Archive for December, 2007


BAR Highlights: 12/21/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

Herod in Jordan
German excavators have uncovered a monumental building that indicates that King Herod’s control extended further into ancient Jordan than previously known.

A Pea in Tut’s Pod
A pea from the Carnarvon estate in England thought to have come from King Tut’s tomb has been saved from extinction. The fifth Earl of Carnarvon sponsored the expedition that discovered the tomb.

Grappling over Judas

Scholars at a recent meeting argued over the portrayal of the disciple in the Gospel of Judas.

Temple Mount Project to Resume
Israel’s cabinet has instructed the Israel Antiquities Authority to restart work on a new walkway to the Temple Mount. The project had been halted in the wake of violent protests by Muslims who claimed the walkway would damage the Mount.

Spartan Myth
A study of a large pit with human remains suggests that the ancient Spartans did not throw deformed babies away.

A Peek Inside
At the behest of the British Museum, a London hospital has performed a CT scan of a mummy inside a linen and plaster coffin.

Vani, Vidi, Vici
“Wine, Worship & Sacrifice: The Golden Graves of Ancient Vani,” a just-opened exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC, focuses on the civilization that once flourished in what is now the Republic of Georgia.

A Glimpse Inside the Museum
Officials led a small group of visitors through the Iraq National Museum to highlight restoration efforts and the recovery of looted artifacts.

Sale of Prehistoric Sculpture Smashes Record
The Guennol Lioness, a 5,000-year-old carving barely 3 inches tall and considered by many as one the world’s great works of art, sold for more than $57 million—by far the most ever for a sculpture.

Response on Judas
One of the translators of the Gospel of Judas and an official of the National Geographic Society respond to Prof. April DeConick’s recent criticism of their work.

Ancient Weapons of Mass Destruction

A molecular biologist suggests that rams and donkeys infected with rabbit fever (tularemia) were used as bioweapons in the Anatolian wars 3,300 years ago.

Retrieving a Treasure

Scholars in Israel have called for the return of all fragments of the Aleppo Codex, considered the finest example of the traditional Hebrew text of the Bible. One such fragment, saved from a synagogue in Aleppo, Syria, that had been set on fire by rioters, was recently returned to Israel and scholars think there are more pieces in private hands.

Infant Burial

Archaeologists in Syria have recovered an ancient glass jar containing the ashes of a child. The find was made at Palmyra, home of spectacular Roman-era remains.

The Ark—In Ethiopia?
Smithsonian magazine investigates the claim, popular in some circles, that the Ark of the Covenant is secreted in Africa.

Facts and Anti-Facts

An Israeli scholar writes that the recent granting of tenure to Nadia Abu El-Haj by Barnard College has ramifications well beyond the archaeology of Israel.

Queen’s Palace Found

Archaeologists working just outside Jerusalem’s Old City Walls have uncovered a major structure that they believe was the palace of Queen Helena, who converted to Judaism in the first century.

Several photos of the site and the artifacts found there can be viewed at

A short video report appears at the Jerusalem Post.


Yay for Carolyn Sharp!

And congratulations to Prof. Sharp (who, I’m sure, honed her skills while teaching me last fall):

Carolyn Sharp honored with 2007 Fortress Press Teaching Award

In awarding its 2007 Teaching Award to Carolyn Sharp, associate professor of Hebrew Scriptures at Yale Divinity School, the Fortress Press publishing house called Sharp a “faculty leader” and a “superb teacher of teachers” who has “formed the basis of what many of her colleagues now do to inaugurate new teaching assistants into their own work.”

Formal presentation of the award was made during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, held Nov. 17-20 in San Diego.

The Fortress Press citation says, “Carolyn Sharp has been recognized as a faculty leader in guiding reflection about the teaching process; in shaping the classroom experience, through the judicious use of written, visual, and audio materials, as a lively involvement in the ongoing history of scripture interpretation; and in developing course materials that are sensitive to the variety of learning styles among her students.”

Sharp credits initiatives with the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and from the Episcopal Church’s Conant Fund, as being instrumental in shaping her pedagogical approach.

From the Wabash Center she cites three initiatives:

1) The 2002-03 Pre-Tenure Workshop for Theological Faculty
2) A collaborative group grant on multiculturalism and interdisciplinarity in theological education, involving eight schools
3) The 2006-07 “Teaching Biblical Exegesis in Theological Schools” consultation, which involves 12 schools

The Conant Fund supported her development of several pedagogical tools for teaching YDS’s big introductory course Old Testament Interpretation.

