New Light on Iron Age and Persian Era Jerusalem: An Online Lecture

Jerusalem is one of the most excavated places in the world yet the ancient city’s size and location are still under debate. Excavations from the ridge just south of the Temple Mount shed new light on the wealth of Jerusalem’s elite during the 7th century BCE, the city’s destruction, and its revival during the 6th and 5th centuries BCE.

Professor Yuval Gado, head of the Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, will present the results of recent excavations and demonstrate the impact of applying exact and life science methodologies on our knowledge of the city’s history. Email to register:

It will be held Feb 17 at noon (EST).

Three Decades of Excavations at Bethsaida

Bethsaida on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee is mentioned in the Gospels and in Rabbinic sources. The ciy was occupied peridoically between 1000 BCE and 400 CE by Arameans, Phoenecians, and the Hasmoneans. The remains of Bethsaiada contain the largest biblical-era gate ever excavated in Israel!
Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska (USA) has excavated at Bethsaid since 1987, and will discuss the results of his three decades of research at Bethsaida.  email to register:

The details are here.  The lecture takes place Jan 20, 2022 at Noon Eastern time.

“When Biblically Inspired Pseudoscience and Clickbait Cause Looting”

A team of anthropologists argues that flawed research linking biblical Sodom to an archaeological site led to media hype that harms science and encourages illegal excavations, By Morag M. Kersel, Meredith S. Chesson, and Austin “Chad” Hill.

Give it a read.  It’s great stuff.

For myriad reasons, and like many other scholars working in Southwest Asia, we were profoundly disappointed when Scientific Reports, a peer-reviewed journal operating under one of the world’s leading scientific journals, Naturepublished pseudoscientific research about a supposed ancient cosmic airburst destroying the Tall el-Hammam site in what is today Jordan. The authors speculate that this putative event may have been the basis for the biblical story of Sodom, in which a city was allegedly destroyed by stones and fire sent from the sky.

As of today, the original Scientific Reports story has been accessed 348,000 times and has generated nearly 20,000 tweets (including a retweet by astronaut Chris Hadfield, who has more than 2 million followers). It has been covered in 176 news outlets (including major scientific outlets, such as Smithsonian magazine) and was ranked 55th of the over 300,000 tracked articles of a similar age in all academic journals.

And that’s just the opening!

Jamnia (Yavneh) is in the News Because of an Interesting Discovery

Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) excavations being carried out on a massive scale in the city of Yavne have uncovered the first evidence there of a building from the time of the Sanhedrin – the supreme legislative Jewish assembly that went into exile to Yavne after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, some 2,000 years ago.

The building contained fragments of chalkstone vessels, clear evidence that its occupants were observing Jewish laws of ritual purity. The excavation also discovered an impressive cemetery dating from the time of the Sanhedrin.

Via Jim Davila.

Persons of a certain age will be familiar with Jamnia as the putative location of the mythical Rabbinic council that decided upon the contents of the canon around 90 CE.

There’s a video too.

The Gist of Carol Meyers’ Lecture

Women in ancient Israel weren’t the second class citizens they are often portrayed to be.  When the lecture recording goes live for the general public I’ll post the link.

It was a fantastically delivered well illustrated and laced with supporting documentation.  If you missed it, you missed a treat.

Carol Meyers Online Lecture: “Worth and Work: Women’s Household Activities in Ancient Israel”

Women in the biblical period were just ‘wives and mothers’. Right? Not at all. Rather, they had important economic and social roles in their communities. Using archaeological materials, as well as biblical texts and ethnographic data, this presentation will explore two of the most important aspects of household life — food and textile production — both of which have left traces in the archaeological record. It will also evaluate women’s contributions to everyday life. As we will see, this kind of multidisciplinary approach shows that women had a greater role in Israelite culture than might otherwise have been imagined.

Carol Meyers is the Mary Grace Wilson Professor Emerita at Duke University. She specializes in biblical studies, archaeology, and women in the biblical world. An experienced field archaeologist, she has published hundreds of books and articles and is currently Vice-President of the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem.

** email to register for this Zoom lecture: **

Herod Didn’t Just Build a Temple in Jerusalem, He Built 4 More, to Roman Gods

The temple he constructed at Omrit is in the news.

