Category Archives: Research

Scribal Transpositions in the Biblical Text May Indicate Changes in Theology

By Ville Mäkipelto, Timo Tekoniemi, and Miika Tucker

Many texts in the Bible have been preserved in manuscripts that hold different sequences for the same texts. These differences are due to the ancient scribal practice of transposing textual units during the copying of texts. Our collaborative article concludes that these transpositions were often motivated by changes in the ideology and theology of the scribes and their communities. 

Our article presents a text-critical study of three documented cases of large-scale transpositions in the textual witnesses to the Hebrew Bible. The method used by scribes to transpose textual units was either by swapping two adjacent units with each other or by relocating a single unit into an entirely different location in the text. Transpositions would often create textual discrepancies at the seams of the intrusion. Sometimes these were left to be, but sometimes they occasioned a series of compensatory revisions to smoothen out the rough edges left in the text. The transpositions vary in their length and nature, but all are in some way related to theological reasons.  

The book of Joshua preserves a tradition which claims that, after the conquest of the city of Ai, Joshua built an altar at Mt. Ebal and undertook a ritual reading of the law with the Israelites (Josh 8:30–35). The position of this tradition after the destruction of Ai is due to secondary swapping of the text with the following verses (Josh 9:1–2). It can be shown from textual details that, in the last centuries BCE, theologically motivated rewriting took place behind the Hebrew textual tradition that is now usually held as the authoritative Hebrew Bible (Masoretic text = MT). The swapping was likely related to this rewriting motivated by the growing importance attributed to Gilgal as the central camp of Joshua and the wish to present the capture of Ai as a more divinely led campaign. The earlier sequence is preserved by the Septuagint (LXX). Moreover, in one Qumran scroll parts of the text are transposed earlier in the narrative of Joshua in order to fulfill commandments found in the book of Deuteronomy. 

In 1 Kings, the relocating transposition of the regnal narrative of Judah’s pious king Jehoshaphat (22:41-51 MT/16:28a-h LXX) has incited debate for over a century. While many have noted that the transposition is linked to chronological changes between the two versions, less attention has been given to the theological changes this relocation reflects. In 2 Kgs 3:14 there is a remarkable difference between the LXX and MT editions concerning the name of the Judahite king, whom the prophet Elisha is said to “hold in high regard.” In MT this king of Judah is the unproblematic Jehoshaphat, but in the original LXX this king is the evil Ahazyah, grandson of Ahab (2 Kgs 8:18). It is likely that this theologically awkward LXX reading was noticed by a reviser behind MT, who saw it as inapproppriate for a revered prophet and pupil of Elijah, the greatest prophet of all time, to respect an evil king. However, since in the more original LXX chronology Jehoshaphat dies already before the story told in 2 Kgs 3, the later reviser was forced to also move Jehoshaphat’s reign closer to this story.  

The relocating transposition of the oracles against the nations (OAN) in Jeremiah from the middle of the book (LXX) to the end (MT) reflects a shift in the text towards a more favorable outlook for the exiled community of Judean refugees in Babylon. The sequence of texts in the LXX ends dismally for the Judean refugees: Jerusalem is destroyed and its people exiled; The remaining refugees flee to Egypt against the will of YHWH, who subsequently condemns them; And finally the book ends with another retelling of the destruction of Jerusalem. By transposing the OAN to the end of the book, the MT shifts the focus away from the condemnation of the Judeans towards the condemnation of the other nations. The oracle against Babylon assumes a climactic role in the text that hightens expectations for the salvation of Israel and the demise of its conqueror. The relocation of the oracles from the middle of the book to its end has brought about a series of compensatory revisions. The most obvious of these is Jer 25:14 in the MT, which stands as a “patch” in the place where the OAN used to be located. Other such revisions are found both in Jer 25 and within the OAN themselves. 

“Transposition was one of the key editorial techniques in the repertoire of the creative ancient Jewish scribes.”

As shown by the article, scribal interventions have left their traces in the variant manuscript traditions witnessing to the many books of the Hebrew Bible. By studying these traces carefully, we can gain a better understanding of changes that took place in the history of the Bible. Transposition was one of the key editorial techniques in the repertoire of the creative ancient Jewish scribes. When one analyzes the traces of transpositions, together with other scribal changes, it is possible to formulate plausible hypotheses on the early history and changes in Jewish and Christian thought and traditions. 

The articleLarge-Scale Transposition as an Editorial Technique in the Textual History of the Hebrew Biblewas published in the newest volume of the peer-reviewed journal TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism. The article is open access and can be read here: http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/v22/TC-2017-M%C3%A4kipelto-Tekoniemi-Tucker.pdf. 

