Queries & Comments
BAR Is Great—Cancel Our Subscription
We have been receiving BAR at our Christian School for a year. It is simply fantastic! The format is easily understood by the students and the pictures hold their interest even longer. In our world history class I was able to use several articles that greatly enhanced the lesson.
However, we will not renew our subscription because of your decision to advertise, for profit, pagan idols. While you have the constitutional and legal right to advertise anything in your magazine that you desire, I do not believe you have the scriptural authority or freedom to do so. Reporting on archaeological finds, historical data (Christian and non-Christian) and pagan lifestyles is one thing, but to actually go and make money off the selling of idols that people used to worship, and still do, is a sin against God and against the Church, the Body of Christ. God is holding you accountable!
When BAR rectifies this situation, we will renew our subscription.
Ron Chaplin Headmaster
Twin Lakes Christian School
Mountain Home, Arkansas
Loves Egyptian Idols
I am a devoted Christian, but I resent some denominations being so self-righteous—and over such a little thing as a statue. I’m an ancient Egypt buff, and I’ll be switched if some stranger is going to brand me as a sinner because I buy a statue of, let’s say, Bast (I love cats). Some of the letters I read in BAR remind me of the witch hunts.
Who Is This Ilan Character?
I am flabbergasted and aghast at David Ilan’s arrogant comments on the Bible Lands Museum and his vicious attack on its founder, Elie Borowski (Queries & Comments, BAR 18:04). Who the hell is this Ilan character? Without even seeing the collection (“I personally will visit the museum [if they let me in … ]”), he dares to criticize and condemn it. On what ground? Major museums have acquired “plundered” artifacts. Did the Greek government donate the marbles in the British Museum? Did the Egyptian government contribute the mummies and sarcophagi or the Egyptian obelisk in the center of Paris?
Willowdale, Ontario Canada
Shanks/Vermes’ Kangaroo Court
The Shanks/Vermes chopped Kangaroo pudding—“The ‘Pierced Messiah’ Text—An Interpretation Evaporates,” BAR 18:04—didn’t taste well. We’re talking about the hatchet job Mr. Shanks performed in connection with the Kangaroo Court convened by Professor Vermes in England.
First of all, if Professor Vermes convened a seminar to seriously discuss the merits of the ideas of Professors Eisenman and Wise in the above fragment, you would think that he would want to invite Eisenman and Wise to the convention. Quoting Professor Norman Golb of the University of Chicago from another publication, “I don’t care if he [Vermes] gathered 100 scholars together in England and they all agreed on it: Michael Wise wasn’t there to defend the text.” In fact, Professor Vermes should have offered Professors Eisenman and Wise traveling expenses as well—unless, of course, as apparently was the case, Kangaroo was the main fare to be served.
Second, Mr. Shanks, in his preface to the article by Professor Vermes, appears to have joined the dinner party with his little hatchet by entitling and summarizing the article, without inputs from Professors Eisenman and Wise, so that the reader must conclude that their contributions are to be taken as worthless, i.e., “evaporated.” In fact, in a publication elsewhere, the reputable Professor James VanderKam of Notre Dame expresses at least some degree of uncertainty concerning the conclusions of Professor Vermes and his dinner party.
Third, there is at least one possible serious error which we note in the translation of Professor Vermes that was printed in BAR. In lines one and two, the words “will 014be cut” are omitted from the square brackets, thus indicating that they exist on the fragment, when in fact they appear not to exist in the text of the fragment. Thus the strong support that Professor Vermes is citing as evidence that these lines of the fragment are, more or less, a quote from Isaiah 10:34 is weakened considerably if not totally “evaporated.”
Fourth, the extrapolation of the minuscule fragments of two Hebrew letters shown as line 6 into the translation given by Professor Vermes certainly appears to stretch the imagination. What magic has the chef conjured up to serve us that bit of fare?
Fifth, the document appears to be a pesher, or sermon, possibly relevant to Isaiah 11:1, and as such the author(s) may, or may not, have turned around the crucial reading of the killing verb from a “killing Messiah” to a “killed Messiah.” Maybe that was the whole point of the pesher.
Finally, contrary to the letter and tone of the preface and article, Professors Eisenman and Wise do leave open the question of the interpretation of this fragment. They, according to direct discussions with Professor Eisenman, brought this document into the public domain particularly to have such alternative possible viewpoints aired openly and discussed openly—not for a private dinner at Oxford.
