Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Talpiot Tomb Updates

The official website for “The Jesus Discovery” is now up. And down (bandwidth limit exceeded). An interview with the authors is here, when the site is back up.

The Jesus Discovery book by James Tabor has skyrocketed to #1 in all of its categories at Amazon and an overall rank of #174.

More than a dozen photos from the press conference are online. (HT: Joseph Lauer). Apparently James Charlesworth, lead academic consultant to the team, skipped the show.

In a comment on Eric Meyers’ post, Tabor advances the view that Jesus’ body was first buried at the Holy Sepulcher site and then moved to the Talpiot tomb.

Robert Cargill suggests that the “fish” is a tomb nephesh and he claims (in the comments) that two photos supplied by the authors have been doctored or of different “fish.”  (I’m not convinced.)

Antonio Lombatti provides an image of another fish inscribed on an ossuary.

James Tabor confirms Gordon Franz’s observation that everyone has the fish turned the wrong way. If so, why were all of the photos released as horizontal shots?

Jodi Magness is chagrined to see archaeology “hijacked in the service of non-scientific interests.” In a comment, Tabor disagrees that such is the case and he writes of the fish etching that “at least half a dozen art historians have agreed with the Jonah interpretation.” Stephen Goranson notes that none of them have been quoted and he wonders if “signed non-disclosure agreements help scholarship.”

Michael Heiser explains why the process of using the “clueless archaeo-media” is rejected by scholars as a pursuit for cash and not for accuracy. “It’s the methodological equivalent to using mainstream media connections to announce a cure for cancer without clinical trials, or presenting one’s off-the-radar conspiratorial theory (the academic word would be avant garde) about Zionism instead of getting critical feedback from field experts first. But that’s boring and doesn’t generate sales.”

James Davila is pleased with the scholarly response to the announcement and that the media appears to be heeding it (unlike in times past).

Summaries of responses are also provided by Tom Verenna, Mark Goodacre and Stephen Smuts.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Franz: Let’s Get Our Facts Straight

Gordon Franz was at today’s press conference and has written a short piece on the experience and his amazement at some of the responses he has read. He writes:

I was at the press conference at Discovery Times Square on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 for the unveiling of the new book The Jesus Discovery by James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici.

I am not a supporter of Simcha’s ideas, in fact, I have critiqued some of them on my website (see the Cracked Pot Archaeology section at www.lifeandland.org). But what I have found amusing is the misstatements and misunderstanding on some of the blogs by leading scholars. First of all, you should get the book and read it before you comment, or at least look at the pictures! It will save you some embarrassment.

Simcha had an exact replica of both ossuaries in question made by the museum staff at Discovery Times Square. This was accomplished by the measurements and photographs taken with the impressive robotic arm. I am grateful for Walter Klassmen for showing me how it worked. This tool will have many applications in the archaeology of Israel and Simcha should be commended for working closely with this expert to produce such a valuable tool.

The first thing that struck me on the ossuary is the orientation of the “fish.” On all the blogs and news articles I have read, the picture of the “fish” is facing the wrong way. Sometimes it is horizontal, either facing left or right, and made to look like a swimming fish. Or the “fish” has the round ball (Jonah, according to Simcha) facing upwards, thus making the “fish” look like a funerary monument. Usually pictures of Absalom’s Pillar are shown to bolster the case for this view. The fact of the matter is that the “fish” is facing down! So we should orient the picture correctly before we continue the discussion.

My initial impression is that the “fish” looks like an ornamental glass vessel, perhaps a pitcher or flask of some sort. The Ennion vessel found by Prof. Avigad in the Jewish Quarter comes to mind (page 108 in Discovering Jerusalem). Perhaps some glass expert might suggest a better parallel from this period than the Ennion vessel, but this is worthy of consideration.

jonah-fish-ossuary-jacobovici-haaretz-avigad

Ossuary etching compared with Ennion pitcher, both from Jerusalem. Left image: Associated Producers Ltd./Haaretz; Right: Avigad, Discovering Jerusalem, p. 108.

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Tomb Preliminary Report Available

The Bible and Interpretation has now published “A Preliminary Report of a Robotic Camera: Exploration of a Sealed 1st Century Tomb in East Talpiot, Jerusalem,” by James Tabor. The 27-page article (plus figures) is in pdf format, and the website allows comments.

I took a few notes as I read the article:

The “excavation” was conducted by Rami Arav and James Tabor.

Simcha Jacobovici is listed as film director and “professor in the Department of Religion at Huntington University, Ontario.”  (Wikipedia indicates that he has an M.A. in International Relations.)

James Charlesworth is listed as “primary academic consultant.”

Eight ossuaries were found in the tomb.

The tomb was first studied in 1981. Some of the artifacts and documentation from this previous excavation are missing.

The tomb has been sealed under a condominium building since the 1981 excavation.

What is being hailed now as the “archaeological find that reveals the birth of Christianity” was not seen by archaeologists in the 1981 excavation. The four-line Greek inscription and the iconographic image (fish?) were first observed in the recent camera study.

The challenges to studying the tomb chamber by means of a robotic camera were significant.

One ossuary may be inscribed with Jonah, John, or Julia.

The interpretation of the 4-line inscription is quite difficult and there are a number of possibilities.

One work lists 108 images of Jonah in early Christian art, but these are found in the catacombs of Rome and are no earlier than the 3rd century.

Tabor: “We are convinced that our inscription clearly makes some affirmation about either resurrection from the dead or lifting up to heaven. Whether one might identify it as “Christian,” or to be more historically precise—as associated with the early followers of Jesus, is another question. I would strongly argue in the affirmative. Although it is true that ideas of resurrection of the dead and even ascent to heaven are found in a multiplicity of Jewish sources in the late 2nd Temple period, they do not appear as expressions in burial contexts unless we have an exception here in the Talpiot tomb. That, along with the unprecedented example of writing the divine name Yahweh in Greek letters in a Jewish tomb—a place of tum’a or ritual defilement—argues for a heterodox or sectarian context.”

Tabor rejects the possibility that the iconographic image depicts a nephesh or an amphora.

