccabees and the Fourth Philosophy?

READING ACTS: Fourth Maccabees and the Fourth Philosophy.
It is possible the book of 4 Maccabees represents the “fourth philosophy” mentioned by Josephus as a subgroup of Judaism in competition with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. It has been thought that this “fourth philosophy” referred to the Zealots, but this has been challenged by Richard Horsley in his work on first century messianic movements.

[...]
Past posts in Phil Long's series on the Second Temple Period are noted here and links.

A Geniza magical fragment

GENIZA FRAGMENT OF THE MONTH: ‘Destroy the life of N.N.!’: A magical recipe: T-S AS 162.51. This is an old FOTM, from September 2007. I recently went back through the list and found a number of entries that seem worth mentioning but which I have not mentioned before. I'll be posting them from time to time. This one is a fragmentary magical text in Aramaic/Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic. The Cairo Geniza contains a great many magical texts. These often incorporate traditions that go back to late antiquity, or even, occasionally, the Second Temple period. It is very difficult to be sure how old the contents of this one are, but the themes in it go back to late antiquity.

The Temple vs. the Tabernacle

PROF. NAOMI KOLTUN-FROMM: The Readers Access to the Divine: Solomon’s Temple vs. Israel’s Mishkan (TheTorah.com).
The mishkan account as a polemical response to the Temple narrative.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Nile and the Exodus

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Dissertation Spotlight | Nathalie LaCoste.
Nathalie LaCoste, Waters of the Exodus: Jewish Experiences with Water in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt (University of Toronto, 2016).

Jewish narratives are products of their physical environments. It is not only the social, cultural, and political contexts that shape biblical narratives, but the natural world in which they inhibit. In this dissertation I explore the role that the physical land of Egypt played in the transmission of the exodus narrative under Ptolemaic and Roman rule. Focusing on the writings by Egyptian Jews—Artapanus, Ezekiel the Tragedian, Wisdom of Solomon, and Philo of Alexandria—this dissertation explores how living in the hydric environment of Egypt, specifically along the Nile river, shaped the exodus story.

[...]

Veale on ancient curses

SARAH VEALE: Ancient Curses. This is the first I have had a good look at this website, although I see that Sarah put it up back in 2014. It has interesting information about a range of curses in antiquity, including biblical curses. There's also a blog, a bibliography page and a page of useful links.

Vance et al., Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook

HENDRICKSON PUBLISHERS BLOG: A Conversation about Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook.
If you study Biblical Aramaic and haven’t yet gotten a chance to explore this new handbook, you’re in luck. We sat down with Amy Paulsen-Reed, one of the editors, so she can tell us more about the book and how it was put together.

But first, a bit about the book. Biblical Aramaic: A Reader & Handbook is designed to enable students, pastors, and scholars to read the Aramaic portions of the Bible with understanding and confidence. Created by Donald R. Vance, George Athas, Yael Avrahami, and our very own Jonathan G. Kline (who also developed the questions below), it contains the full text of the Aramaic portions of the Bible, extensive vocabulary and word lists, and an apparatus that contextually glosses and parses 94% of all vocabulary.

[...]
This sounds like a very useful resource to go with a traditional Aramaic grammar.

HT Jim West.

Pagan oracles and Christian scriptures

CSCO BLOG: Scripture and the Oracles of God (Matthew Sharp).
... The first thing to acknowledge when bringing this comparison into the ancient world is that things are not nearly so clean-cut as the comparison suggests. Greek oracles, for instance, were not purely oral phenomena, but were often written down and brought into larger collections such as the Sibylline books at Rome, and other various collections attributed to seers of the legendary past, thus giving them a textual character more akin to a Jewish or Christian Bible.[2] It is also not as if early Christians were without their own prophets who operated alongside their reading of scriptural texts.

What I want to focus on is Parke’s point about function: Is the early Christian use of scripture analogous to the way oracles were used in the wider Mediterranean world?

4 Maccabees

READING ACTS: What is Fourth Maccabees?
4 Maccabees is included in several manuscripts of the LXX, including Vaticanus but was not included in the Vulgate. The book is therefore not a part of the Apocrypha although it is often included in introductions to the Apocrypha. It is also in manuscripts which contain the works of Josephus. This led Eusebius and Jerome to suggest Josephus was the author, but this has been universally rejected by modern scholarship.

