I’ve found myself drawn into a good deal of Bible and ancient-near-east listening this first month of the year. The greater part of that has been to talks given only a few weeks ago at a conference organized at the University of Haifa in memory of Shaul Shaked, late leading light on Persia and Judeo-Persian culture. (Came across this, I should say, not via any past exposure to Shaked but rather by way of paying a little attention to Yonatan Adler, now busily book-touring his new The Origins of Judaism, whose own talk closes the event.)
These are people at top of their field, old hands, engaging each other as professionals. For most of us, by no means easy listening. Presentations are in English, at least! Wonderful stuff to encounter on YouTube, nevertheless, and it deserves noting. You don’t have to understand everything said, you know, to be able to learn quite a lot. I’ve picked one session, University of Bologna religion scholar Antonio Panaino’s, to include here, below, as suggestion of the scope of the whole — in part because his topic crosses over into early-Christianity territory.
That conference’s people have helpfully thrown up a YouTube channel just (apparently) to house the lecture recordings — link below. It happens, meanwhile, that another channel begun last year is covering similar ground in a more general way and for wider audience, and a lot of the invited lecturers of this December event in Haifa can be heard in conversation there, too. This is an English-language project, Kedem (qedem, קדם), from energetic Russian-Israeli media producer Alex Tseitlin. Very new to me, but I’m already a fan, I think. [UPDATE: Some of the Kedem channel’s more appealing stuff is actually re-posting of a series of chats with Israel Finkelstein recorded for the Albright Institute, whose own channel still has the whole thing up for viewing. I’ve added a link to that in the list below.]