More Going on at the 65th Anniversary of the Biblical Studies Department, Sheffield

From Viv Rowett, this news:

Philip Davies will be giving the third lecture in the series [of lectures in observance of the Department’s anniversary], ‘Bible as History’ on 6 June at 6.30pm at the Jessops West Exhibition Space, Sheffield. This lecture is extra special because Philip will be presented with his Festschrift following the lecture and Equinox will give a drinks reception in his honour.  It is hoped that many colleagues, former students and festschrift contributors will be able to attend this event.   Entry is free and there is no need to book for these lectures.

Speaking of the Festschrift for Philip, it has been so long in the making (first announced in 2007 !) that its name has changed completely.  The volume formerly known as ‘In Search of Philip Davies: Whose Festschrift is it Anyway?’ has now been titled ‘Far From Minimal: Celebrating the Work and Influence of Philip R. Davies‘.  It’s a massive volume, over 580 pages, and is supposed to be available in May (which is, isn’t it, now).  And its price matches its girth.

Thomas Römer and Yosef Garfinkel and Qeiyafa in Paris

Thomas Römer
Milieux Bibliques
Conférenciers invités

Yosef Garfinkel, Professeur à la Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israël) – Portable Shrines from Khirbet Qeiyafa and the Biblical Descriptions of Solomon Palace and Temple. Le mercredi 23 mai 2012, à 14h00.

Nifty.  I sure hope Duane Smith and others don’t mind that they are discussing it at a conference before it’s peer reviewed…

The Documentary Hypothesis is Coming Back…

Or so it seems.

The Documentary Hypothesis, abandoned in much pentateuchal scholarship of the last 40 years, is making a significant resurgence, although in a new and more precisely argued form. It is once again taking its place as a significant theory of the composition of the Pentateuch.

So states the abstract of a new article in Bible and Interpretation by Joel Baden.  You’ll have to think about whether he’s right or wrong.

The Mega-Church Scam

I’m glad the government is looking into the doings of these thieves.

Ephren Taylor stepped into the pulpit with the ease of preacher’s son, taking the microphone at the New Birth Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the powerful pastor Eddie Long was introducing him to the Sunday morning crowd. “Everything he says is based on the word of God,” Long pledged to the members of his megachurch. But Taylor wasn’t a visiting minister. He was a financial adviser, one who claimed to have made his first million before he turned 18. And he promised he could do the same for his fellow Christians.

Nothing Long says is based on Scripture, why should anything one of his thieving cohorts says be either?

But according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, what Taylor was actually peddling was a giant Ponzi scheme, one aimed to “swindle over $11 million, primarily from African-American churchgoers,” that reached into churches nationwide, from Long’s megachurch in Atlanta to Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church congregation in Houston. But Taylor has disappeared, hiding out from lawsuits, federal charges and angry, mostly African-American, investors in at least 40 states.

Mega church attendees are, like their Pastors, in it for what they can get from it. Or to put it bluntly, you can’t scam the honest, you can only scam the greedy.  Were ‘investors’ not wanting easy money, they wouldn’t be duped.  The scammer and the scammed are equally guilty.

Tom Wright’s New Testament isn’t Really a Translation, It’s a Targum

Robert Gundry has absolutely nailed it when he describes NT Wright’s ‘translation’ as something else altogether:

Does KNT work, then, as a translation in the sense taken for granted by J&J when reading both KNT’s subtitle, “A Contemporary Translation,” the back ad’s description of KNT as “modern prose that stays true to the character of the ancient Greek text … conveying the most accurate rendering possible,” and Tom’s own statement of having “tried to stick closely to the original”? No, not even by the standards of dynamic/functional equivalence, of which J&J are ignorant anyway. Too much unnecessary paraphrase. Too many insertions uncalled for. Too many inconsistencies of translation. Too many changes of meaning. Too many (and overly) slanted interpretations. Too many errant renderings of the base language.