Please do not, repeat do not, cancel our subscriptions. This journal is exciting and greatly informative—as it always has been.
Geza Vermes replies:
The seminar held in Oxford on December 20, 1991 did not “try” anyone. The only evidence that it considered was a computer-enhanced copy of 4Q285. In my Journal of Jewish Studies article I explicitly wrote: “Since Professors Eisenman and Wise have not published their theory in a scholarly journal and the media emphasize their claims without arguments to support them, the present paper … will not be polemical. Instead, it will seek to understand this hardly truncated fragment in its wider Qumran context.”
The third and fourth objections in the letter are based on erroneous premises.
For a detailed defense of Eisenman and Wise’s reading of this text, see James Tabor, “A Pierced or Piercing Messiah?—The Verdict Is Still Out,” in this issue.—Ed.
Disgusted with BAR’s Editors
I am appalled that so much time and space is being wasted over a lawsuit (
From what I have gathered from the July/August issue, the defendants in the lawsuit have made four excuses for what they have done: (1) Professor Qimron’s text of MMT was already published in a Polish journal, (2) it’s only one page in a 900-page book, (3) the information is being used in colleges as part of their courses, (4) Professor Qimron wants money.
Taking these one by one, it seems that the case really turns on whether or not Professor Qimron copyrighted his transcription and reconstruction. If he did, the fact that the article was published previously would not give BAR/BAS the right to purloin the document and reprint it without express permission. The fact that it is only one page in BAR’s 900-page book is no excuse. If the material is being used in colleges, it may well not be an infringement of Professor Qimron’s rights. There is a major difference between using material in class and publishing material without permission. This is especially true if the classroom is crediting Professor Qimron, while BAR, according to the professor, gave him no credit! Finally, when all other arguments seem somewhat vague, the easiest thing is to accuse someone of wanting money. If Professor Qimron does indeed have a legitimate case, and if it is, as he states, a major achievement of his professional career, what other alternative does he have except to seek monetary damages?
I am totally disgusted by the editors’ allowing the pages of this publication to be used as a fundraising vehicle for their legal defense fund.
It seems to me this whole argument should have been conducted in a court of law and not wasted pages in a publication that is supposed to report on archaeology, not on legal machinations caused by the editors’ own actions.
Zvi A. Sesling
Qimron’s Lawsuit Drains BAR’s Resources
Enclosed is my check for your Legal Defense Fund. I don’t have the funds to be a large contributor to many organizations, but I felt the lawsuit brought against you was so outrageous that you deserved my special support. Your drive to break the monopoly and snail’s-pace publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls deserves our support, particularly against such frivolous suits as this one, clearly intended just to drain your resources.
Charles L. Gellert
Qimron’s Suit Is Monetary Extortion
I read with utter dismay and disbelief the fact that you and your wonderful magazine are being sued for quoting a Jewish text from a Jewish writing dating back some two thousand years!
How utterly ridiculous and ludicrous. If the original scribes who wrote the fragment in question were to appear in court with Qimron, that would make his case! Until that happens, his claim is self-seeking. It’s monetary extortion.
Milton Gutenplan Rancho
Scroll Photograph Book
On First Looking Into BAR’s Facsimile Edition
John Keats was so moved upon first reading Chapman’s Homer that he immortalized the experience in a sonnet. I regret that I am no poet, but I should, nonetheless, like to share some of the thrill I felt upon thumbing through my newly arrived two volumes of BAR’s A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Although I am not a professional in this field, my knowledge of Hebrew is sufficient to enable me to enjoy reading the Old Testament in its original language. I quickly flipped through the pages of scroll fragments until I reached something large enough to get my teeth into: Plate 941. And what an appropriate text with which to start my studies: the Ten Commandments!
The scroll contains what is basically the Deuteronomy 5 version, but upon closer inspection I noticed that it has many similarities with the Exodus 20 version of the Ten Commandments. My interest was enhanced by a number of details, such as the peculiar spelling of a couple of words, and the fact that the preceding column turned out to be Deuteronomy 8:5–10 rather than Deuteronomy 4 as found in our Bibles.
Excited at this “discovery,” I eagerly turned back to see what other “goodies” I might find among the smaller fragments, for I had by now formulated a mission. I have long wondered what Jacob said to Reuben after Reuben slept with Jacob’s [his father’s!] concubine Bilhah in that famous second half of Genesis 35:22 that is missing from our Bible. Perhaps the answer lies somewhere among the scrolls. Perhaps, too, the scrolls may shed light on the mystery of how long Saul reigned; the number is missing from our Hebrew text of 1 Samuel 13.