Tabor believes a previously discovered ossuary with the name Yeshua (Jesus) depicts Jesus inside a fish.

Tabor: “Context is everything.”

The report includes 28 figures: maps, photos, and plans.

This preliminary report is a very helpful review and analysis of the evidence. James Tabor is to be commended for providing this to readers who want to know the basis for some of the conclusions being announced in the media. You can read the whole report here.

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Jesus Discovery: Book Excerpt and Photos

The Huffington Post provides an excerpt from The Jesus Discovery book along with a series of photos from inside the tomb. Here are some excerpts from the excerpt, with emphasis added:

The discovery provides the earliest archaeological evidence of faith in Jesus' resurrection from the dead, the first witness to a saying of Jesus that predates even the writing of our New Testament gospels, and the earliest example of Christian art, all found in a sealed tomb dated to the 1st century CE....

We believe a compelling argument can be made that the Garden tomb is that of Jesus of Nazareth and his family. We argue in this book that both tombs are most likely located on the rural estate of Joseph of Arimathea, the wealthy member of the Sanhedrin who according to all four New Testament gospels took official charge of Jesus' burial....

We now have new archaeological evidence, literally written in stone, that can guide us in properly understanding what Jesus' earliest followers meant by their faith in Jesus' resurrection from the dead, with his earthly remains, and those of his family, peacefully interred just yards away. This might sound like a contradiction, but only because certain theological traditions regarding the meaning of resurrection of the dead have clouded our understanding of what Jesus and his first followers truly believed. When we put together the texts of the gospels with this archaeological evidence, the results are strikingly consistent and stand up to rigorous standards of historical evidence.

James Tabor stated in a comment here yesterday that he is “not sure how finding the earliest evidence of faith in Jesus’ resurrection would negate Christianity,” but the book excerpt above shows otherwise. In their interpretations of the evidence, the authors claim that the evidence refutes “certain theological traditions” about the bodily resurrection of Jesus. They claim that Jesus’ followers denied his physical resurrection. Yet the traditions of his resurrection go back to one of the earliest books in the New Testament (ca. AD 50). Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

These verses and the rest of the chapter make it clear that Paul is speaking of a bodily resurrection. The same Christ that was buried was raised. The Christ that appeared to the disciples could be seen. If Jesus’ body is still in the tomb, our faith is in vain. A spiritual resurrection is no resurrection at all.

The Huffington Post article features 10 photos and one video clip.

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Rollston and Meyers on the Talpiot Tombs

Christopher A. Rollston has published a brief review of “the new Jesus Discovery” at the ASOR Blog. Among other things he concludes:

3. There is no necessary connection between these two tombs and there is no convincing evidence that some famous figure of history (such as Jesus of Nazareth, Joseph of Arimathea, or Mary Magdalene, etc.) was buried in these tombs.

4. Furthermore, these tombs do not provide any evidence that can be construed as suggesting that Jesus of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene were married or had a child together.

5. I highly doubt that the inscription in Talpiyot Tomb B refers to a resurrection.  In any case, many Jews during the Second Temple Period believed in a resurrection, long before the rise of Christianity. Thus, even if there were some evidence for a notion of a resurrection in this tomb, it does not necessarily follow that this was a Jewish-Christian tomb.

6. I am certain that the tetragrammaton (i.e., “Yahweh”) is not present in the four-line inscription from Talpiyot Tomb B.

7. The ornamentation on the ossuary in Talpiyot Tomb B that Tabor and Jacobovici wish to consider “Jonah and the Whale” (with Jonah pitched on the nose of the whale!) is a nephesh tower or tomb façade, just as Eric Meyers has stated.  Such an image is quite common in the corpus of ossuaries.

Ultimately, therefore, I would suggest that these are fairly standard, mundane Jerusalem tombs of the Late Second Temple period.  The contents are interesting, but there is nothing that is particularly sensational or unique in these tombs.  I wish that it were different.  After all, it would be quite fascinating to find a tomb that could be said to be “Christian” and to hail from the very century that Christianity arose.  Moreover, it would be particularly interesting to find a tomb that could be associated with Jesus of Nazareth and his family.  But, alas, the evidence does not suggest this.  A basic methodological stricture is this: dramatic claims require dramatic and decisive evidence.  In this case, Tabor and Jacobovici have strained the evidence far beyond the breaking point.

Thus he is essentially rejecting everything that would make this new discovery worthy of media attention. You can read his full review here. (The link has been acting up this morning, so if it doesn’t work, go directly to www.asorblog.org.)

Eric M. Meyers is no more positive.

The book is truly much ado about nothing and is a sensationalist presentation of data that are familiar to anyone with knowledge of first-century Jerusalem. Nothing in the book “revolutionizes our understanding of Jesus or early Christianity” as the authors and publisher claim, and we may regard this book as yet another in a long list of presentations that misuse not only the Bible but also archaeology.

Ouch. His full review is here (or here).

James Tabor has just emailed the following:

I am posting an article at http://bibleinterp.com that offers a preliminary report and analysis with maps and illustrations of the recent Talpiot "patio" tomb exploration by remote camera that Rami Arav and I conducted in 2009-2011. It should go up on that web site by noon today.

jonah-fish-ossuary-jacobovici-haaretz-vertical

Fish/tomb monument image, rotated 90 degrees
Photo: Associated Producers Ltd./Haaretz

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More Reports on the Jerusalem Fish Ossuary

More information about the videocamera discovery of inscriptions on burial boxes in the Patio Tomb in Jerusalem is being disclosed in advance of this morning’s press conference.

James Tabor has issued a press release through his institution, the University of North Carolina Charlotte. He claims that four of the seven ossuaries in the tomb have unique features.

MSNBC reports on the discovery and includes some evaluation by John Dominic Crossan and Ben Witherington. The article includes another photo of the fish.

The Bible and Interpretation is slated to post an academic paper on the tomb at noon today.

PaleoBabble has awarded Simcha Jacobovici a PhD. in Non Sequitur Thinking.

