Monday, June 26, 2017

The SBL Handbook of Style on MOTP

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Citing Text Collections 4: MOTP. The SBL Handbook of Style Blog tells you how to cite Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, volume one (ed. Bauckham, Davila, and Panayotov; Eerdmans 2013). Their abbreviation is different from the one we use in the volume. We'll have to sort that out in volume two.

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Trolls threaten a Classics professor

THIS IS APPALLING: UI prof's post on ancient statues, white supremacists elicits death threats. PaleoJudaica has mentioned Professor Sarah Bond's work from time to time. I am sorry to hear that this has happened to her.

Idiot trolls who threaten people are a growing plague on the internet. They come from all sides and they obstruct discussion of important topics. Everyone should condemn, shun, despise, and ridicule them.

Seidman on Cynthia Baker’s "Jew"

MARGINALIA REVIEW OF BOOKS:
Jewish Identity as a Psychic Wound?
Naomi Seidman on Cynthia Baker’s Jew
. This is the fifth essay in Marginalia's Forum on Cynthia Baker’s book Jew.

This essay doesn't have anything particular to do with ancient Judaism, but I note it for the sake of completeness. For past essays in the series and more information about the forum, see here and links.

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T. Benjamin: Being good.

READING ACTS: Testament of Benjamin.

For Phil Long's blog series on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha start here and follow the links. His current series on the Greek Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs has come to Benjamin, who is number twelve. Now Phil is off to Zambia for a pastors' Bible conference. But his series on the OTP Testaments will continue while he is away.

Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Menorah engravings at Hierapolis

HOLY LAND PHOTOS' BLOG: Jewish Presence at Hierapolis (Menorahs) Carl Rasmussen has photos of ancient menorah engravings on tombs in Hieropolis (cf. Colossians 4:12-13).

For past PaleoJudaica posts on ancient menorahs and representations of menorahs, see here, here, and here and follow the many links.

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Holtz, Die Nichtigkeit des Menschen und die Übermacht Gottes

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: GUDRUN HOLTZ, Die Nichtigkeit des Menschen und die Übermacht Gottes Studien zur Gottes- und Selbsterkenntnis bei Paulus, Philo und in der Stoa. [Human Nothingness and the Supremacy of God. Studies on Divine and Self Knowledge in Paul, Philo and the Stoa.]. 2017. XIV, 471 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 377.
Published in German.
Regard for the self has recently been rediscovered as one of the central themes of Hellenistic philosophy. Taking the Jewish theologian Philo of Alexandria and the Apostle Paul as her main examples, Gudrun Holtz shows how theological anthropology was developed in contrast to contemporary philosophical conceptions of the self, particularly to the Stoa. The common core of the theological-anthropological conception of both authors can be captured in the phrase “not of people, but of God”. The Pauline doctrine of justification proves itself to be a reification of this shared essence. Other than has been repeatedly assumed lately, the

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Tolan et al. (eds.), Religious Minorities in Christian, Jewish and Muslim Law

NEW BOOK FROM BREPOLS: Religious Minorities in Christian, Jewish and Muslim Law (5th - 15th centuries). J. V. Tolan, C. Nemo-Pekelman, N. Berend, Y. Masset (eds.).
The fruit of a sustained and close collaboration between historians, linguists and jurists working on the Christian, Muslim and Jewish societies of the Middle Ages, this book explores the theme of religious coexistence (and the problems it poses) from a resolutely comparative perspective. The authors concentrate on a key aspect of this coexistence: the legal status attributed to Jews and Muslims in Christendom and to dhimmīs in Islamic lands. What are the similarities and differences, from the point of view of the law, between the indigenous religious minority and the foreigner? What specific treatments and procedures in the courtroom were reserved for plaintiffs, defendants or witnesses belonging to religious minorities? What role did the law play in the segregation of religious groups? In limiting, combating, or on the contrary justifying violence against them? Through these questions, and through the innovative comparative method applied to them, this book offers a fresh new synthesis to these questions and a spur to new research.
I can't find anything in the TOC that deals with anything as early as the fifth century. The title does say that, though, so I assume such matters come up somewhere.

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A fourth review of Glinert, The Story of Hebrew

BOOK REVIEW: The story of Hebrew. A look at Lewis Glinert’s wonderful new book (CURT LEVIANT, The Jewish Standard).
Every page of “The Story of Hebrew” is packed with information about the language, from its beginnings through post-1948 Israel. In addition to this longitudinal approach, Lewis Glinert, a professor of Hebrew and linguistics at Dartmouth, also approaches his subject laterally, focusing on various lands where Jewish or Hebrew life and culture thrived, including early Palestine, Babylonia, North Africa, Spain, Europe, Russia, the United States, and Israel.

