Tuesday, September 02, 2014

JSP 23.3-4

THE JOURNAL FOR THE STUDY OF THE PSEUDEPIGRAPHA has published a couple issues in 2014. The TOC of 23.3 is as follows:
Ralph Lee
The Ethiopic ‘Andəmta’ Commentary on Ethiopic Enoch 2 (1 Enoch 6–9)
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha March 2014 23: 179-200, doi:10.1177/0951820714528628

Ariel Feldman
Moses’ Farewell Address according to 1QWords of Moses (1Q22)
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha March 2014 23: 201-214, doi:10.1177/0951820714528629

Arye Edrei and
Doron Mendels
Preliminary Thoughts on Structures of ‘Sovereignty’ and the Deepening Gap between Judaism and Christianity in the First Centuries CE
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha March 2014 23: 215-238, doi:10.1177/0951820714528630

Shifra Sznol
Traces of the Targum Sources in Greek Bible Translations in the Hebrew Alphabet
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha March 2014 23: 239-256, doi:10.1177/0951820714528632
The TOC of 23.4 is as follows:
Ilaria L.E. Ramelli
A Pseudepigraphon Inside a Pseudepigraphon? The Seneca–Paul Correspondence and the Letters Added Afterwards
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha June 2014 23: 259-289, doi:10.1177/0951820714536495

Christfried Böttrich
Apocalyptic Tradition and Mystical Prayer in the Ladder of Jacob
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha June 2014 23: 290-306, doi:10.1177/0951820714536497

Chris H. Knights
The Rechabites Revisited: The History of the Rechabites Twenty-Five Years On
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha June 2014 23: 307-320, doi:10.1177/0951820714536499
The abstract for the last, by Knights, reads:
In this article the author revisits the ‘History of the Rechabites’, chs. 8–10 of the Story of Zosimus, a text he first studied in the 1980s, in the light of the work done on the text more recently by Nikolsky and Davila. He looks more closely at the reasons why the text may or may not be Jewish and concludes that, despite his earlier published views, it is more likely to be a Christian composition than a Jewish one.
Dr Knights kindly sent me an offprint of this one. My work on the Story of Zosimus from 2003 is online here and here.

Carlisle Floyd on Susannah

APOCRYPHA WATCH: Carlisle Floyd discusses the narrative dimension of opera
(Stephen Smoliar, The Examiner).
Yesterday evening San Francisco Opera (SFO) presented the first Insight Panel of the its 2014–15 season. The Panel was hosted by Jon Finck, Director of Communications and Public Affairs; and the topic was the company premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s 1955 opera Susannah. What made this a particularly special occasion was that Floyd himself, who turned 88 last June, was on hand to participate, along with SFO General Director David Gockley, soprano Patricia Racette (who will be singing the title role), stage director Michael Cavanagh, and conductor Karen Kamensek.

As I have previously observed, Floyd wrote his own libretto for Susannah and did the same for all of his later operas. While the story is loosely based on an episode in the Biblical apocrypha originally associated with the Book of Daniel, Floyd was actually inspired by a Renaissance painting of that portion of the story in which the elders are spying on Susannah while she was bathing. Floyd’s libretto “Americanized” the tale, setting it in the mountain town of New Hope Valley, Tennessee.

Susannah will be playing in San Francisco starting Saturday. Past performances are noted here and links.

Biblical Studies Carnival

THE BIBLICAL STUDIES CARNIVAL FOR AUGUST 2014 has been posted at the Biblical Studies Blog.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Saving Syriac inscriptions

SYRIAC WATCH: While ISIS destroys, Hamilton man battles to preserve historic texts. Team conserving photos of ancient inscriptions, buildings that now no longer exist (Kelly Bennett, CBC News).
A group of librarians led by a Hamilton man is racing against time to preserve inscriptions of centuries-old artifacts and documents currently threatened by ISIS’s destruction across much of Iraq and Syria.


Some of the photographs and rubbings in the collections the centre is processing could be the last remaining evidence of some of the inscriptions and, in some cases, the buildings that housed them. Some of the inscriptions date back to the 7th century.

[Colin] Clarke, [founder and director of the Canadian Centre for Epigraphic Documents at the University of Toronto,] works with a team of library scientists, language experts and academics, all of who volunteer for the centre's work. The centre started four years ago to catalogue and conserve the largest collection of Ancient Greek inscriptions in Canada.

Last year, the centre began working on a collection of Syriac documents. Syriac is an international language that was once used throughout much of the eastern world, being transported along the Silk Road. The dialect is related to Aramaic, the language Jesus reportedly spoke.