HT: Joseph Lauer

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Jesus Discovery: Early Christian Burial in Jerusalem

Just ahead of his big press conference tomorrow in New York, the “Naked Archaeologist” Simcha Jacobovici has released a photo and some details of a discovery inside a burial cave south of Jerusalem. The dramatic find is a sketching of a fish swallowing or spewing a person along with a Greek and Hebrew inscription with the words “resurrected” or “arise” and “Yahweh.”

While hundreds of Jonah-type inscriptions have been discovered throughout the Roman empire, this is apparently the first such known from Jerusalem, indicating the early presence of Christians in the city where Jesus rose from the dead. The Jonah-fish symbol was used by early Christians because of Jesus’ prediction that he would be like the prophet: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:40).

The information provided to Haaretz is preliminary and intended to stir up interest as more details (and big-time spin) are revealed in the press conference, the book release, and the Discovery Channel TV show.

The article notes that the “excavation” was with a video camera sticking through the floor of an apartment. Apparently the burial cave has not been opened because of ultra-Orthodox objections.

Potentially this provides the earliest archaeological evidence for followers of Jesus in the land of Israel. Though the report doesn’t say so, some archaeologists have apparently dated the inscriptions to about AD 50.

Naturally this brief article raises more questions than it answers. We expect to learn more in the next 24 hours.

HT: Joseph Lauer

jonah-fish-ossuary-jacobovici-haaretz1

Ossuary drawing from Jerusalem.
Photo: Associated Producers Ltd./Haaretz

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Tomorrow: The Jesus Discovery

The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find That Reveals the Birth of Christianity by James D. Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici releases tomorrow.

The publisher’s description suggests that the book will reveal “an iconic image and a Greek inscription” on two ossuaries which pre-date AD 70 and which “constitute the earliest archaeological evidence of faith in Jesus’ resurrection.” The conclusion is that whoever was buried in this tomb was a Christian.

The authors go further and claim that since this new tomb is only 200 feet (60 m) from the so-called Jesus Family Tomb that it makes it more likely that the Talpiot Tomb is “the real tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.”

It sounds to me that this discovery is one part fact mixed with three parts speculation. If you read the book or listen to the reports in the impending media barrage, keep in mind the difference between the artifacts and the interpretation. If the history of the two authors is any guide, the quest for fame and fortune trumps the desire for truth. The best way to get your name and your book in the media is to question the foundations of Christianity.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekend Roundup

Paleobabble posts a report on the Noah’s Ark fraud by one who knows the Turkish guides involved. The report probably contains some of the true story, but it is obscured by a liberal dose of speculation and hearsay. Confidence in the author is further eroded by her lack of experience in the field, her photos of herself in conservative eastern Turkey, and her forthcoming book entitled Climbing Mount Ararat: Love and Betrayal in Kurdistan.

Eisenbrauns’ Deal of the Weekend is Ancient Place Names in the Holy Land: Preservation and History, by Yoel Elitzur. It is marked down from $65 to $26.

Ferrell Jenkins summarizes his survey of the Babylonian kings in the Bible, concluding yesterday with Belshazzar.

What did Jerusalem look like in Jesus’ days? A brief article at the Jerusalem Post describes the Herodian Quarter (Wohl Museum).

Archaeologists in Egypt have begun restoring a second boat buried next to the pyramid of Cheops (Khufu).

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, gives a 20-minute presentation at TED on the “biographies” of the Cyrus Cylinder. He believes this artifact is a major player today in the politics of the Middle East.

Eilat Mazar is warning that the antiquities on the Temple Mount are in danger because of plans to unite all of the mosques into one large one.

The seventh season of excavations at Tall el-Hammam concluded this week. According to email newsletters, the major discovery this year was a monumental gateway dated to the Middle Bronze period (2000-1550 BC).

The fifth edition of The Carta Bible Atlas (formerly The Macmillan Bible Atlas) is apparently more than just a cover re-design (as was the fourth edition). According to the publisher, “The Carta Bible Atlas has been enriched by the addition of 40 new maps. Anson F. Rainey added maps and discussion on contemporary subjects surrounding the biblical narrative and R. Steven Notley revised and expanded the New Testament section. Prof. Notley further enhanced this volume by extending its historical reach to include the map of Palestine at the end of the third century as recorded by Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea.” Eisenbrauns has this updated classic in stock.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Jack Sasson

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Interview with Thomas Levy

Foundation Stone has posted a three-part interview from their LandMinds radio show with the UCSD professor who is excavating copper mines in the Arabah south of the Dead Sea.

"There is no Turning Back!"  Prof. Thomas Levy, UCSD, says the trowel and a good eye are no longer enough in the field. Tom rode the wave of an immense California investment in technology applied to Hirbet en-Nahas in Jordan.

The kicker is, unexpectedly, his excavations showed a rise of copper industrial production in the 10th and 9th centuries BCE, with a falling off in the 8th. This may be in conflict  with the Low Chronology, requiring a new look at the textual and archaeological interface, about which he has written and edited a book. 

Everyone is talking about his work and its implications - hear Prof Levy himself! (Barnea overloaded his circuits here in the late night Skype recording, he was so fascinated, pardon him…).

You can access the mp3 files via these direct links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

LandMinds also has a facebook page.

HT: Jack Sasson

Khirbet en-Nahas Area S, Iron Age four-room workshop, view north, df080207013

Four-room workshop, Khirbet en-Nahas

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Biblical Archaeology in 2011

For several years now, Brian Janeway has reported on major presentations and discussions at the Annual Meetings of the American Schools of Oriental Research in order to engage the armchair archaeologist who is unable to travel to the November conference. He has now posted his review at the website of the Associates for Biblical Research, summarizing sessions on the Philistines, the state of biblical archaeology, the Conquest narratives, biblical meals, Caesarea, and the wine of Jesus.

One subject of particular interest is Joshua’s conquest and how this is interpreted by one self-identified “maximalist.”

