More Dead Sea Scrolls On the Horizon?

Newly discovered caves may hold more Dead Sea Scrolls

Though no new manuscripts found so far, archaeologists are hopeful after unearthing objects at Qumran used in the storage of ancient scripts.

Don’t believe it if manuscripts are found if they don’t come from fully documented, fully photographed, archaeological digs conducted by actual archaeologists.  Suspect fraud, in other words, and be skeptical unless given very, very good reason to believe otherwise.

Skepticism is the only proper academic attitude when it comes to new ‘discoveries’.

Claims That Pilate’s Ring Have Been Found Should Provoke Healthy Skepticism…

Or you lot haven’t learned a bloody thing from the Museum of the Bible Dead Sea Scrolls fiasco.

Ha’aretz reports

Ring of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate Who Crucified Jesus Found in Herodion Site in West Bank

The ring was found during a dig led by Professor Gideon Forster from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem 50 years ago, but only now has the inscription been deciphered.

Oh sure.  RT says

His name was deciphered on the ring after it, and thousands of other finds, were handed over to the team currently working on the historical site. Pilate was an infamous Roman governor of Jerusalem in the years 26 to 36 who also allegedly ran Jesus’ trial.

After a thorough cleansing, the ring was photographed using a special camera at the Israel Antiquities Authority Labs, revealing the crucial name. The stamping ring bears a picture of a wine vessel surrounded by Greek writing that translated into “Pilatus.”

What are the exact provenance details?  Any photos of the find in situ?  If not why not?  What details does the ‘official’ publication in IEJ have that aren’t included in the sensationalist press releases?

Be skeptical, people.  Sure, the find might turn out to be totally legit.  But if you aren’t skeptical you aren’t doing your job as a scholar.

UPDATE:  Phil Long writes on the Biblical Studies group page:

Here is a link to the Times of Israel article, not behind a paywall. Good photograph and rendering of the ring. From the article, “The scientific analysis of the ring was published in the stalwart biannual Israel Exploration Journal last week, by the 104-year-old Israel Exploration Society.” The article in IEJ was entitled, “An Inscribed Copper-Alloy Finger Ring from Herodium Depicting a Krater,” but that does not sell newspapers. 

Key quote: “The authors, however, conclude that there is nothing in the ring’s design that makes it particularly either Roman or elite. They write that during the Second Temple period, the vessel “served as a meaningful Jewish symbol on sealing rings.””…/

So what we have, once again, is an unsubstantiated, exaggerated claim without any scholarly underpinning. Just in time for Christmas…

Aren Maeir is Offering a MOOC on Archaeology

You should sign up-

Dear colleagues, friends, Minervites and Safiites,

Hi! I would like to bring to your attention, or remind you about, the online Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled: “Biblical Archaeology: The archaeology of ancient Israel and Judah”, which will commence next week, on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018.

This innovative course, which I believe in many ways is a first for courses on the archaeology of the ancient near east in general and Israel/Palestine specifically, will deal with the archaeology of Israel/Palestine/Southern Levant during the Iron Age, with specific focus on Israel and Judah, and will also deal with other cultures as well.

The course will not only introduce Iron Age archaeology, but will also serve as a general introduction to archaeology, discussing theory and methods as used in archaeological research today. The course will include 8 “lessons” that will go online once a week. Each lesson will include several subsections, each with several short videos, texts to read, various activities for the students (including 3D models of choice archaeological objects so that students can “hold” some of the objects), and knowledge checks and quizzes. In addition, there are reading materials (mandatory and recommended). A very special part of the course are several interviews with leading scholars in Biblical Archaeology and related topics.

The course is open for all (all you have to do is register at: While it is aimed as an introductory course (equivalent of a one semester course) for students without any background, I believe it can serve as a nice introduction to archaeology and to biblical archaeology for students studying archaeology and related fields.

In addition, I believe it would be very nicely incorporated in a more advanced class, in which sections of the MOOC could be shown and discussed and debated (and I’m sure there is plenty to debate…).

Please bring this to the attention of your colleagues, students and interested lay people, who will join the hundreds who have already signed up for the course!

See below the course trailer.

If I may add, working on the course has been a very enjoyable and enhancing learning experience for me! This is a new method of learning/teaching, which I feel is a nice example of putting some fresh directions into the methods used in traditional academic teaching. I have tried in the course to convey my excitement both for archaeology, and also for this new method of teaching!

I hope you, your colleagues and students, who will sign up for the course, will thoroughly enjoy it – and of course – argue with me about all kinds of things that are in the course!

