Solomon’s magnificent Temple to Israel’s God, which we now call the First Temple, was destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 587/586 B.C. In about 444 B.C. the returning Exiles led by Nehemiah constructed a new Temple, the Second Temple. Hundreds of years later, the Second Temple was rebuilt by Herod the Great (37–4 B.C.), only to be destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Each of these stood on a platform built to create a level surface known as the Temple Mount. In connection with its construction activities Herod doubled the size of the previous Temple Mount. Scholars have despaired of ever discovering the position of the original Temple Mount. Until now, that is. Leen Ritmeyer, combining the triple talents of historian, writer and architect, takes on the challenge of “Locating the Original Temple Mount.” Starting with a telltale clue at the base of what is today the platform supporting the Dome of the Rock, Ritmeyer systematically amasses the evidence he needs to make his convincing proposal. In the process, Ritmeyer explains how the Temple Mount grew in three stages, not two, as was previously thought. In addition to plans and drawings by Ritmeyer and an abundance of photos, the article is enhanced by Ritmeyer’s adaptations of plans made by the greatest underground explorer of Jerusalem of all time, the 19th-century engineer Sir Charles Warren.
Ritmeyer has worked as an archaeological architect on Jerusalem’s major digs: the Temple Mount, the Jewish Quarter, the Citadel and the City of David. He directed the restoration of the Byzantine Cardo and the Herodian villas in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. Ritmeyer’s reconstruction drawings of numerous sites throughout Israel appear in many journals and books on Biblical archaeology. He is completing his doctorate at the University of Manchester—on the Temple Mount, of course. Ritmeyer’s previous article in BAR, “Reconstructing Herod’s Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” BAR 15:06, co-written with his archaeologist wife Kathleen, was the second-place winner of the 1989 Fellner Awards for the best article in BAR. Leen and Kathleen’s firm, Ritmeyer Archaeological Design, produces posters, booklets and audio-visual aids on ancient Israel.
On May 10 a new museum dedicated to the world of the ancient Near East from which the Bible emerged will open in Jerusalem. Called the Bible Lands Museum, it culminates 40 years of collecting by art dealer Elie Borowski and will house more than 3,000 items created by the peoples surrounding ancient Israel. BAR managing editor Suzanne F. Singer, in “Against All Odds,” interviews this dreamer and discerning connoisseur, and accompanies the interview with a photo gallery of artifacts—many never-before-published.
When the photograph of a previously unpublished Dead Sea Scroll fragment appeared in “Long-Secret Plates from the Unpublished Corpus,” BAR 17:06, a leading authority on the Gospel of Matthew realized the significance of this fragment to a problem in New Testament studies. Scholars have long debated the meaning of the hovering dove that is said by the Gospel writers to be present at the baptism of Jesus. Does it harken back to the dove sent out by Noah? Does it symbolize chosenness or is it meant to recall the Spirit of God hovering over waters in Genesis? Dale C. Allison, Jr., in “The Baptism of Jesus and a New Dead Sea Scroll,” finds that the fragment settles this particular debate. More importantly, he adds, this and other recently published fragments will help illuminate first-century Palestinian Judaism.
Allison is a research fellow at Friends University, in Wichita, Kansas. He is the author of The New Moses: A Matthean Typology (Fortress, forthcoming) and the coauthor, with W. D. Davies, of the three-volume commentary on Matthew in the International Critical Commentary series.
Not all Bibles are the same. They come in hundreds of editions and in dozens of translations. One Bible may not even contain the same books as another, and even those that contain the same books may not print them in the same order. To the average Bible reader, this plethora of versions is confusing. Harvey Minkoff, in “How Bible Translations Differ,” brings order to the field, explaining the history and religious outlook of the major Bible versions on the market.
Minkoff is associate professor of English linguistics at Hunter College in New York City and the author of six books on language and writing, including Visions and Re-Visions (Prentice-Hall, 1990). He is also the author of an article in our sister publication, Bible Review (“The Aleppo Codex—Ancient Bible From the Ashes,” BR 07:04). Minkoff teaches Sunday school and karate.
Despite his unexpected illness (see below) immediately after the Kansas City Annual Meeting of the three major Bible and archaeology organizations, BAR editor Hershel Shanks came through with his report on the high and lowlights of what happened there. The Dead Sea Scrolls, as might be expected, were prominent, with the Society of Biblical Literature calling for a uniform policy for swift publication of, and fair access to, ancient texts. On the downside, archaeology is becoming more and more marginal at this meeting and Shanks suggests a clutch of topics that would draw people to the sessions again.
A Personal Letter from the Editor
Dear BAR Reader:
For 17 years you have been a tangible reality to me—not some abstract statistic or collective image, but a palpable presence in all your variety. For this reason, I feel I would like to share with you—and that it is permissible to do so—that I have recently passed through a medical crisis. Some of you already know this, and it didn’t seem right not to let everyone know.
It happened at 4:25 p.m., the day after Thanksgiving—I felt the wings of mortality brush past my face. I had an intracranial hemorrhage.
My duet partner, Charlotte Ehrenhaft, and I were giving our annual Thanksgiving “concert” (so titled, a little mock-heroically) for family and a few friends. We were just finishing a four-hand reduction of Brahms’ variations on a theme by Haydn when something happened to my hearing and I felt a rush in my head. I managed to finish (Charlotte says I cut short the final roll), but fell exhausted into a chair. “I’m whipped,” I remember saying. I ran upstairs to lie down with a horrible headache.
My family called the doctor, and I was soon hospitalized. The next thing I remember—thank God—it was Sunday. I was “wired” in a neurological critical-care unit—IV for food and antibiotics, automatic hourly blood pressure checks, continuous EKG and, most important, the drain in my skull.
Then began the search for an aneurysm—a bubble in a vein or artery in my head signalling a weak wall that could burst—CAT scans, angiograms, MRI. The doctors thought they had vaguely located one, and the good news was that my neurosurgeon said it was easily reachable. The even better news was that a closer look failed to identify an aneurysm. No surgery!
After a week in intensive care, I was moved to a regular room. Gradually, I was unwired and, after a second week, I was released to recuperate at home.
Not only am I alive, but I have no brain damage or any other kind of impairment! I have much to be thankful for. Whether there will be permanent changes in me as a result of this brush with death I don’t know. I can say that I am no longer afraid of death. It will come when it will come. It is a part of life.
Another reaction—really quite fun, although it sounds maudlin—is that I’ve felt a bit like being at my own funeral. People have said such nice things about me. I’ve enjoyed all kinds of cookies and cakes and fruits, and wonderful people have visited, called and written.
I’ve been especially grateful for the love, support and attention of my wife Judy and our daughters Elizabeth and Julia. And the entire BAR staff, beginning with managing editor Suzanne Singer and publisher Susan Laden and extending to everyone who works with them to bring this wonderful magazine to fruition every other month, has performed magnificently. Gratitude is inadequate to express what I feel.
Within a short time, I hope to have all my energy back, and I look forward to my future relationship with each of you. It has been a comfort to think about you.
Solomon’s magnificent Temple to Israel’s God, which we now call the First Temple, was destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 587/586 B.C. In about 444 B.C. the returning Exiles led by Nehemiah constructed a new Temple, the Second Temple. Hundreds of years later, the Second Temple was rebuilt by Herod the Great (37–4 B.C.), only to be destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Each of these stood on a platform built to create a level surface known as the Temple Mount. In connection with its construction activities Herod doubled the size of the previous Temple Mount. Scholars […]