Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Walking the Bible Lands: Registration Ends Today

Registration for Walking the Bible Lands ends today. If you haven’t checked out the new free Christmas videos about “The Promise that Changed the World,” you can do that here. By joining Walking the Bible Lands, you get great new content every month, plus several bonuses right now.

  • Sites & Insights
  • Dig This!
  • Audio Devotional
  • Audiobook: Going Places with God
  • Audiobook: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus

Everything is explained right here.

Registration closes at midnight and the price will never be this low again. Check it out here.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My Favorite Book of the Year: Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus

At a faculty roundtable last month, we went around and answered a series of questions for our students majoring in Biblical Studies. One question asked was, “What is the best book you’ve read this year?” My answer was Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus, by Lois Tverberg.

Officially the book doesn’t release until next month, but that’s too late for Christmas. And I’ve learned that the author has some copies available now. I want to encourage you to consider buying one or more, from her directly, before it’s available at Amazon and other bookstores.Image result for Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus

You get an idea for what the book is about from the subtitle: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding. You can also get an idea from the table of contents and the free sample chapter. And the endorsements are stellar. Here’s what I wrote for the back of the book cover:

Just what exactly did Jesus share with his disciples on the road to Emmaus? This excellent book unfolds so many valuable truths in the Scriptures that are often ignored or misunderstood. Lois Tverberg is a trustworthy guide whose insightful discoveries provide a delightful appetizer to some of the most exciting passages in the Old Testament. I'm recommending it to everyone I know.

Let me break that down a bit.

This book addresses many of my favorite subjects, including individualism vs. community, intertextuality, and the concept of a righteous king.

This book highlights some of my favorite OT passages, bringing out the glory of Isaiah 53, Daniel 7, Zechariah 9, and 2 Samuel 7.

This book is full of truths that are precious to me from my study of Jesus’s Bible (aka the Old Testament). I don’t think these truths should be radical, but it took me too long to learn them and I find my students are usually ignorant of them.

This summer my family memorized Isaiah 11-12. If that strikes you as strange and you’re asking, why not something “practical” such as in the Book of James, then this book will definitely help you understand why I want my kids’ brains steeped in this glorious passage of Isaiah.

Frankly, most of us Christians have done it all wrong, starting at the back of the book (in the New Testament) and wondering why certain things don’t make sense and why the Old Testament is mysterious in so many places. We need to start at the beginning, and I highly recommend Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus as an easy way to get you excited to do that yourself, with your family, or in your church or Bible study.

You’ll be able to buy it in bookstores next month, but I would encourage you to consider buying it directly from Lois now because: (1) you can give them as presents; (2) you’ll be supporting the author directly, and she deserves the reward for her many years of labors on this!

I’ll close with what I wrote to Lois after I finished reading the preview copy: “My prayer is that this book will reach many—for the good of their souls and the glory of our Savior!”


Monday, December 11, 2017

One Hundred Years Ago Today: Allenby Enters Jerusalem

One hundred years ago today, British General Edmund Allenby entered Jerusalem on foot and issued a proclamation declaring British control of the city. Two days earlier the Turkish authorities had surrendered, ending 400 years of Ottoman rule (1517-1917).

The photographic department of the American Colony was on hand to capture these historic moments. The most famous photo shows the mayor of the city surrendering to the British with a white flag.

Surrender to British, 1917, mayor with white flag, mat00162

Below is a photograph of the letter of surrender.

Surrender 1917, copy of letter of surrender, mat02222

General Allenby was advised to make a contrast of his entrance into Jerusalem with the rather ostentatious ceremony of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898, and he dismounted his horse to walk through Jaffa Gate into the city.

Allenby entry 1917, troops entering Jaffa Gate, mat02225

Around the corner stands the entrance to the historic “Citadel of David,” and on its podium Allenby read a proclamation.

Allenby entry 1917, Pasha reading proclamation, mat02228

The proclamation was translated into six other languages and posted throughout the city.

