Category Archives: Dead Sea Scrolls

Michael Langlois and Biblical Forgeries

Enjoy this essay in The Smithsonian Magazine.

If you spotted Michael Langlois walking along the Seine, in Paris, as I did one overcast morning last spring, you could be forgiven for mistaking this scholar of the ancient Middle East for the bassist in Def Leppard. He wears his long brown hair in a leonine mane, and when I caught up with him on the Pont des Arts he was sporting a pink sweater and salmon-colored pants. As it turns out, Langlois is a professional musician, having played bass on some 20 French studio albums, from soul to gospel to pop. He had recently laid down the bass tracks on an album of Celtic music by the French composer Hélène Goussebayle, and that summer he would perform in France with the Christian rock singer Chris Christensen. But he is also perhaps the most versatile—and unorthodox—biblical scholar of his generation.

That morning, he was headed to the Institut de France, a learned society founded in 1795 for the cream of French intelligentsia. At 46, Langlois is one of the institute’s youngest affiliates. He led me past its luminous gold-trimmed cupola and guided me through a vaulted entryway, across a cobblestone courtyard and up several flights of stairs, where he stopped at a room with a little sign affixed out front: “Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum.” The cramped office once served as the headquarters for a group of French scholars who, beginning in the mid-19th century, endeavored to publish a sweeping study of every ancient Semitic inscription then known.


The End of the Year Biblioblogger Extravaganza: Collecting the Best Posts of 2022

You read that right, friends.  This Carnival isn’t just the best biblioblogging posts for the month of December.  It’s the best of the entire YEAR!

The best of the footballers… He’s not in the Carnival, but he would be if this were the best of the footballers, 2022.

Usually, posts are divided into major groupings.  But this Carnival the best posts in all categories from 2022 will be found below, by month!

Every year there are dozens of ‘the best of the year’ lists.  And this one is no different.  Well it is a little bit, because it actually IS the best of the best.

So friends, pull up a chair, relax, sit back, and enjoy the very best material (with extensive annotation and commentary from your beloved Carnival host, me) from your biblioblogging friends month by month for 2022.


The best post of January was, by far- Taking Stock of the “First-Century Mark” Saga: What can we learn from the overzealous excitement about the earliest known copy of our earliest Gospel? By Elijah Hixson. Honestly friends, if you missed this post you missed a real gem. It is exceptionally conceived and brilliantly executed.

The Second best post of January was this little review of a very fine book titled Family and Identity in the Book of Judges. Super book. Super review!  There are some really excellent women scholars and there need to be more of them.

Sadly our SOTS colleague and friend John Sawyer died at the start of the year.  You may not be as familiar with him as you are other Hebrew Bible scholars but believe me, he was a giant in the field.


The very happy news was shared in February that the Tyndale Bulletin is now completely freely available!  Who shared it?  I did.  You’re welcome!

And in February A-J Levine discussed her book at a symposium held in Rome.  You can watch it here if you missed it then:


Chris Rollston took the claims of a ‘Mount Ebal Curse Inscription‘ to the woodshed and beat it silly,  It was the best archaeological post in March and it was in all likelihood the best Archaeological post of the year.  Though I don’t know that for sure since I haven’t seen or read every post on the topic this year and unlike those weirdos who do ‘best of’ lists without even so much as a blush of shame, I don’t make untrue claims.

That said, it was in March that I recalled the greatest of the Biblioblog carnivals, by Deane Galbraith.  22 years ago.  Gosh, that’s a long time.  Anyway, this end of year glance back would be profoundly incomplete if it didn’t urge readers, as I did in March, to take a look at Deane’s Carnival.  Seriously.

Sad news from March: the goodly and delightful Joseph Blenkinsopp died that month.  He was a wit and a genius.  A fixture at SBL, CBA, and SOTS.  😦   Norman Gottwald also died that month.


Sam Perry and friend had their book on Christian Nationalism reviewed and, believe me, if you haven’t read it yet, your ought to.  It is an important topic for biblical scholars and theologians and church historians.  And even though Perry is just a sociologist, with not always the best understanding of, or grasp on, matters theological, his analysis, from a social-sciences perspective, is pretty good.  If you keep in mind that Perry isn’t a theologian or biblical scholar his book will not annoy (if only he had stayed completely in his lane).

