Friday, September 26, 2008

Lecture: From the Thera Volcano to the Trojan War

This certainly sounds interesting:

The Department of Classics of the University of Virginia is pleased to
announce that Richard Janko, Gerald F. Else Collegiate Professor of
Classical Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, will be giving the
2008-09 Constantine Lecture, "From the Thera Volcano to the Trojan War:
Greek Memories of the Aegean Bronze Age."

The lecture will take place at 3:15 pm on Friday, 3 October 2008, in 125
Minor Hall. A reception will follow.

RBL Highlights: 9/26/08

Highlights from the most recent Review of Biblical Literature:

Craig D. Allert
A High View of Scripture? The Authority of the Bible and the Formation of the New Testament Canon
Reviewed by Garwood P. Anderson

Philip R. Amidon
Philostorgius: Church History
Reviewed by Alanna M. Nobbs

Stephen Bertman
Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia
Reviewed by Aren M. Maeir

Michael J. Gorman
Reading Paul
Reviewed by Stephen Finlan

Joseph H. Hellerman
Jesus and the People of God: Reconfiguring Ethnic Identity
Reviewed by Vernon Robbins

Barbara E. Reid
Taking up the Cross: New Testament Interpretations through Latina and Feminist Eyes
Reviewed by Mary J. Marshall

Joseph B. Soloveitchik; David Shatz, Joel B. Wolowelsky, and Reuven Ziegler, eds.
Abraham's Journey: Reflections on the Life of the Founding Patriarch
Reviewed by Dan W. Clanton Jr.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This Week's Eisenbrauns Sale: Miscellaneous

Lots of good stuff, including several editions of the Greek New Testament, and Hallo and Younger's The Context of Scripture, which is rapidly replacing Pritchard's Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament as the standard collection of ancient Near Eastern primary sources available in English. Save up to 50%. Check out the complete list here.

BAR Highlights: 9/25/08

More archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

Piece by Piece, the Parthenon Comes Home
September 25, 2008
In a gesture undoubtedly designed to inspire the British to do the same, Italian president Giorgio Napolitano presented Greek authorities on Tuesday with a small fragment of what has become known to the world as the Elgin Marbles. The sculptures in question are named for the Scottish diplomat, Lord Elgin, who removed large portions of the Parthenon frieze to decorate his manor home in the U.K. in the early 19th century. The majority of the sculptures are now permanently on display at the British Museum despite Greece’s repeated requests for their return. The piece returned to Greece on Tuesday by the Italians was a small fragment depicting the foot of the goddess Artemis, a piece that had been given by Elgin to a friend in Sicily on his way back to London and which has been on display in a museum in Palermo for the last 200 years.

The 2,500-year-old Parthenon, a temple dedicated to Athena that is the crowning glory of the Acropolis in Athens, has suffered serious damage in the last several hundred years. It was heavily damaged in 1687 in a siege of the Acropolis by the Venetian army during the Ottoman occupation of Greece. Today, the heavy pollution of Athens continues to negatively impact the ancient monument. Because of this, many argue that the Elgin Marbles are much safer in the protected environment of the British Museum, which so far shows no signs of being willing to return the sculptures. Germany gave a fragment back to Greece two years ago, and the Vatican is reportedly poised to follow suit with two fragments currently in its possession.

CBS News reports on the return of a fragment of the Parthenon’s frieze.

Ancient Bronze Age Settlement Added to List of Sites in Legendary City
September 24, 2008
The coastal city of Paphos in southwest Cyprus has enjoyed distinction for several millennia. According to legend, the ancient city is the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. In the Greco-Roman world it was the island’s capital, and today it is listed as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. Archaeologists have discovered settlements in the area that date from the very first Neolithic age in Cyprus, as well as an important Chalcolithic settlement. Now, scholars can add a Bronze Age settlement to Paphos’s archaeological pedigree.

