July/Aug/Sept/Oct 2019 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (45/4&5) is now on newsstands

July/Aug/Sept/Oct 2019 special double issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (45/4 & 5)I’m proud to announce that the July/Aug/Sept/Oct 2019 special double issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (45/4&5) is now on newsstands.

The double issue, which we’ve called “By the Hand of a Woman” (Judges 4:9), is special because all of the contributors have one thing in common: they are all excellent scholars sharing their research.

“The Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah”
by Nava Panitz-Cohen and Naama Yahalom-Mack
Appearing in 2 Samuel 20, the Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah adroitly saves her town from destruction. Who was this woman, and what role did she play in Israelite tradition that understood cities like Abel Beth Maacah and Tel Dan to be hosts to oracles and seers?

“Reimagining Herod’s Royal Portico”
by Orit Peleg-Barkat
A synthesis of Hellenistic and Roman architecture, King Herod’s Royal Portico on the Temple Mount was one of his most ambitious and impressive construction projects. What archaeological evidence can we use to reconstruct this magnificent structure?

“Baby Burials in the Middle Bronze Age”
by Beth Alpert Nakhai
In ancient Canaan, people often buried their dead babies in storage jars, which they then deposited under the floor or wall of a house, in an open area, or in a tomb. Explore this custom with Beth Alpert Nakhai, who makes sense of these perplexing burials.

“Song of Liberation: Freedom in the Late Bronze Age”
by Eva von Dassow
Preserved in cuneiform tablets from around 1400 B.C.E., the Song of Liberation tells a story of the people of Igingallish being held as captives in the neighboring city of Ebla. When gods rule this to be unjust, it is up to Ebla’s assembly to decide their own fate.

“Stepped Pools and Stone Vessels: Rethinking Jewish Purity Practices in Palestine”
by Cecilia Wassén
It is generally assumed that the increased production of stone vessels and the introduction of stepped pools around the turn of the era reflect Jewish concerns with ritual purity. Cecilia Wassén suggests other, more mundane, factors, such as general Hellenizing influences and the Roman culture of bathing.

“Baking Bread in Ancient Judah”
by Cynthia Shafer-Elliott
Excavations at Tell Halif have uncovered several houses from the eighth century B.C.E. One house in particular offers up a host of information about ancient Judahite food processes and preparation. Explore how bread was baked at Tell Halif—and who did the baking.

“Reactivating Remembrance: Interactive Inscriptions from Mt. Gerizim”
by Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme
When people visited temples in ancient Palestine, how did they worship? Archaeologists have uncovered large amounts of dedicatory inscriptions from ancient temples, including the Samaritan temple on Mt. Gerizim. Discover what role these inscriptions played in worship.

“Secrets of the Copper Scroll”
by Joan E. Taylor
In 1952, archaeologists discovered the Copper Scroll in a cave near the Dead Sea. It details a vast treasure hidden in various locations throughout the Judean wilderness. Although none of this treasure has been found, could it refer to articles from the Jerusalem Temple?

“Blurred Lines: The Enigma of Iron Age Timnah”
by Mahri Leonard-Fleckman
Borders and ethnicities are not always as cut and dry as lines on a map. Modern readers tend to place social constructs on ancient peoples that simply did not exist. Sitting at a crossroads, biblical Timnah defies identification, as concepts of identity were fluid.

AND

BIBLICAL VIEWS
“Multicultural Moses: Reexamining an Icon”
by Amanda Mbuvi

ARCHAEOLOGICAL VIEWS
“Missing from the Picture: American Women in Biblical Archaeology”
by Jennie Ebeling

Please visit www.biblicalarchaeology.org/magazines to view the complete contents of the July/August/September/October 2019 issue of BAR. Take a look at Bible History Daily (biblicalarchaeology.org/blog) for additional features. Explore a free eBook about life for everyday people in the biblical world (biblicalarchaeology.org/ancientlives). Enjoy a special collection of articles about biblical heroines, from Esther and Judith to Mary Magdalene, who shaped biblical history and the message of the Bible (biblicalarchaeology.org/biblewomen).

