Important New Monograph by Andrei A. Orlov, “Divine Scapegoats”

Andrei A. Orlov, Divine Scapegoats: Demonic Mimesis in Early Jewish Mysticism (Albany: SUNY, 2015) 352 pages, ISBN13: 978-1-4384-5583-9

Divine Scapegoats is a wide-ranging exploration of the parallels between the heavenly and the demonic in early Jewish apocalyptical accounts. In these materials, antagonists often mirror features of angelic figures, and even those of the Deity himself, an inverse correspondence that implies a belief that the demonic realm is maintained by imitating divine reality. Andrei A. Orlov examines the sacerdotal, messianic, and creational aspects of this mimetic imagery, focusing primarily on two texts from the Slavonic pseudepigrapha: 2 Enoch and the Apocalypse of Abraham. These two works are part of a very special cluster of Jewish apocalyptic texts that exhibit features not only of the apocalyptic worldview but also of the symbolic universe of early Jewish mysticism. The Yom Kippur ritual in the Apocalypse of Abraham, the divine light and darkness of 2 Enoch, and the similarity of mimetic motifs to later developments in the Zohar are of particular importance in Orlov’s consideration.


Posted in Apocalypticism/Mysticism, Early Judaism, Pseudepigrapha/Apocrypha, Religious Scholars | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Recent Resources, Books and Articles of Interest for Ancient Studies and Scripture 1/12/15

This is my second post (in what may become a regular series) of recent items (with links) I have been made aware of which may be of interest to those who are into Ancient Studies, Biblical Studies, Archaeology, Philosophy and related topics.


Hermeneutics of Biblical Theology, History of Religion and the Theological Substance of Two Testaments,” by Eckart Otto

New Reviews on Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Solomon in Chronicles and Ben Sira: A Study in Contrasts

“‘Biblical Studies: Fifty Years of a Multi-Discipline’, Currents 13:34-66,” by Philip Davies

“A Biblical Nota Bene on Philosophical Inquiry,” by Dru Johnson

“Jericho as Jubilee: Ritual Symbolism in the MT of Joshua 6, Draft Version,” by Raymond Van Leeuwen

Read More »

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Harold B. Lee Library Resources for Ancient Studies, Ancient Scripture and Philosophy

The BYU Harold B. Lee Library has some great study guides and links to resources that are very helpful for anyone pursuing Ancient Studies, Ancient Scripture, Medieval Studies, Philosophy, and other related topics.  If you have not seen these online study guides before, you should definitely check them out.  The BYU Library has all kinds of online resources that you may not be aware of.

HBLL Subject Librarian Ryan Combs has put together these resources in one place that you can find here:

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Recent Resources, Books and Articles of Interest for Ancient Studies and Scripture

A list of recent items (with links) I have been made aware of which may be of interest to those who are into Ancient Studies, Biblical Studies, Archaeology and related topics.


Robert Hinckley, Adam, Aaron, and the Garden Sanctuary

Yona Sabar, The Book of Daniel in a Neo-Aramaic Translation

Clinton Chisholm, “The Bible, Scholars, and Scholarly Crap”

Dieter Roth, Chris Keith, Mark, Manuscripts and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado

Chris Mooney, “Science Explains Parting of Red Sea”

Benjamin Ivry, “Reconsidering Louis Ginzberg’s Legendary ‘Legends of the Jews'”

James Charlesworth, “Has Lost Gospel Been Found Proving Jesus Married Mary of Migdal?

R. Timothy McLay, The Temple in Text and Tradition: A Festschrift in Honour of Robert Hayward

Qumran/Second Temple Judaism:

Michael Stone, Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls: New Developments and Insights

Annette Yoshiko Reed, “Revealed Literature in the Second Century B.C.E.: Jubilees, 1 Enoch, Qumran, and the (Pre)History of the Biblical Canon”

Annette Yoshiko Reed, “Interrogating ‘Enochic Judaism': 1 Enoch as Evidence for Intellectual History, Social Reality, and Literary Tradition”

Pieter B. Hartog, “Pesher as Commentary”

Annette Yoshiko Reed, “Heavenly Ascent, Angelic Descent, and the Transmission of Knowledge in 1 Enoch 6–16″

Andrei A. Orlov, Divine Scapegoats: Demonic Mimesis in Early Jewish Mysticism

Read More »

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Ancient Jewish Traditions Concerning Angels (Draft for Ensign)

I recently posted on Facebook regarding a small contribution that I made to December’s Ensign magazine.  I had been invited a number of months ago to contribute to an article on angels that has now been published in this issue as “Angels We Have Heard.” The section based on information I provided is “Angels in the Bible and Jewish Tradition” towards the end.

