Tag Archives: Niels Peter Lemche

More on the Copenhagen Conference

Changing Perspectives in Old Testament Studies. Past, Present, and Future

International Conference at the University of Copenhagen, October 9-12, 2013

The conference centres on the manifold contributions to biblical studies by the scholars, John Van Seters, Thomas L. Thompson, Philip R. Davies, Niels Peter Lemche and Keith Whitelam. In various ways their work has significantly changed the perspectives of Old Testament scholarship and has influenced the outlook and methods of biblical studies and related disciplines in the course of the last 50 years.

Van Seters, Thompson, Davies and Lemche will participate as key note speakers at the conference, which will include a number of papers within fields related to their achievements in Hellenistic studies, theories of composition, theories of history, anthropology, archaeology, Ancient Near Eastern religion and comparative literature, Dead Sea texts and cultural memory studies. The aim of the conference is to assess some of the major changes within the field of Old Testament scholarship, to investigate those changing perspectives within a broader context and to suggest future prospects of the discipline. Each participant is expected to present and discuss the challenge of these new perspectives for his or her core area of research.

Lectures will be 40 minutes for keynote speakers and 20 minutes for regular papers.

The opening lecture will be given by Prof. Jack Sasson, Vanderbilt University.

Papers will be published in A.K. de H. Gudme and I. Hjelm (eds.), Changing Perspectives in Old Testament Studies. Past, Present, and Future. International Conference at the University of Copenhagen, October 9-12, 2013 (CIS, Equinox).

It’s going to be fantastic fun.  As my paper comes together I’ll post snippets, but you’ll just have to wait for the Conference volume for the whole thing.


Posted by on 20 Feb 2013 in Conferences


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Now Available: Wirkungsgeschichte At Its Finest

EQX-Lemche-PPC.inddEQX-Thompson-PPC.inddTwo volumes have recently arrived in the Copenhagen International Seminar series ‘Changing Perspectives’ and available from ISD here in the States and from Acumen in Britain/Europe.  The first by Niels Peter Lemche and the second by Thomas Thompson.  These volumes contain essays by their authors spanning the multiple-decades of their scholarly activity and reading through them, Wirkungsgeschichte style, one gets a very fine overview of where they’ve been, where they’ve journeyed, and where they are now.

As a whole the series is grand and the latest volumes continue that tradition.  It is, I have to say, very, very rewarding to be involved (on the editorial board) of such a fine series.  Very rewarding indeed.

I trust that you’ll take a look at these books.  They’re a joy to behold.

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Posted by on 15 Feb 2013 in Biblical Studies Resources, Books


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Lemche Responds to Friedman

In Bible and Interpretation.

…  when it comes to history, especially Friedman seems to have little understanding of what is going on in modern historical research. His introduction here of post-modernism as the background of minimalism is simply nonsense as shown a long time ago by other scholars not belonging to this circle (James Pasto in SJOT, among others). Minimalism arose really as a modern response to wrong interpretations of historical evidence, and that in a very modern way.

Let me say a word about my friend Niels Peter because sometimes I think people may take his Nordic directness and ‘no-nonsense’ prose as ‘rude’ or ‘impolite’.  He certainly has been accused of those things but it’s just not the case that he is.

He is simply direct and to the point.  That’s all.  His various works should be read in a neutral tone of voice, not in an angry one or an impolite one.  He’s merely stating the facts as he sees them and in all honesty he’s usually pretty right.

To be sure, he doesn’t need me to defend him and in all honesty I’m not- I’m simply trying to explain him to those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting this really excellent person.  What you take for gruffness is just simple Danish brevity.  I know.  I’ve spent time with him in Copenhagen and at his farm in Sweden and we have been friends for many years.  Trust me.  You would like him were you ever to meet him, even if you don’t agree with his viewpoint.