Full text of Robert Cargill’s BAR 45/4&5 First Person Editorial: The Gender Divide

I am making the full text of my First Person editorial from the Biblical Archaeology Review special double issue (BAR 45/4&5; July/Aug/Sept/Oct 2019) available here on my blog. An excerpted version of this editorial (minus the final paragraph introducing the special issue, which we redacted from the online version as there was no issue to introduce) appeared on Bible History Daily last month. Now that the latest issue is being mailed to our subscribers and about to hit the newsstands, I offer the full text of the editorial here. And if you want to read the full issue that this editorial introduces, visit Biblical Archaeology Review and subscribe.

Robert Cargill First Person BAR 45/4-5 "The Gender Divide"

The Gender Divide

The field of Biblical archaeology and biblical studies in general, has always had a “woman problem.” Women have long been a minority. To be sure, there have always been notable exceptions—such as Gertrude Bell, Kathleen Kenyon, Martha Joukowsky, Susan Alcock, Jodi Magness, Ann Killebrew—but for the most part the field has been dominated by men—often charismatic, loud, entertaining, obnoxious, and mostly white men.

And this is just the way it has always been.

However, over the past decades many scholars and administrators have decided to address this issue and have begun making concerted efforts to increase the number of women in field archaeology and biblical studies. Because of these efforts, we have seen an increase in the number of women enrolled in archaeology and biblical studies programs, presenting papers at professional conferences, publishing cutting-edge research, and receiving academic positions. The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) even named Susan Ackerman its first female president in 2014.

Progress is being made with regard to gender parity in archaeology and the academy. Therefore, you can understand why I am continually baffled—and women all the more so—when all-male conference panels (“manels”) are assembled, all-male edited volumes (“manthologies”) are published, and all-male festschrifts (“festicles”) are printed. It is 2019, and women are still being regularly excluded!

I hear many excuses when these all-male offerings appear, one of the most frequent being: “I invited several women, but none of them accepted my invitation, so I filled those spots with men.” There are several problems with this excuse.

First, if women repeatedly turn down invitations to work with a particular man or organization en masse, it may indicate a serious problem with the individual or organization. Is there some more disquieting reason why many women don’t want to work with certain male scholars beyond the courteous excuse of being overcommitted?

Second, many women scholars are overcommitted because the few of them working in our field are asked to contribute to so many committees and volumes. Women reserve the right to decline invitations. Women are not obligated to compensate for centuries of marginalization by committing to every invitation.

Third, when women decline invitations to present or write for a project, they don’t owe an explanation. Scholars don’t have to give a reason why they do not wish to participate in a project; they can simply decline.

Finally, men should not publicly name any woman who turned down an invitation, especially to cover for the fact that they were unable to achieve gender parity in a publication, panel, or event. I am outraged when male scholars blame women by name for the lack of women contributors in their professional panels or volumes by saying, “Well I invited Scholar X, Scholar Y, and Scholar Z, but they declined …” Publicly shaming women scholars by name does nothing to assuage the fact that only men were included in a volume or conference.

Even if a dozen women decline an invitation, a male editor is still responsible for the lack of gender parity in his volume—not those women who declined. The editor or organizer must simply work harder to achieve his goal and do a better job of encouraging women to participate.

As Editor of BAR, I believe it is my responsibility to support the amplification of women’s scholarly voices through publication, not simply through invitation. Scholarship is not stunt riding, and editors are not Evel Knievel; we shouldn’t be credited simply for the attempt even if we fail. We cannot define “due diligence” as inviting an acceptable quota of women to participate. The bar must be higher than that.

My work and my organization should be judged by the number of women actually appearing in the published product, not simply the number of women originally invited.

Gender parity is still a problem in the academy. To change this, we must promote programs that cultivate women scholars from a young age, establishing gender parity as a priority from the outset of any project, be it a conference, edited volume, or magazine issue.

Therefore, I am proud to offer to our readers this special double issue—“By the Hand of a Woman” (Judges 4:9)—featuring research by some of the best archaeologists and biblical scholars in the field today. You will notice that like archaeological legends Trude Dothan and Carol Meyers, they all have one thing in common: They are excellent scholars! Enjoy.—B.C.