Perhaps it was fitting then, that Dr. Daniel Browning from William Carey University, following in the Rainey tradition, mounted a spirited critique of the findings of Dr. Bryant Wood in “Hazor versus Jericho and Ai: Dealing with Mixed Archaeological Data in Evaluating the Joshua Narrative.” Coming from a scholar who styled himself a “maximalist” regarding the Biblical text, the paper was both surprising and disappointing—the former for its contemptuous dismissal of any “maximalist” (literal) reading of Joshua—and the latter for its utter lack of reference to physical evidence presented by Wood and others. All attempts by evangelicals to interpret the data (at Jericho, Ai, and Hazor) differently than Kenyon and others are reduced to “tactics,” all of which fail on the level of presupposition—failing to see the text as a theological and not a historical one. The real key to understanding Jericho and Ai is in the figures of Rahab and Achan, who are juxtaposed to drive the underlying theological agenda. Only at Hazor can archaeological finds be made to fit the conquest narrative. In singling out Bryant Wood, Browning’s failure to cite the ceramic and stratigraphic basis of Wood’s thesis is intellectually dishonest. His largely literary approach deserves a learned archaeological response, which was not provided in San Francisco. Perhaps it is time for Dr. Wood to mount a defense of his own at the next ASOR Meetings? 

In my opinion, it is an elementary error to assume that literary artistry precludes accurate historical recording.

Janeway’s full report is here.

Jericho, Tell es-Sultan from east panorama, tb05110682p

Jericho (Tell es-Sultan) from the east

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday Roundup

The news report was that Tel Shiloh would receive about $1.3 million for renovation and preservation of the site, besides an additional $2.5 million from private sources. Only a few bloggers seem to note the new archaeological excavation underway on the southwestern side of the tell, with work scheduled to begin on the proposed tabernacle site in a few weeks.

Arutz-7: “Muslims hurled stones and shoes at police escorting Jewish and Christian visitors on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on Tuesday.”

JPost: “The Tourism Ministry on Tuesday launched an online ballot where the public can vote on what shape the NIS 833 million renovation of the Dead Sea will take in the coming years.”

NASA has a photo showing the weekend’s snowfall on Mount Hermon and the ranges to the north.

Wayne Stiles connects the beauty on display at Neot Kedumim with the Passover holiday.

The Jerusalem Post has a new column named “All Out Adventure.” It begins with a rather tame outing to Sataf in the Judean hills.

Tom Powers has an interesting and well-illustrated post on the Historic Valley Railway that once connected Damascus to Haifa.

G. M. Grena teases his readers with an Arabic-English riddle. I think I can make some sense of it.

James Hoffmeier’s recent lecture on what his archaeological work in Egypt tells us about the exodus is online for viewing.

The royal garden at Ramat Rahel is described in a brief but helpful summary by LiveScience.

HT: BibleX

Shiloh excavations on southwest side, tb010212234

Recent excavations at Shiloh

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Roman Jerusalem

When one looks at the amount of information preserved in the archaeological record in the city of Jerusalem, a pattern emerges where a period of abundant evidence is followed by one with minimal data. What can archaeology tell us about Jerusalem in the Late Bronze or Persian periods? Not very much, especially by comparison with the eras that precede and follow. Historical documentation, such as the Amarna Letters and the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, attest to flourishing life in the city in these periods, but the archaeological evidence is quite limited. One might simplify the record as follows:

  • Middle Bronze: Abundance
  • Late Bronze-Iron I: Minimal
  • Iron II: Abundance
  • Persian-Hellenistic: Minimal
  • Hasmonean-Herodian: Abundance
  • Late Roman: Minimal
  • Byzantine: Abundance

One of the reasons for this situation is that later builders apparently destroyed and re-used much of the material from the previous period. Thus the Hasmoneans rebuilt along Nehemiah’s (Persian) walls and David reused existing Jebusite structures.

The Late Roman period (AD 70-330) is one of those for which less archaeological information exists. But excavations in the last decade have made significant progress in revealing more about the city between the destruction of the Second Temple and the arrival of the Byzantines. Nir Hasson has written an interesting article on Jerusalem in the Late Roman period, noting in particular four discoveries from this period (emphasis added below).

In the rear section of the Western Wall plaza, in the spot where the Western Wall Heritage Foundation intends to erect a large building that it calls "the Core House," Antiquities Authority researcher Shlomit Wexler-Bedolah discovered an ornate and broad Roman street, complete with shops on each side. This is the eastern cardo, along whose path Hagai Street would later be paved.

Three hundred meters to the south, another Antiquities Authority researcher, Dr. Doron Ben-Ami, discovered the place where the Roman street apparently ended. The corner of the street is adjacent to the Givati parking lot at the top of the Silwan valley - the spot where the Elad organization intends to build a large visitors center. In a large rescue excavation at this location in recent years, Ben-Ami exposed a large, fancy Roman villa unlike any other structure from its time in the entire country. He estimates that the villa he uncovered was the home of the regional governor or some other central authority.

In another excavation, in the tunnel under the Western Wall, Wexler-Bedolah and archaeologist Alexander Onn re-estimated the dating of a large bridge leading to the Temple Mount. As with other ancient monuments this too turned out to be of Roman origin and not from the Second Temple period. Another example is the Roman bathhouse and swimming pool discovered by Sion a year and a half ago. "It's a tremendous spa, a country club," Sion says, comparing the bathhouse to similar facilities found in other parts of the Roman Empire.

The rest of the article describes other discoveries in the greater Jerusalem area and it discusses the implications of this new information, including what it means for the alleged abandonment of the Temple Mount during these years. If you’re interested in the history of Jerusalem, this is worth reading.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Valley Cardo excavations near Western Wall, tb010312457

Eastern Cardo near Western Wall

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Facts About Jerusalem

An official government organization, the Jerusalem Development Authority, sent out their “Monthly Jerusalem Newsletter” today with these “Facts about Jerusalem.”

  • King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel 3,000 years ago.
  • The Western Wall in the Old City is the last remaining wall of the ancient Second Jewish Temple which was destroyed by the Romans in 70CE.
  • For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus lived, preached, died, and was resurrected.
  • According to Islam, the prophet Muhammad was miraculously transported from Mecca to Jerusalem, and then ascended to Heaven.
  • Mishkenot Sha’ananim is the first area of habitation in Jerusalem outside the Old City walls. It’s building began in 1860.
  • Jerusalem today has over 10,000 hotel rooms with another 10,000 planned in the coming years.
  • The most visited site in Israel is in Jerusalem. It is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion.