Once again, here is the link to the course:

All the best,

Frank Cross on Unprovenanced Artifacts

“I am indeed to be included among those who think that artifacts, particularly those bearing inscriptions, should be published whether dug up in scientifically controlled excavations or dug up by plundering antiquities dealers, collectors or their minions. Inscribed artifacts have so much—I am tempted to say most—to contribute to history and culture that they dare not be discarded and ignored. . . . To throw away inscriptional materials because they come from illicit digs (or forgers) is in my opinion irresponsible, either an inordinate desire for certitude on the part of those without the skills or energy to address the question of authenticity or the patience to wait until a consensus of scholars can be reached. It is noteworthy that those most eloquent in denouncing the publication of material from illicit digs are narrow specialists, especially dirt archaeologists.

Via, with further thoughts on the topic and the ironic quote of the editor of BAR (ironic given BAR’s history of publishing whatever regardless of provenance).

Interestingly, whether he intended to or not, Cross and his like-minded friends who think provenance doesn’t matter set the stage for fraud, looting, and forgery.  The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

Unprovenanced materials are trash from the perspective of historical reconstruction.  Trash.  Feel free to use trash if you wish, but your conclusions will be trash as well.

The September Biblical Studies Carnival: A Learning Extravaganza At the Fair

Below you’ll find a whole midway of Biblical Studies learning.  Check out the Hebrew Bible Hoop Shot, The New Testament Nacho Stall, the Archaeology Arcade, The Miscellaneous Mouse Coaster, and the Book Bumble Bee!  There are enough thrills here to delight even the most stoic scholar or student.  Or even the most angry of the angriest angry atheists.

At the Gate

Before you proceed one step further, you HAVE to read Dan Wallace’s post on the importance of the biblical languages in theological education.  Go do it now.

The Hebrew Bible Hoop Shot

It’s time to try your skills with the round ball and see how many points you can score by reading the posts described.  To start off, give a read to this essay which is over on Travis Bohlinger’s blog on teaching Hebrew Bible outside of your confessional boundaries if you aren’t Jewish.

There’s some Hebrew Bible stuff noted by Jose here.  3 points.

Mid October be sure not to miss the Annual Genizah Lecture if you are in or around Cambridge.  If you attend, you get three points.

John Rogerson lectured, shortly before his death (on 4 September, 2018- may he rest in peace), on the forgiveness of sin.  Give it a watch.  Deane has also assembled other lectures by Rogerson on things like the Kingdom of God and the Prophets.

James Tabor (my best friend from olden times) posted an interesting snippet on the Messiah before Jesus.  Give it a read.

The LXX readers edition editors are very excited about pre-publication endorsings.  You may be too.  Personally I’m very excited about the volume’s appearance.  In spite of the fact that I haven’t seen it…

Semitica is out with a new volume, number 60, edited by Langlois and Römer.

Did you know that Song of Songs was the most popular book of the Bible in the Middle Ages?  Yup.  Thanks, weird ‘Jesus is my boyfriend’ mystic loons.  Read the post.  It’s good.

The New Testament Nacho Stall

Time for a snack, on New Testament cheesy nachos.  First up, the British New Testament Society annual meeting was held at St Mary’s, Twickenham.  There was plenty of tasty tacos and buttery biscuits and cotton candy to be had by all who attended.  The conference, open to all who are duly qualified, meets every September somewhere in the UK.

Christian Brady has some observations about the Syro-phonecian woman.  Spicy!

Nympha, anyone?  Nympha and the letter to the Colossians?  Well here’s your post!  Give it a read.  It’s spicy!

Michael Jones has some great stuff (jalapeno-esque) to say about Schweitzer and Paul and suffering.  Michael has been friends with Timothy Bertolet for a long time, so he’s something of an expert on suffering.

For pity’s sake… stop with the goat talk.  Richard Goode is behind this.  Richard *The Goat* Goode is a bad, bad, bad, bearded, bad man.

Conrad Gempf (LST) gave a 20 minute talk on Jesus and the Scriptures.  Enjoy.  It’s got a bit of onion but cheesy onion nachos are super.

Lauren Larkin on Luke.  Lovely.  Look.  It’s laudable.

Did you know that Mark’s use of the Old Testament is important for understanding his Christology?  Wow.  Next, we discover that water, when liquid, is wet, and we then learn that a bullet to the head can be seriously injurious!!!!!  More cheese please!

Christian Brady did a video lecture for a group and even though it posted at the tail end of August, I’m including it here, because I know you never saw it:

Phil Long did a series of posts on the Sermon on the Mount.  Here’s the kickoff.  And you can find the rest on his blogge.

Here’s a recap of the BNTS annual meeting.  Nice work, Travis…  Travis seems like a nice person though he may well not be.  I don’t know.  I’ve not met him.  He may be a serial killer.  Who knows.  Anyway, read his post.  It’s not like he can reach through your screen and strangle you.

Luke 23:46… in music….  Okie dokie.  That’s nacho-esque right there.  Very nacho-esque.

