Thursday, November 26, 2015


HAPPY AMERICAN THANKSGIVING to all those celebrating!

What is Coptic?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: What Is Coptic and Who Were the Copts in Ancient Egypt? A short history of ancient Egyptian language (Megan Sauter). This essay introduces a BAR article by Leo Depuyt which is behind the subscription wall, but the essay is informative in itself.

Cross-file under "Coptic Watch" and "Asking The Important Questions."

The future of archaeology

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: The Future Of Archaeology Is Not Digging Anything Up. The 2016 TED Prize winner is reinventing how we discover—and preserve—the past (Jessica Leber, Fast Company).
Most archaeologists can be happy to uncover a small handful of important ancient sites in their careers. Sarah Parcak, a young professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has already pinpointed thousands, making her among the most productive archaeologist working today.

How is this possible? She hunts for evidence of buried civilizations from the vantage of space. Using satellite imagery, she can see traces of underground artifacts that no one on Earth could ever spot without a shovel. In Egypt alone, where there are 138 known pyramids, she’s identified 17 potential new ones, as well as 1,000 tombs and 3,100 unknown settlements. All of this won her this year’s TED Prize, a $1 million award announced last week, along with countless comparisons to Indiana Jones.

An example of practical application of the new technologies:
Once potential sites are identified, of course, they must be verified by humans on the ground—so most of her potential sites have yet to be explored. As a result, she collaborates with many archaeologist all over the world. She describes one recent discovery made in Tunisia: Next to a Roman-era fort from 2,000 years ago, imagery showed something unusual was nearby. Upon further investigation, they encountered dense concentrations of slag—the evidence of burning.

"What we found was a massive pottery production center," she says. The site was actually a settled center of trade, not just another of the typical forts that would have defended the ancient road in Roman times.
And this prediction:
Parcak sees a trend where the digging—can expose safely buried antiquities to looting and other dangerous becomes less necessary. "Technology is improving. At what point can we zoom in from space and see a tiny pot shard from a site? I think we’ll be there in 10 years," she says.

In 20 or 30 years, she imagines archaeologists may stop excavating entirely and send tiny robots to explore underground—-leaving the treasures undisturbed for the benefit of future generations.
What I've been saying. Non-invasive and non-destructive technologies are the way of the future. And the future is coming soon.

More on Professor Parcak's work is here.

On the history of parchment

(ANCIENT) TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Written on Beasts (Bruce Holsinger, NYR Daily).
Parchment, a medium that came into widespread use beginning in late antiquity, has for many centuries held a special place in the cultural imagination. “When you want to have the love of whatever woman you wish,” advises a medieval necromancer’s manual, “first you must have a totally white dove and parchment made from a female dog that is in heat.” In the Talmud parchment comes in for extended discussion, much of it devoted to the ritual treatment of animal skins. Tractate Shabbath, the Talmudic book that deals with rules for the Sabbath, contains rigorous rabbinical debates over the suitability of certain kinds of membranes for sacred use: the perforated skins of birds, the split hides of cows and sheep. “Can teffilin be written on the skin of a clean fish?” a rabbi asks at one point. No, answers another—but only because of the smell.

The ancient Jewish community at Djerba

HISTORY: Ancient Jewish community endures on Tunisian isle (Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff).
The Jewish community on the Tunisian resort island of Djerba traces its roots back to the Babylonian exile of 586 B.C.E., and is one of the few communities of its kind to have survived the turmoil around the creation of Israel.
Background here and here.

Spiró, Captivity

REVIEW OF A NEWLY TRANSLATED NOVEL: Zelig in Jerusalem. Uri dines with Pontius Pilate and is thrown into a cell with a certain Galilean rabble-rouser (WSJ).
Hungarian novelist György Spiró’s monumental “Captivity” (Restless Books, 860 pages, $29.99) begins in Rome’s Jewish enclave during the reign of Tiberius (A.D. 14-37). This oversized book has an undersized hero: Gaius “Uri” Theodorus, a moody, reedy 19-year-old dreamer. His prospects seem inauspicious at best until his father pulls some strings to have him included in a delegation bringing tithes to Jerusalem in time for the Passover celebration.