[...]
Phil Long is back from Turkey. Past posts in his series on the Second Temple Period are noted here and links.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review of Hughes, Jacob Neusner

REVIEWS OF THE ENOCH SEMINAR:
Jacob Neusner: An American Jewish Iconoclast
Reviews of the Enoch Seminar 2017.03.04
Aaron W. Hughes, Jacob Neusner: An American Jewish Iconoclast. New York: New York University Press, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-4798-8585-5. Pp. 319. $35.00. Hardcover.

Albert I. Baumgarten
Bar Ilan University
A long, thorough review. Excerpt:
This review will focus on two aspects of Hughes’ account of Neusner’s career, contributions, and place in scholarship: 1. How did Hughes balance his high estimation and praise of Neusner’s distinctive role in American academia with a critical appreciation of the more problematic aspects of Neusner’s life and work, a balance that is crucial for a meaningful biography? How can one be both an admiring and critical biographer? 2. What can one learn from Hughes’ book about the harsh and mutually demeaning relationship between Neusner and Israeli scholars, which was the talk of the discipline on both sides of the Atlantic, and which lasted for decades?

More on Babatha

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
Babatha: The Ancient Jewish Woman About Whom We Know Most

Because of this archive we can say without fear of contradiction that we know more about her than we do about any other Jewish woman in antiquity.

See Also: Babatha's Orchard: The Yadin Papyri and an Ancient Jewish Family Tale Retold (Oxford University Press, 2017).

By Philip F. Esler
Portland Chair in New Testament Studies
Director of the International Centre for Biblical Interpretation
University of Gloucestershire
March 2017
Past posts on Esler's new book are here and here.

Natural Language Processing of Rabbinic Texts

THE TALMUD BLOG: Natural Language Processing of Rabbinic Texts: Contexts, Challenges, Opportunities. The Talmud Blog is happy to continue our series on the interface of Digital Humanities and the study of Rabbinic Literature with a post by Marton Ribary of University of Manchester.
I read Michael Satlow’s enthusiastic report on the Classical Philology Goes Digital Workshop with great pleasure. I am delighted to see how the study of Rabbinic literature moves towards the use of digital tools and especially Natural Language Processing (NLP) methods. Below I shall sketch the background of NLP methods applied to Rabbinic literature and what we can learn from projects concentrating on other classical linguistic data, notably Latin. I shall briefly discuss the enormous obstacles Rabbinic literature poses even compared to Latin, which means that our expectations to achieve meaningful results in standard 3-5 year research projects should be very moderate. Nevertheless, I shall argue that we should dream big and aim for courageous projects accompanied by an outward-looking strategy in order to attract big corporate money.

[...]

President Trump invokes Cyrus the Great

THE WHITE HOUSE has published a statement wishing a happy Persian New Year (Nowruz) to those who are celebrating it: Statement by President Donald J. Trump on Nowruz. Cyrus the Great is mentioned:
Cyrus the Great, a leader of the ancient Persian Empire, famously said that “[f]reedom, dignity, and wealth together constitute the greatest happiness of humanity. If you bequeath all three to your people, their love for you will never die.”
The quotation is from p. 119 of Larry Hedrick's book, Xenophon's Cyrus the Great: The Arts of Leadership and War, which appears to be a very free paraphrase of Xenophon's Cyropaedia. I have poked around a fair bit in online translations of the original work and I can find nothing like this quotation or even this episode. If you know what passage inspired Hedrick's quote (I assume there's one that did somewhere), please drop me a note and let me know.

Meanwhile, over at The Forward, Sam Kestenbaum has some ideas about what the reference to Cyrus may have meant in the context of the White House statement: Did Trump Just Compare Himself To King Cyrus?

This is far from the first time that Cyrus has been invoked in a political context. I have commented on the rather overblown picture of him as a pioneer of human rights here and links. For other past posts on Cyrus the Great, see here and many links, as well as here and here.

