The Database of Military Inscriptions and Papyri of Early Roman Palestine

Dr Christopher Zeichmann (University of Toronto) has made available a very useful database for the study of early Christianity:  The Database of Military Inscriptions and Papyri of Early Roman Palestine (DMIPERP).

This site is designed to aid the study of the military in the early Roman period for those interested in Judaism and Christianity of the first few centuries CE….

DMIPERP entries are divided roughly as follows: entries 1-132 were all found in Palestine and listed in roughly chronological order; entries 133-201 were texts not found in Palestine but discuss either the military in Palestine or those of a Palestinian background (esp. Jews and Gentiles born in Palestine); entries 202-224 are all surviving military diplomas for Judaea and Syria Palaestina; entries 225-296 are military diplomas of units or people originating in Palestine; entries 297-340 are Palestinian milestones erected by the military; entries 341-362 are all known pre-Constantinian military inscriptions involving Christians. There are 372 entries in total, with new entries being added following that number.


Dale Martin on Ancient, Biblical, and Modern Families

On February 9, 2017, Professor Dale B. Martin (Yale University) gave an open lecture on ‘the family’ in ancient and modern times, at the University of Kent.

The lecture begins at 5:20.

h/t: Taylor Weaver

Louis Feldman: “Why were the Maccabees opposed to the Greek Religion and Culture?”

On December 9, 2004, Professor Louis Feldman (October 29, 1926 – March 25, 2017) lectured on the question, “Why were the Maccabees opposed to the Greek Religion and Culture?“(mp3; lecture beginning at 1:12).

The talk is made available by Yeshuva University’s YUTorah Online.



Eric Cline, 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed

On February 25, 2015, Professor Eric Cline (The George Washington University) delivered a lecture at The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, on the collapse of civilization at the end of the Late Bronze Age. The lecture was on the same subject as his recent book, 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed (2014).

For more than three hundred years during the Late Bronze Age, from about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex international world in which Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Cypriots, and Canaanites all interacted, creating a cosmopolitan and globalized world-system such as has only rarely been seen before the current day. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, as it did after centuries of cultural and technological evolution, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms, that had taken centuries to evolve, collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today. Blame for the end of the Late Bronze Age is usually laid squarely at the feet of the so-called Sea Peoples, known to us from the records of the Egyptian pharaohs Merneptah and Ramses III. However, as was the case with the fall of the Roman Empire, the end of the Bronze Age empires in this region was not the result of a single invasion, but of multiple causes. The Sea Peoples may well have been responsible for some of the destruction that occurred at the end of the Late Bronze Age, but it is much more likely that a concatenation of events, both human and natural — including earthquake storms, droughts, rebellions, and systems collapse — coalesced to create a “perfect storm” that brought the age to an end.
Lecture by Eric Cline on “1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed


Professor Cline also delivered a similar lecture to the National Capital Area Skeptics, on October 8, 2016, in Bethesda, Maryland:


The Historical Reliability of the Bible – Francesca Stavrakopoulou


On January 17, 2017, Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou (University of Exeter) was interviewed by Dan Snow (BBC) on the History Hit podcast. The topic is “The Historical Reliability of the Bible“, and Professor Stavrakopoulou provides a summary of mainstream scholarship on the historicity of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament.

The interview is available in mp3 audio format (28:56).

Bookish Circles: Teaching and learning in the ancient Mediterranean

Videos are available from a colloquium held at Heythrop College, University of London from 29th-30th July 2016 on the topic of literacy and education in the ancient world: “Bookish Circles: Teaching and learning in the ancient Mediterranean”.

Friday 29th July 2016

Jonathan Norton, Director of the Heythrop Centre for Textual Studies, Introduction

Sacha Stern, University College London, “Literacy, teaching and learning in Rabbinic Judaism”

Jonathan Gorsky, Heythrop College London, “Torah piety: The development of Torah learning as a focal religious endeavour” [no video]

Ingo Kottsieper, Westphalian Wilhelms University, Münster,   “Literacy and Aramaic as written language in the Achaemenid Empire”

James K. Aitken, University of Cambridge, “Learning among Jewish social groups in Ptolemaic Egypt”

Joan Taylor, King’s College London, “4Q341: A Writing Exercise Remembered”

Saturday 30th July 2016 

Sean Adams, University of Glasgow, “Sympotic learning: Symposia literature and cultural education”

Sean Ryan, Heythrop College London, “Greco-Roman education, ‘mental libraries’, and the Book of Revelation”

Steve Smith, University of Chichester, “Reading the New Testament in the Context of Other Texts: a Relevance Theory Perspective”

Jonathan Norton, “…not beyond what is written:  How Paul uses literacy to manipulate social differential”

Peter Flint on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament

The late African biblical scholar Dr. Peter Flint delivers a lecture introducing the Dead Sea Scrolls and their relevance for understanding the New Testament, on January 16, 2012 at El Shaddai Ministries, Tacoma, WA.

