Not Frozen Over
Hell Found Under Siberia: Screams Scare Scientists
First it was Noah’s Ark,a then it was the Ark of the Covenant.b Now hell itself has been discovered—by geologists in Siberia. According to a report in a Finnish newspaper, the scientists drilled a hole in the crust of the earth nine miles deep and accidentally reached hell. The newspaper account quotes scientists saying that when they took soundings from the hole, “they heard human screams. Screams have been heard from the condemned souls from earth’s deepest hole. Terrified scientists are afraid they have let loose the evil powers of hell up to the earth’s surface.”
The manager of the project, undertaken by the Joint European Science Drilling Project, is a Dr. Azzacov who stated: “The information we are gathering is so surprising that we are sincerely afraid of what we might find down there.”
According to the newspaper report, “The geologists were dumbfounded. After they had drilled several kilometers through the earth’s crust, the drill bit suddenly began to rotate wildly.”
The scientists were surprised not only that “the deep center of the earth is hollow,” but that it is so hot. According to Dr. Azzacov:
“The calculations indicate the given temperature was about 1,100 degrees Celsius, or over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is far more than we expected. It seems almost like an inferno of fire is brutally going on in the center of the earth. The last discovery was nevertheless the most shocking to our ears, so much so that the scientists are afraid to continue the project. We tried to listen to the earth’s movements at certain intervals with super-sensitive microphones, which were let down through the hole. What we heard turned those logically thinking scientists into trembling ruins. It was sometimes a weak but high-pitched sound which we thought to be coming from our own equipment. But after some adjustments we comprehended that indeed the sound came from the earth’s interior. We could hardly believe our own ears. We heard a human voice, screaming in pain. Even though one voice was discernible, we could hear thousands, perhaps millions, in the background, of suffering souls screaming. After this ghastly discovery, about half of the scientists quit because of fear.”
“Hopefully,” Dr. Azzacov added, “that which is down there will stay there.”
According to a report in the “World Events and Bible Prophecy” section of the April 1990 issue of The Midnight Cry, a prophecy magazine, the story is big news in Finland and Norway, whose scientists participated in the project. But American newspapers have refused to print it.
The Midnight Cry story reports that the Soviets have canceled the project, have fired the Finnish and Norwegian scientists and have given them “huge financial bribes” to keep silent about the discovery. The Finns and Norwegians took the bribes, we are told, because “they feared Soviet authorities would execute them on the spot to silence them if they thought they couldn’t be trusted to keep silent about this.”
Nevertheless, when these scientists returned home, they divulged these details. As a result, according to The Midnight Cry, “Hardened atheists in Finland and Norway became Christians after realizing Hell is for real!”
(We thank Patricia Parrott of Starkville, Mississippi, for calling this story to our attention.)
Report From Vienna
No Archaeology at International SBL
With a record attendance of over 325 participants, the eighth International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature was held in Vienna on August 5–8, 1990.
Vienna lived up to its reputation as a city of fin de siècle beauty and culture—from the charming small hotel tucked away in a hidden side street where many participants stayed to the magnificent neo-Baroque Palais Auersperg where the lectures were held. Never was there a more impressive setting for scholarly talk than the ornate high-ceilinged rooms—each uniquely decorated—of the Palais Auersperg. But there was a catch. If the windows were kept shut, it was stifling; if the windows were opened, the traffic noise made it impossible to hear the lecturer. Suddenly, when we didn’t have it, we appreciated a modern convenience like air conditioning.
Generally, the papers were of high quality, partly because the meeting was able to attract a number of prominent senior scholars people like James Robinson of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity in Claremont, California; Avraham Malamat of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; George Nickelsburg of the University of Iowa; Rolf Rendtorff of the University of 008Heidelberg; Marcus Borg of the Pacific School of Religion and Michael Heltzer and Baruch Margalit, both of the University of Haifa—as well as some of the most promising younger scholars.
The unfortunate distance between Biblical studies and archaeology, however, was emphasized by the fact that there was not a single paper on Biblical archaeology.c The omission was accidental, not intentional: In response to the call for papers, no archaeological papers were submitted.
Because the International SBL meeting is never heavily archaeological, the archaeologists tend to stay away. There is not enough archaeological meat for them. (In addition, some of them are busy digging.) The situation feeds on itself: Because there is so little archaeological fare, even fewer come, until, finally, there is none.
The only answer is to make a concerted affirmative effort to bring archaeologists to the meeting, instead of passively creating a program out of papers submitted. For example, one of Austria’s most famous archaeologists, Manfred Bietak, was in Vienna during the meetings. For many years Bietak has been excavating the Hyksos capital of Avaris in Egypt (Tell el-Daba); he is an expert on the problems of identifying the Biblical cities of Pithom and Ramses. But Bietak was not invited to attend or speak. (Fewer than 10 Austrians attended.)
This raises a broader issue: Instead of simply shuffling cards into sessions of loosely related topics, should the organizers attempt to put together a program that focuses on particular problems from different viewpoints? How about an occasional panel, in which several papers on the same topic are presented, with the scholars then discussing their differences and agreements? How about a few plenary sessions where a senior scholar presents a major paper on a broad topic? Much more could be done along these lines.
