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Archive for November, 2005

Five Things (From Brandon Wason)

15th November 2005

Brandon Wason listed me with this “meme” in his “Five Things” post, and so I as a responsible blogger I will follow suit and do likewise (somewhat tongue-in-cheek).

(I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know what a “meme” was in blogosphere lingo before getting “tagged.” According to Wikipedia, one definition of a meme is a “self-replicating piece of information that uses a human host to distribute copies of itself.” I get it now! This blog is like a chain-letter blog. Hmm… perhaps I should modify it so it is also a get rich scheme!? “Five People” who will send me copious amounts of money… )

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago my wife and I were living in a cockroach-infested one-bedroom apartment in downtown Toronto (and loving it). I was working on my doctoral coursework at the University of Toronto and my social work wife was working in child protection and was pregnant with our first child. It was also around this time that I got into cooking East Indian food and curries. This reacted with my wife’s morning sickness and pretty much put her off Indian food ever since! So now if I want East Indian food I go for lunch with my brothers!

Five Years Ago

Five years ago I was in my third year of teaching biblical studies at Taylor University College. I was also the father of two daughters and my wife was pregnant with my son. It was actually a pretty lousy year — I was swamped with new course prep, administrative responsibilities, my wife was pregnant with two small kids at home, and my father was dying of cancer. Gee… now I’m depressed… thanks a lot Brandon!)

One Year Ago

One year ago I was still at Taylor, still teaching, still married, and was the father of three kids (my son was born a week after my father’s funeral in 2001).

Five yummy things

  1. Diet Coke
  2. Coke C2
  3. Coke Zero
  4. Coca Cola
  5. Lime Coke (did I mention I like Coke?)

Five songs I know by heart

  1. Theme song to animated Spiderman from the 1970s (“Spiderman, Spiderman, friendly neighbourhood Spiderman…”)
  2. Jingle Bells (both traditional and the Hall and Oates, “Jingle Bells Rock”)
  3. Numerous U2 songs
  4. Numerous Peter Gabriel songs
  5. Numerous Dire Straits songs

Five things I would do with a lot of money

  1. Buy books (I’m thinking I would start with complete sets of Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, Gottingen LXX Series, among others)
  2. Buy new computers (a top of the line Mac G5 and a decked out Dell PC) and miscellaneous techie stuff.
  3. Buy a Triumph TR3/GT6/Spitfire or the like and rebuild it with (or without) my kids (I had totally rebuilt a ’79 Triumph Spitfire in my younger and more foolish days).
  4. Do something for my family like travel the world or buy them new winter coats.
  5. In order to assuage my guilt for purchasing the above items, I use the remainder to stop world poverty.

Five places I would escape to

  1. Anywhere warm (c’mon, I live in balmy Edmonton!)
  2. Israel (I know it may not be much of an escape considering the polical unrest, but I would love to return to Israel)
  3. Museums of the world that have ANE stuff!
  4. Greece and Turkey and other NT places (I would love to return)
  5. Did I mention anywhere warm?

Five things I would never wear

Here I figure I can pretty much reproduce Brandon’s list — though I wasn’t sure if some items would be disqualified if I had wore them in the past! :-)

  1. spandex
  2. a ballerina outfit
  3. a beret (I was a boy scout — of course I wore a beret! A “Green Beret” no less!)
  4. a sumo-wrestler’s loin cloth
  5. a man’s purse (isn’t this more of an accessory?)