What follows is a case of mistaken identity. His fellow delegates, baffled by the presence of such an unimpressive figure, assume Uri is an agent and courier for Agrippa, the free-spending friend of Tiberius who is openly angling to be named King of Judaea. (Known to history as Herod Agrippa, he really did gain control of the kingdom in A.D. 41.) “Captivity” takes us from Rome to Jerusalem, Alexandria and back again during an especially fragile and eventful period of the Pax Romana.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015


I'M BACK IN ST. ANDREWS. More tomorrow.

Abegg et al., The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance, vol. 2

The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance, Volume 2

The Non-Qumran Documents and Texts

Martin G. Abegg, Jr. , James E. Bowley and Edward M. Cook in consultation with Emanuel Tov

The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance, Volume 2, presents for the first time an index to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek text of the non-biblical, non-Qumran Judaean Desert documents in one publication. The contents of this volume are defined by E. Tov’s Revised Lists (Brill, 2010). In the main the Concordance serves as an index for volumes II and III of the Judean Desert Studies (JDS), volumes II, XXVII, XXVIII, and XXXVIII of the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (DJD), and volumes I, II, and VI of Masada: The Yigael Yadin Excavations 1963-1965, Final Reports.
Although this is volume 2, volumes 1 and 3 are already long since published:

The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance, Volume 3 (2 vols) TThe Biblical Texts from the Judaean Desert (2009)

The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance, Volume 1 (2 vols) The Non-Biblical Texts from Qumran (2003)

Review of Jacobson, The Lost Codex

BOOK REVIEW (NOVEL): ‘The Lost Codex’ (Elise Cooper, Military Press).
“The Lost Codex” by Alan Jacobson blends realism with a riveting story. Besides a thriller, readers will gain an understanding of the geo-political climate and the historical significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Anyone familiar with Jacobson’s characters will enjoy the return of the Operations Support Intelligence Group: FBI profiler Karen Vail, Special Forces veteran Hector DeSantos, and Aaron Uziel, the FBI Joint Terrorism Chief.

As with the real world, the government leaders appear weak, hesitant, and inept. Set in Washington DC, New York, Paris, England, and Israel, the Operations Support Intelligence Group must uncover and thwart an international terrorist plot. Their mission is to find the stolen Dead Sea documents and those responsible for unleashing coordinated and unprecedented attacks on US soil.

That's an ambitious mission.

Weiss, Cutting the Shoots

Cutting the Shoots

The Worship of the Shekhinah in the World of Early Kabbalistic Literature

By Tzahi Weiss

Publisher: The Hebrew University Magnes Press
Categories: Jewish Mysticism, Jewish History, Jewish Studies, Religions
Publish date: October 2015
Language: Hebrew
Danacode: 45-141028
ISBN: 978-965-493-838-9
Cover: Paperback
Pages: 170
Weight: 400 gr.

The feminine divine presence, the Shekhinah, has received detailed description in the Kabbalistic literature from the time of its inception at the end of the 12th century. The present book pursues the tracks of the belief in the Shekhinah and demonstrates that the main motive of the Kabbalists was not to disseminate the belief in Her but rather to restrain and to supervise this belief which had evolved outside the Kabbalists’ sphere or in its margins.

Homolka, Jesus Reclaimed

Jewish Perspectives on the Nazarene

Walter Homolka
Translated by Ingrid Shafer
Foreword by Leonard Swidler

166 pages, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78238-579-0 $39.95/£25.00 Hb Published (January 2015)
eISBN 978-1-78238-580-6 eBook

After centuries of persecution, oppression, forced migrations, and exclusion in the name of Christ, the development of a Jewish “Quest for the Historical Jesus” might seem unexpected. This book gives an overview and analysis of the various Jewish perspectives on the Nazarene throughout the centuries, emphasizing the variety of German voices in Anglo-American contexts. It explores the reasons for a steady increase in Jewish interest in Jesus since the end of the eighteenth century, arguing that this growth had a strategic goal: the justification of Judaism as a living faith alongside Christianity.

A grammar of Aramaic in Persian

ARAMAIC WATCH: First Persian book on three ancient languages’ grammar released (Iran Book News Agency).
IBNA – The Persian book ‘Introduction to Grammar and Dictionaries of Syriac, Aramaic and Assyrian Languages’, compiled by Sa’eed Hayati was released.
The interview with the author is not the most lucid I have ever seen and I wonder if it was translated, badly, from Persian. Anyway, the book seems to involve the grammar of a range of Aramaic dialects and it was published in Persian, and that sounds like a good thing.

HT reader Gerald Rosenberg.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Back to St Andrews

HEADING HOME after a good conference.

Open Greek and Latin Project

AWOL: Open Greek and Latin Project of the Open Philology Project.
The ultimate goal is to represent every source text produced in Classical Greek or Latin from antiquity through the present, including texts preserved in manuscript tradition as well as on inscriptions, papyri, ostraca and other written artifacts. Over the course of the next five years, we will focus upon converting as much Greek and Latin, available as scanned printed books, into an open, dynamic corpus, continuously augmented and improved by a combination of automated processes and human contributions of many kinds. The focus upon Greek and Latin reflects both the belief that we have an obligation to disseminate European cultural heritage and the observation that recent advances in OCR technology for Greek and Latin make these intertwined languages ready for large-scale work.


Hachlili, Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology in the Diaspora

Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology in the Diaspora

Author: Rachel Hachlili
Subjects: Jewish Studies
Publication Year : 1998
Book DOI: 10.1163/9789004294042
E - ISBN : 9789004294042

Collections: Handbook of Oriental Studies: Ancient Near East Online
Volume: 35
Series: Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 1 The Near and Middle East

This publication provides fascinating new information about the origin, symbolism and significance of ancient Jewish synagogal and funerary art and archeology in the Diaspora, during the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods.
Information on the book in hard copy is here.

Johnson, Reading David and Goliath in Greek and Hebrew

Reading David and Goliath in Greek and Hebrew
A Literary Approach

[David und Goliath auf Griechisch und Hebräisch lesen. Ein literarischer Ansatz.]
2015. XIV, 270 pages.
Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe 82
79,00 €
sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-154046-2

Published in English.
Benjamin J. M. Johnson offers a literary reading of the two variant editions of the story of David and Goliath as found in the Hebrew and Greek traditions of 1 Samuel 16–18 and explores a method for reading the Septuagint as both a translation and a text in its own right.

Tigchelaar et al., Hebrew of the Late Second Temple Period

Hebrew of the Late Second Temple Period
Proceedings of a Sixth International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Ben Sira

Edited by Eibert Tigchelaar, K.U. Leuven and Pierre Van Hecke K.U. Leuven, with the assistance of Seth Bledsoe and Pieter B. Hartog

The Hebrew of the Late Second Temple Period is directly attested in the Scrolls from Qumran and other manuscripts discovered in the Judaean Desert. Indirectly, it is also found in some manuscripts copied in later times, which still preserve linguistic elements of the Hebrew from the period in which the texts were authored. Often referred to as the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls or Qumran Hebrew, and positioned chronologically between Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew, its nature remains disputed. Some essays in this volume deal with linguistic and philological problems of this Late Second Temple Period Hebrew. Other papers discuss the nature and linguistic profile of the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Miller, Performances of Ancient Jewish Letters

Marvin Lloyd Miller
Performances of Ancient Jewish Letters
From Elephantine to MMT

1. Edition 2015
317 pages
ISBN 978-3-525-55093-9
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

Journal of Ancient Judaism. Supplements -

99,99 €
If you have placed a standing order for the series: 89,99 €

Marvin Lloyd Miller combines a wide range of approaches to cast new light on the form and function of several ancient Jewish letters in a variety of languages. He applies a new emerging field of performance theory to texts, and argues that letters and other documents were not just read in silence, as is normal today, but were “performed,” especially when they were addressed to a community. The Performance focuses closely on the ways in which the engagement of the audience during the performance of a text might be read from traces present in the text itself.

Monday, November 23, 2015

De Lange, Japheth in the Tents of Shem

Japheth in the Tents of Shem
Greek Bible Translations in Byzantine Judaism

[Japheth in den Zelten des Sem. Griechische Bibelübersetzungen im byzantinischen Judentum.]
2015. XVI, 221 Seiten.
Texts and Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Judaism 30
erscheint im Dezember

Veröffentlicht auf Englisch.
Zum ersten Mal wird in diesem Band die Rezeption und Überlieferung griechischer Übersetzungen der Bibel durch Juden im Mittelalter in diesem Umfang behandelt. Dies ist das Ergebnis von über 40 Jahren Forschungsarbeit Nicholas de Langes, der die meisten Belege selber zusammengestellt hat, hauptsächlich aus bisher unveröffentlichten Manuskriptquellen, wie den Kairoer Geniza Fragmenten.

