Saturday, July 06, 2013

BNTC 2013: special deal ending soon - really this time!

REGISTRATION FOR THE 2013 MEETING OF THE BRITISH NEW TESTAMENT CONFERENCE in St. Andrews (29-31 August) is still open and you can book online here.

Early-bird registration is open only until Monday, 8 July, i.e., tomorrow. After that the price goes up substantially, so why not register now? For you, special deal!

Boustan et al. (eds.), Envisioning Judaism

Envisioning Judaism
Studies in Honor of Peter Schäfer on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday
Ed. by Ra'anan S. Boustan, Klaus Herrmann, Reimund Leicht, Annette Y. Reed and Giuseppe Veltri, with the collaboration of Alex Ramos

This volume offers an extensive collection of cutting-edge articles in Jewish studies and related areas that celebrate Peter Schäfer and take their lead from his groundbreaking scholarship. Among the topics addressed are Jewish material culture in the Graeco-Roman world; the evolution of rabbinic literature and thought; the appropriate methods for producing editions of pre-modern texts; gender, embodiment, and the nature of the divine; Jewish representations of Jesus; and the reception of Hebrew sources by Christian scholars in the early modern period. The collection lays particular emphasis on the dynamics of continuity and change in Jewish society, culture, and religion in the ancient Mediterranean world, from the Second Temple period to the rise of Islam. It also traces how in the course of the medieval and early modern periods Jews, Christians, and Muslims came to participate in—and contest—shared literary, intellectual, and religious traditions. The contributions to this Festschrift transcend the entrenched divisions that too often fracture scholarly dialogue among specialists. Its broad scope reflects the startling breadth of Schäfer’s own research interests as well as the lasting impact of his contributions to the academic study of Jewish literature and history, which have made visible the inner diversity of Judaism and stressed the essential place of Jewish studies within the humanities.
It's actually two volumes. Follow the link for ToC and ordering information.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Using lasers to read the DSS?

Duke University discovers that laser can be used to examine art without causing damage

(Washington Post)

The pump-probe laser system provides a three-dimensional view of any part of a painting without taking a chip. Researchers can zoom in and out, like looking at a layer cake, and separate colors to see what was originally on the canvas.

Warren explained that the pump-probe laser uses two laser pulses of different colors and varies the delay between the pulses. The first one “pumps” the pigment and the second one “probes” what happened to the energy deposited by the first one.


While the laser system isn’t yet optimal, it is attracting attention from other conservationists, including those who care for the Dead Sea Scrolls, Warren said. They want to know if the pump-probe can let them read what’s in scrolls that are too fragile to unwind. ...
Like I just said, non-invasive scanning rules.

Bit by bit, a letter at a time, whatever it takes. Until we're done.

Israeli politician: Hey, let's build a third Temple on the Temple Mount.

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Minister calls for third Temple to be built: Potentially explosive statement by Jewish Home’s Uri Ariel breaks taboo against damaging status quo on Temple Mount (Times of Israel).
We’ve built many little, little temples,” Ariel said, referring to synagogues, “but we need to build a real Temple on the Temple Mount.”
This is really quite unhelpful. The comment was made at an archaeological conference, but no context from the speech is given for the quotation and it may have seemed less rash in its full context, but these days letting that sound bite loose at all was rash.

As I keep saying, no building or excavation on the Temple Mount unless and until it can be done using non-invasive and non-destructive scanning technologies. Which I am inclined to think may not be all that far in the future.

More Cyril and Methodius celebrations

Czech President Zeman attends Cyril and Methodius celebrations

vydáno: 04.07.2013, 19:46 | aktualizace: 04.07.2013 19:48

Velehrad - Czech President Milos Zeman today arrived for the Velehrad pilgrimage site hosting one of the biggest church events in the country, the Days of Good Will People, within the celebrations of arrival of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius to Great Moravia kingdom in the 9th century.

Thousands of pilgrims celebrate the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Cyril and Methodius, Christian missionaries from the 9th century.

