Via Niels Peter Lemche-
“This fragment is supposed to be 3000 years old, but I have evidence proving that is about seven years older!”
Dr. 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 email@example.com. Prices don’t include shipping.
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 http://israelexplorationsociety.huji.ac.il/ (also available also in JSTOR).
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.
Via Joseph Lauer-
Archaeology is fun! Begin with a text, find some material evidence of something, tie it to a biblical text, and voila, the Bible is proven and the material evidence is the hard fact of what you already think you know!
[Maybe one day archaeological evidence will be allowed to speak for itself].
The writing was deciphered by epigraphic expert Christopher Rollston of George Washington University, who discerned the letters yod (albeit broken at the top), resh, beit, ayin, lamed – YRBA’L, i.e., Jerubbaal. The original inscription had been longer but is lost, the archaeologists surmise.
Read the whole. It includes this sage reminder-
As for who Jerubbaal may have been remains unclear – he could have been anybody. But based on timing and location, the archaeologists surmise that he may have been none other than the biblical figure Gideon (also known as Jerubbaal), son of Joash the Abiezrite, whose activities are described at length in the book of Judges.
It could have been anybody. Which is exactly what we would think if the Bible never mentioned Jerubbaal.
And there’s archaeological evidence. Torah? Meh….
The Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology, a new open-access online journal, published by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and edited by Yosef Garfinkel and Avraham Faust.
You can find more information on the journal here: https://jjar.huji.ac.il/about
The first issue is a special issue on “State Formation Processes in the 10th Century BCE Levant” (edited by A. Faust, Y. Garfinkel and M. Mumcuoglu). The issue is over 500 pages long, and includes 16 papers, which can be downloaded here: https://jjar.huji.ac.il/all-articles
There’s a neat little article on the topic today over at The Ancient Near East Today. Give it a read.
Joan doth tweet-
Free for download now on the PEF site, the still-relevant book I wrote with Shimon Gibson: Beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: The Archaeology and Early History of Traditional Golgotha (snappy title). Enjoy! Thank you.
What did you do with your Spring? How did your June go? The folk mentioned below carried on. Did you? May their industriousness motivate you to do something in July. The year is half over. Don’t let the second half be wasted. Go to the ant, thou sluggard, or at least go to the bloggers!
You probably missed most of this but you still have one day to attend- Registration (free) now open for the CenSAMM conference (29 June to 1 July 2021) on apocalyptic and millenarian movements. James Crossley is one of the most important parts of the center and steers it well, so it’s certainly something to keep an eye on for things to come.
Sadly word came on the second of June that Gerd Luedemann had died. He was quite the provocateur. The David Friedrich Strauss of our time (as I once told him). He will be missed. Richard Longenecker also died in June, on the 7th. He was remembered by James Ernest of Eerdmans. And Javier Garcia, on the faculty at George Fox, passed away on June 19 due to a surfing accident. He is remembered by the University President. What sad news for his family and friends.
Dirk Obbink had a bad June. Hobby Lobby sued him. Your month was probably better than his.
Are you interested in memory studies? Do you remember why? Well maybe Tavis can help. He describes what he calls ‘new directions in memory studies’.
Bart Ehrman discussed tenure in a very interesting post. Tenure is politics. That’s the takeaway from the first part of his post. Go read the whole. As we all know, by the by, it’s not what you know that matters, it’s who you know.
One of the more interesting posts in this category in June was on the intersection of the asterisk and the Bible. Really, really interesting.
If science and faith and Ben Witherington are your thing, then you’ll really enjoy this!
I did not know till today that Adrian Schenker had a blog. But he does. You may not know his name, but everyone involved in textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible does. He’s the editor in chief of BHQ. And he’s written a number of very useful and interesting things which you should read.
If paying for blog content is your thing, they you might want to check out Scot McKnight’s pay per view post on translations and how they …. well truth told, I don’t know what it’s about. It’s not visible. And I don’t pay for posts. Someone who does recommended it however and so I leave to you whether or not you’ll JSTOR it.
Many congratulations to John Collins upon his retirement! What an incredible career.
In the ‘Happy News’ department, the Bible Museum has finally re-opened after its long covid closing. Hooray! Yes, that’s THE Bible Museum. The one worth visiting. Not the one owned (basically) by Hobby Lobby in DC.
