Zwinglius Redivivus

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Archive for the ‘Archaeology’ Category

Yuval Goren’s Website is Up and Running

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This collection of historical microscopes started as part of my routine work. Like many collectors I have known over the years, I practice microscopy as part of my profession (in archaeology). Needing a good portable polarizing microscope for fieldwork, I started acquiring available instruments. As these proved unsatisfactory, my search was expanded to past models. At the same time I designed my dream microscope (below). In due time the collection has been altered to include selected milestone microscopes having significant historical importance. This is the collection’s online catalog.

Take a look– lots of cool stuff.

Written by Jim

July 4, 2015 at 17:46

Posted in Archaeology

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Jodi’s Latest Discovery

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Written by Jim

July 2, 2015 at 08:34

Posted in Archaeology

The Return of the Avignonian Carnival

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This month’s fun is Chronological:  The best post of each day as determined by a panel of experts are listed here in the order of their appearance.  And some of what follows, especially mid-month, is sure to infuriate.  For that I cannot apologize.  You’re welcome to see things as you wish, but by the same token, so am I.

zwingli_laptop1 – Antonio Lombatti has a great post on early Judaism.  Not to be missed.

2 – Jennifer Guo and SBL have announced the hashtag for the upcoming Annual Meeting which, to my eternal sorrow, will include the unwashed masses of the AAR.  Remember when John reports that ‘Jesus wept’?  Yeah, that.

3 – I read with great interest and personal profit George Athas‘s post on depression.

4 – Dom Mattos wrote a piece which rounded up reviews of T&T Clark’s amazing volume on Geza Vermes.  Take a look.  You won’t regret it.

5 – Word was shared that J. Louis Martyn died on the 5th.  It saddened all of us and provoked Beverly Gaventa to write this beautiful testimonial.

6 – Words can’t express how much I find Richard Goode a delightful wit.  His post on two recent carnivalesque things will endear him to you as well.  Unless you’re insane and unhinged.

opitz_zwingli7 – Christian Brady posted a lovely series on the subject of suffering, about which he knows more than any parent should. You need to read it.  And need is emphatic.

8 – Joel Watts received a volume to review that looks genuinely of interest.  Keep an eye out for his review here.

9- Chris Tilling posted a nice and nicely titled bitlet on Barthing.  If you immediately thought the word ‘barfing’ then you hit the mark.

10- Gershon Galil offered a very intriguing reading of the second recently discovered Qeiyafa inscription.  Consider it.

11 – Larry Hurtado is writing a new book and in it he evidently is going to talk about the likes of Julius Africanus, whom he calls an interesting fellow.  Thanks, Larry… now I have to chase that rabbit to see if he really is interesting or if he’s just ‘Joel Watts’ interesting…

12 – A very intriguing and sensible essay on the emergence of the Codex for those interested in the history of books and writing.  The British Library has posted it.

zwingli13 – Jim Tabor is doing a series on John the Baptist and Messianic expectations.  Here’s a segment.  If you enjoy it you might also enjoy the rest of them.

14 – Deane Galbraith has an as always intriguing post on- this time – Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’.

15- Peter Head reviewed a book that sounds pretty good.   But I can’t link to it because that would be unfair to Peter who, a few years back, said academics shouldn’t blog (and other derogatory things about books on blogs).  And linking to it would make him seem to be a tad disingenuous.  So if you want to read it you’ll have to track it down using your own devices.

16 – Scot ‘The Canadian’ McKnight has some thoughts on how one shouldn’t talk about faith and science.  Being a big, big fan of the whole faith … science dialogue I can do nothing but commend it to you.

17 – Christoph Heilig has written a nearly ingenious review of the NIDNTTE.  It’s exceptional.

ZWINGLI-GOS-DIGITAL18 – On the evening of the 17th a young man walked into Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and murdered 9 people- including the Pastor.  I searched the biblioblogs to see who else had mentioned the event and I’m sorry to say that hardly any could be bothered with it.  I can’t express sufficiently how sad it makes me that so many people who are ‘interested in the Bible’ are not at all interested in contemporary events; nor do they see it as a part of their responsibility to say something to society in the face of such disgusting acts.  Ivory towers are for pulling down, not for settling into.  Notable exceptions:

Our Prayers are with Charleston, Scot McKnight and Greg Hillis.

