George Washington University Archaeologist Eric H. Cline to Speak at University of Iowa

If you are in the Iowa City area, please join us on Thursday, March 8, 2018 for the second University of Iowa Dept. of Classics Colloquium lecture of the spring!

Archaeologist Eric H. Cline, Professor of Classics and Anthropology at George Washington University, will be giving a talk titled “1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed” at 5pm in 240 Art Building West.

Classics Colloquium Cline

For more than three hundred years during the Late Bronze Age, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex international world in which Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Cypriots, and Canaanites all interacted, creating a cosmopolitan and globalized world-system such as has only rarely been seen before the current day. When the end came, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt, large empires and small kingdoms collapsed rapidly, and, with their end, came the first recorded Dark Ages. Blame for the end of the Late Bronze Age is usually laid squarely at the feet of the so-called Sea Peoples; however, as was the case with the fall of the Roman Empire, the end of the Bronze Age empires in this region was probably not the result of a single invasion, but rather of multiple causes, both human and natural — including earthquake storms, droughts, rebellions, and systems collapse — that coalesced to create a “perfect storm.” 

In this illustrated lecture, based on his book of the same title (1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed; Princeton University Press, 2014) that was considered for a 2015 Pulitzer Prize, awarded the American School of Oriental Research’s 2014 prize for “Best Popular Book on Archaeology,” and is being translated into fourteen foreign languages, Professor Eric H. Cline of The George Washington University will explore why the Bronze Age came to an end and whether the collapse of those ancient civilizations might hold some warnings for our current society.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Classics, the Department of Religious Studies, Archaeological Institute of America, and Biblical Archaeology Society. Please see the attached poster and visit clas.uiowa.edu/classics for Classics Department info, news, and events!

Advertisements

Prof. Robert Cargill on Iowa Public Radio to Discuss Issues of Separation of Church and State in Iowa

I’ve been invited to discuss matters pertaining to the separation of church and state on Iowa Public Radio‘s “River to River” with Ben Kieffer tomorrow, Monday, June 2, 2014, from noon to 1pm.

Iowa Public Radio mugWe’ll likely be discussing the recent proclamation signed by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, as well as the use of public Iowa funds to build a Christian themed park in Sioux City, recent court decisions dealing with prayer at government meetings, and my favorite, the placement of religious monuments on government lands and buildings.

You can listen to the discussion live by clicking on the LISTEN LIVE button on the top of the page here.

Tune in tomorrow. Should be fun.

Khirbet et-Tannur: A New Approach

Be sure to check out the fascinating work being done by Cale Staley, a graduate student in Religious Studies at the University of Iowa working in Digital Humanities research. He digs at Tel Azekah in Israel and is doing much of the modeling on Iowa’s Digi-Tel Azekah archaeological model.

Above, he has modeled the Nabataean temple at Khirbet et-Tannur, located in Wadi Hasa built atop Jebel Tannur, about 70km north of Petra.

Prof. Robert Cargill to Appear on Iowa Public Radio’s “News Buzz” Today at 12:45c to Discuss List of Most and Least Bible-minded Cities

I’m scheduled to appear on Iowa Public Radio’s “News Buzz” segment today (Friday, January 24, 2014) at 12:45 (central) with Ben Kieffer.

I’ll be discussing a new report completed by the American Bible Society and the Barna Group, which ranked the most and least Bible-minded cities in the US. Specifically, I’ll be addressing the Cedar Rapids/Waterloo/Iowa City area, which ranked the 5th least Bible-minded city, up (or down, depending on your perspective) from #9 on last year’s inaugural list.

America's Most (and Least) Bible-minded Cities for 2014. (Image source: American Bible Society/Barna Group)

America’s Most (and Least) Bible-minded Cities for 2014. (Image source: American Bible Society/Barna Group)

The results were based upon responses to over 46,000 surveys of adults nationwide over a seven-year period asking whether respondents had “read the Bible withing the past seven days” and whether they “agreed strongly in the accuracy of the Bible”. According to Barna, “respondents who report reading the bible within the past seven days and who agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible” are identified as “Bible-minded” individuals.

The Top 10 Bible-minded cities are:

1. Chattanooga, TN
2. Birmingham, AL
3. Roanoke/Lynchburg, VA
4. Springfield, MO
5. Shreveport, LA
6. Charlotte, NC
7. Greenville/Spartanburg, SC/Asheville, NC
8. Little Rock, AR
9. Jackson, MS
10. Knoxville, TN

By contrast, the least Bible-minded cities:

1. Providence, RI/ New Bedford, MA.
2. Albany, NY
3. Boston, MA
4. San Francisco, CA
5. Cedar Rapids/Waterloo, IA
6. Buffalo, NY
7. Hartford/New Haven, CN
8. Phoenix, AZ
9. Burlington, VT
10. Portland, ME

Time’s Denver Nicks points out that “many cities in the East Coast continued to rank as the least Bible-minded in 2013,” and suggested that New York City’s “large Jewish population may have rescued it from the bottom ten.” (The survey allowed respondents to determine for themselves whether or not reading the Torah counted as reading the Bible for the purposes of the survey.)

