Friday, November 24, 2017

Karaite and ancient sectarian halakhah

GENIZA FRAGMENT OF THE MONTH: OCTOBER 2017: Early Karaite Halakha according to Karaite Commentaries to the Bible (T-S 16.316) (Yoram Erder).
The Genizah documents are essentially fragmentary. In order to understand the Karaite halakha in these documents in its broad context, one needs to read the extensive corpus of early Karaite commentaries, which are mostly found in manuscripts in western libraries and in the Firkowitcz Collection in Russia. These commentaries are written in Judaeo-Arabic and most of them were not in the hands of the first scholars. Not only that, but the first scholars did not trouble themselves to compare their Genizah documents with the early Karaite commentaries available in their time, and instead they made do by reading late Karaite commentaries to the Bible written in Hebrew in the later Middle Ages, since these were readily available in print. The Karaites that wrote these later books did not, in their writings, present the halakhic controversies of their predecessors.

The first scholars studied the early Karaite halakha in the light of poor remnants of sectarian halakha they found in the Talmudic literature. From 1910 they had at their disposal the Damascus Covenant scroll that was discovered in the Genizah. When and where it was written was still then in debate. Nowadays, of course, we can examine early Karaite halakha in the light of the entire corpus of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Past PaleoJudaica posts noting Cairo Geniza Fragments of the Month in the Cambridge University Library's Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit are here and here and links. For many past PaleoJudaica posts on the Karaites, start here and follow the links. Cross-file under Karaite Watch.

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Morris, Warding Off Evil

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: MICHAEL J. MORRIS. Warding Off Evil. Apotropaic Tradition in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Synoptic Gospels. [Das Böse abwehren. Apotropäische Überlieferungen in den Schriftrollen vom Toten Meer und den synoptischen Evangelien.] 2017. XV, 296 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 451.
Published in English.
In this study, Michael J. Morris examines aspects of synoptic gospel demonology; specifically, human responses to demonic evil. It is clear that early Christian demonology can be more fully understood against the background of early Jewish traditions. In the Dead Sea Scrolls, for instance, there are two fundamental ways by which protection against demons is sought. The first anti-demonic method is “exorcism,” and the second is characterized by its preventative nature and is typically referred to as “apotropaism.” Although many contributions have been made on the topic of exorcism in the gospels, less attention has been paid to the presence of apotropaic features in the gospel texts. Therefore, Michael J. Morris offers a timely examination of apotropaic tradition in early Judaism and its significance for demonological material in the synoptic gospels. He shows how the presence of apotropaisms not only shape conversations about early Christian demonology, but also have broader implications for the understanding of evil, eschatology, and the depiction of Jesus in relation to each gospel.

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Jacob, Leah, and Rachel

DR. RABBI ZEV FARBER: How Is It Possible that Jacob Mistakes Leah for Rachel? (TheTorah.com).
“When morning came, there was Leah!” (Genesis 29:25). Could Jacob not tell the difference between his beloved of seven years and her sister, for a whole night? Commentators have long tried to make sense of the story by adding extra details, but perhaps we need to rethink the nature of Jacob and Rachel’s relationship during those years.

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More on the Tyndale House NT

ETC BLOG: Initial thoughts on the Tyndale House Greek New Testament (Peter Gurry).
These are some initial impressions, then. Overall, the edition is refreshing in its visual simplicity and some of the novelties such as paragraphing are a nice change. I will still use my NA, of course, for serious work but I expect to be reading the THGNT devotionally in 2018 and perhaps as my new church NT.
Past posts on the new Tyndale House New Testament are here and here.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Inscribed mosaic excavated in Georgian church at Ashdod-Yam

ARCHAEOLOGY, DECORATIVE ART, AND EPIGRAPHY: Where Maccabees overthrew idolatry, early Georgian Christian mosaic uncovered. Ashdod, today home to the largest community of Georgian Jews in the world, was a Byzantine base for a Christian Georgian prince (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
The first evidence of a Georgian Christian presence on the shores of the Holy Land was uncovered during August excavations in the ancient city of Ashdod-Yam. Dating to the Byzantine period, a Greek inscription was found on the floor of a 1,500-year-old church, which mentions the date of 292 according to the Georgian calendar.