Studia Orientalia

AWOL: Open Access Journal: Studia Orientalia. The subject matter of this journal is wide ranging, but if you poke around a bit, you will find some material on ancient Judaism and related matters.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Restored Edicule reopening

REPAIRS COMPLETED: Jesus' tomb to be reopened in Jerusalem after multi-million dollar restoration. According to Christian belief, Jesus's body was buried at what became the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (AP).

For background on the repairs and restoration of the tomb (of Jesus?) in the Holy Sepulcher (Holy Sepulchre), start here and follow the links.

The Longest Stone in the Temple Mount

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: The Longest Stone in the Temple Mount (Todd Bolen, Bible Places Blog). A recent discovery in plain sight.

On the construction of the Tabernacle

PROF. JONATHAN BEN-DOV: משכן – Tabernacle - The Materiality of a Divine Dwelling (TheTorah.com).
What makes a material suitable for constructing a sacred space, and why, given all of the details and repetitions concerning the mishkan, are none of its manufacturing techniques narrated?
With some interesting ancient Near Eastern background.

Mordecai

YONA SABAR: Hebrew Word of the Week: Purim Edition mordechkay "Mordecai." Slightly belatedly noted here. But with the bonus word boor (scroll down).

New Additions to e-Clavis

AWOL: New Additions to e-Clavis: Christian Apocrypha (March 2017). Background on the e-Clavis online bibliography is here and here. Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A visual guide to incantation bowl demons

NEWS YOU CAN USE: A visual guide to the demons that spooked the Jews of Babylon. A new study depicts for the first time what Lilith, the baby­-killing seductress, looked like to those who feared her and why Satan has a tail and horns (Nir Hasson, Haaretz).
Demons are well-known figures in Jewish mysticism. In the Talmud and elsewhere there is a wealth of information about their characters, warnings against them and means to dispel them. In keeping with the Jewish injunction prohibiting the making of statues and masks there are no visual aids to indicate how the demons look. There was a period in history, however, between the rise of Christianity and the Muslim conquest of the Middle East, when Jews (mainly in Babylon) gave demons a shape.

Painstakingly, archaeologist and art historian Dr. Naama Vilozny has copied these images, analyzed their attributes and put together the first visual catalog ever of Jewish demons. Scholars believe the reason Jews in Babylon undertook to draw demons between the 5th and the 7th centuries has to do with a series of relaxations of the strictures, which rabbis gave the Jews as a way of dealing with the challenged posed by the increasing strength of Christianity. Fearing that Jews might prefer the new religion, the rabbis agreed to allow magic that included visual images. The demons Vilozny researched were drawn on “incantation bowls” – simple pottery vessels the insides of which were covered with inscriptions and drawings.

[...]
I suspect the second paragraph above credits the rabbis anachronistically with more cultural authority than they had at the time. Be that as it may, this article gives good coverage of the demonology of the Babylonian Aramaic incantation bowls and it also has some excellent photos of some of the demon images they bear. Information on Dr. Vilozny's dissertation is here:
However, until Vilozny’s doctoral dissertation, no one tried to decode and study the figures that appear on the bowls. In part, this might be because at first glance the figures look like robots. Vilozny copied the demon drawings from 122 bowls and the result is an extraordinary and unique collection of demons, both male and female, that might look like naïve drawings by children but for the people of those times were very palpable creatures. Recently Yad Yitzhak Ben Zvi published the study in the book “Lilith’s Hair and Ashmedai’s Horns.”
For past PaleoJudaica posts on Lilith, start here and follow the many links. A past post involving Sammael is here and one involving Ashmedai is here. The third male demon, Bagdana, is new to PaleoJudaica. Some past posts on the Aramaic incantation bowls are collected here. And for more, run "incantation bowls" through the blog search engine.

The Haaretz article is behind a subscription paywall, but you can get access to it and a limited number of articles every month with a free registration.

