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The Calm before the Storm

Selected writings of Itamar Singer on the late Bronze Age in Anatolia and the Levant

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Itamar Singer

In a career that so far has spanned nearly four decades, more than thirty of them as Professor of Hittitology in the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures at Tel Aviv University, Itamar Singer has had a profound impact on the field of ancient Near Eastern studies, and Hittite studies in particular. His wide-ranging contributions have nowhere been more deeply felt than in the historical reconstruction of the international affairs of the thirteenth century b.c.e.—the end of the Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean. The essays collected in this volume are a testament to the impact of his research on understanding Hatti’s diplomatic relations with the other great powers in this critical period of human history and on elucidating the complex dynamics that led to the disintegration of the Hittite Empire.

The Politics of Pessimism in Ecclesiastes

A Social-Science Perspective

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Mark R. Sneed

Scholars attempt to resolve the problem of the book of Ecclesiastes’ heterodox character in one of two ways, either explaining away the book’s disturbing qualities or radicalizing and championing it as a precursor of modern existentialism. This volume offers an interpretation of Ecclesiastes that both acknowledges the unorthodox nature of Qoheleth’s words and accounts for its acceptance among the canonical books of the Hebrew Bible. It argues that, instead of being the most secular and modern of biblical books, Ecclesiastes is perhaps one of the most religious and primitive. Bringing a Weberian approach to Ecclesiastes, it represents a paradigm of the application of a social-science methodology.

The Silk Road: Key Papers (2 Vols)

Part I: The Pre-Islamic Period

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Edited by Valerie Hansen

This is the first of two collections by top scholars working on the history of the Silk Road. This collection’s main focus is the first millennium CE when the Silk Road trade was at its height. Most of the entries are organized chronologically and geographically, concentrating on the sites (like Niya and Loulan) which flourished in the third and fourth centuries, then Turfan and Samarkand (500-800), and closes with the period after 800, when Tang China withdrew its troops from the region and the local peoples reverted to a largely barter economy. Coverage ends in 1000, when the first cities on the western edge of the Taklamakan converted to Islam. Introductory texts provide general overviews of the trade (including classic pre- and post-war studies), followed by a brief survey of the ancient trade routes. Of particular interest in this collection are the Silk Road’s most famous group of travellers, the Sogdians, a people from the region of Samarkand (in today's Uzbekistan) thanks to Chinese archaeologists who have recently uncovered several tombs that allow us to see how the Sogdians gradually adjusted to Chinese culture, decorating their tombs with detailed scenes of everyday life.

Blood Expiation in Hittite and Biblical Ritual

Origins, Context, and Meaning

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Yitzhaq Feder

This pioneering study examines the use of blood to purge the effects of sin and impurity in Hittite and biblical ritual. The idea that blood atones for sins holds a prominent place in both Jewish and Christian traditions. The author traces this notion back to its earliest documentation in the fourteenth- and thirteenth-century B.C.E. texts from Hittite Anatolia, in which the smearing of blood is used as a means of expiation, purification, and consecration. This rite parallels, in both its procedure and goals, the biblical sin offering. The author argues that this practice stems from a common tradition manifested in both cultures. In addition, this book aims to decipher and elucidate the symbolism of the practice of blood smearing by seeking to identify the sociocultural context in which the expiatory significance of blood originated. Thus, it is essential reading for anyone interested in the meaning and efficacy of ritual, the origins of Jewish and Christian notions of sin and atonement, and the origin of the biblical blood rite.

Miracle of Education

The Principles and Practices of Teaching and Learning in Finnish Schools (Second Revised Edition)

Edited by Hannele Niemi, Auli Toom and Arto Kallioniemi

Finnish pupils’ success in international student assessment tests is a hot topic everywhere in the world. The significance of Finnish educational policy and society are continuously discussed. This book provides explanations, answers and reflections to these questions.
Over 30 expert authors have contributed to this book by bringing their own specific research-based viewpoints to these issues. The book describes the wholeness of the Finnish educational system, on both structural and administrative levels. It introduces the framing factors and societal conditions of education in Finland. It also explains how the Finnish educational system and teacher education function in everyday life. The book illustrates how teaching and learning of different subjects is realized in Finnish schools, and describes the essential characteristics and methods of teaching, learning materials and research on these issues.
The book provides important insight and reflections to international researchers, teachers, students, journalists and policy makers, who are interested in teaching and learning in Finnish schools. It shows the results of the systematic and persistent work that has been done on education and schooling in Finland.
The main features of education in Finland: - Strong equity policy - Teachers as autonomous and reflective academic experts - Flexible educational structures and local responsibility for curriculum development - Evaluation for improvements, not for ranking - No national testing, no inspectorate - Research-based teacher education - Teachers’ high competence in content knowledge and pedagogy - Trust in education and teachers
Nordic Education Focus.