Emanuel, Hidden Treasures from Europe

Hidden Treasures from Europe

Volume I
[In Hebrew.]

By Simcha Emanuel

The discovery of the Cairo Geniza has transformed scholarly research in multiple areas of Jewish Studies and revolutionized several disciplines. It has provided the materials for thousands of studies and is by no means exhausted. Alongside the Cairo Geniza, an additional "Geniza" is slowly emerging in Europe, one that consists of many thousands of individual pages that were torn from Hebrew manuscripts hundreds of years ago and subsequently used for bookbinding and as folders for archive files. Although the first fruits of the European Geniza appeared considerably before the discovery of its Cairo counterpart, this "European Geniza" has not been at the center of scholarly interest, and relatively few scholars have made use of it. However, in recent decades thousands of new fragments have come to light, increasing the quantity previously known to us exponentially.

Hidden Treasures from Europe seeks to bring the European Geniza to the forefront of scholarly research. Chapter One is an extensive and detailed introduction to the nature of this Geniza. The heart of the book, Chapters Two through Twelve, comprises the first publication of eleven important texts found in the European Geniza that are not extant in published editions or in whole manuscripts. These were carefully chosen from among a much broader range of previously unknown texts that were preserved in the European Geniza. Half of these compositions are Bible commentaries (Section I, Chapters Two–Six), and the other half are commentaries to the Talmud (Section II, Chapters Seven–Twelve). Most were composed in France, Germany, or Italy, while the country of origin of one early work, Sefer efeî, has yet to be determined.
A couple of possibly related past posts are here and here.

Feder, "Behind the Scenes of a Priestly Polemic"

NEW ARTICLE IN THE JOURNAL OF HEBREW SCRIPTURES: Yitzhaq FEDER, “Behind the Scenes of a Priestly Polemic: Leviticus 14 and its Extra-Biblical Parallels.”
Abstract: This article examines the relationship between disease, pollution and sin in the Priestly writings, focusing on the rites for the purification of sara'at in Leviticus 14. In particular, it evaluates the contested question of whether this text is implicitly polemical in light of extra-biblical texts dealing with similar subject matter, especially a ritual for the treatment of skin disease from Emar. These comparisons enable a more precise characterization of the Priestly agenda reflected in Lev 14 and suggest that the traditional notion of pollution in Israel may have been deliberately reinterpreted.
There are also some interesting 2015 reviews.

Debié, L'écriture de l'histoire en syriaque

L'écriture de l'histoire en syriaque
Transmissions interculturelles et constructions identitaires entre hellénisme et islam. Avec des répertoires des textes historiographiques en annexe

Series: Late Antique History and Religion, 12

Authors: Debié M.

Year: 2015
ISBN: 978-90-429-3237-1
Pages: XXXIV-724 p.
Price: 105 EURO

Pourquoi et comment a-t-on écrit l'histoire en syriaque entre le VIe et le XIIIe siècle? C'est à cette question qu'essaie de répondre ce livre en tentant de comprendre les enjeux de l'écriture historique qui fut florissante en syriaque, l'une des grandes langues de culture du Proche et Moyen-Orient dans l'antiquité tardive et au Moyen Âge. Pourquoi les chrétiens des empires byzantin et sassanide puis musulmans ont-ils commencé à écrire l'histoire en syriaque alors qu'ils parlaient et lisaient toujours le grec et ont-ils continué alors que l'arabe était devenu leur langue vernaculaire et culturelle? Comment ont-ils compris et interprété leur passé en reprenant aux traditions grecques, judéo-chrétiennes et mésopotamiennes pour comprendre leur propre époque? En étudiant les acteurs, les lieux et les formes de l'écriture des chroniques et des histoires ecclésiastiques, c'est aussi aux enjeux identitaires que porte la construction de l'histoire que s'intéresse cet ouvrage.