[...]
Earlier reviews of the book have been noted here and links.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hurtado on Keck on the NT as a "field of study"

LARRY HURTADO: Is the New Testament a Field of Study?. Professor Hurtado discusses an article with that title by Leander Keck, published in 1981. Read the whole post, but here are two excerpts:
Referring to “the Mandaean fever of the 20s and a severe case of Qumranitis in the 50s,” Keck observes that “repeatedly our agenda probably elevated to major significance for the New Testament certain texts which might not have been nearly as influential on the early Christians as we have made them.” (p, 32).
Yes.
In short, for theological purposes the NT is (and should be) a “privileged” body of texts. But for historical purposes we should both take account of the breadth and diversity of early Christian literature and also the dynamics that from a remarkably early point gave to certain texts a special status and authority among at least many (most?) early Christian circles.
Yes.

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Stacey on Qumran

THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION: A Brief Response to the Reviews of Qumran Revisited by Magness (RQ 104, 2014: 638-646) and Mizzi (DSD 22, 2015: 220) (David Stacey). This essay deals with technical details of the archaeology of the site of Qumran and those interested in such matters should have a look. I don't think I knew that there was an ancient dam at Qumran.

A couple of other recent Bible and Intepretation essays have also dealt with the archaeology of Qumran. See here and here and note the discussions in the comments.

There are many past PaleoJudaica posts on the archaeology of Qumran and various controversies surrounding it. Many were collected here. And to that list from 2014, add the posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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Biblical Sidon

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: Biblical Sidon—Jezebel’s Hometown. Who were the Sidonians? As usual, the BAR article (“Sidon—Canaan’s Firstborn,” by Claude Doumet-Serhal) is only available via a paid subscription. But the BHD essay gives you an overview.

Some of the past PaleoJudaica posts pertaining to ancient Sidon are here, here, and here. Some past posts on Jezebel are here, here, here, here, and here. Cross-file under Phoenician Watch.

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The Nash Papyrus in the news

DIGITIZATION: See An Ancient Ten Commandments Fragment Digitized By Cambridge Digital Library (Jake Romm, The Forward). That fragment is, of course, the Nash Papyrus, on which more here and links. It's from Egypt and was recovered in 1902. It is as old as some of the older Dead Sea Scrolls, the first of which were discovered only in 1947. (Philip Jenkins, call your office!)

This is not a new story: I noted the digization of the Nash Papyrus for the Cambridge Digital Library back in 2012. But it's nice to see it getting some more attention.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Interview with Robert Kraft

WILLIAM ROSS: LXX SCHOLAR INTERVIEW: DR. ROBERT KRAFT (Septuaginta &C. Blog).
This interview highlights one of the senior figures in the field, Dr. Robert Kraft, who is Berg Professor of Religious Studies Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania (see also Academia.edu). Aside from his work in Septuagint scholarship, Dr. Kraft is well known for his focus on the Apostolic Fathers. He also played a crucial role in creating the earliest digital tools for the study of biblical texts, and was a key player in developing Computer Assisted Tools for Septuagint Studies (CATSS), which is now available in BibleWorks and other software programs.
Read it all.

I talked a bit about Bob Kraft's pioneering contribution to computer-assisted biblical studies research in my 2010 SBL paper: What Just Happened. The rise of "biblioblogging" in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

I have noted some past interviews of LXX scholars by William Ross here and links.

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Ancient "industrial zone" in the Galilee

ARCHAEOLOGY: Ancient industrial site discovered in Galilee. Students and experts from the Israel Antiquities Authority discover ancient agricultural installations carved into bedrock that appear to have been used to store locally-produced products (Itay Blumenthal, Ynetnews).
"As we expanded the excavation with the students, we found more and more installations, and it would appear that these are not for private use, but rather a real industrial zone, from the Middle Bronze Age (1,800 BCE) or from the Roman-Byzantine period (5th-2nd centuries CE)," said Yoav Zur, the IAA director of the excavation.
HT Joseph Lauer.

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T. Joseph: So ethical.

READING ACTS: Testament of Joseph. Like many of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Greek Testament of Joseph is full of ethical concerns. But, again like the other Testaments, this one is quite oblivious to the ritual law. This seems like a problem if we want to regard them as Jewish works.

Granted, the setting is the Patriarchal period and this was before the Torah of Moses was revealed. That could be why ritual law is ignored. But the Book of Jubilees covers the Patriarchal period and is still full of interest in the ritual law. And the Testament of Zebulon even anachronistically mentions the Law of Moses (3:4). So I am not entirely satisfied with that explanation.