Zeman laid flowers at the altar in the Basilica of Ascension of Virgin Mary and Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius.
Background on the 1150th anniversary of the invention of the Slavonic alphabet (and why it matters to PaleoJudaica) is here and here and follow the links back.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Bet Qama Mosaic on display

THE RECENTLY RECOVERED ANCIENT MOSAIC AT KIBBUTZ BET QAMA (BEIT KAMA) is open to the public for viewing, without charge, today, July 4th. For you, special deal.

More on this mosaic and others in Israel here and links.

Roman base in Galilee

Israeli archaeologists uncover base of 6th Roman Legion in Galilee
Legion camp served as a type of headquarters for managing Rome's military. From there, 3,500 soldiers ruled over the Galilee and part of Samaria 1,800 years ago.

By Eli Ashkenazi | Jul.03, 2013 | 6:09 PM | 2

Israeli archaeologists have found ruins they believe are the site of one of the two Roman legions based in the country between 120 and 300 C.E.

Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Yotam Tepper had long suspected that the site in the Galilee was the base of the Legio Sexta Ferrata, the 6th Roman Legion, also known as the Ironclad Legion. The other legion in the country was the 10th, based in Jerusalem.

Over the past week, an expedition led by Tepper and archaeologist Matthew Adams found the base of a battery or wall, a moat surrounding the camp, water pipes, a covered sewage channel, coins and tiles. The legion's symbol adorned a broken shingle.

The site sits between two other historical gems: Tel Megiddo, the ancient fortified city that has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the oldest known Christian house of worship, which was discovered around seven and a half years ago about a kilometer south.

More on the Meggido church here and links.

Finding the base took some effort:
Excavations and surveys over the years found the locations of the Jewish village Othnai in the Megiddo Prison compound, and the Roman-Byzantine city of Maximianopolis near Kibbutz Megiddo. To find the legion camp, Tepper conducted field surveys and relied on surveys from the past.

“I even went to the homes of local people, who poured me out old coins from old tin cans," he says. "In people's gardens, we found archaeological artifacts bearing various inscriptions.”

Slowly he put together the puzzle: aqueducts, burial grounds and the ruins of a civilian settlement at the edge of the camp. There were also remnants of ancient roads and a milestone marking the two-mile mark from the camp. All this helped Tepper conclude that the legion's camp lay under a hill.
Satellite photography and ground-radar scanning were involved as well.

4th of July

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY to all American readers!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

8 Jewish archaeological discoveries

NBC NEWS: 8 Jewish archaeological discoveries. There are some good ones.

I'm pretty sure that that Leviticus fragment is the one mentioned here and links. For the Khirbet Qeiyafa inscription, see here and links. More on the wall that some have connected with the wall of Nehemiah here and links. Endless links on Herod's possible tomb are here. Posts on the ancient Jerusalem tunnels are collected at the end of this post. And more on revisionist understandings of the fall of Masada can be found here, here, and links.

Lesses on Lilith etc.

REBECCA LESSES: Lilith, women, and magic.

Hurtado on Oxyrhynchus

LARRY HURTADO: New Oxyrhynchus Manuscripts. A possible fragment of an early noncanonical gospel, a Christian amulet, and fragments of what may be the earliest Septuagint Psalms scroll.

UPDATE: Larry has a follow-up post: The Divine Name and Greek Translation.

ARAM conference

JAMES MCGRATH: Final Program for the ARAM Conference on the Mandaeans. It starts next week in Oxford.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Jewish Temple in Egypt

YES, AT ELEPHANTINE: Was there a Jewish temple in ancient Egypt? (Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg, Jerusalem Post).
THIS WAS the story and the European expeditions were desperate to find the temple, but after WWI they lost interest and it was not till 1967 that another expedition was mounted. This was not to search for the temple, but to record all the pagan temples that had been built at this important site in southern Egypt.

They recorded many Egyptian temples of various periods but, after many years, also found what they called “the Aramaic village.” This was a series of mud-brick houses, in ruins, that were lined up along two sides of a central site with a fine plaster surface, and a small building paved in fine tiles.

Luckily, Hebrew University professor Bezalel Porten had published his plan of the Jewish colony houses, based on the papyrus documents, and the German team recognized that what they had found were the Jewish houses around the temple site, all as Porten had predicted from the documents.

