Like many of you, we celebrate the return of cherished holiday traditions, including coming together with friends and family for meals, laughs, and good conversation. But what to talk about? Thankfully, our Winter 2021 issue is packed with insightful, thought-provoking articles sure to promote enjoyable (and not too contentious) discussion around the holiday table.
The holidays always seem like the ideal time to talk about the Herods, the first-century dynasty of Judean rulers so reviled by the gospel writers and others. Our cover story, “Who Built the Tomb of the Kings?” by journalist Andrew Lawler, presents new evidence that one of Jerusalem’s largest and best-known monuments was initially built not for a foreign queen, as has long been supposed, but for Herod Agrippa I, the last of the Herods to rule over Judea.
And what would the holidays be without a good debate? We present two opposing views on the infamous Shapira Scrolls, the now lost manuscripts that surfaced on the antiquities market more than 150 years ago, proclaimed by seller Moses Shapira to be an early version of the Book of Deuteronomy. Ronald Hendel and Matthieu Richelle use new evidence about the script of the scrolls to argue they are forgeries, as most scholars have long suspected, while Idan Dershowitz and James Tabor present new textual and archival evidence that they believe proves the scrolls are genuine manuscripts.