The Assassination of Eglon
The first locked-room murder mystery By Baruch Halpern

Ancient Israel’s authors wrote for Israelites, in Israelite language, with Israelite assumptions. That audiences on distant continents, millennia later, would be trying to piece together what they meant was a thought that never occurred to them. Changed language and changed assumptions obstruct our view of what the ancient authors meant to tell their audiences. […]

What it really means By Marvin H. Pope

On Palm Sunday, millions of Christians will again welcome Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with the familiar words of Matthew 21:9:1 “Hosanna to the Son of David!a Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Almost all of the worshippers will suppose, if they think about it […]

Can Scholars Take the Virgin Birth Seriously?

010 Three clear arguments support belief in the virgin birth1 of Jesus. The first is textual. Both Matthew and Luke state clearly that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, without the aid of a human father: Matthew Luke “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother […]

Did Moses Have Horns?

Michelangelo’s monumental Moses immediately captures the attention of visitors to the church of St. Peter in Chains in Rome. The sculptor has created a vision not merely of the lawgiver, but of Israel’s God as conceived by pre-modern Christendom. The unforgiving stare and the taut, sinewy arms leave no doubt that the subject is […]

To Clean or Not to Clean

The prophet Joel recently emerged in brilliant color on the freshly cleaned ceiling of the Sistine Chapel—with honey-colored tunic, scarlet scarf and mint-green cloak lined with pomegranate billowing about his knees.a Artists and art historians reacted with disbelief. They proclaimed these glowing colors in unusual combinations “un-Michelangelesque.” For years they had been saying that […]

Eve and Adam
Is a feminist reading possible? By Pamela J. Milne

Scholars have identified two different creation stories at the beginning of Genesis, one in Genesis 1–2:4a and the other in Genesis 2:4b–3:24. The first is attributed to the “P” source (the Priestly tradition) and the second is attributed to the “J” source (the Yahwist tradition).a The two accounts differ in many ways. Their […]

Is It Possible to Understand the Book of Job?
A sensitive new reading of one of the most puzzling and powerful books in the Bible By David Noel Freedman

The book of Job, one of the world’s greatest literary works, is better known for the problems it poses and the issues it spawns than for its answers and resolutions. While to the untutored eye, Job (at least in translation) reads smoothly from the beginning to end and exhibits cohesion amid diversities, more […]

Reconstructing the Magnificent Temple Herod Built

“In the fourth year of his reign over Israel, Solomon began to build the House of the Lord” (1 Kings 6:1). Bible scholars call this the First Temple. King Solomon built this Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, on a stone threshing floor bought by Solomon’s father, David, for 50 shekels of […]

Understanding The Sistine Chapel & Its Paintings

Pope Sixtus IV built the Sistine Chapel in Rome in 1475–1481 as his private chapel. The chapel, which bears the pope’s name, appears from the outside to be a fortlike rectangular structure. The interior of the chapel is a plain rectangular space 130 feet long and 45 feet wide with a shallow ceiling vault […]

Ancient Israel’s changing vision of the world beyond By Bernhard Lang

The earliest Hebrew understanding of the cosmos grew out of prevailing Mesopotamian and Canaanite mythology. Even before the time of the Hebrews, ancient Semites pictured the world as a three-tiered structure: an upper realm of the gods (heaven), a middle world given by the gods to humans (earth) and a lower domain consisting of […]

The Book of Hours
The medievel best seller By Roger S. Wieck

It has long been a truism that the Bible is the most-published book in the history of Western culture. But for almost 250 years, from about 1275 to 1525, Books of Hours (illuminated prayer books whose heart is a series of prayers devoted to the Virgin Mary) were the medieval best sellers. During this […]

How he radically redefined marriage By Roy Bowen Ward

The apostle Paul radically redefined marriage and attitudes toward it for the emerging Christian movement, although this is seldom recognized. Contrary to the popular impression, however, marriage, for Paul, provided the proper context for satisfying sexual desire and for providing erotic pleasure. Within the context of marriage, sex was something to enjoy on the […]

How To Connect Dead Sea Scroll Fragments

When the first Dead Sea Scrolls came to light in 1947, putting their pieces together wasn’t really a problem. Indeed, one scroll, from what is now known as Qumran Cave 1, is almost complete. There was nothing to put together. That was the famous Isaiah Scroll, known to scholars as 1QIsa. The siglum […]

A New Challenge to the Documentary Hypothesis
Have modern scholars failed to appreciate the overall structure in Genesis 1–11? By P. Kyle McCarter Jr.