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Posted by on 5 Nov 2012 in Modern Culture



Friedman Responds to Lemche

Richard Friedman has today responded to Lemche’s essay of yesterday in Bible and Interpretation. In a word, he didn’t like it (but surely no one thought he would), concluding-

Enough of this “scholarship” that needs to include aspersions against the objectivity of other scholars, even when agreeing that their central point in an article was right.

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Posted by on 24 Oct 2012 in Modern Culture


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Writing Israel out of the History of Palestine, by N.P. Lemche

At Bible and Interpretation, Lemche writes

Every history is an invented history, or a society’s cultural memory. When there are more groups than one present within a given community, we may reckon with more than one cultural memory. In a time of conflict the victors will decide which memory is the “correct” one and it will be written in textbooks and taught in schools. The historian might want to protest, as he insists that he knows the correct version, but memories cannot be controlled by professional historians who don’t pay much attention to historical “facts.”

You’ll doubtlessly enjoy it all.

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Posted by on 23 Oct 2012 in Bible


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Cultural Memory in Biblical Exegesis

Coming soon from Gorgias Press

Cultural memory is a way of dealing with the past in social and cultural life. It transposes the notion of memory as individuals’ negotiation and representation of past experience into the collective and cultural area. Cultural memory is the shared reproduction and recalling of what has been learned and retained, normally treated as “the cultural heritage”. It also involves transformation and innovation. As opposed to individual memory, it brings social institutions and power to play. The notion of location and space (Landscape, ethnoscape, mental maps) is a major contributing factor in making the fragmented retrieved past a coherent whole. Cultural memories appear as palimpsests of material artifacts (including buildings and monuments), text, pictures and ritual practice. Especially relevant is the negotiation of cultural memory between local identity and global culture in this area. The purpose of this book is to study how memory is inscribed and embodied in biblical culture and its surrounding area. When dealing with a new field in research several questions appear, such as those dealing with previous approaches relevant for the cultural memory research: i.e. historiography, folklore, tradition history. We need to join forces to open new gates to cultural memory in biblical and cognate studies, and to include a plethora of methods and perspectives in present research. Such collaborative efforts will support the much needed reflection on the relationship between cultural memory approach and post-colonialism, globalism and epistemology.

Edited by Pernille Carstens
Edited by Trine Hasselbalch
Edited by Niels Peter Lemche
Contribution by Izaak Hulster
Contribution by Dolores Kamrada
Contribution by Rüdiger Schmitt
Contribution by Terje Stordalen
Contribution by David J. Chalcraft
Contribution by Sandra Hübenthal
Contribution by John Van Seters
Contribution by Ehud Ben Zvi
Contribution by Johannes Schnocks
Contribution by Emmanuel Nathan
Contribution by Ida Fröhlich
Contribution by Philip Davies


Posted by on 21 Oct 2012 in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources


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A Noteworthy Day

Today marks the birth anniversary of that brilliant, gutsy, pugilistic, and uncompromising scholar of the Hebrew Bible, Niels Peter Lemche.

Surely you know his work.  Surely you must.  And if you don’t, well now, you must familiarize yourself!  Off with you then- go buy and read one of his many informative and provocative publications.

And until you do, here are some slides of my friend and his environment:

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(Photos are copyright me, and may not be reused or duplicated in any way)

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Posted by on 6 Sep 2012 in Friends, Modern Culture


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Lemche’s Dictionary: A Video Book Recommendation

UPDATE: NPL informs me that there’s a paperback edition available under the title ‘The A to Z of Ancient Israel’ and that a revised edition is in the works for publication next year.

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Posted by on 24 Aug 2012 in Books



The Canaanites and their Land

Logos users will want to know of this if they already don’t-

Canaanites and Their Land: The Tradition of the Canaanites

Suggested Retail Price: $154.95
Your Price with Coupon Code: $24.95

Use coupon code AELCANAA6644 at checkout to get your discount.

It’s a very intriguing volume, even now.  And it’s certainly worth $25.

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Posted by on 12 Aug 2012 in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources


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Opinions and Viewpoints

Following you’ll find a list of people whose opinions matter to me and whose viewpoints I value (though not in such a way that I’m willing to slavishly follow them).  I offer said listing in response to a question I was sent on Facebook (itself responding to a posting from earlier today) .  To be precise the question was

If you don’t care about McGrath’s opinion, whose do you care about?

An excellent question.  I answer- the opinions of these:

God, my wife and daughter, my father-in-law and mother in-law, Bob Cargill, Chris Tilling, Israel Finkelstein, Antonio Lombatti, Giovanni Garbini, Niels Peter Lemche, Thomas Thompson, James Crossley, Maurice Casey, Steph Fisher, Philip Davies, and Keith Whitelam.  And that’s pretty much it.

The persons whose viewpoints I value (aside from the above who are all alive whilst these are dead) :

Rudolf Bultmann, Gerhard von Rad, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Johannes Oecolampadius, and Huldrych Zwingli.

To be sure, I value the opinions and viewpoints of others, but when it comes right down to it and everything is boiled to the essentials, these are the core group.  If you didn’t make the list don’t feel too bad.  First, you probably don’t care about my opinion anyway (so you can’t really be too hurt).  And second, you’re in the majority if your opinion isn’t all that important to me.  So there’s that.

Opinions and viewpoints.  If we’re all honest (a virtue virtually abandoned these days) we would all admit that some people mean more to us than others.


Posted by on 8 Aug 2012 in Theology


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News From Amsterdam SBL: The Minimalists Pose For a Portrait Reenacting the Last Supper…

Again, from our friend Koert- this delightful tweet and photo (which, for all the world, reminds me of the Last Supper by Da Vinci) :

Koert van Bekkum@koertvb   The old guys of the European Seminar of Historical Methodology look back at what they have achieved. #minimalism

‘The old guys’!!!   Priceless!  (And they aren’t THAT old!)


Posted by on 25 Jul 2012 in Conferences, Friends, Humor


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News From SBL Amsterdam: N.P. Lemche Declares an End to the Historical ‘Exile’

Via the twitter-

Koert van Bekkum@koertvb — minimalist Niels Peter Lemche declares the ‘end of historical exile’ in his famous Danish English.

Koert includes a photo in his tweet-

click to enlarge

That’s our NPL.  Breaking new ground and breaking the rules all at the same time.  You have to love the guy.

1 Comment

Posted by on 23 Jul 2012 in Conferences, SBL



Some New Arrivals for Review

These have all been sent by the goodly Niels Peter Lemche for review in the Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament.  The reviews, when they appear in due course, will appear there (in the pages of the best Journal for Old Testament studies).

The Politics of Pessimism in Ecclesiastes (I have the paperback SBL edition).
Reading Daniel as a Text in Theological Hermeneutics.
Gender Issues in Ancient And Reformation Translations of Genesis 1-4.

They all look like great fun.  More in due course in the pages of SJOT.

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Posted by on 5 Jul 2012 in Biblical Studies Resources


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‘Crucify Him, Crucify Him’ – The Biblical Archaeology Review Cries for Zias’ Blood

I wasn’t at the trial so I don’t know what Joe Zias said on the stand.  I do know two things, though and they’re brief observations:

1- BAR hasn’t gone to such lengths to crucify someone (or at least destroy their reputation) since the 90’s when Hershel Shanks showed utter contempt for Keith Whitelam, Niels Peter Lemche, and Thomas Thompson.

2- I don’t really believe BAR is reporting all the facts or all the facts fairly.  I don’t trust BAR to do so as it has shown itself more than willing in the past to skew the evidence to its own advantage.

What this hatchet job shows, though, in my estimation, is that BAR and its editorial staff are a mean-spirited, vicious gang of thugs.  But I already knew that.  I’ve known that since the 90’s.

If, however, BAR has offered the facts as they really are two more things are worth saying:

1- I have been and will remain Joe’s friend.  I’m loyal to my friends and if they happen to fall beneath the weight of human frailty I don’t care- I remain loyal to them.