The Blaze’s Billy Hallowell has a nice analysis of the data.

The American Bible Society notes that of the top 25 most Bible-minded cities, only three of them have populations over one million people, suggesting an inverse relationship between urban population and Bible-mindedness. Smaller towns tend to be more Bible-minded.

Christianity Today notes that small towns that are home to Bible colleges tended to rank as much more Bible-minded. They note that “19 of the top 20 most ‘Bible-minded’ cities host sizable Christian colleges.”

I’ll contribute the following:

1) The highest ranked Bible-minded city in the upper-Midwest is #28 Indianapolis, IN, which coincidentally was the only Great Lakes state that voted from Romney in the 2012 Presidential election.

2) Iowa City lawyer and friend, Steve Klesner, points out that this may be due to the fact that the immigrants that settled the upper-Midwest are from places that traditionally value and abide by the rule of law and the authority of secular governments more so than, for instance, those immigrants that settled the South, who traditionally might be more likely to settle disputes personally (with fists or guns). This may be due to the historical South’s tendency to distrust the federal government and its legal system (dating all the way back to pre-Civil War days), or may be a result of a reliance on what Southerners believe to be a “higher authority” made knowable only through the Bible. In such a case, we might expect those who read the Bible both more frequently and literally to be less supportive of the federal government, while those who do not read the Bible as frequently or as literally might place more trust in the fairness of the government.

3) The above supports what appears to be an obvious correlation between traditional “red states” and “blue states” and this survey of Bible-mindedness. Note that the Bible Belt is home to most of the top Bible-minded cities, whereas the northeast and west coast are home to many of the least Bible-minded cities.

Note that the Top 20 Bible-minded cities are all in states that voted for the Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential election with the exception of the swing states of Virginia and Florida. The exceptions can be explained by noting that both exceptions listed in the Top 20 (#3 Roanoke/Lynchburg, VA in western Virginia, and #18 Jacksonville, FL in northeastern Florida near Georgia) are considered conservative strongholds within these swing states.

2012 US Presidential Election Electoral Results

2012 US Presidential Election Electoral Results

4) This correlation is also consistent with surveys that have ranked the smartest cities and/or states in America. According to multiple surveys, there is an inverse correlation to overall education level of a state’s residents (based upon high school graduation rate, percentage of residents with college and graduate degrees, etc.) and what this survey would characterize as Bible-mindedness. That is, with few exceptions, the cities that rank as the smartest cities in the nation generally correlate with cities listed as the least Bible-minded in the survey. So for cities in Iowa to be listed along side well known intellectual centers like Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area is a well-deserved achievement, and accurately reflects the priority Iowans place on education as well as the payoff we are beginning to realize on the investment Iowans are making in public education.

5) Specifically addressing the Waterloo/Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area as the 5th least Bible-minded city, this may be explained by the fact that Iowans, and in this case, eastern Iowans are relatively highly educated, fiercely independent, and do not take well to being told how to think by any organized group, whether it be a religious group, a political group, or any other kind of organization. Kevin Hall of the Iowa Republican writes that:

“Democrats in Iowa outnumbered Republicans 640,776-636,315, a difference of 4,461…Both parties are dwarfed by the number of registered independents, which surged to 722,348.”

That is, there are more registered Independents in Iowa than either registered Republicans or Democrats, again supporting the independent-mindedness of Iowans.

6) Without a doubt respondents who answered that they neither read the Bible nor believe the Bible to be accurate must contribute to some of these Cedar Rapids/Waterloo/Iowa City numbers. Thus, we cannot overlook the fact that a large concentration of Iowa independents and free thinkers necessarily suggests a growing number of increasingly proud and vocal atheist, secularist, and humanist groups in Iowa.

7) However, I believe it is also important to differentiate between the two criteria used by the survey to describe “Bible-mindedness”, as the survey’s questionable methodology may undervalue the presence and significance of a large number of progressively-minded Christians. While many respondents in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area may have reported reading the Bible within the past seven days, the frequency of one’s reading of the Bible is quite different from how one might judge the “accuracy” of the Bible, which may or may not be understood as “inerrancy” or “infallibility” of the biblical text by those taking the survey. That is to say, there may be many quite faithful Christians in this area who may have been educated in a non-confessional religious studies department like the University of Iowa’s Department of Religious Studies in which I teach, where the approach to the biblical text is one based upon literary critical, archaeological, and generally more academically analytical approaches, as opposed to the more apologetic, theological, and/or confessional approaches employed by the faculties of many of the small Bible colleges present in 19 of the Top 20 Bible-minded towns.

