Zwinglius Redivivus

Ask Larry Schiffman Anything You Wish

Posted in Dead Sea Scrolls by Jim on 26/12/2013

Larry blogs

On Dec. 26th, from 6-8 PM EST you have the opportunity to ask me anything on Reddit’s Judaism forum. In order to post a question you must have a Reddit account (registration is simple).  Looking forward to seeing my readers there. Feel free to ask questions about the Dead Sea Scrolls, Second Temple Judaism, sectariansim, early Christianity and any other relevant topic.

Have fun- this is a great opportunity to ask one of the world’s foremost experts on the Scrolls anything you want.

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More on the IAA’s Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Project

Posted in Modern Culture by Jim on 26/12/2012

From the Facebook page of the IOQS-

Shani Tzoref

On the IAA digital library again… the IAA is about to start working on Phase 2 of the project. If anybody has any further requests, critiques, or any feedback to offer, whether general or specific, please contact me here, or preferably, via the site: (via “Contact Us”, or by leaving a Comment on a particular image)

The launch of our first version was exciting, but I envision a much more comprehensive and useful resource. In order to help actualize my vision, and to represent the academic community at upcoming meetings, it will be helpful for me to be able to report about specific reactions from scholars.

Just one small example– my request to include the capability to search by PAM numbers was unsuccessful for version 1. I’d like to demonstrate the need for this.


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Akkadian Commentaries and Hebrew Exegesis

Posted in Biblical Studies Resources, Dead Sea Scrolls by Jim on 11/11/2012

New in Dead Sea Discoveries– Akkadian Commentaries from Ancient Mesopotamia and Their Relation to Early Hebrew Exegesis, by Uri Gabbay.

Commentaries from ancient Mesopotamia, written in cuneiform script and in the Akkadian language, are known from the eighth century B.C.E. up to the last centuries B.C.E. The article investigates the authority of the texts about which commentaries are known, often considered canonical and divine, vis-à-vis the authority of the commentaries themselves, considered oral tradition transmitted by scholars. This is comparable to the authority of the biblical texts that serve as the base for early Jewish interpretations, and to the authority of the commentaries containing these interpretations, both in Qumran and in early Rabbinic literature. The article also surveys and analyzes various hermeneutical terms and techniques found in ancient Mesopotamian commentaries in relation to early Jewish commentaries. In addition, the article discusses the pesharim from Qumran in their divinatory context, in light of omen interpretations from Mesopotamia which use the noun pišru.

Sounds fun.

A More Perfect Torah: At the Intersection of Philology and Hermeneutics in Deuteronomy and the Temple Scroll

Posted in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources by Jim on 31/10/2012

With thanks to James Spinti for telling me about this forthcoming volume.

The historical-critical method that characterizes academic biblical studies too often remains separate from approaches that stress the history of interpretation, which are employed more frequently in the area of Second Temple or Dead Sea Scrolls research. Inaugurating the new Eisenbrauns series, Critical Studies in the Hebrew Bible, A More Perfect Torah explores a series of test-cases where the two methods mutually reinforce one another. The volume brings together two studies that each investigate the relation between the compositional history of the biblical text and its reception history at Qumran and in rabbinic literature.

It’s a shorter book (at 120 pages) and that’s just the sort of thing TM Law has been discussing just today.  Given the fact that my own books are on the shorter end of the spectrum (by design) I’m biased- but I think that books should only be as long as they need to be to adequately cover the subject succinctly.  Any more than that is just pomposity.

Christopher Rollston Remembers Frank Moore Cross

Posted in obituary by Jim on 17/10/2012

Frank Moore Cross, Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages Emeritus has passed away (October 17, 2012). Born July 13, 1921, Professor Cross was educated at Maryville College (where he majored in the hard sciences), McCormick Theological Seminary, and Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D.). Cross was among W.F. Albright’s most gifted and productive students, making seminal and foundational contributions to Northwest Semitic Epigraphy, Dead Sea Scrolls, Textual Criticism, Biblical Studies (etc). He was always kind and encouraging to me, from the time I entered the field his most recent e-mail to me, and I know that he was these things to so many in the field. Frank Moore Cross will be sorely missed, but his contributions to the field will long remain as testimony to his brilliance and productivity. May he rest in peace.

From Chris’s facebook page.  Fine words indeed.

One Week Ago Today the Hanan Eshel Memorial Volume was Presented

Posted in Books by Jim on 27/11/2011

At a special session at SBL and it’s titled – ‘Go Out and Study the Land’ (Judges 18:2) : Archaeological, Historical and Textual Studies in Honor of Hanan Eshel. A copy can be yours for a mere $196.

Hanan Eshel (z”l) was a prolific scholar in the field of Dead Sea Scrolls, Classical Archaeology of the Near East and many other topics. During his terminal illness, friends and colleagues got together to present him with a collection of studies on topics that were close to his fields of interest, as an expression of deep friendship and admiration. The volume contains the 22 papers presented to Hanan before his death, covering topics in archaeology, history, and textual studies, with a particular emphasis on aspects relating to the Dead Sea Scrolls, spanning the late Iron Age through late Antiquity.