An archaeological site in northern Israel is now thought to possibly contain a lost Roman temple. The temple, which was housed within a larger ancient Roman complex, would have been built by King Herod, who presided over the province of Judea for 33 years, between 37 B.C.E. and 4 B.C.E.

The structure is located within Omrit, an archeological site that is also home to the remains of other buildings with Roman influences. Though Omrit is not very accessible to the public today due to its remote locale, the site was once highly trafficked by international visitors and researchers throughout the 19th century, when there was a surge in pilgrimages to holy sites. It wasn’t until the 1970s that scholars at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem launched an archeological survey of the site for further research. Excavation began in the 1990s.

Though some archaeologists believe that the structure could be one of four temples that were built by Herod and documented by Roman-Jewish historian Josephus Flavius, experts are still debating the theory, according to a report by Israeli news outlet Haaretz.

Within the complex, there are elaborate architectural elements such as columns and Corinthian capitals, flooring and steps. Historians believe that the temple was constructed in three phases, only to be destroyed by an earthquake in 363 C.E.


Israel Finkelstein’s Rejoinder to Erez Ben-Yosef

Professor Ben-Yosef’s ideas have been mentioned earlier today and in the meanwhile I’ve asked Israel Finkelstein for his take on the topic (because he’s my go to expert on archaeology).  He directed me, kindly, to an exchange between himself and Ben-Yosef in ANTIGUO ORIENTE, vol 18 (2020):

The Arabah Copper Polity and the Rise of Iron Age Edom: A Bias in Biblical Archaeology?

And the response

And Yet, a Nomadic Error: A Reply to Israel Finkelstein, EREZ BEN-YOSEF

So now I’ve got more to look into.  Israel’s essay is summarized thusly:

Summary: The Arabah Copper Polity and The Rise of Iron Age Edom: A Bias in Biblical Archaeology?  In a recent article, Erez Ben-Yosef describes an ostensible bias in biblical archaeology— the emphasis on societies that left behind stone-built remains and a disregard for pastoral nomadic-based territorial polity. Ben-Yosef identifies the Iron I-IIA finds from the copper centers at Faynan and Timna as representing an early Edomite, nonsedentary kingdom. Here I deal with three issues: I begin by showing that most of Ben-Yosef’s premises have already been suggested by scholars decades ago. I then turn to what I consider as major shortcomings in his theory. Finally, I present an alternative model for an Iron I-IIA territorial entity in the Arabah and neighboring areas as well as for the rise of the kingdom of Edom.

So now to read the whole.


Jerusalem, and Archaeology With a Western Mindset

This is really an excellent essay in the Jerusalem Post.  Via Joseph Lauer.

What did King David’s Israel look like? The answer is not set in stone

Archeological investigation of King David’s kingdom has been suffering from an inherent bias of the western world.


What was an ancient kingdom supposed to look like in order to qualify as wealthy and powerful?

An Israeli scholar argues that for too long, the answer to this question has been suffering from an inherent, sometimes even unconscious bias: the need to find evidence for palaces, large cities and all those elements that in a Western world mindset would suggest prosperity and influence.

“The biblical story is about nomads,” Tel Aviv University Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef said. “Almost everybody agrees that ancient Israel emerged from a nomadic society, and the same is true for the neighboring kingdoms – the Moabites, the Edomites, the Amorites – which were established by coalitions of nomadic tribes.

As Ben-Yosef noted in a paper recently published in the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology, up until now, the consensus among scholars has been that before a society became sedentary, it could not be considered complex or evolved. For this reason, many have dismissed the notion that ancient Israel could be as powerful as described in the Bible.

However, in order to understand the Israel of King David and King Solomon, a new approach is required, one that leaves behind the need for remains of magnificent buildings but is able to ask the right questions and put archaeological and historical records in the right perspective.

“The problem is that when we think about nomads we immediately think about modern Bedouin and we find ourselves stuck in a certain mental box,” Ben-Yosef noted. “It is time to leave this box.” According to the scholar, the mistake is understandable.

“Normally, archaeology does not offer us the possibility to study nomadic societies and their material culture, so we based our conclusion off assumptions,” he said. Tents in fact do not leave remains around for millennia.