Allenby entry, proclamation of martial law, mat05790

The text of the proclamation, read by Allenby 100 years ago today, is as follows:

To the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Blessed and the people dwelling in the vicinity: The defeat inflicted upon the Turks by the troops under my command has resulted in the occupation of your city by my forces. I therefore here and now proclaim it to be under martial law, under which form of administration it will remain so long as military considerations make it necessary. However, lest anyone of you be alarmed by reason of your experience at the hands of the enemy who has retired, I hereby inform you that it is my desire that every person should pursue his lawful business without fear of interruption.

Furthermore, since your City is regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind, and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for many centuries, therefore do I make known to you that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer, of whatsoever form of the three religions, will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred.”

Thus Allenby declared that while the city was under martial law (as the Great War continued for another year), he guaranteed the status quo for places of worship.

After the proclamation, Allenby was photographed riding his horse away from Jaffa Gate.

Allenby exit, on horseback at Jaffa Gate, mat00169

This photograph below was taken on the day of Jerusalem’s surrender and shows five British generals.

Surrender of Jerusalem, 1917, British generals, mat05788

A monument to the surrender was later erected in Romema in west Jerusalem where it still stands until today.

Monument of Jerusalem's surrender to British in Dec 1917, tb060601206

All of the black and white photos above come from the Early 20th-Century History volume of the American Colony and Eric Matson Collection. The complete PowerPoint file of the 1917 Turkish Surrender is available as a free download.

For more information, see:

The story of the surrender at the blog of the Israel State Archives (ISA)

“General Allenby Shows How a Moral Man Conquers Jerusalem”Haaretz (premium)

General Allenby’s Entry into Jerusalem – a 14-minute film held by the Imperial War Museum (details here)

Picture of the Week: Surrender of Jerusalem, 1917 – a post on this blog by Seth M. Rodriquez


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Egypt announced the discovery of two private 18th-dynasty tombs in Luxor yesterday.

Heath D. Dewrell provides an introduction to child sacrifice in Israel that is based on his recent monograph on the subject.

The Jewish Week interviews Lawrence Schiffman about his involvement with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society has posted its schedule of spring lectures.

Writing on Forbes, Sarah Bond suggests five ways to listen to the music of the ancient world.

With Germany’s refusal to recognize Israeli ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Israel Antiquities Authority is not allowing any scrolls to be part of a special exhibit at the Bible Museum in Frankfurt.

This week on The Land and the Book with Charlie Dyer: a discussion on Biblical Customs and Curiosities with George Knight.

Tel Lachish and Tel 'Eton are the latest stops on the tour schedule of Israel’s Good Name.

Ferrell Jenkins shares a photo of a new scene he saw on his last visit to Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity.

If you've ever wondered how an expert restores dozens of pottery sherds into an intact vessel, watch this short video.

Check out this site if you're interested in touring southern Jordan on a bike. Or ride your bike 850 miles (1,400 km) in the Holyland Challenge from Mount Hermon to Eilat.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, A.D. Riddle

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Israeli archaeologists have found that early Muslim coins and vessels were inscribed with menorahs.

Scholars have discovered more than 1,000 seal impressions from the 2nd-3rd centuries AD in southeastern Turkey.

“An Egyptian-European archaeological mission working in Luxor Governorate uncovered a collection of 27 fragmented statues of the lioness goddess Sekhmet.”

The gate of Amenemhat I is being moved from north Cairo to the Grand Egyptian Museum.

Haaretz (premium) reports on a new study of the decoration of the Temple Mount by Orit Peleg-Barkat. Leen Ritmeyer considers her work on the Royal Stoa and proposes another plan.

On Academia: Yosef Garfinkel argues for the identification of Khirbet Qeiyafa as an Israelite site.

The excavations of the Galilean synagogue of Huqoq are summarized following a recent lecture by Jodi Magness.

Shmuel Browns shares a beautiful photo of a supermoon rising over the Dead Sea this week.

