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In this wide-ranging interview, Hershel Shanks sits down with 90-year-old priest and New Testament scholar Joseph Fitzmyer to reflect on Fitzmyer’s work with the Dead Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem in 1957 and 1958. The still-lively Fitzmyer recalls those years and more while relating anecdotes about the creation of a concordance from the scroll fragments and the publication team’s tentative transcriptions of the texts. It was these valuable transcriptions that eventually allowed the scrolls to be released to the public.
Scholars have long known that a number of the earliest Christian writings are “forgeries”—books written by unknown authors claiming to be someone famous (e.g., one of the apostles). What is less known is that some of these forgeries were written to counter other books that were also forgeries. This lecture looks at two such “counter-forgeries”—one that made it into the canon of scripture (the first-century book of “James”) and one that did not (the second-century “Letter of Peter”).
Many scholars agree on the odd symbols found over the years: they represent the human imprint left by Jewish Christians. But some others like Biblical minimalists question whether the unusual strokes of a seemingly Latin cross aren’t merely remnants from a painter cleaning his brush. Professor Strange will enlighten you with stories and images from many sites in and around Jerusalem, stressing the importance of archaeological methodology to come to a reasonable conclusion of what has been found.
In this intriguing lecture, noted Biblical scholar and archaeologist Michael D. Coogan tackles the complex issue of Yahweh’s wives. According to Coogan, the issue of Yahweh’s wives, particularly the goddess Asherah, is a most interesting topic from the perspective of the history of religions, illuminated by both canonical and non-canonical sources, as well as archaeology. Coogan shares a number of fascinating images to support his notion that the “notoriously inconsistent” ancient Biblical texts need to be studied carefully, especially since so many today appeal to the Bible in support of their values.
A vexing irony inhabits the Book of Deuteronomy. On the one hand, the book makes exclusive worship at a single site chosen by Israel’s God Yahweh the defining criterion of community faithfulness. On the other hand, the book fails to identify the sanctuary’s location. The quest to resolve this conundrum has directed scholarly attention to Shechem, Shiloh, Bethel, Gilgal, Gerizim, and, most recently, Mt. Ebal—all sacred sites identified in early Israel’s settlement traditions. This lecture reviews linguistic, historical and archaeological evidence that may help us identify where Deuteronomy’s “place of the name” was actually located.
A number of pseudepigraphic works survive from Jewish and Christian antiquity. The Hebrew Bible contains at least two instances (Daniel and Ecclesiastes); the New Testament has many more (the Pastoral Epistles, 1 and 2 Peter, etc.). In each of these examples, an author falsely claims to be a famous person. Some scholars have argued that this was an acceptable practice in the ancient world, and that such books should not be tarnished with the term “forgeries.” Is this true? Or did the ancients themselves consider such books to be deceitful lies? This presentation considers what ancient authors said about books written under a false name and about the people who wrote them.
The Israelite exodus from Egypt is clearly the most important event in the Hebrew Bible, and yet there is presently no direct archaeological evidence to support the tradition, causing some scholars to question whether it was a historical event. Archaeology, however, can provide important background material that enables the events of the book of Exodus to be visualized, and discoveries at various sites in Egypt have made it possible to identify some of the places mentioned in Exodus. In this insightful lecture, Professor James Hoffmeier of Trinity International University reports on his archaeological excavations at Tell el-Borg as well as geological work in Sinai, sharing images of Egyptian iconography and inscriptions, plans and other fascinating visual materials.
This video features Hershel Shanks’s engaging interview with Dead Sea Scrolls experts Weston Fields and George Brooke, who present key findings about the scrolls and the fascinating story behind their study and interpretation. Shanks focuses on British scholar John Marco Allegro, a maverick and self-proclaimed publicist who contended the scrolls could relate to early doctrines of Christianity. Fields and Brooke also discuss the controversial letter written to and published in The Times (of London) by five Dead Sea Scrolls team members disassociating themselves from Allegro and his opinions. Later, they comment on the unique Copper Scroll with its Hebrew “treasure map” listing valuable lost items from the first-century C.E., likely from the Jerusalem Temple. Is the list fact, as Allegro passionately believed, or just a fantasy?