“At the same time, archaeologists have wanted to be important players in the discussion about the historicity of the Bible and have claimed that they could see more than they could,” Ben-Yosef argued. “However, now we have very strong evidence that this approach was wrong and that what we thought about nomads in the ancient Land of Israel was wrong.”

FOR THE PAST eight years, the archaeologist has been excavating at Timna, where he is currently director of excavation.

Located in the Arava in Southern Israel, the site was traditionally associated with King Solomon and his kingdom dating back some 3,000 years – until some archaeological remains uncovered at the end of the 1960s suggested that its ancient copper mines were operated by the Egyptian Empire two centuries earlier.

However, in recent years, radio-carbon dating of organic material found at Timna proved that the most intense activity of the site happened around 1,000 BCE, the time of David and Solomon.

According to Ben-Yosef, the site was part of the nomadic Edomite Kingdom, but might have been under nomadic Israel’s control as the Bible suggests. Crucially, Timna presents ample evidence that societies did not need to be sedentary or to leave grand palaces behind to be rich and influential.

“In the past there was a consensus that only an empire could be responsible for such a huge operation, which required thousands of workers, but at the time when the mines were active, there was no empire in the region, but only these tribes and coalition of tribes which worked as kingdoms, without building cities,” he said.

Only the fact that this specific nomadic polity engaged in copper production allowed the evidence of its complexity to survive: The mining activity left tons of copper slab in the site, and since its occupation lasted a long time, other finds were also unearthed, including pottery and organic remains that were preserved thanks to the dry climate.

The remains include refined foods such as almonds and fish and even fabrics dyed with the purple argaman, the most expensive pigment of the time and a status symbol of the elites in ancient societies in southern Levant.

So what did the contemporary kingdoms of David and Solomon look like? According to Ben-Yosef, a significant part of the population was still tent-dwelling.

“As it was common at the time, it was a mixed society with some people living in tents and others in buildings,” he said. “As the biblical author tells us, with time, more people settled but many continued to live in tents all the way to the destruction of the First Temple.”

In addition, at the time, also ruling over or controlling another population did not depend upon fortresses built to supervise them, could be based on tax collection or agreements, as it is also described in the Bible, for example, regarding the relation between Israel and Edom.

“The biblical text is complex and it does contain some biases and exaggerations, but I believe it contains much more truth than many assume,” Ben-Yosef said.

“We cannot use archaeology in the way it has been used until today to study the historicity of the Bible, we need to acknowledge the reality,” he concluded. “We cannot just continue to look for walls, our rules need to change.”

The paper under discussion can be read here.

The October “Very Scary” Biblical Studies Carnival (Number 188)

This month’s carnival, like all the other’s I’ve tried to put together, draws from as many contributions as have been sent along.  So, once again, I appreciate all the heads ups. I literally could not do it without you!

As we begin, I think it’s important that you keep in mind what a sage and gifted scholar once wrote many years ago- 

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

You’re all welcome.  Enjoy the scary reality!  

NB– the photos heading each section are the scariest ones I could find, in keeping with the theme of this month’s carnival: scary.

Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament

Jim Davila started the month out with a post on Jerusalem’s water supply.  Water matters.  Did you know that without water, you wouldn’t be here?!?!  Well neither would Jerusalem.   Was medicine in Babylon guided by science, or magic?  A lecture addressed that topic on 28 October in Zurich.  You probably didn’t attend, did you?  But that’s o.k. because it was recorded and beginning 4 November you can watch it.

Josiah Solis offers a Kantian reading of the prohibition against lying. It’s nice to see kids today reading old Germans. It gives hope to the world’s dark future.

@e_a_b_s tweeted – Event! Registration open for the International Psalter Colloquium: “Editing the Greek Psalter”, Göttingen, 1–3 Dec 2021. The colloquium will take a hybrid format, and you can register to attend online for free here: Sounds fantastic!

Want to brush up on your Aramaic? Well you’re in luck. A series of videos will start being posted on 1 November to help you do just that. Join in if you dare.

Oriel College at Oxford U. is hosting a series of Michaelmas Lectures on Comparative Philology that will be of interest. The three in October are past but there are still 3 in November you can sit in on virtually or in person. Details and registration links here.

John Meade and Joshua Alfaro had an interesting discussion on twitter regarding a textual variant in Isaiah. Fun stuff!

Do you enjoy ruler cults?  Well then Chuck Jones has a post that you’ll find right up your pagan alley.  

Until now, the study of cultic honours for Hellenistic political leaders and benefactors has mainly focused on the ideological and diplomatic features of the phenomenon. The project “Practicalities of Hellenistic Ruler Cults” (PHRC) shifts the focus on its practical aspects: the materiality of media, ritual action and space, actors, administration, and the funding of cults.


Do you enjoy the Septuaginta LXX?  Well who doesn’t?  We all enjoy the taco taco and the burrito burrito too.  But back to the topic- Chuck Jones (of the previous ruler cult post) advises that the Septuaginta LXX is out there. Septuaginting.

James McGrath calls Moses the ‘Musical Lawgiver’. Hmmm… Anyway, if you are into various sorts of music, this post is right up your alley.

Uriah the Hittite. The guy forgotten in all the ‘David and Bathsheba’ discussions of late. Claude fixes that. It’s a good series.

It seems that block printing of Hebrew texts was happening a century before brother Gutenberg came along.  Read the post at the Genizah Fragments blog.

In the latest installment of his ‘The Bible for Proggies‘, Pete Enns addresses the fun topic of Adam and his evolution. Or something. I don’t listen to podcasts and the post was sent in as a recommendation, so, enjoy.

Steve Wiggins jumps on the ‘Sodom was destroyed by an asteroid‘ fun bandwagon that festooned the internet at the end of September and beginning of October. What’s not to love. It combines Sodom with a giant ball of rock from space.

Bob McDonald is doing translation experiments. Dude has his own way of looking at texts. Sometimes it’s quite intriguing. Sometimes.

Podcasts your thing? Why? Anyway, if they are, here’s one on ‘creation out of nothing’ by a chap who thinks that Genesis teaches such. Let me know if you think he’s right. I don’t listen to podcasts because I don’t have an iPod and you have to have an iPod in order to hear a Podcast because Pods can only be heard on Pods.

Have they found ‘David’s Judah‘?  Nah.  But it’s a fun read.

New Testament

Paul continues to fall on hard times. Accused in the past of misogyny and all manner of wickednesses, now the poor guy is having his establishing of the Galatian churches ripped from his long decomposed hands. And he isn’t even around to defend himself. Next up, someone will say he never even existed. And then he will be just like Jesus.

Nijay Gupta is doing a series of posts on a Festschrift. If series’s are your thing, you may be into this one.  

Elijah goes to Britain. With Dan Wallace. To look at manuscripts.

Interested in atheist readings of Christian theology based on New Testament texts? This may be just your thing then. See proggies, I can be ‘inclusive’ too.

Peter Williams gave a lecture on ‘The Genius of Jesus’ Teaching‘. I didn’t notice it on any other blog, so I mentioned it here. Accordingly, I’m sure you’ve already seen it because 1) everyone reads the blog whether they admit it or not and 2) you’re among the number called ‘everyone’. Ergo, QED, you have already seen it.

April offers a reflection on blind Bartimaeus.  I’m including it because April is a delight and she deserves a wider audience for her blog than she presently has.

Mike Bird has a YouTube channel. He may sound like he’s been drinking, but he’s Australian, so he always sounds like that. I mention it because he has a blog too and he sometimes posts things on his youtube channel that supplement his blog. You’ll learn things, even if his accent is a bit offputting. It’s not lovely like an Irish accent by any means.  Nijay Gupta has a YouTube channel too.  He’s not Australian and he doesn’t sound like he’s been drinking.

Jesus and the Pharisees. It’s a popular topic. It’s frequently discussed. It’s part of Phil’s blog series on New Testament stuff something or other. The Pharisees get a bad rap, but I like them much better than I like most people. At least they did something.

James Crossley writes about COVID, the end of time, and American politics. Amen. James McGrath politicizes the theological tale of the Gerasene demoniac (because of course everything is politicized these days).