Date Beer: Brew It like the Ancient Babylonians

By Tero Alstola.

Barley beer and grape wine have a history of thousands of years in the ancient Near East. However, neither of these was the favourite alcoholic drink of the ancient Babylonians in the first millennium BCE. Instead, a beverage fermented from the fruit of the date palm was widely consumed, and ancient records from Babylonia constantly refer to its production and resale in pubs or taverns. This blog post introduces this ancient drink and describes an attempt to produce it using a 2,000-year-old recipe.

Although the research literature tends to call it “beer”, the beverage is actually closer to cider. It is produced from fruit and water and fermented using natural yeast in the dates. However, as the term “date beer” is widely used in Assyriology, it is employed in this blog post as well.

The ancient Babylonians themselves have not provided us with an actual recipe for brewing date beer. However, we do know that in addition to water and dates, a plant called kasû – perhaps dodder – was sometimes added to the beer. Despite the lack of recipes written in Babylonian, we have a date beer recipe from antiquity, recorded by the pharmacologist Dioscorides in the first century CE. According to Dioscorides, date beer was brewed using dates and water which were put into a cask and let ferment for ten days. On the eleventh day, the beverage was ready to be consumed.

Only unpasteurised dates and water was used for brewing the ancient drink.. Picture by Tero Alstola.

In order to taste the daily life of the Babylonians, we utilised Dioscorides’s recipe to produce date beer using ancient methods. We used only two ingredients, dates and tap water. Because fresh dates were not available, we decided to use dried ones instead. This may have been the case in Babylonia as well, because the date harvest took place in autumn but date beer was apparently consumed all year round. Because the fermentation process is caused by the natural yeasts in the date fruit, we used unpasteurised dates without preservatives.

Five decilitres of dried, seedless dates were mashed and put into a small plastic bucket. One litre of water was added, but the ingredients were not stirred. The bucket was covered with a tight lid and placed on the bathroom floor with underfloor heating. It is important to pay attention to the cleanness of the kitchen utensils used, as harmful microbes can ruin the beer.

Mashed dates and a liter of water. Picture by Tero Alstola.

 

The bucket was left intact for eleven days. Picture by Tero Alstola.

The bucket was left intact until the eleventh day. Then the lid was opened and the liquid was filtered in order to remove the date mash from the beer. We experienced some difficulties in the filtering process, which were caused by the thickness of the substance. We therefore recommend first removing the date mash from the bucket and letting the liquid settle so that solids sank to the bottom. Thereafter one can pour the uppermost, clear layer of date beer through a filter. This should result in an easy filtering process and more beautiful beverage.

The mash after fermentation. Picture by Tero Alstola.

We tasted the date beer immediately after filtering because it does not keep well. The beverage had a yellow, cloudy colour and fruity, acidic taste. The sweetness of the dates was gone, and the beverage tasted more like dry cider. Surprisingly, the brownish-greyish mixture of dried dates and water had turned into a beautiful, tasty drink.

Finally, a word of caution is in order: several ancient records refer to terrible headaches caused by date beer. The reader is advised to brew and drink responsibly.

The beautiful final product. Picture by Tero Alstola.

 

Further reading:

Magen Broshi, “Date Beer and Date Wine in Antiquity”, Palestine Exploration Quarterly 139 (2007), pp. 55–59.

Seth C. Rasmussen, The Quest for Aqua Vitae: The History and Chemistry of Alcohol from Antiquity to the Middle Ages (Cham: Springer, 2014).

Marten Stol, “Beer in Neo-Babylonian Times” in Lucio Milano (ed.), Drinking in Ancient Societies (Padova: Sargon, 1994), pp. 155–183.

Global and local cul­ture in­ter­mingled in the Middle East in An­tiquity

The research project Globalization, Urbanization and Urban Religion in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Roman and Early Islamic Periods studies the urbanisation, urban culture and the interactions between cities and their surrounding rural areas in the Eastern Mediterranean during antiquity.
The project, which recently was awarded funding from the Nordic research funding body NOS-HS, combines the research interests of classical historians, scholars of Islam, archaeologists and theologians. Dr. Raimo Hakola, a Senior Researcher in the CSTT, will co-direct this project together with colleagues from the Universities of Aarhus (Prof. Rubina Raja) and Bergen (Profs. Simon Malmberg and Eivind Seland).
The Nordic funding will be used to arrange three interconnected multidisciplinary workshops in the period 2018-2020. The first one will be held in Helsinki during the autumn of 2018.
For further information, read the full article here.

Queering Qohelet

By Marika Pulkkinen.