Israel in the Persian Period

The Fifth and Fourth Centuries B.C.E.

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Erhard S. Gerstenberger

Although the Persians are seldom mentioned explicitly in the Hebrew Bible, the Persian period (539–331 B.C.E.) gave new shape to ancient Israel, as the biblical text evolved and the foundations of the Judeo-Christian tradition were laid. Therefore, contrary to earlier views, Persian politics, culture, and religion were the setting within which the nascent Jewish community lived and took shape. Against the backdrop of the history and intellectual world of Persia, Gerstenberger describes this exciting 200-year period in the history of Israel, which saw both the creation of biblical literature (historical, prophetic, and poetic writings, especially the Psalms) and important theological developments (e.g., the shape and characteristics of the Jewish community, monotheism, and new means of shaping one’s world).

Jesus' Parable of the Rich Fool

Luke 12:13-34 among Ancient Conversations on Death and Possessions

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Matthew S. Rindge

Rindge reads Luke’s parable of the Rich Fool (12:16–21) as a sapiential narrative and situates this parable within a Second Temple intertextual conversation on the interplay of death and possessions. A rich analysis of Jewish (Qoheleth, Ben Sira, 1 Enoch, Testament of Abraham) and Greco-Roman (Lucian, Seneca) texts reveals a web of disparate perspectives regarding how possessions can be used meaningfully, given life’s fragility and death’s inevitability and uncertain timing. Departing from standard interpretations of Luke’s parable as a simple critique of avarice, Rindge explicates the multiple ways in which the parable and its immediate literary context (12:13–34) appropriate, reconfigure, and illustrate this contested conversation, and shows how these themes are chosen and adapted for Luke’s own existential, ethical, and theological concerns.

At the Edges of States

Dynamics of State Formation in the Indonesian Borderlands

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Michael Eilenberg

Set in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, this study explores the shifting relationships between border communities and the state along the political border with East Malaysia. The book rests on the premise that remote border regions offer an exciting study arena that can tell us important things about how marginal citizens relate to their nation-state.
The basic assumption is that central state authority in the Indonesian borderlands has never been absolute, but waxes and wanes, and state rules and laws are always up for local interpretation and negotiation. In its role as key symbol of state sovereignty, the borderland has become a place were central state authorities are often most eager to govern and exercise power. But as illustrated, the borderland is also a place were state authority is most likely to be challenged, questioned and manipulated as border communities often have multiple loyalties that transcend state borders and contradict imaginations of the state as guardians of national sovereignty and citizenship.
Full text (Open Access)

Contemporary Indonesian Film

Spirits of Reform and Ghosts from the Past

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Katinka van Heeren

This highly informative book explores the world of Post-Soeharto Indonesian audio-visual media in the exiting era of Reform. From a multidisciplinary approach it considers a wide variety of issues such as mainstream and alternative film practices, ceremonial and independent film festivals, film piracy, history and horror, documentary, television soaps, and Islamic films, as well as censorship from the state and street. Through the perspective of discourses on, and practices of film production, distribution, and exhibition, this book gives a detailed insight into current issues of Indonesia’s social and political situation, where Islam, secular realities, and ghosts on and off screen, mingle or clash.
Full text (Open Access)

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Max Richter

Musical Worlds in Yogyakarta is an ethnographic account of a vibrant Indonesian city during the turbulent early post-Soeharto years. The book examines musical performance in public contexts ranging from the street and neighbourhood through to commercial venues and state environments such as Yogyakarta’s regional parliament, its military institutions, universities and the Sultan’s palace. It focuses on the musical tastes and practices of street workers, artists, students and others. From street-corner jam sessions to large-scale concerts, a range of genres emerge that cohere around notions of campursari (“mixed essences”) and jalanan (“of the street”).
Musical Worlds in Yogyakarta addresses themes of social identity and power, counterpoising Pierre Bourdieu’s theories on class, gender and nation with the author’s alternative perspectives of inter-group social capital, physicality and grounded cosmopolitanism. The author argues that Yogyakarta is exemplary of how everyday people make use of music to negotiate issues of power and at the same time promote peace and intergroup appreciation in culturallydiverse inner-city settings.
Full text (Open Access)
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