You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil, no sinner can be your guest. Boasters cannot stand their ground under your gaze. You hate evil-doers, liars you destroy; the violent and deceitful Yahweh detests. (Ps. 5:4-6 NJB)
Break the arm of the wicked and evil, seek out wickedness till there is none left to be found. (Ps. 10:15 NJB)
Arise, Yahweh, confront him and bring him down, with your sword save my life from the wicked (Ps. 17:13 NJB)
May their own table prove a trap for them, and their abundance a snare; may their eyes grow so dim that they cannot see, all their muscles lose their strength. Vent your fury on them, let your burning anger overtake them. Reduce their encampment to ruin, and leave their tents untenanted, for hounding someone you had already stricken, for redoubling the pain of one you had wounded. Charge them with crime after crime, exclude them from your saving justice, erase them from the book of life, do not enrol them among the upright. (Ps. 69:22-28 NJB)
Treat them like Midian and Sisera, like Jabin at the river Kishon; wiped out at En-Dor, they served to manure the ground. Treat their leaders like Oreb and Zeeb, all their commanders like Zebah and Zalmunna, … My God, treat them like thistledown, like chaff at the mercy of the wind. As fire devours a forest, as a flame sets mountains ablaze, so drive them away with your tempest, by your whirlwind fill them with terror. Shame written all over their faces, let them seek your name, Yahweh! Dishonour and terror be always theirs, death also and destruction. (Ps. 83:9-17 NJB)
The Psalmists were more honest in their prayers than nearly all Christians.
I’ve always thought Hezekiah was a bit of a jerk. Here’s why-
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, ‘Listen to the word of Yahweh, The days are coming when everything in your palace, everything that your ancestors have amassed until now, will be carried off to Babylon. Not a thing will be left,” Yahweh says. “Sons sprung from you, sons fathered by you, will be abducted to be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
Basically, what you’ve done has displeased God, so the country is going to suffer for it. Hezekiah’s response when he was sick earlier on was repentance and prayer. But there’s none of that now. Instead
Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘This word of Yahweh that you announce is reassuring,’ for he was thinking, ‘And why not? So long as there is peace and security during my lifetime.’ (2 Ki. 20:16-19)
Or, ‘I don’t care, I’ll be dead’. A bit of a jerk? Yeah. But I’m starting to get it. After a while you begin to care as little for the world as the world cares for you. Yeah, I get it….
Be a jerk, Hezzie. You won’t be alive to hear what a jerk you are anyway.
Prof. Davies was gracious and generous and granted an interview about his work with the PEF
What exactly is the PEF, and when was it founded?
The Palestine Exploration Fund was set up 150 years ago ‘for the purpose of investigation the Archaeology, Geography, Geology and Natural History of the Holy Land’. The word ‘Fund’ appropriately designated its primary activity of raising money by subscription and donation in order to finance this ambitious undertaking.
After a meeting on May 12th 1865 in the Jerusalem Chamber, Westminster, London, chaired by the Archbishop of York, the Fund, with the patronage of Queen Victoria, held its first meeting on June 22nd. Here the Archbishop declared three principles: whatever done must be on scientific principles; the Society should abstain from controversy; and it should not be started, nor conducted, as a religious society.
The meeting resolved further ‘that the exploration of Jerusalem and many other places in the Holy Land by means of excavations would probably throw much light upon the Archaeology of the Jewish people’. Accordingly, although there was obviously a focus of interest on biblical antiquity, the meeting called for a systematic survey, including the collection of plants and minerals, of the ‘Holy Land’, and recommended that ‘facts requisite for a systematic history be noted by competent observers on the spot’. So geography, geology and ecology were also part of its remit. In addition, it was noted ‘that the Biblical scholar may yet receive assistance in illustrating the sacred text from careful observers of the manners and habits of the people of the Holy Land’. This last comment reflects a view that might be criticized as an aspect of colonial mentality and ‘orientalism’—that life in nineteenth century Palestine very closely resembled that in the biblical period. But it was born, I think, less of an imperialist mindset and more from a mixture of naivety, curiosity and enthusiasm. Nor was it totally untrue in every respect, although many of those sent out on the Fund’s behalf to carry out research quickly came to realize that it was far from being entirely the case.