Jimbob Snapp has some interesting comments about Mark 7:3f.  It’s a load of nachos without too much cheese.  (But I wish he had a better blog layout.  I don’t like the aesthetics of it.  That’s just me, and I’m not being judgy, but it reminds me of the 1st generation America Online style and it hurts my soul and senses).

Mike Bird has some interesting things to say about the book of Revelation and the doctrine of revelation.  Give it a read.  It’s just mildly cheesy.

The Archaeology / Dead Sea Scrolls Arcade

Test your skills and see if you can tell the fakes from the real thing.  One thing’s certain; the articles from Dead Sea Discoveries and made freely available to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the journal are anything but fakes.

Israel Finkelstein lectured in Zurich and the three lectures have been posted on the University’s theology department YouTube page.  Enjoy.  There’s lot’s of wisdom there.

Michael Langlois was in Australia talking about forgery stuff.  If you missed it, you missed it.

Did they find the church where the First Council of Nicaea was held nearly 1700 years ago?  Maybe.  The evidence sure seems to be there.  If they did, well that’s just pretty cool.  And I can’t wait to see how BAR exaggerates it!  Fun times!

On the other hand, 9 Dead Sea Scrolls ‘discovered’ in recent years are obviously fakes.  Well, I mean obvious to everyone but BAR readers.  But, speaking of the Scrolls, T&T Clark published what will be a standard volume for study of the Scrolls on the 20th.  It’s a massive volume with massive amounts of information.

If you would like to learn archaeology from an actual archaeologist- take Aren Maeir’s MOOC – coming soon!  It looks fantastic.

The Miscellaneous Mouse Coaster

Sit back, relax, and prepare to be turned upside down and lose all the change in your pocket.  Michael Bird has some thoughts on dealing with predatory priests drawn from Basil.  If only the Romanists would follow Basil’s guidance.

Ready to be really horrified?  Then hop on the academic publisher paywall exploitation express!  Yeah, I’m looking right at you JSTOR.

There’s still time for you to make plans to attend the Mowinckel Memorial Lecture, given in November by the brilliant Anne Katrine Gudme.

The Museum of the Bible… some don’t like it.  Peter talks about how Alexander talks about it.  It’s worth talking about their talking about it but it itself is something each person on their own has to decide their feely feelings about without having their sentiments dictated to them from Iowa or Yale or Birmingham.  Make up your own minds, sheeple.

Get your calendar (or diary, if you’re a Britlander) and take note of the dates of the 2019 meeting of IOSCS.  And if that meeting doesn’t make your heart pound maybe Syriac Bootcamp will…  Man that sounds terrifying.  I don’t know, but I think they make you eat Syriac and drink Syriac and carry around big heavy bags of Syriac and sleep on Syriac and it all seems so cruel.  But maybe you’re into that…

Randy B. takes a look at the Golden Mouth and Calvin.  Sure, it’s not something related to the Bible but it’s a good post so I’m including it.  If you don’t like it, be sure to comment below….

Interesting lecture here about those who like and those who don’t like Semites, in biblical studies.  And thanks, Deane.  Speaking of Deane Galbraith, he wins the post title of the month with this one: An Assmannian Global Spirituality Index.  Germans have such funny names.  And talk about a roller coaster stomach churning plunge…

There was a lot of discussion of Nike this month.  Randy did the best job of discussing it.  You should read it.  Strictly speaking, it’s not a biblical studies post- but it does have to do with biblical interpretation/application and that’s a good enough reason to include it here.

Hey, go work at Emory!  If your thing is New Testament, that is.  They already have Jacob Wright, so they don’t need anyone else for Hebrew Bible.

The Book Bumble Bee

Welcome to the stinging (of your bank account).

First up, the Logos free book of the month for September was Walter Kaiser’s ‘Preaching and Teaching the Last Things’.  It’s a different one now, because the free book for October is up.  And I don’t know what it is.  Because this post went live before the posting of the new free book of the month.  So go find out what it is.  And avoid Kaiser’s book because it’s fundamentalist rubbish.

Don’t miss Paula Fredriksen’s review of Matthew Thiessen’s book on Paul.

Michael Jones is sharing news of a 40th anniversary edition of Sanders’ ‘Paul and Palestinian Judaism’.  Go ahead and get a copy if you don’t already have one.  It’s quite a large book (which means it says far more than we know) and it is a real sleep aid / door stop / deadly weapon when hurled at an annoying person’s head!  It’s multi-purpose!

Evidently one or two people who read something called ‘Credo’ magazine must be mildly interested in actual biblical scholarship (I know, it shocked me too), because they convinced Will Ross to write something about the LXX.  I’m sure in their heads they read that ‘El, ex, ex’ and don’t know what it means.  Hopefully Will can help them.

Don’t read this terrible interview by the terrible Travis Bowlinger of the equally terrible Chris Le Keith.  Don’t do it.  It’s about a good series but the two principles of the post are terrible.  Terrible……..

