Tag Archives: bible

Mining Our Biblical Matriarchs

A workshop on Friday, September 2, 2022 at Chicon 8, presented by Sally Wiener Grotta

The women of the Bible (Eve, Esther, Miriam, etc.) have been amongst the West’s most enduring female archetypes. As lush and varied as any mythology, their stories have been reinterpreted by every generation’s artists, clerics, and political leaders, according to how they expected women to be. However, these archetypes have been largely overlooked by modern spec fic authors. In this workshop, we’ll have fun challenging and toppling common preconceptions about various women of the Bible, as we mine this rich mother lode for SF&F story ideas.


The following are my notes and amplifications. I am solely responsible for their content and any mistakes.
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Chicon 8

Thursday

On Thursday, Sept. 1, Mia McDavid and I drove to Chicago for Chicon 8: The 80th World Science Fiction Convention at the Hyatt Regency Chicago . This was our 5th Chicon. Previously we had attended:

Despite some glitches, we really enjoyed the Con, and visiting downtown Chicago again.

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Sermon Notes from Lent 1

Notes from a sermon by the Rev. Joy Caires, Lent 1B, And Now You Protest?. Preached at St. Clement’s Episcopal Churcn, St. Paul, MN. Readings

Here are the key Biblical passages referenced in the sermon.

Looking back on the Noah story:

Genesis 6:7-22

7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals
and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
8 But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.
9 These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God.
10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.
12 And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth.
13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all
flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth.
14 Make yourself an ark of cypress[a] wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.

[Skipping the technical details of building and provisioning the ark.]

22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

After which the flood comes and everybody who was not in the ark dies. While Noah “did all that God commanded him,” he does not show the slightest concern about those he left behind. Did he care about them at all? Contrast that with what Abraham and Moses did when facing similar cases of God’s wrath.

Genesis 18:16-33 Abraham pleads for people of Sodom

20 Then the Lord said, “How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! 21 I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.”
22 So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord.[a] 23 Then Abraham came near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26 And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” 27 Abraham answered, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there. 29 Again he spoke to him, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31 He said, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 33 And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.”

Exodus 32:9-14 Moses plead for people of Israel

9 The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. 10 Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.”

11 But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”
14 And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

Abraham and Moses pleaded with God to change his mind, and in both cases it worked. God did not proceed with the planned slaughters. Why didn’t Noah ask God not to send the flood? And since he did not make such a plea, why is he “a righteous man? It is not enough to look out for yourself and your family. You have to care for all people.

This is not a new question. It was discussed by Rabbis in the middle ages.

A Copper Mine in Ancient Israel

I wrote in The Archaeology of Armageddon:

The site was occupied almost continuously from about 3500 BCE until about 586 BCE, but a direct connection to King Solomon has yet to be found. What were thought to be Solomon’s stables now seem to date from the reign of Ahab, about 870-850 BCE. Ahab and his father Omri get a terrible press in the Biblical book of 1 Kings, but unlike their predecessors in both Israel and Judah, they are mentioned in contemporary Moabite and Assyrian records. We do not yet have such a verification of the Biblical account for David and Solomon
However, somebody at that time was operating a large copper mine in what is now Israel with fortifications. Continue reading

The Archaeology of Armageddon

From 1925 until 1939 The University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute (OI) conducted an archaeological expedition at Tel Megiddo, in what is now northern Israel. This was literally the Biblical Armageddon and has an archaeological record going back to c. 3500 BCE. Eric Cline’s Digging Up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon is a fascinationg account of these excavations. The author interleaves descriptions of the discoveries with the story, which Cline describes as a soap opera, of the participants in the dig.

I discovered the OI back in the 1960’s and it has been a part of my life ever since. However, I had no idea it was such an important player in the archaeological work between the world wars. It is amazing what could be done with Rockefeller money in those days.

The site was occupied almost continuously from about 3500 BCE until about 586 BCE, but a direct connection to King Solomon has yet to be found. What were thought to be Solomon’s stables now seem to date from the reign of Ahab, about 870-850 BCE. Ahab and his father Omri get a terrible press in the Biblical book of 1 Kings, but unlike their predecessors in both Israel and Judah, they are mentioned in contemporary Moabite and Assyrian records. We do not yet have such a verification of the Biblical account for David and Solomon.

Evidence for Literacy in Ancient Judah

The Babylonians sacked Jerusalem and conquered the biblical kingdom of Judah in 587 BCE. Just before then, c. 600 BCE, Judah maintained a small military outpost at Tel Arad, about 20 miles south of Jerusalem. Written inscriptions have been found there on ostraca (pottery fragments), a common writing medium in the ancient world. The fort at Tel Arad was a small place, with a garrison of 20-30 soldiers. Yet a handwriting analysis of 18 incriptions shows that there were least 6 and perhaps as many as 12 authors of these texts. This indicates that literacy was not uncommon in Judah at the time, at least among the army. It was not the exclusive domain a few scribes serving the king.

Given a substantial degree of literacy, it is plausible that some of the books of the Hebrew Bible, e.g. Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, were in fact written down before the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile.


References

Dating a passage in Acts

Acts 18:12-17 reads (NRSV):

12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. 13 They said, “This man is persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to the law.” 14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of crime or serious villainy, I would be justified in accepting the complaint of you Jews; 15 but since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves; I do not wish to be a judge of these matters.” 16 And he dismissed them from the tribunal. 17 Then all of them seized Sosthenes, the official of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of these things.
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