During the last decades, the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered/transsexuality, Intersexed) movement and queer activists have focused on pragmatic issues such as same-sex marriage and rights for adoption for couples living in a same-sex partnership or marriage. The debates on these issues tend to center on questions of kinship: how do the current civil legislations around the world correspond to the reality in which many LGBTI people live? In biblical studies, the interpretation of specific passages that have been used to deny these rights have gained overwhelming attention.

Nevertheless, recent studies from queer hermeneutic perspectives have shifted in tone from apologetic to more descriptive, which in my view seems liberating. Not only the texts that have been used in these debates, but also other biblical texts are currently under examination. One possible way to read the ancient texts is to focus on the aesthetics from the embodied perspective. For instance, José Esteban Muñoz’s study Cruising Utopia. The Then and There of Queer Futurity (NYU Press, 2009) aims at construing or imagining a utopic queer future that is built on the past reality of the LGBTI people. Muñoz formulates his scope in almost eschatological tones: “[q]ueerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. […] We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality. We have never been queer, yet queerness exists for us as an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness’s domain.” (2009, 1).

This study can be seen as a counter force for Lee Edelman’s No Future. Queer Theory and the Death Drive (Duke University Press, 2004), which is also a study from a queer reading perspective. The study views the queer present as by definition lacking a future. Edelman criticizes heteronormative reproductive futurism. For him, “queerness names the side of those not ‘fighting for the children,’ the side outside the consensus by which all politics confirms the absolute value of reproductive futurism.” (2004, 3). Edelman uses the capitalized ‘Child’ “[…] as the emblem of futurity’s unquestioned value and purpose […]” (2004, 4).

In 2017 SBL annual meeting in Boston, the program unit of LGBTI/Queer hermeneutics chaired by professor Joseph A. Marchal (Ball State University) arranged a book review panel of Lee Edelman’s No Future, as well as an open call for papers reading the Book of Ecclesiastes from the perspective of queer experience and queer theory. The book of Ecclesiastes have been read from various queer hermeneutical perspectives (see, e.g., Jennifer Koosed 2006, cf. also the literature listed in her chapter in The Queer Bible Commentary). Particular attention has been paid to Qohelet’s “latent homosexuality” (cf. Frank Zimmermann, The Inner World of Qohelet, 1973). Taking a different path, Jared Beverly‘s presentation (Chicago Theological Seminary) explored Qohelet in dialogue with Lee Edelman’s No Future (2004), focusing on Edelman’s critique of “the (heteronormative) investment in the future that necessitates the sacrifice of (queer) present,” as Beverly put it. Qohelet is seen as lacking the view which is predominant elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible: a positive emphasis on the future through reproduction. Beverly sums up in his abstract that Qohelet’s “[…] perspective does not invest in the figure that Edelman calls ‘the Child’ because all of one’s investment in the future is ultimately futile anyway […].” Hence, Qohelet’s advice to enjoy the present (8:15) can be viewed in light of the tone of queer temporality.

The papers presented in the LGBTI/Queer hermeneutics section were firmly engaged in concepts used in the cultural studies as well as the recent phenomena and products of popular culture. In addition, the theoretical framework behind the papers was based on critical theory, semiotics, and poststructuralism. The discourse seemed to alienate a scholar like me who is more accustomed to take part in conversations of more textually (rather than theoretically) orientated approaches, but is also enough informed by the cultural gap between these approaches to not ask entirely naïve questions. This alienation prevented me from inquiring, e.g., how to locate a queer experience of parenthood? Are the LGBTI parents not part of “reproductive futurism”? Perhaps this kind of questions will be discussed more profoundly next year, as the program unit of LGBTI/Queer hermeneutics has a call for papers for formulating interpretive methods that emerge from the diversity of LGBTI/Q experience and thought focusing on kinship in SBL annual meeting 2018.

For further reading:

Jeremy Punt 2011, “Queer Theory, Postcolonial Theory, and Biblical Interpretation: A Preliminary Exploration of Some Intersectio” in Bible Trouble: Queer Reading at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship. Ken Stone & Theresa Hornsby (Eds.). Society of Biblical Literature: Semeia Studies. Atlanta, 2011, 321–341.

Jennifer L. Koosed, “Ecclesiastes/Qohelet” in The Queer Bible Commentary. Deryn Guest, Robert E. Goss, Mona West & Thomas Bohache (eds.) London: SCM Press, 2006, 338–355.)

Cover image: Frieze on the Royal Albert Hall depicting Qohelet 9:1, by GeographBot: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frieze_on_the_Royal_Albert_Hall_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1430602.jpg.

