Tag Archives: Philip Davies

Happy 68th Birthday, Philip Davies!

Philip isn’t just a brilliant scholar who has made more groundbreaking contributions to the field of biblical studies than most, he’s also a friend.  A few years back when I was in  Britain for SOTS I stayed in Sheffield for a couple of days and we spent a very fine afternoon walking and chatting and demythologizing.  Here are some photos:

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Happy birthday Philip!  I hope it’s a brilliant, restful, gift filled day!   See you in November in Baltimore.

Congratulations are in Order

peqPhilip Davies has, I’ve learned today, become the Reviews Editor of the Palestine Exploration Quarterly.  Congratulations to Philip, and the PEQ.

An Update on the ‘Lead Codices’

SOTS passes along this note from the inestimable Philip Davies on the codices.  Philip writes-

Prince Hussein addressed the Seventh World Archaeological Congress in Amman earlier this month. During a preliminary meeting of government officials and other interested parties, it was proposed that he should announce (a) that lead codices have been found in Jordan and were worthy of study; and (b) that scholars and institutes were invited to come and study them. Barbara Porter, the Director of ACOR (American Center of Oriental Research) urged the government not to make the announcement and so it was abandoned. The reason for this compliance, I understand, is that the government backed down is that it does not want to upset its relationship with ACOR, which has a great deal of influence in Jordan. It funds numerous excavations and bring a lot of money to Jordan.  ACOR became a private institution in 1993. No reason was given by Dr Porter for her veto and no public statements have been made by any party. Any members [of SOTS] with connections to ACOR or senior personnel may like to write and ask the reason for this action, which seems hard to understand.

Philip Davies

So, that’s the latest- just for those following the tale.

The Celebration of the 65th Anniversary of the Biblical Studies Department at Sheffield Continues

29th October 2012 – Emeritus Professor J. Cheryl Exum, ‘A Role for the Arts in Biblical Studies’, Jessop West Exhibition Space, 2pm-4pm- This lecture is open to all, attendance is free and there is no need to book.

And then

7 November 2012 – Dr Mark Finney, ‘Resurrecting Jesus: Pauline Thought in Sheffield and Beyond’, Humanities Research Institute, 6.30pm.

You can download all the cool upcoming lectures here. The Department’s 65th Anniversary page is here. And of course the main page of the Department is here.

And here are some photos of Sheffield (just because I love it there as I do) –

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(yes, the photo of the white building with the two blue doors is the Department home and Philip Davies requested to be able to use my snapshot for the Department page- which I was more than thrilled to grant).

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

Philip Davies is Talking the Bible and Archaeology

In a new essay at Bible and Interpretation.

How should the historian deal with the biblical texts on the one hand and archaeological data on the other? The collapse of “biblical archaeology” has left many scholars without any agreed procedure. At one pole is a clique clinging to “biblical historicity”; at the other pole are those who want to construct a purely archaeological history. Between the poles lie the rest of us, apparently uncertain as to how to proceed. Some claim that biblical texts and archaeology largely do not intersect, and others that the biblical texts have virtually no relationship to history, some work ad hoc. I’m not going to provide names here, because any individual scholar may resent being crudely labelled.

Here, instead, I’m going to sketch a basic methodology, based on three principles. First: the issue does not relate only to biblical texts that describe the past, that appear “historiographical”. Second: there is no question of comparing raw biblical data with raw archaeological data; in each case the data have to be processed—that is, interpreted through technical means. Third: biblical texts and archaeological data,once processed, are largely compatible and can be compared and integrated.

Enjoy the whole piece.

Answering Your Letters


I noticed today that you have been supportive of Francesca but you were never that charitable towards John Loftus or Richard Dawkins. All of them are atheists. Why do you like one but not the others? I think it’s just because Francesca is a pretty woman.


Dear Tony,

I’ve tried to explain this before but since you ask I’ll explain it again. I draw a distinction between atheists and angry atheists. Atheists are disbelievers in God who have arrived at their (erroneous) conclusion because they find no evidence for God. Angry atheists are either former Christians who worshiped a God of their own making who, consequently and inevitably, didn’t live up to their expectations; or, like Dawkins, are just atheists for the novelty of it because they love to be controversialists (akin to the folk who are gay simply because it’s chic).