The Ashdod-Yam inscription is the earliest known use of the Georgian calendar in the world — including in Georgia. Interestingly, according to the excavation’s lead archaeologists, modern Ashdod is now home to the largest community of Jews of Georgian origin.

[...]

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Henze on Jesus and the gap years

SECOND TEMPLE JUDAISM: Jesus was more Jewish than you think, says Bible prof. Matthias Henze says the source for the Christian Messiah's faith is best explained after looking at the Second Temple era, when Judaism and Christianity overlapped (RICH TENORIO, Times of Israel).
When Rice University religion professor Matthias Henze visits local Houston-area churches and synagogues to promote interfaith understanding between Christianity and Judaism, he focuses on discussing one particular time period: the four-to-five-century gap between the Old and New Testaments.

[...]
An article on the work of Professor Henze, with special reference to his new book, Mind the Gap: How the Jewish Writings Between the Old and New Testament Help Us Understand Jesus (Fortress, 2017).

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Return of Mor Gabriel monastery "imminent"

ASSYRIAN (MODERN SYRIAC) WATCH: Turkey’s Syriac community welcomes monastery’s return. Title deed of Mor Gabriel Monastery transferred to Turkish Treasury in 2014 (Anadolu Agency, Halil Ibrahim Sincar, Nurten Aslan and Selahattin Erol).
MARDIN, Turkey

Turkey’s Syriac minority in Mardin province welcomes the imminent return of legal ownership of the Mor Gabriel Monastery to their community, a monastery official told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Cavusoglu said earlier that an Assyrian Christian cemetery belonging to the monastery had been mistakenly transferred to the state treasury.

"We are now transferring this cemetery back to its owners," Cavusoglu added.

[...]
This is prospectively good news. I will call it actual good news as soon as there is word that the return has been fully effected. I appreciate the efforts of the Turkish Government to get this one right. I trust that they will be similarly attentive to the related property issues that remain to be resolved. The world is watching.

Background here and links.

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Thanksgiving

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to my American readers and all those celebrating with us!

Today is a normal work day in the U.K., so there will be some normal blogging. Have a good day.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Lioness carving found at el-Araj

ARCHAEOLOGY: Perfect Lioness Carving From 1,500 Years Ago Discovered in a Pile of Dirt in Israel. Basalt carving may have graced an ancient synagogue in Bethsaida, archaeologists surmise: It's like other synagogue decorations found in the area (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
"Moreover take thou up a lamentation for the princess of Israel, And say, What is thy mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions." Ezekiel 19:1-2

Some people wouldn't notice an elephant statue in the room. Others glance at a pile of dirt and see ancient carvings of cats. That's how archaeologists found a relief of a lioness carved on a basalt rock weighing 600 kilograms (1320 pounds) at el-Araj, which may or may not have been the site of Bethsaida, in the Galilee.

The carving probably dates to around the 4th to 6th century C.E., says Dr. Mordechai Aviam, director of excavations at the Kinneret Academic College in the Galilee.

[...]
For the controversy over whether el-Araj was ancient Bethsaida-Julias, see here, here, here, and links

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Schiffman on the archaeology of garbage in Jerusalem

PROFESSOR LAWERENCE H. SCHIFFMAN: MAKE NO BONES ABOUT IT! ANCIENT TRASH REVEALS THE EATING HABITS OF JEWS 2,000 YEARS AGO. An offprint of his recent article in Ami Magazine. For clarity, the Bayis Rishon period is the First Temple period and the Bayis Sheini period is the Second Temple period.

An earlier post on this excavation in Jerusalem is here.

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Avemarie et al. (eds.), Die Makkabäer

NEW BOOK FROM MOHR SIEBECK: Die Makkabäer. Hrsg. v. Friedrich Avemarie, Predrag Bukovec, Stefan Krauter u. Michael Tilly, unter Mitarb. v. Hendrik Stoppel. [The Maccabees.] 2017. XI, 471 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 382. 179,00 €. cloth. ISBN 978-3-16-153861-2.
Published in German.
In many respects, the Maccabean period represents a bench mark for the formative phase as well as for ancient Judaism and early Christianity. Alongside the political significance of an independent state in Hellenistic times, there belongs the paradigmatic developments of the complex intertwining of ethnos and confession in Judaism, the establishment of the Torah and the Bible as binding text corpora, and the emergence of religious institutions and parties. In the field of theology, discourses on the Maccabean period had a decisive effect on Jewish and Christian eschatology, martyrology and soteriology. This volume makes the first attempt at providing a complete overview of this epoch from a variety of angles. In thematically ordered interdisciplinary groups, proven experts synchronously consider contemporary events and literature, and take a diachronic look at the far-reaching reception of the Maccabean books and their time.
The articles are in German and English. Follow the link for the full TOC.

