Ask Larry Schiffman Anything You Wish

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.

More on the IAA’s Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Project

From the Facebook page of the IOQS-

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:

http://www.deadseascrolls.org.il/ (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.

Thanks!

Akkadian Commentaries and Hebrew Exegesis

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

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

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

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

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].

In Honor of Lawrence Schiffman

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: fas.hjst.events@nyu.edu / Phone: 212-998-8981

The Casey Colloquium: Excerpt Ten

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…

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…

The End of the Trial of Raphael Golb and The Impending Verdict

A Manhattan prosecutor has asked jurors to set aside the history and drama behind a forgery case involving the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls, and focus on evidence that shows a lawyer and writer is guilty of identity theft. … Assistant District Attorney John Bandler said in closing statements Thursday the case could’ve involved anyone — two women fighting over a man or two co-workers who don’t get along. But no matter what, he said, impersonation is a crime.

Now the matter is in the hands of the jury. They will do the right thing and find him guilty.

Today at the Trial of Raphael Golb

According to one unconfirmed report (by a supporter of Raphael Golb), Golb is alleged to be testifying today in his own defense.  If so, then there surely will be some news outlets offering accurate accounts of his testimony later on this evening.

The testimony of Jeffrey Gibson and Robert Cargill were the last of the Prosecution so the defense does begin today.

More anon as information becomes available.

Today at the Trial of Raphael Golb

The news hasn’t reported anything but there was testimony and the trial is in fact continuing.  Some of the most important testimony will take place tomorrow and the case will wrap up shortly thereafter.

When the decision comes down I’ll post it.  I’m more than confident that the jury will find R. Golb guilty on all counts and a clear message will be sent to all those who assume the identities of others, cower behind anonymity, and wage battle from the cover of darkness, assasinating the characters of others because they wrongly believe they won’t, or can’t, be found out.  Yes they can be, and yes they will be.

The Trial of Raphael Golb: September 14 Update

Dead Sea Scrolls

DSS on Exhibit

News outlets seem to be following the proceedings- as was to be expected:

A New York attorney went on trial Tuesday on criminal charges that accuse him of adopting electronic aliases to discredit one of his professor-father’s academic rivals. The debate is over the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Prosecutors say Raphael Golb turned commentary into crime with e-mails and blog posts that accused his father’s adversary of plagiarism. The rival academic denies it. Golb does not acknowledge crafting the messages. His lawyers say the online musings — whoever wrote them — are satire, not a crime.

Of course he doesn’t acknowledge wrongdoing- otherwise he wouldn’t be on trial. And I seriously doubt that Larry Schiffman or Robert Cargill think what Golb did was satire. Indeed, no one could imagine such a thing unless they were a defense attorney from New York.

UPDATE:  For those of you new to the story, this report has more information than the AP report now being very widely circulated and simply repeated.

UPDATE II:  The best headline so far belongs to the NY Post- which advises ‘DSS cyber bully claims he had right to fight dirty‘.  So is he admitting he did it?  If he said he had a right to fight dirty it means he fought. Per usual, the defense is trying to make the victims the victims again- of the trial.

“Dr. Schiffman and Dr. Cargill [another alleged victims] are plagiarists. There’s definite evidence of that. NYU did not do a full and thorough investigation. The District Attorney’s Office did not do a full and thorough investigation.”

Of course that’s idiotic nonsense. Cargill and Schiffman neither one have adopted Golb’s idiosyncratic ideas, so what exactly did they plagiarize? And if Raphie had nothing to do with it, why take that line? The defense has revealed the weakness of its case on the first day. It will be all downhill from here.

Why Has Hershel Shanks Erased Robert Cargill?

The BAR news alert shouts

Israel National Radio Interviews Lawrence Shiffman

August 23, 2010

Israel National Radio interviews Lawrence Shiffman, the Ethel and Irvine A. Edelman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, who discusses the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Copper Scroll and Qumran. Professor Shiffman details what the Dead Sea Scrolls really are and who wrote them.

Listen to Part I of the Lawrence Shiffman interview.

Listen to Part II of the Lawrence Shiffman interview.

A couple of things worth noticing:  first, they’ve misspelled Schiffman’s name (!!!!!)  And second, and really in what can be only described as a contemptible denigration and attempted marginalization of a fine scholar, they have utterly and completely ignored Robert Cargill’s participation in the interview.  Is this because Shanks and Golb are friends?  Has Golb exerted pressure on Shanks in order to ‘disappear’ Cargill?  It sure looks like it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  If you want biased and one sided ‘scholarship’, read BAR.  If you want complete and fair reporting of archaeological news, subscribe to ASOR’s Near Eastern Archaeology.  Shanks is clearly operating with an agenda that has nothing to do with scholarship and everything to do with the ‘good old boy’ network.

NB- Here’s a screenshot of BAR’s news page- in case they attempt to pretend that they actually spelled Schiffman’s name correctly or that they included Cargill.  Taken at 8:15 a.m. on this day, August 24, 2010).

With thanks to Antonio Lombatti for alerting me to this egregious insult.

Lawrence Schiffman in the News

Lawrence H. Schiffman lectures tonight (7:30 CST) at the Milwaukee Public Museum on Israel at the time of The Dead Sea Scrolls. His new book comes out this month.

Though many of the essays here have been previously published, all have been substantially revised. The resulting volume offers a comprehensive study that is understandable to a far wider audience than are many works on the Scrolls.