2- I still have absolutely NO respect for BAR, for Hershel Shanks, for his editorial staff, or for those who support their money-driven archaeology, and that won’t change either unless Shanks is fired and the magazine takes on a wholly new character by adopting a more scholarly and less greedy direction (which means ending advertisements for antiquities).


Posted by on 15 Jun 2012 in Friends


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How Do We Move Beyond the Present Impasse in Biblical Studies?

The impasse, that is, of ‘biblical history’.  Everyone who works in the field of biblical studies knows what this impasse is and how – to this point- insurmountable it has been.

Niels Peter Lemche has written a brief attempt to point us in the right direction which folk, I think, will want to examine and ponder.  He certainly has some useful observations and I thank him for sending them along.

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Posted by on 10 May 2012 in Bible, Biblical Studies Resources


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Hershel Shanks Has Done it More than Once

The other day I mentioned that Shanks has been lifting, without permission, evidently by means of a ‘mole’, materials from a closed (which means inaccessible to the general public) discussion list.

Evidently he didn’t just lift something from Niels Peter Lemche (which wasn’t a quote of Lemche at all but of Oestigaard- no matter, Shanks still used it in BAR to malign Lemche), he’s also lifted something from Joe Zias-  A friend emails-

The May June BAR has a piece on page 22 titled: “Joe Zias ‘Hershel Has No Sense of Humor.'” which then quotes from a Jan 12, 2012 message to the biblical studies list:

Re: [biblical-studies] on talpiot

BAR publishing anything which goes against the James Ossuary. Dreaming, Phillip, remember what happened when one of the DSS editors and I told Shanks and his assistant quietly and discretely that we had seen the James ossuary independently of one another, decades after Golan claims to have published it? Not ‘having a sense of humor’ he retaliated with the ‘Lying Scholars ‘ article and published a 6-7 page article accusing us of lying. When my photo alongside the dealer who ‘knoweth not Zias’ appeared in the article, he then mentioned in a one sentence note in the next issue, ‘apparently the said dealer knows Joe Zias’. Like I’ve always maintained theres a BAR Crowd behind much of this, its a type of mentality in which ones career is placed before the profession. The fact that it’s ‘biblical’ raises a lot of questions…particularly when some of the Talpiot crowd have to date, found 4 tombs of Jesus and U-Haul that ossuary from valley to valley, cave to cave. If you are a member of the BAR crowd you get ‘diplomatic immunity’ from the magazine at least and an opp. to lecture at those ArchFests each year. I don’t know of any other academic discipline which tolerates such behavior, certainly not in the world of anthropology here in IL. As one colleague told me it’s not what you write but how many times you appear on the History Channel, Discovery etc that counts at some universities.

Evidently Mr Shanks and/or his representatives really do have no problem at all ignoring rules to which they assent. I suppose if it serves a purpose, any act is justifiable, including quoting out of context and/ or taking and distributing what you don’t have the right to take and distribute. I’m more disappointed with Shanks’ methodology now than I’ve ever been before. It’s just simply wrong.

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Posted by on 30 Apr 2012 in Total Depravity


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The M.O. Of Hershel Shanks

First, a bit of background information.  I along with 4 others moderate a biblical studies discussion list called, I think quite cleverly, the Biblical Studies Discussion List.  It’s a ‘closed list’ which means only members have access to posts and only members can post both questions and responses.  And even at that most members are moderated.  Such a procedure keeps the list focused and makes it impossible for the lunatics to make it into a forum of dilettantism.

Each participant receives, when membership is requested a list of the ‘rules’ by which all must abide.  These rules are designed to keep things running smoothly.  Were they not in place, given the ‘wild west’ nature of the internet, chaos would ensue.  One of these rules states – in no uncertain terms-

9. If you want to forward to the list a message that was sent to you privately, please first obtain permission from the original sender. And no posting by any list member may be posted or shared anywhere for any reason without the express written permission of the author. There are no exceptions to this rule. Persons who repost or quote without permission will be removed from the list and banned.