Now released: The second and third videos of Wayne Stiles’s new series, “The Promise That Changed the World: A Journey through the Birth of Christ.”

Barnes & Noble has a 25% off coupon, good in store or online (GETGIFTING), valid through Sunday. Here are four recommendations:

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Rodger Young, Steven Anderson

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Saturday, December 02, 2017

Weekend Roundup

Archaeologists have excavated an Edomite/Idumean temple in a live-fire zone near Lachish that they first identified using drones. High-res photos and a video are available here.

An ancient gymnasium with well-preserved mosaics has been discovered near biblical Iconium (modern Konya) in Turkey. (References that suggest it was near the Laodicea mentioned in Revelation are apparently incorrect.) For more photos, see this article in the Turkish press.

Scholars have identified the first-known Greek copy of the Apocalypse of James.

Owen Jarus corrects some misinformation about the “castle” recently “discovered” under the waters of Lake Van.

You can learn more about pigeons and ancient dovecotes from Jennifer Ramsay’s article at the ASOR Blog.

Turkish authorities have arrested four men who tried to sell an ancient Torah manuscript.

Indiana Joan, a real-life tomb raider, is 95 years old and lives in Western Australia.

Carl Rasmussen explains how the Altar of Augustan Peace (Ara Pacis) illustrates an aspect of “the fulness of time” when God sent his Son.

The First Days of Jesus, by Andreas J. Kostenberger and Alexander Stewart, is for sale for Kindle for $2.99.

The second edition of the NET Bible has been released. Print copies are available here. In an act of remarkable transparency (and courage!), they have posted a complete list of changes.

R. Steven Notley (Nyack College) will be lecturing on “Geography, Christianity and the History of Second Temple Judaism” at the Yeshiva University on Wednesday, December 6th, 6:45-7:45pm in the Furst Hall Room 308, 500 W 185th St, NYC.

The New York Times reviews the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Chanan Tigay describes his worldwide hunt to unravel the mystery of Moshe Shapiro’s “Dead Sea Scrolls.”

Now open: The Jordan Trail runs from Gadara (Um Qais) in the north to Aqaba in the south. The official website includes downloadable maps and GPX files. Here’s a fun video on hiking the trail by Epic Trails.

HT: Charles Savelle, Agade, Joseph Lauer, Bill Schlegel, Mike Harney, Wayne Stiles, A.D. Riddle

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Friday, December 01, 2017

New Christmas Videos Filmed in Israel

Wayne Stiles has created a new Christmas video series entitled “The Promise That Changed the World.” These three videos were filmed entirely in Israel and include new drone footage.

The first video focuses on the prophecies of the birth of Jesus, and this video was released this morning. The second video looks at the birth of Jesus and the announcement to the shepherds. And the third video is centered on the Magi and King Herod.

They are all free and you can access them here. If you’ve been a reader here for long, you know how much I appreciate Wayne’s insights.

Christmas thumbnail episode 1


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Church of Jesus’s Tomb Dates to 4th Century

Last year scientists conducted a first-ever examination of the traditional tomb of Jesus inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Test results now reveal that the mortar used to secure a slab over the traditional burial bench of Jesus dates to the 4th century. This confirms that this is the tomb venerated by Christians when Constantine built the first church here.

The story is reported by various sources, including National Geographic. This paragraph is the most important:

While it is archaeologically impossible to say that the tomb is the burial site of an individual Jew known as Jesus of Nazareth, who according to New Testament accounts was crucified in Jerusalem in 30 or 33, new dating results put the original construction of today's tomb complex securely in the time of Constantine, Rome's first Christian emperor.

Elsewhere the article several times mentions “surprises” from the investigation. But I think those are best understood either as journalistic editorializing or perhaps the researchers trying to justify the expense. The best word for this study is “confirmation.” We now have physical evidence for what historians have long thought: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was first built in the 4th century over a tomb believed to have been used by Jesus.

