Zwinglius Redivivus

אתם עם קשׁה ערף רגע אחד אעלה בקרבך וכליתיך

Archive for the ‘Archaeology’ Category

Dig With James Strange at Shikkhin

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The Excavations at Shikhin is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional, international, cultural heritage project whose goal is the recovery and preservation of the site of Shikhin in the Lower Galilee of Israel. Samford University is the primary sponsoring institution. Professor James Riley Strange of Samford University, USA, serves as Director. Associate Directors are Professor Mordechai Aviam of Kinneret College and the Institute of Galilean Archaeology, Israel, and Professor David Fiensy of Kentucky Christian University, USA.

The archaeology is done by volunteers from all over, many of them students from Samford University, Centre College, University of South Florida, and Kinneret College. No experience is necessary in order to participate. 

Apply to participate in the Excavations at Shikhin. Samford students will apply to study abroad at the Office of International Studies.

Find out all the details here.

Written by Jim

March 4, 2015 at 22:17

Posted in Archaeology

Study Archaeology at Tel Aviv University

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Registration for the 2015/6 academic year is at its peak, and I am delighted to share with you some of the wonderful scholarship and grant opportunities for students of the International MA in Ancient Israel Studies: Archaeology and History of the Land of the Bible, for the coming year.

AYALIM association is offering 13,000 USD tuition assistance scholarships to a limited number of students who are recognized by Masa Israel Journey. For further details please click here.

The Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures at Tel Aviv University is offering  2,500/ 5,000 USD tuition assistance scholarships to a limited number of students with proven records of academic excellence, who wish to broaden their knowledge and understanding of ancient Israel. For further details, please click here.

Full tuition scholarships (18,000 USD) and grants for the academic year of 2015-6 will be awarded to students from China and India, on the basis of academic excellence. For further details and information regarding application requirements, please click here.

Oded Lipschits

Written by Jim

March 2, 2015 at 08:18

Posted in Archaeology

The February Carnival: The ‘Love is in the Air’ Edition

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5February is the month of love.  Valentine’s Day don’t ya know…  Anyway, I thought this month I would show some link love to a number of blogs you’ve never (or probably never) heard of, written by people (or probably people) you’ve never heard mentioned.

Check it out:

Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament

Mine.  I mean, in answer to the question posed by young Mr (well darn, I’ve forgotten) (no there it is)- Jason.   There was a right sharp interview with Karen Jobes on International Septuagint Day that you should read – because you haven’t already.  It’s by someone.

Richard has posted a series of videos of lectures in Thomas Römer’s series on the Bible and its contexts.  Well worth a look and videos by some of the leaders in the field.

David Clines lectures on the varieties of creation in this video.  Clines is really a scream of a lecturer/ presenter.  He’s sort of the male version of Amy-Jill Levine (which is to say, whenever you have a chance to hear him, do it).

Bob Cargill posted his radio appearance in January but nothing in February so here it is.  I reckon February is too cold in Iowa for blogging.

The wise and goodly folk in Central Europe have constructed a brilliant little game to teach kids (and journalists) the Old Testament.

Tim B. is doing a video series on the geography of the Bible and he’s also got one in the series on ‘routes’.  It’s right smart and it deserves your attention.

3Since Jack Sasson’s list is now being hosted on the SBL site you’ll be able to read it even if you aren’t worthy of being on Jack’s list.  That’s good news for you, the little people.

Deane Galbraith is back with ‘Remnants of Giants‘.  Good to see him doing what he does again.  Here’s a fine example on the David and Goliath tale.

New Testament

Someone named Anthony wrote a piece about some angry atheist and some skinny not so funny comedian debating the topic of Theodicy (because who on earth doesn’t want to know what an angry atheist and an actor person think about one of the most complex issues in theology.  Maybe next time throw in a journalist and you’ll have the trifecta of dileattantism).

Have you ever wondered about responses to Mark 7:32-37 in Victorian London and in biblical scholarship? Well, over at the most narrowly focused blog in all existence you can find out.  Who knew…

Campbell is not right.  Moo is.  Bauckam is right too but he’s talking about fishing.  I like fish.  I don’t like catching and murdering them or cleaning them or cooking them or smelling them.  But I like the way their completely deboned descaled decapitated bodies taste.

John Martens has a really fine commentary on Acts he’s blogging.  And by that, I mean he’s writing a commentary on Acts on his blog that certainly is a worthwhile read.  And Phil Long is also thinking about Acts and almsgiving.

From Durham- this.  On rock/ sand.

3Richard Goode posted an entry on the ‘Gospel of the Lots of Mary’…  Lots of Mary… Lotsa Mary.  (I’m sorry, sometimes the mockery just comes naturally and if I try to hold it in I die).  Richard also shared a lecture by Steve Moyise on Jesus and his birth (part two).  Richard’s doing great things with the Newman blog.  You should watch it.

Nijay Gupta did a good job destroying the ridiculous and absurd comments about NT Wright.


Larry Hurtado shares Richard Bauckham’s appreciation for Larry Hurtado.  It’s a nice tribute nicely appreciated by the recipient of the tribute.  I.e., the tributee.

