“I cannot conclude this contribution dedicated especially to the readers of our beloved Rivista Biblica Italiana without pointing out what may be expected for the study of the Bible in the wake of the discovery of the Royal Archives of Ebla. Particularly the news leaked by the press, but also the interference of colleagues on the other side of the ocean has exposed a tendency and a danger from which I not only feel a need to keep away from but also to put scholars on guard. Even if it is true that especially in the onomastics of the texts from Ebla there are clear parallels with biblical onomastics of periods later than that of the history of Ebla, it does not authorize us to make the Eblaites “predecessors of Israel.” That the Northwest Semitic onomasticon of Ebla presents such characteristics, like comparing our own names to those of all the Northwest Semitic cultures, is a fact so natural as not to cause any surprise. But particularly wanting to restudy the Old Testament in the light of Ebla would be a methodological error that would only repeat errors previously committed. All the dangers and interpretive distortions of the Bible provoked by pan-Babylonianism of one hundred years ago or more recently by pan-Ugaritism are known.

“My wish in concluding this contribution actually is that such abnormal phase would indeed not follow the third phase and hence, the third error of pan-Eblaitism is as much unjustified as it is unscientific.”


The passage from Rivista Biblica Italiana reads as follows:

“Regarding the urbanization of 3rd millennium Syria-Palestine, we are faced with an enormous quantity of cities and villages, but the most interesting thing, and quite new, on the one hand bound to please Bible scholars, and on the other scholars of the Koran, is that we find mentioned the existence of the fabulous cities remembered in Genesis (Sodom, Gomorrah, etc.) and in addition, the three cities of Sura 89 of the Koran (Samutu, Ad and Irma).” (RBI 25 (1977), p. 235f.)


An abashed Professor Biggs admitted to BAR that he did in fact make this statement to Science. Said Biggs: “It was an ill-considered, off-the-cuff remark, not meant seriously. It gives an entirely wrong impression of my respect for Professor Pettinato.”