We, the other moderators and I, firmly believe in the near-sanctity of intellectual property and consequently we insist that only those who write posts may grant permission for their being quoted outside the confines of the list.  Further, since it is a discussion list, it is easy enough to quote out of context (given the nature of discussion something said in its course and taken out of context may not mean what it’s made to mean in a new context).   Therefore, to make sure that such misquotings and thus misprisions of the views of others is not permitted, the rule stands.

That brings me to the M.O. of Mr Shanks.  I’ve learned today that Shanks quotes, out of context, Niels Peter Lemche.  And the quote he uses came directly from a discussion held on the Biblical Studies list without either appropriate attribution to the list (he calls it a blog) or, and most importantly, without Lemche’s explicit permission.

Section: In Their Own Words: ”To ordinary archaeologists, Biblical archaeologists are lowlife.” Posted on Biblical Studies Blog by Niels Peter Lemche, professor of biblical studies at the university of Copenhagen and renowned biblical minimalist.1 Lemche was reacting to a BAR column about the funding of archaeological excavations in Israel.2

1. See Josef Garfinkel, … BAR May/June 2011
2. Rachel S. Hallote, Archaeological Views. Who pays for Excavations? BAR March/April 2008

Since Mr Shanks isn’t a list member (unless he is so under a false name), I can only presume that someone on the list has ‘passed along’ a quote either intentionally misrepresenting what Lemche said or – failing to understand the context – wrongly.   Either way, someone broke the rules and Mr Shanks received, and used, material without permission.

This is, to me, excessively inappropriate.  Scholarship is an enterprise which cannot best be undertaken when people are not straightforward or when they use the work of others (well or poorly) without following the ‘rules of the road’.  That Shanks evidently has, and used, a ‘mole’ is distressing and, if I’m being frank, annoying.  That’s an M.O. I can’t respect.


Posted by on 27 Apr 2012 in Biblical Studies Resources


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A Ugaritic Fragment Discovered in Greece

Niels Peter Lemche writes

There has on AEGEANET been quite a discussion of this possible Ugaritic fragment which turned up at Tiryns in Greece. A download of an extended article can be found here:

Take a look.  If it turns out to be a Ugaritic fragment this is pretty interesting news!

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Posted by on 23 Oct 2011 in Archaeology


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Misprision at Mari: Niels Peter Lemche Sets the Record Straight

In a new essay in Bible and Interpretation, Lemche notes

A few days ago Sean McLachlan, who seems to make a living out of making announcements, wrote about certain Syrian historical monuments in danger, e.g., the Crac de Chevalier and especially the ancient Mari.

See here

Mr. McLachlan says that he visited Mari in the 1990s. He bases his report on a similar report written by Emma Cunliffe, published in Popular Archaeology September 4th 2011; this article mentions up to twelve sites in danger.

Referencing this article in Popular Archaeology, he includes Palmyra, Ebla, and Carchemishin as danger zones.

It is quite easy to tell such stories about Syria, especially at this moment when the country is in deep problems. I have no intention of commenting on the ongoing revolution in Syria. That is not my concern in this place, but I have visited Syria a number of times: the last one was in 2010.

Things aren’t as bad as reported.  As NPL shows in what follows the excerpt above.

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Posted by on 21 Sep 2011 in Archaeology, Modern Culture


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66 Years ago Today

On the 6th of September, 1945, Niels Peter Lemche was born.  I want to take this opportunity to say happy birthday to him!

Surely you know his work.  Surely you must.  And if you don’t, well now, you must familiarize yourself!  Off with you then- go buy and read one of his many informative and provocative publications.

And until you do, here are some slides of my friend and his environment:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(Photos are copyright me, and may not be reused or duplicated in any way)

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Posted by on 6 Sep 2011 in Friends