Among those who have explored Palestine under the Fund’s patronage are Charles Wilson, Charles Warren, Claude Conder, Horatio Kitchener, Gottlieb Schumacher, William Flinders Petrie, Frederick Bliss, Robert Macalister, Leonard Woolley, T.E. Lawrence, John Garstang, John Crowfoot, Kathleen Kenyon and Olga Tufnell.
What is its mission?
We still maintain the original aims of the Fund: to promote knowledge and understanding of every aspect of the land of Palestine at all periods, though archaeology, ethnology, anthropology, geology and any scientific means. In keeping with the founding principle of non-controversy, too, we continue to disclaim any political or religious ideology, though our membership obviously embraces a wide range of interests. The Fund initially published a Quarterly Statement of its activities, which became the Palestine Exploration Quarterly, and this we continue to produce, along with the PEF Annuals and other books. We have accumulated a great deal of material from our activities—written records, an extensive repertoire of pictures and photographs, and some artifacts—and these need curating, preservation, editing and digitizing. We also maintain a large library, to which our members and visitors have access. In addition, we provide grants for research and, in conjunction with the British Museum, we organize monthly lectures. We also lend materials to exhibitions and hope to continue to be able to organize touring exhibitions of our own.
How did you become involved with the organization?
Like many scholars, I have long known of, and used, the Fund’s facilities, and when I was asked whether I would like to join the Committee, I had little hesitation in agreeing because I have been so often to Palestine and developed a great affection for it, and a concern for its past, present and future. Having been elected as the Chair of the Committee I shall, I hope, remain actively involved with it for five more years. Biblical scholars have always contributed to the work of the PEF but our interest in the entire history and culture of Palestine means that a very wide range of people and of expertise is represented at every level. This makes us a bit different from societies interested mainly in biblical antiquity.
How might others become involved?
First of all, by joining: there are no restrictions on membership; the subscription is modest and includes the PEQ. There is still a wealth of material in our possession that requires analysis and we are keen to encourage new members to participate in our ongoing work to make the material more accessible through publication and digitization. We are also in the process of increasing our international profile by establishing a North American presence, which, under current plans, will be centred in Chicago. Although a lot of information is already accessible on our website (www.pef.org.uk), we are also planning to provide a members’ area which will afford restricted access to further materials, including videocasts of our lectures.
What do you see as the most important aspect of its work?
Different people will give different answers, because we cover so much ground and from so many different angles. But we would all accept that Palestine’s history and culture are nowadays strongly contested and subject to a great deal of popular misunderstanding. Much of its heritage is disappearing, and the PEF is an important, neutral promoter of all aspects of that heritage. As a biblical scholar, I naturally have a professional interest in just one small part of that history, though I was trained also as a student of Islam and I have an interest in Palestine especially as a place in which both imperial powers (from Egypt to Britain) as well as major religions, have settled, fought and sometimes come to some accommodation. As a bridge between three continents, it is also in its own right a very special part of our planet. I think the PEF’s dedication to the whole of its history (and prehistory) makes us special.
How does the PEF refrain from the trap of the politicization of archaeology?
Politicians always seek to control our understanding of the past, and the PEF’s own efforts were from the outset subject to attempts at political influence, especially in the years before the war of 1914-18. It is also, I think, well known that archaeology in modern Israel is part of a national effort not only to neutrally explore the past but to promote knowledge of Jewish connections with it. We are often approached from many sides by those interested in what we regard as political agendas, and we take care not to be seen to lend support to these aims. We encourage scholars and non-scholars of all persuasions to make full use of our resources but also to share our own aims and principles.
What are the perils involved in even using the name ‘Palestine’ in the organization’s title?