Report on Blogger Session

JAMES MCGRATH: The Final Blogger Session #AARSBL15.

I noted the session as upcoming here.

De Looijer, The Qumran Paradigm

The Qumran Paradigm: Critical Evaluation of Some Foundational Hypotheses in the Construction of the Qumran Sect (Early Judaism and Its Literature) First Edition
by Gwynned de Looijer (Author)

A fundamentally revisionist approach that leaves behind the constructed social reality of a sectarian paradigm

Gwynned de Looijer reexamines the key hypotheses that have driven scholars understandings of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the archaeological site of Khirbet Qumran, and the textual descriptions of the Essenes. She demonstrates that foundational hypotheses regarding a sect at Qumran have heavily influenced the way the texts found in the surrounding caves are interpreted. De Looijer's approach abandons those assumptions to illustrate that the Dead Sea Scrolls reflect a wider range of backgrounds reflecting the many diverse forms of Judaism that existed in the Second Temple period.

  • In depth analysis of 4QMMT
  • Reevaluation of the concept of dualism as it has been applied to Qumran texts
  • Charts and tables illustrate complex theories, concepts, and connections
Good. This sounds like something worth doing.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Centennial Yahrzeit for Schechter

SOLOMON SCHECHTER DIED ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO THIS WEEK: מאה שנים למותו של שכטר (Yakov Mayer, The Talmud Blog).

If you don't read modern Hebrew, you can get a very rough sense of the post from Google Translate here. Some past posts on Schechter and the Cario Geniza are here, here, and here.

Curtis et al. (eds.), The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: On Parthian and Sasanian Empires. Notice of a new book: Sarkhosh Curtis, Vesta, Elizabeth Pendleton, Michael Alram & Touraj Daryaee (eds.). 2016. The Parthian and early Sasanian Empires: Adaptation and expansion (The British Institute of Persian Studies Archaeological Monographs Series V). Oxbow Books: Oxford.

Muraoka, A Biblical Aramaic Reader

A Biblical Aramaic Reader
With an Outline Grammar

Authors: Muraoka T.

Year: 2015
ISBN: 978-90-429-3276-0
Pages: X-83 p.
Price: 19 EURO

This reader is for anyone very eager to read the story of Daniel in the lions' den and many other fascinating stories in their original language, Aramaic.
A brief outline of Biblical Aramaic grammar is followed by a verse-by-verse grammatical commentary on the Aramaic chapters in the books of Daniel and Ezra. Both the outline grammar and the grammatical commentary presuppose basic knowledge of the grammar and vocabulary of Biblical Hebrew. Constant references are made in the commentary to relevant sections of the outline grammar. The commentary is written in a user-friendly, not overtly technical language. Some grammatical exercises with keys and paradigms conclude the Reader. Also suitable for self-study.

More on that John papyrus on eBay

ETC: A New Papyrus of the Gospel of John (Tommy Wasserman). Photos and detailed technical information for those interested.

Background here.

JSQ 22.4

The Midrash of Jesus and the Bavli's Counter-Gospel
pp. 303-324(22)
Author: Furstenberg, Yair

CThe Mother of the Seven Sons in Lamentations Rabbah and the Virgin Mary
pp. 325-351(27)
Author: Himmelfarb, Martha

From Census to Atonement: Parshat Shekalim in Pesikta de Rav Kahana and Pesikta Rabbati
pp. 352-376(25)
Author: Atzmon, Arnon

Literary Devices in the Psalms: The Commentary of Ibn Ezra Revisited
pp. 377-402(26)
Author: Seidler, Ayelet
Requires a personal or institutional subscription to access the articles.

HT the Talmud Blog on Facebook.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Kiel, "Creation by Emission"

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Adam & Eve in Zoroastrian and Manichaean Literature. Notice of new article: Kiel, Yishai. 2015. "Creation by Emission. Recreating Adam and Eve in the Babylonian Talmud in Light of Zoroastrian and Manichaean Literature." Journal of Jewish Studies 66(2). 295–316.

Bond and Hurtado (eds.), Peter in Early Christianity

LARRY HURTADO: Peter in Early Christianity: New Book.
I’m pleased to announce the new multi-author volume: Peter in Early Christianity (Eerdmans, 2015), eds. Helen K. Bond & Larry W. Hurtado. The online catalogue entry is here. This volume arose from our conference on Peter held here in Edinburgh under the auspices of our Centre for the Study of Christian Origins in July 2013.