Finally some good news in higher academics:
@trschester – We’re relieved to hear that compulsory redundancies are no longer being sought in our Department. During this difficult time, we’ve been deeply grateful for the support and affirmation of our work from our students and external colleagues.
You know you want to attend a zoom series titled Circumcision, Gender, and Ethnicity in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, August 16/23/30, 2:00-4:00 PM BST. Sign up here.
Peter Enns is taking surfing lessons.
@peteenns – Did you miss the podcast yesterday? Don’t worry, we’ve just started our summer schedule to accommodate my surfing lessons.
It has nothing to do with anything but Pete Enns, surfing. I’d like you to imagine it. Podcasts and surfing. They are pretty much exactly the same thing. They last 3 seconds and when they’re over, no one remembers them.
Do you crave a job in academia? Well Louisville Seminary is looking for YOU! (If you meet certain qualifications which they cannot mention but which are understood by everyone on the committee).
Do NOT miss this erudite and descriptive and 100% accurate post on academic bullies and the playbook they invariably follow. You know some of these kinds of people. And if you don’t, I can send a list.
The international Conference on the Reception of Martin Niemoeller was reported on here. It was a fascinating series of lectures and if you missed them, they are nicely summarized in the aforementioned report. You can watch one of the panel discussions here.
Beth Allison Barr’s ‘Biblical Womanhood’ received a super review. You’ll want to read it. And you’ll want to read Beth’s book. Also reviewed in June was Kristin Du Mez’s brilliant ‘Jesus and John Wayne’ which you’ve surely read by now. And if not, go do it.
Allan Bevere does a podcast on the bible. This episode is on the bible. Other episodes probably are too. If you like podcasts, I guess you’d like this one. Unless you don’t like the bible (i.e., you’re a ‘progressive’ Christian and then, like Jefferson, you’ve hacked the bible apart and only kept the tiny fraction that you agree with).
Michael Pahl has some advice about looking more closely at Scripture so as to see things often missed.
Your crazy uncle Peter Enns is screaming at the clouds…. Literally this time.
Ordained Weslyan Women??????? What?????????? Enjoy.
@CbrJournal — CBR invites submissions on emerging methods & motifs in HB, NT, and Early Judaism. We’re creating a pipeline of articles that highlight new areas of study, esp. by authors most affected by the difficulties of the past years, incl. early career and underrepresented scholars.
There’s a new commentary on Jonah. And it looks pretty interesting. And, yeah, it appeared in May. But in my defense I didn’t hear about it till early June. So that’s why it’s included. And there’s a new commentary on Proverbs. I wonder if chapter 31 is complementarian. That ideology is super popular these days, like the new electric light bulb and the motorized car. And there’s a new commentary on Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. The ‘minor prophets are anything but minor.
If you only buy one book in July, buy ‘Voices from the Ruins: Theodicy and the Fall of Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible‘. It is the best treatment of the topic of theodicy yet published.
Do you like free books? And free books that are Festschriften? And that you can download now? Well if you do, this book’s for you: From Sherds to Landscapes.
A tweet about a book that has till now been in the price range of the upper classes but will now be available at a price point even the peasants can manage-
Jim Gordon reviewed Nijay Gupta’s book on Paul. He opines … as a sustained argument, this is a book rich in ideas, underpinned by even-handed research, and offering some positive alternatives to the defensive tactics of some scholars’ who reduce theological and exegetical disagreements to zero sum games.
I don’t know about any of that.
Thomas Renz wrote a commentary on some of the minor prophets and Eerdword asks some questions about it. Words about books which are words. What could be better. Amen.
Konrad Schmid and Thomas Roemer have published a new volume: The Joseph Story Between Egypt and Israel. It’s free.
Bill Arnal does a bit of juggling (but without the cool bowling pins or fire sticks) when he discusses two books at the same time along with their authors. He writes
Signs, Wonders, and Gifts (Eyl) and Having the Spirit of Christ (Bazzana) may occupy two separate hard-copy bodies, but they are united in one spirit.
And so he talks about them together. And concludes
I think that we students of ancient religions would discover that we do not, in fact, study “religion.” Rather, we seek to reimagine, reconstruct and narratively re-present the many different relationships—all variously organized, maintained, and enacted—between two broad (and graduated, and sometimes overlapping) species of ancient social agents: humans, and their gods.