Interested in the history of scholarship?  German scholarship?  German Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship?  If you answered yes, this will be of interest to you.

Do take a look at the post on the OUP blog about a new book on Darwinism.  You won’t regret it as much as you would a bee sting.


We hope you had fun.  But, really, it doesn’t matter.  Because we did.  As you leave, make sure you haven’t forgotten your children.  And here’s our final word, brought to you by Terry Eagleton:

“Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.” Terry Eagleton

Hahahahaha.  Dilettante owned.

See you next time!

Learn Archaeology from Aren Maeir!

Check out the trailer for Aren’s MOOC (massive open online course) “Biblical Archaeology: The archaeology of Ancient Israel and Judah,” which will be online from early December 2018 on the EdX platform.

The course will be the equivalent of a semester long course on the archaeology of Iron Age Israel and Judah. The course is open to all – and for a fee, one can receive a certificate from EdX or academic credit from Bar-Ilan University.

Check it out – and pass the word on to friends, colleagues and students – to sign up for the course as soon as registration is open!

A Brief Note on the Announcement of the Discovery of Cheese from Ancient Egypt

The following brief note is a guest post by the undersigned-

The researchers who announced the discovery of the most ancient cheese from an Ancient Egyptian context should at least mention the Egyptian pioneer researcher  – the chemist Zaky Iskander, the former director of the Cairo Museum Research Lab. Zaky Iskander identified cheese, already in 1942, in alabaster vessels from a tomb of the First Dynasty. He published this result together with his colleague Ahmed Zaky in  Annales du Service des Antiquités Égyptiennes 41 (1942), p. 295, p. 300. See Also A. Lucas and J.R. Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, London 1962, p. 330.

Prof. Orly Goldwasser
PI, ISF grant 735/17 “Classifying the Other”.
Head, Egyptology
Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Cooking in Cuneiform- A Guest Post by Alice Slotsky

Cooking in Cuneiform
Alice Slotsky, PhD Yale 1992 NELC

“When the lion makes soup, who says it’s not good?” (Sumerian proverb)

On behalf of scholarly standards, I do dare complain about the recent soup-making of the Yale Babylonian Collection: “What did ancient Babylonians eat? A Yale-Harvard team tested their recipes,” by Bess Connolly Martell (< tested-their-recipes>). It is astonishing to read that the culinary tablets “might have remained unused forever in a display case in the Yale Babylonian Collection were it not for an invitation to a cooking event…” Add a large cup of smelling salts to the numerous previous culinary events and research based on this material! Further, the brilliant, seminal work of Jean Bottéro on these difficult texts—deciphering, translating, interpreting, instructing— is not credited at all, but referred to as anonymous “old translations.” The following gives a representative sample of previous scholarship and cooking events, all of which acknowledged the essential impossibility of ever knowing exactly the ingredients, measures, and methods:

  • Jean Bottéro, “The Culinary Tablets at Yale,” JAOS 107 (1987), his presidential address to the AOS annual meeting.
  • “Mastering the Art of Babylonian Cooking,” New York Times, January 3, 1988.
  • Jean Bottéro, Textes culinaires Mésopotamiens/Mesopotamian Culinary Texts (1995). Jean Bottéro, The Oldest Cuisine in the World, transl. Theresa Lavender Fagan (2004). Alice Slotsky, SBL Forum “Cuneiform Cuisine: History Reborn at Brown” (2007).
  • Laura Kelly, “New Flavors for the Oldest Recipes,” Aramco World 63:6 (2012).
  • Alice Slotsky, BBC Science Documentary, “Ideas That Changed the World” (2012).
  • Prior cooking events in the U.S. include ones held on the following occasions: the AOS meeting in New Haven (1987); Brown University Department of Classics, Annual Cuneiform Cuisine (1999-2007); the Festschrift presented to B. R. Foster (2010); Harvard Semitic Museum, “A Taste of the Past” with Nawal Nasrallah (2015).
  • Several cookbooks have been published, such as Flavours of Babylon by Linda Dangoor (2011), and there are many ongoing blogs, for example, “The Silk Road Gourmet” by Laura Kelly. More popularized articles include “The Cuisine of Babylonia Comes Back Again in Tablet Form,” People Magazine (1988). Jean Bottéro appeared on several French television programs and had wide press coverage.

The June Biblical Studies Carnival Of Sadness: Dedicated to the Memory of Philip R. Davies

June kicked off with the worst possible news:  Philip Davies, a longtime friend and one of the absolute giants in our field, had died.  I posted a few things on that horrible dayI still miss him.  I always will.  In his honor this month’s Carnival is dedicated to his abiding memory- which, to those of us who knew him both personally and academically, will always be for a blessing.