At long last, thanks to BAR, the simple Bible-lover can now explore the kind of questions that interest him or her rather than to await the excruciatingly slow deliberations of the experts.
Professor David Faiman
Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Sde Boker Campus
An Amateur’s Enjoyment
I am enjoying A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which I received last Friday. I first chose Plate 679, which is in the paleo-Hebrew script, to translate in my spare time. By Tuesday it looked like it was from the Law of Moses, so I looked it up in my edition of the Jerusalem Bible and found the left scroll, second line, to be in Leviticus 27:12–19, word for word, letter for letter with a couple of minor exceptions.
I think of BAR as spiritual input. Thank you.
Judaism Is Still Valid
The latest round of letters on supersessionism indicates that the discussion is far from resolved among BAR readers.
I would like to make only a couple of comments in the hope of shedding light rather than generating heat. The first is the distinction between “objectivity” and “subjectivity.” I take on face value the protestations of the letter-writers who wish to maintain a “supersessionist” opinion of Christianity that they are not subjectively anti-Semitic. They doubtless are not.
But the point of the discussion is the objective theological question as to whether or not “supersessionism” accurately defines Christian teaching and the extent to which traditional supersessionist viewpoints may have contributed, objectively, to setting the stage for the emergence of anti-Semitism as an historical phenomenon. These are different questions and ought not to be confused.
In my opinion, one who would today hold a view that “the Jewish religion is no longer valid” does not represent well authentic Christian teaching. What is invalid about the commandments to love God and neighbor (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18)? The New Testament notion of “fulfillment” is hardly the same as “invalidation,” which would imply a divine rejection of the Jewish people, a notion contrary to the Christian affirmation of God’s faithfulness to the divine word. One must in these matters be very careful with one’s language.
For example, the letter writer who affirms that “it is a basic tenet of Christianity that it is the way and the only way” is making an essentially different affirmation than is the writer who claims that “Christ presents Himself … as the way to God.” Even though the two affirmations look similar on the surface, they are quite distinct. It is one thing to affirm “Christ” (risen and, in this reading, presumably returned for the Second Coming) to be “the way to God.” That is a liturgical and eschatological, not simply historical, affirmation. As such, it is central to the Christian faith. It is quite another thing, however, to make such a claim about “Christianity” or to derive from the former some sort of necessity of joining the institutional Church through baptism in order to be “saved.” The latter is exclusive and reduces the “Good News” of the kerygma to “bad news” for most of humanity, most obviously, history has shown us all too often, for Jews.
Similarly, to say that unless Jews “believe in Christ, they will not know God, or be accepted by Him” is to make a very different statement about limitations on divine mercy than any made in the New Testament about Christ. This abstracts verses from their context in order to “prove” a point that would have astounded the authors of the New Testament. The issue, again, is the integrity of God’s word. Is the covenant “eternal” as God presented it to Abraham and his descendants time after time? If so, today’s Jews are no less “with the Father” when they pray than were the grandparents of Jesus.
Indeed, Church practice over the centuries bears out the Christian refusal to fall into the trap of Marcionism (which is to say, supersessionism). Canon law gave to Jews alone of all religions with which the Church came into contact a legal right to exist, though circumscribed. It made disrupting Jews at their worship an excommunicable offense. In short, contrary to many of BAR’s letter-writers, and in agreement with its editor, I do claim that Christianity does have a “special relationship to Judaism,” such that to deny it is to deny the very essence of what we Christians believe to be “salvation history.” Jesus did not just “happen” to be Jewish. Jesus’ Jewishness is integral to the Christian story. To attempt to deny the ongoing relevance of that fact, as the supersessionists try to do, diminishes 018greatly our understanding of the Christian faith itself.
Eugene J. Fisher
Director Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops
Are Christians Idolaters?
After my letter appeared in Queries & Comments, BAR 18:03, I did not intend to write any more letters regarding Judaism and Christianity. So much for good intentions.
I would not wish to debate Professor Lawrence Schiffman (Queries & Comments, BAR 18:04). With his credentials I am quite sure he could “pin back my ears and swallow me whole”! However, I must take issue with his letter.
I am sure my beliefs might lead someone to label me supersessionist. Such a label would then lead to another label: anti-Semitic. Are such labels fair? I hate labels. They usually serve no purpose but to insult and injure.