May/June 2019 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (45/3) is now on newsstands

May/June 2019 Vol. 45. No. 3 BAR Cover

The Biblical Archaeology Society is pleased to announce the publication of the following articles in the May/June 2019 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) Volume 45, Number 3:

“Inside the Huqoq Synagogue”
By Jodi Magness, Shua Kisilevitz, Matthew Grey, Dennis Mizzi, Karen Britt, and Ra‘anan Boustan
Season after season, archaeologists have uncovered stunning mosaics at Huqoq’s synagogue in Galilee. From Biblical scenes to the first historical episode ever found in a synagogue, the mosaics’ themes never cease to amaze and surprise. Join us on a tour of the Huqoq synagogue—with its vivid mosaics and much more!

“Artistic Influences in Synagogue Mosaics: Putting the Huqoq Synagogue in Context”
By Karen Britt and Ra‘anan Boustan
How do the mosaics from Huqoq’s synagogue compare to mosaics from other Late Roman synagogues in Galilee and throughout the Mediterranean world? Their similarities and differences reveal cultural and artistic trends from this period.

“From Pets to Physicians: Dogs in the Biblical World”
By Justin David Strong
What roles did dogs play in the Biblical world? A survey of dogs’ portrayals in ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures shows that far from being perceived as “unclean,” dogs served as companions, guard dogs, sheep dogs, hunters, and—surprisingly—physicians. These diverse roles inform our understanding of the famous parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31).

“Who Were the Assyrians?”
By Christopher B. Hays
The Assyrians referenced in the Hebrew Bible were a mighty force that exerted power over much of the Near East, including Israel and Judah, in the ninth through seventh centuries B.C.E. Learn about their beginnings over a millennium before they appeared in the Bible and how they expanded their empire from Urartu to Egypt.

FIRST PERSON
“Who Owns History?”
By Robert R. Cargill

CLASSICAL CORNER
“Checking Out Roman Libraries”
By Christina Triantafillou

BIBLICAL VIEWS
“Paul, the Python Girl, and Human Trafficking”
By John Byron

ARCHAEOLOGICAL VIEWS
“Herod the Great Gardener”
By Kathryn L. Gleason

REVIEWS
“The Careful Dialogue between Archaeology and the Bible ”
The Bible and Archaeology by Matthieu Richelle
Reviewed by Eric H. Cline

Please visit www.biblicalarchaeology.org/magazine to view the complete contents of the May/June 2019 issue of BAR.

Take a look at Bible History Daily (biblicalarchaeology.org/biblehistorydaily) for additional features, including a roundup of articles on the stunning mosaics from the Huqoq synagogue (biblicalarchaeology.org/huqoqmosaics).

Discover some of the ways in which ancient Near Eastern civilizations have impressed themselves on Western culture in a free eBook (biblicalarchaeology.org/babylon).

Further, explore a Special Collection of articles about the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq (biblicalarchaeology.org/nimrud).

The Problems with the Census in Luke’s Gospel

Jesus his life Poster-Art-768x1152In the episode of Joseph in the series Jesus: His Life, which airs Monday, March 25, 2019 on History, I make a reference to the problematic census in the Gospel of Luke that biblical scholars have wrestled with for at least a century.

Luke 2:1-3 reads:

(1) In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. (2) This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. (3) All went to their own towns to be registered.

There are a couple of problems with the census.

First, Quirinius and Herod the Great did not rule at the same time. Herod the Great died in 4 BCE. (If that fact alone causes you some hesitation—the fact that Jesus would have been born 4 to 7 years before Christ (BC)— please read my 2009 article, Why Christians Should Adopt the BCE/CE Dating System, which explains why this is the case.) Anyway, Herod the Great died in 4 BCE, and yet Publius Sulpicius Quirinius wasn’t appointed as the governor of Syria until 6 CE, that is, after Herod the Great’s son, Archelaus, was banished as ruler of Judea.

What does this mean? It means that Quirinius didn’t rule until until 10 years after Herod the Great had died! This means there is no way that Quirinius could have called a census while Herod the Great was king–Herod had been dead for a decade! And this means that Jesus couldn’t have been born during the reign of Herod the Great and in Bethlehem because of the census of Quirinius! The chronology is off by a decade.