Thus, a respondent who felt the Bible is not factually “accurate” with respect to stories such as a six-day creation, the biblical flood, etc., may be identified as not Bible-minded by the survey, despite the fact that they read the Bible daily and may be an active, confessing Christian. That is, the survey may be better described as a survey of “fundamentalist Bible-mindedness” or “Biblical-literalist cities,” as the survey tends to equate Bible-mindedness with a belief in the “accuracy” of the biblical text – something that progressive-minded Christians are more inclined to reject as evidenced by other recent surveys that show that nearly two-thirds of Christians now accept human evolution.

[Again, note that in this Pew research poll, a disproportionate number of white, evangelical Protestants (who would make up a large percentage of those believing in the inerrancy and infallibility, and therefore the “accuracy” of the Bible), still reject evolution and cling to the biblical account of Creation.]

For more, be sure to tune in at 12:45 today to listen.

Audio of my interview on Iowa Public Radio’s “River to River” with Ben Kieffer

Dr. Robert Cargill in Qumran Cave 4. Photo by Yuval Peleg.

Dr. Robert Cargill in Qumran Cave 4. Photo by Yuval Peleg.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by Ben Kieffer on Iowa Public Radio‘s “River to River” show. Many thanks to Ben Kieffer for a great experience, and to Producer Emily Woodbury for setting it up and making me feel at home.

Description:

“On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer sits down with University of Iowa archeologist and religious scholar, Robert Cargill. They discuss Cargill’s trip to Israel with UI students for an excavation of Tel Azekah, as well as his latest project – a six-part documentary called “Bible Secrets Revealed.” It begins airing this week on the History Channel, starting Wednesday November 13 at 9 p.m.”

Give the interview a listen.

And tune in to “Bible Secrets Revealed” on History tonight, Nov 13, 2013 at 10/9c. The series airs every Wednesday for the next six weeks.

Live tweet your comments and feedback with the hashtag #BibleSecretsRevealed.

For more, visit the official “Bible Secrets Revealed” website.

Huffington Post on “Bible Secrets Revealed” premiering tonight on History

Huffington Post ReligionJaweed Kaleem has written an article this morning for the Huffington Post Religion section, entitled “Bible Secrets Revealed, New History Channel Documentary, To Premiere.”

On the rationale behind the show:

“A lot of Biblical scholarship is controversial from simply making unsubstantiated claims or by saying things like ‘we found the Arc of the Covenant and the nails of the cross,'” says Robert Cargill, an archeologist and religion professor at the University of Iowa who was a consulting producer for the show. “We wanted the scholarship itself to be controversial, based upon the facts of what we have found in our studies.”

On the diversity of scholarly opinion in the show:

“In addition to Cargill, who was raised as a Christian but now calls himself an agnostic, experts were drawn from Islamic, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and secular backgrounds. They include Reza Aslan, whose book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, topped bestseller charts this year after a controversial interview about his Islamic faith on Fox News, and Los Angeles-based author and Rabbi David Wolpe.”

The article concludes:

“We look at the different approaches to the canon. There are some people who say the Bible is the word of God, while others say, ‘well, people did the best they could to believe in the Bible a long time ago, but now we accept that everything wasn’t created in six days, now we accept that there’s evolution,” says Cargill…”Some people say the Bible is a political document, an economic document or a legal document. At the end of the day, it’s a human document, and that’s what scholars look at,” adds Cargill. “But the reason it’s so popular is because people have found so much value in it, looking toward it for nuggets of wisdom and guidance for how to life a better life.”

Give the article a read.

And tune in to “Bible Secrets Revealed” on History tonight, Nov 13, 2013 at 10/9c. The series airs every Wednesday for the next six weeks.

Live tweet your comments and feedback with the hashtag #BibleSecretsRevealed.

For more, visit the official “Bible Secrets Revealed” website.

The Gazette highlights “Bible Secrets Revealed” on History

Alison Gowans has written an article for The Gazette titled, “University of Iowa scholar on History Channel series“, discussing my work with the upcoming History documentary series, “Bible Secrets Revealed“.

A couple of quotes from the article:

“There are a lot of people making a lot of uniformed, sensational claims about religion, so we thought it was about time we do a responsible show about what scholars say about the Bible,” he said. “I like taking difficult issues about the Bible and making them accessible to the public.”

It’s nice to see Tel Azekah mentioned and represented well:

Part of the documentary was shot in Tel Azekah in Israel, where Cargill and UI students were participating in an excavation of a site on the border of the Biblical kingdoms of Judah and the Philistines.

The article concludes with a comment on the importance of social media and reaching out to the public in modern scholarship.

He said participating in documentaries, along with other tactics such as blogging and using social media, are important for scholars who want to share their knowledge outside university walls.

“There’s always been a criticism of scholars that they sit in their ivory towers and only talk to each other but it never makes its way down to the public,” he said. “The University of Iowa brought me here in part to reinvigorate the public discussion on matters of faith. Documentaries are one way to do that.”

Give the article a read.

And tune in to “Bible Secrets Revealed” on History Nov 13, 2013 at 10/9c. The series airs every Wednesday for the next six weeks.

Live tweet your comments and feedback with the hashtag #BibleSecretsRevealed.

%d bloggers like this: