Tag Archives: bible

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 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.
Continue reading

A techie note from church

This morning in Church it was my turn to read the lesson from the Hebrew scriptures, about Joseph being sold to the Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of Silver (Genesis 37). I also read the assigned part
of Psalm 105, where this story also comes up.

17 He sent a man before them, *
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 They bruised his feet in fetters; *
his neck they put in an iron collar.

I saw the phrase “iron collar” and my mind immediately went “Anachronism!”. Continue reading

Pentecost

Pentecost, May 27, 2012

Lá na Cincíse, 27ú lá Mí na Bealtaine 2012

<!–

Fadas: áéíóúÁÉÍÓÚ

–>

This past Sunday was Pentecost. At St. Mary’s,
as I have seen elsewhere, a tradition is to read one one of the lessons in multiple languages. I volunteered to read
in Irish. We read the Gospel, after our Deacon introduced it. The Irish translation is from An Bíobla Naofa.
Léigh tuilleadh

US university settles religious discrimination case

At Physics World:

A settlement has been reached in a case brought against the University of Kentucky by astrophysicist Martin Gaskell over his claim that the university illegally denied him a staff position on the basis of his evangelical Christian faith. The settlement now requires the university to pay $125,000 to Gaskell and his lawyers, who claimed that the decision meant Gaskell lost income and caused him “emotional distress”. The university admits no wrongdoing in the case, which was due to go to trial on 8 February. Meanwhile, Gaskell has taken a job at Chile’s University of Valparaiso, which he will start in March.

Following up on the Gaskell affair.