It is clear that some of the Testaments drew on Jewish sources in Hebrew and Aramaic, but I don't know whether all of them are based on such sources. If so, a lot of those sources are lost. Some may be Christian compositions written to fill in the gaps to make of full set of twelve testaments.

I have noted earlier posts in Phil Long's blog series on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha here and links. His current series is on the Greek Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Joseph is number eleven. One more to go. Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

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Theosophy and ancient apocryphal scriptures

THE ANXIOUS BENCH: Alternative Scriptures: Theosophy and the Esoteric Tradition (Philip Jenkins). The nineteenth-century Theosophists knew about the Essenes and the Gnostics and had access to Coptic Gnostic texts. All this long before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Nag Hammadi Library.

I have noted earlier posts in Professor Jenkins's series on "alternative scriptures" here and links.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Exhibition of Roman emperor's coins at Israel Museum

NUMISMATICS: Coins of the Realm: Heads (And Tails) of the Roman Empire on Display at Israel Museum. Roman emperors shown as they really looked – while their slogans could be taken from today’s headlines (Nir Hasson, Haaretz).
This coin [of the idiosyncratic Emperor Elagabalus] now be viewed in a new exhibit at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, starting on Thursday. ”Faces of Power: Coins from the Victor Adda Collection” displays 75 gold coins of Roman emperors and their wives never shown to the public before. The collection of gold coins was donated to the Israel Museum by Johanna Adda Cohen, an 89-year-old resident of Rome. Her father, Victor Adda, was a Jewish businessman originally from Egypt and he collected the coins in the first half of the 20th century. When the family moved to Italy from Egypt, they smuggled the coins out in the pockets of relatives and friends.

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T. Asher: Don't be evil.

READING ACTS: Testament of Asher. This Testament is particularly interested in the "two ways" ethical framework.

Earlier posts in Phil Long's blog series on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha are noted here and links. He has been posting recently on the Greek Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Asher is number ten. Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

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Burrus on Jewish sarcophagi

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Dissertation Spotlight | Sean P. Burrus.
Sean P. Burrus, Remembering the Righteous: Sarcophagus Sculpture and Jewish Identities in the Roman World (Duke University, 2017).

... In Remembering the Righteous: Sarcophagus Sculpture and Jewish Identities in the Roman World, I examined two groups of sarcophagi from the Jewish communities of Beth She'arim and Rome and explored how the different provincial and cosmopolitan contexts of each influenced the choices and tastes of Jewish patrons. ...

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Looking at potsherds in archaeological digs

EPIGRAPHY AND ARCHAEOLOGY: (Adam Abrams/JNS.org).
The recent discovery of a previously invisible inscription on the back of an ancient pottery shard, that was on display at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum for over 50 years, has prompted Tel Aviv University researchers to consider what other hidden inscriptions may have been discarded during archaeological digs, before the availability of high-tech imaging.
This as a result of the story about the newly-recovered text on Arad Ostracon 16 which I noted here and here. Here's what they're thinking of doing about it:
As a result of the new discovery, researchers will approach how they handle pottery shards found during archaeological digs differently.

“Maybe they should just image everything,” [Tel Aviv University applied mathematician Arie] Shaus said. “Using low-cost equipment like the camera used in this discovery would allow each excavation to buy or construct one… or at least create a filtering system whereby only samples of pottery, which could have been used for writing, are saved and scanned. Maybe we have lost more inscriptions than we have found, but didn’t figure it out until now. It’s tragic, but we are also optimistic, because now we have the technology to do this.”
Bring it on!

A more primitive method for identifying inscribed ostraca is to dip each one in water. That is supposed to sometimes makes otherwise unnoticeable writing stand out. When I worked at excavations in Israel in the 1980s as a lowly staff member, I dipped approximately a zillion potsherds. I never found any writing. This new technology sounds more promising.

Cross-file under Technology Watch.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Graduation 2017

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE CLASS OF 2017!

This week is full of graduation ceremonies at the University of St Andrews. Many PhD students in the School of Divinity graduated. Well done!

So did many undergraduates. Among them are a number of Semitic philologists whom I have taught over the last several years. Here are some of them with me at the Divinity garden party yesterday.


Congratulations to (L to R) Sarah, Allison, Shelby, and Barbora. They are heading off now to do various things, but some will continue with Semitics. In the autumn Sarah begins a Master's degree in Biblical Studies at Kings College London and Barbora begins a PhD in Comparative Semitics at the University of Chicago. It has been great to work with all of them and I wish them the best in their future endeavors.