HT: Wayne Stiles, Ted Weis

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Appian Media has released a trailer for episodes 6–10 of Following the Messiah. You can get further updates on their Facebook page.

See the Holy Land has created a mobile app that provides a guide to 110 sites in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. The Android-only app is available for free from or for $0.99 from Google Play.

Philippe Bohstrom considers new evidence from ancient mining operations in discussing whether David and Solomon’s kingdom ever existed.

“The British Library last week launched a new website showcasing 1,300 Hebrew manuscripts, ranging from ancient Torah scrolls and prayer books to philosophical, theological and scientific works.”

“The newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi has been accused of displaying looted antiquities.”

Egyptian authorities are working to stop the illegal exporting of antiquities.

Some interesting discoveries were made during a recent excavation season at Gird-î Qalrakh in northern Iraq.

The Times of Israel provides some of the background of the making of the “Spoils of Jerusalem” relief that is now exhibited in the Arch of Titus exhibition at the Yeshiva University Museum.

Eisenbrauns has published a festschrift in honor of Israel Finkelstein: Rethinking Israel: Studies in the History and Archaeology of Ancient Israel in Honor of Israel Finkelstein, edited by Oded Lipschits, Yuval Gadot, and Matthew Adams.

Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport may need to add a massive tent to accommodate travelers.

Chaim (Harold R.) Cohen died recently. A list of some of his publications is posted here.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Mike Harney, Agade

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

Archaeologists working at el-Araj (Bethsaida?) discovered a lioness relief in a pile of debris.

A mosaic from a Georgian church or monastery has been excavated in Ashdod-Yam, leading archaeologists to believe they may have finally discovered the Roman-Byzantine city of Ashdod-Yam.

“Rock art in Saudi Arabia showing what appears to be Israel’s national breed depicts vivid scenes of man’s earliest known use of canines in taking down prey.” Science shares a video.

Three Roman shipwrecks were discovered this week near Alexandria.

A ancient temple of Isis was discovered in excavations in Banha City in Egypt.

A new video shows an ancient fortress under the waters of Turkey’s Lake Van.

A new study of the cemetery of Qumran strengthens the argument that the site was inhabited by celibate men.

Elad has been granted the right to run the Davidson Center archaeological park south of the Temple Mount (Haaretz premium).

Tourists can now enjoy virtual reality experiences when visiting  Caesarea, Acco, and the underwater observatory in Eilat.

A colleague visited the Museum of the Bible for its opening weekend and offers some initial impressions.

If you’re looking for a unique gift for a lover of the ancient world, check out the Museum Shop (The Suq) at the Oriental Institute.

HT: Charles Savelle, Lois Tverberg, Joseph Lauer, Agade

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

What I Am Thankful For

The Bible places great emphasis on giving thanks, and the fourth Thursday in November provides Americans with a prominent reminder of our need to express gratitude. On the assumption that this applies even to photographers and bloggers, I thought I might take a few minutes to verbalize my appreciation for some of the many people in the “Bible places” world that I am thankful for.

I’ll start with my teammates who are currently working with me at A.D. Riddle has been working with me for about 15 years, first in a voluntary way and then later as a travel companion, proofreader, map maker, and all-around problem-solver. Steven Anderson brings his exhaustive knowledge of the Bible to bear in his masterful development of the Photo Companion to the Bible. Chris McKinny is an OT history whiz, and I can’t wait until you see some of what he is creating in Joshua, Samuel, Kings, and elsewhere. Kaelyn Peay stepped in at the perfect time this summer to keep me from drowning in thousands of new photos. My son Mark is helping me in key (and keyword) ways, and my children Luke, Bethany, and Katie are tremendously helpful in a myriad of assignments. (And 7-year-old Jonathan makes sure I get the exercise breaks I need.)