As I explained on Facebook, the small section that appears in the Ensign is actually just a small part of what I originally wrote in my first draft.  There were sections of this first draft that probably would have been too foreign or confusing in such a summarized format to have been helpful for most readers.  I am glad that at least some of the info I provided was found to be useful.

For those who expressed interest in seeing the whole draft, I am posting it here.

Read More »

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The 2014 Temple on Mt Zion Videos Are Here!!

For any of you who were not able to make it to the Temple on Mt Zion Conference held on October 25, 2014 at BYU, and have not yet seen these videos posted on the Interpreter website (they put them up earlier this week), here is the link to see them:

Here is the video of my own presentation.

If you saw the slides from the presentation, which I posted recently, you will see that I don’t get through even half of them. Oh well, a full, written version of my ideas will eventually be available in the published proceedings of the conference.

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My Temple on Mount Zion Conference Presentation (Slides)

The 2014 Temple on Mount Zion Conference in memory of Matthew Brown, held October 25th was an enormous success. It brought together many great minds who took various creative and insightful approaches to the topic of the ancient temple. I was very happy to be a part of it.  For those of you who could not make it, video recordings of the proceedings will soon be available on

For those who were present and heard my presentation, you know that I only got to about half of my slides before I ran out of time.  I had a lot to say on this topic and tried to whittle down the presentation, but ended up not being able to get through it all. I apologize to all those who were interested in hearing me develop my thesis fully.  My hope is that the paper will be published in full in an upcoming publication of the conference proceedings.  For now, I am going to post here the full Power Point presentation so that anyone interested can at least see all of the slides that I had prepared to present.

If there is anything in the slides that does not make sense to you, please feel free to leave questions in the comments. Here are the slides (you can click on the “expand” icon in the bottom-right corner of the presentation to see it larger):


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Ancient Jewish Synagogue at Dura Europos Seized by ISIS in Syria

“Jihadists looting ancient archaeological sites, including 244 BCE synagogue; officials warn 5,000 years of history being erased.”

An Israeli news website has shared an AP report that ISIS (Islamic State) has taken over a number of archaeological sites in Syria and Northern Iraq, including the famous site of Dura Europos, which is known for the discovery of an ancient Jewish synagogue there.

The report states:

Much of northern Iraq and eastern Syria, which is rich in the archaeological remains of numerous ancient civilizations, is now under the iron fist of ISIS…

Aside from destroying pagan statues from the Assyrian period in Tell Ajaja, Abdulkarim noted the 2,300-year-old city of Dura Europos has come in for particularly intense looting.

The ancient city lies near the Iraqi border on a cliff overlooking the Euphrates River, and has fallen into ISIS hands; satellite imagery from April shows numerous holes from looter digs littering the site.

Images show hundreds of people, including gunmen, taking part in the excavations from dawn until night in many cases. Abdulkarim notes dealers are present, and “when they discover an artifact, the sale takes place immediately. They are destroying entire pages of Syrian history.”

One of the earliest known Jewish synagogues is located at Dura Europos along with numerous pagan temples and churches, making the digging particularly troubling.

The fate of the synagogue, which was discovered in 1932 and dated by an Aramaic inscription to 244 CE, remains unknown.

The synagogue at Dura Europos is of great significance for the study of early Judaism. The murals painted on the walls of the synagogue provide rare and valuable insight into Jewish thought in the early centuries A.D. regarding matters such as the afterlife, resurrection, and ideas associated with temple, priesthood, ritual and more.

Some have argued that the murals represent a presentation of the Jewish “mysteries” — with which LDS readers may see many parallels to concepts found in modern LDS temple worship.  A great article related to this topic was recently written by my good friend, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, entitled: “The Ezekiel Mural at Dura Europos: A Witness of Ancient Jewish Mysteries?”











You can access this article at BYU Studies:

Or you can read a free version at Jeff’s Temple Themes website:


Anything lost from the precious artifacts discovered at these sites is a great tragedy and needs to be stopped.


Posted in Apocalypticism/Mysticism, Archaeology, Early Judaism, News and Events | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment