Monday, October 16, 2017

Reynolds on Jewish apocalyptic and the NT

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION: Jewish Apocalyptic Tradition in the New Testament.
It has been noted on numerous occasions by scholars that the term “apocalyptic” may be used to refer to three distinct aspects. The first is the apocalyptic genre, i.e., apocalypses, which I will discuss more fully below. The second is apocalyptic worldview, i.e., apocalypticism. This term is used to describe the viewpoint evident in apocalypses and that was held by those who wrote apocalypses. Finally, apocalyptic eschatology refers to the eschatology present in some apocalypses, which is often concerned with the end of the world. Apocalyptic eschatology usually presents history as a series of stages with the present stage preceding the final, climactic stage. This final stage of history often includes the judgment of the wicked and the vindication of the righteous. The wicked may be judged by a messiah figure who will then gather the vindicated righteous to God.

See Also: Reynolds, Benjamin E. and Loren Stuckenbruck, eds. The Jewish Apocalyptic Tradition and the Shaping of New Testament Thought (Fortress, 2017).

By Benjamin E. Reynolds
Associate Professor of New Testament
Tyndale University College
Toronto, Canada
October 2017

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Hershel Shanks is retiring as BAR editor

BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW: First Person: My Final “First Person” (Hershel Shanks).
In the next issue of BAR, I will have a new title: Editor Emeritus. Yes, after 42 years I will be retiring. I will still be around—putting in my two cents. But I will not have the responsibility for making sure it is all there and putting it all together.

That will be the job of the new editor, Robert (Bob) Cargill. He is young, and he is smart. In some ways, under his editorship BAR will be the same magazine; in other ways, it may be new and different. I am confident you will continue to be enthralled with the magazine, and I think you will like Bob.

[...]
Bob Cargill has been mentioned often at PaleoJudaica. He will do a great job as the new editor of BAR. I look forward to following the publication under his leadership. And all best wishes to Hershel, who has devoted himself faithfully to making BAR an informative and stimulating popular source for biblical scholarship for more than a biblical generation.

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Rohr Institute course on Great Debates

ADULT EDUCATION: Rohr Jewish Learning Institute Launches Great Debates: 6-Part Course on Dead Sea Scrolls (Hana Levi Julian, The Jewish Press).
Seventy years after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute is poised to launch a course that examines the historical debates about Jewish philosophy and practice that were brought to light by those texts.

Some 20,000 participants who are part of what a JLI spokesperson called “the largest Jewish education network in the world” will be studying the six-part course in 400 different locations around the globe, beginning at the end of October. The course was created under the guidance and direction of Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman, the Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University and a leading expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Schiffman, born in 1948, has been working on the Scrolls for nearly 50 years.

[...]
The website for the course is here. The headline is a little confusing. The Dead Sea Scrolls are covered only in the first of the six units. The second unit will be on the fall of Masada. There are more modern topics as well. See the details at the link.

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Septuagint Studies Supervision (2)

WILLIAM ROSS: SUPERVISORS & PROGRAMS FOR SEPTUAGINT STUDIES – PART II. Part two in a three-part series. Part one was noted here.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Langlois on those 9 dubious DSS fragments

MICHAEL LANGLOIS: Nine Dubious “Dead Sea Scrolls” Fragments from the Twenty-First Century. Professor Langlois gives some background to the recent Dead Sea Discoveries article on the same topic, which I noted here.

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Jenkins on historical amnesia

THE ASOR BLOG: Revolutionary Biblical Discoveries and the Need for Historical Amnesia (Philip Jenkins).
The Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife… every few years, the media report new finds of ancient texts that supposedly throw revolutionary new light on the Biblical world, and (commonly) on Christian origins. In reality, such finds rarely tell us much that is new or unexplored, and are mainly of use to hardcore specialists. In most cases, the claims that are made are actually quite familiar, and have been made on many previous occasions. Any kind of historic perspective shows that even what initially look like the most radical ideas in this field have a long prehistory. Successive claim about new and explosive discoveries rely on a process of recurrent public amnesia.

