This Will Interest Many

ISD presents The Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients (TAVO), an epochal bilingual (German/English) collection of geographical and historical maps and scholarly publications on the Middle East.

The atlas, which is designed to the latest modern geographic standards and printed in full color, is divided into two major sections. Part A comprises general and specific geographic information, while Part B is devoted to the historical development of the region, with a wide chronological range from the Palaeolithic to modern times.

All maps are available individually or as three map sets (geography, history, all TAVO maps). There is also a large number and wide variety of accompanying volumes (Beihefte) that provide further detailed research on individual maps and the region as a whole.

The link above takes you to a pdf and an order form. If such things are of interest to you.


It’s a Kinder and Gentler Avignonian Biblical Studies Carnival

PsychoKittyThis month’s Carnival will place its emphasis on the kinder and gentler side of academic biblical studies.  Away with the debates; begone, foul disagreements.  In what follows the only things you’ll find are those upon which everyone in biblical studies agree.  You’re welcome.  And now, let’s begin.  That is, only if you want to.  If it’s ok.  Please.  Thank you.

[No animals (or feelings) were hurt in the production of this Carnival][Except the test cats that I used to test the occasional driblets of mockery on… most of them didn’t make it I’m sorry to say].

So- off we go, to Kindness and Gentleness Land!

Hebrew Bible (If it’s alright to call it that)

George Athas noted an interview the gifted Ken Penner gave about Hebrew in the Dead Sea Scrolls and a book he’s written on the subject.

Bryan Bibb provided an interesting classroom resource for those teaching the Bible.  If you use it, be sure to give BB the credit.  He’s credit worthy.

emmaPeter Emma wrote a post which, as is common in these troubled times, asks the burning question- why can’t God be more like me?  Indeed!  Why can’t God do things the way I want him to?  Oh sorry, He/She/Gender Neutral/Undefined/All/None.  If only God were more like Emma and the rest of us (which I suppose would cause serious problems since we’re all different and now God has to decide which one of us to be like… Poor God- to disappoint so many for so long because he (oh shoot- I mean He/She/Gender Neutral/Undefined/All/None) hasn’t been like them.  We need to be kinder to God and more accepting of who he (oh shoot- I mean He/She/Gender Neutral/Undefined/All/None) is…

hqdefaultRichard Goode, who always provides the most interesting materials, has an entry on Egypt in Israel in ancient times.  Palestine was, it seems to all appearances, little more than an Egyptian buffer zone which was always under the firm control of that ancient power.  In the eyes of the Israelites, their ’empire’ under David and Solomon was quite the thing.  To everyone else in the ANE it was as impressive as a goat.

Proverbs.  Music.  McDonald.  Check-it.

LXX (and I’m Not Being rude by abbreviating)

John Meade provides a load of great thoughts in an interview on the LXX here.  The interviewer is one William Ross at Cambridge.  I wonder if he knows Jim Aitken- the greatest Septuagintalist of our day or any day 421557145_5811b73d4d_bsince Alfred Rahlfs.

Posts on the LXX were so rare in August that I have been reduced to listing those which sometimes mention the LXX in order to help the LXX section have more vigor.  So, here’s AKJ’s.  He sometimes talks about the LXX and sometimes it’s even interesting!

Rick Brannan has some software news for LXX-ologists.  Sounds fantastic. Really.

Tyler Williams used to blog LXX stuff but I think he has moved away from doing such things and taken up professional wrestling.  His cage match name is ‘The Septuaginator’ and you can find him in Canada every weeknight taking on the likes of ‘The LXXinator’ and ‘TheXLXXLXXXer’.

New Testament (Without wanting to divide anyone by using the word ‘new’.  No supercessionism Implied)

Chief among the NT posts this month was that of Mark Goodacre who utterly dismantles the so called ‘Jesus Wife’ fragment and line by line, word by word, shows it to be nothing but a patchwork fraud.

Chris Tilling is working on a world record streak on his brilliant blog by refusing to post anything new until the Angel Gabriel descends from heaven with a new scroll in his hand which describes Paul’s affection for Tilling’s book.  I know, it’s strange, but there it is.  Check out a very dated entry.  It’s the kind thing to do.

zombiecatthumb200Phil Long reviewed a new book by Gundry which suggests that Matthew was not a fan of Peter.  It’s a good review of a very provocative book.