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Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology

REISSUED IN PAPERBACK BY BAYLOR UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Title: Angelomorphic Christology
Sub-title: Antecedents and Early Evidence

Series: (Library of Early Christology Series)
By (author): Charles A. Gieschen
ISBN10-13: 1481307940 : 9781481307949
Format: Paperback
Size: 230x155mm
Pages: 419
Weight: .688 Kg.
Published: Baylor University Press (US) - August 2017
List Price: 38.50 Pounds Sterling
Availability: In Stock Qty Available: 7
Subjects: History of religion : Church history : New Testaments : Biblical studies & exegesis : Christian theology

Charles Gieschen demonstrates that angel and angel-related traditions, especially those built upon the so-called "Angel of the Lord" figure in the Hebrew Bible, had a profound impact upon the origin, development, and shape of early Christian claims about Jesus. Gieschen's book falls neatly into two halves. The first catalogues the various antecedents for Angelomorphic Christology -- Jewish speculation about principal angels, mediator figures, and related phenomena -- with chapters on “An Angelomorphic God”, “Angelomorphic Divine Hypostases” (including the Divine Name, the Divine Glory, Wisdom, the Word, the Spirit and Power), Principal Named Angels, and Angelomorphic Humans. The book's second half examines the evidence for Angelomorphic Christology in early Christian literature. This portion begins with a brief overview of the principal Angel and Angelomorphic Christology from Justin to Nicea and then examines in turn the Pseudo-Clementines, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Ascension of Isaiah, the Revelation of John, the Fourth Gospel, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Pauline Corpus. Gieschen argues that Christian use of the angelomorphic tradition did not spawn a new and variant kind of Christology, one that competed with accepted belief about Jesus for early Christians' favour, but instead shows how Christians adapted an already variegated Jewish tradition to weave a single story about a common Lord.
Another in Baylor's new Library of Early Christology reprint series, on which more here and here and links.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Talmud and involuntary manslaughter

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Accident or Crime? How studying Torah could kill a child, and other lessons in involuntary manslaughter from this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study.
This week, Daf Yomi readers completed the second chapter of Tractate Makkot, a short section of the Talmud that deals with non-capital crimes. The subject of this chapter was what American law calls involuntary manslaughter: What happens to someone who accidentally kills another person? Clearly, he cannot be convicted of murder under Jewish law, because we learned in Tractate Sanhedrin, a murderer is only guilty if he is forewarned by two witnesses that he is about to commit a capital crime. But does this mean that an unintentional killer suffers no consequences at all?

[...]
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

British Library Hebrew manuscripts online with translations

DIGITIZATION: British Library publishes treasure trove of Hebrew manuscripts. New online collection is venerable library's first bilingual online project, letting users search among 1,300 items in English and Hebrew (Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel).
The British Library last week launched a new website showcasing 1,300 Hebrew manuscripts, ranging from ancient Torah scrolls and prayer books to philosophical, theological and scientific works.

The new site is the library’s first bilingual online collection, allowing users to search for scans of the manuscripts in Hebrew and English.

[...]
Past posts on the British Library's Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project are here, here, and here.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Windows

PROF. AARON DEMSKY: Looking through the Window: A Gendered Motif (TheTorah.com).
Abimelech, Michal, Sisera’s mother, and Jezebel all look through a window, but their experience is not the same.
Indeed not.

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Disability theory and Rabbinic literature

LECTURE: Rabbi highlights disability theory and symbolism in Rabbinic literature ( Eliana Padwa, The Justice).
To Rabbi Dr. Julia Watts Belser, an expert in both Judaic studies and disability studies, being knowledgeable about multiple fields provides a unique opportunity to combine and compare disciplines; she analyzes each field in light of the other.