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Bible Cat revisited

REMNANT OF GIANTS: Biblical Cats Again. With reference to my post On cat domestication yesterday, Deane Galbraith reminds us that he once argued that the lilith-creature in Isaian 34:14 could be a cat. I see that I noted that post back in December of 2015. I usually check my own archive for related posts, but I guess I forgot this time.

Deane doesn't refer to any secondary literature, so I assume this is his otherwise unpublished idea. But he makes a plausible circumstantial case that lilit (לילית) in Isaiah could refer to some type of cat.

That said, it is a creature that dwells in ruins, which would apply more naturally to a wild cat then a domesticated cat — especially in antiquity when there was no archaeological tourism. Okay, I cannot rule out that Lilith in Isaiah was a cat. But I need more evidence before I'm willing to backtrack on my statement yesterday that the Hebrew Bible never mentions domesticated cats.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on Lilith are here and many links.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Inheritance, terumah, and the transgendered in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: How a Cucumber Decides Whether a Son Inherits Over a Donkey. With surprising analogous thinking, ancient Talmudic sages tackled very modern questions—by accident or foresight, depending on how liberal your views—of transgender rights, the rights of unborn fetuses, women’s rights, and wealth distribution.
This week, in chapter nine of Tractate Bava Batra, we saw an example of how the laws of teruma ["heave offering"] can serve the rabbis to elucidate a very different area of halachah. Chapter Nine continues the discussion of the laws of inheritance, addressing the status of bequests promised to a child born posthumously. The Mishna in Bava Batra 140b imagines a situation in which a dying man who is an expectant father bequeaths money to his unborn child, saying, “If my wife gives birth to a male, the offspring shall receive a gift of 100 dinars,” or “If my wife gives birth to a female the offspring shall receive 200 dinars.” The law is that these are binding bequests, and once the children are born they receive the designated amount from the estate.

This is clear enough, but the rabbis identify two possible ambiguities. What if the wife gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl? In this case, both children are given the promised sum, 100 dinars for the boy and 200 for the girl. And what if the child is born neither male nor female? What if it is a tumtum, the legal term for a person whose sex organs are concealed and is thus of indeterminate gender?
He does come back to the terumah part and it does involve cucumbers.

There's more on the tumtum here.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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T. Gad

READING ACTS: Testament of Gad.

I have noted previous posts in Phil Long's blog series on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha here and links. The series has recently focused on the Greek Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

On cat domestication

ARCHAEOLOGY MAGAZINE: DNA Study Reveals Tale of Cat Domestication.
Most house cats alive today descend from cats that can be traced back to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
I think it is interesting that Israel is on the list. Here's a fun fact for you. Although the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament do mention dogs from time to time, generally disparagingly, they never once mention domestic cats. Sure, there are references to lions and other big cats, but not domesticated ones. The word "cat" never even appears.

Cats are mentioned in the Old Testament Apocrypha in the Letter of Jeremiah 22.

Offhand, I can't think of any references to domesticated cats in any Old Testament Pseudepigrapha or New Testament Apocrypha. But I don't have comprehensive concordances for these and there may be references that I don't remember. If you find any, drop me a note.

UPDATE (21 June): A cat in Isaiah? Maybe.

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The Forging Antiquity Project

EVANGELICAL TEXTUAL CRITICISM BLOG: Forging Antiquity Website and Blog (Tommy Wasserman). With information on the Macquarie University/Heidelberg University project. I have already noted the Markers of Authenticity Blog back at the end of 2016.

Also, the post has full details about some SBL sessions in November which deal with the problems of forgeries and unprovenanced artifacts.

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T. Naphtali

READING ACTS: Testament of Naphtali (Phil Long). As I have mentioned before, there is a medieval Hebrew version of the Greek Testament of Naphtali which perhaps shares a Jewish Second-Temple-era source with the Greek text.

In the second volume of Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures (MOTP2) we hope to gather all the ancient and medieval Hebrew material that is possibly related to the Greek Testament of Naphtali.

Earlier posts in Phil Long's blog series on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha are noted here and links. His recent posts have been on the Greek Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Cross-file under Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Watch.

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Melville's Gnostic apocryphon?

THE ANXIOUS BENCH: Alternative Scriptures: Melville’s “Lost Gnostic Poem.” (Philip Jenkins). Melville's poem wasn't lost. He gave it that title.

Were the Albigenses descended from the ancient Gnostics? Who knows? Some people thought so and Melville hints at the idea in his poem.

Earlier posts in Professor Jenkins's series on "alternative scriptures" are noted here and links.

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