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Archive for March, 2007

Diplomatic or Ecclectic: How Do You Like Your Hebrew Bible?

6th March 2007

Mississippi Fred MacDowell (I love that name) over at On the Main Line has a good post on why he favours a diplomatic Hebrew Bible based on the Masoretic Text. His post, “Why should we prefer the Masoretic text? Should we? An ahalakhic defense…kind of,” is well worth a read. In short, he argues that “an eclectic text… is compiling a Bible which never existed” and therefore it is better to stick with the MT, which is “simply the text with the best integrity.”

On the whole, I tend to agree with him, though for some different reasons. While I would consider myself a modified Lagardian (i.e., I think there was an original text), I am highly skeptical about our ability to reconstruct it (or at least my ability!). I also don’t think that the tendenz of many of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been determined enough to use them in textual construction with a high degree of certainty. Anyhow, the post is well worth a read.

If you want to read more about the textual criticism of the Old Testament, check out my nine-part series on Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

Posted in Old Testament, Text Criticism | 2 Comments »

Jesus/Talpiot Tomb Monday Update

5th March 2007

I don’t have the energy for an extensive update, but I did want to note a couple significant discussions surrounding the Talpiot tomb.

  • First, they have added an article entitled, “Has the Tomb of Jesus Been Discovered?,” by the noted archaeologist Jodi Magness to the February 2007 SBL Forum. I imagine they wanted to get the article online before they were ready with the entire March Forum. Magness rightly criticizes the way this “discovery” was turned into a media circus. I would add that I am not very comfortable with the notion that non-disclosure agreements were used to prevent scholars from discussing this theory in the academy. Since when should Hollywood dictate scholarship? At any rate, I digress. Her article contains a great summary of first century Jewish burial customs and how they relate to the gospel accounts and the hypothesis of the Jesus family tomb. She concludes: “…the identification of the Talpiyot tomb as the tomb of Jesus and his family contradicts the canonical Gospel accounts of the death and burial of Jesus and the earliest Christian traditions about Jesus. This claim is also inconsistent with all of the available information — historical and archaeological — about how Jews in the time of Jesus buried their dead, and specifically the evidence we have about poor, non-Judean families like that of Jesus. It is a sensationalistic claim without any scientific basis or support.”
  • Mark Goodacre did an excellent job live-blogging the documentary over last night (it doesn’t premiere until tomorrow night here in Canada). He also has a brief note on the “The Lost Tomb of Jesus: A Critical Look” program that aired after the documentary.
  • Duane Smith also reflects on Magness’s article at Abnormal Interests.
  • Ben Witherington also has a post interacting with archaeological perspectives on the Jesus tomb hypothesis, noting that virtually all archaeologists are either repudiating the theory or are at the very least unpersuaded by the findings of the show.
  • Kevin Wilson at Blue Cord has some thoughts on the “Critical Look” program and promises some reflections on the documentary in the near future.
  • Over at Danny Zacharias‘s Deinde, Bruce Chilton has a guest post on the documentary, as does Craig Evans. Some of Danny’s own observations may be found here.
  • Chris Heard has a couple more posts on the tomb, one which takes another look at the statistics.
  • Jim West offers his own review of the documentary over at his eponymous and ever-changing blog (it’s always fun to see what theme Jim is using).
  • Chris Weimer over at Thoughts on Antiquity has an excellent post on the whole debate that is well worth a read.
  • Last, but certainly not least, James Tabor has a number of posts since my last update, all of which are worth noting here:

On a lighter note, check out what Jon Stewart had to say about the whole controversy on The Daily Show.

Posted in Archaeology, Historical Jesus, Jesus Tomb, Talpiot tomb, The Tomb Documentary | 6 Comments »

Star Trek… Christmas 2008

2nd March 2007

Paramount Pictures has announced that the eleventh Star Trek film will be released on Christmas Day 2008. The film, will be directed by Lost creator JJ Abrams and will focus on the early lives of Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock. It will begin shooting this autumn.

Until then, “Live long and prosper.”

