Thursday, July 30, 2009

Aramaic Inscription from 1st Century CE

An Aramaic inscription dating from the first century CE was found in excavations on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. There's a photo of two lines at the Jerusalem Post website, but I wasn't able to make out more than a scattered letter here and there. Hopefully, the "team of epigraphic experts" has better luck with the real thing.

From the Jerusalem Post:
A unique ten-line Aramaic inscription on the side of a stone cup commonly used for ritual purity during Second Temple times was recently uncovered during archaeological excavations on Jerusalem's Mount Zion, it was announced Wednesday.

Inscriptions of this kind are extremely rare and only a handful have been found in scientific excavations made within the city.

The archaeological excavations are being carried out within the Gan Sovev Homot Yerushalayim national park, close to the Zion Gate. The work is directed by Professors Shimon Gibson and James Tabor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, with the co-ordination of Evyatar Cohen and Dr Tsvika Tsuk of the Israel Parks Authority.

The excavations follow work carred out at the site in the 1970s by Magen Broshi, when a monumental Arabic inscription from the thirteenth century was found. The inscription is due be exhibited in the new archaeological wing to be opened next year at the Israel Museum.

The new Aramaic inscription from the first century CE is currently being deciphered by a team of epigraphic experts in an effort to determine the meaning of the text, which is clear but cryptic. The dig also produced a sequence of building remains dating back to the First and Second Temple periods through to Byzantine and Early Islamic periods.

From the Second Temple period, archaeologists uncovered a house complex with an mikve (purification pool) with a remarkably well-preserved vaulted ceiling. Inside this house were three bread ovens dating back to the year 70 CE when Titus and the Roman troops stormed the city.

Archaeologists believe that this area of the Upper City of Jerusalem served as the priestly quarter of Jerusalem during Second Temple times.

Interesting discoveries including an ornate window screen made of stone supported this claim. Ten murex shells were also found and these were used for producing the argaman dye, which was used for the coloring the priestly vestments at that time.

In addition, a large arched building with a mosaic floor (preserved to a height of three meters) from the Byzantine period was also uncovered. Archaeologists say it may be part of a building complex or street associated with the nearby Church of St Mary.
HT: Todd Bolen

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Refresher on Gabriel's Vision

The Vision of Gabriel inscription was a hot topic a year ago, and I posted regularly on it through July and August 2008. At one point I'd considered writing a critique of Knohl's Journal of Religion article just to highlight it as a case study in logical fallacy. I finally tired of the subject as Knohl continued to endlessly repeat himself despite the minimal circumstantial evidence supporting his conclusions (see especially my posts linking to responses at Forbidden Gospels and Ancient Hebrew Poetry). Then almost a year ago John Hobbins posted a few comments from John Collins on the Vision of Gabriel, promising an upcoming article. Somehow that article slipped my notice last fall, but it has made the rounds today via the Agade mailing list. Here's an excerpt from the end.
At a conference in Jerusalem in early July, Knohl was met by skepticism from both Jewish and Christian scholars. The skepticism had nothing to do with theology. The text simply does not say what Knohl claims. It is too fragmentary. It is not clear that the Ephraim mentioned is a messiah. Even if the word after "three days" is "live," it does not follow that it means "rise from the dead." A chariot does not necessarily imply ascent to heaven. This is not to say that Knohl's interpretation is impossible. But there is not much reason to think it is right.

But even if Knohl's interpretation were right, it would hardly warrant the ensuing fuss. Everyone who has taken an introductory New Testament course knows that the early Christians understood Jesus in light of Jewish prophecies and expectations. The motif of resurrection after three days is based on a passage from the prophet Hosea about restoration of the people: "on the third day he will raise us up that we may live before him." If Knohl's interpretation should prove to be right, it would be an interesting contribution to the history of religion. But its supposed threat to Christian theology is no more than a marketing strategy. In that respect, the Vision of Gabriel is only the latest of many discoveries that have been sensationalized for the sake of publicity.
I'm glad the publicity firestorm over this particular issue seems to have fizzled out. The issue of messianic expectation and identity in ancient Judaism and Historical Jesus research is, however, still a hot topic.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Welcome to the Archives

Welcome to the Archives of Biblia Hebraica!

Biblia Hebraica has been an active biblioblog from February 2008 until early July 2009.

Normal blogging is scheduled to resume in the fall of 2009.

In the meantime, the archives are conveniently located on the right hand sidebar. If you are new to this blog, there's plenty to keep you busy until September.

Thanks for dropping by!

Prelims on My Mind or TTFN

As I continue to strive for that sublime state of mind known as the Bibb-Lester "You Know What's Interesting..." Effect (aka the B-L "YKWI..." Effect - wherein intensive exam prep pervades all of life in creative ways), I've decided to take a break from much of my online activity, seeing it as more of a distraction than as a constructive part of my personal development for now. My exam schedule is set: General Exam-July 27, Hebrew Exam-July 30, Semitics Exam-Aug 11, Oral Exam (including dissertation proposal)-Aug 20. So I'm taking a sabbatical of sorts from the biblioblogosphere. I'll still moderate comments but don't expect much discussion or new content here until late August. I probably won't be paying much attention to what any other biblioblogs are saying either, though my subscriptions will remain in Google Reader. It will be interesting to see how many unread items I have once I achieve enlightenment (i.e., successful completion of exams). For round the clock updates on what is going on in the biblioblogging community in my absence, I refer you to the #1 biblioblog of all time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New Revelation: The Apocalypse of Eve

The Apocalypse of Eve, also known as Biblical Studies Carnival 43, has been revealed and translated by Pat McCullough. Pat has put his research interest in apocalyptic literature to good use, translating an ancient scroll that surprisingly contained revelations about biblioblogging in June 2009 with uncanny accuracy. Very creative for a biblical studies carnival. Check it out!