There is a second problem with the census in Luke 2. Simply put, Romans did not require subjects to return to their ancestral homes to be counted, rather their made them return to their present homes. To explain this, I’ll refer you to what I wrote on pg. 230 of my 2016 book, The Cities That Built the Bible:

First, censuses were taken for the purpose of taxation. Although there are certainly literary records of censuses taking place throughout the Roman Empire at this time, [12] there is no evidence that those who were being counted were required to travel to their ancestral hometowns in order to be counted. Indeed, an Egyptian census edict of Gaius Vibius Maximus, the Roman prefect of Egypt from 103 to 107, did require that “all persons who for any reason whatsoever are absent from their home districts be alerted to return to their own hearths, so that they may complete the customary formalities of registration and apply themselves to the farming for which they are responsible.”[13]

Although this edict of Gaius Vibius Maximus does mention a return home for the purposes of taxation, residents were not required to return to their ancestral homes, but to their present homes, so that both people and assets could be assessed for purposes of taxation. Essentially you couldn’t be “out of town” when the government came to take the census and collect taxes. Indeed, traveling to one’s ancestral home would not allow pilgrims to “apply themselves to the farming for which they are responsible.” Rather, residents under Roman rule were to go to their present homes so that they and their possessions could be counted and taxed. Luke further strains credulity by arguing that the nine-months-pregnant Mary would have made the arduous three-day journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Thus, any registration would have required Joseph and his family to return to their present homes to be counted, and Jesus’s present home was in Nazareth, not Bethlehem.

[12] Josephus, Antiquities 17.13.5 (17:354); 18.1.1 (18:1–2).

[13] Lewis, Life in Egypt Under Roman Rule, 156. The census edict of Gaius Vibius Maximus of 104 CE from Alexandria is written on papyrus and cataloged as P.London 904 in the British Museum. See also Hunt and Edgar, Select Papyri.

Essentially, we don’t have evidence that subjects of ancient Rome were required to return to their ancestral homes for counting and taxation purposes. Returning to an ancestral home actually defeated the purpose—all a subject’s property would still be back in their present home. The Romans wanted to see who was in each present household and what they owned so they could tax it.

Rather, Luke used this chronologically-challenged census as a literary device to bring Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem temporarily so that Jesus could be born there, as Luke depicts Joseph and Mary as living in Nazareth both before and after his birth.

Remember, this is different from the birth narrative in the Gospel of Matthew, which depicts Joseph and Mary as already living in Bethlehem, and Jesus simply being born at home. Note, there is no mention of Nazareth (or a census for that matter) prior to Jesus’ birth in Matthew’s Gospel. In Matthew’s Gospel, the star appears, and the magi begin their trek from the east to Bethlehem. They stop to speak to Herod the Great on the way. This all takes some time, and is not congruent with a short, temporary stay in a guesthouse.

These are two problems with the census in Luke 2. Quirinius and Herod the Great didn’t rule at the same time so Jesus couldn’t have been born during both of their rules, and Romans didn’t require their subjects to return to their ancestral homes to be counted.

“Jesus: His Life” to premiere on History Mon. March 25, 2019, 8/7c

Jesus his life

Jesus: His Life is an epic eight-episode series following Jesus’ life from before birth to after his resurrection. Each episode tells the extraordinary story of Jesus through the eyes of those closest to him. These various first-person points of view allow viewers of the program to discover Jesus as both his disciples and detractors discovered him, and to witness these individuals as they wrestled with whether or not to believe this teacher from Nazareth’s message and who he was claiming to be.

The show premieres Monday, March 25 at 8/7c on History. History will air two episodes of Jesus: His Life back-to-back on each of the following nights:

Monday, March 25 @ 8/7c — Joseph: The Nativity and John the Baptist: The Mission
Monday, April 1 @ 8/7c
Monday, April 8 @ 8/7c
Monday, April 15 @ 8/7c

You can watch trailers and a sneak peek of the first episode at History.com.