 

Conceptions of Virtue in Early Judaism

University of Helsinki Research Funds has granted funding for a three-year long research project titled “Conceptions of Virtue in Early Judaism” directed by CSTT team 4 member Elisa Uusimäki. Also Sami Yli-Karjanmaa from team 4 and Anna-Liisa Tolonen from the Centre of Excellence Reason and Religious Recognition take part in the project.

The project asks what virtue (i.e., human behaviour regarded as morally valuable) meant for ancient Jews. How did they discuss and practise virtue? According to Uusimäki, her team fills a research gap by analysing conceptions of virtue in early Jewish literature (ca. 350 BCE – 150 CE).

– Scholars have typically sought for the historical roots of virtue discourse in Greek philosophical sources. Jewish sources can no longer be ignored, however, if the diversity of the Mediterranean virtue discourses is taken seriously, Uusimäki explains.

– This project demonstrates the cultural variety of such discourses, thus enabling dialogue between biblical, religious, and Greco-Roman studies.

Congratulations to Elisa and her team!

CSTT Policy Regarding Work with Unprovenanced Antiquities

The following is the text of our policy regarding work with unprovenanced antiquities. The matter is so important that we decided to publish the policy also as a blogpost.

I. Preamble

The CSTT deplores the looting of archaeological sites, the undocumented removal of material from its context, and the illicit trade in antiquities and cultural objects. It also disapproves of the illicit falsification of antiquities and related documentation, which is something that is closely associated with the vast trade in unprovenanced antiquities. The object of this policy is to establish standards of conduct for the members of the CSTT to follow in fulfilling their responsibilities to prevent the above issues. This policy applies to all members and associate members of the CSTT

II. Policy

The CSTT acknowledges its support of the various international treaties, such as the 1954 Hague Convention, the 1970 UNESCO Convention, and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention, and Finnish national laws intended to stop and prevent the illicit antiquities trade. Since scholars act as stewards of our common cultural heritage, the CSTT encourages its members to familiarize themselves with these treaties and laws, as they form the cornerstone of this policy and that of other professional organizations, such as the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Schools of Oriental Research, or the European Association of Archaeologists. More specifically, the CSTT endorses the guidelines as laid out in the Policy on Professional Conduct of the American Schools of Oriental Research (henceforth ASOR). The ASOR Policy is, since 2017, also adopted by the Society of Biblical Literature in their Policy on Scholarly Presentation and Publication of Ancient Artifacts.

The most important implications for the CSTT as a body, and its individual members and associate members, of supporting the ASOR Policy, follow below.

  1. The CSTT’s endorsement of the ASOR Policy implies that CSTT members and associate members refuse to participate in the trade in unprovenanced antiquities and refrain from activities that enhance the commercial value of such objects, such as publication, authentication, and/or exhibition. Unprovenanced antiquities are those which are not documented as belonging to a public or private collection before April 24, 1972, which is the date of entry into force of the 1970 UNESCO Convention, or which have not been excavated and exported from the country of origin in accordance with the laws of that country (see, e.g., Section III, part B, notes 4 and 10).
  2. CSTT members and associate members should exercise due diligence when confronted with an unknown artefact, manuscript, or other object in determining the provenance, collection history, and legality of that object.
  3. It is the responsibility of CSTT members and associate members to draw the attention of the responsible authorities to threats to, or plunder of archaeological sites, and illegal import or export of antiquities, as well as upon encountering suspect materials (see, e.g., Section III, part B, note 9).

 

In terms of research and publication, Section III, part E of the ASOR Policy lays out the main principles to which CSTT members and associate members should adhere.

  1. This means that the CSTT discourages its members and associate members from taking part in the initial publication or announcement of any object acquired by an individual or institution after April 24, 1972, which is the date of entry into force of the 1970 UNESCO Convention, or which have not been excavated and exported from the country of origin in accordance with the laws of that country.
  2. In publications and presentations, CSTT members and associate members should be transparent when introducing data of uncertain reliability or authenticity to the realm of public knowledge, particularly when research and publication involves artifacts that lack an archaeological findspot or that are illegally exported.
  3. CSTT members and associate members should also identify clearly any object that lacks an archaeological findspot in an appropriate manner in the text of the publication and the caption of its illustration.
  4. In case of publication projects started in good faith before this CSTT Policy and before the awareness of the issues connected with unprovenanced artefacts had come up in general discussion, the members of the CSTT are expected to do their best to clear the background of the object in question, and decide for their own part whether or not to finish their project and publish the artefact in question.

Ancient Prophecy: Near Eastern, Greek, and Biblical Perspectives (Oxford University Press, 2017)

By Martti Nissinen.