The Talmud, property ownership, and the law of the kingdom

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Which Rules? The Law of the Kingdom, or the Law of the Jews? In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, the rabbis debate whether Jews owe anything to gentiles, when it comes to property rights.
In the course of this discussion, the rabbis turn to the issue of what happens when a Jew purchases property from a gentile. Such transactions must have occurred regularly in Babylonia and throughout the diaspora, but their status under Jewish law remains problematic because halakha governs only transactions where both parties are Jewish. When a gentile sells land to a Jew, therefore, there is a moment in the process when the land is technically owned by nobody. “The gentile relinquishes ownership of it from the moment when the money reaches his hand, while the Jew does not acquire it until the deed reaches his hand,” we read in Bava Batra 54b.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

Reviews of books by Kaiser and Yli-Karjanmaa on Philo

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW:
Markus Witte (ed.), Otto Kaiser, Studien zu Philo von Alexandrien. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 501. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016. Pp. vi, 174. ISBN 9783110494570. €99,95.

Sami Yli-Karjanmaa (ed.), Reincarnation in Philo of Alexandria. Studia Philonica Monographs 7. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2015. Pp. 316. ISBN 9780884141211. $42.95.


Reviewed by Maren R. Niehoff, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (maren.niehoff@mail.huji.ac.il)


Witte Table of Contents
Yli-Karjanmaa Preview

These two volumes on Philo of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher and exegete active in the first century CE, are in many respects opposites of each other. Kaiser offers a collection of articles, partly republished and partly newly written, which complements his recent monograph Philo of Alexandria. Denkender Glaube – Eine Einführung (Göttingen 2015) and marks the end of an exceptionally long and productive career. Yli-Karjanmaa, by contrast, has published his doctoral thesis, which is based on his MA thesis. While Kaiser introduces the reader to Philo by discussing a broad spectrum of topics, Yli-Karjanmaa makes one consistent argument for experts, taking one passage of Philo’s work (Somn. 1.138-9) as his starting point and the hermeneutic lens through which he interprets his whole oeuvre. Moreover, Kaiser celebrates Philo as a Jewish theologian and observant Jew, who was familiar with a wide range of philosophies and texts but always defined his distinct way of addressing the God of Israel. Yli- Karjanmaa, on the other hand, focuses on one kind of philosophy and argues that Philo adopted Plato’s theory of the soul’s reincarnation, with all the implications this has in Plato’s philosophy, even though he does not make all these aspects explicit. Finally, Kaiser easily draws from his vast knowledge of numerous texts and cultures, while Yli-Karjanmaa bases himself on advanced computer searches, which provide him with parallel expressions in other texts. Both authors invite us to explore Philo further and understand his intellectual context.

[...]

Review of Jason, Repentance at Qumran

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: The Evolution and Experience of Repentance at Qumran (Carmen Palmer).
In Mark A. Jason’s revised doctoral dissertation, Repentance at Qumran: The Penitential Framework of Religious Experience in the Dead Sea Scrolls, he argues that for the Qumran community, “repentance was the very basis of the community’s existence,” and that the community exists within one overarching “penitential worldview” (249–250). Beginning with a working definition of repentance as that which entails “the radical turning away from anything which hinders one’s whole-hearted devotion to God and the corresponding turning to God in love and obedience” (as defined by Jacob Milgrom, 8), Jason gradually builds his own definition of repentance at Qumran. He does this by means of a study of various Dead Sea Scrolls, as compared to scriptural and other Second Temple literature.

[...]
Earlier essays in AJR's current series on the Dead Sea Scrolls (in honor of the 70th anniversary of their discovery) are noted here and links.

Emek Shaveh's tunnel petition to be heard by High Court

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: HIGH COURT TO CONSIDER RELIGIOUS STATUS OF WESTERN WALL TUNNEL. The left-wing consortium of archeologists and activists submitted the petition to the High Court in December (Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post).
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday will hear NGO Emek Shaveh’s petition against the Religious Services Ministry over claims regarding the religious sanctity and ongoing excavation of the Old City’s Western Wall tunnel.

The left-wing consortium of archeologists and activists submitted the petition to the High Court in December, noting that the tunnel, which was excavated by the Israel Antiquities Authority, runs under the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.
I noted the filing of the petition here back in December. The current article answers some of the questions I posted there by clarifying the process that Emek Shaveh argues should have been followed.
The petition followed a November 6 notice by the ministry stating that the tunnel is recognized as a sacred site only by Jews, although Emek Shaveh contends that a legally mandated ministerial committee was not assembled to make the determination or approve the excavation.