Professor Schiffman says that in Judaism all of humanity has an opportunity for salvation through the Noahide laws. He continues to explain the laws as including “essentially the natural laws and avoidance of idolatry” [emphasis mine]. The impression Schiffman leaves is that Judaism is wonderfully broad and accepting, while “supersessionist Christianity” is bigoted and narrow. Professor Schiffman does not seem to realize that according to orthodox Judaism, Christians are idolaters! We worship Jesus as God (the Son). Messianic Jews (Jews who have accepted Jesus as the Messiah) are not allowed full citizenship in Israel because they are considered by the religious mainstream as idolaters.
If Schiffman believes the Noahide laws, then he believes those who worship idols do not have salvation. So, by implication Christians are lost and are without a covenant relationship with God. Is Schiffman anti-Christian? Is he anti-Oriental and anti-Indian (ancestor worship, Hinduism, Buddhism, animism)? Does his belief that idolaters are not covenant people lead him to be bigoted toward these people?
I do not believe Professor Schiffman would be guilty of persecuting Hindus. I do not believe he would allow such people to experience the horrors of Auschwitz or Dachau if he could prevent it. Yet, by his own admission, such people are without salvation.
I respect Professor Schiffman and his belief. I am grateful for Judaism because it is the covenant of God which brought forth the Messiah and Christianity. I am opposed to bigotry, prejudice and racism in any form. Please do not label me a bigot or a racist who opens (even in ignorance) the gates of Auschwitz. Isn’t such labeling a form of bigotry itself?
Darryl Brent Willis
Lawrence Schiffman replies:
Mr. Willis seems to be under some misapprehensions about the status of Christianity in the eyes of halakhah, classical Jewish law. Historically, most Jews have assumed that Christianity is not to be considered as idolatry and have seen the trinity as representing aspects of the divinity, rather than a form of polytheism. While Christian symbols have been treated as forbidden (like idolatry symbols), Christians as people have been considered “sons of Noah.” Those authorities who have taken the view that Christians are to be considered idolaters have been by and large unfamiliar with the nuances of Christian belief. It has generally been recognized by Jews that Christians worship the same God Jews do. This is not to say that Judaism does not regard the theology of Christianity as incorrect. It does, but that is a far cry from seeing it as idolatry. Hence, Christians, in the Jewish view, have not lost their opportunity to gain a place in the world to 020come—their opportunity for salvation.
“Messianic Jews” are not denied full citizenship in Israel. Naturalization is available to them as it is to non-Jews. What is true is that the Israeli government, following longstanding Jewish tradition, has denied certain of the privileges of being a Jew to those who profess what the Jewish community regards as a separate religion, namely Christianity. On the other hand, this in no way implies that they are idolaters, only that Jews who profess belief in another faith lose the privilege of immediate citizenship in Israel under the Law of Return. (The Law of Return was one of the first laws passed by the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, after the state gained independence in 1948. It declares that any Jew is entitled to immediate citizenship upon immigrating to the State of Israel. It was passed to guarantee a safe haven to Jews after the experience of the Holocaust, during which even the United States sent refugee boats fleeing Hitler back to Europe, where the passengers perished in the gas chambers.)
Yes, Judaism does believe that if the Eastern religions worship a multiplicity of gods, or if they actually regard statues or heavenly bodies as gods, they have denied themselves a place in the world to come. These people may have not yet accepted the covenant, but it is open to them, and as such they have the opportunity for salvation; in the Jewish view, without becoming Jewish. The bottom line is that in Christianity, you must become a Christian to gain salvation; in Judaism there is no such requirement. Any human being can attain the world to come through righteousness and recognition of God’s sovereignty over the universe. You don’t have to be Jewish!
The problem that Mr. Willis refuses to recognize is that in the case of Judaism and Christianity there is a history of two millennia. It is a history in which particular Christian beliefs, supersessionism being the most significant, have led to anti-Semitism, persecution and murder of Jews. As Eugene Fisher (“The Church’s Teaching on Supersessionism,” BAR 17:02) and James Charlesworth (Queries & Comments, BAR 18:01) argue, along with other Christian exponents of building a new Jewish/Christian understanding, there has to be a sense of awareness by Christians of the role Christian beliefs have played in indirectly abetting anti-Semitic persecutions. One cannot espouse supersessionist views without looking into the mirror and coming to grips with the very real and incontrovertible historical fact that these beliefs can lead and have led to the worst bigotry in the history of the world.
