So, did David and Solomon exist? It is fair to say that they most likely did, at least if the Tel Dan Stele with its mention of a Davidic dynasty (Beit David) is any indication. However, the jury is still out as to how important they actually were, how large their empires were, and whether the biblical traditions and stories concerning the two men are essentially correct or were concocted later, either in the time of Josiah in the seventh century BCE or even after. Although David and Solomon have successfully overcome the sabotaging nihilism of the 1990s and the early part of the new millennium, the debates about them are still ongoing, with new discoveries impacting the debate as well as benefiting biblical archaeology as a whole.
The article offers a great deal of insight into the discussion and debate in scholarly circles. It is well worth your time, so read up...
Azusa Pacific University has acquired five fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest known versions of the Hebrew Bible.
The 2,000-year-old shards, featuring passages from the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, will be exhibited in May at the evangelical Christian university in the San Gabriel Valley...
... The five fragments in the Azusa Pacific collection, each about the size of an adult's palm, are stored in a campus safe until they can be readied for the May exhibition that will use artifacts to tell the history of the Bible.
The university bought four of the fragments from a private rare-manuscript dealer in Venice. The fifth came from a Christian ministry in Phoenix that collects biblical artifacts.
University officials would not say how much they paid for the pieces, which include a fragment from the Book of Daniel.
But Robert Duke, an assistant professor of biblical studies, sounded almost giddy as he described the university's new acquisitions. "They are 2,000 years old, and you can still see letters . . . with the naked eye," he said.
The university released a photograph of one fragment that already has been studied by an outside researcher. The brownish-colored section with frayed edges shows part of the 27th chapter of Deuteronomy. In it, Moses delivers a discourse from God, telling the Jewish people to build an altar of stone once they cross the River Jordan into the land of Israel.
The fragment lists the location for the altar as Mount Gerizim. Modern Bibles mentioned another site, Mount Ebal.
James H. Charlesworth, a New Testament professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, said the difference suggests that the fragment may be an original copy of Deuteronomy that was altered at some point by warring factions of Jews.
"We finally found the original text of Deuteronomy," said Charlesworth, who directs the seminary's Dead Sea Scrolls Project. "This is sensationally important."
Azusa Pacific said it is only the third U.S. institution of higher education to acquire fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. And some scholars say the purchase has elevated the name of the 8,500-student campus virtually overnight. "They are now on the map," Charlesworth said.
The fragment of Deuteronomy, a portion believed to be 27:4b-6 from the Samaritan Pentateuch text type, was claimed to have originally been found in Qumran Cave IV. The link includes the research of James Charlesworth and the infra-red photography of Bruce and Ken Zuckerman.
It is well worth the time to read to gain a better grasp of the enormity of the scrolls themselves, as well as one of the fragments APU has just acquired.
September 3, 2009 - In its most significant holding to date―and possibly ever―Azusa Pacific University acquires five Dead Sea Scroll fragments and a collection of rare biblical antiquities.
Joining Princeton University and the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, APU becomes only the third institution of higher education to own original Dead Sea Scroll fragments. These earliest known texts of the Hebrew Bible, dating back to roughly 150 B.C., were discovered in the caves of Qumran, east of Jerusalem, between 1947-56. Today, many of the estimated 15,000 known fragments are held in private collections. With this acquisition, APU can study, research, and share these fragments with scholars and the public while carefully preserving the history of Scripture.
Simply incredible. Many thanks goes to the university and the administration in being able to secure such a treasure. This is an acquisition that begins to solidify Azusa Pacific as a top rate academic institution and a place that serious about its scholarship.
If you had a chance to see the DSS exhibit when it was in San Diego, you have an idea of what APU has acquired and how rare this is. The scrolls are perhaps the greatest textual discovery in modern scholarship. The impact the scrolls have had on the development of texts, including canonical texts, is priceless. Having these five fragments at the university, where they can be preserved and studied, is an incredible opportunity for students and faculty.
Since these texts will have a central focus in my doctoral work, I'm blown away. Can't wait to see them in person.
Here are a few things that caught my attention this week. Perhaps you'd like to rummage through them as well. Enjoy...
Ha'aretz reports on the recent unearthing of a figurine from the time of emperor Hadrian. Jim West as a nice photo of it posted here.
Michael Bird posts some thoughts on the issue of inerrancy and Greg Beale's concern that this "essential doctrine" is being eroded. I can appreciate Bird's the term "infallible."
In light of the new Jesus Project, April DeConick offers measured caution, reminding others that much of what came out of the Jesus Seminar was "bankrupt." It will be interesting to see what comes from the Jesus Project in the future. I am cautiously optimistic at this point.
As the title implies, it is an exploration of the funeral practices of the Ancient Israelites and what kind of light they shed on the concept and expectations they held about the afterlife. Here is the abstract from the essay:
Ancient Israel was thoroughly familiar with existence beyond death.
Individual personalities survived the death of the body, most
Israelites believed, albeit in a considerably weakened and vulnerable
state. The ensnaring tentacles of Sheol constantly threatened the
living-dead, but the fortunate among them were able to use the power of
kinship bonds to keep Sheol’s threats at bay. The traditional ties of
lineage and kin-bonding, according to biblical Yahwism, were an actual
way for the living-dead to pull themselves back from death’s devouring
suction. Ancient Israel’s funerary practices and afterlife expectations
are greatly illumined by recent archaeological studies and by a new
comparative model that draws on data gleaned from African ethnography.
This fascinating essay is a good introduction to the scholarly debate surrounding the ideology of the resurrection and the afterlife in Ancient Israel. Well worth the time to read and digest...
Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor have posted the slideshow from their 2008 ASOR presentation on Khirbet Qeiyafa [HT: Chris Heard]. If you are wondering what the interest is all about, Heard summarizes it nicely:
The identification of the site as Sha‘arayim seems quite likely now,
completely independent of anything learned from the ostracon. (Or maybe
not; see Todd Bolen’s take
on the issue.) The site’s occupation in the first half of the ninth
century also seems quite likely. Reports of the “low chronology’s”
death may be greatly exaggerated, or premature, but Khirbet
Qeiyafa must surely influence our picture of 10th-century Judah. Let us
not overstate the case: what we (the interested public) know of Khirbet
Qeiyafa at this point hardly “proves that David killed Goliath” or
anything of that sort. However, Khirbet Qeiyafa does counterbalance the increasingly common portrayal of 10th-century Judah as a cultural backwater.