These angry atheists aren’t atheists by conviction, they’re atheists by convenience. And I find that simultaneously loathsome and childish.

As to your intimation that I only am friendly with the good looking:  Francesca is, in fact, a very attractive young lady. But that’s hardly the reason I am willing to befriend her. I’ve also befriended James Crossley and Philip Davies- neither of whom are Christians and yet both are incredibly unattractive (no offense). A person’s physicality has nothing to do with whether or not I am willing to operate on friendly terms with them. My criteria are more cerebral. Atheists who have respect for Christians in spite of their differing opinions are excellent dialogue partners and in my experience, excellent friends.

Angry atheists, on the other hand, are mouth-breathing, dull witted, wretched little complainers and life is too short to engage with such things on anything but the level which they deserve: contempt.

I hope this clears things up, Tony.

Philip Enters the Phray

(Sorry about that, I couldn’t resist).

In a new essay Philip Davies writes

I cannot resist making a contribution to the recent spate of exchanges between scholars about the existence of Jesus—these mostly on the internet and blogosphere, and so confined to a few addicts, but the issue has always lurking within New Testament scholarship generally. Shortly before his death, Robert Funk had approached me about the possibility of setting up the equivalent of a ‘Jesus Seminar’ for Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, perhaps a ‘Moses Seminar’? I couldn’t see any scope for such an exercise (and still can’t), but have often thought how a ‘minimalist’ approach might transfer to the New Testament, and in particular the ‘historical Jesus’, who keeps appearing to New Testament scholars in different guises.

Read it all.

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!)

Davies Responds to Garfinkel

In Bible and Interpretation, Philip Davies writes

We can quibble about whether the Shephelah is “Judah” rather than the highlands, but that this part of Palestine and this city were part of a political system called “Judah” is quite another supposition. Where is the proof? I suspect Garfinkel is just using a biblical figure to fill the gap. If so, we have just another example of the old “biblical archaeology.”

Enjoy it all.

More Going on at the 65th Anniversary of the Biblical Studies Department, Sheffield

From Viv Rowett, this news:

Philip Davies will be giving the third lecture in the series [of lectures in observance of the Department’s anniversary], ‘Bible as History’ on 6 June at 6.30pm at the Jessops West Exhibition Space, Sheffield. This lecture is extra special because Philip will be presented with his Festschrift following the lecture and Equinox will give a drinks reception in his honour.  It is hoped that many colleagues, former students and festschrift contributors will be able to attend this event.   Entry is free and there is no need to book for these lectures.

Speaking of the Festschrift for Philip, it has been so long in the making (first announced in 2007 !) that its name has changed completely.  The volume formerly known as ‘In Search of Philip Davies: Whose Festschrift is it Anyway?’ has now been titled ‘Far From Minimal: Celebrating the Work and Influence of Philip R. Davies‘.  It’s a massive volume, over 580 pages, and is supposed to be available in May (which is, isn’t it, now).  And its price matches its girth.

The Dead Sea Scrolls for a New Millenium

In The Dead Sea Scrolls for a New Millennium, Phillip R. Callaway presents the most comprehensive survey of the Dead Sea Scrolls since the final publication of the cave 4 fragments. The chapters on editing the Scrolls, on the caves, on the scrolls, and on Khirbet Qumran present the evidence without getting bogged down in older controversies. Callaway discusses the so-called yahad ostracon, as well as a fascinating writing exercise, and the supposed Dead Sea Scroll on stone.

Philip Davies writes of it-

Phillip Callaway takes his readers through the stories of discovery, conveying with a cool and authoritative touch the major theories and issues that the Scrolls have engendered, and leading us into the heart of the scrolls themselves. His account is readable, reliable, undogmatic, up-to-date, and strongly recommended for students and non-specialists alike.

Sounds very intriguing.  And since it isn’t from Brill, you won’t have to sacrifice a goat to the banker gods to get one.