Martti Nissinen, the director of CSTT, has just published his newest book on prophecy, which has been the main topic of his research for three decades.

Ancient Prophecy is a comprehensive treatment of the ancient prophetic phenomenon as it comes to us through biblical, Near Eastern, and Greek sources. Once a distinctly biblical concept, prophecy is today acknowledged as yet another form of divination and a phenomenon that can be found all over the ancient Eastern Mediterranean. Even Greek oracle, traditionally discussed separately from biblical and Mesopotamian prophecy, is essentially part of the same picture.

The book argues for a common category of ancient Eastern Mediterranean prophecy, even though the fragmentary and secondary nature of the sources allows only a restricted view to it. The ways prophetic divination manifests itself in ancient sources depend not only on the socio-religious position of the prophets, but also on the genre and purpose of the sources. Nissinen shows that, even though the view of the ancient prophetic landscape is restricted by the fragmentary and secondary nature of the sources, it is possible to reconstruct essential features of prophetic divination

The first part lays the theoretical foundation of the book, defining prophecy as a non-technical, or inspired, form of divination, in which the prophet acts as an intermediary of divine knowledge. It is argued that that prophecy as much a scholarly construct as a historical phenomenon documented in Near Eastern, biblical, as well as Greek textual sources. The knowledge of the historical phenomenon depends essentially on the genre and purpose of the source material which, however, is very fragmentary and, due to its secondary nature, does not yield a full and balanced picture of ancient prophecy. This chapter also discusses the purpose of comparative studies, arguing that they are necessary, not primarily to reveal the influence of one source on the other, but to identify a common category of ancient Eastern Mediterranean prophecy.

Part Two constitutes a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of the available sources of the prophetic phenomenon in the ancient Eastern Mediterranean. The Near Eastern texts are presented according to textual genres: lexical lists and omen texts, legal and administrative texts, ritual texts, letters, written oracles, and literary prophecy. Most of these texts are written in Akkadian, but they also include some West Semitic, one Luwian and one Egyptian text. The Greek sources are discussed in two parts: first, the epigraphic sources such as the lead tablets from Dodona and the inscriptions from Didyma and Claros, and second, the literary sources containing narratives on consultations of the oracles at Delphi, Didyma, and Claros. Prophecy in the Hebrew Bible is presented as literature which is rooted in the prophetic phenomenon but which no longer directly documents the activity of prophets in ancient Israel and Judah.

The third part of the book consists of four comparative essays on central topics and a concluding essay. The first essay concerns prophecy and ecstasy, arguing that an altered state of consciousness was seen as a prerequisite of the prophetic performance. The second essay collects evidence of temples as venues of the prophetic performance, prophets among the temple personnel and as advocates (sometimes even critics) of temple worship. The third essay highlights the significance of prophecy for political decision-making from the point of view of royal ideology and communication between prophets and tulers, not forgetting the critical potential of prophecy. The fourth essay demonsrates that prophecy was a gendered phenomenon, but the prophetic role was not generally gender-specific, which is remarkable in the patriarchal cultures within which prophecy functioned. The concluding essay draws together the views to be seen through the “keyholes” provided by the sources, identifying the common category of prophecy in the ancient Eastern Mediterranean cultural sphere.

You can find more information about the book from the publisher’s website.

Monotheists Using Idols? About Figurines after the Fall of Jerusalem

By Izaak J. de Hulster.

My new book Figurines in Achaemenid Period Yehud attests that figurines were commonly found in post-587/586 Jerusalem. This evidence challenges common assumptions about the rise of monotheism and requires a reconsideration of classifying figurines as idols.

It seems self-evident that monotheists do not use idols. Monotheists believe in one godhead and ‘idols’ is a pejorative term for images wrongly perceived as gods – or maybe intermediaries. If the ‘idols’ are indeed rather seen as intermediaries, however, the question can gain new weight: does monotheism exclude other ‘heavenly beings’?

A strict view on (scriptural) monotheism sticks to the self-evidence of one godhead and no other heavenly beings. This approach is exemplified by Ephraim Stern’s view on the rise of Jewish monotheism. For Stern, the evidence for the establishment of monotheism in Jerusalem (and Yehud, the province of which Jerusalem was part) was his observation that no figurines (commonly interpreted as divine figures) were found in excavations related to periods post-dating the fall of Jerusalem in 587/586. Likewise, finds of terracotta figurines were taken as residual material and attributed to the time of the monarchy (so, pre-587/586). Even the figurines found during the excellent excavation under the direction of Yigal Shiloh in the so-called ‘City of David’ in layers interpreted as post-fall were attributed to earlier times. Although this earlier dating may represent the context for the production of all our known types of figurines, this should not exclude the possibility that there were figurines in post 587/586 Jerusalem.