Thank you, Scot and Greg (and perhaps others who are unknown to me).  To be sure, people can, and do, blog what they want.  But the disconnect between Scripture scholarship and current events is just so stunning as to be note-worthy and remark-able.

19 – George Athas says a big hearty ho NEIN to ridiculous claims being made that a Canaanite coin has been discovered.

conacher_zwingli20 – Day off.  Was sick.  Did nothing.

21 – Chris Rollston had some important things to say about the newly discovered second Qeiyafa inscription which maximalists especially owe it to themselves to read.

22 – Steve Wiggins posted a review of a book by a person of whom I have never heard on a topic which is of no interest to me.  But in order to be inclusive, I include it here.

23 – Nijay ‘Sanjay’ Gupta has announced that EP Sanders is going to publish a ‘big book’ on Paul this year.  I’m betting just in time for SBL.  Oh boy…. Paul… Who can’t get enough of Paul………..  Paul… It’s almost as though the NT consists only of Paul and the Synoptics and everything else is the red headed step child.  But in reality, John and the Johannine lit are the high water marks of the NT.  Everything else, including Paul, is of lesser interest.

More interesting than another book on Paul could ever be is the interview of Konrad Schmid on Swiss television.  Unmissable.

zwingli_1513_22.jpg24 – Very sad news this day: Eduard Lohse has died.  :(    (I’d have linked to another blog but evidently none of them could be bothered with noting the death of one of the best New Testament scholars to grace the planet).

25 – Richard Goode posted an announcement of a Greek Summer course.  You should go.  Yes, YOU!  If you don’t read the languages in which the Bible was written, you shouldn’t be preaching it or teaching it.

26 – A day that will live in infamy…  Oh, and Brian Small reviewed Herbert Bateman’s book on the Catholic Epistles (I don’t know why he calls them ‘General’).

27 – James Spinti had some historical and biblical thoughts about the SCOTUS decision which are quite worth reading.

28 – Jose da Silva posted a summary of the RBL reviews which, if you missed, you should take a look at.

zwingli_165029 – Daniel *The Big Haired Aussie Transplant to America* Gullotto posted a piece of homosexuality and Christianity as discussed by a book which isn’t nearly as good as Helmut Puff’s Sodomy in Reformation Germany which is, in my not uninformed opinion, the very best study on the subject of sexuality and the Church yet written in any Western European language.

But if that isn’t your ‘cup of vinegar’ then surely Brice Jones’ rampaging denunciation of rampant speculation and pure guesswork concerning early Christian texts will be.

30 – The last submission was that of Deane Galbraith‘s provocative essay on the sin of Sodom. And it’s fitting and proper that the final entry of the month is an analysis of the final book of the Bible- Revelation.  Ian Paul does a fine analysis of the components of the book and argues for a unified composition.

Join us next month as we return, once more, to offer Avignonian Contrarian posts intended to compete with those offered by the heretical official carnival hosted by the non-heretical Phil Jones (or one of his minions).  There’ll be plenty to annoy even those with the disposition of Mother Theresa.  After all…

It makes me tingle with pleasure from head to toe when I see that through me, poor wretched man that I am, God the Lord maddens and exasperates you hellish and worldly people – Luther

Written by Jim

July 1, 2015 at 00:01

Christopher Rollston on the Ishba’l Inscription: A Guest Post

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The Incised Ishba‘l Inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa: Some Things that Can and Cannot be Said

The editio princeps of the Ishba‘l Inscription (note that the noun ba‘l is a qatl segholate and so this noun was monosyllabic in the Iron Age, not bisyllabic) has just been published in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (Garfinkel, Golub, Misgav, Ganor, 2015). This editio princeps contains a fine discussion of the archaeological context of the inscription, some very good photographs, a useful synopsis of the script, reliable readings, a translation, and some discussion of the onomastics (personal name and patronymic). The date for the inscription is stated to be ca. 1020-980 BCE, based on radiometric dating of the relevant layer in which it was found. It should be noted that an ostracon was found at Qeiyafa during the excavations of 2008 (Misgav, Garfinkel, Ganor, 2009; Rollston, 2011).