NBBible and Interpretation has a collection of his essays- just scroll down till you come to it.  It also has an obituary by Thomas Thompson.  Lester Grabbe shares a few thoughts over at the SBL site, and duplicates the same on the EABS site. Deane has a series of video links to Philip talking about various interesting things.  I posted my own reflections about Philip hereAirton Jose de Silva has assembled a listing of the appallingly few posts on Philip’s life and passing.  Most appalling of all, to me, is the fact that the Palestine Exploration Fund, of which Philip has been President for several years, has said absolutely nothing!  It’s disgraceful.

Hebrew Bible/ LXX

Mark Scarlata of St Milletus is interviewed about his new commentary on Exodus.  A bit of happy news in the midst of sadness.  Bill Ross had some things to say about the Septuagint Reader’s Edition- a volume about which I am unnaturally excited.  Perversely excited.  Unduly excited.  Sinfully excited.

Codex Gigas, the ‘Devil’s Bible’, is the subject of this recording.  Give it a listen.

Do you like Assyrian and Babylonian medicine, magic, and divination?  Then here’s a book notice that you’ll particularly enjoy.

Happy news for OT scholars-  now freely available online, Barthélemy’s Critique textuelle de l’ancien Testament.  Yee haw.

They’re having a Symposium on the Septuagint down in Stellenbosch.  Will *The Giant* Ross has all the information including the schedule.

Lester Grabbe has a new book out on science and faith.  Surely it will be of interest to everyone on the sphere. Or at least to some of you.

They talk about Bob Miller’s new book on dragons and other things like that over on a book news blog site.

Second Temple exegesis?  From the perspective of Bar Ilan University?  Now that’s fun.  Way more fun than a visit to the dentist or having a cruel Professor insist that you read something by NT Wright (which in Europe is now classified as cruel and unusual punishment!).

Rafael Frankel has a brief note on Shishak that’s worth a couple of minutes of your time.  Shishak.  Shishak.

Konrad Schmid has written a fantastic piece titled ‘Who Wrote the Torah?‘  Give it your full attention.

Michael Langlois was interviewed by ‘Campus Protestant‘ about the Bible and I’m sad to report that he didn’t mention either me nor The Commentary once.  Meanie pants.

The British Museum is opening a new exhibition on Ashurbanipal and in the run up they have a load of info on their blog.  Be sure to give it a look.

New Testament

LDAB posted a really neat little table of the New Testament books in a list with a link to the oldest manuscript of that book.  Fun times for the text critics.

Crossley on cults.  What fun.

Langlois on Jesus.  What fun.

Walton on gaps.  What, fun?

Porter on metaphor.  What could be more fun (except GB Caird’s work – Language and Imagery of the Bible.)

Some odd stuff from Dan Wallace about that not first century fragment of Mark.  Worth your time if you’re one of the 19 people on the planet who care about 2nd century fragments that provide zero new information.

Young Dr Professor James Crossley, an up and coming academic superstar, gave a lecture on cults, martyrs and something else.  Give it a watch. Oh, and speaking of cults…

And Chris Tilling (who seems to have lost what remained of his hair) gave a lecture on Paul.  I didn’t watch it- but you may want to.  I’m suffering #PaulFatigue.  So many saying so little about the most uninteresting of all the New Testament writers.  Let’s get to work on John, or Peter, shall we ladies?

As SBL approaches, people are beginning to announce their paper deliveries.  Here’s one: Staging Bíos: A Diegetic and Mimetic Analysis of Speech in the Gospels within the Biographical Tradition.  Helloooooo, book hall!

And the BIG news in the New Testament world in June???   Settle back, take a sip of your favorite beverage (non alcoholic), and buckle up… for…. Chris…. Tilling…. actually…. blogged!!!!! Sure, it’s a totally uninteresting post but do you realize that it was 1998 when last then young Mr Doctor Professor Tilling blogged? It’s a miracle!

Archaeology/ Dead Sea Scrolls

Ever want or need help finding the DSS caves whilst visiting Qumran? Fret no more.  Ever want to find out about a fake bit of archaeological fakery?  Well once again, you can.

Here’s something fun for the Qumranophiles.

Sidnie Crawford White gave a super lecture on the Scrolls.  Brother Deane has it.

They found a trinket which supposedly represents the head of a ‘biblical’ King (and of course some ‘scholars’ are even asserting that it’s this or that king, thus ‘proving’ the Bible yet again via archaeological discoveries).  So I had a thought or two about it.

There’s just so much shadiness around the acquisition and publication of putative ancient manuscripts.  Lots of people will have lots to answer for.

The Museum of the Bible is in the press again for its funding of an illegal dig in the West Bank.  Because it’s a day with a name ending in ‘y’.  At some point the MOTB is going to need to pay for all the free publicity its getting and all the animus the progs are hurling at it which only serves to motivate conservative Christians to visit and support the museum.  Every attack results in financial gain for both the Greens and their enterprises.