A podcast about Luke 1. [NB- podcasts, you’ll remember, are just long voicemails.] And a podcast about John 3 and Jesus’ chat with Nicodemus. Tune in if you like fundamentalism.

Do you like hearing two guys talk?  Do you enjoy hearing them talk about Philemon?  Are you a fan of Australian accents?  Are you conservative?  If you answered yes to all of those questions, then Mike and Nijay’s Chat Fest on Philemon may be just what you’re craving today.  If you answered no, then go read Philemon.

Ian Paul wants to know what happened to the cross, and the atonement, in the book of Revelation.  Can someone help him find them?  He’s misplaced them.  Again.

Have you ever wondered if a blog post was used as a corrective for an edition of the Bible?  Wonder still.  An ETC post may or may not have figured into a note in the CSB.  Or it may just be that two people came up with the same bit of information independently of each other.  Still, it’s nice to imagine that someone somewhere is actually reading what you post.

Paula Fredriksen has a video lecture on monotheism in early Judaism and Christianity. Tune in.

Seumas Macdonald writes Today I’m pleased to announce the launch of καθ’ ἡμέραν, a project in which I will provide (in theory 5 a week) verse by verse short videos (4~5 mins) explaining or discussing New Testament (and possibly LXX) verses in Koine Greek. You can find the youtube channel here, our twitter account here, and the first video is here

General Topics

Death, in the Hebrew Bible, wasn’t a walk in the park.  Jim Davila points out that fun fact and more, including some info about She’ol.

This tweet is pretty cool, so I included it:

@DaphnaOrenM — The Dan David Prize will be awarding up to 9 annual prizes of $300,000 each to early/mid career scholars and practitioners who study the human past. There is under 1 month left to nominate your outstanding colleagues, friends, and former students!

Bart Ehrman looks back at the life of John Shelby Spong.

James Spinti looks at the poisoning of theology by politics.

Todd Bolen rounds up various things having to do with various things.  It’s a post about a variety of things.

John Barclay lectured at the Nazarene Theological College of Manchester on Western Charity and The Gift.  If you missed the lectures live, you can watch them here.

There’s a conference planned for next year that may well interest you and your text-critic friends. Especially if you love all the ‘decentralizing’ going on in these troubled times.

A panel convened to discuss sexual abusers perpetrated by biblical scholars. It is MUST SEE.

Papyrologists have the opportunity to work at the Bodleian.  All the details are available here.

One of the best things posted in October was this wonderfully interesting interview with Septuagint scholar Raija Sollamo by Bill Ross. If you missed it earlier, do not miss it now.

Roland de Vaux was the subject of a lecture at the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem. Give it a watch.

Books and Reviews

You may not know this, but Rob Bradshaw gives away a free book every day. October 1st he offered a book on sacrifice in the Old Testament. Go there and you can doom scroll to find all the others.

Probably the most exciting book announcement in October came from Eerdmans, when they told us that Luke Timothy Johnson has an autobiography coming out in March of 2022.

Francesca S. wrote a book about God and it’s reviewed here.  The reviewer opines

God: An Anatomy is a tour de force. Stavrakopoulou has created not just an extraordinarily rich and nuanced portrait of Yahweh himself, but an intricate and detailed account of the cultural values and practices he embodied, and the wider world of myth and history out of which he emerged. 

Brian Davidson reviewed Crossway’s edition of the Hebrew Bible. He really, really likes it. So I ordered one too.

Brent Niedergall reviews a book on voice and mood.  Voice should be loud.  And mood should be even.  Amen.  Anyway, he remarks

Mathewson offers a technical overview of two overlooked areas of Greek grammar.

Well not really overlooked is it?  A.T. Robertson’s grammar spend a million pages on them.  But it’s an old grammar and people probably don’t read it anymore.

Nijay Gupta announces a new commentary series on the Old Testament.  John Goldingay is doing Ecclesiastes, so that will be good!  In fact, Goldingay is asked a few questions about the book by Gupta here.

I don’t know who Ray Comfort is, but evidently he wrote a book back in 2016 that promotes some rubbish nonsense concerning interpretation of the bible and said book was reviewed this month here.  Someone named ‘Ben’ wrote the review.  I’m fairly confident that Ray (whoever he is) finally had his book reviewed 5 years after it appeared.