See any problems?

Holy Sepulcher facade and bell tower, tb010312291

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Weekend Roundup

The Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth is scheduled to open in April. Displays will share the history of the area, including artifacts from Bab edh-Dhra, Numeira, and the Monastery of Saint Lot. The museum is located at Deir Ain Abata on the southeastern side of the Dead Sea.

The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review has been published. The cover story, not online, will be of interest to many readers here. Amihai Mazar asks “Was King Saul Impaled on the Wall of Beth Shean?” Hershel Shanks writes an editorial on ancient toilet practices.

Amazon is selling the brand-new Rose Guide to the Temple (previously recommended here) for only $20. I’m not sure how long that deal will last.

The life and work of British archaeologist John Garstang is now being celebrated in an exhibition at the Blackburn Museum.

Haaretz reports on some of the history and controversy of the early 20th century photographs of Elia Kahvedjian.

A visit to the synagogue of Baram provides a window to Jewish life in the land of Israel for the last 2,000 years.

HT: Jack Sasson, Joseph Lauer

Baram synagogue, tb032807948

Synagogue of Baram

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Temple Mount Model at Christ Church, Jerusalem

A model of the Temple Mount (Haram esh-Sharif) made by Conrad Schick in 1873 has been put on permanent display at the Heritage Center of Christ Church in Jerusalem. From Haaretz:

The model was made 140 years ago by the architect and archaeologist Conrad Schick, whose work in Jerusalem was supported by the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews. Its details reveal that its creator had access to places where no Western scholar of his day was allowed.

"Every time they dug a hole in the Temple Mount, he ran there to examine it," said Prof. Haim Goren of Tel Hai Academic College, an expert on Schick's work.

Schick, who made the model in an orphanage's woodworking workshop where he taught, crafted it for display at the 1873 Vienna World's Fair. It's four meters long and three meters wide.

Like many of Schick's models, this one had dozens of parts that could be dismantled to show inner, underground areas.

"It's not only beautiful, it's also an important research tool, because it was built by a man who visited every pit and understood the topography in a way we can't fathom," Gibson said.

The full story is here. You can read more about Conrad Schick at a website dedicated to him. They have many photos of the model at Christ Church, his 1879 model of the Temple Mount, his models at the Schmidt’s Girls School, and others.

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Temple Mount model by Conrad Schick. (Photo source)

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Follow-up on Givat Yona

In contrast to the IAA report on the Givat Yona excavations (previously criticized here), Ran Shapira has written a well-researched and accurate report on the excavations of the site within modern Ashdod.

A commenter on the previous blog post also observed that the place “of Saint Jonah” is depicted on the Medeba Map (c. AD 600). As can be seen in the photo below, its location is quite a bit north of Ashdod and in the area of Dan’s (original) tribal allotment. The map probably refers to Tell Yunis, 4 miles (6.5 km) south of Joppa.

It may also be noted that the Survey of Western Palestine records about half a dozen sites preserving the name Jonah, most of them in Galilee.

medeba-map-jonah

Medeba map showing the place of Jonah in the vicinity of Joppa, not Ashdod

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday Roundup

The Travels through Bible Lands Collection (15 vols.) is available until Friday noon for $20. I recommended this set of books by Tristram, Layard, Merrill, Jessup, and others some time ago, but sufficient orders have been placed and this Logos software deal is now closing.

The Israel Museum is being criticized for not allowing photographs to be taken of their artifacts. Wikipedia says these items belong to the world. The Israel Museum wants to make money by selling their own photographs. Jim Davila suggests that the world has changed and the Israel Museum should reformulate its policies.

Leon Mauldin has written a helpful and illustrated article about Azazel, the Scapegoat.

Tom Powers discusses the new visitor center in the City of David and some misinformation in the reporting.

A rabbi says that selling stones from the Western Wall on eBay is akin to embezzlement from God.

On the edge of the “Grand Canyon of Israel,” Mizpe Ramon is struggling to find its way.

I’ve always thought that the chief “dynamic” of the Jordan River was as a barrier (cf. Josh 22; Judg 12). Wayne Stiles makes a good case that we should think of it as a place of “transitions.”

Jordan River, tb020506945

Jordan River

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Visitor Center Approved for City of David

In 1995, the construction of a visitor center above the Gihon Spring was halted with the discovery of some massive Middle Bronze towers. Today the ugly shell of the building hovers over the site with no apparent intention of ever being completed.

Yesterday the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee approved the plan for another visitor center for the City of David, this one located in the former Givati parking lot below Dung Gate (aerial photo here). This is the same area where archaeologists have claimed to have excavated the palace of Queen Helene of Adiabene. Haaretz reports:

The new visitors’ center is to be built above the Givati parking lot and will be called the Mercaz Kedem (Kedem Center). The building will be built on stilts and beneath it there will be an area where visitors can view recently discovered archeological findings. The Elad organization promoted the plan and it obtained the support of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who appeared before the district committee earlier today to voice his support.

The Israel Antiquities Authority’s Jerusalem District director, Dr. Yuval Baruch, also expressed support for the plan, despite the presence of archeological findings under the building. “This is one of the most important projects in Jerusalem in recent generations. It would be impossible to find a serious archeologist with a bad word to say about the conduct of the excavations,” said Baruch. “The building as it stands is approved by the Israel Antiquities Authority and was presented to the authority in dozens of meetings.

All of the changes the Antiquities Authority requested were included in Arie Rahamimov’s plan: the number of parking spaces was reduced, and the height of the building was limited so it would not overshadow the height of the Old City wall (the difference is one meter). There is an important link here between the Ophel Garden, the City of David and the Western Wall and the creation of a direct link between the sites. We led the way to this result.”

The building, designed by architect Arie Rahamimov, will also include a parking lot for the use of visitors to the City of David, exhibition space and classrooms and on the roof, there are plans to build a plaza and observation deck overlooking Silwan and the Old City walls.