According to the editio princeps, the readings of the Incised Ishba‘l inscription are: [ ] ’šb‘l {bn} bd‘. I believe that these readings are correct. The authors of the editio princeps render the extant portion of this inscription (the very beginning of the inscription is not preserved, though some traces are present) as: “Ishba’l son of Beda.” They refer to the script as Canaanite, an acceptable term, although I have long preferred the broader term Linear Early Alphabetic. The authors of the editio princeps correctly note that this inscription was incised before firing and also that it is written sinistrograde (i.e., right to left).

I shall soon pen a broader article about this inscription, but at this juncture, I wish to reflect briefly on some of the salient palaeographic and historical aspects of this very important inscription.

(1) The script of this inscription is, of course, typologically earlier than the Early Byblian Phoenician, including that of the Azarba‘al Inscription and that of the Ahiram Sarcophagus Inscription of the late 11th and early 10th centuries BCE (for discussion of the Early Byblian Phoenician, see McCarter 1975; Rollston 2008a and the primary and secondary sources cited therein). The script of the Ishba‘l Inscription can be classified as the latest stage of Early Linear Alphabetic.

(2) As for the stance of the fully preserved letters which are capable of variable stances (e.g., ‘alep, shin, bet, dalet), it is (i.e., the stance is) essentially rotated ninety degrees counter-clockwise from the stance that is attested for the Early Byblian Phoenician inscriptions. To state it differently, the standard stance of these letters in Early Phoenician is rotated ninety degrees clockwise from the stance that is attested for these letters in the Ishba‘l Inscription. In the case of bet, it is written in “mirror image” (this has to do with the variable direction of writing that was possible in Early Linear Alphabetic, that is, sinostrograde, dextrograde, boustrophedon, or columnar), and (as mentioned above), the stance of bet is rotated ninety degrees counter-clockwise from the stance of the Early Phoenician. In the case of nun, based on the traces present, it is also written in mirror image (for a chart with some of the variable stances of bet and nun in Linear Early Alphabetic, see Cross 1980, page 16; article republished in Cross 2003, chart on page 228). With regard to lamed, it is mostly preserved and its stance arguably conforms with that attested in Early Phoenician (i.e., Early Byblian Phoenician and the Phoenician texts that come from succeeding chronological horizons). Of course, ‘ayin is not a letter that has a particular stance here, because of its morphology (essentially a circle which represents the eye and a dot that represents the pupil of the eye). It should be emphasized that although the presence of the pupil in the letter ‘ayin is normally considered an archaic feature, it (i.e., the pupil) does persist into the early first millennium, especially in more archaic or archaizing inscriptions.

(3) There is no linguistic basis for determining the precise linguistic affiliation of this inscription. Some might wish to refer to the Ishba‘l Inscription as Hebrew (much as people wished to with regard to the Qeiyafa Ostracon discovered in 2008), but in this case, as in that case, there are no diagnostic linguistic features that permit such a precise classification. For this reason, the most tenable position is simply to state that the language of this inscription is Canaanite. Of course, some might propose that the inscription’s language is Phoenician, and some might propose that it is Hebrew. In the absence of precise linguistic evidence for a precise classification, however, the most tenable conclusion is simply to state that the language is Canaanite. Nothing more can be said.

(4) The script of this inscription is that of a trained scribal professional. There is no doubt about this. The morphology of the letters was executed with precision and deftness. The spacing between words was careful and precise. The word dividers were nicely done and consistent. This inscription constitutes further evidence for the presence of trained scribal professionals in the southern Levant during the late 11th and early 10th centuries BCE (see Rollston 2006 for primary and secondary literature on scribalism and scribal education during the 9th through 6th centuries BCE). Those who wish to argue that there were no trained scribal professionals in ancient Israel and Judah during the 10th and 9th centuries continue to find themselves defending a position that is flying in the face of the epigraphic evidence for the entire southern Levant.