This conscious exclusion is one of the premises of what I coin as the ‘no figurines → monotheism’ paradigm. In Stern’s version of this paradigm, after the fall of Jerusalem the inhabitants were taken into exile and the country was left empty; later they returned as a reborn nation of pious monotheistic Yahwists.

Figurines in Achaemenid period Yehud provides a detailed study of the terracotta figurines from Yigal Shiloh’s excavation in the ‘City of David’ (especially their contexts in Stratum 9), providing ample evidence for the presence of figurines in post-587/586 Jerusalem (both stratigraphical and typological, i.e. based on where these figurines were found and on how their appearance shows characteristics that connects them with other Achaemenid period ceramics). I further uncover the paradigm’s premises in history, the history of religion, theology, and biblical studies, and particularly reflect on coroplastics (figurine studies).

Having established that there were figurines in post-587/586 Jerusalem makes us return to the question: did monotheists use idols? Addressing the various fields mentioned in relation to the ‘no figurines → monotheism’ paradigm, there are a number of solutions.

First of all, the denial of figurines as evidence for a purported en masse conversion to monotheism can be unmasked as an identity making (and identity marking) ‘myth of the reborn nation’. Second, those who interpret figurines in the shape of a woman (gynemorphic) as a goddess should give account for the horse-and-riders, pieces of furniture, and the many animal figurines, by which the gynemorphic ones are outnumbered. Furthermore, figurines might not have presented idols or there may have been other reasons explaining why and how terracotta figurines could have been combined with the ideas about the one godhead during the rise of Jewish monotheism, possibly, even as vehicles (intermediaries) of the One’s blessings.

Check out the new book by Izaak J. de Hulster Figurines in Achaemenid period Yehud: Jerusalem’s history of religion and coroplastics in the monotheism debate (ORA 26; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, November 2017)

Helsinki-based CSTT at SBL and ASOR Annual Meetings 2017, Boston

This year, the combined annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religions takes place November 18–21 in Boston (Massachusetts, USA).

We have, once again, made the scheduling for your annual experience easier by gathering together all contributions from our Finland-based Centre of Excellence in Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions to these annual meetings. The contributions are grouped under four headings corresponding to the different research teams in our centre. The list includes contributions from our full and associate members. You can find the abstracts of the papers and more information on the sessions by using the excellent AAR/SBL online program book and mobile planner.

Prior to the AAR/SBL annual meeting, there is also the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Boston, which takes place November 15-18 in the Weston Bastin Waterfront hotel. CSTT contributes to that meeting too!

See you all in Boston!


TEAM 1. Society and Religion in the Ancient Near East

CSTT-director Martti Nissinen is a member of the editorial board S19-250 Writings from the Ancient World.

Nov 19 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Martti Nissinen: Presiding in Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature; Pentateuch, theme: Empirical Models Challenging Biblical Criticism.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Martti Nissinen: “Healing Prophets at the Interface of Divination and Magic” in Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Izaak J. de Hulster: “The end(s) of the earth: an iconographic contribution to ancient geography and the visualisation of the ‘biblical world map'” in Ancient Near Eastern Iconography and the Bible.

Nov 17 – 8:20 – 10:00 AM (ASOR)
Raz Kletter: Chair in Meeting the Expenses: Ancient Near Eastern Economies I.

Nov 17 – 10:40 – 12:25 AM (ASOR)
Raz Kletter: “Major Changes on the Road to Small Change: Scale Weights, Hoards, and Modes of Exchange” in Meeting the Expenses: Ancient Near Eastern Economies II.

Nov 18 – 9:00 – 11:30 PM
Jason Silverman: “The Identity of Zemah in Zechariah” in Book of the Twelve Prophets.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Jason Silverman: “Josephus and the Supposed Rise of the Priesthood in Yehud” in Literature and History of the Persian Period.

Nov 17 – 8:20 – 10:20 AM (ASOR)
Saana Svärd and Aleksi Sahala: “Am I Seeing Things? Language Technology Approach to ‘Seeing’ in Akkadian” in Senses and Sensibility in the Near East I.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Saana Svärd: “Women in Temples and Cult of the Neo-Assyrian Empire” in Levites and Priests in History and Tradition.

Nov 17 – 4:20 – 6:20 PM (ASOR)
Gina Konstantopoulos: “Public and Private: the Role of Text and Ritual in Constructing and Maintaining Protected Spaces in Mesopotamia” in Ambiguity in the Ancient Near East: Mental Constructs, Material Records, and Their Interpretations III.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Sanna Saari: “‘With His Bare Hands’: Iconography of Unarmed Samson in Judges 14:5–6” in Ancient Near Eastern Iconography and the Bible.