Many inscriptions convey Christian thoughts and poems. One key collection of Syriac documents comes from a University of Toronto professor and Mosul native Amir Harrak, an expert in Iraqi Syriac inscriptions.

Background on the situation in Iraq is here and links. By the way, Syriac is not "related to" Aramaic, it is a dialect of Aramaic.

R. Hillel meets the t-shirt

"IF NOT NOW, WHEN?" H&M sells popular t-shirt with Hillel quote (European Jewish Press).

More from Diesel on Hannibal

PUNIC WATCH: Vin Diesel Shows Off Hannibal Title Treatment During Crazy Helicopter Video. Diesel is reportedly "haunted" by the fact that he has not yet completed the Hannibal movies. As well he should be.

Background here and links.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lost Armenian monastery

EVERY PHILOLOGIST DREAMS OF THIS HAPPENING: Ani ruins reveal hidden secrets from below. New underground structures have come to light in Ani, one of Turkey’s most breathtaking ancient sites. History researcher Sezai Yazıcı says the ancient city’s structures should be promoted (Hurriyet Daily News).
“In 2011 while working on a United Nations project in order to promote Kars and to reveal its historical and cultural heritage, I came across some pretty interesting information. One of the most important names of the first half of the 20th century, George Ivanovic Gurdjieff, who spent most of his childhood and youth in Kars, had chosen [to stay in] an isolated place in Ani along with his friend Pogosyan where they worked for some time together in the 1880s. One day, while digging at one of the underground tunnels in Ani, Gurdjieff and his friend saw that the soil became different. They continued digging and discovered a narrow tunnel. But the end of the tunnel was closed off with stones. They cleaned the stones and found a room. They saw decayed furniture, broken pots and pans in the room. They also found a scrap of parchment in a niche. Although Gurdjieff spoke Armenian very well, he failed to read Armenian writing in the parchment. Apparently, it was very old Armenian. After a while, they learned that the parchments were letters written by a monk to another monk,” Yazıcı said, speaking about how he became interested in the underground structures.

“Finally, [Gurdjieff and his friend] succeeded in understanding the letters. Gurdjieff discovered that there was a famous Mesopotamian esoteric school in the place where they found the letters. The famous school was active between the sixth and seventh centuries A.D. and there was a monastery there,” he added.
HT Cornelia Horn on Facebook.

Some past posts on ancient Armenian are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. And this story deserves a nod to The Rule of Four.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Acikyildiz, The Yezidis

The Yezidis: The History of a Community, Culture and Religion
Birgul Acikyildiz (author)

Paperback | In Stock | £14.99


The minority communities of northern Iraq are under increasingly severe threat from Islamic State jihadists. Among these minorities, the Yezidis have one of the most remarkable legacies of any tradition in the Middle East. Yet not just their religious and material culture but now their entire existence is in peril as entire populations seek refuge from their violent oppressors.

But who are the Yezidis (or ‘Yazidis’ as in much of the Western media)? The community has been misunderstood and oppressed for centuries. Predominantly ethnic Kurds, and the target of persecution over many centuries, until now they have succeeded in keeping their ancient religion alive despite the claim that they are ‘devil worshippers.’

This is the essential guide to a threatened tradition. It reveals an intricate system of belief influenced by Zoroastrianism and Sufism and regional paganism like Mithraism. It explores the origins of the Yezidis, their art and architecture and the often misunderstood (and now progressively life-threatening) connections between Yezidism and the Satan/Sheitan of Christian and Muslim tradition. Extensively illustrated, with maps, photographs and illustrations, this pioneering book is a testimonial to one of the region’s most extraordinary and ancient peoples.
Background here and links.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Arash Zeini's blog

ARASH ZEINI has a predominantly bibliographic blog for Iranian Studies. Some of his posts also pertain to ancient Judaism. Two of the latter (for now) are: Zoroastrian exegetical parables and To convert a Persian.

Review of As Above, So Below

ARAMAIC WATCH: ‘As Above, So Below’ Review: Deserves a Swift Burial (Dan Callahan, The Wrap). Excerpt:
Director John Erick Dowdle and cinematographer Léo Hinstin keep their handheld camera style shaky, rattling and rolling throughout, even though most of the movie is supposed to be footage shot by hapless documentary filmmaker Benji (Edwin Hodge), who is following dishy Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) around as she goes on a dizzy quest to find the mythical philosopher's stone, an alchemical substance that turns metal into gold and also gives its owner immortality.

“I am fluent in four spoken languages and two dead ones,” chirps the enthusiastic Scarlett, who speaks in plummy British tones that mask her heartbreak over her alchemist father's suicide. She doesn't speak Aramaic, however, though she assures Benji that she “knows a guy who does”: George, played by Ben Feldman, just as neurotic here as he is playing paranoid copy writer Ginsberg on “Mad Men.”