News From the Enoch Seminar

From Gabriele Boccaccini

We are happy to announce the launch of a new series of small seminars (maximum 35 participants) in addition to the traditional Enoch Seminars. Thanks to the generous contribution of the Alessandro Nangeroni International Endowment, we are able to host these meetings at the beautiful Villa Cagnola in Gazzada, Milan, Italy, where the last Enoch Seminar was so successfully held.

Professor Lester Grabbe has graciously agreed to chair this first Nangeroni Meeting toward the end of June 2012 (June 25-28), with the theme: “The Seleucid and Hasmonean Periods and the Apocalyptic Worldview”. (See the attached information sheet for details)

The aim of the 2012 conference is to give a historical and sociological analysis of apocalyptic literature and perspective during the Seleucid and Hasmonean periods (c. 200-63 BCE). As usual, all papers will circulate in advance and will not be read by the writers. The time given will be devoted primarily to discussion. The main speakers at this moment, in addition to the chairs Lester Grabbe and Gabriele Boccaccini, include Pierluigi Piovanelli, Philip Davies, Anathea Portier-Young, and we hope Michael Stone, while Erich Gruen has agreed to be an overall respondent.

As these meetings are strictly limited to a maximum of 35 participants including speakers), we invite all who are interested to contact the chair Professor Lester Grabbe (L.L.Grabbe@hull.ac.uk) and the secretary Jason Zurawski (jasonzur@umich.edu) as soon as possible, at the latest by December 15, 2011.

As usual for the Enoch Seminar, we also invite people to submit short papers related to the theme. 6 of the papers will be presented in 2 dedicated sessions at the conference.

As with the regular Enoch Seminars, expenses will be subsidized for speakers and all participants, on a sliding scale as indicated in the attached information sheet. The proceedings of the conference will be published in a special volume of the Journal Henoch.

For more information, see www.4enoch.org at the page “Nangeroni Meetings” http://www.4enoch.org/wiki2/index.php?title=Nangeroni_Meetings

Changing Perspectives 1-4

Changing Perspectives I: Studies in the History, Literature and Religion of Biblical Israel, by John Van Seters with an Introduction by Thomas L. Thompson

This is a freshly published volume (just now out!) from the Copenhagen International Seminar Series which

… contains a collection of articles written over a 40 year period, from 1964 onwards. They are revisionist in character and address major issues in the understanding of Israelite and Judean history, the literary-critical analysis of the Pentateuch and historical books, and the nature of biblical religion. The historical studies were among the first to raise serious questions with the prevailing understanding of the “patriarchal age”, the accounts of the exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan, and the temple of Solomon. The literary studies of the Pentateuch challenged both the classical Documentary Hypothesis, especially the early dating of J, and the more recent modifications that support the notion of an extensive Deuteronomistic redaction of the Pentateuch. Articles on biblical historiography focus on a late dating of the Court History of David, the nature of the Deuteronomistic history, and the role of creative imitation in the composition of biblical narrative. The final section on Israelite religion and culture views biblical notions about patriarchal religion, myths of human origin, and the legendary origins of Passover, within a broad comparative context. These articles have had a significant impact in the field of biblical studies.

Go to the link above for the complete table of contents.  And since I have the honor of being a series editor, let me commend it to you most heartily!

And, there are other volumes in the series ‘Changing Perspectives’ too.  Here’s IV, by Philip Davies.  And though not yet listed, Thomas Thompson also has a contribution in the series titled Changing Perspectives II (and I’m very familiar with it as I’m presently working on editing it) and Niels Peter Lemche’s III should appear sometime after II.

Bible and Interpretation’s ‘Philip Davies’ Collection

Articles by Philip Davies

By the Rivers of Babylon
Beyond Labels: What Comes Next?
Are There Ethics in the Hebrew Bible?
Watch Your Language!
Whose Bible? Anyone’s?
Biblical History and Cultural Memory
Do We Need Biblical Scholars?
Final Comments on Minimalism
Minimalism, “Ancient Israel,” and Anti-Semitism

Ronald Hendel v. Philip Davies: The 2011 ‘Cultural Memory’ Smackdown

That’s an overly dramatic title for a post isn’t it?!  But if it draws your attention to this newly published essay in Bible and Interpretation, it has done its duty.

