Scholar’s Study


The Great Minimalist Debate

The Great Minimalist Debate

In our March/April 2011 issue we published an article entitled “The Birth & Death of Biblical Minimalism” by Israel archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel. Among those identified as minimalists was the prominent English scholar Philip Davies. We asked Davies if he would like to respond, but he declined. Subsequently, however, he published a response on the Bible and Interpretation Web site. We asked Professor Davies if he would allow us to post his response on our Scholarís Study page and he graciously agreed.

Did Morton Smith Forge ‘Secret Mark’?

Clement of Alexandria

Over fifty years ago, Columbia University professor Morton Smith discovered a previously unknown letter from Clement of Alexandria, a second-century church father, which contained passages of a lost “secret” gospel of Mark. A debate over the authenticity of this document continues to this day.

Antiquities Authority & Forgers

IAA vs. Conspiracy of (Alleged) Forgers

The Trouble with Cement

The Trouble with Cement

After BAR editor Hershel Shanks criticized recent unsightly repairs to the Temple Mount walls in Jerusalem in his September/October 2010 First Person, archaeological architect Leen Ritmeyer wrote a letter in our January/February 2011 issue to explain how the improper use of cement in the repairs was causing some of the problems on the Temple Mount. This view is now echoed by Edward D. Johnson, the chief conservator of the Archaeological Architectural Field School run by USAID in Luxor, Egypt, who condemns the use of cement in archaeological restorations and explains the dangerous and devastating problems it can cause. Posted June 17, 2011.

Burial Caves of Saint Etienne

Have the Tombs of the Kings of Judah Been Found?: A Response

After 24 years, we can now present a clear answer to a question raised in the pages of BAR. In the July/August 1987 issue, BAR editor Hershel Shanks considered two burial caves from the First Temple period, located on the property of the École Biblique et Archeologique Francaise in Jerusalem, and asked “Have the Tombs of the Kings of Judah Been Found?” In the following response, Fr. Riccardo Lufrani, professor of topography of Jerusalem and southern Levant at the École Biblique, endeavors to finally answer Shanks’s question. Posted April 18, 2011.

King and Messiah Review

Is the Son of Man Pre-existent and Enthroned?

The January/February 2011 issue of BAR featured a book review, written by James C. VanderKam, of King and Messiah as Son of God. We then received a letter from J. Harold Ellens, retired professor of philosophy and psychology at Calvin Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary, wishing to clarify the terms and concepts used to describe the Son of Man in the ancient literature. Posted April 18, 2011.

Mt. Gerizim

Dating of Samaritan Temple on Mt. Gerizim

In “Bells, Pendants, Snakes and Stones” (BAR, November/December 2010), archaeologist Yitzhak Magen revealed evidence of a Samaritan temple at Mt. Gerizim that he dated to the time of Nehemiah, the fifth century B.C.E. In response, a reader asked for clarification about the date, which conflicts with Josephus’s account of events surrounding the Samaritan temple’s construction. Yitzhak Magen replied with a detailed explanation of the temple dating and timeline of related events. Posted February 18, 2011.

Rainey and Dever

Rainey Defends Archaeologist Credentials

In “Verbal Fisticuffs over Early Israelite Origins” (BAR July/August 2010), well-known American archaeologist William Dever was quoted as saying that prominent Israeli scholar Anson Rainey “is no archaeologist and has no first-hand acquaintance with pottery,” Dever’s specialty. Rainey responds in Scholar’s Study to demonstrate his archaeological credentials and defend his qualifications. Posted February 18, 2011.

Rainey and Goldwasser

Who Really Invented the Alphabet—Illiterate Miners or Educated Sophisticates?

Scholars Anson Rainey and Orly Goldwasser continue their debate as to who really invented the alphabet. Updated February 18, 2011.

Other Possible Phoenecian Crematoria

Crematory Drawing

Hebrew University archaeologist Eilat Mazar has reported on excavations at the vast Phoenician cemeteries of Achziv and the presence of an ancient crematorium at the site. Vassos Karageorghis, leading scholar of ancient Cypriot culture and current director of the Foundation of Anastasios G. Leventis, wrote in to tell us about other Phoenician cemeteries on Cyprus that may include crematoria similar to the one found in the Achziv cemetery in Israel. Posted December 16, 2010.

The Garum Debate

The Garum Debate: Was There a Kosher Roman Delicacy at Pompeii?

Scholars question whether “pure” garum (a popular Roman sauce that was made from various types of fish and marine life) was intended for Jews or for the followers of other Greco-Roman mystery religions that observed dietary restrictions or purity laws. Classics professor Robert I. Curtis of the University of Georgia clarifies and expands on his own interpretation of garum jars found at Pompeii and what they might suggest about the Jewish population that lived there.

Israelite Chariots in the Assyrian Period

Israelite Chariots

BAR published a letter from Professor Boyd Seevers concerning what Israelite chariots looked like in the Assyrian period in response to an article by David Ussishkin. Professor Ussishkin’s response to Professor Seevers arrived too late for publication with Professor Seevers’s letter, so we present them both here. Posted December 16, 2010.

Raphael Golb Guilty of Impersonating Dead Sea Scrolls Scholar

Golb and Schiffman

Ronald Hendel

Faith and Reason in Biblical Studies

Professor Ron Hendel’s Biblical Views column from July/August 2010, “Farewell to SBL: Faith and Reason in Biblical Studies,” elicited a thunderous and widespread response, both in support and in opposition, and among both the academic community to which it was largely addressed and among BAR’s more scholarly readers. Posted October 18, 2010

Is the Ivory Pomegranate a Forgery or Authentic?

Ivory Pomegranate

View detailed photographs, read scholarly analysis, and decide for yourself!

Jerusaelem Forgery Conference Report

Jerusaelem Forgery Conference

Real or fake? A special report brings you the latest.

The Messiah Son of Joseph

The Messiah Son of Joseph

In the September/October 2008 issue of BAR, noted Biblical scholar Israel Knohl’s article “The Messiah Son of Joseph” generated a great deal of interest and responses. Among them was a letter from Ronald Hendel, whose comments and Professor Knohl’s abbreviated response appear in the January/February 2009 issue of BAR. However, the interest in this piece was so great that we will present Professor Knohl’s response here in its entirety, as well as some other letters that were sent to us regarding his article.

Jezebel Seal

Scholars Debate “Jezebel” Seal

Even before it went to press, Marjo Korpel’s recent BAR article, “Fit for a Queen: Jezebel’s Royal Seal,” made a splash. Professor Korpel’s bold identification of a seal with the infamous Biblical Jezebel—a claim based on a reconstruction of the artifact—elicited a major critical furor.

Seal Controversy: Temech to Shlomit

Seal Controversy: From Temech to Shlomit

Although a recently found seal apparently does not belong to the Biblical figure that excavator Eilat Mazar at first suggested, it now seems that it bears another name known from the Bible.

Jesus Tomb

“Jesus Tomb” Controversy Erupts—Again

Claims that the family tomb of Jesus has been found in the East Talpiot section of Jerusalem have sparked bitter debate for a second time.