At the site of Kissonerga-Skalia, archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a site they believe was abandoned around 1700 B.C. The excavated remains include an unusually shaped curved wall that may have served as a perimeter wall, spreads of potsherds and ground stone tools. In other parts of the site, a freestanding furnace and other objects such as spindle whorls, a loom weight and agricultural tools help to give scholars a picture of prehistoric life on the island.

The Cyprus Mail reports on the Bronze Age settlement discovered in Paphos.

Billionaire Religious Leader Works to Preserve Ancient Islamic Sites
September 23, 2008
The 71-year-old billionaire and leader of the world’s 15 million Shia Ismailis has taken on the task of educating the world about the history and greatness of Islamic civilizations. The Agha Khan’s organization, called the Agha Khan Trust for Culture, has been working for the last five years in conjunction with the Syrian antiquities department to preserve and restore the 13th century citadel of Aleppo, an ancient city in Syria that sits at what was one of the crucial junctions of heavily traveled trade routes in antiquity. By restoring ancient sites of great significance in Islamic history, the Agha Khan hopes to broaden the modern world’s view of Islam and its historical context and contributions.

When describing his motivations for establishing such a venture to the AFP (Agence France Presse), the Agha Khan says that “one of the principles of Islam is that on his deathbed every person must try to leave behind a better world.” In helping to restore and preserve some of Islam’s great sites, the Agha Khan hopes to build bridges between people of different religions and cultures.

The Daily Star reports on the Agha Khan’s efforts to preserve important Islamic sites.

Ancient Assyrian Monastery Survives Modern War
September 22, 2008
A late sixth-century Assyrian monastery in Iraq has survived for more than 1,400 years; it has also survived the impact of a Russian tank turret that slammed into it after a U.S. missile hit the tank during the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. After that, the Dair Mar Elia (the Monastery of St. Elijah) was used as a garrison by the U.S. 101st Corps of Engineers. The structure’s importance was eventually recognized by a chaplain, at which point General David Petraeus ordered that the ancient monastic complex be cleared. Now, five years after the beginning of the war in Iraq, this valuable piece of Iraq’s cultural heritage is finally receiving some well-deserved attention from preservation experts.

The ancient monastery is located in Nineveh province—an area that is rich in archaeological sites such as Hatra and Nimrud. Many sites in the area have remained unexcavated, a fact that has protected them from the ravages of war and looting. Both international and Iraqi organizations are interested in investigating and preserving monuments such as Dair Mar Elia, though they agree that security will first have to be restored to the troubled province before scholars will be able to work safely. In the meantime, the U.S. 94th Corps of Engineers is making a topographical map of the site, the first step of a process that will hopefully serve to preserve the sacred site for future generations of Iraqi citizens.

Smithsonian Magazine reports on the monastery of Dair Mar Elia.

Homer’s Troy Larger than Previously Thought
September 21, 2008
This year’s excavation season has given scholars evidence that the legendary city of Troy may have been larger than previously thought. Made famous by Homer’s Iliad, the city of Homer’s epic existed over 3,000 years ago in the late Bronze Age. According to excavation director Ernst Pernicka of the University of Tubingen, Troy may have been as large as 100 acres with a population as high as 10,000 people. Pernicka partially bases his conclusion as to the town’s size on a trench that surrounds the perimeter of the city. He believes that the trench probably functioned as a defensive structure and not as the drainage ditch that archaeologists had previously thought it to be.

Parts of two large pitchers were found in the trench near the edge of the town. Such vessels were used in or near homes for food storage. Their presence suggests that houses in the lower town extended to the trench, indicating a larger city and a greater population than previous excavations have concluded.

Bloomberg reports on the most recent excavations of ancient Troy.

Early Bronze Age Settlement Discovered in Eastern Turkey
September 20, 2008
An early Bronze Age settlement dating to the Hittite era has been discovered in eastern Turkey. The excavation team, headed by Professor Marcella Frangipane of the Italian La Sapienza University, discovered the site in Aslantepe in the Turkish province of Malatya. Frangipane and her team have identified a city perimeter wall that dates to 2900—2500 B.C. and a building that may date to 3000—4000 B.C.