Personally I’m still pondering all the cultural memory stuff that’s been flying off the presses the last few years and I haven’t made up my mind about it.  You may have, or you may have not.  Either way, you’ll doubtless be interested in expanding your horizons by reading Hendel’s piece.  Especially the conclusion-

I disagree with Philip’s contention that the concept of cultural memory supports what he calls “the minimalist option” in biblical studies.  It does no such thing. The minimalist/maximalist dichotomy, as far as I understand it, becomes obsolete in light of the concept of cultural memory. The truth (if I may use this word in its everyday sense) is more complicated than this dichotomy allows. The pursuit of cultural memory in biblical studies has the potential to complicate and reconfigure many dubious dichotomies in our field, including maximalism/minimalism, history/fiction, diachronic/synchronic, and perhaps even postmodern/modern. And as Philip and I agree (to my pleasure), it also implicates post-biblical and modern memories of the biblical past, and how such memories are revitalized and contested in each generation.

I hope Philip starts round two.

UPDATE:  Philip responds-

I am a fan of Ron, who is a scholar and a gentleman, and I enjoy both agreeing and disagreeing with him. All I think I want to say in response is that all stories about the past are fiction in the sense of being constructed as narratives (even our modern critical reconstructions). But I agree (and have made the point in print) that in evaluating memories we need to know as much as we can about the facts of the past, otherwise our analysis and understanding of these memories cannot be complete. If, as it may well be, I have misrepresented myself on these issues, I hope this reply makes clear.

Some Books Worth Noting

There’s a couple of them over at the Sheffield Blog.  Especially interesting, to me, is this one:

Just out is this…

Philip Davies, On the Origins of Judaism

This book covers several basic issues in the formation of early Judaism. It explores the identity of those who produced and canonized the Hebrew Bible and subsequently shaped its interpretation, re-examines the significance and impact of Second Isaiah, and the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, traces the root of Jewish apocalyptic literature, and the possible origins of the exodus story. Two final chapters consider the mechanics of table fellowship in diaspora Judaism and consider the ethical systems of the Hebrew Bible and of the Athenian tragedians in the light of their respective social and political structures. Some of these essays have previously appeared but all have been revised.

The World’s Most Dreadful Human Being: Philip Davies

Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley, claimed the disabled or those with mental health problems were at a disadvantage because they could not offer to work for less money. Relaxing the law would help some to compete more effectively for jobs in “the real world” in which they are “by definition” less productive than those without disabilities, he claimed. The remarks stunned MPs on all sides and forced Downing Street to distance the Prime Minister from Mr Davies. Charities and equality campaigners condemned the suggestion as “outrageous”. During a Parliamentary debate, Mr Davies told MPs that the minimum wage of £5.93 per hour meant disabled people who wanted to work found the door being “closed in their face”.

I bet you first thought it was the excellent Philip Davies of Sheffield. Nope. He’s grand. And no politician. This Shipley Davies is a dreadful human being more interested in money than the well being of the most disadvantaged.  I hope the good people of Shipley boot him from office.

The Most Pressing Question for Modern Biblical Scholarship

Philip Davies is actually the one who put it so directly- but I have to say I do find it very, very important-

What are the State of Israel and its activities doing to biblical scholarship?

That question, as simple as it might at first glance appear, has wide ranging implications. Of course it’s plain to see that archaeology in Palestine and Israel are directly affected by Israel’s actions. But so is biblical scholarship. How, and to what extent?  We need to know or at least consider the question because if we don’t know where we are, we can never get to where we are going.

Celebrating Lester Grabbe’s 65th Birthday in Sheffield

Lester Grabbe celebrated his 65th birthday on Saturday, Nov 6th (though his actual date of birth is November 5th) with friends in Sheffield and was given a copy of the Festschrift (and you can see the contents here) assembled in his honor.  Below are some photos of the happy evening!  Happy birthday indeed to Professor Grabbe and congratulations on the Festschrift!

With thanks to Philip Davies for sharing the photos with me so I could share them, and the news of the happy event, with you.