You are granted free access to various issues of DSD- till August 16.  Take a look.


The people who produce BibleWorks bible software emailed users on the 1st of June to announce that the business was closing down.  So that’s a bummer.  Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a great Bible software package that’s actually free you need to take a look at S.T.E.P.  I have my students each semester get it.

Tavis B. thought about a book this month.  Something abut apocalypticism

The Zurichers have added a new section to their New Testament blog titled ‘Book Reviews’.  This month includes two new one. Prof. Andreas Lindemann in the „Theologische Rundschau“ (82/3) on Jordash Kiffiak’s Responses in the Miracle Stories of the Gospels: Between Artistry and Inherited Tradition, and Prof. Dietrich-Alex Koch in the „Theologische Literaturzeitung“ (143/68) on Christoph Heilig’s Paul’s Triumph: Reassessing 2 Corinthians 2:14 in Its Literary and Historical Context.  Enjoy.

Don’t miss this: the T&T Clark Companion to the Dead Sea Scrolls comes out in July!  Charlotte Hempel is a great scholar and her clearheadedness is sure to guarantee the usefulness of this work.

Ugh.  A podcast on a book.  Why, O Lord…  Let me just go ahead and say this- podcasts are the invention of the Antichrist.  Just say no to podcasting.  Go ahead, make recordings of things and even videos.  But for the love of all that’s holy stop being so bloody pretentious.  Otherwise…

Phil Long reviewed some book about some Church Father thingy.  Come on, people, only Jerome among the Fathers is worth knowing.

A fascinating review about a fascinating book about early Christians and censorship is posted here.  Wow!  Now that’s how you review a book.  And, by the same reviewer (a true gift to the guild that one) is a review of a new commentary on Proverbs.  There’s also a fine review of Paul Middleton’s book on Revelation that is must reading.

Interested in Franz Delitzsch?  Well this new book on his life and work is worth your time.  And if you’re a student of the book of Job- well this one’s going to be right up your alley.

Interested in the Bible and Archaeology?  Well then this book by Matthieu Richelle will be right up your excavation.


Oxford celebrated John Barton’s 70th birthday.  John is a superstar.  I wish I could have been there.

Sidnie White Crawford visited the Museum of the Bible.  Give her review of it a look.

Well the much ballyhooed ‘Mark Fragment’ didn’t go away in June (like it should have).  Instead, there were more claims made about the thing – to be precise, about its editor...

Don’t skip Richard Goode’s discussion of migrants, refugees, and the Bible.  It’s from a couple of years ago but it’s worth mentioning again in these troubled times.

Hmmm… Here’s a post on Trump, Socrates, and the Bible….  What could go wrong?

Not in the ‘biblical studies’ realm but surely of interest to most will be Diarmaid MacCulloch’s lectures on Cromwell.  Do. Not. Miss it.

James McGrath pointed out a conference for those interested in Syriac textual criticism.

Some guy with a code name asks if the Bible is understandable, and then talks about Wayne Grudem…

And finally- the Biblioblog Top 50 is back in town! Guess who tops the list… That’s right!  And all the Carnivals are listed here.

The Bible & Archaeology

Ancient artifacts and the Bible illuminate each other in various ways, but it can be difficult to understand how this process works and how archaeological discoveries should be interpreted. In this book, Matthieu Richelle provides a concise, up-to-date introduction to the relationship between archaeology and the Old and New Testament Scriptures. He shows how historic physical artifacts and the biblical texts illuminate one another—creating a fascinating “dialogue” that sheds light on the meaning of both.  What emerges is a rich and balanced picture that enlivens our understanding of the Bible’s message, increases our appreciation for the historical and cultural contexts in which it was written, and helps us be realistic about the limits of our knowledge. This work is revised and updated from the original French translation.

It’s available here.

Originally published in French in 2012, Richelle’s volume is divided into six chapters:

  1. What Archaeologists Discover
  2. When Stones Speak
  3. The Limits of Archaeology
  4. The Bible and Archaeology: What Kind of Relationship?
  5. A Case Study: The Kingdom of David and Solomon
  6. Archaeology and Writing in the Time of David and Solomon

There are also a list of figures, a foreword, a preface to the English edition, a list of abbreviations, an Introduction, a conclusion, a bibliography, and the much dreaded endnotes, and, finally,  full color illustrations.

As Richelle moves through his material he has one goal in mind: the clear dissemination of those things which archaeology can do and those it cannot do.  This is not an introduction to method, it is an introduction to the limitations of archaeological knowledge, and it is superb.  Though a translation, it is fully revised and in many places expanded, so – at least to me – it is appropriate to call this a wholly new work.  Readers of the original French text will want to read the present rendition as it provides much that the earlier version lacked.

