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Biblical Anachronisms: The Philistines and Beersheba

In my post a couple of days ago I stated the fact, that I took to be a fact, that the historical Moses (if there was one) (which I doubt) could not have written parts of the Pentateuch (I don’t think he wrote any of the parts) (OK, since, among other things, I don’t think he existed) because of the mention of the people the “Philistines” and the city of Beersheba, neither of which existed in the thirteenth century BCE, when he must have lived, if he lived.   A reader asked me what the evidence for that is.  I include the question below. It’s a great question.  I used to know the answer!  Off the top of my head, I couldn’t remember what that was, apart from a vague recollection of archaeological reports.   Moreover, at the time I was on the road away from my books (visiting my 89-year-old mother in Kansas!).  So not being able to look it up, I did the next best thing, which turns out not to have been the second [...]

2017-11-06T21:19:17-05:00June 30th, 2016|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Reader’s Questions|

New Archaeological Discoveries and the Bible! Readers Mailbag April 16, 2016

Today I address two interesting questions on the weekly mailbag, one about the new archaeological discovery in Israel and the other on whether in my last book I violated my own advice about requiring only experts to write for popular audiences.  If you have a question you would like me to address, let me know!   QUESTION:  Does the latest information on the discovery of written texts from before the removal of the Israelite’s to Babylon indicating a wider level of literacy in 7th century BCE change your mind in any way about the illiteracy of the followers of Jesus?   RESPONSE: I’m not sure if everyone saw this intriguing news item in the NY Times (or elsewhere), but here it is: Let me say emphatically that I have no inside information about the find – I know only what I read in the papers, and it is fascinating indeed.   They have discovered a number of ostraca (pottery sherds) that have written on them, in ink, grocery/supply requests; they originate from Israel about the [...]

On the Accuracy of Oral Traditions

I have announced on the blog that my new book, Jesus Before the Gospels, will be available March 1.  The book is about how the stories of Jesus were passed along by word of mouth for several decades before being written, and about how modern studies of both memory and oral cultures can help us understand what probably happened to the traditions as they circulated orally from one person to another over all those years. In reaction to a previous post on the topic, a reader made the following interesting comment:   COMMENT: The Iliad [of Homer] exists today in its modern form because of oral tradition.  We can be pretty sure that the story did not happen as it’s told to us, even if you leave out the part about kibbitzing gods (and we can be pretty sure that it wasn’t originally meant to be a literal recounting of the Trojan War, literalism never being the mission statement of poetry).  But inspired by it, Schliemann did go out and find Troy. Which we wouldn’t [...]

2020-04-03T03:52:11-04:00February 10th, 2016|Paul and His Letters, Public Forum, Reader’s Questions|

My Colleague’s Archaeological Find!

You have probably noticed that almost every time an archaeological find makes its way into the major newspapers (or even the minor ones) it is a "discovery" that is very iffy, dicey, dubious, questionable and, to make a long story short, generally rejected by the real experts in the field. That's probably because real archaeologists are very careful, methodical, and, well, not all that interesting for the mass media. But they do the real work, and sometimes they come up with something really terrific. Their work may not make the front page of the NY Times, but it's the real thing, done by real, solid, labor, by real archaeologists. FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, log in as a Member. It doesn't cost much-- and all goes to CHARITY. Join today!! My colleague Jodi Magness is the real thing (I hired her into my department when I was chair, maybe 8 or 9 years ago; her office is across the hall from mine; we work together with our graduate students, etc.).   Her field is [...]

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