Weekly Digest (10/17/17)

The Emancipation of Biblical Philology in the Dutch Republic, 1590-1670The Assyrian Empire and Judah: Royal Assyrian Archives and Other Historical Documents by Peter Zilberg (LINK)

“This study reviews the historical evidence for Assyrian control and administration in the area of Judah.”



Egypt’s Role in the Origins of Science by David A. Warburton (LINK)

“The author argues that the evidence of observation in Egyptian third millennium BCE medicine and astronomy should allow ancient Egypt an important place in the history of science.”


“Scarlet and Harlots: Seeing Red in the Hebrew Bible” by Scott Noegel (LINK)

“… a semiotic study of seven terms for the color red in the Hebrew Bible.”


Zauber und Magie im antiken Palästina und seiner Umwelt (forthcoming book; LINK)


New Publishing Company (LINK)


The Emancipation of Biblical Philology in the Dutch Republic, 1590-1670 by  Dirk van Miert (forthcoming book; LINK)

The Emancipation of Biblical Philology in the Dutch Republic, 1590-1670 argues that the application of tools, developed in the study of ancient Greek and Latin authors, to the Bible was aimed at stabilizing the biblical text but had the unintentional effect that the text grew more and more unstable. Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) capitalized on this tradition in his notorious Theological-political Treatise (1670). However, the foundations on which his radical biblical scholarship is built were laid by Reformed philologists who started from the hermeneutical assumption that philology was the servant of reformed dogma.


Weekly Digest (November 10th)

“Yahwistic Names in Light of Late Babylonian Onomastics” by Paul-Alain Beaulieu (LINK)

“This documentation from Uruk seems quite relevant to the study of Judean exiles. It shows that a cult deprived of state sponsorship in its original homeland could survive in Babylonia, which was, even for Assyrians, an alien environment.”

“Akkadian Commentaries from Ancient Mesopotamia and Their Relation to Early Hebrew Exegesis” (2012) by Uri Gabbay

“The commentaries as texts, both in the ancient Near East and in the sectarian and rabbinic sources from Palestine, are reflections of common ways of interpretation. The contact between the two cultures was not necessarily achieved on the level of the specific texts known to us by the chance of a find, but rather in other ways which are hidden behind the textual nature of the commentaries” (p. 312).

Before Nature: Cuneiform Knowledge and the History of Science by Francesca Rochberg

“”The aim of this book is to raise and explore questions about observing and interpreting, theorizing and calculating what we think of as natural phenomena in a world in which there was no articulated sense of nature in our terms, no reference or word for it” (p. 1).


Abstract: “While histories of ideas in premodern perspectives habitually understood history as divisions of fixed periods, modernists tend to narrate these histories in terms of flowing streams curving through timelines, intersections, and junctions. Crucial moments, accordingly, are turns and returns, shifts and orientations. I am not sure what it takes to diagnose and proclaim an intellectual turn or how to affirm or refute such a phenomenon, but I take the audacious risk and argue that the last couple of decades have seen a “legal turn” in the study of religions—a renewed focus on legal aspects of religion that includes legal concepts, theories, and practices.”

“Debunking Ancient Jewish Science” by M. J. Geller 

A review article of Ancient Jewish Sciences and the History of Knowledge in Second Temple Literature (edited by Seth Sanders and Jonathan ben-Dov).

‘Wissen’ im Akkadischen, Semitischen, Afroasiatischen” by Manfred Krebernik

Abstract: “K. discusses the semantic field of ‘knowledge’ in various ancient and modern languages. He starts with an overview of verbs expressing ‘knowing’ in Indo-European languages. Then he turns to the Akkadian e/idûm, its cognates and related lexemes. Thirdly, he considers the usage of other Semitic languages (Ugaritic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Ancient South Arabic/Sabean, New South Arabic, Ethiosemitic). Finally, he widens the perspective to encompass other Afro-Asiatic languages. In all languages surveyed, K. notes a development from ‘seeing’ to ‘knowing’ and a wide variety of metaphors for ‘knowledge,’ e.g., discern, find, feel, smell, follow, pursue, get acquainted with.”

A Late Iron Age I/Early Iron Age II Old Canaanite Inscription from Tell eṣ-Ṣâfī/ Gath, Israel : Palaeography, Dating, and Historical-Cultural Significance by Aren Maeir, Stefan Wimmer, Alexander Zukerman, and Aaron Demsky (LINK)

Contains notable comments on the development of Philistine culture within a Levantine context (pp. 24-25).

Weekly Digest (November 3rd, 2017)

Upcoming Article on Psalm 29, Psalm 96, and Chronicles (LINK)
Johannes Schnocks“Singet für JHWH, ganze Erde” (Ps 96:1b//1Chr 16:23). Psalm 96 im Kontext des Psalmenbuchs und der Chronik, in Psalmen und Chronik (Mohr Siebeck, 2018).