Jacob Neusner on Modern Judaism (and Ancient Judaism)

Jacob Neusner (July 28, 1932 – October 8, 2016) delivers a talk on Modern Judaism, in which he claims that it is “not unique”, and in fact repeats changes which occurred from the 7th to the 3rd centuries BCE. The talk was delivered on March 16, 1974, at Temple Beth Sholom, Montreal, and is entitled, “A New Interpretation of the Modern Period in the History of Judaism”.

The talk is available in four parts:

  1. Some music
  2. Introduction (Rabbi Mark Golub), Jacob Neusner from 5:12
  3. Jacob Neusner, cont.
  4. Conclusion

Conference on Ancient and Modern Interactions with Religious Outsiders

On March 14-16th, 2016, The Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev hosted a conference called “Perceiving the Other: Ancient and Modern Interactions with Outsiders”.

The purpose of this colloquium is to re-examine both ancient Christian, Jewish, and pagan portrayals of outsiders and modern construals of these portrayals. In what ways, both positive and negative, do ancient writers interact with and relate to those outside of their religious traditions? In what ways do modern scholars appropriate and even inflect these earlier portrayals in light of their own modern preconceptions? This colloquium will devote itself to the methodological questions surrounding the use of diverse ancient sources for the construction of the other. The goal is to shed new light on ancient interactions between different religious groups in order both to describe more accurately these relationships and to provide greater understanding and sympathy amongst modern religious traditions.

Monday, March 14

Opening Remarks and Greetings:
– Prof. Rivka Carmi, President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
– Prof. David Newman, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
– Prof. Uri Ehrlich, Chair, The Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
-Prof. Haim Kreisel, Head, The Goldstein-Goren International Center for Jewish Thought, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Prof. Albert Baumgarten (Bar-Ilan University): John the Baptist and Jesus: An Ancient Dialogue of Disciples

Prof. Matthew Thiessen (Saint Louis University): Animalistic Gentiles according to Followers of Jesus

Prof. Uta Poplutz (University of Wuppertal): The Image of the Opponents in the Gospel of Matthew

[no video]

Tuesday, March 15

Prof. Tobias Nicklas (Regensburg University): Revisiting the Other: ‘The Jews’ in the Gospel of John

Prof. Nathan Eubank (University of Oxford): Damned Disciples: the Permeability of the Boundary between Insiders and Outsiders in Early Christianity

Prof. Katell Berthelot (CNRS): The Paradoxical Resemblance of the Roman Other

Prof. Wolfgang Grünstäudl (University of Wuppertal): Different Approaches to the Core of Christianity

Prof. Shaya Gafni (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): Various ‘Others’ in Rabbinic Literature: Between Babylonia and the Land of Israel

Dr. Haim Weiss (Ben-Gurion University): The Bodily Images of Shimon Bar-Kosibah in Rabbinic Literature

Dr. Michal Bar-Asher Siegal (Ben-Gurion University): Christian Heretics in the Babylonian Talmud

Prof. Christine Hayes (Yale University): Different Differences: The Complicated Goy in Classical Rabbinic Sources

Re-Imagining the Scriptural Past in the Dead Sea Scrolls: TWU Dead Sea Scrolls Institute

On February 23, 2016, the Trinity Western University (TWU) Dead Sea Scrolls Institute hosted a series of talks on the Dead Sea Scrolls, “Re-Imagining the Scriptural Past in the Dead Sea Scrolls”.

The Dead Sea Scrolls provide fresh perspective on both the words of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and ancient Jewish world of the New Testament. As the library of a specialized Jewish scribal community, they also reveal how ancient people and communities rendered their religious traditions relevant to their own culture. Many readers of the Bible today face this same task: scripture is at once ancient and sacred, yet its contemporary relevance is not always evident. Through presentations and discussions with four TWU alumni and authors of recently published books on the Dead Sea Scrolls, our evening will explore how the group that penned and preserved the scrolls navigated this dynamic in their own search for meaning. Join authors Dr. Andrew Perrin, Dr. Kipp Davis, Dr. Marvin Miller, Dr. Dongshin Chang, and Dr. Peter Flint as they detail how ancient writers encountered and innovated the biblical past by extending prophecy, claiming revelatory dreams, rethinking covenant theology, and crafting and circulating letters.