Alin found the names of the two thieves crucified with Christ!  Mind you, it’s in a Coptic text postdating the event by centuries but, hey, I think Bill and Ted make perfect sense.  Fun stuff indeed.  Give it a read.  Speaking of things mythical, James ‘The Star Trek Jedi Knight’ McGrath has another entry in Bible and Interpretation of his mythicist series.  I don’t want to try to predict the future, but after the mythicist madness peters out it’s not hard to imagine that an entire cottage industry will rise up investigating whether or not Jesus likes Swiss Cheese or American.  I. Can’t. Wait.

Larry Hurtado discusses the debate about heresy and orthodoxy in early Christianity.   He’s right, you know.  And when he writes “In short, it’s high time for us to move on from earlier overly simplified notions and gain a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the early dynamics and developments in question” he simply could not be more correct.

kiJeffrey Gibson’s dolcet tones are the highlight of this interview about his new book on the Lord’s Prayer (or as he calls it, the disciple’s prayer).  It’s a good-un.

Richard Goode (because he can’t be mentioned too often) posted an entry on a presentation on Romans 13 which includes a video which follows below:

Brice Jones had a very interesting essay on a  6th c. Greek manuscript which was reused by a Persian author.  Great stuff.  Did you know that Rudolf Bultmann reused letters and notes in very much the same way?  He was a frugal lad.  I suppose he had to be.

hqdefaultAlso along the ancient manuscript train of thought, Dan Wallace spent his Summer in Greece looking through manuscripts.  I can’t help but feel that his Summer was more interesting than mine.  And that makes me sad.  Very sad.  I need comfort and a hug.  Will someone hug me?  Ok hold on, I need a minute.  This being kinder and gentler comes at a heavy cost…

Ok I’m a little better now.  Anyway, James Crossley interviewed Chris Keith about – you guessed it – the historical Jesus and social memory stuff.  Whatttttt????  Yup- that’s the topic.  It’s a kind and gentle interview kindly and gently reported and even kinder-er and gentler-er noted here just now.

More Christological stuff is to be had over at Larry Hurtado’s place.  Podcast stuff.  It’s gentle on the ears.

Speaking of the historical Jesus… there are still people wondering if he even existed…  I know, right?  You know what doesn’t exist among the mythicists?  Common sense.

psycho-cat-11410-1303338127-48Over on Evangelical Textual Criticism they’ve been kind to us all and posted a great article on Eberhard Nestle and the first edition of his GNT.  And it, mercifully, is not merely a listing of things!  Well done ETC, well done!

Phil Long(shoreman) wrote a nice review on a book by Boda about repentance.  It’s a real word!  And a useful one which more folk need to put into practice in these troubled times of ours.

Hey- there’s a Priest talking Jesus in film, down at Emory.  I know a lot of you like films.  And some of you like Jesus.  When you put Jesus together with film, what do you end up with?  That’s right- super bad theology!  I’m sure that’s what the Priest, down at Emory, will say as well.

Justin Meggitt has a site which, according to those who have seen it, has stuff on it which may be of potential interest to persons who are interested in such things.  It sounds interesting, doesn’t it.  And it may well be of interest.  But it’s not for me to judge whether such things might be meaningful to others because to make a judgment, even in academic things, is to be all judgy and judgmental and we all know academics are disallowed opinions of their own lest they be deemed uncollegial or uncompromising.  In short, decide for yourself, ya self-aggrandizing judgmental beast.

Archaeology (with apologies to those who are offended when the dirt is disturbed)

petAntonio *Fan of Inter Milan* Lombatti brought us the story of the discovery in Jerusalem of a mikveh which featured an Aramaic and Hebrew inscription.  And, speaking of Lombatti, if you haven’t read his new book on God yet you ought to grab up a copy.  I love it.  Purely love it.

Jim Tabor posted a video about the Mt Zion excavation.  If you missed it, watch it.

Avi Faust posted a new essay on Judean chronology on his page.  Sure, it’s not a blog entry but that’s ok.  Let’s be inclusive and all encompassing and not narrow and exclusive, mkay?

Megiddo has rid itself of Eric Cline.  No, wait, that’s not right.  Megiddo is sad to see Eric leave for greener Kabri-ian pastures.  That’s kinder and gentler.  And since Eric is kind and gentle, they should be sad to part ways.

Azekah. From a digger there this season.  An interesting post.  Do take a look.