You can also follow the show on social media at the following locations:

Facebook: Facebook.com/HISTORY
Twitter: #JesusHisLife
Instagram: @History

Please tune in!

March/April 2019 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (45/2) is now on newsstands

BAR 45-2-2019The Biblical Archaeology Society is pleased to announce the publication of the March/April 2019 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (Vol. 45, No. 2). This issue contains some wonderful articles:

“Resurrecting Easter: Hunting for the Original Resurrection Image”
By John Dominic Crossan and Sarah Sexton Crossan

All of the main events in Jesus’s life are directly described in the New Testament—except for the Resurrection. This central event happens off-screen and is not directly witnessed. As a result, early Christians created two very different depictions of this moment. Join the Crossans as they hunt for the earliest images of Jesus’s resurrection—and attempt to resurrect the original Easter vision.

“Biblical Archaeology 101: The Ancient Diet of Roman Palestine”
By Susan Weingarten

What did people eat in Roman Palestine? Milk and honey? Olive oil and wine? Food historian Susan Weingarten takes readers on a culinary adventure through historical and archaeological remains to reconstruct the diet of the average person in Roman Palestine.

“Purity and Impurity in Iron Age Israel”
By Avraham Faust

Purification practices of ancient Israelite society before the introduction of mikva’ot remain largely unexplored. Recent excavations at Tel ‘Eton, in the southeastern Shephelah, yielded rich data on household life and practices in the tenth through the eighth centuries B.C.E. A large four-room house at Tel ‘Eton offers a rare glimpse of how Iron Age Israelites coped with the issues of ritual impurity, and it enables the author to reconstruct the purification ritual.

“Colossae—Colossal in Name Only?”
By Michael Trainor

The once great city of Colossae in modern Turkey has never been excavated. To the untrained eye, the site may appear unimpressive, but great archaeological treasures lie beneath its surface. Join Michael Trainor on an exploration of this ancient city awaiting the spade!

FIRST PERSON
“Was Pontius Pilate’s Ring Discovered at Herodium?”
By Robert R. Cargill

SITE-SEEING
“Surprising Susa”
By Todd Bolen

BIBLICAL VIEWS
“As in the Days of Noah: The Apocalyptic World of 1 Peter”
By Katie Marcar

ARCHAEOLOGICAL VIEWS
“Jewish Graffiti—Glimpsing the Forgotten Lives of Antiquity”
By Karen B. Stern

REVIEWS
“The Human Drama of St. Paul” Paul: A Biography by N.T. Wright
Reviewed by Joshua McNall

Enjoy! And click here to subscribe to both print and online versions.

Understanding the GOP’s response to the scourge of Iowa, Steve King

iowa congressional disrict 2018

Just to give my non-Iowan friends a little more of an idea of the scourge that is Steve King, his congressional district, and the embarrassment he is to Iowa, here’s a map that shows where his district is and where his constituents live.

The above map shows Iowa’s four congressional districts, its four congressional representatives (three Democrats and one Republican), and the 15 most populous cities in Iowa–the 15 cities with populations of at least 30,000 residents.

Keep in mind, King eeked out a 3.4% victory in an R+11 district in 2018. For comparison, districts 1 and 2 in Iowa are both rated D+1, while district 3 is rated R+1. So, Iowa’s other three congressional districts are drawn rather competitively from a partisan standpoint. King’s district 4 is R+11, meaning there are far more registered Republicans than Democrats in the 4th congressional district, which should ensure an easy Republican victory. And yet, King barely beat his Democratic opponent by 3.4% meaning he almost got beat by a Democrat in a hugely Republican district. And given his most recent openly racist remarks, this margin may become even closer in the next election.

One could argue that the reason the GOP is suddenly interested in condemning King and getting rid of him through resignation demands and/or through weakening him for a 2020 Republican primary challenge, is purely political–they want a stronger Republican option to represent the district as soon as possible so that they don’t potentially lose IA-4 to a Democrat in the 2020 general election.

Thus, it’s not necessarily about moral outrage or ethics for the GOP, it is about political preservation of Republican control of Iowa’s 4th congressional district that is driving the Republican leadership finally to speak out against King.

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