BibleWorks 9: Hebrew and the LXX, and Final Observations

Posted in Biblical Studies Resources by Jim on 05/08/2011

Frequently it’s necessary to examine the Hebrew text of the Old Testament side by side with the LXX.  BibleWorks 9 makes it simple as pie.  One need simply open up the program, go to the OT text one is exegeting, and select ‘Parallel Hebrew -LXX’ from the list of resources:

Then one has handily displayed the Hebrew and Greek side by side along with their respective analyses and lexica.

Want another verse, just go to it in the main window and there it is:

Once you’ve decided where you want to be, you can enlarge the window and everything is considerably easier to see.

I’ve examined the program quite a bit but there is still a lot more to explore.  But I won’t drag these review-lets out interminably.  Hence, a few closing observations.

First- BibleWorks 9 is the ideal tool for biblical exegesis.  It contains everything one needs in terms of primary materials.  Biblical texts in the original languages, numerous versions, lexica, dictionaries, maps, grammars, and all the rest are at the fingertip.  Even more, though, now several very ancient manuscripts along with transcriptions of those are also included.

Second- given all that it contains, I’ll call it ‘the scholar’s go to tool’ for exegesis.  It has everything many of us have had on our shelves in hardback book format for a while and is much easier to access.

Third- if asked which biblical studies software I would recommend, I would, and will, say BW9.

Fourth- that doesn’t mean I think it’s perfect.  I wish it contained other editions of the Bible (like the Revised English Bible) and I wish that it had the Dead Sea Scrolls biblical texts (along with photos of those texts as it has for key NT manuscripts) and Clines’ Dictionary of Classical Hebrew.

Fifth- In conclusion, this software has so much and lacks so little that I cannot conceive of any person doing serious work in biblical exegesis not benefiting from it immensely.

[All segments of this multi-part review can be found here].

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In Honor of Lawrence Schiffman

Posted in Dead Sea Scrolls by Jim on 20/03/2011

With thanks to Joseph Lauer for the notice-

Teaching Texts and Traditions: A Special Colloquium and Celebration in Honor of Lawrence H. Schiffman

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
19 University Place
New York, NY

6:30 pm         Reception

7:00 pm         Welcome Remarks — Matthew Santirocco, Dean Richard Foley

7:15 pm         Presentations by Alumni

Joseph Angel, Yeshiva University
How to Deter a Demon in the Desert: The Case of 4QSongs of the Sage

David Brodsky, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
From Disagreement to Talmudic Discourse: Greco-Roman School Primers and the Origins of the Sugya

Alex Jassen, University of Minnesota
The Study of Jewish Law (Halakhah) in the Dead Sea Scrolls: From Schechter to Schiffman

8:45pm          Champagne Toast and Dessert – Catherine Stimpson, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna

Please RSVP via: ONLINE / Email: / Phone: 212-998-8981

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The Casey Colloquium: Excerpt Ten

Posted in Bible, Books by Jim on 14/10/2010
The word "shlama" (peace) in Aramaic...

This is the last entry in my ten part series of excerpts from Maurice Casey’s Jesus of Nazareth (the whole series can be accessed here).

In the conclusion, Casey remarks, in part

To fit Jesus into his original context within first- century Judaism, we must reconstruct that culture too. I therefore surveyed the main sources which enable us to do this. I naturally drew attention to the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially those written in Aramaic. The scrolls have enabled scholars to greatly improve our knowledge of Judaism at the time of Jesus, and it is the Aramaic scrolls which have enabled me to work on Aramaic sources of the synoptic Gospels to an extent which was not previously possible. This is at the centre of the research which lies behind this book. I also drew particular attention to some features of this culture which New Testament scholars generally overlook, because we must be aware of the way in which secondary material may occur side by side with literally accurate traditions, to help us to distinguish between the two. Authors not only repeated accurate traditions about past events from their sources, they also rewrote them in accordance with the needs of their communities. They might also add stories, also for the benefit of the communities for whom they wrote. I drew attention to the concept of ‘social memory’, a useful term in helping us to understand how authors, writing for communities, do repeat authentic traditions from the past, but also update them with material useful for those same communities at the time of writing, and add helpful stories of their own.

The entire book is fascinating, though some of the conclusions may raise eyebrows among some conservative Christians. Especially his reflections on the resurrection (which I won’t spoil by citing).

This is a commendable volume demonstrating Casey’s grasp of the material and, indeed, mastery of it. As I suggested yesterday, no finer volume on the life of the Historical Jesus has been produced since Bultmann’s. Readers will learn – a lot – and that’s no small accomplishment.

The Saddest Aspect of the Trial of Raphael Golb…

Posted in Modern Culture by Jim on 01/10/2010

Is that his father, whom he defended so vociferously and so hazardously and so stringently, didn’t bother to attend a single moment of the proceedings.  If my child were on trial, nothing could keep me away.  How about you?  But Raphael’s father stayed home and worked.

A Sumerian proverb may fit-

cah2-gin7 cu ab-/kar\-kar-re!
i-gi4-in-/zu\ ni2-te-a-ni lugal-a-ni-ce3!-/am3\-e-ce

He snatches things like a pig, as if for himself,
but also for his owner.

I’m no psychiatrist but it sure looks like Raphael’s tale is the tragic story, too often repeated, of a son who loves his father and just, for all his faults, wants his approval.  His interest.  His notice.  I suddenly feel strangely sorry for Raphael Golb.  I have the feeling he never would have done it if his dad had shown any interest in him…


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