Daily Archives: 23 Nov 2010

The Quest for Solomon’s Mines: Liveblogging

The previously mentioned NOVA / NatGeo special kicked off with a recitation of the biblical storyline concerning Solomon and asks where this famously wealthy king’s wealth came from.  New discoveries may hold the key.  Eric Cline is shown, ‘so far, outside the Bible, there is no evidence for Solomon’.  Then the special launches into ‘new finds from Solomon’s era’ including the oldest Hebrew text may shed light on the topic.

After the commercial break-

The existence of Solomon is simply taken for granted, as is the historical facticity of the narrative of the bible.  Quotations therefrom pepper the presentation, sans any critical reflection.  However, archaeological evidence is lacking.  Israel Finkelstein appears  remarking to that effect and then appears Thomas Levy.   While Solomon’s mines are never mentioned in the bible, that hasn’t stopped questers: new finds are giving credence to the historical accounts in the Bible and casting new light on Solomon’s era.  Petra, and Edom are discussed (with Levy).  Edom was a kingdom before Israel and Levy wants to know how Edom acquired such wealth.  Multiple shafts in Edomite territory, slag, and copper, all indicate an ancient mining and smelting operation, which Levy believes may have been the source of Edomite wealth.   The process of smelting and refining is described and illustrated by one of Levy’s students.  It was extremely difficult to produce copper.  But Levy believes he has discovered a copper producing factory;  a factory complex town which covered 25 acres.  Indeed, production was so intense that pollution is sill being detected from the process.  Here, copper was produced under the pressure of exploding demand for metal tools and weapons.  A sort of ‘earliest industrial revolution’ was taking place.  But where did they get the copper to fuel the industry?  From mines nearby manned by slaves 3000 years ago, and carried by camel caravans from mine to smelter at  Khirbet en Nahas.

Amihai Mazar appears describing copper trade in Israel.  Levy opines that Solomon’s Temple may have made use of copper from this very smelting factory.

But who could or would have controlled this factory?  In the centuries before Solomon, it was the Egyptians.  In the 12th c. BC a seismic shift occurred and the political structure of the Bronze Age collapsed.  Into this political void new powers arose.

Yet Khirbet en Nahas seems to have been an  Edomite smelting plant.  Graves near the site indicate Edomite inhabitants and are probably to dated to the 10th century BCE, before the Edomite kingdom was at its ascent and therefore suggesting that the biblical account of David’s campaigns against Edom may have been historically accurate.  Did David invade Edom to acquire the mines and did he then pass them to his son Solomon?

Archaeologists to this point have found nothing supporting a ‘davidic kingdom’ (the tel Dan inscription is mentioned but dismissed as lacking sufficient proof).  But if Solomon were a mere ‘tribal ruler’ how did he become a great king (a la the bible)?  Because the tales concerning Solomon were exaggerated and ’embroidered’.

Or were they?   Discoveries at Khirbet Qeiyafa may resolve the debate once and for all.  Yosef Garfinkel’s finds there suggest (according to him) an extensive 10th century ‘kingdom’.  And, moreover, he suggests, it was an Israelite city.  The city is from David’s time- the earliest ever found.  And among the discoveries there, the Qeiyafa Ostracon.

When clearly photographed, the ostracon was sent to Bill Schniedewind at UCLA, who described the script as ‘Canaanite’, but the words Hebrew.  This is the most ancient Hebrew text so far found.  But what does it say?  Individual words are accessible, and it’s not simply a list of names but an actual text.  But it has still not yet been fully deciphered.

Yet what it shows is that in Solomon’s century texts were being written in cities under Israelite control.  This implies that the biblical narrative has more historical underpinning than many have assumed heretofore.

Did Shishak’s invasion disrupt metal production at Khirbet en Nahas at the end of the 10th century?  Is this another clue that the biblical telling has it right?  Was Khirbet en Nahas King Solomon’s mine?  Did Shishak strike there to cut off Israel’s supply?

