Archive for the ‘Jewish Studies’ Category

Looks like a week of clouds and snow, not promising for astronomy. :0(

But looks like a couple of momentous new discoveries have occurred in the worlds of ancient Judaism and Biblical studies:

Ancient Jewish scrolls found in north Afghanistan

Earliest fragment of Paul’s Letter to the Romans?


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The great Harvard medievalist Harry Austryn Wolfson described talmudic study as “the application of the scientific method to the study of texts.”

Think Again: Talmud Study and the Liberal Arts

The Talmud-related course in my Jewish Studies program is the last core course that I haven’t yet taken, and now I’m looking forward to it even more. I didn’t realize that it even included “complex calculations of the lunar cycle!” A liberal arts education, the opportunity to have my mind sharpened by Talmudic studies, I’ve got it all! Now to turn it into money somehow …

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Ben Zion Wacholder, among other things, was a central figure in the “freeing” of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1991. May his memory be for a blessing.

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The Israel Museum in Jerusalem now has some of the major Dead Sea Scrolls manuscripts viewable online here:


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This essay was written in 2004 as part of the final exam for the Course entitled “The Religion of Biblical Israel” at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. Click the thumbnails for a full-sized view of the photographed pages. See my Jewish Studies Page.

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6:46 AM CDT 11-1-10 (11:46 UTC), 8″ f8 homebuilt reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece, LG VX8360 cell phone camera.

It was not a good morning for astrophotography, with the sky mostly cloudy and the Moon appearing one minute, hidden by clouds the next. Nevertheless I felt like celebrating the “breaking of the clouds” as I had finished my class assignment due on November 1, a paper on the Passover Haggadah, and a great weight was lifted from my shoulders, so perhaps the Moon, partly dimmed yet shining through the clouds, is an apt symbol. Later that day the “light shone” even more brightly. I didn’t expect to hear anything about my grade for a few weeks, but the professor had emailed me, saying that he had already read my paper, liked it very much, and was giving me an A! Praise the LORD! Eventually I’ll post an edited version of the paper, which is a comparison of a Christian Haggadah (“telling” of the Passover story) with a traditional Jewish Haggadah.

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Waning gibbous Moon (close to Third Quarter Phase), 6:19 AM CDT (11:19 UTC) October 29, 2010. 8″ f8 homebuilt reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece, LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click photo for larger view.

It’s great to see the Moon and other celestial objects again after six days of clouds, cold rain, and strangely strong winds driven by a record-setting low barometric reading for Minnesota. Lots of stuff happening up there – today Venus makes its closest approach to Earth during inferior conjunction, beginning the countdown until its momentous next inferior conjunction, in which it will transit the Sun! Saturn is becoming more evident in the predawn sky – but as for me, now I need to disappear into my cave and finish a paper on the Passover Haggadah that’s due on Monday! See you on the other side …

P.S.: Today is the beginning of the Great Worldwide Star Count, a chance for you to show that your observations count, by helping us record and preserve dark skies! H/T again to Raven Yu of “Journey To the Stars,” who has more info about it here.

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