The book was noted as forthcoming here and the conference that produced the papers for it was noted here, here, and here.

Meir and Edith Lubetski, Recording New Epigraphic Evidence

Recording New Epigraphic Evidence; Essays in Honor of Robert Deutsch, ed. Meir and Edith Lubetski.

The books [sic] presented in honor of Dr. Robert Deutsch deals with ancient inscriptions from the first millennium BCE found on ostraca, seals, bullae and other artifacts.

Early marriage in Talmudic times?

Marrying off young girls occurred among Jewish families in the mishnaic and talmudic periods.

Tirzah Meacham, associate professor of near and Middle Eastern civilizations at the University of Toronto, made the point Nov. 10 at a conference titled “The Jewish Family,” sponsored by the Jewish Law Association, U of T’s Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies and York University’s Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies. It was held at U of T and attended by several dozen people.

Meacham’s was among the handful of presentations by academics from around North America who gathered to discuss intersections between Jewish and civil law, including gender relations, marriage and divorce.

Meacham, whose research includes talmudic and rabbinic literature, and Judaism and feminism, discussed conflicts between Halachah and civil law on the age of marriage.

She countered an argument made by Bar-Ilan University professor Adiel Schremer, who claimed that in Jewish Palestine of the Hellenistic and Roman periods, girls married well into their teens, while in surrounding cultures, such as Babylonia, they married around age 13.

Meacham said Schremer’s study relied on tombstone inscriptions found in Rome, Hellenistic Egypt and Palestine, which noted a woman’s marital age. This evidence is problematic, Meacham argued, because graves of middle and lower class Jews were likely marked with less detail, limiting the “sample size” to wealthy families.


She said the typical age of betrothal, if not marriage, was probably before 12-1/2. After that age, a father lost the authority to annul his daughter’s vows and the legal right to her handiwork or profits she brought to the household, including the bride price.

More on Schremer's work is here.

Very early marriage (in the early teens) was not unusual in antiquity in general, in no small part because the average lifespan was considerably shorter than ours. As I have remarked repeatedly, the world of the ancients was a very different world from ours. That said, it should be clarified that betrothal was legally equivalent to marriage, but did not involve consummation, which was to occur only after the marriage.

NT papyrus on eBay

ATTIC ARCHAEOLOGY: Greek New Testament papyrus is discovered on eBay (JENNIFER SCHUESSLER, NYT).
Last January, Geoffrey Smith, a scholar of early Christianity at the University of Texas, noticed something startling: an eBay listing for an ancient Greek papyrus fragment of the Gospel of John — with an opening bid of only $99.

“I thought, This can’t be allowed to sell on eBay,” Dr. Smith said. “It will just disappear into a private collection.”

Dr. Smith contacted the seller and urged him to halt the online auction — apparently the first on eBay for a Greek New Testament papyrus, he and other scholars said — and let him study the fragment. The seller agreed, and now, on Saturday, Mr. Smith will present his research at the annual conference of the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta.

The credit-card-size papyrus, which Dr. Smith dates from around A.D. 250 to A.D. 350, contains about six lines of the Gospel of John on one side and an unidentified Christian text on the other. If Dr. Smith’s analysis is correct, it is the only known Greek New Testament papyrus from an unused scroll rather than a codex, the emerging book technology that early Christians, in sharp contrast to their Jewish and pagan contemporaries, preferred for their texts.


Dr. Smith declined to identify the seller. But in the text of the listing copied on Dr. Jones’s blog, the seller said the papyrus had been in the private collection of Harold R. Willoughby, a professor of early Christianity at the University of Chicago who died in 1962.

The seller, who identified himself in the listing as a relative of Mr. Willoughby, told Mr. Smith that he had found the papyrus only recently, after opening a suitcase of Mr. Willoughby’s possessions that he had acquired in 1990 and stashed in his attic.

And if the story is true, and it does seem to be verified, then the selling of the papyrus would be legal.