Forthcoming Book on Jesus in the Talmud by Peter Schafer (LINK)

“Published in German. This is a thorough investigation of the passages about Jesus in the rabbinic literature, mainly in the Babylonian Talmud. In his lucid and accessible book, Peter Schäfer examines how the rabbis read and used the New Testament to assert Judaism’s superiority over Christianity. The Talmudic texts focus on the virgin birth of Jesus, his behavior as a bad and frivolous disciple, his teachings, the healing capacities Jesus and his disciples possessed, the execution of Jesus and his disciples, and finally his punishment forever in hell. The center of this critique of Jesus and his fate was Babylonia under Sassanian rule, quite in contrast to Palestinian Judaism, which was increasingly threatened by the dominant power of Christianity.”

Historical and Theological Lexicon of the Septuagint (LINK)

Review of The Ancient Near East in the Nineteenth Century: Appreciations and Appropriations: III. Fantasy and Alternative Histories (LINK)

Weekly Digest (October 27, 2017)

*For myself and others, I will now be posting each Friday. Posts will include articles/books/blogs. which are relevant to my own work. When available, a link will be posted to the article. 
Article on Phoenician amulet dated the 7th century BCE (LINK)
“This amulet bears a Phoenician incantation (or perhaps more accurately, two or more incantations) inscribed in an Aramaic script, on the basis of which it is dated to the 7th c. BCE. Together with a companion piece, it is one of the only stone tablet text amulets’ to bear an inscription in any Canaanite dialect, and is therefore unique in several respects.”
An Aramaic-Inscribed Lamaštu Amulet from Zincirli (LINK)
“We are, nevertheless, occasionally surprised to find forgotten inscriptions with thin bibliographic trails and no available transcriptions, studies, or even legible photographs. The Aramaic-inscribed Lamaštu amulet we present here is one such forgotten item. This amulet was excavated during the 1888–1902 German expedition to Zincirli Höyük, Turkey, but was reproduced only illegibly in a 1943 report.”
CT 53 46
Zadok (2015) notes the personal names Nērī-Iau and Palṭi-Iau. If the iau element is a Yahwistic element, this is particularly interesting because their roles within CT 53 46 are as priests.
Click Hole Video About a New Gospel (LINK)
Ancient Jewish Magic Bibliography (LINK)
Review of The Materiality of Power by Brian Schmidt(LINK)
Review of Phoenician Aniconism in Its Mediterranean and Ancient Near Eastern Contexts (LINK)
Article about the Publication of Inscriptions by Christopher Rollston (LINK)
Article on Early Judaism (LINK)

New Book by Dever

In Novermber, a new book by William Dever will be published. Here is the description with a link: “William G. Dever offers a welcome perspective on ancient Israel and Judah that prioritizes the archaeological remains to render history as it was—not as the biblical writers argue it should have been. Drawing from the most recent archaeological data as interpreted from a nontheological point of view and supplementing that data with biblical material only when it converges with the archaeological record, Dever analyzes all the evidence at hand to provide a new history of ancient Israel and Judah that is accessible to all interested readers.” (LINK)

Academic Publishing and “Accessible” Information

As I spent a few minutes exploring new publications by Routledge, I came across an interesting series. It is titled Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World. Here is the description:

“Routledge is pleased to present an exciting series, Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World. These figures from antiquity are embedded in our culture, many functioning as the source of creative inspiration for poets, novelists, artists, composers and filmmakers. Concerned with their multifaceted aspects within the world of ancient paganism and how and why these figures continue to fascinate, the books provide a route into understanding Greek and Roman polytheism in the 21st century.

These concise and comprehensive guides provide a thorough understanding of each figure, offering the latest in critical research from the leading scholars in the field in an accessible and approachable form, making them ideal for undergraduates in Classics and related disciplines.

Each volume includes illustrations, time charts, family trees and maps where appropriate.”

(Click here for link; bold text added for emphasis)

While this volume may be good for undergraduates, I still question whether or not it is actually accessible. The cost of the first volume, entitled Ishtar, is $149.95. The eBook is $49.95. In my mind, this is not accessible. Instead, it is limited to those who have access to a university library or a large amount of money. Perhaps, then, Routledge should be careful in applying the description “accessible,” for few will actually be able to read it due to its cost.

I should note, though, that I recognize how much work can go into editing volumes. Even so, it is nothing but self-deception to pretend that a book of this cost will be accessible to many people. If scholars truly want knowledge and information to be accessible, they should find venues to disseminate the information.

Brief Update: Courses

For those of you who read my blog posts, I figured I’d post a brief update.

I just started Fall Quarter. Coursework is Attic Greek, Intermediate Hebrew, and Intermediate Akkadian. Attic Greek is elementary. So, there is nothing particularly unique. Intermediate Hebrew is “Biblical Hebrew boot camp.” It includes 3 days per week of working through various texts in class, 1 day of historical grammar, and 1 day of rapid reading. In Intermediate Akkadian, we are reading Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian letters. I’m a little nervous. Even so, I look forward to it.