Nov 17 – 4:20 – 6:20 PM (ASOR)
Helen Dixon: “The ‘Look’ and ‘Feel’ of Levantine Phoenician Sacred Space” in Art Historical Approaches to the Near East II.

Nov 17 – 7:00 – 8:15 PM (ASOR)
Helen Dixon and Geoff Emberling: Presiding at the ASOR Programs Committee.

Nov 19 – 5:30 – 7:30 PM
Helen Dixon, Hanna Tervanotko, Sarah Shectman, Jacqueline Vayntrub, and Krista Dalton: “Wiki, Women, and Bible Workshop and Happy Hour” – Wikipedia editing session hosted by the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession, the Student Advisory Board, and Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.


TEAM 2. Text and Authority

Team 2 leader Anneli Aejmelaeus is a member of the editorial board S19-105a TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Anneli Aejmelaeus: Presiding in Textual Criticism of Samuel-Kings.

Nov 20 – 4:00 – 6:30 PM
Anneli Aejmelaeus: “Hexaplaric Recension and Hexaplaric Readings in 1 Samuel” in Textual Criticism of Samuel-Kings.

Nov 20 – 4:00 – 6:30 PM
Jessi Orpana: “The Transmission of Creation Traditions in the Late Second Temple Period” in Transmission of Traditions in the Second Temple Period.

Nov 19 – 9:00 – 11:30 PM
Katja Kujanpää: “Uninvited Metalepsis? Paul’s Diverse Ways of Receiving the Original Context of Quotations from the Pentateuch” in Intertextuality in the New Testament.

Nov 18 – 9:00 – 11:30 PM
Marika Pulkkinen: “Paul’s Quoting Technique in Comparison to Later Rabbinic Methods” in Intertextuality in the New Testament.

Nov 18 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Miika Tucker: “Further Lexical Studies Regarding the Bisectioning of Septuagint Jeremiah” in International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies.


TEAM 3. Literary Criticism in the Light of Documented Evidence

Team 3 leader Juha Pakkala is a member of the editorial board S19-105a TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism.

Nov 18 – 4:00 – 6:30 PM
Juha Pakkala: “The Origin of the Earliest Edition of Deuteronomy” in Book of Deuteronomy.

Nov 19 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Juha Pakkala: “Empirical Models and Biblical Criticism” in Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature; Pentateuch.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Mika Pajunen: “Differentiation of Form, Theme, and Function in Psalms and Psalm Collections” in Transmission of Traditions in the Second Temple Period.

Nov 20 – 4:00 – 6:30 AM
Mika Pajunen: “The Textual Criticism of the Text of Kings and Chronicles in the Hebrew Text of Ben Sira” in Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

Nov 18 – 4:00 – 6:30 AM
Francis Borchardt: “The Framing of Female Knowledge in the Prologue of the Sibylline Oracles” in Pseudepigrapha.

Nov 21 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Francis Borchardt: Presiding in Hebrew Bible and Political Theory.

Nov 19 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Ville Mäkipelto: “Does the Samaritan Book of Joshua Provide Evidence for the Textual History of Josh 24?” in Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

Nov 19 – 4:00 – 7:00 AM
Timo Tekoniemi: “Identifying kaige and proto-Lucianic readings in 2 Kings with the help of Old Latin manuscript La115” in International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies.

Nov 18 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Reinhard Müller: Respondent in Deuteronomistic History; Book of Deuteronomy, theme: Deuteronomy 1–3: The Beginning of History or the Introduction to a Separate Book?

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Reinhard Müller: “The Making of Composite Psalms: Documented Evidence, Hypothetical Cases, Methodological Reflections” in Transmission of Traditions in the Second Temple Period.

Nov 18 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Urmas Nõmmik: “Remarks on the Formation of the First Isaiah through Diachronic Poetological Lens” in Formation of Isaiah.

Nov 20 – 4:00 – 6:30 AM
Urmas Nõmmik: “The Ben Sira Masada Scroll and the Transmission Process of the Book of Job” in Transmission of Traditions in the Second Temple Period.


TEAM 4. Society and Religion in Late Second Temple Judaism

Nov 19 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Jutta Jokiranta: Presiding at Mind, Society, and Religion in the Biblical World, theme: Supercooperators: Costly Signaling Theory and Its Applications to Biblical Studies.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Raimo Hakola: “Jesus and the Galilean Poor in the Context of Ancient Representations of Poverty” in Historical Jesus.