Amihai Mazar posts a list of books by the late Eilat Mazar that are available from her publisher. Archaeology geeks, rejoice!

A new volume on the Targum of Chronicles has been published.  And so has a review of that volume.  Give it a look.

Like Paul?  Then you’ll like this tweet from Lukas Bormann:

„Paulus: Leben – Umwelt – Werk – Briefe“ (hg. v. O. Wischmeyer/E.-M. Becker). Copies for review available . Code OWI45654A. Full text online available unti 12. November 2021.

Mark Driscoll, plagiarist and pseudo-scholar, is writing (?) books (?) again and doing as awful a job as it as he ever has.  Wenatchee the Hatchet has the details.

Gender in the Rhetoric of Jesus: Women in Q was reviewed last month. 

In this compelling monograph, Sara Parks combines two scholarly interests that have not been brought together before: studies of Q, a hypothetical source that explains the material shared by the Gospel of Matthew and Luke, and studies of the historical Jesus’ relationship to women.


A new volume titled ‘Resisting Jesus: A Narrative and Intertextual Analysis of Mark’s Portrayal of the Disciples of Jesus‘ appeared in October.  It’s quite a book.

SBL tweeted- @SBLPress — “Though the region was never annexed or occupied by Assyria, the empire began to influence Edomite elite consumption, architectural construction, and pottery styles, and created the need for a small bureaucracy.” Check out Edom at the Edge of Empire

Bible and Sexuality is all the rage in academic circles and Bloomsbury is doing its part to publish books on the topic. One of the more recent is here reviewed. Gripping!

Do you like books by conservative faculty members of conservative writers? If you answered yes, then you may want to take a look at the review of the recent book by an author who has published two commentaries on the same texts. The review is enjoyable.

Do you like free books? Do you like animals? Do you pine for a free book about animals in the ancient world? Today is your lucky day, Sparky! Because there’s just such a thing for your taking. Here.

Beth Allison Barr has a fantastic piece on the terrible ESV that you definitely need to read. It’s one of the best things out this month.

James Crossley and Robert Myles have a book coming out soon titled ‘Jesus: A Life in Conflict’.  The table of contents and other stuff are available here. It looks like a great good read.

Other Stuff that Doesn’t Fit Into Another Category

Looking for a job? Want to be a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Egyptology and Assyriology? You’re in luck, pilgrim. Looking for a job and you want to teach Old Testament? You’re in luck! Briercrest College is looking for exactly you. The downside? It’s in Canada….

McSweeney’s makes the very valid point that there’s precious little difference between the academic job market and ‘The Squid Game’.

Here’s a twitter account you most DEFINITELY need to follow.  Seriously-

Thinking about Seminary?  Northern Seminary has a gift for you:

In case you didn’t already know it, cancel culture is trash.  It has claimed another victim in academia:  Kathleen Scott tweets

It’s nice to see other people catching up to what I’ve been saying for a good while now: progressives are oftentimes fundamentalists, on the left.  And there are a good number of proggie fundies in the biblical studies guild.  Give it a read.  

Feeling like an impostor?  Suffering impostor syndrome?  Well you’re in luck, for there’s a post for you titled ‘grappling with impostor syndrome‘.  It’s by a philosopher so be sure to take it with a grain of salt, since ‘philosophers are the patriarchs of heretics’ as our friend Tertullian rightly put it.

Deane tweeted – @dorhamidbar “When we analyze QAnon data, what we find is that… if you’re sort of conspiracy-minded, if you have strong populist views, and if you have a lot of Manichean thinking… — that’s a pretty big predictor of believing in QAnon.”

Looking for an award? The Palestine Exploration Fund has a couple to give out. You may be suitable for one of them.

We lost a giant in October.  On the 25th of the month the inestimable Ulrich Wilckens passed away at the age of 93.  His work in New Testament is epoch making.


Last Month’s Carnival is here.  And here are those coming up in the next months:

189 November 2021 (Due December 1) – Bob MacDonald at Dust @drmacdonald
190 December 2021 (Due January 1) – Phillip Long, Reading Acts @plong42

You should host a carnival.  They’re a lot of fun, and Phil sure could use the help.  He’s a good guy.  Tweet him and let him know that you’re a good person too.