General (if that’s ok too)

Fakes, Frauds, and Forgeries… I got very excited when I saw that post title because I thought it was going to describe downloada conference about angry atheists but, alas, it doesn’t.  Rather, it’s a conference on the apocryphal materials.  I suppose that makes more sense really.  After all, who would want to attend a conference about angry atheists?  So, go check it out.  I doubt you’ll be dismayed.

An honest description of Academia is offered here by Seumas Macdonald.  If you click any of the links in this carnival, be sure to include this one.  He’s really hit the nail on the head when he calls academia an honor/shame society and opines- It’s blindingly obvious that Academia runs as a microcosmic honour/shame society because the one thing that ranks just below actual scholarship in scholars’ concern is prestige or honour as accorded them by their peers. This is what drives almost all academic endeavours (beyond the actual desire to study): conference papers, journal and monograph publishing, etc..  DO NOT MISS IT.

Jona Lendering’s very useful Livius Newsletter has reached a mile-mark- its 10th anniversary!  Congrats Jona.  Jona is both kind and gentle so even the most hardened and wretched angry atheist will find him enjoyable.

Bob McDonald did some math number crunching something or other and came up with an interesting list of blogs mentioned in the last 17 official Carnivals.  I sure hope no one is offended because they aren’t listed.  That would be tragic in this non judgmental world presently under construction where the motto wipsych-kittyll be ‘if it feels good, do it’.

Dan Gullotta celebrated his first year biblioblogging.  He’s got the best hair in blogdom, so, naturally, you should read his blog.

Larry Schiffman wrote a timely and interesting piece on the Orthodox (Judaism) that you should take a look at.  It’s really an important reminder.

Ken Schenck is reviewing a book about scholars who have offered their testimony concerning their academic development.  Ken is a kind and gentle soul who every SBL sneaks up behind me in the book hall and gives me a wedgie.  #TrueStory [not really, I usually go commando at SBL just like Joel Watts] [but he is nice].

James Crossley announces that the British folk are meeting in a few weeks to discuss the Bible and its reception and such things at a pub.  In Birmingham, the Florence of Great Britain.  If you’re in the area, drop by.

Scary_catAnthony LeDonne raises an important question as we see more and more Religious Studies and Biblical Studies departments seeing the sharp end of the academic ax:  will Seminaries be the only place biblical / religious studies are done in future?

And now for some genuine warm fuzzies- a dose of Karl Barth on love.  Yes.  Barth.  On love.  Because if there’s one think I like it’s Barth and if there’s another thing I like, it’s love.  Love, love, love.  It’s a good post.  You’ll love it.


Well, I hope you found everything kinder and gentler.  This month no one should have been offended by anything or had their feelings hurt or experienced any sort of discomfort.  And if so, the carnival is festooned with kittens, and they make everything better… don’t they, precious.

Jerusalem’s Ancient Podium

Joseph Lauer writes

This morning, Monday, August 31, 2015, the IAA circulated English and Hebrew press releases asking, “Has a 2,000 Year Old Podium Been Found in the City of David?” and stating that “A unique stepped structure exposed on the street ascending from the Siloam Pool to the Temple Mount raises questions among researchers at the Israel Antiquities Authority”.  The release also noted that “On Thursday (3.9), at the City of David Studies of Ancient Jerusalem’s 16th Annual Conference that will be open to the public, Nahshon Szanton and Dr. Joe Uziel will present their findings from the excavation and the different interpretations regarding the nature of the podium.”  Information about Thursday’s conference may be read at  The IAA’s English press release is at  The pictures may also be accessed at

Take a look.

Eric Cline in Knoxville

“1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed”
Eric Cline, George Washington University
September 24, 2015
Lindsay Young Auditorium, Hodges Library
University of Tennessee
7:30 pm

In this compelling lecture, Dr.Cline will discuss his recent book 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, which tells the gripping story of how the end of the Late Bronze Age was brought about by multiple interconnected failures, ranging from invasion and revolt to earthquakes, drought, and the cutting of international trade routes. Bringing to life the vibrant multicultural world of these great civilizations, he draws a sweeping panorama of the empires and globalized peoples of the Late Bronze Age and shows that it was their very interdependence that hastened their dramatic collapse and ushered in a dark age that lasted centuries.