The full article includes an artist’s rendering of the new complex.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Central Valley excavations, tb010910230Givati Parking Lot Excavations, January 2010

Central Valley excavations, tb123011044Givati Parking Lot Excavations, January 2012

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Thoughts on the Gold of Sheba

The claims are grand, indeed:

A British excavation has struck archaeological gold with a discovery that may solve the mystery of where the Queen of Sheba of biblical legend derived her fabled treasures.

The archaeologist is claiming to have found a gold mine, a temple, and a battleground. The gold mine is the basis of the connection with Sheba, for 1 Kings 10:10 reports that the Queen of Sheba gave Solomon 120 talents [4.5 tons] of gold.

If you read on further, however, you learn that the gold mine has not been excavated. In fact, the entrance is blocked by stones. You won’t be surprised by what follows:

Schofield will begin a full excavation once she has the funds and hopes to establish the precise size of the mine. Tests by a gold prospector who alerted her to the mine show that it is extensive, with a proper shaft and tunnel big enough to walk along.

So somebody searching for gold has convinced an archaeologist to publicize her “discovery” in order to raise the money to dig for treasure.

Schofield found above the blocked mine a “20ft stone stele (or slab) carved with a sun and crescent moon, the ‘calling card of the land of Sheba.’” That’s a curious statement given that evidence for the ancient kingdom of Sheba is sparse and most scholars believe that it was located not in Ethiopia but in Yemen. I’d be interested to know more about this “calling card.”

The article says that Louise Schofield is “an archaeologist and former British Museum curator,” and credits her with the establishment of multinational rescue excavations in Turkey and an environmental development project in Ethiopia. The latter is being done by a charity that Schofield founded to help the poor develop a sustainable lifestyle. According to another website, Schofield “was for 13 years Curator of Greek Bronze Age and Geometric Antiquities at the British Museum, and was responsible for the Mycenaean collection.” She also authored The Mycenaeans.

If you wish to pursue the subject further, I’d recommend starting with this post at Paleojudaica and following the links. As of this writing, the story is only being reported by the Observer.

The screenshot below shows the area of the present discovery (Maikado) along with the location of Marib, another candidate for the capital of ancient Sheba.

sheba-possible-locations

Possible locations of Sheba in relation to Jerusalem

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Weekend Roundup

Aren Maeir provides links to grants for volunteer excavators.

Maeir also lists nine sites in the Shephelah that will be under excavation as of this summer: Azekah, Beth Shemesh, Burna, Eton, Gath, Gezer, Qeiyafa, Socoh, and Zayit. That bodes well for the future of this blog.

Robert Mullins will begin a new excavation this summer for Azusa Pacific University at Abel Beth Maacah. Mullins will also be lecturing on March 19 in Beverly Hills on “The Many Temples of Beth Shean.”

If you’ve ever wondered what that palatial structure atop Mount Gerizim is, Tom Powers has found the answer.

Daniel Wallace says that the first New Testament manuscript from the first century has been discovered.

Wayne Stiles: “Like so many great cities of yesteryear, Tel Samaria remains a testimony of all earthly glory. The only beauty that remains is what God put there to begin with.”

Leen Ritmeyer recalls the discovery of the Burnt House in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.

Jodi Magness is interviewed on the Book and the Spade radio program (mp3 links: part 1, part 2).

LA Times: “The Israeli government is gradually releasing its National Photo Collection from copyright restrictions.”

The Jerusalem Post recommends the top 5 nature spots in the city.

The ASOR Blog surveys the latest in archaeology from around the world.

HT: G. M. Grena, Daniel Frese, Joseph Lauer

Abel Beth Maacah from southwest, tb040903201

Abel Beth Maacah from the southwest

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Holy Sepulcher, a 3D Journey Back in Time

Post by Chris McKinny

The following video illustrates the different phases of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher moving backwards in time from the Crusades until Crucifixion. Here is the information from the site:

A journey back in time to tell the story of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the site defined in many Christian traditions as “the Centre of the World”. This is the gift by ATS pro Terra Sancta to all the friends and the supporters of the Holy Land.Divided in chapters, the video by Mrs. Raffaella Zardoni for ATS pro Terra Sancta presents a 3D reconstruction of the basilica at different times, back to the stone cave which saw the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our being here, our commitment for this land and our deep desire to help its living stones start and gather meaning from here.



While the video is extremely well done it should be noted that it illustrates the architecture of the bench of "Jesus' tomb" identically in each chapter of the video. This is not exactly historically accurate. The burial bench beneath the "Rotunda" was actually reconstructed by Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachus in 1048 AD after it and much of the surrounding rotunda of Constantine/Helena had been destroyed by Fatimid Caliph Hakim in 1009 AD.

For more information regarding th the various stages of the development see the "Church of Holy Sepulcher" entry in the Anchor Bible Dictionary by Oliver Nicholson (pgs. 3: 258-260).

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Archaeological Resources from AJA

The American Journal of Archaeology has a useful collection of “Resources for Students.” Of course, many of these same resources are valuable for professors, teachers, pastors, and enthusiasts.

General Archaeological Resources: a suggested place to start with links to introductions and site-specific websites

Academic Resources: AIA Directories, Writing Papers, Databases, and Suggested Reading

Careers in Archaeology, including job listings, how to publish, issues of getting tenure, how to give a bad conference talk, and using images in teaching and publication.

Project Websites: Greece, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, and the Middle East

Archaeological Blogs: a limited selection

Multimedia and Interactive, including maps, visual reconstructions, and panoramic views

HT: Paleobabble

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Iron Age Fortress Excavated in Ashdod

Attempts to sensationalize this story by connecting it to the prophet Jonah should not be allowed to obscure the significance of a fortress recently uncovered in Ashdod. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) press release blows it on all things “Jonah.”

At ‘Giv'at Yonah’, in Ashdod, Archaeological Finds were Uncovered that Verify the Existence of Life there at the Time of Jonah the Prophet

The foundation of a large fortress that was situated there during the First Temple period was exposed in an excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted with funding provided by Hofit – Ashdod Development & Tourism Company, Ltd.

At ‘Giv'at Yonah’ (the Hill of Jonah) in Ashdod, which according to various traditions is identified with the burial place of the prophet Jonah, archaeological finds were exposed that verify the existence of life there during the First Temple period, at the time of this prophet.