Well okie dokie then.
James Spinti continues to add to his interesting list of posts regarding editing matters. If you are looking to publish, his suggestions will be of immense help.
Phil Long reviewed a new commentary on Romans. It looks awful. 😉
Luke Timothy Johnson chatted with Eerdmans about his recent books on Paul. I’m so glad people are finally writing about Paul. We’ve all been wearied by the interminable deluge of books on Jude, haven’t we… It’s nice to have something different for a change. We’ve all been Israelites in the desert eating the endless and boring manna of Jude and God has sent the quail of Paul. We will never tire of it! Amen…
The Cambridge Greek Lexicon has a little video about it which you’ll want to watch.
Rob Bradshaw’s website, where you can find all manner of things, (like hard to find books) turns 20 in a few months. If you aren’t familiar, take a look.
De Gruyter has a new page devoted to publications in religion and theology. It’s certainly worth checking regularly.
Scot McKnight showed up on the 700 Club talking about his book, Tov. Yes, that 700 Club. Yes, that Scot McKnight.
Thomas Romer and others published a preliminary report on the excavation at Kiriath-jearim, 2019. Thomas, by the way, has also received an incredible and prestigious honor (again). He really is a superstar.
The new editor of BAR answers a few questions about himself. He took up the post in March but the little interview wasn’t posted till June. BAR is getting better.
If you missed the fascinating Dead Sea Scrolls conference in early June you missed a real treat. Some of the sessions were recorded, though, and you can see them here. Sadly you won’t be able to watch Jodi Magness’ presentation on Qumran toilets if you missed it live, but you can read a good summary of it here. During the same conference a tour of Scripta Qumranica Electronica was given and it is quite a resource. It goes live for the public in November around SBL. For now, you can visit the ‘scrollery‘ as a guest.
Jim Davila had a post on the so called ‘Shapira Deuteronomy’ that’s worth a look.
More evidence that Egypt dominated the Levant during the entire history of pre-exilic Israel came to light in June. It was only the rise of the Babylonians which forced them back.
Aren Maeir announced the availability of abstracts and video recordings of a conference on the EB age.
They found a 1000 year old intact chicken egg in Jamnia! Which leads to a really interesting discussion of the introduction of chickens into Israel only during the Hellenistic age. Archaeology is amazing.
Robert Mazza gives a very interesting lecture on things archaeological over on the Tube of You. Give it a watch. You’ve already seen everything on Netflix. And if you want to see something else by Roberta, on Papyrology this time, then take a look at this.
There’s going to be a conference on Josephus in August and it’s online and it’s free to attend. Leading Josephus scholars are involved, so you may want to check it out.
Otherwise, not much went on in archaeology. I guess they’re all on vacation after Covid ended in May.
If you still haven’t gotten too much Mike Bird, then here’s an opportunity for even more in which he tells you what he’s going to tell you in the coming week. Up next, he’ll tell you what he’s going to tell you he’s going to tell you! Stay tuned! (PS- Scot McKnight does the same thing.)
James McGrath has a post on John the Baptist (not Methodist or Catholic or Episcopalian, BAPTIST) and cicadas…
The inestimable Steve Black offers some thoughts on the anger of Jesus in John 2. Give it your attention.
Check out the latest at the Greek New Testament Net for a full listing of the Greek manuscripts of Luke. I can’t find any ‘about’ info over there but does it really matter? It’s a great resource.
The Center for the Study of the New Testament Manuscripts has now digitized 2002 manuscripts! As they note
The number 2002 is an exciting number for us at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.
In the year 2002, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace founded CSNTM to utilize emerging technologies to preserve and study Greek New Testament Manuscripts. Every September we celebrate the anniversary of our team’s decision to locate and digitize Greek New Testament manuscripts and make them widely accessible for study.
Michael Bird wants to know if there is Christianity without Paul. Of course there is. Just ask Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James, Jude, and the fun filled author of Hebrews. Oh, and Jesus.
Phil Long took a look at the parable of the hidden treasure. You know what else is a hidden treasure? Me either.