Nov 16 – 2:00 – 4:00 AM (ASOR)
Tine Rassalle, Rick Bonnie, and Annalize Rheeder: “Architecture and Stratigraphy of the Horvat Kur Synagogue Area” in The Synagogue at Horvat Kur.

Nov 20 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Jessica Keady: “An Initial Exploration of Positioning Theory and Gender in the War Scroll” in Mind, Society, and Religion in the Biblical World.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Jessica Keady: “Masculinities, War, and Purity: The Positions of Non-Priestly Men in the Dead Sea Scrolls” in Levites and Priests in History and Tradition.

Nov 18 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Elisa Uusimäki: “Wisdom, Revelation, and Textuality: Insights from Ancient Judaea” in Prophetic Texts and Their Ancient Contexts.

Nov 20 – 4:00 – 6:30 AM
Elisa Uusimäki and Anna-Liisa Tolonen: “4 Maccabees: Ancestral Perfection in the Roman Diaspora” in Hellenistic Judaism.

Nov 18 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Hanna Tervanotko: Presiding at Prophetic Texts and Their Ancient Contexts, theme: Textualization of Revelation.

Nov 19 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Hanna Tervanotko: “‘They opened the Book of Law’: Tracing Divinatory Use of Torah in 1 Maccabees” in Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature.

 

Recent Dead Sea Scroll Forgeries – Academic Community Faces New Ethical Dilemmas

By Jutta Jokiranta.

Recent “Post-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments” have created a lively debate and brought forward new challenges to which the academic community does not yet have ready-made policies.

In summer 2017, SBL International Meeting in Berlin (Qumran and Dead Sea Scrolls Unit) held sessions on “Tracing and Facing Possibility of Forgeries: Methodology, Ethics, Policies.” Seven papers  discussed the question of authenticity of recently surfaced Dead Sea Scrolls-labelled fragments that belong to private or institutional collections.

CSTT was involved in livestreaming those sessions, which are available for viewing on our YouTube-channel. Several authors have published their doubts of authenticity in the recent Dead Sea Discoveries 24 (2017).

Sidnie Crawford, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Presiding
Kipp Davis, Trinity Western University
“Scaffolding Non-Overlapping Magisteria: Philology, Science and Journalism in the Study and Publication of Non-Provenanced Judaean Desert Manuscripts”
Michael Langlois, Université de Strasbourg
“Assessing the Authenticity of DSS Fragments Through Palaeographical Analysis”
Torleif Elgvin, NLA University College, Oslo
“Copying Modern Text Editions in the Post-2002 Scrolls Fragments”
Ira Rabin, BAM Federal Institute of Materials Research and Testing
“The Contribution of Material Analysis to the Identification of Forged Writing Materials”

Jutta Jokiranta, University of Helsinki, Presiding
Sidnie White Crawford, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and Ryan Stokes, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Looking for Forgeries in the Southwestern Baptist Fragments”
Årstein Justnes, Universitetet i Agder
“The Post-2002 and the Post-2009 Dead Sea Scrolls-like Fragments: A Timeline”
Andrew B. Perrin, Trinity Western University
“Ignoring, Engaging, or Incorporating Non-Provenanced Aramaic Fragments in Secondary Source Publications and Research Projects”

Questions around these topics are many: What are the ways to identify forgeries? Which features are decisive, which are suggestive? Should unprovenanced materials be studied and published in the first place, and if yes, on which terms? What should be done when scholars disagree? Should new fragments be listed among previous discoveries if there are doubts about their authenticity, and if yes, how? What should be done with already published materials if suspicion is raised? Which terms should a scholar agree if asked to evaluate new material? How should the academic community take initiative and bear responsibility and what can be done in legal and ethical terms?

An individual scholar can hardly be an expert in all aspects related to provenance and authenticity issues, and new cooperation and team work are needed. The SBL Annual Meeting in Nov 2017 will have several sessions dealing with provenance and forgery questions (collected here). Next summer SBL International Meeting 2018 in Helsinki will continue the discussion; call for papers for the session on “Ethics and Policies regarding Unprovenanced Materials” is open.

Some recent links:

University of Agder site collecting data and publishing observations and viewpoints: https://lyingpen.com/

Trinity Western University Dead Sea Scrolls Institute YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpt-jmAbCL1_2i6Oj1VBWEQ

Science Magazine article on Museum of the Bible: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/10/can-museum-bible-overcome-sins-past

Times of Israel article on Dead Sea Scrolls scam: https://www.timesofisrael.com/dead-sea-scrolls-scam-dozens-of-recently-sold-fragments-are-fakes-experts-warn/