[...]
This essay summarizes material that Professor Jenkins covered in more detail in posts at The Anxious Bench blog. I have noted them here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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Frey and Jost (eds.), Gottesdienst und Engel im antiken Judentum und frühen Christentum

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Gottesdienst und Engel im antiken Judentum und frühen Christentum. Hrsg. v. Jörg Frey u. Michael R. Jost. [Liturgy and Angels in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity.] 2017. VIII, 447 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 446.
99,00 €
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-154195-7

Published in German.
Some Second Temple Judaism and New Testament texts describe or presuppose heavenly and earthly communities interconnected in prayer and liturgy. The motif has been discussed especially in view of the Dead Sea discoveries. But it is also of interest to general discussion on the character of liturgy, as well as the ecumenical debate with Orthodox churches in whose form of worship angels play a particularly significant role. In the field of systematic theology, the issue was Roman Catholic theologian and historian Erik Peterson's central focus and subject of debate with Karl Barth. This volume presents the multidisciplinary contributions of a symposium held in Zürich on the interrelation of earthly worship and the heavenly host.

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Documentary on the Ritman Library

BOINGBOING: New documentary is a magic portal into a weird and wonderful library (FERDINANDO BUSCEMA).
The Hermetic Philosophy

There is an underground current of thought beneath Western culture, running quietly like a vein of quicksilver: The Hermetic Philosophy. This ancient and multifaceted phenomenon is often found rising up from the shadows during times of intense cultural transition and upheaval.

[...]

The Ritman Library

For those of us enthralled by such ideas – and the wondrous, precious tomes expressing them – the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica (BPH) is a must-see. Also known as The Ritman Library, it is aptly located in Amsterdam, a city historically known for freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of printing.

[...]
The early Hermetic literature was mainly Greco-Egyptian popular Platonism, but it also had some interaction with ancient Jewish traditions. Most of the holdings of the Ritman Library seem to be of the Hermeticism of a later period.

A while ago I noted another story about the Ritman Library here.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Herodotus and the Persian Empire

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Herodotus and the Persian Empire. This is the subject of a new issue of the journal Phoenix. One of the articles, by Karel van der Toorn, is on the Judean community at Elephantine.

For many past PaleoJudaica posts on Elephantine and the Elephantine Aramaic papyri, start here and follow the links.

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On the Golb impersonation case

ANALYSIS: Raphael Golb Is Facing Jail Time — For Parodying a Dead Sea Scrolls Scholar (Arthur S. Hayes, The Forward). One law professor's view on the merits of the case and where it should go from here. So far the appeals courts have not agreed, at least fully, but we'll see what happens.

Again, I have been following this case for years because of its connection with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Background here and many links.

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A new leader for UNESCO

POLITICS: UNESCO selects France's Azoulay as new chief (John Irish).
PARIS (Reuters) - The United Nations’ cultural agency selected former French culture minister Audrey Azoulay as its new chief on Friday, handing her the keys to revive UNESCO’s fortunes after the United States pulled out.

[...]
This is a somewhat surprising result. She was not the front runner in the first rounds of voting. It's possible that the announced withdrawal of the U.S.A. and Israel from UNESCO influenced matters. In any case, congratulations to Ms. Azoulay. She has lots of work ahead of her.

Background on the appointment of a new UNESCO leader, and on criticisms of UNESCO resolutions involving Israel and the Temple Mount, is here and many links.

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"The Concept of Our Great Power" translated

ALIN SUCIU: Guest Post: Anthony Alcock – The Concept of Our Great Power: Annotated Translation. The Concept of Our Great Power is a Coptic text from the (sort of) Gnostic library from Nag Hammadi.

Cross-file under Coptic Watch.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Talmudic medical discourse

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: “Curiosity Cures the Reb:’” Studying Talmudic Medical Discourses in Context.
Dr. Lennart Lehmhaus shares a rabbinic case study in order to reflect upon the history of science and rabbinic texts: "A careful study of the discursive strategies and the embeddedness of such medical knowledge within their broader contexts of theology or religious law (Halakhah), allows one to highlight the differences in form and content in the variants of this narrative."

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On names and Greek breathings

THE ETC BLOG has a couple of posts about biblical names in Greek and whether they have a rough or a smooth breathing:

Why give Abraham a rough breathing? (Dirk Jongkind)

Isaiah: rough or smooth? (Peter Williams)

The takeaway is that in the Greek manuscript tradition the name Abraham sometimes has a rough breathing and the name Isaiah always (in the manuscripts consulted) does. That means that in the mind of the scribe, both were pronounced with an initial aspiration or "h" sound. A smooth breathing would be silent.

I would not expect this result from the Hebrew forms of the names, but the Greek scribes probably didn't know Hebrew. Who knows where they got the idea? And who knows how the names were actually pronounced in Greek when the Septuagint and the New Testament were written? But, as Dirk Jongkind observes, modern editions have to include a breathing for any Greek word that begins with a vowel. The manuscripts can at least offer some guidelines on which to use.