A welcome addition to the people attending the sessions were scholars from Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia and East Germany. (Unless I am mistaken, no one came from the Soviet Union.) The hunger for western scholarship in eastern Europe is one of the most 075exciting developments and gratifying opportunities in these times of historic political change. I wish we had had a special opportunity to meet and talk to these eastern European scholars and to hear about the status of Biblical studies and scholarship in countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain.
Siegfried Horn’s Miraculous Recovery
Siegfried Horn, an eminent archaeologist, a member of BAR’s Editorial Advisory Board and a popular BAS Seminar lecturer, has made a near-miraculous recovery from a grave injury that hospitalized him for three months. On April 13, three days after returning from leading a Middle East tour, the 82-year-old Horn was found unconscious near his home in Pleasant Hill, California. He was rushed to a hospital, where a CAT scan revealed a large area of blood in the brain. Doctors removed a 2.5 inch section of Horn’s skull to relieve pressure on the brain. Police speculated that he had been the victim of an attack.
Horn was semi-comatose for weeks after the injury. In early May he began speaking again and recognizing visitors. The pace of his recovery picked up after that, and he was released from a convalescent hospital on July 1st. Horn still has no recollection of what happened, but thinks he may have blacked out as a result of the flu.
The episode was only the latest in Horn’s eventful life, described in the recent biography Survivor (Andrews Univ. Press, 1986). Horn spent his childhood years in his native Germany and in England and Holland. He was a missionary in Java and Sumatra for eight years and survived six years in prison camps during the Second World War.
The resilient octogenarian seems hardly to have been slowed by his travails. Shortly after his release from the hospital, Horn trekked in the Galapagos Islands on a study tour. When BAR spoke with him in September, Horn was about to leave for Europe, “to visit friends, not work,” assuring us that he would see us in November in New Orleans at the Annual Meeting.
Judean Desert Caves
Winter Search for Scrolls
Volunteers looking to combine adventure and discovery can join the Judean Desert Exploration and Excavation Project as it begins its third season. The project seeks to locate and explore additional caves in the area northwest of the Dead Sea where the Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered in 1947. The nearly inaccessible caves that dot the limestone cliffs were a refuge for Jewish and Christian ascetics in the first and second centuries A.D.
The new season will begin on December 27, 1990 and continue through January 20.
In its first season the project excavated a cave above Ein Feshka with Dr. Joseph Patrich, some of the results of which were featured in “Hideouts in the Judean Wilderness,” BAR 15:05. Last year the project conducted an archaeological survey of some 475 caves along the Dead Sea from Wadi Murabba’at to Wadi Qumran.
This year the project will be working with Jerusalem archaeologist Dan Bahat and plans to extend the cave survey south to Ein Gedi and inland into the Kidron Valley. In addition, it plans a radar groundscan of the Qumran plateau and vicinity.
The $2350 cost for volunteers includes transportation, tuition and room and board at Kibbutz Kalia next to the Qumran caves. A $250 travel deposit will be required, refundable until December 5, 1990. Applicants should be capable of physical exertion. Contact Professor Robert Eisenman, Chair, Department of Religious Studies, California State University Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach CA 90840; phone (714) 962–0548.
BAR in the News
BAR has been making the news. During the past year hundreds of newspapers, magazines and even television programs have 076covered our call for speedier publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Last February, in an eight-column spread, The Washington Post featured an article on Frank Yurco’s discussion of whether the ancient Egyptians were black or white that appeared in the September/October 1989 BAR (“Were the Ancient Egyptians Black or White?” BAR 15:05).
Then this past spring, several publications, including The New York Times and Time, reported on Bryant Wood’s article, “Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho?” BAR 16:02.
The media attention continued in September. Frank Yurco’s article on the 3,200-year-old picture of Israelites found in Egypt (“3,200-Year-Old Picture of Israelites Found in Egypt,” BAR 16:05) was the subject of a front-page story in The New York Times Science section. Time magazine also reported on Yurco’s article.
Lastly, “Joshua and the Archeologist,” in the September 1990 Reader’s Digest, profiled Adam Zertal, Israeli war hero turned archaeologist, who discovered what may have been Joshua’s altar on Mt. Ebal, in Samaria. The Digest acknowledged that the story of the altar appeared in BAR, as our readers will recall (“Has Joshua’s Altar Been Found on Mt. Ebal?” BAR 11:01). This article, as well as the spate of articles and letters that followed disputing and defending Zertal’s claims, has been re-printed in the first volume of Archaeology and the Bible—The Best of BAR.
“Great Discoveries” Bible Lectures in Los Angeles
“Great Discoveries in the Ancient World of the Bible,” a series of six Monday-evening lectures by outstanding scholars and one dramatic performance, begins October 22, 1990 at Gindi Auditorium, University of Judaism, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. The university’s Continuing Education Department is co-sponsoring the series with the California Museum of Ancient Art. Storyteller Diane Wolkstein inaugurates the series with a performance of “Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth,” based on a 4,000-year-old Sumerian epic. The lecturers and topics to follow are: Piotr Michalowski on the Gilgamesh epic (Oct. 29); Richard Elliott Friedman on who wrote the Bible (Nov. 5); William Fulco on the Canaanites (Nov. 12); William Dever on the Philistines (Nov. 26); James Robinson on the Gnostic Gospels (Dec. 3), and James Sanders on the Dead Sea Scrolls (Dec. 10). The cost is $79 plus a $9 registration fee for the entire series; individual programs are $15 each at the door. For more information, call (818) 762–5500.
Not Frozen Over