Combined, the finds at Khirbet en Nahas and Qeiyafa shed light on Solomon’s era.

The program ended with a promise that it would be available on the NOVA website as a streaming video.  If you missed it you might check back there in the near future to see if it’s up.

It really was, to be fair, quite interesting and very well done.  Much, much better than anything Simcha has done.  Much better.

Michael Barber’s SBL Paper: Weblogs and the Academy

Read it here.  It’s a grand paper and of those online (presently) I think the clearest and most organized.  I only wish I could have been there to hear it.

Slander, Lies and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Give it a read.  It’s from the Jewish Journal and it’s a fine essay which recaps the entire sorry Golbian saga.

Iraq’s Christians Are Under Fire, From Within the Iraqi Government

A Christian lawmaker called on Iraq’s government Tuesday to better protect its dwindling Christian community, lambasting the nations that have offered asylum to the minority as meddling in Iraq’s problems.  The comments by lawmaker Younadem Kana, from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, come after a spate of violent attacks on Iraqi Christians — including a Catholic church attack last month that killed 68 people.  Earlier this week, two Christian brothers in Kana’s hometown were fatally shot by unknown gunmen who raided their auto mechanic shop.  Officials in France and Germany have offered asylum to Iraq’s Christians, an estimated 1 million of whom have already left their homeland since 2003.

I find Kana’s remarks unspeakably idiotic.  He is basically urging Christians to stay and be killed whilst waiting for the inept government to do something to protect them (funny, isn’t it, that Saddam Hussein did a better job of that than the US Government is).  And at the same time he attacks western States offering safety.  What a prat.  Maybe he’d feel differently if he didn’t have bodyguards.

Quote of the Day

This quote is taken from Calvin’s book on Relics.  It’s quite apropos.

That is, the main source of corruption in the Church is its welcoming disposition towards paganism within its precincts. And that disposition was first found in that foulest of creatures, Constantine. Seeker sensitive and emergent are nothing other than the modern counterparts of Constantinian accommodationism. And Calvin, were he alive and able, would Servetus-ize them.

Conference Announcement and Call For Papers: The Hebrew Bible and Western Philosophy

The Shalem Center is sponsoring a conference and issuing a call for papers which is part of a larger project in “philosophical theology” in which two Christian institutions—the University of Notre Dame and the University of Innsbruck, Austria—will be conducting parallel investigations into the foundations of Christian philosophy.

In the context of this project, the department of Philosophy, Political Theory and Religion (PPR) at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem invites submissions for an interdisciplinary conference on “Philosophical Investigation of the Hebrew Scriptures, Talmud and Midrash,” to be held in Jerusalem on June 26-30, 2011. Please direct correspondence to Kate Deutsch, kated@shalem.org.il.  An overview of the “Jewish Philosophical Theology” project at the Shalem Center is available here.  A Select Bibliography of relevant scholarship is available here.

If Hebrew Bible and philosophy are of interest to you (especially in their intersection) you might find this a quite worthwhile undertaking.

Catholics, Condoms are Cool… Now…

Vatican euro coin design (serie 3)

I thought by the time I was 90 the Vatican would allow Catholics to use condoms to control unwanted pregnancies. Alas, I’m 50 and the Vatican is allowing Catholics to use condoms for the prevention of HIV – even among heterosexual women. Can full and free access to condoms for birth control really be that far behind now? How could it justifiably be? If condoms are permitted to control the spread of disease, they must also be allowed to control the spread of unwanted and therefore unloved or abandoned or mistreated children.

Using a condom is a lesser evil than transmitting HIV to a sexual partner — even if that means a woman averting a possible pregnancy, the Vatican said Tuesday, signaling a seismic shift in papal teaching as it further explained Pope Benedict XVI’s comments.