We have always used Palestine as a geographical designation, including Israel, part of Jordan and some of Syria, and it has been used continuously for the region for 2000 years. There really is no sound reason to abandon this usage. I am aware that ‘Land of Israel’ is the Jewish name for Palestine, and there is of course an Israel Exploration Society that covers the same geographical area as the PEF and publishes a corresponding Journal. But ‘Israel’ belongs to only a part of Palestine’s history and geography, and the same would be true of any territory occupied by a State of Palestine.
What are the future aims and goals of the PEF?
We need, most of all, to continue the digitizing of our collections, and with that our use of social media and digital communication, in order to offer members from outside the UK the tangible benefits they should enjoy of having access to news and material online as well as visiting our offices when in London. So in the last few years we have created in addition to a Facebook page, our own blog and Twitter feed, and we plan to create a members’ area on our website through which they can freely access some of our archives and download podcasts of our monthly lectures at the British Museum.
How can those interested in archaeology in the Levant help the PEF achieve its goals?
First of all by helping to finance our work. This can be through becoming members, but we are also most grateful for any other contributions in the form of bequests or endowments or donations of books to our library. We are a charity and while our income matches our expenditure there is much more we would love to be able to do to display our collections more fully and to develop them further. Second, by contributing to our publications, and participating in our online activity. For those living in London or nearby, we also have work to offer to volunteers. The Fund was not established as a learned society, and its membership is by no means dominated by scholars. We want to attract anyone with a genuine interest in any aspect of the land of Palestine.
It seems very fitting to me that the final book that Philip will have published is an introduction to the whole Bible. I read through the manuscript, sent along a few suggestions which he wisely ignored, and am so very pleased with the work that I am literally compelled to mention it on this the saddest of days.
It’s- seriously- a book you will want to read.
This book is for anyone curious about the Bible: what it is, and what modern research reveals about it. Unlike most textbooks, it has no footnotes, avoids technical discussion as much as possible, and makes no assumptions about religious belief. Its aim is to introduce the contents a way that engages readers critically, and to persuade them that in a modern secular society this collection of ancient writings can still contribute to the way we think about history, philosophy and politics. It is a challenge to both those who regard it as ‘word of God’ and those who dismiss it as obsolete or myth or irrelevant.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” ― Francis Bacon
* denotes the current number, updated 1 June, 2023.
Terrible news. Philip Davies died. There will be more details forthcoming. He was a massive presence for me at Sheffield. He was central to the growth of biblical studies at Sheffield, to the development of critical Dead Sea Scrolls studies, to minimalism and the study of ancient Israel (including definitions), to secularism and biblical studies, to the beginnings of serious reception history, to independent publishing and new ideas, and so on. And, of course, he was very very funny. A massive loss to the field.
This is terrible news. Philip was an authentic genius and we spent hours discussing all manner of things online and in person at SOTS and SBL. I even had the honor of helping him proof several of his books.
I’m gutted. I’ll miss my friend. I love you, brother.
Jim West’s blog deservedly outranks everyone else because he writes like a real person, puts on few airs and graces (except for an insufferable tendency to link to foreign language sources without warning), suffers from no false modesty, and his writing style has an “edginess” to it that slaps you around sufficiently to grab your attention. — Gavin Rumney
The death of my most dear friend Philip Davies on June 1, 2018, by cancer is a great loss to our entire field. He was not only a scholar of great talent and integrity, who interested himself in all that touched biblical studies. He was also ever a scholar of astonishing originality and discipline, whose impact on the field was immeasurable, not least because of the clarity of his arguments and his ability to focus on the rhetorical center of an issue. Who would have dreamt that such a simple distinction as that between the “biblical Israel”, the “ancient Israel” constructed by historians and the “Israel of the past”, which no longer exists, could have provoked a decade-long debate among biblical scholars, archaeologists, historians and theologians as Philip did in his 1992 essay, In Search of Ancient Israel?
Philip Davies died on 1 June, 2018. A giant in the field of biblical studies, and inveterate critic of poor scholarship, he continues to be sorely missed by those of us who had the privilege of knowing him.