On Tuesday, the annual Jewish Studies Colloquium convened to hear Watts Belser, assistant professor of Jewish Studies at Georgetown University, and to discuss her ongoing work.

Introduced as someone whose scholarship “is a constant reminder of our intellectual, moral and emotional responsibility to break down barriers,” Watts Belser presented briefly on her new project, which attendees had read in advance. The project, an essay titled “Disciplining the Dissident Body: Disability, Gender, and State Violence in Rabbinic Literature,” discusses three “rabbinic stories” — Jewish theological tales — and their physical and symbolic portrayals of disability.

[...]
I noted a review of a book by Dr. Belser here and an essay by her at AJR here.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Timna and the United Monarchy?

ARCHAEOLOGY: Did David and Solomon's United Monarchy Exist? Vast Ancient Mining Operation May Hold Answers. Archaeology has provided precious little evidence for the biblical account of a powerful Judaic kingdom 3,000 years ago, but the sheer extent of copper mining in Timna, when Egypt was in a state of collapse, is otherwise hard to explain (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz).
The biblical narrative may have gone overboard on extolling the virtues of the two kings, but a preponderance of evidence indicates that some kind of powerful polity did rule from Jerusalem. One of the best arguments is the massive copper production during the 10th century B.C.E., at Timna, three hundred kilometers south of Jerusalem.

Mountains of slag

There, in the dry desert, Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University has spent 14 years excavating copper mining and smelting sites of Jordan and Israel, dating to the 10th century B.C.E. The mines in the Aravah valley are in the very territory the Bible says David won from the Edomites, who then became subject to Israel (2 Samuel 8:13-14).
This article is especially interested in the "minimalist-maximalist" debate about whether and to what degree the Hebrew Bible tells us any useful historical information about the so-called United Monarchy. I am more interested in the article's detailed coverage of the Timna Valley excavation. Lots of organic material from the 10th century BCE has been excavated there. This leads me to hope that someday the excavators may recover scroll fragments there from the same period. It's a long shot, but we'll see.

Background on the many fascinating discoveries in the Timna Valley excavation is here and follow the links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Greek fragments found of Coptic "First Apocalypse of James"

BRICE C. JONES: First Greek Fragments of a Nag Hammadi Text Discovered among Oxyrhynchus Papyri!.
Very exciting news came out of a session at the 2017 annual Society of Biblical Literature conference in Boston: Geoff Smith and Brent Landau announced their discovery of the first known Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James, a Coptic text known from a Nag Hammadi codex (Codex V) and the famous Codex Tchacos. This early Christian text consists of a dialogue between Jesus and James the brother of Jesus. Scholars have argued that this Coptic text was probably translated from Greek, but until now, no Greek witnesses have been known to exist.

[...]
Very exciting indeed. Bit by bit, a letter at a time, whatever it takes. Until we're done.

Cross-file under New Testament Apocrypha Watch.

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Review of Hasselhoff and Strothmann (eds.), "Religio licita?"

BRYN MARY CLASSICAL REVIEW: Görge K. Hasselhoff, Meret Strothmann (ed.), "Religio licita?": Rom und die Juden. Studia Judaica, 84. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2017. Pp. viii, 230. ISBN 9783110406559. $126.00. Reviewed by Arco den Heijer, Theological University Kampen (ajdenheijer@tukampen.nl).
The introductory chapter situates the book within a number of scholarly debates: the debate on Jewish or Judean identity within the Mediterranean world (is it primarily ethnic or primarily religious, or does it evolve from the one into the other?), the debate on the legal status of the Judeans within the Roman empire and the question how conflictual the relationship between Judeans and other inhabitants of the Roman empire was on a social level. Scholars generally acknowledge the relatively large degree of freedom accorded in a number of decrees to Judeans to live according to their ancestral customs,1 but disagree about the extent to which they could actually participate in Greco-Roman society without getting involved in various kinds of cultural conflict.2

This volume contributes to these debates by collecting a number of essays by leading scholars in the field. The strengths of the book are its detailed attention to the ancient sources and its wide chronological and geographical scope, ranging from the speeches of Cicero to the Judean community of Cologne in the fourth century. However, the book as a whole fails to move forward on the debates mentioned above, both because a number of the contributors have already presented their views in more detail in earlier publications and because the book lacks a concluding chapter that could bring the various contributions together to answer the questions posed in the introduction. Still, the quality of the individual papers is generally high in its argumentative strength and adequate use of the evidence. I cannot discuss all papers in detail, but will highlight some of them.