Posted in Popular Culture | 1 Comment »

The Lighter Side of Jesus’ Tomb

2nd March 2007

The author of Dilbert has given his two cents on the Jesus Tomb controversy (HT PaleoJudaica & Scotteriology) with a post on “Empty Boxes.” Here is an excerpt:

If Jesus was in there [the newly discovered ossuary], and sat up when I took the lid off, I’d first try to judge how angry he looked. If he had that money-changers-in-the-temple look, I’d go with a joke, like “Ha ha! Turn the other cheek!� Or maybe I’d try to explain to him that the extra suffering was extra good for humanity, and after all, that’s his job. Then I’d say, “Hey, I don’t like my job either, but you don’t see me complaining all the time.�

I also had a chuckle at this over at Revelee:

They ask: “Statistically, what are the chances that all of these names would occur in one cluster?”

My response: “I’m no expert in statistics, but I’m sure the odds are pretty close to the chances of two film producers making a discovery that will change history decades after the primary scholars concluded their work on the tomb.”

Ted Olson over at Christianity Today has a satiric interview with James Cameron.

Posted in Archaeology, Humour, Jesus Tomb, Talpiot tomb, The Tomb Documentary | 2 Comments »

Jesus/Talpiot Tomb Thursday Roundup

1st March 2007

Time for another roundup of posts on the Jesus/Talpiot Tomb debate. First, a press release (“Ten Reasons Why The Jesus Tomb Claim is Bogus”) was issued by a number of scholars (Ben Witherington, Darrell Bock, Craig Evans, Gary Habermas, Paul Maier, Joe Zias, and Amos Kloner) a couple days ago that I have yet to mention. The press release really doesn’t have any discussion, but provides news agencies with a list of contacts for further information.

With some of the initial knee-jerk reactions behind us, there is more substantial discussion happening around the blogosphere.

  • Ben Witherington has a couple more posts, the first of which interacts with some of the evidence brought forward in the book The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence That Could Change History (HarperCollins, February 2007; Buy from | Buy from His second post should clear up the identity of the tenth ossuary. According to Joe Zias, who actually personally catalogued the item, the tenth ossuary was a blank ossuary that didn’t mysteriously go missing, it was just of little significance because it was blank. This should settle once for all that it was not the James ossuary.
  • Richard Bauckham has weighed in on the subject in a guest post over at Chris Tilling’s Chrisendom. His post, “The alleged ‘Jesus family tomb,’” is a lengthy discussion of the the names on the ossuaries that is well worth a read.
  • Chris Heard has ignored his own advice and decided to tackle the issue of the DNA evidence in relation to the ossuaries.
  • Mark Goodacre has picked up on Chris’s discussion of the DNA evidence and adds his own thoughts. In another post he also tackles the issue of how the statistics are being used in the whole debate.
  • Steven Notley also has a good post on the issue in the Synoptic-L list.

In regards to news sources, there are also a number of good articles being published:

Well, that’s about it for today.

Posted in Archaeology, Jesus Tomb, Talpiot tomb, The Tomb Documentary | 3 Comments »

Judaikitsch: Tefillin Barbie

1st March 2007

While this doesn’t exactly fit my category of “Jesus Junk and Christian Kitsch” with Purim approaching I can’t help but note this piece of Judaikitsch: Tefillin Barbie.


For just under one hundred dollars you can get a barbie complete with tallit and tefillin. This barbie is in style! She’s uncomfortable in a kippah, so she has a nice beret. A siddur and a hefty Steinsaltz gemara are keeping her busy. You can also get a version with a big Torah scroll and a hard-core Vilna Talmud. Oi vey!


Perhaps what Christians need for Easter is a special “Jesus Tomb” doll set with matching ossuaries?

(HT Cross-Currents)

Posted in Humour, Jesus Junk & Christian Kitsch | 5 Comments »

Learning Ancient Hebrew

1st March 2007

John Hobbins over at Ancient Hebrew Poetry has some good tips about learning Classical Hebrew.  John sets the bar high with his introductory paragraph:

If you want to learn ancient Hebrew so as to savor its sounds, understand the nuances of its words and expressions, and recognize the formal structures of its poetry and prose, then you will seek to make the language your own. A standard test of linguistic competence is the ability to engage in simultaneous translation from one language to the other, unaided by a dictionary. When you are able to translate ancient Hebrew into your mother tongue without the aid of a dictionary, you will have moved in the right direction. When you are able to translate from your mother tongue into ancient Hebrew without the help of a dictionary, you will have attained a degree of active competence in the language. Your sense of accomplishment will be great, and rightly so.

Do take a look at his suggestions, especially the resources he mentions that will allow you to make progress on your own.

Posted in Hebrew, Teaching & Learning | Comments Off