(5) This inscription does *not* constitute evidence for widespread literacy, neither at Qeiyafa, nor in the region generally. One inscription with a personal name and patronymic simply cannot carry that sort of freight. There has sometimes been a desire on the part of some to view an inscription, or a handful of inscriptions, as evidence for widespread literacy. This is a very romantic view of the evidence. In reality, however, the lion’s share of epigraphic evidence from the Iron Age is connected in some fashion with officials and officialdom (Rollston 2008b; Rollston 2015), just as it is in the rest of the ancient Near East at this time period. The linear epigraphic evidence (Canaanite, Phoenician, Hebrew, Aramaic, Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite) demonstrates that officials (scribes, government officials, military officials, tax personnel, religious personnel) were trained in reading and writing. But the non-elite populace (e.g., carpenters, blacksmiths, farmers, pastoralists, etc.) was not literate. Many merchants, of course, probably found it useful to have at least some capacity for reading and writing. In any case, for there to be a convincing case for the ability of non-elites to read and write, we would need to have inscriptions from such people, with content that reveals explicitly that they were carpenters, blacksmiths, farmers, and pastoralists (etc.) and that they themselves were capably writing and reading texts . We simply do not have that evidence. Similarly, neither can the Ishba‘l Inscription be construed as evidence for widespread literacy. After all, it is a jar inscription with a personal name and a patronymic.

(6) The personal name Ishba‘l is certainly interesting. The name means, of course, “man of Ba‘l” and it is also the given name of King Saul’s son (for discussion of this personal name, see Rollston 2013, pages 377-382 and the biblical and epigraphic literature cited there). It is important to emphasize that the divine name Ba‘l (MT: Ba‘al) was not considered “religiously problematic” during early Iron II in Israel and Judah. Notice in this connection that there is reference to a Benjaminite in the court of King David with the personal name “Ba‘alyah” (1 Chr 12:6), a name that means “Yahweh is Ba‘al.” Along those lines, therefore, the presence of the “Ba‘al” theophoric in the Old Hebrew Samaria Ostraca is certainly not necessarily evidence for the presence of “Ba‘al worship” in early 8th century Israel, as this theophoric element was considered acceptable as a means of referring to Yahweh early on (again, cf. the personal name Ba‘alyah, etc.) By the mid to late 8th century in Israel and Judah, however, this theophoric element succumbed to pejoration and so (at least in some circles) was no longer considered an acceptable means of referring to Yahweh. In any case, the presence of the personal name “Ishba‘l” is not something that can said to be evidence for dating this inscription to a precise time-frame, nor can it be used for attempting to argue for some sort of linguistic classification of this inscripton. The evidence for dating must come from palaeographic analysis, archaeological context, and associated carbon remains, and evidence for linguistic classification would require some sort of true diagnostic element. The theophoric element ba‘l does not constitute such evidence.

In conclusion, this is an important inscription. It constitutes evidence for scribalism at the site of Qeiyafa during the late 11th century (which is when I would probably date this inscription to) or the early 10th century BCE. Of course, in the Phoenician homeland, the transition from Linear Early Alphabetic script to the Phoenician script had already occurred during the late 11th century, but in the southern Levant (Israel, Judah, Moab, etc.), the transition to the Phoenician script would, predictably, occur slightly later than in the homeland of the Phoenician script (i.e., Lebanon). It will be important during the coming days for the importance of this inscription to be emphasized, but it will also be important for this inscription not to be sensationalized. The via media is the best approach.

Christopher Rollston, George Washington University

Cited Sources

Cross, Frank Moore. “Newly Found Inscriptions in Old Canaanite and Early Phoenician Scripts.” BASOR 238 (1980): 1-20.
______. Leaves from an Epigrapher’s Notebook: Collected Papers in Hebrew and West Semitic Palaeography and Epigraphy. HSS 51. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2003.

Garfinkel, Yosef; Golub, Mitka R.; Misgav, Haggai; Ganor, Saar. “The ‘Ishba‘al Inscritpion from Khirbet Qeiyafa.” BASOR 373 (2015): 217-233.