Davies, Barton, Jarick
P. Davies, M. Coomber, H. Pyper
Davies and Whitelam
Davies, Rogerson, Grabbe, Sherratt, Brooke
Philip Davies and Lester Grabbe
Crossley and Davies
You do NOT have permission to share or post any of these photos.
Welcome. To something completely different. A Carnival like no other. A Carnival whose time has come. A Carnival to rival all Carnivals! A Carnival where the good are lauded and the bad are denounced. A Carnival naming names and pointing fingers and providing the evidence of wrongdoing by biblical scholars over the past 50 years.
Put on your seatbelt! It’s The Revelation of All The Misdeeds of all the Biblical Studies Bibliobloggers and YouTubers and TikTockers Carnival of Carnivals!
Love that blogger from the frozen north? Well you may change your mind. Love that guy who makes the tik toks? Hang on to your hat! Enjoy the you tubes of that spiffy Ivy League-er? Ooops…
The unvarnished truth is about to be revealed!
Just kidding… It’s a regular Carnival! (The juicy stuff is coming in the tell-all book forthcoming about biblical studies academics and their doings). So, let’s get to the fun. Here are the posts, by category, that appeared in the month of May that have been deemed worthy of inclusion. If yours isn’t here, that’s your own fault for not being awesome enough, amen.
Andrew Vaughn. New to me. Maybe new to you. Maybe not. Maybe you already know him. Maybe you don’t.
Get ready for a treat! AWOL has a book announcement about a gripping and fascinating topic that, I am pretty sure will be made into an action movie starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx! The Reflexes of Syllabic Liquids in Ancient Greek: Linguistic Prehistory of the Greek Dialects and Homeric Kunstsprache. It will be one of those films based on a book that spawns an entire industry, sort of like Harry Potter, but BIGGER!
James Spinti. Old to me. maybe old to you. Maybe not. Maybe you already know him. Maybe you don’t. Either way be sure to read his nifty little post titled κένωσις started at creation because it’s Brunner’s insights that provoked it.
Jack Sasson, the best of the best of the best, gets a mention by Jim Davila, the best of the best, concerning an essay Jack wrote on the Priestly Blessing. Jack is incapable of being boring. As incapable of it as NT Wright has mastered it. Give it a read.
And speaking of Sasson, the Codex Sassoon sold for $38,000,000. I don’t think Jack owned it before because it’s a different name, but he should have. And he should own it now. Just because.
Oh, and speaking of INCREDIBLE and UNBELIEVABLE evidence proving the Bible, did you hear about the Joshua Receipt Ostracon?????? Gad Barnea made the STUNNING announcement! This is, of all the archaeological discoveries of the last 50 years, the MOST important (and the most true).
NB– I received a couple of suggestions which involved anonymous bloggers. Regrettably I don’t use ‘unprovenanced’ posts for the same reason that I think it’s unwise to use unprovenanced archaeological materials. If I don’t know the blogger’s name, I’m simply not comfortable passing along their material. What if it isn’t theirs? What if it’s simply untrue? No, unprovenanced posts by unknown persons simply will not do.
It’s movie time!!! The folk over at Evangelical Textual Criticism (so as not to be confused with the more radically oriented Radical Textual Criticism) announce that you can view the movie Fragments of Truth for free! It stars Denzel Washington as Craig Evans as the text critic who masterfully disclosed the identity of a fragment, and he did it truthfully (or something) and Edris Elba as Larry Hurtado. Get your TC fix for the month!
And, amazingly, there’s another movie! This one stars Kevin Costner as Lionel Windsor, a commentator talking about 1 Timothy!
David Gowler has a book review post series on a book on the reception of the Parables of Jesus. Visit that link and then you’ll be able to find the rest. It’s 900 parts subdivided into 18,000 sub parts. You’ll enjoy all 89.000,000,000,000,000 posts in the series.
Greek Prepositions. You love them. You pine for them like you pine for the fjords of Norway. You desire them like a deer desires water or a pig desires muck. And now, you can have them via a whole page on Mike Aubrey’s resource site.