Though Scarlett once got them both stuck in a Turkish prison for a week, George is quietly smitten with her, so much so that he thinks nothing of breaking into a museum for her so that she can take down an ancient tablet, rub the back with ammonia cleanser, and light it on fire to see if it might reveal where the stone might be hidden. The tablet back tells her that the stone could be down somewhere in the Paris catacombs, a tunnel network underneath the city that houses the bones of six million bodies.
She just wants him for his Aramaic.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

52nd PSCO (2014-15)

Dear friends and colleagues,

I am delighted to announce that our 52nd PSCO — co-chaired by me, Matthew Chalmers, and Natalie Dohrmann — will explore "Formative Figures and Paths Not Taken: The Study of Ancient Judaism and Christianity between History and Historiography." In concert with the 2014-2015 Katz Center theme-year on "New Perspectives on the Origins, Context, and Diffusion of the Academic Study of Judaism," we will focus on key figures in the study of ancient Judaism and Christianity in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries, situating them both in terms of their own modern contexts and in terms of their contribution to scholarship on antiquity. We are hoping to revisit formative contributions to scholarship but also to recover forgotten insights and interesting paths not taken — especially in relation to the interactions of Jewish studies and Jewish scholars with the dominantly Christian contexts of early research. In the process, we hope to bring historians of antiquity into conversation with historians of modernity so as to help situate our own scholarly endeavors as part of ongoing contextualized reflections and continually remade memories of ancient Jewish and Christian pasts.

Our opening session will be on Thursday October 2 (7pm-9pm) and will feature John G. Gager of Princeton University speaking on Jacob Taubes, Michael Wyschogrod, and radical Jewish approaches to Paul and “early Christianity." More details, suggested readings, etc., will be sent out closer to the date. We’re still working on pinning down the schedule for the rest of the year. Confirmed sessions to mark in your calendar = David Ruderman will speak on William Wotton (1666–1727) and the Christian recovery of the Mishnah in early modern Europe on Thursday December 11, and Bernard Levinson will speak on Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) on Thursday March 19th. Unless otherwise noted, all sessions will be held in the Second Floor Lounge of Cohen Hall at the University of Pennsylvania and will run from 7:00pm-9:00pm, preceded by an informal dinner. More details soon!

Many of the talks at the Katz Center this year may also be of interest; for the fall schedule, please see http://katz.sas.upenn.edu/fellowship-program/meltzer-seminar

All the best, Annette
In case you didn't know, PSCO stands for "Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins. Their website is here and their Facebook page is here.

Star of Bethlehem colloquium

CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY: Colloquium: The Star of Bethlehem, Groningen. The Star of Bethlehem: Historical and Astronomical Perspectives – A Multi-Disciplinary Colloquium, University of Groningen, October 23rd-24th, 2014. Follow the link for details.

Canaanite wine cellar excavated

IN BRONZE-AGE ISRAEL: World's Oldest Wine Cellar Fueled Palatial Parties (Megan Gannon, LiveScience). "Wild nights in Tel Kabri."

I don't usually cover Bronze-Age archaeology, but this seemed important.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More Dovekeepers casting

TVLINE: Finding Carter's Kathryn Prescott Takes Aim at CBS' Dovekeepers Miniseries (Andy Swift).
The star of MTV’s Finding Carter has joined CBS’ upcoming miniseries The Dovekeepers, TVLine has learned, playing a teenaged tomboy named Aziza. Blessed with expert archery skills, Aziza disguises herself in her brother’s armor to join the male warriors of Masada — even managing to fool her lover Amram (played by 90210‘s Diego Boneta).

Obviously a rigorously accurate historical treatment of the story. Background on both the miniseries (due out in 2015) and the novel is here and links.

Phoenician shipwreck

PHOENICIAN WATCH: Phoenician shipwreck found off the coast of Malta could be the Mediterranean's oldest. But the exact location of the 2,700-year-old underwater ruin is being kept secret until research is finished.
By Emily Sharpe. Web only [The Art Newspaper]
Published online: 27 August 2014

Cargo from what may be the oldest shipwreck in the Mediterranean has been discovered off the coast the Maltese island of Gozo, reports the Times of Malta. Around 20 lava grinding stones and 50 amphorae of various types and sizes from the 50ft-long Phoenician wreck were found by a team of researchers from Malta, France and the US. Experts date the artefacts to around 700BC, when Malta was among several areas in the Mediterranean colonised by the Phoenicians.