NB– Zwingli was butchered on October 11, 1531 by the papists at Kappel-am-Albis.  And since this carnival covers the month of October, I am duty bound to make mention of it.  Sure, it’s not ‘biblical studies’ per se, but daggnabbit it’s my carnival.  When you do your Carnival, you can include lesser persons.

“Documents, Places, and Practices of Women’s Incarceration in Antiquity“

“Documents, Places, and Practices of Women’s Incarceration in Antiquity“, Mark Letteney, University of Southern California & Matthew D. C. Larsen, University of Copenhagen.

The presentation this evening was fantastically interesting and immensely informative. If you missed it, be sure to get the book where the research will appear in 2022.

Other sessions of the PSCO are coming.  Sign up.  Sit in.

Are Journalists Completely Unfamiliar with History?

Judahite Temple by Jerusalem May Have Housed Statue of Canaanite God. A relief fragment found in a shrine similar to Solomon’s Temple looks suspiciously like a Canaanite deity, suggesting the cult of images and multiple gods was alive and well in biblical Judah.

Really? well pilgrim, anyone who has ever even bothered to read any of the Hebrew Bible knows that Judah was festooned with gods and images and that they even had a place in the very Temple in Jerusalem itself. Scan Ezekiel, for one example. Or Isaiah. Or Kings. or Samuel.

Good grief.

A fragment of what may be a depiction of an ancient Canaanite deity has been found in seemingly the most unthinkable place: a Judahite shrine near Jerusalem from the time of King Solomon’s fabled Temple. The shrine also closely resembles the biblical descriptions of that First Temple and is seen as reflecting the beliefs and rituals that were upheld in Jerusalem at the time.

If the discovery is verified, it would be tangible evidence confirming the long-standing suspicion that, in the First Temple period, starting 3,000 years ago, the religion of the ancient Israelites was very different from the aniconic, monotheistic faith that Judaism later became. The Israelites apparently didn’t confine their adoration to Yahweh but worshipped a pantheon of gods, including the infamous Baal.

Oh come on. Come on. Take a history class.

The emphasis here is on the “if” because researchers are being very cautious about how they interpret this weathered stone, which was found in the temple of the ancient community of Motza, just six kilometers from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The putative artifact may be a stone that has broken off in a most unusual way, but it is more plausible that it was part of a manmade relief depicting the legs of a standing figure. That would be typical of Levantine and Canaanite religious imagery in which deities, rulers and mythical beings were portrayed standing, archaeologists say.

The enigmatic stone was embedded in one of the massive walls of the Motza temple and was spotted this summer by the archaeologist Shua Kisilevitz, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv University who co-directs the dig together with Prof. Oded Lipschits.

“This section had been previously excavated but hadn’t been properly cleaned,” says Kisilevitz. “It’s not surprising that we initially missed it, but this is one of those cases in which once you see it you can’t unsee it.”

Unless the researchers are suffering from a collective optical illusion, the relief indeed shows the lower limbs of a figure with its feet pointing in the same direction, which, across the ancient Near East, was often a pose used in depictions of smiting storm deities like Baal, Kisilevitz notes.

“Because this is so weathered and worn, there is always a chance that it was naturally formed. It’s possible but not plausible,” she says. “If we accept this is a manmade relief, then this becomes extremely exciting.”

*Insert massive optic nerve snapping eyeroll here.

Publications By the Late Eilat Mazar: A Guest Post by Amihai Mazar

eilat-mazar-holds-jar-frragment-from-10th-c_credit-ouria-tadmorDr. Eilat Mazar who passed away on May 25 2021, published the results of her vast work in Jerusalem in the private publishing house Shoham Publications. All publication are printed in color and are lavishly illustrated. The following is a list of available publications.

Orders should be sent to Avital Mazar at Prices don’t include shipping.