Five favourite TV shows

  1. The Simpsons
  2. Fear Factor (I kinow it is a dumb show… I just think it is funny to watch people choke down gross food)
  3. Family Guy (I guess, though I haven’t watched it yet this fall. I actually have trouble identifying anything as favourite after The Simpsons).
  4. 24? (It sucked me in last season, but I don’t even know if it has even started yet this year)
  5. ________ (Whatever is on “peasant vision” some weekday nights between 8:30 pm and 10 pm after the kids are in bed and I am flaking out)

Five favourite films (I had to add this one — not necessarily in order)

  1. Magnolia (1999)
  2. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  3. Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 02, 03)
  4. The Godfather Trilogy (1972, 1974, 1990)
  5. (I have a very difficult time adding anything after these four since there would be numerous contenders)

Five things I enjoy doing

  1. Playing (whether with my kids, squash, etc.)
  2. Reading and researching
  3. Viewing films
  4. “Playing on the computer” (i.e., learning new programs, doing graphic design, web design, playing around with video editing, blogging, etc.)
  5. Socializing

Five favorite toys

  1. My computers
  2. ?
  3. ?
  4. ?
  5. ? (I really need to get a lot of money so I can buy some of things mentioned above)

Five people who get this “meme” (in alphabetical order)

  1. Joe Cathey (I told you, Joe, I had you on my list!)
  2. Phil Harland
  3. Christopher Heard
  4. Michael Pahl
  5. Ken Ristau
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Pop Culture Profile: U2 (UPDATED)

15th November 2005

Next week I will deliver a lecture in my Religion & Popular Culture class entitled “The Gospel according to U2.” Readers of this blog know that I am a huge U2 fan and I am looking forward to this lecture.

I am also looking forward to receiving my copy of U2′s latest DVD, U2: Vertigo 2005 – Live From Chicago which should be coming in the mail soon. U2 is a great live band and I’ve enjoyed all of their DVDs, though my favourite is probably Rattle & Hum, though Elevation is also quite good. I also quite like their collection of music videos, The Best of 1990-2000. Here is a sampling of their videography, starting with their most recent:

There have been a number of books over the years chronicling the Irish rock band. I would highly recommend Stockman’s book (My good friend Bob Derrenbacker is allegedly mentioned in the preface of the revised edition). Some of my favourites include:

UPDATE: My good friend Bob Derrenbacker has highlighted some additional U2 resources. He mentioned the November RollingStone interview with Bono (for the print version see here; for an MP3 of the interview see here). He also noted another very recent book that I wasn’t aware of:

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But I Want to be an Dwarf!

14th November 2005

OK, I took the silly middle earth quiz (Thanks, Ken!). I wanted to be a Dwarf (perhaps it is the rugby player in me). At any rate, as it turns out I am a hobbit.

I’m not bitter, really.

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Tell es-Safi Ostracon Tracing and Comments (UPDATED)

13th November 2005

I was taking a closer look at the picture of the Tell es-Safi ostracon and decided to trace the letters in Photoshop. I found it quite difficult to identify some of the characters — especially the aleph. I should warn you that I am not a paleographer, though I do find this sort of stuff quite interesting. Any and all correction are most welcome!

So, for what it is worth, here are the images:

The reported reading — ×?לות ‘lwt and ולת wlt — is not too difficult to make out. From right to left you find a somewhat odd aleph with the horizontal cross stroke transversing the two V-strokes (kind of like the aleph at Gezer or from the plaque at Shechem). I am not sure what to make of the two small verticle lines just to the left of the aleph, however. Next you find a lamed, which instead of the almost vertical stroke with a hook to the right at the end, you find it more like a coil. This is similar to the lamed on the potsherds from Tell ed-Duweir (Lachish; dated around 1250 BCE). Following the lamed you have a waw followed by a tav. Then after the vertical stroke, you have another waw followed by what is a very poorly inscribed lamed followed by a partial tav.

In regards to the interpretation of the ostracon, Jim West has reproduced some comments from the Biblical Studies email list by Yigal Levin (who worked on the dig), as well as a summary.

UPDATE: Enlarged Image of Ostracon

Duane Smith over at Abnormal Interests wonders about the identification of the initial aleph on the ostracon. While I think it does begin with an aleph, I am not sure what the two vertical strokes between the aleph and the lamed are supposed to be. I don’t think it is a tav as Duane suggests. I magnified and adjusted some settings in Photoshop so that the letters/mrkings may be seen a bit more clearly:

Anyone have any thoughts as to what those strokes represent?

