I began the interview in his Lexington, Massachusetts home by asking Professor Cross if he recognized the following quotation: “The whole of the ancient Near East has been his bailiwick—its geography and archaeology, its languages and literature, its history and religion. I suspect that he is the last…generalist with the specialist’s precision in designated […]

Part I: Israelite Origins

Hershel Shanks: I have heard you speak of Israelite origins but I have not seen in print your belief that the Israelites came out of Egypt and traveled to Canaan via Saudi Arabia. Is that correct?

The Mysterious Copper Scroll
Clues to hidden temple treasure? By P. Kyle McCarter Jr.

The Copper Scroll (3Q15 or 3QTreasure) is an anomaly in the inventory of scrolls from Qumran. It does not fit readily into any of the categories customarily included when the scrolls are discussed. It is not biblical, it is not literary and it does not contain sectarian doctrine. It is written in a […]

Teaching Jews how to live in the Diaspora By Amy-Jill Levine

A mix of folktale and prayer, biblical themes and classical motifs, Tobit depicts a fantastic tale of Diaspora life. Containing an angel in disguise, a murderous demon, a magical fish and a young man on a journey to maturity, the Book of Tobit is not told simply to entertain. Rather, it provides carefully crafted […]

Epispasm—Circumcision in Reverse
For nearly 600 years, some Jews tried to remove the mark of the covenant By Robert G. Hall

“Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised on the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” So said God to Abraham, establishing the covenant of circumcision, a covenant “between me and you and your descendants after you” (Genesis 17:10, 14). For centuries, Jewish boys […]


Seeing the Ethical Within the Ritual
Israel’s priests spoke in rituals, not in words. Their basic values are in the main ethical, and are ensconced in the rituals prescribed in the priestly texts of the Pentateuch. By Jacob Milgrom
Different Ways of Looking at the Bible
“God’s story” or a “human composition”? These two views of Scripture have been responsible for much confusion and conflict in religious communities since the Enlightenment. By Marcus J. Borg
Hebrew for Bible Readers
Verb forms for shades of meaning By Keith N. Schoville
Greek for Bible Readers
“Ask, and it will be given you…” (Matthew 7:7) By David Alan Black