In a trial archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority carried out on ‘Giv'at Yonah’ in Ashdod prior to development work by Hofit –Ashdod Development & Tourism Company, Ltd. remains of massive walls more than 1 m wide were found that are dated to the late eighth century and early seventh century BCE.

In the estimation of the excavation director, Dmitri Egorov, of the Israel Antiquities Authority, these walls constituted the base of a large building from the First Temple period, the time when Jonah the prophet was active, who lived in the eighth century BCE and was famous for having been swallowed by a fish after he refused to “go to Nineveh…and proclaim against it” (Jonah 1:2).

One can understand why a news organization would try to hype this discovery and in the process distort the data, but it is disturbing that a scientific governmental organization such as the IAA would fail to get basic historical and geographical facts right.

1. The IAA gets the chronology wrong. Jonah was a prophet in the first half of the 8th century, during the reign of Jeroboam II (793-753 BC). This fortress dates to the late 8th and early 7th centuries. Thus the claim made in the headline and throughout the story is false. This should be clear later in the press release when the district archaeologist states that the fortress belonged either to the Assyrians or to the Judean king Josiah (640-609 BC).

2. The IAA gets the geography wrong. Jonah was a prophet in the northern kingdom, from the Galilean city of Gath-hepher (2 Kgs 14:25). He fled on a ship via the port at Joppa. There is no evidence that he ever traveled to Judah or to the territory then controlled by the Philistines.

3. The IAA fails to note the value of the “various traditions” that identify the site as the “Hill of Jonah.” There is no Jewish or Christian tradition that Jonah was buried here. Only a decade ago did “Atra Kadisha” identify it as the tomb of Jonah. It is relevant that the purpose of Atra Kadisha is to prevent the excavation of ancient Jewish tombs. The Atra Kadisha declaration follows a Muslim tradition, which is much too late to be taken as having historic value.

What is important in this story is the discovery of a fortress apparently from the time of Hezekiah when the Philistines were caught in a bit of a tug of war between Judah and the Assyrians. For more details, see Sennacherib’s Siege of Jerusalem in Context of Scripture 2.119B.

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Excavations of Iron Age fortress at Givat Yona. Photo by IAA.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Update: Restoring Israel’s Historic Sites

In February 2010, Israel’s prime minister announced a $135 million plan to restore 150 historic sites throughout Israel. Now, two years later, Haaretz reports on the progress (or lack thereof) in implementing the measure.

The article is largely the result of an interview with the head of the national heritage department in the Prime Minister’s office. Reuven Pinsky says that much planning has been done and by the end of the six-year timetable, two-thirds of the projects will be completed, including 70 large or medium-sized sites and 100 small ones. A full list of sites is not given, but some projects are mentioned.

Other sites included on the list include the Tel Lachish archaeology site in the Negev (where a visitors' center is to be built); Metzudat Koah (a fortress, also known as the Nebi Yusha police station); Herodion near Gush Etzion, where King Herod's tomb is located; Gamla and the ancient synagogue in Umm el-Kanatir in the Golan Heights; Tel Arad; the old train station at Tzemah; Hatzer Kinneret and so on.

Lachish, a site not in the Negev but in the Shephelah of Judah, could certainly benefit from a visitor’s center as well as some restoration work on the ruins. When encountering a group of tour guides in training at the tell last month, I mused that this would probably be the last time they ever visited the site.

The article discusses some political angles and notes that many of the sites proposed for renovation have not yet been approved.

As to which sites are closest to his heart, he refuses at first to say, but later mentions three: Tel Aviv's Independence Hall, the Umm al Kanatir Synagogue in the Golan, and the archaeological project underway in the heart of Modi'in Ilit. He says dealing with the latter site is like "reinventing the wheel," because it involves a combination of archaeological excavations and dealing with a Haredi population.

The full article is here.

Lachish aerial from northwest, tb010703290

Lachish from northwest

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Q&A: Illustrations of Herod’s Temple

Question: I’m writing to ask if you know of a place on the web (or anywhere else) that I could find good pictures or diagrams of Herod’s Temple.  I want to help my church be able to really understand the temple that Jesus entered during Passion week.  I’m preaching the Mark 11 version of the cleansing of the temple this week. –K.W.

Answer: Yes, there are a few sources. The place to start is the website of Leen Ritmeyer. As you probably know, he was the architect for the excavations south of the Temple Mount and his reconstructions are the best. He now has a series of excellent photos CDs for sale in his online store. In particular, for your purposes I would recommend:

  • Volume 2: Jerusalem in the Time of Christ image
  • Volume 4: The Archaeology of Herod’s Temple Mount
  • Volume 5: Worship and Ritual in Herod’s Temple

Even if you don’t have time for these to arrive in the mail before you teach, I’d suggest picking them up for the (many) future opportunities when they will come in handy. For immediate download, the Ritmeyer website also has individual images available.

Another source is images from a virtual model created by a team at UCLA. There is an explanation of the model here, a series of (small) 360-degree panoramas here, and five still shots of the model here. They also have an 8-minute video which gives you a tour of the model. You can turn the sound down and give your own explanation.

Archaeology Illustrated also has some individual images for sale, though their system seems to be less user-friendly (with the purchase of credits which can then be used towards illustrations).

The ESV Study Bible also has some great illustrations. These are available in digital format with purchase of a print Bible ($30) or from Logos ($40) or Accordance ($40). You can see some samples posted at Amazon. Ritmeyer was a consultant on these images as well.

Any readers who have additional suggestions are welcome to make them in the comments below.

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Monday, February 06, 2012

Lectures at AJU Los Angeles

A biblical archaeology program will be offered on Sunday, February 26 from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. The scheduled lectures are as follows:

Andrea M. Berlin, The Great Becoming: What Does Archaeology Reveal about Early Judaism? 

John J. Collins, Apocalyptic Judaism and the Birth of Christianity

Isaiah Gafni, How Common was “Common Judaism” Before and After the Emergence of Christianity?

Steven Fine, Underground Traditions: Archaeology and The Unknown Arts and Esoteric Lore of Late Antique Judaism (70 CE-600 CE)

Full details, including an abstract for each of the lectures, is available at the university’s website. The $50 registration fee includes lunch.