Joan Taylor is an absolute genius.  If you missed her discussion on Mary Magdalene in April you missed a treasure.  And you can correct your evil neglect right now:


James McGrath wins the prize for the best post in May (sure, it was from May, 2019, but let’s be honest, most of the time newer isn’t better, is it).  James is, if you aren’t familiar with him, the nerd’s nerd.  He loves everything Sci-Fi and he loves biblical studies and he loves Classical music and he is as sharp as a tack.  And, again, though the post is older, it is still very much worthy of inclusion in this End of the Year Carnival.  And if you don’t like it, do a Carnival yourself!  Otherwise the sage remark of Kierkegaard applies:  ‘Critics are like eunuchs.  They know what should be done, but they can’t manage to do it themselves’.

And if you missed this lecture, now’s your chance to watch it.  It is a brilliant discussion of what archaeology has to tell us about the part women played in earliest Christianity:


Not to seem inappropriately boastful, but in June I passed along word of the final book Philip Davies published (in 2018) – for those who had not seen it yet (because apparently more people read stupid novels and sci fi garbage than substantive biblical studies books… Pillocks).  Anywho, I pass along word of it once more, here at the end of the year, because it deserves a wide(r) readership.  If you haven’t read it in 2022, read it in 2023.

And though it appeared first in June of 2021, this post on bullies in academia deserves another read.  Especially by those who have to endure the attacks of the flying monkeys sent out by the behind-the-scenes manipulators whose lives are empty and minds are full of schemes and plans to undermine and undo anyone who dares disagree with them.

Somewhat along the same lines of academic bullying is the topic of anti-expertise.  Both bullies and dilettantes have as their aim the overriding of expertise, for their own particular reasons.  If you missed Nina Burleigh’s brilliant discussion concerning the forsaking of expertise, watch it now:

June is the 6th month.  It’s a good time to look back just as January provides the same opportunity.  The year is half done, and so is our End of the Year Extravaganza of Biblioblogging delightfulness.


Posted in July, the best of the lot for that searing month was this gem on ‘The Myth of the ‘Ignorant’ Fishermen’.  It takes a look at the widely held belief that the disciples of Jesus were just backwater rednecks who probably didn’t know how to read, or think, and just were happy to ‘know Jesus’ so they didn’t need ‘to know no doctrine’ (just like certain Christians today who don’t need doctrine, they just need Jesus).  If you missed it, now’s your chance.

And now for something completely different- for conference attendees who have a ‘question’ (that isn’t a question at all now is it, precious…)

The good Christian Brady tweeted that gem in July.  Worth sharing for sure.

Chris Rollston, always worth reading, posted a rebuttal of claims made by Gershon Galil about the so called ‘Jerusalem Stone’.  Chris is THE go to guy for epigraphy.


Linear A decipherment and a recent debate were the events provoking this post from August.  Linear A huh.  Fun.  Where else will you find posts about long abandoned languages if not in the most beloved of all the biblioblog carnivals?  Nowhere.  You’re welcome.

There were two books published in Open Access in August.  Both Aramaic text sourcebooks.  The first, A Handbook of the Aramaic Scrolls from the Qumran Caves, and the second, Aramaic Daniel.  In case you missed them.

Who doesn’t love free books?


Because it’s important to remember such things when you’re an academic:

Chris Rollston, again, wins the prize for best archaeological post by urging us to tap the breaks back in August about the much ballyhooed ‘Ishmael Papyrus’.  Don’t recall the ‘big news’?  Alas, that’s because so many claims turn out to be nonsense that it’s hard to keep them all straight.  You don’t need to remember the fragment and the absurd claims made of it to enjoy Rollston’s ripping of it.

September was the 10th anniversary (I know, right?!?!?!?) of the publication in HTR of Karen King’s false claim that a new ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ was probative for biblical studies.  Ariel Sabar showed, in his excellent book on the subject, that the artifact was a fraud and the entire process of its publication was riddled with wrongs.  Here he provides a super thread on the twitter on the anniversary.

Do you like wet bread?  Probably not.  Anyway, you’ll like this post by Brent Niedergall about wet bread in Qoheleth.  Wet bread… it’s gross isn’t it.


Nick Posegay posted one of the most interesting threads to appear on twitter in 2022, on the Cairo Genizah.  Don’t miss it again.  It’s really terrific.

The second award winning post from the month of October is – Uncovering the Dead, Dethroning the King: Divine Embodiment in 1 Samuel 28:14.