The documentary hypothesis states that the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, is a compilation of several originally independent documents. Ancient editors or redactors collected these documents, which had been composed at various points in the history of the ancient community, and combined them in a single extended narrative. In this way […]

The impractical prophet By Yehoshua Gitay

010The book of Isaiah begins with a superscript:

The Enigma of Paul
Why did the early Church’s great liberator get a reputation as an authoritarian? By F. F. Bruce

I write this on January 25—appropriately enough, for, according to the church calendar, this is the anniversary of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. Whether the date is right or wrong, we, of course, have no way of knowing. No biblical writer do we know more directly from his own writings than Paul. […]

Computers and The Bible

Computers can find patterns hidden in obscure recesses of biblical literature. Knowing what patterns to look for, however, still requires human intelligence. What these patterns mean, once they are identified, is also a matter that requires human, rather than computer, intelligence. Perhaps someday the computer itself will be able to decide what patterns to […]

Two Master Portraits of Isaiah

Two masterful portraits of the prophet Isaiah were painted in Rome at the beginning of the 16th century. The first, by Michelangelo (see below), was painted on the Sistine chapel ceiling between 1500 and 1510.1 The second, by Raphael (see front cover), was painted in the Church of Saint Agostino barely two years after […]

Sumerian Literature
Background to the Bible By William W. Hallo

028 The world’s oldest literature—poetry as well as prose—belongs to the Sumerians, that fascinating, enigmatic people who settled over 5,000 years ago on the shores of the Persian Gulf1 and in the lower (southern) part of the valley between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, in present-day Iraq. There the Sumerians founded the world’s […]

Problems of Translations
Concern for the text versus concern for the reader By Harvey Minkoff

The object of translating seems simple enough: to transfer meaning from one language to another. For public notices, traffic signs and other everyday needs, this is not difficult. But for literature—even such pseudo-literature as political speeches—meaning lies in the interplay of what the author intended to say, what the text actually contains, how style […]

Corinth & Ephesus
Why did Paul spend half his journeys in these cities? By Dan P. Cole

Paul’s three missionary “journeys” form a standard feature in New Testament maps and histories. The impression that emerges from the account in Acts of the Apostles 1–21 in the New Testament is that Paul three times set out from Antioch in Syria on a succession of missionary “journeys,” during which he preached and founded […]

Must “Biblical Theology” Be Christian Theology?

In its earliest use, just over 200 years ago, the term “biblical theology” meant Christian theology. “Biblical theology” represented a search for the overall theological meaning of the Bible—the New Testament and the Old Testament—from a Christian religious perspective.

The Many Faces of Moses
A Deuteronomic portrait By Patrick D. Miller Jr.

No single figure so dominates the pages of the Hebrew Bible as Moses. This is especially true of Deuteronomy, the final book of the Pentateuch. There Moses is not only the central figure, he is virtually the only figure. Indeed the only ones who speak in the book are Moses and God. Scholars differ […]

The Meeting Season
A time to learn, a time to drowse, a time to mingle with colleagues from around the world By Hershel Shanks

Summer is the time for alphabet-soup scholarly conferences. Some are held annually, like those of the International SBL (Society of Biblical Literature), the CBA (Catholic Biblical Association) and the SNTS (Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas), which met last summer in Sheffield, England, San Francisco and Cambridge, England, respectively. Others meet less often. Next summer the […]


Bible Quiz
Love and marriage
Bible Lands
The Sharon—symbol of God’s abundance
BR to come out six times a year By Hershel Shanks
My View
Ruminations of a Jewish bible scholar By Nahum M. Sarna
Bible Lands
How to Draw Ancient Highways on Biblical Maps By Barry J. Beitzel
My View
Martin Luther and Natan Sharansky on the same seminary program By James Limburg