HT: G. M. Grena

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Saturday, February 04, 2012

Weekend Roundup

Scientists have discovered evidence for cultivation of three of the “four species” of Sukkot in the plaster of walls at Ramat Rahel.

A model of the Temple Mount made by Conrad Schick in 1872 will be on display next week in the new Heritage Center of Christ Church, Jerusalem.

Leen Ritmeyer has notice of a program to be held on the 20th anniversary of Nahman Avigad’s death.

Yosef Garfinkel is pretty upset with Rami Arav’s review of the first excavation report of Khirbet Qeiyafa. [Update: The post has been removed. See comment below for detail.]

The world’s largest Israeli flag is now flying over Nazareth Illit.

Joe Yudin suggests visiting some sites from King David’s life when the wildflowers are blooming.

The 50th anniversary of the publication of The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, by Geza Vermes, was celebrated last week at Wolfson College.

Bedouin gunmen in Sinai kidnapped two US tourists traveling from Jebel Musa. They were released when Egyptian police set free four Bedouin who had been in custody.

The first snowfall in Rome in 26 years kept visitors out of the Colosseum, the Forum, and Palatine Hill.

HT: Jack Sasson

UPDATE (2/7): At the request of the sponsors, I’ve removed the link to the invitation to the (private) presentation at Christ Church.

Ramat Rahel mikveh, tb031905812

Mikveh with plastered walls at Ramat Rahel

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Friday, February 03, 2012

Recommended: In the Footsteps of Paul

I picked this book up off the shelf in the church library last week in order to fulfill a requirement for a reading contest. I thought it would be an easy read on a subject of interest, but I did not expect to be impressed. I ended up loving Ken Duncan’s In the Footsteps of Paul. Here’s why:

1. Coverage of sites. The author goes everywhere that Paul went. I was certain that he would skip some of the more remote places, but he does not. I believe he has photos and descriptions of every place Paul visited (as recorded in Acts) with the exception of a few islands where Paul spent one night (Cos and Chios).duncan-footsteps-paul

2. Fabulous photographs. I’ve stood on (or flown over) these same sites, but Ken Duncan is an artist with his camera. I suspect he spent entire days at many of the sites to get just the right lighting at just the right angle. He is a master.

3. Excellent text. The writing supplements the photographs and is not lengthy, but it is accurate, helpful, and edifying. I would not expect one who excels at photography to be a gifted writer committed to serving the church with a message true to the apostle’s words.

If I had to quibble with one thing, it would be that the author is at times too accepting of local tradition. Since Duncan is not an academic, I can let him off lightly.

Christmas is a long ways off, but this may be one you want to file away for a future birthday, graduation, or retirement event. Amazon has the hardcover book new from $6.

Duncan has a similar book on Jesus’ life that I have not seen but that may be of interest to readers here: Where Jesus Walked (hardcover, new from $7, used from $0.15).

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Thursday, February 02, 2012

Record Rainfall in Galilee in January

Traveling around Galilee last month, it felt like there was just no dodging the rain. It turns out that that was more than a feeling, for the Israel Meteorological Service is reporting that rain fell on 29 out of 31 days in January. From Haaretz:

Measuring stations in Nahariyya and the Galilee registered a new record in the number of rainy days in a row, with rain falling for 27 days in a row, from January 5 to 31. The former record was held by the Druze village of Yarka, where rain fell for 23 days in a row in February and March 1987.

According to Dr Amos Porat of the Meteorological Service, there was 250-250 milimeters of rainfall in the north of Israel, 1.5 to 2 times greater than the multi-year average for rainfall in January.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Sea of Galilee rose 1.5 feet (50 cm) but is still more than 4 inches (11 cm) below the red line. February, however, is a critical month if the seven-year drought is to be ended.

“After the seven drought years we’ve had, the lack of water is so huge that we need much, much, much more to cover even part of that,” Schor said. “We are happy with January, but we can’t be satisfied from it.”

It is not possible to determine whether this will also be considered a drought year until the end of the rainy season. However, two-thirds of winter has already elapsed, and 4.31 meters is still missing from the Kinneret’s basin, according to Schor. The average winter Kinneret rise is about 1.6 meters, and thus far, the 2011-2012 winter season has seen only a rise of centimeters.

“It’s not a good situation,” Schor said.

The Post also provides rainfall statistics for various sites in the north.

Among areas monitored by the IMS, the highest level of January rain in Israel fell in Rosh Hanikra (316 millimeters, 218% of the area’s average), Eilon (389 millimeters, 194% of average), Mitzpe Harashim (406 millimeters [16 inches], 171% of average), Merom Golan (321 millimeters, 160% of average) and Kfar Giladi (320 millimeters, 156% of average).

Jerusalem received 100% of its typical rain, at 124 millimeters, according to the IMS.

Neither of the articles mentions the source of the rain.

Jeremiah 14:22 (NIV) “Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, O Lord our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.”

Storm over Sea of Galilee, tb011212500

Storm clouds over the Sea of Galilee in January

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Wednesday Roundup

Aren Maeir and the excavations he directs at Gath are profiled in an interesting article at Israel 21c.

Wayne Stiles describes the biblical significance of Ein Harod. I would add that when I was at the site a few weeks ago, the gates were locked up tight. A call to the office revealed that the national park is closed “indefinitely.”

Being covered in the dust of your rabbi is not an urban legend.

Tom Powers takes his readers on a tour underneath the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. The excavations are slated to open to the public later this year.

Shmuel Browns hikes Nahal Michmash. He notes some of the many biblical connections.

Ferrell Jenkins provides two helpful photos for the next time you’re studying or teaching the story of Samson tying the foxtails together.

The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem is hosting a lecture this evening in English by Sarah Salon, “Sprouting Stories - Medicinal Plants in the Bible and growing a 2,000 Year Old Date seed from Masada.”

Cliffs near Michmash and Geba from south panorama, tb092706105

Cliffs near Michmash and Geba, the area where Jonathan climbed to surprise the Philistines (1 Sam 14)

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