This is, for you folk not familiar with traditional Catholic teaching and practice, a BIG DEAL. It’s a huge shift in position, to say the least. So good for the Vatican. Old Ratzinger isn’t as arcane as he’s been portrayed.

Reminder: Tonight’s the Airing of NOVA’s ‘Quest for Solomon’s Mines’

It airs at 8 pm Eastern.

If you can’t watch, don’t worry, I’m live blogging it.

God Smites a Filthy Thief With a Saint’s Statue

As Antonio points out,

A thief who tried to break open the donation box in a church was hit on the head by a falling statue of a saint, police in Munich reported on Sunday. The man suffered a nasty cut to the head and fled the St Benno Church without the donation box, said Ludwig Sperrer, the church’s priest. He said it seemed that the near-life-size statue of Saint Antonius had fallen from its wooden plinth as the would-be thief was trying to break open the donation box which was situated in the same wooden structure. “He obviously did not want to let it go,” said Sperrer with a grin. But the thief was obviously not convinced to change his ways by the falling saint – he went to a nearby house to ask for help with his bleeding head and his lady accomplice stole a wallet left lying on a counter.

Good for God. Now if he would just smite the rest of the totally depraved thieves, molesters, and murderers as well as politicians, lawyers, and neer-do-wells the world might learn a lesson.

Why Does America Keep Getting Punk’d?

This time by a ‘Taliban’ negotiator who was neither Taliban nor negotiator.

For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement.  But now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all. In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, United States and Afghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little.  “It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot of money.”

Stupid gullible unintelligent government officials…  They do more background checks on Mexicans wanting to work in our fields picking our cucumbers than they do in a war zone.

BibleWorks 8 and The Text of the New Testament

46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscrip...

P46

I mentioned the other day a new module that BibleWorks is working on- and didn’t feel free to divulge too much ‘before the right time’.  Meanwhile, I’ve discovered that the good news has already leaked a bit on the BibleWorks forum, so I have no issue with repeating here what is described there:

As soon as CNTTS releases the final product (soon we hope) we will have it available for BibleWorks users as a module. We are also planning a release of the first 7 of our own manuscript transcriptions (full searchable transcriptions with images and a robust set of transcription, collation and tagging tools) soon, probably about the same time as the CNTTS material. You text critical geeks are about to get an overdose. These two items complement each other very well.

And I can agree, it is the most fantastic text-critical tool since the invention of text critical tools.  As the CNTTS asserts

The highly searchable CNTTS apparatus, developed by students, professor and visiting scholars, is the most detailed and comprehensive electronic critical apparatus on the market. An electronic innovation with almost 17,000 pages of compiled data, the project simply would not be feasible in a printed format. The CNTTS includes 10 times as much data as the critical apparatus printed in the United Bible Societies’ editions of the Greek New Testament.

I can’t imagine anyone not wishing to lay hands on this as soon as it’s acquirable.   I hope that will be soon.

Eat Healthy This Thanksgiving

It’s easy, and here’s some fantastic ideas.

Bloggers Have Been in Atlanta…

And several of them have lost their pets while away from home.  So they’ve posted posters to elicit their community’s help in recovering their lost creatures:

If you see any of these blogger’s pets, please contact them right away.  I understand there’s a reward…

STD’s On the Increase

The Centers for Disease Control reveals the news that promiscuity carries a steep price.

With gonorrhea rates down to an all-time low, chlamydia has become the top reported STD in the U.S., the CDC’s annual STD report shows. About 2.8 million Americans get chlamydia each year, the CDC estimates. That’s why the national health agency considers the 19% increase in reported cases since 2006 to be good news: It means more people are getting tested. Perhaps the really good news in the annual report is that gonorrhea rates dropped to 99 cases per 100,000 Americans — the lowest rate since the CDC started tracking the disease in 1945. But syphilis cases continue to spiral upward.

Johnny tell the promiscuous what they win! (Or better yet, show them) –

Makes promiscuity worth it, doesn’t it…