Interesting article. I didn't see any obvious errors on scholarly matters, but I do note that Larry Hurtado is not a professor at the University of St. Andrews. He is a retired professor from the University of Edinburgh, as he says at his blog, to which the article links.

UPDATE (22 November): More here.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Oh ... and I'm in Atlanta

GOT IN LAST NIGHT. I'm pretty jet-lagged and woke up very early, but that at least leaves plenty of time for blogging. I've seen a few SBL people already and am looking forward to seeing more soon. Now it's time to go investigate the gym.

Bautch and Knoppers (eds.), Covenant in the Persian Period

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Biblical Covenant in the Persian Period. Notice of new book: Bautch, Richard J. & Gary N. Knoppers (eds.). 2015. Covenant in the Persian Period: from Genesis to Chronicles. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns.

Geller (ed.), The Archaeology and Material Culture of the Babylonian Talmud

The Archaeology and Material Culture of the Babylonian Talmud

Edited by Markham J. Geller, University College London
The Babylonian Talmud remains the richest source of information regarding the material culture and lifestyle of the Babylonian Jewish community, with additional data now supplied by Babylonian incantation bowls. Although archaeology has yet to excavate any Jewish sites from Babylonia, information from Parthian and Sassanian Babylonia provides relevant background information, which differs substantially from archaeological finds from the Land of Israel. One of the key questions addresses the amount of traffic and general communications between Jewish Babylonia and Israel, considering the great distances and hardships of travel involved.

Levine on ancient synagogues

LECTURE IN PITTSBURGH: Israeli professor describes autonomy in antiquity, locally controlled synagogues (Adam Reinherz, Jewish Chronicle)
On a cool Sunday evening in November, nearly 75 people gathered at a historic synagogue in Shadyside to learn about ancient synagogues in Israel. The event, which was a collaboration among Classrooms Without Borders and five area synagogues, featured Lee Levine, an expert on ancient Judaism and professor emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Throughout Levine’s hourlong lecture in Freehof Hall at Rodef Shalom, he discussed how and why the synagogue became a central institution in late antiquity.

Early on in his remarks, Levine stated the historic uncertainty surrounding synagogues.

“We have no idea when, where or why it started,” he said. “It’s strange for an institution to percolate and know nothing about its origins.”

Follow the link for a detailed summary of the lecture and discussion.

Jesus and same-sex relations

THELOGY IN THE RAW: Jesus Was a Jew: Understanding Jesus and Same-Sex Marriages in His 1st Century Jewish (Not Our 21st Century Western) Context.

This is an ETS paper that was presented on Wednesday. It indicates that same-sex relations were condemned without exception in Second Temple Judaism whenever it was (rarely) mentioned, and as far as I can recall (never having thoroughly checked), this sounds right. (As often happens with these things, I am not certain that all the texts cited in this paper are actually Jewish.) There is nothing in the texts about Jesus to indicate he might have thought otherwise. Beyond this, I have very serious reservations about trying to figure out what Jesus might have thought about any modern hot-button issue. The texts give us very little information about the historical Jesus and there remains considerable debate even about what his major teachings and actions were, so we're not likely to get very far on what he thought about things that the texts don't even mention.

Final SBL Blogger session

JAMES MCGRATH: The Last Blogger Session #AARSBL15.
This year’s session of the SBL Blogger and Online Publication program unit will be the last ever, and we will be going out with a bang.
If you would like to go, here is the information on the date and location:
Blogger and Online Publication
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
A701 (Atrium Level) - Marriott
Theme: Blogging Comes of Age
This session will feature two papers, followed by a panel of blogging scholars who will share their thoughts about the benefits and challenges, rewards and hardships, of academic blogging. The panelists will then participate in a Q&A with the audience.

James McGrath, Butler University, Presiding
Rick Brannan, Faithlife
From Blog, to Book, to the Larger Scholarly Discussion (20 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Christian Brady, Pennsylvania State University
The Life of a Blog from Cradle to Maturity (?) (20 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Panel Discussion
Bart Ehrman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Panelist (10 min)
Wil Gafney, Brite Divinity School (TCU), Panelist (10 min)
Lawrence Schiffman, New York University, Panelist (10 min)
Discussion (60 min)
Business Meeting (10 min)
I have meetings that morning and will probably not be able to get to this one, but I hope it goes well.