McCarter, P. Kyle. The Antiquity of the Greek Alphabet and the Early Phoenician Scripts. HSM 9. Missoula: Scholars Press, 1975.

Misgav, Haggai; Garfinkel, Yosef; Ganor, Saar. “The Ostracon.” Pp. 243-257 in Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor, eds. Khirbet Qeiyafa, Volume 1: Excavation Report 2007-2008. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society; Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Rollston, Christopher A. “Scribal Education in Ancient Israel: The Old Hebrew Epigraphic Evidence.” BASOR 344 (2006): 47-74.
______. “The Dating of the Early Royal Byblian Inscriptions.” Maarav 15 (2008-a): 57-93.
______. “The Phoenician Script of the Tel Zayit Abecedary and Putative Evidence for Israelite Literacy.” Pp. 61-96 in Literature Culture and Tenth-Century Canaan: The Tel Zayit Abecedary in Context, eds. Ron E.Tappy and P. Kyle McCarter. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2008-b.
______. “The Khirbet Qeiyafa Ostracon: Methodological Musings and Caveats.” Tel Aviv38 (2011): 67-82.
______. “Ad Nomen Argumenta: Personal Names as Pejorative Puns in Ancient Texts.” Pp. 367-386 in In the Shadoz of Bezalel: Aramaic, Biblical, and Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honor of Bezalel Porten, ed. Alejandro F.Botta. Leiden: Brill, 2013.
_____. “Scribal Curriculum during the First Temple Period: Epigraphic Hebrew and Biblical Evidence.” Forthcoming in Literacy and Orality, ed. Brian Schmidt. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.

Written by Jim

June 21, 2015 at 14:12

Posted in Archaeology

Abbreviations in Inscriptions: A Guest Post by Gershon Galil

12 inscriptions of only one letter “aleph” (A), inscribed on pithoi were unearthed in Kuntillet ‘Ajrud – about fifty km south of Kadesh Barnea — among other numerous inscriptions dated to the end of the ninth century – beginning of the eighth centuries BC.

In my opinion this single letter is an abbreviation which stands for asham = “guilty” = atonement, a sacrifice atoning for a sin. This proposal has not yet been suggested in research.

These inscriptions may be similar to the second Qieyafa inscription — KPRT ISHBA’AL etc. See Lev 19 21-22: “And he shall bring his trespass offering (his “asham”) unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering (“asham”), And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering (“asham”) before the LORD for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him.”

Furthermore, we also have only a yod in about ten inscriptions.

See, for further instances of such usages

  1. ADAM ZERTAL in BEN BARAK –FS 2012 175-210
  2. Maeir_Marked Judahite Cooking Pots_JAOS_130.1_2010.pdf
  3. Jerusalem the Temple Mount – see fig 12 p. 69 third_pri_report(1).pdf

Written by Jim

June 20, 2015 at 07:42

Posted in Archaeology

Antonio Takes the Silly Claim of the IAA to Task

In his brief yet accurate post concerning the IAA’s claim that the newly disclosed second Qeiyafa inscription has Davidic connections (i.e., is from the ‘time of David’).

Written by Jim

June 16, 2015 at 12:27

Posted in Archaeology, Lombatti

The IAA’s ‘Big Announcement’ Today Is Old News: The Second Qeiyafa Inscription… Again

Joseph Lauer writes

Today, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, the IAA circulated English and Hebrew press releases announcing that “A Rare Inscription from the Time of King David was Discovered in the Valley of Elah”. The English release is titled “Who Are You, Eshbaʽal Ben Bedaʽ? A Rare Inscription from the Time of King David was Discovered in the Valley of Elah. This is the fourth inscription revealed so far dating to the tenth century BCE from the Kingdom of Judah”.

It appears, though, that the inscription and jar that were displayed today are the subjects of the “A second inscription discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa has been published” e-mail circulated on Thursday, June 4, 2015, that announced that a second inscription discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa has been published in the new issue of the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, pp. 217-233. See Yosef Garfinkel, Mitka R. Golub, Haggai Misgav and Saar Ganor, “The ʾIšbaʿal Inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa”, which is available at

Written by Jim

June 16, 2015 at 08:10

Posted in Archaeology


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