If you are one of those people who believe in Dispensationalism and think there’s a rapture and a millenial reign and all that non-biblical nonsense then you’ll really, really enjoy this post which ties the corona virus to ‘end time’ speculation and all the cray-cray you would expect. (NB- I’m trying to be more ‘inclusive’ because people sometimes accuse me of being an elitist. Well with the inclusion of this madness, my magnanimous inclusivity is put on full display. So stop saying I’m elitist. K. Thnx. Bye).
Mark Goodacre and Jonathan Sheffield will debate gospel order towards the end of July. One likes Mark, the other Matthew. Both are wrong. We all know the first Gospel was ‘Q’.
The Center for the Study of NT Manuscripts has a feature it calls ‘manuscript Monday’. Here’s one worth checking out.
The rest of the New Testament people were on a break, or they were singing and practicing guitar.
Claude Marriottini highlights a person who enjoys the Old Testament, a lot. And talks about prophets and their callings. Bob MacDonald loves the Psalms more though, and he has some thoughts on assonance therein.
That ark won’t float… A replica of Noah’s ark has been detained at port as unseaworthy. Bummer.
Brian LePort (boy, there’s a name I haven’t heard in a while) has a post on what he calls the ‘key idea’ of the Hebrew Bible. Us old timers used to call that notion the belief that the scriptures contained a central idea or theme. For Eichrodt it was ‘covenant’ and for von Rad it was the ‘little historical credo’. They called it ‘Die Mitte der Schrift’. But there’s no such thing. The Hebrew Bible contains theologies, not a theology, just as the New contains theologies and not a theology.
Andrew Judd (I wonder if he’s related to Ashley Judd?) recommends a couple of books on the Old Testament for Christians who are ‘intimidated’ by it. Blerg.
St. Mary’s is lucky to have her. She’s fantastic.
A shocking post in which Pete Enns is right about something! (That’s the shocking part). Who ever thought any of us would live to see the day. And yet here it is. Surely the end of time is upon us.
Christian Brady had some thoughts on Fathers in the Old Testament. Buckle up.
How did we go from written text to printed bibles? Scot McKnight discusses. Behind a paywall.
Jim Davila has a word about Ezekiel and his chariot vision. You’ll not want to miss it. Or anything from Jim, the world’s longest serving biblioblogger, followed by Mark Goodacre and yours truly (Blogging the Bible: A Short History, in the Bulletin For the Study of Religion, September, 2010.)
Do you want to teach Hebrew at Oxford? Apply right away!
Are you a Hebrew Bible scholar but you pine to do something different? Is academia bringing you down? Do you want to play guitar and sing? Then you’ll enjoy this.
The next Carnival is coming soon-
Phil Long writes
if you want to be a part of the BiblioBlog world (or Carnival cult, whatever), contact me via email, firstname.lastname@example.org or DM on twitter (plong42) to discuss hosting a carnival in 2021. I would love to see some veteran bloggers volunteer for a month in 2021. If you are a new BiblioBlogger, this is a good way to get your blog some recognition. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about hosting a Biblical Studies Carnival in the second half for 2021.
Please sign up to host a Carnival. Phil has no one signed up after the next two.
This will be of interest to persons following the destruction of antiquities across the Near East-
Fassungslos blickte 2015 die Weltöffentlichkeit nach Palmyra – die antike Ruinenstadt war der Terrororganisation IS in die Hände gefallen. Der uralte Baaltempel, das heilige Zentrum zahlloser Kulturen, wurde gesprengt. Doch ist Kulturzerstörung keine Erfindung der Gegenwart. Sie zieht sich wie ein blutiges Band durch die Jahrtausende. Hermann Parzinger schreitet die Horizonte der Barbarei ab, erzählt die Geschichte vernichteter Kulturschätze und hält ein fulminantes Plädoyer für den Schutz des Menschheitserbes und der künstlerischen Freiheit.