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Giant Pickle’s Goliath’s Cereal Bowl Discovered

11th November 2005

I know this is (relatively) old news — at least on the ‘net — but there has been another exciting archaeological discovery announced: Goliath’s cereal bowl has been found! An ostracon (a fancy scholarly name for a piece of broken pottery) has been with found with Goliath’s name on it. Now we can rest assured that our faith is not in vain because we can prove Goliath existed! (Now if we could only figure out who actually killed Goliath! See 2 Sam 21:19 if you are confused).

OK, OK, I may be guilty of exaggerating the evidence a wee little bit. OK, perhaps my claims are a bit unfounded. OK, fine, I don’t know what I am talking about!

Now that I got that off my chest, what was really discovered at Tell es-Safi (the site of the ancient Philistine city of Gath) was an ostracon bearing names that are similar to the name of David’s boyhood nemesis, Goliath (גלית). The names inscribed on the pottery shard (×?לות ‘lwt and ולת wlt) appear to be of Indo-European derivation, like the hypothesized etymological parallels of the name Goliath.

So when we come right down to it, this discovery does not prove that a young David killed a giant named Goliath. It does not even prove a Goliath ever existed. It is, however, the earliest known Philistine inscription (being dated to the 10th or early 9th century BCE), which is something to be excited about. And it may even suggest that the derivation of the name “Goliath” accurately reflects naming conventions of that period.

Christopher Heard suggests calling the ostracon the “‘LWT/WLT sherd” (Isn’t that “shard”?). While that may be more accurate (and less sensational), it isn’t very “sexy”! I still lean towards calling it “Goliath’s Cereal Bowl.” (OK, how about the “Tell es-Safi ostracon”?)

Christopher Heard has an excellent summary of the news/blog stories surrounding the inscription as well as an insightful deconstruction of the exaggerated claims found in the popular press. Jim West has reproduced the press release from Bar Ilan University regarding the find here. In addition, I just noticed Duane Smith over at Abnormal Interests has an interesting entry on the inscription.

Posted in Goliath, Inscriptions, Tell es-Safi | Comments Off

Call for Papers: 4th Annual Research in Religious Studies Conference

11th November 2005

On behalf of Dr. James Linville of the University of Lethbridge, I am pleased to announce a call for student papers for the 4th Annual Research in Religious Studies Conference at the University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, Alberta, Saturday 29 April – Sunday 30 April 2006. This is a special conference that their Department of Religious Studies holds especially for undergraduate and graduate students.

Papers from every discipline within the academic fields of the humanities and social sciences are welcome. The call for papers is posted online at the Lethbridge Religious Studies Department website or may be downloaded here.

From talking to Jim, he hopes that this conference will become a major event for Religious Studies students in the western provinces and neighbouring states.

Jim also noted that the University of Lethbridge has been selected to host the 2007 Pacific Northwest Regional meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Society of Biblical Literature and American School of Oriental Research. In light of this, the 2007 student’s conference will likely be scheduled just prior to this meeting, so contributors can attend both.

I think this student conference is a great idea and I am hoping to go down in April with some Taylor students in tow. Thanks for organizing this, Jim.

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Tel Zeitah Abecedary Photo and Update

10th November 2005

There has been a bit more discussion on the blog in regards to the 10th century abecedary inscription discovered at Tel Zeitah. See the additional posts by Jim West (here and here), while Joe Cathy responds to his detractors here. There is also a good discussion of the origin and order of the Hebrew alphabet on the Daily Hebrew blog.

As a point of clarification, the AP picture that I included on my previous blog entry on the inscription did identify P. Kyle McCarter as the individual in the photograph. The photograph was taken at a news conference at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary on Wednesday 9 November 2005.