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Fan Fiction and Ancient Scribal Cultures?

RELIGION PROF BLOG: Fan Fiction and Ancient Scribal Cultures #CFP (James McGrath). The comparison seems anachronistic to me, but it will be very interesting to see what this special issue of Transformative Works and Cultures produces.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

New analysis of Qumran skeletons

OSTEOLOGY: Skeletons could provide clues to who wrote or protected the Dead Sea Scrolls. Few women or children have been found at Qumran burial site, suggesting similarities to Byzantine monastery cemeteries (Bruce Bower, Science News).
Analyses of 33 newly excavated skeletons of people buried at the West Bank site, Qumran, supports a view that the community consisted of a religious sect of celibate men. Anthropologist Yossi Nagar of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem presented the findings November 16 at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Preliminary radiocarbon dating of one of the Qumran bones indicates that the interred bodies are around 2,200 years old — close to the same age as the ancient texts, which are estimated to have been written between around 150 B.C. and A.D. 70.

Plus, reexamination of 53 previously unearthed human skeletons from Qumran’s cemetery, now housed in France, found that six of seven individuals formerly tagged as women were actually men, Nagar said. A small number of children have also been excavated at Qumran.

[...]
The skeletons excavated at Qumran have been controversial for quite some time, mainly because analysis of them is so difficult. These latest results are interesting and could be important for our understanding of the site of Qumran and even for our understanding of the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls — if the results are upheld in peer-review publication. Cross-file under Technology Watch.

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Judaism and the Museum of the Bible

MUSEUM REVIEW: JUDAISM IS THE STAR AT A BIBLE MUSEUM BUILT BY HOBBY LOBBY. $500 million Bible musuem opened on National Mall park in Washington D.C. (JTA/Jerusalem Post).
The museum celebrates Jews and Judaism as the noble, beloved and even feared antecedents to Christianity, and argues that its best modern expression is in the State of Israel. And it makes the case that the Bible is not merely to be studied but to be believed.

Speaking at the dedication Friday, Steven Green, the president of Hobby Lobby and the museum’s chairman of the board, said museumgoers should come away realizing that the Bible “has had a positive impact on their lives in so many different ways and when they leave they will be inspired to open it.”

It especially celebrates the Bible’s Jewish origins, notably those made manifest in modern Israel. The dedication included a rabbi, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, the Israeli minister of tourism and the director of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

At times, the event seemed like a pro-Israel gala. Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador, celebrated the museum as a signifier of the Jewish claim to Jerusalem. The Bible nurtured Jews through 2,000 years of exile until they were able to “rebuild the original DC — David’s Capital,” he said.
This review is basically positive, but not without criticisms.

Background on the Museum of the Bible, Hobby Lobby, and the Green Collection, is here and follow the many links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Dubious DSS fragments in the Museum of the Bible

THIS IS A PROBLEM: Forgeries May Hide in Museum of the Bible's Dead Sea Scrolls. With the museum’s support, scholars are racing to understand the disputed Biblical texts (Michael Greshko, National Geographic).
Widely respected Biblical scholar David Trobisch now directs the collection—and the Museum of the Bible has supported the very work on the Dead Sea Scrolls which has uncovered evidence of forgery.

“Anybody who thinks that in a gigantic museum that there’s going to be no item [with disputed authenticity], it’s like believing that there’s no amoeba in your water,” says New York University Biblical scholar Lawrence Schiffman, who consulted the museum on its presentation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. “The museum did everything they’re supposed to do.”
Regular readers of PaleoJudaica will be familiar with most of what is covered in this article. But the article assembles the information conveniently in one place.

Background on those dubious Dead Sea Scrolls fragments is here and links. Background on the Museum of the Bible, Hobby Lobby, and the Green Collection, is here and many links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

More on the Good Ship Ma’agan Michael II

REPLICA UPDATE: Sailing a 2,400-year-old Ship That Sank Off Israel's Coast. Over many centuries, hundreds of ships sank along what is now the coast of Israel. Report from a cruise on a replica of the oldest found so far (Moshe Gilad, Haaretz).
Sunk on its maiden voyage

The ancient ship was discovered in 1985. It lay 70 meters from the shore, its bow pointing landward, at a depth of about two meters, under a layer of sand of similar thickness. Dr. Elisha Linder, a marine archaeologist from the University of Haifa, was in charge of researching the unique find. The quantity of wood used in the ship’s construction, and its quality, together with the precise dating, reflected the ship’s importance. Its one-armed anchor was the first of its type to be found whole. It took a full 15 years for the vessel to be lifted out of the water, dismantled, preserved and reassembled. It’s now a fine exhibit in the Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa. The findings on display, which constitute about a third of the original ship, were the foundation for the construction of the replica.

In the past three years, Prof. Yaacov Kahanov of Haifa University’s Department of Maritime Civilizations, a world expert in the study of ancient ships, led the initiative to build the replica. The resulting full-scale ship, constructed using methods that were in use in the Mediterranean around 400 BCE, is faithful to the original. Kahanov passed away just before the work was completed.
(Stop and read this premium article now, before it goes behind the subscription wall.)

The excavators think the ship was likely crewed by Greeks rather than Phoenicians. Background to the story is here and here.

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Lieu (ed.), Manichaeism East and West

BIBLIOGRAPHIA IRANICA: Manichaeism East and West. Notice of a new book: Lieu, Samuel N. C. (ed.). 2017. Manichaeism east and west (Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum. Analecta Manichaica 1). Turnhout: Brepols.

Follow the link for the TOC. The Book of Giants figures in a couple of the articles. For many past PaleoJudaica posts involving the Book of Giants, see here, here, here, and links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.

Hurtado on Psalm 110

LARRY HURTADO: Early Christian Use of “Messianic” Psalms. With focus on a surprising fact about Psalm 110:1.

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Surrogacy in an Assyrian prenup

MODERN THEMES, ANCIENT SOLUTIONS: 4,000-year-old prenup pushes for surrogacy in case of infertility. Cuneiform tablet calls for a contractual sex slave to be freed after a son's birth -- and would have prevented the bitter rivalry between biblical Hagar and Sarah. I'm not sure how much relevance this text really has for the legends about Sarah and Hagar in the Bible. But it is of considerable historical interest in itself.

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Fossum, The Name of God & the Angel of the Lord

REISSUED IN PAPERBACK BY BAYLOR UNIVERSITY PRESS:
Title: Name of God & the Angel of the Lord
Sub-title: Samaritan & Jewish Concepts of Intermediation & the Origin of Gnosticism

Series: (Library of Early Christology Series)
By (author): Jarl E. Fossum
ISBN10-13: 1481307932 : 9781481307932
Format: Paperback
Size: 230x155mm
Pages: 391
Weight: .650 Kg.
Published: Baylor University Press (US) - August 2017
List Price: 38.50 Pounds Sterling
Availability: In Stock Qty Available: 8
Subjects: History of religion : Church history : New Testaments : Biblical studies & exegesis : Christian theology

The relationship among Judaism, Gnosticism, and Christianity perpetually eludes easy description. While it is clear that by the second and third centuries of the Common Era these three religious groups worked hard to distinguish themselves from each other, it is also true that the three religious traditions share common religious perspectives. Jarl Fossum examines this common heritage by proposing that the emergence of an anticosmic gnostic demiurge was not simply Gnosticism's critique of the Jewish God or a metaphysical anti-semitism. The figure of the gnostic demiurge arose from Judaism itself. Fossum demonstrates that the first gnostic versions of the demiurge constituted a subordinated dualism. Fossum then turns to Judaism, in particular Samaritanism's portrayal of a principal angel. In distinction from non-Samaritan Jewish examples -- where the Angel of the Lord bears the Divine Name but is not a demiurge, or examples where the Divine Name is said to be the instrument of creation but is not an angel or personal being -- Fossum discovers a figure who bore God's name, was distinct from God, and was God's instrument for creation. Only in Samaritan texts is God's vice-regent personalised, angelic, demiurgic, and the bearer of God's name. In the end the book reveals that not all gnostic speculation was anti-Jewish and, indeed, emerging gnostic and Christian traditions borrowed as much from Judaism as they criticised and rejected.
Another in Baylor's new Library of Early Christology reprint series, on which more here and links.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.