Those familiar with archaeological debates from the past decades will wonder where Richelle fits in the discipline.  Is he a ‘high chronology’ kind of guy or is he a ‘low chronology’ type?  He is, I’m very pleased to say, both, and neither.  Richelle is one of those rare characters in archaeological studies and biblical studies (and the two often overlap) who takes things case by case and decides upon the best evidence where he stands or sits on an issue.

Richelle methodically addresses the central issues of archaeological research:  what are the kinds of things archaeologists discover?  What do these things tell us about daily life in the ancient world?  What sort of written remains exist and what do they tell us, and what do they not tell us?

He also describes, really quite substantively, the limits of data interpretation and the limits inherent in excavations themselves.  But most importantly, at least to me, is his extraordinarily even handed discussion of the relationship of the Bible to archaeology.  Is ‘Biblical Archaeology’ an appropriate field of enquiry or are we already predetermining outcome by use of that label itself?  Is ‘Syro-Palestinian’ archaeology a more appropriate nomenclature?  And just how much should we use the Bible at all in terms of archaeological research?

In the fifth chapter Richelle offers his case study- David and Solomon.  Here he fairly and equitably describes the problem with traditionalist views.  He asks what is really at stake here.  And finally he offers his perspective.

The sixth and final chapter is a bit of a diversion.  Instead of addressing another case study it asks after the problem of literacy in the Davidic/Solomonic periods.  It’s a very intriguing investigation but it feels as though it doesn’t really belong and was added almost as an afterthought.  And I don’t mean that in any sort of negative way.  It just feels like an appendix and not part of the argument of the monograph.  Nonetheless, it is quite valuable, however it sits or why-so-ever it may be there.

The book at hand is the kind of work that every undergraduate course in Biblical Studies should include on its reading list.  It is the sort of work that persons introducing archaeological method should require.  And it is the type of volume that laypeople who have a subscription to Biblical Archaeology Review should read and digest before they look through another issue of that magazine.

In sum, it’s magnificent.

When it Comes to Archaeological and Textual ‘Discoveries’…

These days, I think our default position should be skepticism and everything should be viewed a fake until it’s PROVEN to be authentic instead of blindly accepting claims made in the media. That approach has gotten a lot of scholars a lot of egg on their faces.

Indeed, the default position of scholars should ALWAYS be skepticism. An object is guilty of being fraudulent until it is proven innocent by thorough peer reviewed analysis.

The May Biblioblog Carnival from Avignon

It’s 1 June and that means it’s hot out and that means it’s time for you to enjoy cool biblical studies blogging at its best.  And that means that it’s time to review the best posts of the preceding month.  And that means the best posts in biblical studies which appeared in May.  Here they are.  Sit back.  Have a cold one (and by that I mean root beer). Enjoy!

Hebrew Bible / Old Testament

A conference in Jerusalem revealed a series of texts recently deciphered from the Qumran caves, including one that seems to indicate the existence of a heretofore unknown manuscript.  It was biblioblogged here.  James McGrath went on something of a rampage against the young earth creationist people, posting several entries on May 2 on the topic- this being one of them.  I don’t think he’s a fan of the YEC.

Down Under they’re pitching an energy drink as a replacement for God and they’re using David to do it.  Thanks, Deane….

Interested in the Ark of the Covenant?  Then you need to watch this lecture by Thomas Römer.  It’s very learned.


And watch this lecture about the Phoenecians…  because apparently they never existed… like New Zealanders and Hobbits…

Andy Stanley (a mega-church pastor who is by that very fact clearly no theologian or biblical scholar) blathered in May about Christians ‘unhitching’ from aspects of the Old Testament (the feckless heretic).  And he’s called on the carpet for it by the very wise Carmen Imes.  And unlike Stanley and all of his tragically ignorant defenders, Imes actually is a scholar.

If you’re in the mood for absolute lunacy, check out the craziness of the Answers in Genesis crowd…  as it tries to prove that Solomon was a monogamous soul.  Good heavens.

The editors of the forthcoming ‘LXX Readers Edition’ discuss their choice of the base text here.  They made the only sensible decision.

New Testament

The Jesus Blog people talked about a conference on social scientific criticism (etc) over on their semi-cool blog.  The conference has already taken place as this carnival posts but I’m sure that Chris Keith and the other participants will be happy to tell you all about th …..  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……….

Don’t skip John Barclay’s Firth Lecture.  It’s about Paul.  And Gifts.  Speaking of gifts, my birthday is coming up…  And remember, it’s more blessed to give to Jim (vl) than it is to receive.

George Athas wants to tell you about the parable of the talents.  You know who has talent?  Not Joel Watts.

A movie review showed up this month- about textual criticism.  Go figure.  Speaking of TC, here’s another interesting TC bitlet on Ephesians.  And yet more TC joy is over here, on Codex Marchalianus.