And then in a genius turn of phrase he remarks

But there is a body of religious literature characterized by all those traits, viz., the ancient Jewish targums, which rendered the Hebrew Old Testament into the Aramaic language. So KNT’s similar combination of translation, paraphrase, insertions, semantic changes, slanted interpretations, and errant renderings—all well-intentioned—works beautifully as a targum.

Read the whole review essay- it’s great fun.  With thanks to Cliff Kvidahl for pointing it out on FB.

The Amusing Pendulum Swinging Thing Called ‘Scholarship’

Duane Smith is put out. He’s not very happy that the revelation of the Qeiyafa materials were announced (how dare they) before the proper plodding peer review process! He writes

It means that I think a sensationalized presentation of potentially important evidence for anything is inappropriate prior to scholarly publication in a peer review environment. It tends to poison the well of honest inquiry

Which forces me to observe: how amusing this pendulum swing. A generation ago scholars were whining that it was taking too long to publish the dead sea scrolls- they wanted to see them for themselves. But now scholars want everything kept quiet until the mystical ‘peer review’ process has plodded along at its snail pace…

No matter how much things change, they just really remain the same: no one is ever satisfied and they long for the ‘good old days’ (of total control).

In scholarship one day scholars want things produced so they can be examined (when it suits them) and the next they want things kept secret until their friends can confirm for them their preconceptions (that’s what peer review is, by the way).

Fear not, though, once scholars figure out that their treasured ‘peer review’ process is actually strangling scholarship rather than promoting it, they will hop on the swinging pendulum and swing towards openness – until the pendulum gets too far and they grow frightened that they’ve lost control.  And back they’ll go to their former position… forever back and forth in their indecisiveness.

Drunks, You’re Not Funny, You’re Idiots

Police in northeast Indiana say a man who drove three blocks with four children strapped to the hood of his car has been arrested on a drunken driving charge.  Fort Wayne police spokesman John Chambers says a witness called police Monday evening after seeing a man and woman strap the kids to the car in a liquor store parking lot, then drive away.  Chambers says a U.S. marshal stopped the car.  Police say the man was arrested on a preliminary drunken driving charge and may face other charges.

Unfortunately

Police didn’t identify the man or woman.

They both need a good dose of public shaming before they are sent off to prison for a decade or so.

It’s Not an Academy Award, It’s Better, Because It Means Something!

Hearty congratulations to Francesca Stavrakopoulou on her receiving the Research Inspired Teaching Award a few days ago at Exeter University!  She’s Greek, but there’s nothing at all bankrupt about her skills or abilities.  Further, she’s a very fine person.  So, again, congrats to her- it’s recognition well deserved.

It’s a Big Day, Archaeologically Speaking: They’ve Found Jesus’ Last Will and Testament in Bethlehem…

An archaeologist has scored the discovery of a lifetime, unearthing a tattered, faded parchment that experts have certified as the last will and testament of Jesus Christ. “It’s absolutely genuine,” affirms Dr. Qustandi Shomali, Director of Bethlehem University’s Department of Ancient History, and one of the world’s foremost experts in historical artifact authentication. “We have positively identified both Jesus’ handwriting and the parchment paper itself through radio carbon dating processes.”

Via Antonio.  Oh Antonio, Antonio, Antonio…  [Yes, I’m putting all the blame on him even though he didn’t write the piece].

The Hebrew University Press Release on the Qeiyafa Discovery

Hebrew University archaeologist finds the first evidence of a cult in Judah at the time of King David, with implications for Solomon’s Temple

Jerusalem, May 8, 2012—Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, the Yigal Yadin Professor of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced today the discovery of objects that for the first time shed light on how a cult was organized in Judah at the time of King David. During recent archaeological excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city in Judah adjacent to the Valley of Elah, Garfinkel and colleagues uncovered rich assemblages of pottery, stone and metal tools, and many art and cult objects. These include three large rooms that served as cultic shrines, which in their architecture and finds correspond to the biblical description of a cult at the time of King David.