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The Firmament

OREN FASS M.D.: My Encounter with the Firmament (TheTorah.com).
The Torah describes God’s fashioning the firmament (רקיע) on the second day of creation. This piece of the universe, however, doesn’t actually exist—a problem obfuscated in my yeshiva education.
For more on ancient Hebrew cosmology, see here. Also somewhat related is this post, which deals with one mystical understanding of the firmament. Encounters with that one are perilous.

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U.S. and Israel give notice to withdraw from UNESCO

POLITICS: ISRAEL, US TO QUIT UNESCO CITING 'ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS'. President Donald Trump has in general been critical of the United Nations and complained about the cost and value to the United States (MICHAEL WILNER, HERB KEINON, TOVAH LAZAROFF, Jerusalem Post).
Hours after the US’s dramatic decision to withdraw from UNESCO, citing anti-Israel bias, Israel stated that it also planned to leave the education, scientific and cultural body.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night directed the Foreign Ministry to “prepare Israel’s withdrawal from the organization in parallel with the US.”

[...]
This is one of President Trump's favorite strategies: walk away from the negotiating table. He has used it again and again throughout his career. It motivates the other party to rethink and offer the best deal possible. This move comes at a particularly sensitive time, with a new UNESCO leader about to be appointed.

The withdrawal does not take effect until the end of 2018, so there is plenty of time for things to change. But the next move is UNESCO's.

Background on concerns about bias against Israel in various recent UNESCO resolutions is here and many links.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Conference on the Arch of Titus

H-JUDAIC: CONF: The Arch of Titus – from Jerusalem to Rome, and Back, Sun. Oct. 29th, New York City.
The Arch of Titus – from Jerusalem to Rome, and Back

A Conference Organized by
The Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies
and Yeshiva University Museum

co-sponsored by the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies

Sunday Oct 29th 9:00am - 5:00pm
Yeahiva University Museum at the Center for Jewish History, 15 W 16th St, New York, NY 10011
Follow the link for registration information and the conference schedule. I noted that the conference was upcoming here. Follow the links there and here for much more on the Arch of Titus.

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On the gender of God

PROF. MARC ZVI BRETTLER: The Gender of God (TheTorah.com).
What is the gender of the God of creation? Of YHWH in general?
In the Hebrew Bible, that is.

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Dancing Judith

PERFORMANCE ART: Judith Revisited. Artifact takes on timeless story of biblical heroine in concert of dance and music (Margaret Regan, Tucson Weekly).
The Caravaggio painting—and the story it tells—has led to a new evening-length dance by Ashley Bowman, co-artistic director of Tucson's Artifact Dance Project. The narrative dance Judith, performed by a dozen dancers and an equal number of musicians, makes its debut Thursday night at Stevie Eller.

"The dance was inspired by the Caravaggio painting," Bowden says. "I saw it many years ago."
Cross-file under Old Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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Job in Classical and Mediterranean Studies at Vanderbilt.

H-JUDAIC: JOB: Vanderbilt University, Program in Classical and Mediterranean Studies, Tenure-track Assistant Professor.
The Program in Classical and Mediterranean Studies invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position starting fall 2018.

We seek an outstanding researcher and teacher of the ancient Greek world broadly defined. We welcome applications from scholars in related fields (history, material culture, language and literature, philosophy, religion) whose work interrogates or challenges traditional disciplinary boundaries. Competitive candidates are expected to be able to contribute across the curriculum by teaching Greek at all levels as well as courses in Mediterranean Studies and by developing courses in their own area of specialization. The successful candidate will enhance the growing, energetic community of a new program dedicated to studying and teaching the ancient world in comparative perspective across cultures, regions, and periods (https://as.vanderbilt.edu/classics/).
Follow the link for application information and further particulars. The closing date is 15 November 2017.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Shemeni Atzeret and Simchat Torah 2017

SHEMINI ATZERET begins tonight at sundown. In Israel, this is also the holiday of Simchat Torah (Simhat Torah). Outside of Israel, the latter holiday begins tomorrow at sundown. Best wishes to all those celebrating!

The biblical and other background is noted here. And there's more on the term ‘atseret here.

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Funding for Solomon's Pools

CONSERVATION: Temple-era pools near Jerusalem set for renovation. US Consulate funds $750,000 restoration of 2,000-year-old Solomon's Pools near Bethlehem with hopes of making it a tourist site (AFP/Times of Israel).