Aslantepe is one of the most excavated sites in Central Anatolia, and thus far seven distinct phases of occupation have been identified, beginning with the Chalcolithic period and continuing through the Roman era. The first known palace in the world was built at Aslantepe in 3350 B.C., on the walls of which beautiful paintings have been successfully preserved.

World Bulletin reports on the discovery of an early Bronze Age settlement in eastern Turkey.

Eamon Duffy Coming to NYC

For the first time, I wish I were still in the Northeast! Prof. Duffy's work on the history of the papacy is essentially unparalleled in English, and his work on the progress of the Reformation in England has been, if anything, more influential:

Eamon Duffy, the noted historian, will speak on Mary Tudor, England's first ruling queen, and Cardinal Reginald Pole, Catholic reformer and Archbishop of Canterbury, who died 450 years ago this year. A sung requiem mass and concert, both with music from the Tudor Age, shall precede Professor Duffy's address. All of these events are free to the public and will take place on Monday, November 17, 2008 at Corpus Christi Church in Manhattan.

Lecture: Towards a Sacramental Poetics

And for those who simply can't get their fill of open lecture on Friday:

Regina Schwartz

Professor of English
Northwestern University

Towards a Sacramental Poetics

Friday, September 26
12 noon,
English Faculty Lounge
Bryan Hall

When the dust settled after the Reformers had redefined the Eucharist,
understandings of the material and immaterial, the visible and invisible,
immanence and transcendence were revised. Debates about the Eucharist
during the Reformation became the occasion for the worldview we regard as
“modern” to begin to be articulated, and this fledgling modernism swept into
its purview a vast array of concerns and disciplines: theology, metaphysics,
aesthetics, and politics were re-imagined. In short, the Eucharist was a
lightening rod, a focus where tremendous energy gathered, or better, a
lightening bolt--for it jolted sensibilities into a new world order. In the
course of questioning the Eucharist, justice and sacrifice, images and
language, community and love, cosmos and creation, were all implicated.
Sacramentality at the Dawn of Secularism: When God Left the World is a study of sacramentality and its infusion in the secular world. And while the theology of the Eucharist has dictated its subjects — the questions of justice, signification, love, and the material world — the book makes no claim that these in any way exhaust the enormous theological implications of the ritual. Instead, it shows how these questions, so urgent for theology, become the domain of secular culture — as the ethical, the symbolic, the erotic, and the material.

Regina Schwartz is the author of The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism (Chicago UP). She has authored a book on John Milton’s theodicy and poetics, Remembering and Repeating (Cambridge UP, rpt Chicago UP, winner of the Milton Society of America’s James Holly Hanford’s Book Award) and has edited, with Valeria Finucci, Desire in the Renaissance (Princeton UP). She has edited the collection The Book and the Text, The Bible and Literary Theory (Blackwell) and co-edited The Postmodern Bible (Yale UP). Most recently, she has edited a volume, Transcendence: Philosophy, Literature and Theology Approach the Beyond (Routledge). Her new book, Sacramentality at the Dawn of Secularism: When God Left the World (Stanford UP, 2008) explores the ways the sacramental vision infuses the poetry, drama, and the wider culture of the early modern period.

Sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of English,
and the Special Lectures Committee.

Lecture: Making Transcendents in Early Medieval China

For anyone hanging around Charlottesville this week:

Lecture by Robert Campany, School of Religion, USC

3:00 pm, New Cabell Hall 222, Friday, Sept. 26

Making Transcendents in Early Medieval China

Transcendents or immortals (xian) and those seeking this godlike status in early medieval China are usually pictured as solitary, hermit-like mountain-dwellers. In tomb art of the period they are invariably shown flying through the heavens or attending at celestial courts. This lecture will present a very different picture of these fascinating figures, restoring them to the many kinds of social contexts in which they operated and pointing out the essential role of the other people whose responses to them were what conferred the status of transcendence. Making transcendents, it will be argued, was a collective process, in many senses.

East Asia Center lecture series. Refreshments served.