#Papyrusgate. Yup.  Because silly claims were made about a fragment of Mark supposedly dating to the first century but which, surprise surprise, doesn’t.  And, just in case you needed something to live in hope for, Larry Hurtado points out that ‘billions and billions’ (in the voice of that annoying science guy who’s dead) of fragments are yet to be studied.  So who knows, maybe among the rubbish there’s something that isn’t.  And then this happened.  And then this.  How long, O Lord…

Deane Galbraith tweeted “There will be a debate on whether Luke used Matthew (Mark Goodacre) or Matthew used Luke (Alan Garrow) at , in September. Just when you thought the Synoptic Problem couldn’t get any MORE exciting!!”   ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………..

John Barclay gave an excellent talk on anthropology, theology and history at the University of Zurich that, if you missed, you can watch here.

Larry Hurtado talks some about anonymous Gospels.  (Pro-tip- all the gospels are anonymous).

Richard Goode is teaching Greek this Summer at Newman.  You’ll want to attend if you’re anywhere around Birmingham.  And while there, you’ll want to throw things at Richard and mock him mightily and mercilessly.  He expects it.  No, really, he wants you to throw things at him…

Rick Brannan offers some thoughts on what early Christians read.  Pro-tip:  none of them read anything by NT Wright (and if they had they would have called a Council to denounce and excommunicate him, amen).

Tim B. has a few things to say about 1Peter and the submission of wives… I guess he likes hate mail.


Herein the Museum of the Bible is gutted and the entrails hung up for a public display.  And Roberta Mazza gets quoted.

Dead Sea Scrolls stuff! Enjoy!  And more Dead Sea Scrolls stuff.  But you missed it.  If Michael is in your town in the future, you owe it to yourself to visit him.  Speaking of Dead Sea stuff, be sure to visit Matthieu Richelle’s new Paleo-Hebrew site.

Be sure to read Larry Schiffman’s ‘Jewish Connection to Jerusalem‘.  It’s archaeology-esque.


This one you just have to see to believe.  I’ll just say – what do you get when you cross a graphic novel with Old Testament scholar Thomas Römer?

There’s something called the ‘Companion to the Bible and Film’ by T&T Clark- and there’s an interview about it.  So you should read it.  I think that if you take your bible to a film (not only are you a bit weird, but) you’re not going to be able to read it because it’s dark in the theater.  But maybe the book comes with tiny non invasive reading lights…

Phil Long reviewed a book about Messiah and Passover.  “Glaser began this book with an argument in favor of Christians celebrating Passover, or at least incorporating elements of Passover into their Christian worship.”   Nope.  Nope.  Nope.

The folk at New College mentioned a few online resources for biblical studies that will be on interest to many.  We have four new digital resource trials for Biblical Studies this month. They’re all accessible from the E-resource trials web page.  Take a look.  

And- run over right off and pick up the ‘Free Book of the Month’ from Logos.


Interestingly, the SBL archives have been moved down to Atlanta.  Hmmm…  Makes sense really since the SBL headquarters are not but a few miles from Emory (where the Pitts library is).

Bill Ross is talking about the LXX Reader’s Edition at something called the Evangelical Theology Society.  I guess it’s Trump supporters who study theology (but for the life of me I can’t imagine anyone in that crowd being smart enough to study theology).  At any rate, Bill’s session should be good…  One hopes… I guess.

Visit the new website of the Oxford University, Oriel College, Centre for the Study of the Bible.  Sure, they spelled ‘center’ wrong… but otherwise it’s fantastic.

J. Crossley has an essay about the Bible and English politics that I’m sure must be good but it’s behind a pay wall.  But hey, for $43 I could buy access to it for 24 hours or I could snatch up the whole issue in which it appears for a paltry $123.  Which to choose…. which. To. Choose….   And speaking of JC- he’s sure to be at the BCTR(S) meeting in London.  So you should go if you can.  It will cost you less than renting an essay for a day….

The DMG has digitized its various journals.  Chuck Jones has the details and you’ll definitely want to rummage through some of those issues.

James Crossley has added another task to his impressive list of tasks.  And congrats to him for it.

Jim Spinti has some interesting things to say about translations.  Worth a read.

Tim B. is hosting the ‘Roman’ (i.e., ‘official’) Carnival over at his place.  And, dear friends, enjoy your Summer…

Ido Koch Has An Announcement to Make About a Dig

Dear All,

I am happy to invite you in the name of the Tel Hadid Expedition to join us in the field this spring. This is a joint project, headed by Tel Aviv University and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, under the direction of Eli Yannai, Dan Warner (NOBTS), and yours truly (TAU). Visit our website ( to discover more about the project.

Students and members of the public are able to join in and work with Tel Hadid Expedition in the field this May 28 – June 21. To join, please contact us at:

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you in the spring,