This discovery is extraordinary as it is the first time that shrines from the time of early biblical kings were uncovered. Because these shrines pre-date the construction of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem by 30 to 40 years, they provide the first physical evidence of a cult in the time of King David, with significant implications for the fields of archaeology, history, biblical and religion studies.

The expedition to Khirbet Qeiyafa has excavated the site for six weeks each summer since 2007, with co-director Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The revolutionary results of five years of work are presented today in a new book, Footsteps of King David in the Valley of Elah, published by Yedioth Ahronoth.

 

Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Prof. Yosef Garfinkel with a stone shrine model found at Khirbet Qeiyafa (Credit: Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Images of the new discoveries can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/garfinkel. Images must be credited to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Located approximately 30 km. southwest of Jerusalem in the valley of Elah, Khirbet Qeiyafa was a border city of the Kingdom of Judah opposite the Philistine city of Gath. The city, which was dated by 10 radiometric measurements (14C) done at Oxford University on burned olive pits, existed for a short period of time between ca. 1020 to 980 BCE, and was violently destroyed.

The biblical tradition presents the people of Israel as conducting a cult different from all other nations of the ancient Near East by being monotheistic and an-iconic (banning human or animal figures). However, it is not clear when these practices were formulated, if indeed during the time of the monarchy (10-6th centuries BC), or only later, in the Persian or Hellenistic eras.

The absence of cultic images of humans or animals in the three shrines provides evidence that the inhabitants of the place practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines, observing a ban on graven images.

The findings at Khirbet Qeiyafa also indicate that an elaborate architectural style had developed as early as the time of King David. Such construction is typical of royal activities, thus indicating that state formation, the establishment of an elite, social level and urbanism in the region existed in the days of the early kings of Israel. These finds strengthen the historicity of the biblical tradition and its architectural description of the Palace and Temple of Solomon.

According to Prof. Garfinkel, “This is the first time that archaeologists uncovered a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David. Even in Jerusalem we do not have a clear fortified city from his period. Thus, various suggestions that completely deny the biblical tradition regarding King David and argue that he was a mythological figure, or just a leader of a small tribe, are now shown to be wrong.” Garfinkel continued, “Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs. Now we uncovered three cultic rooms, with various cultic paraphernalia, but not even one human or animal figurine was found. This suggests that the population of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed two biblical bans—on pork and on graven images—and thus practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines.”

Description of the findings and their significance

The three shrines are part of larger building complexes. In this respect they are different from Canaanite or Philistine cults, which were practiced in temples—separate buildings dedicated only to rituals. The biblical tradition described this phenomenon in the time of King David: “He brought the ark of God from a private house in Kyriat Yearim and put it in Jerusalem in a private house” (2 Samuel 6).

The cult objects include five standing stones (Massebot), two basalt altars, two pottery libation vessels and two portable shrines. No human or animal figurines were found, suggesting the people of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed the biblical ban on graven images.

Two portable shrines (or “shrine models”) were found, one made of pottery (ca. 20 cm high) and the other of stone (35 cm high). These are boxes in the shape of temples, and could be closed by doors.

The clay shrine is decorated with an elaborate façade, including two guardian lions, two pillars, a main door, beams of the roof, folded textile and three birds standing on the roof. Two of these elements are described in Solomon’s Temple: the two pillars (Yachin and Boaz) and the textile (Parochet).

The stone shrine is made of soft limestone and painted red. Its façade is decorated by two elements. The first are seven groups of roof-beams, three planks in each. This architectural element, the “triglyph,” is known in Greek classical temples, like the Parthenon in Athens. Its appearance at Khirbet Qeiyafa is the earliest known example carved in stone, a landmark in world architecture.

The second decorative element is the recessed door. This type of doors or windows is known in the architecture of temples, palaces and royal graves in the ancient Near East. This was a typical symbol of divinity and royalty at the time.

