excerpt from robert cargill’s ajs lecture: why qumran matters

here are the final few minutes of my december 2009 association for jewish studies lecture on ‘the state of the archaeological debate at qumran.’ i was summarizing why qumran matters for the study of the dead sea scrolls.
thanx to dave kaplan for capturing this clip.

a request to terrorists

i’d like to make a small request of islamic terrorists who keep trying to bomb americans. it’s written in arabic so you can read it. it’s just a thought:

Stop Blowing Sh!t Up T-Shirt

dear islamic terrorists, you’re doing nothing to help your cause. by now, most americans know that islam is not evil, rather, people who kill innocent people in the name of islam are evil, just like those who kill innocents in the name of judaism or christianity (or name your religion) are evil. you’re only hurting your cause and giving the world a reason to hate you, which gives governments a reason to come after you.

so, if you wouldn’t mind, stop trying to blow stuff up. thanx.

on looted archaeological objects, the antiquities market, the heliodorus stele, and the israel museum

Heiodorus Stele

The so-called Heliodorus Stele is said to be both authentic and from an archaeological excavation in Beit Guvrin, Israel. Scholars wonder how an object discovered in a sanctioned excavation made it onto the antiquities market.

there is an excellent editorial on the bible and interpretation site by editors mark elliot and paul flesher about the so-called ‘heliodorus stele.’ specifically, the editorial asks the question why this inscription, if authentic, wound up in the hands of collectors and antiquity dealers?

the article concludes:

In short, we would argue that there are many questions which need to be answered about the Heliodorus Stele, above and beyond the inscription written upon it: when was it found; how was it found; if it were looted from Beit Guvrin, did the dig directors know when and how it was taken; did the IAA and the Parks Authority know that such looting was going on and, if so, what steps did they take to prevent further looting; how did Gil Chaya really come into possession of the stele; how did the Steinhardts find out about it and buy it; how much did they pay for it and was Chaya allowed to keep the money; why wasn’t the sale stopped; why was the sale allowed in the first place; what role did the Israel Museum play in this; and why isn’t the IAA (and the dig directors) questioning all this if the object has been shown through analysis to come from the same place on a licensed dig as three other similar objects?

there are a few different conclusions we can draw about the heliodorus stele, and each one of them raises some serious questions. i want to know the following:

  • looted – if it was taken from beit guvrin, why aren’t the authorities trying to apprehend the looter(s)? who received money for the transfer of this looted object?
  • antiquities market – if it was not looted, but is simply an unprovenanced object on the antiquities market, why are scholars and journals publishing articles about unprovenanced materials?
  • forgery – if it is a forgery, what is the israel museum doing displaying it? and who got duped into saying this forgery is authentic? also, if a forgery, were the fragments discovered during the ‘dig for a day’ excavations planted?

put simply, if it was discovered in a legitimate excavation, what on earth is it doing on the antiquities market? and who took it?

nothing to do jan 3? watch ‘blood for the gods’ on discovery

there are no bowl games scheduled for jan 3, 2010. so what are nerds, biblical scholars, history junkies, and intellectuals supposed to watch on a sunday night? how about a short series about the history of human sacrifice on discovery channel called blood for the gods. the first two episodes are ‘sex & death‘ and ‘blood & power.’ the episodes debut back-to-back on sunday, january 3, 2010 at 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm.

the teaser for ‘sex & death‘ says:

To some ancient people, sex and death go hand in hand in fertility sacrifices meant to promote life…through gruesome rituals of death. But are the legends of fertility sacrifices true? Did Aztecs really cut out the hearts of thousands of victims?

the teaser for ‘blood & power‘ says:

Human Sacrifice in some cases is all about power – power over life and death, power in this world, and power in the next world. We’ll learn the price of power in grisly practices ranging from Egyptian pharaohs to Chinese rituals.

tune in. a couple of the experts interviewed are ancient near eastern scholars you may know.

absolutely unacceptable and condemnable – murder on christmas eve

Philip Wise

Salvation Army Major Philip Wise was murdered on Christmas Eve.

this story is absolutely unacceptable and utterly condemnable. who robs a charity worker? who murders someone who gives their life to helping the poor? who murders in cold blood?

The 40-year-old father of three joined the Salvation Army along with his wife, Cindy, 16 years ago, and they had spent the past few years reaching out to those in the Baring Cross neighborhood. The North Little Rock center provides youth programs, weekly church services and Sunday School and a food pantry, among other services.

Wise was returning to that Salvation Army center at 1505 W. 18th St. with his children Thursday afternoon when two black men, both with handguns, approached him and demanded money. One shot was fired, and Wise was killed as his children stood by. His wife, who was in the center at the time, was the one to call 911.

when they catch these two, and they will, it will be death for both of them. i don’t say that often, but if ever it is justified, here it is. murder of a charity worker in front of his children for a bucket of salvation army change.

absolutely unacceptable.

where in the world is jim west now?

he’s on israeli television being interviewed about christmas. but his plane arrived late, and he didn’t have time to take care of things backstage before coming onto the set.

when you have to go…..

one reason why i love the west wing (still)

one reason why i loved the west wing (and still do).

could you imagine if a president from either party really, i mean really knew the bible – not just its verses, but also their context and their implications for governance if the hermeneutic used for some verses like prohibitions against homosexuality were consistently applied a throughout the text? can you imagine if the thoughtfulness that went into making this tv show actually went in to decisions made by our leaders?

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