Fortress Press said, “She has developed study guides that introduce her students in a systematic way to an array of interpretive strategies and techniques. She encourages peer learning by expecting students to engage the class as a whole with their own questions and explorations…

“A superb teacher of teachers, she prepares her teaching assistants, mostly doctoral students in religious studies, for the joys and challenges of seminary teaching. She has prepared for them guides to teaching and to resources available to help them develop their teaching skills. Her work with these teaching assistants has formed the basis of what many of her colleagues now do to inaugurate new teaching assistants into their own work.

“Because she is a passionate teacher, dedicated to innovation in service of her students and of her craft, we are pleased to present this award to Carolyn Sharp.”

Sharp’s research explores aspects of the composition, redaction, and rhetoric of Hebrew Scripture texts. In recent articles, she has examined the representation of Hebrew Bible traditions in the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls, urged the creation of a multivocal Old Testament theology shaped by the notion of diaspora identity, and explored the potential of Old Testament hermeneutics to address contemporary ecclesial debates.

Her books include Prophecy and Ideology in Jeremiah (T&T Clark, 2003) and Irony and Meaning in the Hebrew Bible (in press with Indiana University Press).

An Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow, Sharp is active in the Episcopal Church, preaching and leading parish study groups on biblical theology and hermeneutics.

Sharp earned a B.A. in religious studies from Wesleyan University, an M.A.R. from YDS, and a Ph.D. (2000) in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament from Yale.


Fortress Holiday Sale

Some nice titles (e.g., Stegemann and Stegemann’s The Jesus Movement) at some nice prices… take a look!

Visit to start saving today!


Yay for Margaret Farley!

Congratulations to Prof. Farley. The Grawenmeyer Award is particularly close to my heart, as it’s granted by two of my hometown institutions:

Margaret A. Farley, the Gilbert L. Stark Professor Emerita of Christian Ethics at Yale Divinity School, is the recipient of the 2008 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for her book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (Continuum, 2006). The Grawemeyer Award is among the nation’s most prestigious prizes in the field of religion and is awarded jointly by the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the University of Louisville. Read a full press release here.


BAR Highlights: 12/5/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

Getting Judas Wrong
April DeConick, a specialist in Gnostic Christianity, writes that the National Geographic Society made important errors in its publication ofThe Gospel of Judas.

Hanukkah Revealed

The story behind the Festival of Lights is much more complex than is usually thought.

Center of Controversy

A Newsweek article profiles the archaeological digs being conducted in Jerusalem—and the debates they spark.

Number Theory
A specialist explains ancient Egyptian methods of counting.

Tourist Damage
The increasing number of visitors to previously secluded areas of Egypt have begun to threaten ancient rock art in the Sahara.

Not So Fast…

An Italian archaeologist has questioned the recent identification of a grotto in Rome as the famed cave where Romulus and Remus were suckled.


RBL Highlights: 12/3/07

A few highlights from this week’s Review of Biblical Literature:

Werner H. Kelber
– William A. Graham, Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion
– David M. Carr, Writing on the Tablet of the Heart: Origins of Scripture and Literature
– Susan Niditch, Oral World and Written Word: Ancient Israelite Literature
– Martin S. Jaffee, Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism, 200 BCE-400 CE
– Erhardt Güttgemanns, Offene Fragen zur Formgeschichte des Evangeliums: Eine methodologische Skizze der Grundlagenproblematik der Form- und Redaktionsgeschichte, translated by William G. Doty as Candid Questions Concerning Gospel Form Criticism: A Methodological Sketch of the Fundamental Problematics of Form and Redaction Criticism
– Richard A. Horsley, with Jonathan A. Draper, Whoever Hears You Hears Me: Prophets, Performance, and Tradition in Q
– D. C. Parker, The Living Text of the Gospels

Andrew D. Clarke
Secular and Christian Leadership in Corinth: A Socio-Historical and Exegetical Study of 1 Corinthians 1-6
Reviewed by Barbette Stanley Spaeth

Miriam Pucci Ben Zeev
Diaspora Judaism in Turmoil, 116/117 CE: Ancient Sources and Modern Insights
Reviewed by Joshua Schwartz

Shmuel Safrai, Zeev Safrai, Joshua Schwartz, and Peter J. Tomson, eds.
The Literature of the Sages: Second Part: Midrash and Targum, Liturgy, Poetry, Mysticism, Contracts, Inscriptions, Ancient Science and the Languages of Rabbinic Literature
Reviewed by Jan-Wim Wesselius

Robert C. Tannehill
The Shape of the Gospel: New Testament Essays
Reviewed by Derek S. Dodson

Laurence M. Vance
Greek Verbs in the New Testament and Their Principal Parts
Reviewed by Jutta Henner

Chris VanLandingham
Judgment and Justification in Early Judaism and the Apostle Paul
Reviewed by D. A. Carson

December 2007
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