Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekend Roundup

The Jerusalem Post has a tourist article on “Bethsaida.”  The author, a senior fellow at the W. F. Albright Institute in Jerusalem, seems to be completely unaware of the disconnect between the archaeological and textual data that strongly throws into question the excavator’s identification of the site.  HT: Joe Lauer

Richard Freund, rabbi and archaeologist, will lecture in the Houston area on May 31 on “The Ten Greatest Archeological Finds of the Lands of Israel.”

Shimon Gibson has a new book out just in time for Easter, entitled “The Final Days of Jesus: The Archaeological Evidence.”  As the title suggests, this work explores the archaeological information for crucifixion and burial in Jesus’ day. One of the “discoveries” Gibson allegedly makes is that Jesus was on trial not at the Antonia Fortress but at Herod’s Palace, and this becomes the basis for an Easter story by CNN.  DailyMail has a similar story, but with a nice graphic that shows the alternate views.  (Gibson’s view has been held by many scholars for decades.)  I haven’t seen the book, but knowing Gibson’s usually careful work, I expect that this will be a very good resource for Bible students.  A friend tells me that the book has an up-to-date bibliography.

“No city ever made a more dramatic entrance.”  So begins a article in the Wall Street Journal on Petra, the impressive Nabatean city in modern-day Jordan.

UPDATE (4/14): Joe Lauer sends along a few updates of interest to the Shimon Gibson story above.  CNN has a 4.5 minute video with Gibson pointing out some of his discoveries.  Haaretz covers the story and includes a quote by Meir Ben-Dov.  Now before I tell you what it is, I’ll just note that whenever a story has a quote by this “senior archaeologist,” you are almost certain to be correct if you take the opposite view (MBD is like Jimmy Carter in that way).  Ben-Dov says that it is “utter nonsense” that the Antonia Fortress is not located next to the Temple Mount.  But, surely he (and the Haaretz article as a whole) has missed the entire point.  The New Testament says that Jesus was condemned by Pilate at the Praetorium.  The question is not where the Antonia Fortress was, but where the Praetorium was.  Gibson, like many scholars for many decades now, believes that the Praetorium was located at Herod’s Palace, south of the modern-day Jaffa Gate.

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