Here is another AP photograph of the stone with Ron E. Tappy, the project director of the excavations, in the foreground. This side of the stone has a bowl-shaped hollow was carved in the side, which may suggest (according to Tappy) that the stone had been a drinking vessel for cult rituals.

BTW: The picture of the inscription by itself which is surfacing on the blogosphere is just a cropped version of the AP picture with P. Kyle McCarter in the foreground.

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Ancient Hebrew Alphabetic Inscription Discovered

10th November 2005

Another significant archaeological discovery in Israel was just announced. A large limestone boulder with an “abecedary” (an inscription with the letters of the alphabet written from beginning to end) was discovered on the last day of the 2005 season of excavations at Tel Zeitah, Israel, which is about 30 miles south of Tel Aviv.

What is also exciting about this discovery is that the stone was embedded in a wall in the 10th century BCE strata of the site. This dating — if confirmed — makes the inscription the oldest Hebrew alphabetic inscription to date. P. Kyle McCarter is pictured (see above) with the inscription in the background during the news conference in Pittsburgh yesterday (photo: AP).

For more information see the Zeitah Excavations website, the New York Times, Associated Press, as well as Michael Homan’s blog (Michael was participating in the dig this last summer). Joe Cathy also has a couple posts about the discovery (here and here), as does Jim West (here and here). Finally, Chris Heard responds to Joe’s blog here.

In addition, if you are interested in reading a bit about the origin of the alphabet, you can check out my blog entry here.

All in all, this last summer was a good season for archaeology in Israel. In addition to this inscription, a large public structure was discovered by Eilat Mazar in Jerusalem (see here). The same dig also unearthed a seal mentioning a “Yehukal son of Shelemyahu son of Shobi” (see here). Finally, some fragments of Leviticus came to light earlier in the summer (see here) — with continued controversy (see here).

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Hebrew Bible Related Reviews from RBL (8 November 2005)

9th November 2005

The latest Review of Biblical Literature has been posted. There are a number of Hebrew Bible related reviews as well as some interesting Second Temple ones. Here is a complete listing:

  • Walter Brueggemann, Worship in Ancient Israel: An Essential Guide. Reviewed by Nijay Gupta and Thomas Hieke
  • Bernd Janowski and Peter Stuhlmacher, eds., The Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 in Jewish and Christian Sources (Translated by Daniel P. Bailey). Reviewed by William Barker
  • Rolf P. Knierim and George W. Coats, Numbers. Reviewed by Reinhard Achenbach
  • Eckart Otto and Reinhard Achenbach, eds., Das Deuteronomium zwischen Pentateuch und Deuteronomistichem Geschichtswerk. Reviewed by A.G. Auld
  • Madaline Vartejanu-Joubert, Folie et Société dans l’israël antique. Reviewed by Walter Vogels
  • David A. deSilva, Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context, and Significance. Reviewed by Eric Noffke
  • Jean Duhaime, The War Texts: 1QM and Related Manuscripts. Reviewed by Annette Steudel
  • Anthony Hilhorst and George H. Van Kooten, eds., The Wisdom of Egypt: Jewish, Early Christian, and Gnostic Essays in Honour of Gerard P. Luttikhuizen. Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

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Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films

8th November 2005

The list of the top 100 Spiritually Significant Films has been posted at the Arts and Faith Message Board.

I did a quick count and I have seen over 40 of the films listed. I agree with most of the list (not necessarily the ranking, but that they belong on the list), though there are always some that are absent and others that you wonder if they should be included in the top 100. I was somewhat surprised that I had not even heard of the top film: Rosetta (Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, 1999). It looks interesting. I will have to put that on my “to view” list.

I was happy to see one of my favourite films, Magnolia (P.T. Anderson, 1999) on the list at #27. I just presented a lecture on “Redemption in Magnolia” in my Religion and Popular Culture class last week — Going through the film again made me realize why I like that film so much. Brilliant!

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