• Vatican catalogs its Hebrew manuscripts [JTA]: I’m really curious to see, after the Richard Williamson debacle, if this event goes ahead as planned January 30—the catalog “edited by the technical staff of the National Library of Israel, will be formally presented at an event Jan. 30 that will feature the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See as well as the Vatican librarian…”
  • English and Arabic film reveals Journey to Mecca [Reuters]: “The first and only time an IMAX camera has captured an aerial view of the Haj from a helicopter hovering 200 feet above Mecca and the first time an IMAX team has been admitted into the most sacred sanctuary of Islam — the Grand Mosque at Mecca.” A dramatic portrayal of Ibn Battuta’s 14th century hajj combined with a documentary look at the contemporary one, this film opens at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto on February 7; so far, it is only booked at a very limited number of theatres in the world, as you can see at the official site.
  • S. Africa helps Mali modernise ancient libraries [Reuters]: “South Africa and Mali opened a high-tech library in the Malian desert town of Timbuktu on Saturday, boosting efforts to preserve thousands of ancient manuscripts documenting Africa’s academic past.” The article doesn’t address to what degree the library will be accessible to the public; I hope to find out more about this in the days to come.
  • British museum director talking collections [The Sunday Times]: The British Museum is turning 250—”An extract from Neil MacGregor’s anniversary lecture where he reflects on the great works made by humans throughout history.” MacGregor makes the case for seeing the Museum as “the private collection of every citizen in the world.”
  • Until the end of time [The National]: “Thomas Hegghammer reads a new book tracing the spread of apocalyptic thought in the Islamic world.” The review is in English, but the book is in French.  It sounds fascinating; I hope it is soon translated.  It’s curious how Islamic and Protestant fundamentalism have gotten more similar, rather than less, over the years: the evangelicals are more politically active, and in Islam there’s a growing subculture of apocalyptist relative passivity.
  • Grand Arabian nights [TLS]: “Truly a work of world literature, The Arabian (or 1,001) Nights has been fully translated into English for the first time in over a century.” Translated by Malcolm C. Lyons, with Ursula Lyons; introduced and annotated by Robert Irwin; reviewed by Geert Jan van Gelder.  This three-volumer is a publishing event of some importance.  More here soon about the Nights as well as about Robert Irwin…
  • 1611 “Daniel, Hezra, & Nechemiah” Printed In Hebrew And Latin [Live Auctioneers]: I think I have serious case of book lust right now.
  • Vacation To Israel Canceled Due To History Of Israel [The Onion]: This one pretty much writes itself.