The book was the winner of the 2014 Award for the Best Popular Book from the American Schools of Oriental Research and an Honorable Mention for the 2015 PROSE Award in Archeology & Anthropology from the Association of American Publishers. It was one of The New York Post’s Best Books of 2014, one of The Australian’s Best Books of the Year in 2014, and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Eric H. Cline is professor of classics and anthropology and director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at George Washington University. An active archaeologist, he has excavated and surveyed in Greece, Crete, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, and Jordan. His many books include From Eden to Exile: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Bible and The Trojan War: A Very Short Introduction.

This is the first lecture in the 2015-2016 Partnership for the Academic Study of Early Judaism annual lecture series.

There will also be a book signing after the lecture.  So if you’re in the area, come on by.  You may even have the chance to meet me!  How awesome would that be?

Aren Maeir And His Team Are At It Again

Aren sends along word of

… a just-appeared article, an outcome of a FIRST/BIKURA grant that Udi Weiss, Liora Horwitz and myself received (from the ISF), and spearheaded by Sue Frumin (as part of her PhD research) in which it is demonstrated that with the appearance of the Philistine culture in Canaan, not only did new species of plants appear, species which originate in different parts of the eastern Mediterranean, but new modes of utilization of various plants species already existing in the Levant can be seen. This not only strengthens previous evidence of the multiple origins of the Philistine migrants, but also shows that the Philistine culture had new and different food patterns and agrarian traditions. In addition, it demonstrates the applicability of an “invasion biology” perspective in the study of bioarchaeological remains, and its implications for understanding past and present biodiversity.

The article is entitled:  Frumin, S., Maeir, A.M., Horwitz, L.K. and Weiss, E. 2015. Studying Ancient Anthropogenic Impacts on Current Floral Biodiversity in the Southern Levant as reflected by the Philistine Migration. Scientific Reports 5:13308 | DOI: 10.1038/srep13308.  The online link can be found at:


In May 2015, Islamic State captured the modern city of Palmyra. The adjoining Unesco world heritage site is a breathtaking archaeological complex like no other. In the 2nd century AD this oasis city in the Syrian desert was one of the grandest and wealthiest places in the world, with a total population about the size of modern Cardiff. Much of the ancient civic and sacred architecture still survives. Perhaps most evocative is the colonnaded street more than 1km in length: in antiquity, caravan traders from all over the Middle East would have processed along this road with their spices and silks towards the city’s religious heart, the magnificent temple of Bel, eyed from above by hundreds of statues of Palmyrene benefactors.

The future of this extraordinary site is precarious. At the time of the initial occupation, an anti-Assad Syrian radio station carried an interview with Abu Laith al-Saoudi, an Isis commander, who vouched that only the idolatrous statues would be destroyed; “concerning the historical city we will preserve it and it will not undergo damages inshallah (‘if God wills it’)”. Whatever deity reigns in Isis fantasy firmament, however, must have been in a capricious and malign mood.

On 23 August 2015 it was reported that the temple of Baal Shamin, one of the best-preserved and most unique buildings on the site, had been levelled by explosives.

Palmyra is not just a spectacular archaeological site, beautifully preserved, excavated and curated. It also offers antiquity’s best counterexample to Isis’s fascistic monoculturalism. The ancient city’s prosperity arose thanks to its citizens’ ability to trade with everyone, to integrate new populations, to take on board diverse cultural influences, to worship many gods without conflict. Painful though it is to say it, and unlikely though it is that its asinine followers realise it, Isis have chosen their target exceptionally well.

Read the rest.

Don’t Buy Those Antiquities

As an archaeologist who works in Italy, I usually get contacted a few times a year by someone wanting to know if an artifact they bought on vacation somewhere in Europe is authentic. Surely an expert on Roman culture can give detailed information on a pot or a statuette, figure out if it’s authentic, and estimate its value, right? Not quite. Professional archaeologists are bound by codes of ethics. The two national organizations I belong to, the Society for American Archaeology and the Archaeological Institute of America, both exhort archaeologists to avoid “activities that enhance the commercial value” of archaeological objects. We are not and should not be in the business of appraising antiquities, and my response to these queries involves trying to educate people on the reasons behind these ethics.

So why shouldn’t you buy that ancient artifact on vacation? It has nothing to do with the “mummy’s curse” and everything to do with legal, scientific, and ethical issues.  Many people think there is no harm in collecting a piece of the past and that they are investing in history, but here’s why they couldn’t be more wrong.