The stone model helps us to understand obscure technical terms in the description of Solomon’s palace as described in 1 Kings 7, 1-6. The text uses the term “Slaot,” which were mistakenly understood as pillars and can now be understood as triglyphs. The text also uses the term “Sequfim”, which was usually understood as nine windows in the palace, and can now be understood as “triple recessed doorway.”

Similar triglyphs and recessed doors can be found in the description of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6, Verses 5, 31-33, and in the description of a temple by the prophet Ezekiel (41:6). These biblical texts are replete with obscure technical terms that have lost their original meaning over the millennia. Now, with the help of the stone model uncovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the biblical text is clarified. For the first time in history we have actual objects from the time of David, which can be related to monuments described in the Bible.

About the Hebrew University of Jerusalem:

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem was founded in 1918 by visionaries including Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber and Chaim Weizmann. Opened in 1925, the Hebrew University is located on three campuses in Jerusalem and a fourth in Rehovot. One of the world’s leading academic and research institutions, the Hebrew University serves more than 23,000 students from over 65 countries, and is consistently ranked among the top academic and research institutions worldwide. Forty percent of Israel’s civilian research emerges from the Hebrew University, which has been ranked 12th worldwide in biotechnology patent filings and commercial development. Faculty and alumni of the Hebrew University have won seven Nobel Prizes in the last decade.

CONTACT:

Dov Smith, Hebrew University Foreign Press Liaison

02-5881641 / 054-8820860 (+972-54-8820860)

dovs@savion.huji.ac.il

Orit Sulitzeanu, Hebrew University Spokesperson

02-5882910 / 054-8820016

orits@savion.huji.ac.il

Online: http://www.huji.ac.il

Via Joseph Lauer.  The announcement was noted earlier, briefly.

A New Project and A Request for Assistance

A new project, www.classicaltimeline.com, is currently seeking an editor for its section on religion/religious figures in classical antiquity. If you would like to be involved, or just wish more information, contact

Erlend D. MacGillivray
School of Divinity, History, and Philosophy
King’s College
University of Aberdeen
Aberdeen
AB24 3UB
United Kingdom

erlendmacgillivray@abdn.ac.uk

News from Qeiyafa: The Discovery of Two Decorated Cultic Boxes

From Barnea Selevan after the news conference this morning.

Based on two decorated cultic boxes Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority suggest revising the understanding  of several biblical verses and practices. They suggest the small boxes are actually the arks used in Israel as opposed to the ark of the desert. They suggest finding them in the rooms is akin to the four times the ark was kept in someone’s house. The decorations include a triple recessed design which could be the “sheqafim” and that insets of three lines on the top of the box are triglyphs which are the earliest found and explain the word “tzla’ot” in Solomon’s temple and in Ezekiel’s description. Other elements hint at the curtain and pillars. One has decorative lions.  Prof Garfinkel suggests that only a contemporary writer would have this accuracy.

I think we can all expect more later.

UPDATE:  As I suspected, there’s more coming- including photos courtesy Robert Deutsch, who describes the objects thusly:  a limestone temple model, a ceramic temple model and a basalt incense burner – dated to 1020-1080 BCE

UPDATE II: More on the news conference (with many more details) along with the to-be-expected ‘see, this proves the Bible’ spin has just appeared here. The report also includes several other photos- especially of the presentation itself.

UPDATE III:  And there’s even a book (boy that was fast!).  Again, with thanks to Robert Deutsch-

UPDATE IV: Now the Hebrew University Press Release is online.

Happy ‘Place Luther Under the Ban’ Day!

It was the 8th of May, 1521, when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, placed that troublemaker Luther under the Ban at the Diet (pronounced ‘deet’) of Worms (pronounced ‘vorms’).  Happy Ban Luther Day to you!  Let’s all take some time today to ban Luther from our lives too!!!!    😉

And let’s, while we’re at it, ban those wicked Lutherans too.  7 headed beasts, the lot of them…