I’m thankful for fellow bloggers, including Ferrell Jenkins. He not only writes great posts and takes fantastic photos, he has encouraged me through his life and his words many times. James Davila has been blogging on PaleoJudaica forever, and he is a model to me of how faithful blogging should be done. Aren Maeir is my favorite archaeologist-blogger, and Charles Savelle is my favorite “all-around Bible” blogger. I always appreciate the posts by Luke Chandler, Mark Elliott, Carl Rasmussen, Leen Ritmeyer, and Wayne Stiles. Joseph Lauer doesn’t blog, but he regularly sends me great stories and warm encouragement.

I couldn’t do what I do without some awesome teachers at some outstanding institutions, beginning with The Master’s University where I first studied and have now taught since 1996. The Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College) gave me a love for the geography and archaeology of Israel, and I am especially grateful for the instruction of Gabriel Barkay, Ginger Caessens, Robert Mullins, and Anson Rainey. The Master’s Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary trained me in ways you don’t see as much in the photo collections or on this blog, but that I depend upon every single day.

The best years of my life were spent teaching at the Israel Bible Extension (IBEX) of TMU, and I cannot calculate my debt to Bill Schlegel, Randy Cook, Phyllis Cook, and Rebecca Bange. The kind folks at Yad HaShmonah were the best neighbors, and David Bivin and Gloria Suess have blessed me in many ways.

I am thankful for the great people at the Associates for Biblical Research who are eagerly pursuing the truth in the ground. The longtime director, Bryant Wood, has long been one of my heroes, not only for his excellent scholarship but for his godly character. I first met Eugene Merrill on an ABR dig, and in the years since he has taught me more than I can say from his writings and example.

Bible software makes so much of what I do possible, and Logos Bible Software has served me well since I first purchased it on floppy disks 20-some years ago. I am grateful too for Roy Brown and the outstanding Accordance team for their creative genius and servant attitudes.

On the photography side of things, Nikon’s Coolpix 950 changed my life and I’ve been loyal to Nikon ever since for cameras, lenses, and scanners. Once upon a time, Google’s Picasa organized my photo collection, but in recent years I’ve become entirely dependent on the awesome Adobe Lightroom.

This blog has been hosted since its inception in 2005 by Blogger, but I’ve been able to avoid the web interface by using Windows Live Writer until its replacement by Open Live Writer. These tools have made my life easier.

I am very grateful to so those who have spurred me on in this work since 1999 when a group of seminary students started pressing me to make a photo collection. It was John Dix’s initial partnership and Dr. Richard Rigsby’s enthusiastic encouragement that breathed life into a fuzzy vision. Along the way, so many people have contributed in significant ways, including Bill Krewson, Seth Rodriquez, Doug Bookman, Wayne Wells, G. M. Grena, Doug Downer, Jim Weaver, Will Varner, Brad Hilton, Matt Floreen, David Niblack, Jenn Kintner, Jeremy Francis, Carl Laney, Greg Hatteberg, and Chet Bolen.

I’ve worked with many wonderful authors, editors, and publishers over the years and two who have been the most encouraging for the most years are Kim Tanner (Zondervan) and Judi King (WordAction).

More than anyone, my wife Kelli has supported me and served me in countless ways so that I could travel, teach, write, and process photos. For most of my trips, she has born the full burden of the kids while I was away. She encourages me through the early mornings and late nights, and often when I’m writing weekend roundups, she’s cooking up a hearty breakfast. She has listened and advised me through decades of challenges and opportunities.

Finally, I am thankful to those who have read, commented, emailed, encouraged, recommended, and purchased our work over the years. Without you, my life would be less interesting, less encouraging, and less fulfilling. Thank you, and may the Lord bless you.

“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?”
(1 Thessalonians 3:9)


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Weekend Roundup

Noam Chen has produced a photo essay of the “hidden gems of Jerusalem,” including the Kishle, Siebenberg House, the Italian Synagogue, Jason’s Tomb, Helena’s Well, Little Western Wall, Church of St. John the Baptist, and the Mamluk Halls inside the Western Wall Tunnels.