Seine Tour d´Horizont führt ihn von der Tilgung der Erinnerung im Alten Ägypten und den Großreichen Mesopotamiens über die Zerstörung des Tempels von Jerusalem durch die Römer im Jahr 70 n. Chr. weiter durch die Bilderstürme der Reformation und der französischen Revolution bis hin zu den Verheerungen des europäischen Kolonialismus, dem Zivilisationsbruch des Nationalsozialismus und darüber hinaus bis in unsere Tage. Immer wieder wird deutlich, dass gezielte Verwüstungen und Plünderungen von traditions- und identitätsstiftenden Kulturgütern auch Ausdruck eines neuen Deutungs- und Herrschaftsanspruchs waren. Doch waren jenseits machtpolitischer, ideologischer oder religiöser Beweggründe Bilderstürme häufig auch von handfesten finanziellen Interessen geleitet: Raub und Enteignungen erweisen sich bei näherem Hinsehen geradezu als systematische Vermögensumverteilung. So erwartet Leserinnen und Leser ein Buch von schmerzlicher Aktualität, das uns zugleich die Kostbarkeit der kulturellen Zeugnisse auf allen Kontinenten vor Augen führt.
This extraordinarily interesting and important historical work is comprised of the following chapters:
1. Die Anfänge im Altertum
2. Die Umbrüche in der Spätantike
3. Der byzantinische Bilderstreit
4. Das Spätmittelalter und die Präludien der Reformation
5. Die Frühe Neuzeit und die Reformation
6. Die Französische Revolution und ihre Folgen
7. Das Zeitalter kolonialer Eroberungen
8. Die Umbrüche im frühen 20. Jahrhundert
9. Der Nationalsozialismus und seine Folgen
10. Die Zeit nach 1945
11. Der islamistische Ikonoklasmus
Immediately apparent is the grand sweep of the work, including discussion, as it does, of the kinds of destruction of cultural artifacts which have taken place across a wide spectrum of societies and eras. From antiquity through the Byzantine period and the Reformation and up to the Nazi era and modern Islamic fundamentalist obliterations, this work, by a world class specialist, details how cultures have been damned and destroyed through the destruction of their cultural artifacts.
Hermann Parzinger is the President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and is a trained archaeologist. Among his many honors is his winning of the Leibniz Prize; and he was the first archaeologist so to be honored. He has authored over a dozen books and this latest is a prime example of both his scholarship and his ability to communicate even the most complex historical data cogently and plainly.
Along with text, the book also features 47 photos and images and additionally, for the book lover, it also has a ribbon place marker sewn in. Also included are indices of persons and places as well as endnotes and a very thorough bibliography.
One of the more important aspects of the present monograph is the fact that readers are clearly shown how cultural destruction is more than mere ruination of materials or the damnation of a memory; it is an ideological, political, and theological renunciation of the things destroyed and of the things represented by those things. It is no mere plundering or vandalism; it is the extinction of the enemy and their ways. That is the ultimate goal. This is the case in the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Romans in 70 CE as much as it is in the Taliban’s destruction of Buddhist monuments in the Middle East and in the destruction of images and icons in the era of the Reformation. Damnatio memoriae is not the aim; total damnation is.
Another amazing aspect of the work is how plainly it portrays the worldwide nature of the phenomenon of damnation and obliteration of cultures. The Islamic fundamentalists and the Nazis and the Romans and the Reformers and others share the same goals and aims: the removal of all vestiges of competing cultures and ideologies. This common practice is astonishingly proven in Parzinger’s work.
If you are interested in cultural history; the history of religion; or indeed, in human history in general, this is a volume that you should read. Right away. I cannot recommend it too highly.
Do NOT miss this-
Via Aren *The Archaeologicator* Maeir-
On Thursday, April 22, 2021, the RIAB Minerva Center in collaboration with the Institute of Archaeology, Bar-Ilan University, conducted an online workshop “Cult and Interaction in the Early Bronze and Intermediate Bronze Age,” which was organized by Kristina Reed and Shira Albaz.
How did Jews in the land of Israel use the toilet some 2,000 years ago? What kind of facilities did they build, and which social habits did they develop?
Some answers are offered by the legendary Dead Sea Scrolls and the archaeological remains in ancient Qumran, Prof. Jodi Magness, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, revealed in an online lecture on Monday.
Speaking at the Dead Sea Scrolls organized by New York University, the Antiquities Authorities (IAA) and the Friends of the IAA, Magness explained how combining the information provided by some toilets unearthed in the region with some texts on the topic featured in the scrolls and written by other contemporary authors, a solution to a great dilemma can be found to the question of whether ancient Jews used to relieve themselves sitting or squatting.