Greek Manuscripts. You love them too. You pine for them like someone in AAR pines for a new fad methodology. So you’re in luck. The ETC blog mentions that the Birmingham TC Colloquium is online at the you tube for your viewing pleasure.
Ben Witherington number 3 is carrying on some sort of conversation with some person about some book on the Bible and ‘biblical womanhood’. You probably might potentially consider pondering the possibility that one day you may be interested in what Ben is talking about. On that day, read his post.
Honestly, I don’t read Portuguese so I have no idea what this post is about. Besides being biblical studies related. But Airton is a delightful person who has been blogging for a long time and there are a LOT of people in Brazil who absolutely LOVE ZR. So this is for them. Amen.
Former good guy Dan McClellan is teaching classes online and his next offering is the Book of Revelation, beginning in July. He also announces that he’ll be joined in his online teaching endeavors by two other folk in the near future. Certainly worth looking into if you are so inclined.
Crossley and Myles are on a podcast concerning their Marxist Jesus book that came out this year. It’s a podcast… Because people can’t be bothered to read interviews so they have to have them read to them. In a century no one will even know how to read. Everything will be read to them like they are 2 year olds.
Robyn Whitaker’s book ‘Even the Devil Quotes Scripture‘ came out in May. Is it about how Chris Tilling quotes the Bible in his books? I don’t know. I haven’t read Whitaker’s book. Or even about it. Maybe you have. Maybe you will.
It’s the 75th Anniversary of the IGNTP and they celebrated. You can watch the Conference videos on the you tube.
Another day, another Mike Bird book. Dude clearly doesn’t spend a lot of time playing video games. This one’s titled ‘A Bird’s Eye View of Luke-Acts’. No, I’m not making that up.
Michael Barber, whom I actually like very much, has a new book coming on the historical Jesus. He’s drawn attention to a bit of the front matter here.
CSNTM had a conference. About text critical stuff. A conference volume was produced. Peter Gurry announced its soon appearance. I don’t think Peter is old enough to be allowed to talk about books. Look at him. He’s 10 or 12.
Luke’s Gospel was the subject of a new book which was the subject of this fantastic review by Jim West. If you don’t read any other reviews from May, read this one. Christoph Heilig calls it the most important review of his young life!
Brent Niedergall reviewed a book on biblical theology by Kostenberger and Goswell. He calls it his new favorite biblical theology. Wow. Bold.
Steve Wiggins has some thoughts on used books. All of us lovers of books can relate. Give it a look. Assuming you love books. But if you don’t, why are you even here? Or more importantly, why are you, even?
Scot Mcknight tweets – Time to pre-order this new book Lisa, Joe, and I edited: Romans from diverse locations. The most influential book of the NT gets some new frames. Click Pre-Order. Most influential book of the NT? Might want to have a chat with the Gospel of John. Chances are pretty darn good that church people can recite John 3:16 and not a single verse from Romans.
If you’re not reviewing books, how are you helping your colleagues decide what they need to read and what they need to avoid reading so as not to waste their time. Bultmann wrote hundreds of reviews. Be like Bultmann.
Tenure is being discussed. And job security for the non-tenured. And how the tenured had better start caring about their more vulnerable colleagues. It’s worth your time.
June 6. That’s when this online discussion regarding Christianity and disabilities will take place, so sign up today! Naomi Lawson Jacobs and Emily Richardson discuss how disabled Christians often find themselves left at the gates of churches.
Experts in Israel have developed an AI tool to translate Cuneiform texts into English. — Researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) and Ariel University have developed an artificial intelligence model that can automatically translate Akkadian text written in cuneiform into English. How exciting for them! (HT James McGrath on the twitter).
If you like free stuff you may like the SSEA Newsletter. What’s SSEA? Well it’s a long name so I’ll just let you click the link. It’s late, I’m tired, and you should put a little effort into something besides video games and being upset that your favorite actress is divorcing her cheating husband and cancelling everything that hurts your tender feels.