According to the Antiquities Law, excavating a sacred site in the country first necessitates the assemblage of a ministerial committee for approval. The committee must include the ministers of Culture, Religious Services and Justice.
Cross-file under Archaeology and Politics. Emek Shaveh has also been in the news in another story noted here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Another Arch of Titus

EXCAVATION: Second Monumental Arch of Titus Celebrating Victory over Jews Found in Rome. Arch unearthed at the entrance of the Circus Maximus was built by Titus' brother Domitian, boasting of how the Romans had done the undoable and 'subdued the Jews' (Ariel David, Haaretz).
It wasn’t enough for the Romans to enslave the Jews, plunder Judea, conquer Jerusalem, destroy the Temple and then erect a massive triumphal arch to commemorate those feats of war for millennia to come: They had to build a second, even larger monument to celebrate their victory.

Archaeologists in Rome have uncovered the remains of a second triumphal arch dedicated to the emperor Titus and his success in putting down the Great Revolt of the Jews in the first century C.E.

[...]
There isn't much left of it. The inscription survives only in a much later transcription:
As much is confirmed by the arch’s dedicatory inscription, which has not survived, but was transcribed into the account of an anonymous ninth-century pilgrim. The text bombastically proclaimed how Titus, “following the advice and direction of his father, subdued the Jewish people and destroyed Jerusalem, something which all other generals, kings and peoples before him had not even attempted or had failed to accomplish.”
Beyond that:
Today, only a few broken fluted columns, the plinths on which the arch stood and fragments of the decorations have been recovered amongst the ruins of the Roman bleachers and a later medieval fortification. We do not know what scenes from the Great Revolt or Titus’ triumph decorated this arch. The only figurative decoration recovered is fragments showing the legs of some combatants, and the face of a Roman soldier.
I have posted photos of the first Arch of Titus here. That one is mentioned in many PaleoJudaica posts, for example, recently, here and here and links.

Byzantine-era coin hoard found near Jerusalem

NUMISMATICS: Hoard of coins from 1,400-year-old Byzantine site tells story of Persian invasion. As Jewish and Sassanid troops marched on Jerusalem in 614 CE, Christian residents of village on main pilgrimage route hid their valuables; now, nine copper coins hidden in a niche have been recovered (Ilan Ben Zion, Times of Israel).
As a Persian army supported by a horde of Jewish rebels marched on Jerusalem in 614 CE, Christians inhabiting a town on the main route inland to the city hid a hoard of valuables in the hope of returning in more peaceful times.

Fast-forward 1,400 years to the summer of 2016, when Israeli engineers were widening that same highway, running from the Mediterranean past Abu Ghosh west of the capital, and archaeologists were called in to excavate some Byzantine ruins. Beneath the rubble of a building they found a hoard of nine copper coins dating to around 614 CE, when a Persian empire briefly reigned in Jerusalem just before the rise of Islam.

[...]
For the gold hoard found at the base of the Temple Mount in 2013, see here and here.

Review of Stoneman, Xerxes: A Persian Life

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW:
Richard Stoneman, Xerxes: A Persian Life. New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2015. Pp. xi, 275. ISBN 9780300180077. $38.00.

Reviewed by Michael Iliakis (miliakis@gmail.com)


Preview

Xerxes I (518 – 465, r. 486 – 465 BCE) was the fourth king of the Achaemenid Persian Empire (ca. 550 – 330 BCE), grandson of its founder, Cyrus the Great (600 – 530, r. 559 – 530 BCE), and son of its most prominent ruler, Darius the Great (550 – 486, r. 522 – 486 BCE). He is best remembered by ancient and modern scholars for his failed attempt to conquer mainland Greece in 480 – 479. In the present volume Richard Stoneman has two aims: to discern the origins of this image of Xerxes and “to recreate something of what it was to be the ruler of the largest empire the world had yet seen”.

Chapter one is devoted to the turbulent events surrounding Darius’ and Xerxes’ accession to the throne and includes information about the education and the investiture of Xerxes, which is relevant for Xerxes’ successors as well.

Chapter two examines the Persian Empire’s territory, economy, cultural and political influence within its borders as well as its court and high officials (with a focus on those of non-Persian descent). This chapter also contains an informative section on Greek and Jewish authors and texts contemporary or near-contemporary to Xerxes that are or can be used as source material for his life and exploits. However, this interposing section disrupts the chapter’s cohesion somewhat and would have served the book better if it had been included in the introduction instead.