George Athas directs our attention to yet another (albeit good) contribution to the discussion of Jesus’ existence.  It’s still a stupid question.  It has been asked by skeptics since ages ago and no one with any sense or sensibility doubts it.  Maurice Casey said everything about the topic that needed to be said.  And still… the daft continue to ask it.  Its become a cottage industry promoted by the self promoting.

Ancillary Stuff (Archaeology, Text Criticism, DSS, etc.)

There’s a very interesting post on the Tel Aviv archaeology blog  by Joshua Errington about a field excursion that you’ll most definitely want to read (and you’ll want to follow the blog too).

Roberta Mazza body slams the practice of buying and selling antiquities to ‘protect them’.  #Boom.  She does the same when it comes to ‘marketing’ the ‘Word of God’.

Danny G. posted video about Sebastian Moll’s discussion of Marcion.  Fun times for all.

Hershel Shanks reflects on the birth of BAR.  It’s a good read.

Vaticanus is now fully digitized and available online.  Nifty.  Not so nifty is Brice’s citation of Wikipedia for the description of the manuscript.  He notes, wryly (I hope) that the description is accurate.  It may have been accurate the moment Brice read it but 10 seconds later it may have been distorted.  Wikipedia.  It’s bad.  It’s always bad.  It’s never good because- at the end of the day- it’s never really trustworthy.

Steve Moyise has a good bit to say about Wright’s (mis)understanding of Paul’s use of Scripture.  You won’t want to miss it if you’ve already missed it.

It has already occurred but you may want to ask Larry if he has plans to publish his lecture at the Pontifical Institute.  It sounds really great.  “The Dead Sea Scrolls: Judaism on the Eve of Christianity”.

2There’s a very intriguing post here on textual studies and diagnostics that you’ll want to take a look at.

It’s very exciting to pass along word that a new blog by a female person commenced in February titled ‘The Female Bible Scholar‘ by the learned and delightful Tiffany Webster.  I’m grateful to tiny Mike Kok for telling me about it.  Mike used to blog but now that he’s running his own corporation he doesn’t anymore.  Perhaps at long last women bloggers in biblical studies will break forth in a mighty surge.  Please, Lord, let it happen.  Tiffany also herself passed along word of a SIIBS gathering that will interest the Yorkshire folk.

Brice Jones described a newly discovered ‘saying of Jesus’ (one of those agraphon things).  But if it’s ‘unwritten’ how is it that it has been discovered written down?  [Sorry, it’s a pet peeve of mine that the term agraphon is used of clearly written down texts.  It’s as if textual scholars aren’t inventive enough to come up with a term that actually makes sense… you know, like ‘graphon’…] [And though you may have the feeling that I don’t like Brice nothing could be further from the truth.  The fact that he cites wikipedia…]

The folk at the PEQ blog have a really good post on an aspect of their work.  Give it a read if you haven’t already.

It being February, and February being both the month in which Melanchthon was born and Luther died, it’s appropriate to mention the commencement of a new edition of Melancthon’s Opera Omnia.

And finally, if you aren’t a part of the best online discussion of the bible group, join up.

1Next month’s blog will come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.  In the meantime, go read Jennifer’s ‘official’ Carnival.  She’s a delight.  A beginning theology student, she has a fine sense of wit and – importantly – understands that Joel Watts is the antichrist.

Biblioblogdom explained

Biblioblogdom explained

Written by Jim

March 1, 2015 at 00:01

A New Archaeological Project

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This one looks like it will be interesting and given the fact that the Germans are doing it, meticulously carried out.


Written by Jim

February 25, 2015 at 07:36

Posted in Archaeology

Photos From the Palestine Exploration Fund

Courtesy the good Professor Davies:

Detail of inscribed sherd from an Iron II vessel found during excavations by Duncan and Macalister in Jerusalem, 1923-25. It has been recently proposed that the image represents 'Yahweh and his Asherah'

Detail of inscribed sherd from an Iron II vessel found during excavations by Duncan and Macalister in Jerusalem, 1923-25. It has been recently proposed that the image represents ‘Yahweh and his Asherah’

Fragment of a carved ivory head. Samaria, 9th-8th centuries BCE

Fragment of a carved ivory head. Samaria, 9th-8th centuries BCE

A selection of prehistoric flint tools collected by C. Leonard Woolley and T.E. Lawrence during the 'Wilderness of Zin' Survey.

A selection of prehistoric flint tools collected by C. Leonard Woolley and T.E. Lawrence during the ‘Wilderness of Zin’ Survey.

Check out the PEF and become as involved as you are inclined. As Philip said, they’d love to have you.

Written by Jim

February 18, 2015 at 10:12

An Interview With Philip Davies of the Palestine Exploration Fund

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 (, 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.

Thank you, Philip!

Written by Jim

February 18, 2015 at 09:47

The Tomb of the Prophet Nahum

Ari Shapiro, NPR reporter, notes on twitter

The tomb of the Jewish prophet Nahum, in Alqosh, Iraq. Once a pilgrimage site, now it is mostly ruins.

And here’s his photo-

nahum_tombSo sad.  Not just because an important site is ruined but because of the ruin of so many lives in that sad and tragic place.  The tomb stands for the entire nation: ruined by war.


Written by Jim

February 13, 2015 at 14:45

Posted in Archaeology


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