Drag Queen Story Hour in Australia. Mike Bird. Just go read it.
Gad Barnea is miffed at Digital Humanities. Miffed! Read his very long tweet on the subject. I don’t know enough about DH other than that it exists and I use them from time to time. But there are those among you way into it.
Take heed of the warning Katherine makes regarding ChatGPT and other AI resources. She is not wrong, and neither is Ted.
Charlotte Hempel was on BBC Radio 4. Talking about the Dead Sea Scrolls. Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the revelatory collection of Biblical texts and other documents dating from around 250 BC to AD 68, which were first rediscovered in a cave in 1946.
Where have they gone? Mark Goodacre last blogged in 2022. Chris Tilling blogged in April, and before that, September 2022. The biblioblog Top 50 was last updated in 2018. Jim Davila is still minding the shop, but the rest of the other early bloggers have all vanished (aside from yours truly, naturally).
Oh, and multiple times in May people died because the NRA owns Congress. What’s the gun plague have to do with biblical studies? Everything.
Phil continues to do a wonderful job of arranging these Carnivals. You ought to do one. Not only are they a lot of fun to do, but you get to see materials (via submissions) that you wouldn’t normally get to see. Contact him.
I don’t recall when Philip and I first met, but it must have been in the early 90’s when Tom Thompson and Niels Peter Lemche along with Philip and Keith Whitelam were busily developing the new historical methodology known as ‘minimalism’ and alternatively as ‘ The Copenhagen School’ (if you asked Tom or Niels Peter) and ‘The Sheffield School’ if you talked to Keith or Philip.
When we met in the flesh, at a meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, after having been ‘list buddies’ on the Biblical Studies Discussion List (back then on a site called e-groups which was bought by someone else who was then bought by Yahoo), I remember thinking how very Monty-Pythonesque Philip was. To tell the truth, he always and still reminds me of John Cleese: tall, funny, and profoundly intelligent.
We, I think, hit it off immediately. We had both grown up Baptist (yes, Philip grew up Baptist) and we both had a deep love of things historical and biblical. So we had a lot to talk about.
Over the years we stayed in touch, met up at SBL, corresponded with weekly regularity, and I learned so much from him and his books that I can describe him to this day as one of my chief influences. It was a pleasure to proof some of his work and I can’t fully describe the pride and honor I experienced every time I got an email from him asking if I might look over his latest essay or monograph for infelicities of expression or lack of clarity of thought. He sometimes typed fairly badly (!)(there were typos…) but he never failed to deliver the intellectual goods.
Philip was the one who encouraged me to join the Society for Old Testament Study, a society of scholars primarily in the United Kingdom whose focus is – surprise, surprise, the Old Testament. He was one of the two required co-sponsors and it was he who invited me as his guest to the first meeting of the Society I ever attended (you have to be invited to a meeting if you are not a member of the Society), at the University of Chester. That first meeting was the very meeting where I was voted unanimously into membership (and since non-members are not allowed in the Business meeting, it was Peter Williams who advised me of my acceptance, curiously, whilst we were both making use of the facilities…).
Many of my happiest memories in life have a Philip connection. Discussing the so called ‘Deuteronomistic History’ in Cambridge or chatting about The Chronicler in San Diego at a little cafe are thoughts that now fill me with both joy and sadness. Never to have the chance to chat with him again is nothing short of a dark cloud over my mind.
Philip was a friend to me; a genuine friend. Ben Sira described Philip (without knowing it) when he wrote
A loyal friend is a powerful defence: whoever finds one has indeed found a treasure. A loyal friend is something beyond price, there is no measuring his worth. A loyal friend is the elixir of life, and those who fear the Lord will find one. Whoever fears the Lord makes true friends, for as a person is, so is his friend too. (Sir. 6:14-17)
Philip the Elixir. May you rest in peace eternal, friend.
Below is a gallery of photos I took at the Chester meeting of SOTS; my first, and the meeting whereat I was voted into membership, many years ago, in 2008.