[...]
In Biblical Studies, Xerxes is best known as the King Ahasuerus of the legendary story in the Book of Esther. I noted Stoneman's book recently here.

Emek Shaveh objects to Israel Prize for Be'eri

POLITICS: LEFT-WING NGO DENOUNCES ISRAEL PRIZE LAUREATE DAVID BE’ERI (Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post).
Emek Shaveh, a left-wing consortium of archeologists and activists that has repeatedly condemned the “Judaization” of east Jerusalem, criticized the selection of Ir David Foundation chairman David Be’eri as one of this year’s Israel Prize winners.

[...]
I would have been shocked if they hadn't. Gabriel Barkay (Barkai) has a different view:
Not so, said celebrated archeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay, cofounder and co-director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project, as well as a Jerusalem Prize laureate, who said Emek Shaveh is misguided in its criticism of Be’eri.
Background on this story is here. For background on Elad, follow the links there. Past posts on Emek Shaveh are collected here.

IAA has Easter show

AT BEIT SHEMESH: Finds from the time of Jesus. Israeli artifacts provide clues to Christ's life (Daniel Estrin, AP). Easter is the excuse for this IAA warehouse exhibition for journalists, but it did seem to have some interesting items on display. For the ossuary of the daughter of Caiaphas, see here and here. And for background on the crucified man skeleton, see here and links.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Reviewlet of Closs, The Book of Mary

APOCRYPHICITY: Book Note: The Book of Mary by Michael P. Closs (Tony Burke).
Michael P. Closs. The Book of Mary: A Commentary on the Protevangelium of James. Victoria, BC: Friesen Press, 2016.

This self-published commentary by retired University of Ottawa professor Michael Closs is a welcome tool for study of Prot. Jas., as there are few other commentaries available on the text—indeed, there are few available on any apocryphal texts! ...

Ezekiel and the red heifer purification rite

ETHAN SCHWARTZ: The Red Heifer in Synagogue: Purifying Israel from Sin (TheTorah.com).
Ezekiel 36 uses Priestly “purification” imagery similar to that of the red heifer ritual to describe God’s future reconciliation with Israel, inspiring the rabbis to choose this passage as the haftara for Parashat Parah.
I have some thoughts on Ezekiel and the Zadokite Priesthood here which are perhaps relevant.

Popović et al. (eds.), Jewish Cultural Encounters in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern World

NEW BOOK FROM BRILL:
Jewish Cultural Encounters in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern World

Edited by Mladen Popović, University of Groningen, Myles Schoonover, University of Groningen, and Marijn Vandenberghe University of Gent, University of Groningen
The essays in this volume originate from the Third Qumran Institute Symposium held at the University of Groningen, December 2013. Taking the flexible concept of “cultural encounter” as a starting point, the essays in this volume bring together a panoply of approaches to the study of various cultural interactions between the people of ancient Israel, Judea, and Palestine and people from other parts of the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern world.

In order to study how cultural encounters shaped historical development, literary traditions, religious practice and political systems, the contributors employ a broad spectrum of theoretical positions (e.g., hybridity, métissage, frontier studies, postcolonialism, entangled histories and multilingualism), to interpret a diverse set of literary, documentary, archaeological, epigraphic, numismatic, and iconographic sources.
I noted the symposium when it was upcoming in late 2013.

Waters, Ctesias’ Persica and its Near Eastern Context

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Ctesias’ Persica and its Near Eastern Context. Notice of a new book: Waters, Matt. 2017. Ctesias’ Persica and its Near Eastern context (Wisconsin Studies in Classics). University of Wisconsin Press. Follow the link for a description and ordering information.

Hurtado on Jesus in the Gospels

LARRY HURTADO: Jesus in the Gospels.
In the light of recent discussion about how the Gospels present Jesus, I offer some observations intended to underscore and summarize my own views, and, hopefully, to promote some clear thinking by all.[1] Readers’ alert: This will be a long posting.

[...]
This especially in relation to his recent review of A Man Attested by God, Daniel Kirk's new book on Jesus in the Synoptics.