The temple itself was small, in fact only half of it remained, but it had a fine tile floor in two layers, indicating that the first had been destroyed and then replaced. It stood in a courtyard of fine plasterwork, while the houses only had crude mud floors. So this was the temple, and the papyri were true.

The final discovery was only made in 1997, but it indicated a small Jewish temple in southern Egypt, built to serve a Jewish colony that acted as garrison to defend the southern approach to the rich country of Egypt.
Hmmm ... I wonder where they got the idea for a Jewish temple?

Much more on the Judean colony at Elephantine and their Aramaic papyri here and links. More on the excavation of the Elephantine temple here. The latter link also discusses the other ancient Jewish temple in Egypt, the one in Leontopolis, which is known so far only from literary references. See also here.


AT THE BOSTON MUSEUM OF SCIENCE: Dead Sea Scrolls Come Into Public View (Jeanne Timmons, Valley News). More of an orientation article than a review of the exhibition.

Background here and here and links.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Donaldson, The Last Dark

Stephen R. Donaldson, The Last Dark: The climax of the entire Thomas Covenant Chronicles (Putnam, October 2013)
A pre-publication copy very kindly sent to me by the author.

I have a copy of the last Thomas Covenant book. And you don't.

BNTC 2013 - special deal extended!

DUE TO A TECHNICAL GLITCH over the weekend, a number of people were unable to register for the 2013 meeting of the British New Testament Conference in St. Andrews (29-31 August). We have therefore extended the deadline for the less expensive early bird registration to Monday, 8 July. After that, the price goes up substantially. You can book online here. So if you have delayed registering, now's your chance. For you, special deal!

DSS Passion

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS: A Long History of Passion, Controversy (Jeanne Timmons, Valley News). A pretty good summary of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls controversies.

More at the links on Frank Moore Cross, John Strugnell, and the criticisms of the original team for their tardiness in publication. Full disclosure: I was one of Cross's students who did doctoral research on his lot of Scrolls in the 1908s. My dissertation on unpublished manuscripts of Genesis and Exodus from Cave 4 was published in DJD 12. Much more on the Raphael Golb case (which is now under appeal) here and here and links.

Green Collection research

AT BAYLOR: Ancient Manuscripts Research. This project involves students working with materials from the Green Collection and sounds very worthwhile. Some background on the Green Collection is here and links.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dohrmann and Reed (eds.) Jews, Christians, and the Roman Empire

Jews, Christians, and the Roman Empire
The Poetics of Power in Late Antiquity

Natalie B. Dohrmann and Annette Yoshiko Reed, Editors

456 pages | 6 x 9 | 12 illus.
Cloth Sep 2013 | ISBN 978-0-8122-4533-2 | $69.95s | £45.50 | Add to cart
Ebook Sep 2013 | ISBN 978-0-8122-0857-3 | $69.95s | £45.50 | About | Add to cart
A volume in the Jewish Culture and Contexts series
View table of contents and excerpt

"Jews, Christians, and the Roman Empire, beginning with the editors' fundamental historiographical and programmatic essay, is the most important collection of studies on Jews in late antiquity I have ever seen. In fact, it is essential reading for all students of late antiquity. Especially admirable is the book's implicit argument that late antiquity was constituted not by a single seismic shift, but by the slow accretion of small changes over time."—Seth Schwartz, Columbia University

In histories of ancient Jews and Judaism, the Roman Empire looms large. For all the attention to the Jewish Revolt and other conflicts, however, there has been less concern for situating Jews within Roman imperial contexts; just as Jews are frequently dismissed as atypical by scholars of Roman history, so Rome remains invisible in many studies of rabbinic and other Jewish sources written under Roman rule.

Jews, Christians, and the Roman Empire brings Jewish perspectives to bear on longstanding debates concerning Romanization, Christianization, and late antiquity. Focusing on the third to sixth centuries, it draws together specialists in Jewish and Christian history, law, literature, poetry, and art. Perspectives from rabbinic and patristic sources are juxtaposed with evidence from piyyutim, documentary papyri, and synagogue and church mosaics. Through these case studies, contributors highlight paradoxes, subtleties, and ironies of Romanness and imperial power.
Follow the link for ToC, ordering information, etc.