The conservation of Solomon's Pools (a Second Temple-era site in the region of in Gush Etzion) has been needed for some time. I'm glad some funding has become available.

Background here and here.

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Deuteronomy and the senses

PROF. STEVEN WEITZMAN: Deuteronomy on the Problem of Using the Senses to Experience God (TheTorah.com).
“God has not given you a mind to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear until this very day”(Deut 29:3).

In contrast to the first four books of the Torah, Deuteronomy is largely narrated from a first person perspective—from the “I” perspective of Moses who recounts the experiences of Israel from his particular angle of vision. The decision to tell its story from a subjective and personal perspective may be related to another distinctive quality of Deuteronomy: its interest in the subjective dimensions of religious experience.

[...]

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Sukkot priestly blessing at the Temple Mount 2017

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: 50,000 Gather for Priestly Blessing on Sukkot as Jerusalem Becomes Heart of World Prayer [PHOTOS] (Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News).
Echoing the past glory of what used to occur in the Temple, approximately 50,000 people gathered at the Kotel (the Western Wall) on Sunday to receive the priestly blessing from hundreds of Kohanim (Jewish men of the priestly caste) during the festival holiday of Sukkot. Jews and non-Jews, religious and secular, people from all over the world, filled Jerusalem for the holiday that, in Temple times, was a universal celebration honoring the God of Abraham.

[...]
This is an annual event that I have noted before here, here, and here.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

More on that supposed Seal of Solomon

I HAVE ADDED ANOTHER UPDATE TO LAST WEEK'S POST ON THE METAL CODICES SEIZED IN TURKEY. The image on the supposed Seal of Solomon has now been identified. Guess what? It has nothing to do with Solomon. And guess what the source of the image was. If you've been following the story, I bet you will guess right.

Yesterday's update to the same post was noted here.

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The Talmud and the penalty for murder

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Are Jews Exempt from Capital Punishment?. Talmudic rabbis’ lenient interpretation of Biblical laws made the death penalty difficult to impose, even in cases where murder was clearly the intent.
As we have seen over the last several weeks, however, the rabbis are reluctant to shed any blood, guilty or innocent. They consistently interpret the Torah in such a way as to make the death penalty difficult or impossible to carry out. That pattern continues when it comes to murder, where the rabbis adopt an extremely stringent definition of what it means to cause the death of another person. Only direct, premeditated, and instantaneous killing qualifies as murder under rabbinic law; causing another person’s death in a more indirect or ambiguous fashion is exempt from capital punishment. This principle is carried so far as to result in the acquittal of many defendants who, in American law, would be clearly guilty.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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Revival of the Sukkot water-libation

BREAKING ISRAEL NEWS: PHOTOS: Sanhedrin Revives Ancient Temple Water Libation Ritual in Shiloah Valley (Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz).
On Monday afternoon, a group of approximately 500 set out from the Dung Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, singing and dancing as they descended into the valley below Jerusalem with one goal in mind: to draw one small jug of water from the Shiloah Pool in order to reenact the Temple water ceremony.

[...]
I am not a specialist in the Mishnah, so check anything I say about it with an expert. But I'm pretty sure that it is this ritual that is described in m. Sukkah 4.9.

Sukkot (Tabernacles, Booths) is, of course, prescribed in the Bible (I have collected all the references here), but this particular Sukkot ritual is not mentioned there. We have no way of knowing whether it actually took place in Temple times, but that's what the Mishnah says.

UPDATE (11 October): Richard Bauckham e-mails: "It is often said that the account of Jesus at Sukkot in John reflects the two themes of Sukkot in the Mishna: water (7:37) and light (8:12)."

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Second Temple-era Hebron

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Second Temple Period Discoveries at Biblical Hebron. Legendary home of the Cave of the Patriarchs.
The site of Tel Hebron resides 3,000 feet above sea level in the Judean hill country, about 20 miles south of Jerusalem. Excavations conducted in 2014 by David Ben-Shlomo and Emanuel Eisenberg revealed four occupational phases at Hebron during the Second Temple period, from the time of the late Hasmoneans (c. 100–37 B.C.E.) to the Bar-Kokhba Revolt (132–135 C.E.). Residential houses, pottery workshops and wine and oil presses were uncovered. Who lived at Biblical Hebron during the Second Temple period? Jewish, Edomite or pagan residents?
As usual with BHD, the complete article, “Hebron Still Jewish in Second Temple Times” by David Ben-Shlomo, is behind the subscription wall. But this summary is interesting nonetheless.

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