“I got into all of this when way back in the 1990s, the first volume of the final reports on de Vaux excavations was published, and while reading through it, I noticed a reference by de Vaux to an installation that he found in one of the rooms at Qumran, Lucas 51, which he identified possibly as a toilet,” Magness said, referring to the work of Roland de Vaux, a Catholic priest and archaeologist who was director of the Ecole Biblique et Archéologique Française in Jerusalem between 1945 and 1965.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a corpus of some 25,000 fragments unearthed in caves by the Dead Sea in the 1940s and 1950s. The artifacts include some of the most ancient manuscripts of the Bible, other religious texts that were not accepted in the canon as well as nonreligious writings.
Qumran was the nearby settlement, which some experts believe was home to a specific Jewish sect, the Essenes, who many identified as the authors of the scrolls, or at least of a significant part of them.
The toilet found in Qumran was found adjacent to a ritual bath and was dug in the dirt floor of the room. Its sides were covered in dirty mud and a terracotta pipe, with some stones found around it.
According to Magness, in spite of the lack of a toilet seat at the site, its original presence might be deduced by evidence that several similar toilets were uncovered in the region, including in the City of David in Jerusalem.
Therefore, while squatting toilets were known to exist in the ancient Near East, it appears they were not the kind of facilities used by ancient Judeans, she said.
“We can find out more about the toilet habits of the Qumran sect based on information from the Dead Sea Scrolls,” she added.
Toilets were referred to as “place of the hand.”
“There shall be a space between all their camps and the place of the hand, about two thousand cubits, and no unseemly evil thing shall be seen in the vicinity of their encampment,” reads a passage from the so-called ‘War Scroll’ (1QM).
“And you shall make them a place for a hand outside the city, to which they shall go out, to the northwest of the city – roofed houses with pits within them into which the excrement will descend, so that it will not be visible at any distance from the city, three thousand cubits,” an excerpt from the “Temple Scroll” (11 QT) prescribes.
A vivid testimony of the issue is also provided by Josephus, who wrote that the group would refrain from defecating on Shabbat, and on weekdays they would find remote spots, cover the excrement and purify themselves afterward – even though it was not required by the laws of Jewish purity.
“If we boil it down, this group had two main points of concern with regard to the toilet habits,” Magness said. “One was shielding defecation and excrement from God’s view and from the views of others as something that is indecent that must be shielded. The second was an association of defecation and excrement with ritual impurity.”
It was a super presentation with loads of great slides.
By combining two major databases (the digital images of all known Qumran fragments at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, IAA, Jerusalem, and the textual and linguistic data for all texts included in the Qumranwörterbuch, Qumran Dictionary, at Göttingen Academy), SQE brings together scholars of the Scrolls and AI as well as database specialists on the one hand, as well as a broader public on the other hand. The highly customized and cutting-edge tools will enable scholars and students of the Scrolls (and more than 25.000 fragments) deeper insights than previously thought possible.
Check it out. The site will go live and all its materials accessible for all around the time SBL meets in November. For now, it’s information on the project only.
And that’s why Iron Age Judeans didn’t fret about the fish they ate. There were no laws about such things in effect then.
Read your Wellhausen, people.
Yonatan Adler, senior lecturer in archeology at Ariel University on the West Bank, told CNN that he and his colleague Omri Lernau, from University of Haifa in Israel, wanted to use archeology to pinpoint the exact time when ancient Judeans became aware of the Torah and started to observe it in everyday life. “We have in two places in the Torah, (in) Leviticus and Deuteronomy, a prohibition against eating finless and scaleless fish,” he explained. “What we found was that throughout the Iron Age … there’s no evidence that Judeans or Israelites were abstaining from scaleless fish,” he said.
Again, because no laws existed restricting fish.
As a result, say the study authors, their findings call for a rethink of the assumption that long-held traditions were the basis for the food laws as described in the Torah. Adler said more research needs to be done to pinpoint exactly when Judeans began to abstain from scaleless fish, adding that there is a gap in his team’s data for the Hellenistic period (332 B.C. to 63 B.C.) — the time between the Persian and Roman periods.
Again, because no laws existed restricting fish.
“Afterwards, during the Roman period, when we find Judean assemblages of fisher remains, they are almost completely absent of prohibited fish,” he said.
Well sure… because that postdates the Persian period.
The essay appeared in Tel Aviv- and is, thankfully, freely available. So read it instead of the CNN bitlet.