Saturday, March 26, 2011

Recent Articles at Bible and Interpretation

Various articles posted at the Bible and Interpretation in the last month have drawn my eye.  Some I hoped to interact with here, but as time passes, I realize it may just be best to point you directly to them.

Why the fishing town Bethsaida is not found along the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Fred Strickert explains that the reason why et-Tell (aka “Bethsaida”) is today distant from the Sea of Galilee is silting by the Jordan River.  He also wonders if the site may have been elevated by seismic activity since biblical times.  El-Araj is not a viable candidate for Bethsaida, he says, because the site was not settled in the first century.

From the Seal of a Seer to an Inscribed Game Board: A Catalog of Eleven Early Alphabetic Inscriptions Recently Discovered in Egypt and Palestine.  This article by Gordon J. Hamilton considers three new inscriptions from the Middle Bronze, one from the Late Bronze, and seven from the Early Iron Age (including inscriptions from Gath, Tel Zayit, Tel Rehov, Beth Shemesh, and Kh. Qeiyafa).  The bibliographic data alone is very useful.  With regard to the Gath ostracon, note Maeir’s response.

On Archaeology, Forgeries and Public Awareness: The “James Brother of Jesus” Ossuary in Retrospect.  Gideon Avni believes that the obviously forged inscriptions of the James Ossuary and Jehoash Tablet will be regarded as little more than a footnote in history books.  Since a number of scholars consider the case to still be open, this article unfairly denigrates other conclusions by acting as if they don’t exist.

Zedekiah Cave or the Quarries of King Solomon in Jerusalem: A Subsurface Stone Quarry for Building the Second Temple by King Herod.  Zeev Lewy of the Geological Survey of Israel has written a fascinating report suggesting reasons why Herod’s engineers selected a certain type of stone for use in the Temple Mount.  This also explains why the massive quarry was accessed through a single small entrance.

The Bible and Interpretation has many other recent articles, and they now also have a mechanism for supporting their work.

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2 Comments:

  • Regarding Solomon's Quarries/ Zedekiah's Cave: I admittedly have not had a chance to read the article referred to, so am not sure whose idea it is that the subterranean space has only a "single small entrance". The present-day access is small, yes. But close examination shows that most of the width of the original entrance has been blocked up, and soundings have shown that most of its vertical height is occupied by a huge earth-mound -- That's what you're walking on top of when you enter the cave from street level today (with your head almost touching the ceiling), whereas the original bedrock floor of the entrance (and of much of the rest of the labyrinthine system) lies buried several meters below. Also, I have a theory that there were one or more as-yet-undiscovered side exits from the depths of the system, going out to the central (Tyroepoeon) valley and/or the Beth Zetha valley. The quarriers would not have hauled the stones 100 to 200 meters northward to the entrance and then back in the direction of the Temple. How do I know? Because they were lazy, just like me!

    TOM POWERS / Jerusalem

    By Anonymous Tom Powers, at Sat Apr 02, 03:37:00 PM  

  • OK, I've now read the article and see that the "single small entrance" of Solomon's Quarries comes straight from the author -- repeated several times and seemingly a key element of his particular interpretation of the site. I am not convinced. I know of no direct evidence, via excavation or other means, of the actual elevation of the bedrock floor of the cave's entrance, or of most of its passages for that matter. Also, a look directly across Suleiman Street, behind the Arab bus station, reveals a similar but much shallower cave (from front to back), the so-called "Jeremiah's Grotto", and it has a hugely tall and wide entrance!

    TOM POWERS / Jerusalem

    By Anonymous Tom Powers, at Sat Apr 02, 04:35:00 PM  

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