Jan Pieter from Aantekeningen bij de Bijbel has a great post about Cypress trees that are mentioned in the Old Testament (over 20 times).Â He has pictures, historical descriptions, and even discusses Akkadian–my kind of post!
Duane Smith from Abnormal Interests has an excellent series on recognizing ancient scribal schools in Ugarit. It is rather long (for a blog post) but it is worth every bit of time you spend reading it. I thought his second post in the series in which he tackles the question of if the ancient cuneiform students’ tablets were graded is especially good.
This is the last installment of the Meaning and Implication podcast series (although there are more series planned, so keep that iTunes subscription updating–unfortunately I was not able to record the 4th/previous lecture). In this episode we discuss the impact of genre upon biblical interpretation and also how to use secondary resources as we prepare a text for private devotion or public teaching.
Be sure to check out the “Learning Resources” page for pdf handouts and a link to the Awilum.com area of iTunes.
Kevin Wilson at Blue Cord has just tagged me, and this ain’t no game in the school playground–it’s a meme.Â Like Kevin, I’ve never been tagged before, but now that I have I can say this this ranks right up there near the time I addressed the Nobel Society as I accepted my Nobel Prize for ancient Near East blogging from Cincinnati.Â So, here goes:
1. One book that changed your life.
(I will exempt the Bible from my answers) Triumph of the Optimists by Dimson, Marsh, and Staunton and Practial Speculation by Victor Niederhoffer and Laurel Kenner.
2. One book that you have read more than once.
3. One book you would want on a desert island.
Sorry to break my rule, but I have to say the Bible.
4. One book that made you laugh.
Anything by Gary Larson.
5. One book that made you cry.
I’ve cried from movies but not books.
6. One book that you wish had been written.
How to Have World Peace in Three Easy Steps.
7. One book that you wish had never been written.
Left Behind series.
8. One book you are currently reading.
I must have a thing with frenchman right now: From Cyrus to Alexander by Pierre Briant (translated into English by Peter Daniels) and Hammu-rabi de Babylone by Dominique Charpin.
9. One book youâ€™ve been meaning to read.
The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne published by Modern Library.
10. Tag five other people.
Akkadian is a Semitic language that was in use in what is now modern day Iraq from roughly 2500 BCE to 100 CE. It was written by combining syllables (i.e. pa, bu, lam, etc.) instead of individual letters as in an aphabetic language like English. These syllables were written with wedges impressed into clay tablets or incised in rocks.
Akkadian is significant for biblical scholars because it enables one to compare cultural practices and the worldviews of peoples in the region of Mesopotamia with those of ancient Israel and the Bible. There are many Akkadian texts that have a bearing on biblical studies such as commerical transactions, laws, creation myths, prayers, religious texts, administrative documents, military correspondence, etc. Also, two Akkadian speaking Mesopotamian empires had direct contact with the ancient Israelites–Assyrians and Babylonians.
Since Mesopotamian societies were so powerful both militarily and commercially, Akkadian was the diplomatic language for most of the ancient Near East from around 2500 BCE to 1000 BCE. Cultures such as Egypt had scribes that could write and translate Akkadian correspondence during this time. Therefore, Akkadian texts have been found outside of Mesopotamia proper.
If you are interested in an introduction of the structure of the Akkadian language click here. John Heise has a much more detailed presentation of the language. Omniglot has a quick and consise summary of the language along with links for free Akkadian fonts.
I must admit, I don’t blog about Akkadian language and culture all the time (partly because there are probably only a few hundred people in the world who really care about it and I try to satisfy both specialists and a general audience here), but I do care a great deal about it (note the name of the blog).Â So, I was pretty shocked when I googled the term “Akkadian blog” and the only two blogs within the first few pages that were really focused on ancient Near East were Joe Cathey’s blog (his old one at that, here’s the new one) and your very own awilum.com.
So, to help provide a bit more Akkadian oriented content because the apparent dearth of blogs providing it, I have a few posts planned for the next week.
Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.
Why is it that so often as I hear interviews with biblical scholars I find that they present a very skewed and one-sided presentation of the facts–I find this tendency with all flavors of scholars not just so-called liberals or conservatives. I realize that the sound bite reigns supreme and that you can’t fit very much nuance into a 30 second answer, but one can still mention in passing areas that are still in very much dispute.
For example, Bart Ehrman states that New Testament manuscripts have “hundreds of thousands” of variants. Sure. What does that matter? He throws out a bombastic statement that a general audience will assume means that there are hundreds of thousands of interpretively significant variations when this is flatly not the case and Ehrman knows it. But, he purposely presents vague and unnuanced facts that will be misinterpreted by a non-sophisticated audience in order to bolster his point of view. (For a more detailed discussion of Ehrman’s claim on manuscript variation, see Ben Witherington’s post).
I don’t mean to single out Bart Ehrman because I have heard similar argumentation from those who take the opposite side of the debate. What I do mean to say is that as scholars we need to be transparent in our conversations with general audiences. This doesn’t mean we have to provide every viewpoint no matter how silly or untenable, but it does mean that we should be honest and at least indicate areas that are still hotly debated.
What do you think?
Shai, a PhD student at Tel Aviv, has an interesting post concerning the historical (post 7th century BCE) pronounciation of the shewa.Â It’s worth checking out.