Biblical Archaeology Review 31:6, November/December 2005

First Person: Cites Unseen

Why do some scholars avoid references to BAR?

By Hershel Shanks

I have a bone to pick with my scholar friends. They resist citing articles in BAR whenever they can.

My favorite example involves the remarkable finds at a site in the northern Sinai desert called Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, excavated by Ze’ev Meshel of Tel Aviv University in 1975–1976. The hoard of pottery and stone vessels from the second half of the ninth century B.C.E. to the early eighth century B.C.E. bears extraordinary drawings and inscriptions in Hebrew and Phoenician. The inscriptions mention the deities El and Baal. But the most startling inscription speaks of Yahweh (the personal name of the Hebrew God) and his Asherah. Some have even suggested that the accompanying drawing on the pottery depicts the consort of the Israelite God!

In 1978 the Israel Museum in Jerusalem featured the finds in an exhibit for which Meshel wrote a small catalog entitled Kuntillet ‘Ajrud: A Religious Centre from the Time of the Judaean Monarchy on the Border of Sinai. In our March/April 1979 issue, he wrote a cover story for us called “Did Yahweh Have a Consort? The New Religious Inscriptions from Sinai,” which was dramatically illustrated with large, full-color pictures. These are still the only basic publications of the finds because Meshel’s final report remains to be published. The BAR article, however, is rarely cited in the scholarly literature. Only the Israel Museum catalog is cited, even though copies are rarer than hen’s teeth. Many fine libraries do not have it in their collection.

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