Final reports 

The Summit of the City of David Excavations 2005-2008, Final Reports Volume 1 (2015, 543 pp., English, ISBN 978-965-7726-00-6, 70$)

(Final report on the excavation below the Northern Tower in the city of David, includes new details on the Stepped Stone Structure and large collection of finds from the Iron Age and Persian periods, including an important collection of inscribed seal impressions on bullae. With the participation of seventeen scholars)

The Ophel Excavations to the South of the Temple Mount 2009-2013. Final Reports Volume 1 (2015, English, 640 pp, ISBN 978-965-7726-01-3, 70$)

(First volume of final report on the excavations in the Ophel. Includes chapters on the Iron Age and Byzantine periods, including the Byzantine gold treasure; with the participation of nineteen scholars)

The Ophel Excavations to the South of the Temple Mount 2009-2013. Final Reports Volume  2 (2018, 393 English, pp, ISBN 978-965-7726-02-0, 70$)

(second  final report on the excavations in the Ophel. Includes chapters Iron Age and Herodian periods, with the participation of twelve scholars)

The Walls of the Temple Mount (2011, two volumes, ISBN 978-965-90299-7-6, 167$).

(detailed survey and history of research of the Temple Mount walls, carried out in collaboration with Y.Shalev, P. Reuven, J. Steinberg  and B. Balogh, two volumes with original photographs and panoramic drawings of the temple mount walls)

Popular publications and preliminary reports

The Monastery of the Virgins (1998, English,  19$)

(popular account of the discovery of houses with depictions of the Menorah south of Robinson’s Arch)

Preliminary Report on The City of David Excavations (2005, 87 pp. 19$)

(first preliminary report on the excavations on the summit of the City of David)

The Palace of King David, Excavations at the Summit of the City of David. Preliminary Report of Seasons  2005-2007 (2011, Hebrew 978-965-90299-4-5, English ISBN 978-965-90229-, 100 pp, 19$)

(second preliminary report on the excavation on the summit of the City of David)

Discovering the Solomonic Wall in Jerusalem (2011, English, 167 pp, ISBN 978-965-90299-69, 36$)

(semi-popular account of the excavation of monumental Iron Age structures in the “Ophel” site)

The Discovery of the Menorah Treasure at the Foot of the Temple Mount (2013, Hebrew or English editions, 94 pp)

(popular account of the outstanding discovery of the  gold treasure with Jewish symbols in the Ophel Hill)

The Seal Impressions of King Hezekiah and Isaiah. Amazing Archaeological Discoveries (2019, English, ISBN  978-965-7726-03-7, 22$)

Popular account of the discovery of Hebrew bullae including the seal impression of King Hezekiah  in the Ophel hill)

Over The Crossroads of Time: Jerusalem’s Temple Mount Monumental Staircases (2020, 220 pp. English, ISBN 978-965-7726-04-4,  36$)

(Study of the architectural history of Robinson Arch, with a new interpretation  based on Benjamin Mazar’s excavations)

Additional monographs by Eilat Mazar

Achziv Phoenician cemeteries: three volumes published in the series Cuadernos de Arqueología Mediterránea, Barcelona in the years 2001, 2004, 2009-2010

Four final reports volumes on the Temple Mount excavations directed by Benjamin Mazar published in Qedem, Monographs of the Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University  of Jerusalem Nos. 29, 43, 46, 52 (available through the  Israel exploration Society  (also available also in JSTOR).

Amihai Mazar

Digging Up Kathleen Kenyon: An Examination of the Archaeological Career of Dame Kathleen Kenyon

Kathleen’s career spanned almost 4 decades and three continents, and every era of human history from the Neolithic to late Medieval period. She spent a formative period working with Mortimer and Tessa Wheeler at St Alban’s – Verulamium, and had a particular connection with Palestine, where her work was especially influential and indeed revolutionary. She developed new standards of excavation which have formed the basis for much field archaeology ever since. As a personality she inspired great loyalty and devotion from those who worked with her, but also sometimes divided opinion. This lecture will chart the development of her archaeological career and assess her lasting legacy to the discipline.

Speaker: Felicity Cobbing – Executive and Curator of the Palestine Exploration Fund in London.

Date & Time: Thursday 30th September 7.30-9pm,

Cost: £10 (students £6)

Venue:  Alban Room, St Albans Cathedral & Online via Zoom.

If you’d like to attend the event but are not free to join us live, please do buy a ticket and you’ll receive a link to the recording on the day of the event.