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Archive for Ancient History

An Early Use of the Term Midrash at Qumran

NRG has an article (Hebrew) about recent research on the Qumranic book Sefer Moshe  (the fragment is 4Q249 frg 1, published by Stephen Pfann in DJD 36). The research was conducted by Jonatan (Yonatan) Ben-Dov and Daniel Stoekl Ben Ezra. Using new technology the two were able to discover that the title of the book Sefer Moshe had been changed to […]

Workshop on Ancient Religion and Modern Technology

The Judaic Studies department at Brown University will be hosting a workshop on Ancient Religion and Modern Technology that will take place on February 13-14. The schedule and information can be found here.

Happy Birthday to Julian the Apostate

November 17 is the birthday of Flavius Claudius Julianus, a.k.a. Julian the Apostate. (hat tip) Julian is important for Jewish history because in 363 CE he initiated work on the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Julian thought to rebuild at an extravagant expense the proud Temple once at Jerusalem, and committed this task to […]

Jewish Demography in Antiquity

If anyone is going to be near Columbia University this Thursday afternoon, this might be worth a look.

The Origins of the Alphabet

Balshanut links to this exchange about the origins of the alphabet. Two scholars disagree whether it was invented by “illiterate Canaanite miners in the turquoise mines of Serabit el-Khadem in the Sinai peninsula” or “highly sophisticated Northwest Semites.” Also see this very good post on the origins of the alphabet by Christopher A. Rollston, who […]

The Historical Aftermath of the Ḥurban

As those on the East Coast of the US are soon to see this year’s Tisha B’av exit, I thought that I would bring a text that accentuates the gap between the historical memory of ḥurban ha-bayit and what we know from the historical record. The text below is from Lee I.A. Levine, “Judaism from […]

Purim: Did It, or Didn’t It Happen?

Dr. Thamar E. Gindin has posted Hebrew summaries of a series of lectures that she gave on the historicity of the Scroll of Esther. The summaries can be found here. Also see this post (Hebrew) on the burial places of Esther and Mordechai by Orli Rahimian.

Interpreting Epigraphical Texts

As a follow-up to this post on a recently discovered Hebrew epigraphical text and the problems of its interpretation, one of the more famous examples of interpreting epigraphical texts through potentially Biblically-biased eyes comes to mind. For some years people felt that an Ugaritic text describing the cooking of a kid in its mother’s milk […]

Oldest Hebrew Inscription

(photo courtesy of the University of Haifa) Never a dull moment for the history of the Hebrew language. A breakthrough in the research of the Hebrew scriptures has shed new light on the period in which the Bible was written. Prof. Gershon Galil of the Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa has […]

The Israelite Family Album

Last year I bought Israel Knohl’s new book מאין באנו (“From Where did we Come?) which addresses the origins of the Israelites. I have just gotten around to reading it now and I wanted to post about Knohl’s main theses. He claims that the origins of the Israelites can be found in three distinct groups: […]

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