Dr. Peter Flint – The Dead Sea Scrolls: What Can They Teach Us?

Dr. Peter Flint (Canada Research Chair in Dead Sea Scrolls Studies at Trinity Western University) provides a fresh introduction to the Qumran texts and archaeology in light of his recently published book “The Dead Sea Scrolls” (Abingdon, 2013).

Dr. Andrew Perrin – History Revealed: The Eras of Empires in Daniel and Beyond

Dr. Andrew Perrin (Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Trinity Western University) explores the rewriting of apocalyptic history in the book of Daniel and ancient Judaism in light of his recently published book “The Dynamics of Dream-Vision Revelation in the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls” (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015).

Dr. Kipp Davis – Forging Reputations of National Icons: Chuck Norris and the Prophet Jeremiah

Dr. Kipp Davis (Scholar in Residence at Trinity Western University) details the cultural and literary development of famed figures today and in antiquity, with an eye to the prophet Jeremiah’s life beyond the Bible. A detailed treatment of the Jeremiah traditions in the Dead Sea Scrolls may be found in his recently published book “The Cave 4 Apocryphon of Jeremiah and the Qumran Jeremianic Traditions: Prophetic Persona and the Construction of Community Identity” (Brill, 2014).

Christopher Hays on the Divine Suckling


Professor Christopher B. Hays (Fuller Theological Seminary) delivered a lecture at the College de France, on April 15, 2016, entitled, “Imagery of Divine Suckling in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East“.

The video may be downloaded or watched online in mp4 format.

Giovanni Bazzana on The Political Theology of Village Scribes in the Sayings Gospel Q

Associate Professor of New Testament Giovanni Bazzana discusses his recent publication [Kingdom of Bureaucracy: The Political Theology of Village Scribes in the Sayings Gospel Q (Peeters, 2015)] with two respondents. The respondents will be Shaye J.D. Cohen, Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University; and Lawrence Wills, Ethelbert Talbot Professor of Biblical Studies at the Episcopal Divinity School.

The talk and responses were delivered on February 16, 2016 at Harvard Divinity School. The talk begins at 6:50.

Book summary:

The Sayings Gospel Q was composed in the central decades of the first century CE by Galilean villagers who had acquired knowledge of Greek mostly through their involvement with the public administration. The present book analyzes the text of Q in order to rediscover the terminological and ideological traces of the activity of these sub-elite scribes in the Sayings Gospel. Given the bureaucratic positions occupied by the members of this group, the peculiar use of the phrase Basileia tou theou carries a specific significance for its theological political implications. On the basis of Giorgio Agamben’s recent revision of the category of political theology, the attitude of Q on divine kingship is understood as an instance of sub-elite negotiation of social and political positions vis-à-vis the expansion of Roman imperial hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean. In this context the author(s) of Q envisage apocalyptic scenarios in which divine kingship replaces human rulers and native sub-elite bureaucrats can share in the exercise of cosmic government.

Ron Hendel: “The Exodus as Cultural Memory”

Professor Ron Hendel (University of California at Berkeley) delivered a lecture at the Arizona Centre for Judaic Centre on March 9, 2015, on the subject of “The Exodus as Cultural Memory”.

The Exodus is a central event in biblical and Jewish memory. But according to the archaeological and historical record, it is unclear what it is a memory of.  I propose that it is, in part, a transformed memory of the demise of the Egyptian Empire in Canaan, which facilitated the emergence of Israel as an independent people.  The story served as an engine of a distinctive cultural identity, a function that it continues to perform today.

The lecture begins at 5:30.

A version of the lecture was published in Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective, edited by Thomas E. Levy, Thomas Schneider, and William H.C. Propp (Springer, 2015).

Richard Dawkins converses with John Huddlestun about the Non-Historicity of the Old Testament

Zoologist Dr Richard Dawkins (New College, Oxford) converses with Professor John Huddlestun (College of Charleston) about the non-historicity of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

Jonathan Ben-Dov: Reinterpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s monuments via the Watcher/Fallen Angel Tradition

Professor Jonathan Ben-Dov (George and Florence Wise Chair of Judaism in the Ancient World, University of Haifa) “explores the reinterpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s monuments from Lebanon as a representation of the myth of the Watchers” in a paper delivered at Boston College on November 20, 2013, “Iconography and Myth: From Nebuchadnezzar to the Fallen Angels”.