Tag Archives: Featured

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/

 

“Women’s Writing of Ancient Mesopotamia” (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Saana Svärd, member of CSTT Team 1, has just published her newest book, an anthology of the earliest woman writers, together with Charles Halton.

“Women’s Writing of Ancient Mesopotamia presents fresh and engaging translations of works that were composed or edited by female scribes and elite women of the ancient Near East. These texts provide insight into the social status, struggles, and achievements of women during the earliest periods of recorded human history (c.2300–540 BCE). In three introductory chapters and a concluding chapter, Charles Halton and Saana Svärd provide an overview of the civilization of ancient Mesopotamia and examine gender by analyzing these different kinds of texts. The translations cover a range of genres, including hymns, poems, prayers, letters, inscriptions, and oracles. Each text is accompanied by a short introduction that situates the composition within its ancient environment and explores what it reveals about the lives of women within the ancient world. This anthology will serve as an essential reference book for scholars and students of ancient history, gender studies, and world literature.”

You can find more information about the book here.

If you are yet not familiar with the new Centre of Excellence “Ancient Near Eastern Empires”, led by Svärd, please visit their excellent website here.

“CSTT and Gender” e-booklet

From June to August 2018, we have hosted on our website a forum discussion on various aspects related to “gender”. The papers by Saana Svärd and Hanna Tervanotko, Rick Bonnie, Francis Borchardt, and Anneli Aejmelaeus that were posted on our website were originally presented during the last Annual Meeting in May 2018 in Tvärminne, Finland. Continue reading “CSTT and Gender” e-booklet

Uusi kokoelma Qumranin tekstejä tutkijoille ja tekstien historiasta kiinnostuneille

Huomenna 27.9. julkaistaan Gaudeamuksen kustantama Kuolleenmeren kirjakääröt: kriittinen suomennosvalikoima (toim. Raija Sollamo ja Mika Pajunen). Kirjan julkistamistilaisuus järjestetään Helsingin yliopiston Teologisen tiedekunnan tiedekuntasalissa (Vuorikatu 3, 5. krs.) kl. 13-14. Paikalla on huippuyksikömme tiimiin kolme kuuluva dosentti TT Mika Pajunen, joka esittelee kirjan digitaalista ja printtiversiota.

Kokoelma on tutkijoiden, asiantuntijoiden ja muiden aiheesta tarkemmin kiinnostuneiden käyttöön suunnattu. Se sisältää uusina suomennoksina Qumranista 1940-1950 -luvuilla löydettyjä tekstejä, jotka julkaistiin jo aiemmin teoksessa Kuolleenmeren kadonnut kansa. Tämä tutkijoille suunnattu painos avaa tarkemmin tekstien löytöhistoriaa, ajoitusta, tulkintaa ja sisältöä. Kirjoittajat ovat johtavia suomalaisia Kuolleenmeren kääröjen tutkijoita.

Tervetuloa mukaan oppimaan lisää kirjan julkistamistilaisuuteen!

Lisätietoja kirjasta löydät kustantajan verkkosivuilta. Katso myös aikaisempi blogikirjoitus kyseisten tekstien suomennoskokoelmasta.

Young Scholars from Northern European Universities Gathered in Helsinki for OTSEM

The annual meeting of the OTSEM network was hosted by the University of Helsinki last weekend (8.-10.9.2017). The meeting was held at Park Hotel Käpylä and it was co-sponsored by the Finnish Academy’s Centre of Excellence “Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions”  and the Finnish Institute in the Middle East. Around 60 young scholars from 13 different institutions and 7 different countries took part in the successful scholarly discussions. Continue reading Young Scholars from Northern European Universities Gathered in Helsinki for OTSEM

Kuka väärentää Qumranin tekstifragmentteja?

Kirjoittanut Jutta Jokiranta

Harvoin tekstintutkijat ovat niin kuumien aiheiden äärellä, että maapallon toisella puolella olevat tutkijat haluavat välittömästi tietää, mitä konferenssissa puhutaan. Tänä kesänä Berliinissä käsiteltiin sen verran ajankohtaisia aiheita, että sessiot nauhoitettiin ja katsojia on kertynyt jo lähemmäs pari tuhatta. Kysymys on tekstiväärennöksistä. Continue reading Kuka väärentää Qumranin tekstifragmentteja?

Trading in the Babylonian Exile

by Tero Alstola

This blog post is a summary of Tero Alstola’s recent article “Judean Merchants in Babylonia and Their Participation in Long-Distance Trade” in Die Welt des Orients 47 (2017), pp. 25–51. https://doi.org/10.13109/wdor.2017.47.1.25.

The Babylonian exile of Judeans does not equal to enslavement and miserable conditions in a foreign land. The available sources attest to remarkable diversity within the deported population: although the majority of Judeans worked as small farmers, some of them lived in cities, enjoyed a good socio-economic status, and were integrated into Babylonian society. Judean merchants are an example of exiles who did relatively well in Babylonia. Continue reading Trading in the Babylonian Exile