Israel’s Good Name recently participated in an excavation of the Upper Aqueduct south of Jerusalem.

“More than half a dozen lost Bronze Age cities have been tracked down in Turkey through a mathematical analysis of the accounts left on 12,000 clay tablets by ancient Assyrian traders.” (Registration required.)

“An international seminar about the recently discovered gap in the Great Pyramid of Giza will be held in the upcoming period.”

Golden sheets from Tutankhamun’s tomb will be on display for the first time ever at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. There are more photos here.

An exhibition of the photographs of the excavation of King Tut’s tomb has opened at The Collection in Lincoln, UK.

Michael Press challenges the notion that Palestine was “desolate” in the 19th century. (I observe that his essay does not include any photos.)

For those who have long been wondering: eggplant arrived in Jerusalem just over 1,000 years ago.

Excavations at Ein Hatzeva, home of the “Biblical Tamar Park,” are summarized.

What can we learn from the cities of refuge?

The Museum of the Bible is now open and The Times of Israel gives some highlights. The Washington Post calls it “an up-to-date version of an old-fashioned museum.” World Magazine reviews some of the controversy associated with the museum.

New release: Walking through Jordan: Essays in Honor of Burton MacDonald, edited by Michael Neeley, Geoffrey Clark, and P. M. Michèle Daviau (Equinox, 2017).

Accordance has a big sale going on now in conjunction with the annual meetings of ETS/ASOR/SBL.

Karl Katz, founding curator of the Israel Museum, died this week.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Weekend Roundup

Seven inscriptions were discovered in three Byzantine churches excavated in Galilee this summer. Haaretz (premium) also covers the story.

Archaeologists have discovered a Hellenistic-era gymnasium in the Fayoum province of Egypt.

A recently discovered Assyrian tablet provides the first-known diagnosis to determine infertility.

An intact sundial from the Roman period has been discovered in the excavation of a theater near Mount Cassino in Italy.

A year-long mysterious excavation with high security in Tarsus ended with no explanation of what they found or why they were excavating.

A gemstone discovered in Pylos, Greece, from the 15th century BC is a “masterpiece of miniature art.”

Megan Sauter describes the Terra Sancta Museum, a new stop on the Via Dolorosa.

Wayne Stiles’s post this week on Lachish includes some new drone video footage he shot recently.

The Museum of the Bible is the topic of discussion this week on The Book and the Spade.

Israel welcomed its 3 millionth tourist of 2017 this week.

A new Biblical Archaeology Review Archive provides every article from 1975 to 2016 and is on sale for $130. Or you can subscribe to All-Access Membership for $35/year.

HT: Jared Clark, Agade, Charles Savelle

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Sunday, November 05, 2017

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

“Archaeologists in Greece have uncovered rare jewels, coins and other artefacts while excavating tombs near the ruins of the classical city of Corinth dating to between the fourth and first centuries A.D.”

A preliminary report of the 2017 excavation season at Hala Sultan Tekke in Cyprus has been posted. Participants interested in joining for the 2018 season will receive free accommodations and meals.

Iranian authorities have acted to prevent a gathering at the tomb of Cyrus the Great on the Persian king’s birthday.

Christopher Rollston believes that an erroneous construct form proves that the “Jerusalem Papyrus” is a modern forgery.

Lawrence Schiffman reflects on the history of the Dead Sea Scrolls 70 years after the initial discovery.

Carl Rasmussen shares a video with sounds of a Christian liturgy from the Hagia Sophia (and how they did it).

John DeLancey is posting daily on his current Egypt-Jordan-Israel tour.

BAS is celebrating the retirement of Hershel Shanks with a sale on some of his works.

“What’s So Funny: Discovering and Interpreting Humor in the Ancient World” is the title of a conference to be held in April at The Ohio State University.

You can try Logos 7 Platinum for free now through November 14.

HT: Agade, Ted Weis, Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle

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