1 Samuel 28:14 describes the appearance of the ghost of Samuel, who, upon King Saul’s request, was raised by a medium. We identify four key elements of the ghost’s visage, all of which relate to the living Samuel or King Saul, or their relationship, and all critique King Saul and foreshadow the loss of the kingship and his demise. 

We were all saddened to learn of the death of Gordon Fee in October.  😦  So did John Meier.  😦 😦   I had chatted with John about historical Jesus stuff at CBA many times.  His ‘Marginal Jew’ will now, it seems, remain forever unfinished.  😦

It’s grippingly good.  Those two offerings are the best of the month, and may even be the best of the year.  But I’ll let you decide that for yourselves.


A super lecture was offered by A-J Levine on the interesting topic of Life After Death:

If you didn’t watch it in November, take a few minutes and watch it now.

Incredibly useful and exceedingly worthy of your good attention is the new site – Biblia Hebraica transcripta.

Sad news of the death of E.P. Sanders circulated among the guild.  Google will pull up numerous obituaries.  Also passing from this life in November was the amazing linguist and Hebrew Bible scholar Ernst Jenni.  He was, and will forever remain, an extraordinarily important contributor to the field of biblical studies.

… das ist das ganze Alte Testament transkribiert, mit Satzeinteilungen versehen, morphologisch, morphosyntaktisch und syntaktisch analysiert, sodann mit Funktionen für Dokumentation, Kommentierung, Suche, Analyse und Visualisierung bereichert.


Eric Meyers published his long awaited autobiography this month.  Eric is a fascinating person and an excellent scholar/ archaeologist.  In fact, I think I can say this without fear of contradiction, he is the greatest American archaeologist of all time (so far) and teamed up with his wife Carol they are the greatest American archaeologists ever!  I’m sure his memoir will be incredibly interesting.

Also archaeologically themed, this incredibly important public statement by many of the leading archaeologists in Israel regarding the constant flow of un-examined, non-peer reviewed ‘discovery’ announcements was posted by Aren Maeir (with a follow up here).  It is ESSENTIAL reading and may well be the most important (long term) blogpost of the year.  It is time for archaeological discoveries to be subjected to peer review before being published.  There’s just too much garbage out there claiming to be ‘earth shattering’ that turns out to be pure trash (see the ‘Tomb of Jesus’ Midwife‘ rubbish from December for a relevant example).

One of the most, if not the most, interesting biblical studies related posts of the month was the zoom lecture on Money in Judea: From the Bronze Age to Bar Kochba.  You’ll be able to view it on the facebook page linked here.  If you missed it, that is.

The best mention of a new book was made by Nijay Gupta whose fantastic book will come out in early 2023.  Seriously friends.  Seriously.  His book is fantastic.  If you don’t read any other book in 2023, read his.  (And when ours on Martin Bucer comes out read it too).  Ok, read two books in 2023.  (I’m pretty sure you’ll need to read more than that, but you have to start somewhere).

James Spinti doesn’t burden readers with long posts as though he were writing a book and each chapter is its own post.  Thankfully (since long posts are annoying and silly).  Instead he gives short but very thoughtful snippets of insight.  And he did so again in December.  Enjoy.

Mike Aubrey has a bibliography of conditionals in Greek.  You can check it out, conditionally.  The condition being your willingness to do it.  If you’re a Greek language nerd, you’ll want to.  If you’re still eating playdough and / or glue, though, you probably won’t care to.

December was the month during which the sad news that David Clines died arrived in our inboxes.  He was fondly remembered by many and a Symposium honoring his life and work has been scheduled for April.  He will be missed.

And the best series of the year was posted by Michael Kok titled Mark Was not a Pauline Gospel.  It’s tremendous.  Take a little time and give it a read through.


Thanks for stopping by.  And consider putting together a Carnival yourself.  As Phil Long notes

Contact me via email, or DM on twitter (plong42) to discuss hosting a Biblical Studies carnival. If you are a new BiblioBlogger, this is a good way to get your blog some recognition. And, to quote Jim West, ”if you do one, it makes it unlikely that I will!”

Amen.  Now

The market for biblical antiquities 1852 – 2022

The Lying Pen of Scribes is doing another online colloquy:

News headlines about Museum of the Bible’s collection of antiquities, and forgeries of supposed Dead Sea Scroll fragments and the so-called Gospel of Jesus’s Wife, have drawn attention to the trade in biblical antiquities today. But how does it actually work? And what was it like in the past? Previous research has been limited and has tended to focus on individual figures, usually “manuscript hunters” from Europe and America.

With “The Market for Biblical Antiquities, 1852–2022” we try to change that focus. Join us as scholars from a variety of fields (history, biblical studies, archaeology, papyrology, literature, and more) look at the complex network of figures – finders, dealers, agents, collectors, consultants, auction houses, forgers – that have worked together to buy and sell artifacts from Palestine, Israel, and the surrounding region for the last two centuries.

Visit the link for all the details.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Conference from this Summer is Online if you Missed It

Here.  Enjoy.

We are pleased to share the full recordings from “The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Second Public Conference,” which took place virtually on June 6 – 9, 2021. The recordings, found below, are broken down by session.  Please note that some speakers declined to be recorded, so these presentations were omitted.

Lawrence Schiffman, on the Publication of the Damascus Document by Fraade

Scholars in a variety of fields should salute the publication of Steven Fraade’s new commentary on the Damascus Document. Indeed, the same could be said about the entire series, but we will be concentrating here on his volume that we are celebrating here today. It is an excellent commentary and represents the first commentary on this text making full use of the entire published corpus of Dead Sea Scrolls. Further, it represents a kind of de facto boundary line, since it no longer refers directly to works written about this text before the discovery of the Scrolls. So we finally have an up-to-date commentary on this document.


Forgery and Use of Forgery: Conference Announcement

It’s tomorrow… in Poitiers.  Hybrid format (in person and video).  All the details are provided by Michael Langlois, who is presenting (though his bit seems to be only available to those there in person).

The meeting is entitled “Forgery and use of forgery within national and oriental antiques. Crossed points of view: heritage, investigation, law and justice”. It will take place on 16 December 2021, in hybrid form (presence and videoconference).

‘The Damascus Document’ Book Launch

Register here.

*The Damascus Document* Online Book Launch: with Steven Fraade, Timothy Lim, Vered Noam, & Lawrence Schiffman | 16 December, 10-11a EST

Join us for a discussion of the newest volume of The Oxford Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls, *The Damascus Document*, by Steven Fraade. Register here for the event, which will take place over Zoom on 16 December 2021, 10:00-11:00a Eastern Standard Time (New York). The event will include an introduction by the series editor, Timothy Lim (University of Edinburgh), a presentation by the author, Steven Fraade (Yale University), and responses from Vered Noam (Tel Aviv University) and Lawrence Schiffman (New York University). There will then be a time for questions from participants. We hope to see you then.

The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Light They Shed on Judaism and Christianity with Dr. John Collins

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls is widely regarded as the most important contribution of archeology to Biblical Studies in the twentieth century. The first lecture will ask, what are the Dead Sea Scrolls, who collected them? Are they the product of a marginal sect or representative of Judaism in the time of Jesus. The second lecture will consider some texts found in the Scrolls that are of special interest for Christianity, including one that speaks of a figure who is called Son of God.

To register go to The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Light They Shed on Judaism and Christianity.


Happening Now

The online symposium on the Scrolls and the Hebrew Bible.  It’s several hours long, so there’s still time to jump in.

Recently, scholarship has turned to the connections between material aspects of scrolls production on the one hand, and the production, redaction, and transmission of ancient texts on the other. One example in the field of biblical studies is the article by David Carr entitled “Rethinking the Materiality of Biblical Texts: From Source, Tradition and Redaction to a Scroll Approach” (ZAW 132/2020). This symposium will offer an exploratory conversation on the opportunities (and possible pitfalls) of enriching the study of the Hebrew Bible through more focused attention on ancient practices of creating and using scrolls. The interconnection of relatively recent theoretical movements (e.g., New Philology, sociological study of bibliography and New Materialism) and continuing analysis and collection of material evidence from ancient scrolls (especially from Egypt and the Dead Sea Caves) offers an opportunity to add precision to models for the formation and reception of (what would become) biblical texts by attending to practices surrounding their likely original material form—as parts of scrolls. Though pioneers in pursuing a ‘scroll approach’ were confined to limited descriptions from the Bible and later rabbinic literature, we now have a wealth of information from actual ancient scrolls and scribal practices from Egypt, Levantine sites like Deir ʿAlla, and especially the Judaean Desert (Qumran and other sites).