Since Mr. Willis is “opposed to bigotry, prejudice and racism in any form,” I sincerely hope that he will consider these historical experiences and understand why Jews are so sensitive on this issue. Perhaps he can learn to assert the correctness even exclusiveness of his own beliefs and commitments in a way that does not impinge on the opportunity for others to approach and serve God without fear of persecution, pogrom or Holocaust.
Preaches Love, Not Tolerance
I have followed the argument on supersessionism with interest and with chagrin at the misinformation and ignorance expressed by learned men.
I cannot agree with you (see editor’s note, Queries & Comments, BAR 18:03) that Jews and Christians are “coworkers in God’s service.” While this may be the Jewish position, it is not the position of Jesus, the Messiah, nor His apostles.
Neither can I agree with you that Christian belief “does not mean … the covenant between God and the Jewish people has been broken.” It has ever been broken by the unfaithful Jew. It was fulfilled in the Messiah and supplanted by a New Covenant given the Jews, as prophesied by the Prophets.
It is misleading to say that Christians persecute Jews. No one truly Christian will allow such hatred. Those involved in persecution were as “Christian” as Hitler, who, supposedly, was a Catholic. Not all who call Jesus “Lord” are his followers (Matthew 7:21–23).
Darryl Willis’ letter (Queries & Comments, BAR 18:03) was excellent. He pointed out that not all Jews are or were rejected (that is, not all rejected God). God has saved a remnant of Jews who have recognized and accepted Jesus, their Messiah (Romans 11:1–5).
Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophecies concerning the Messiah. He fulfilled the Law. The Jews who accept Him do not reject their heritage, social or religious. They fulfill their own relationship to Moses. A Jew who accepts the Messiah does not reject Moses. He completes his own expectation and hope of the Messiah.
The Law’s precepts and principles, its revelation of the Father and the Son (in prophecy) are very much a part of the Christian’s heritage and are examples for us (1 Corinthians 10:1–12). The Old Covenant and its promises have been superseded by a new and better High Priest, a new and better covenant, founded upon better promises (Hebrews 8:1–13). Would that every Jew would read with understanding three books of the New Testament: Matthew, Romans and Hebrews.
I am happy you kept the subject open by printing Professor Lawrence Schiffman’s letter (Queries & Comments, BAR 18:04). 070He made some good points, but he falls prey to the notion that Christians deny that Jews have a covenant with God. Christians teach that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant. Jesus fulfilled Jeremiah 31:31, giving them a new and better covenant (Hebrews 8:6–10, 12:24). It is, praise Him, a Covenant that allows us (Gentiles) to join the Jews. We become a part of True Israel with those Jews who accept the Messiah (Romans 2:28–29, 4:1–18, 9:1–8, Galatians 5:16). What can be less anti-Semitic than that?
If the average Jew is without a covenant with God, it is because he rejects his Messiah and the New Covenant which the Prophets foretold. Would that all Jews were like the Jews of Beroea who searched the Torah and the Prophets to prove that what Paul preached was so (Acts 17:11)—and then accepted the Messiah.
Love, not tolerance, is needed—a love that will not let a Christian rest until every Jew has heard of and been challenged to accept his Messiah.
Willis S. Langford
San Diego, California
Either Supersessionism Is Correct or the New Testament Is a Fabrication
If, as Professor Schiffman states in Queries & Comments, BAR 18:04, supersessionism denies that Jews have a covenant with God, it follows that supersessionism is correct or the New Testament is a complete fabrication and, if this is so, Christianity is, at best, a cult. It is to be remembered, always, that the entire message of the New Testament is that salvation can be attained only through the Blood. Jesus stated that no man comes unto the Father except through Him. If this is not so, Jesus was a liar and the father of all liars and therefore, in reality, Beelzebub. It cannot be both ways. One or the other is wrong.
I am sure that someone will wonder as to the qualification of this writer to put forth these doctrinaire utterances. I was ordained a priest of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church on September 8, 1970; raised Archpriest on March 31, 1974 and consecrated Bishop on June 25, 1989. I am now retired.
Neither I nor any other Christian should be unmindful of, or without compassion for, the myriads who have not accepted the Blood of Jesus Christ for their salvation: remembering always that He gave to us, His followers, the Great Commission, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you … ” (Matthew 28:19–20). His message is that He is the only way.
Charles F. Mirchell, J.D.; O.S.T.
Kt. Cdr., O.S.J.
Bishop, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church
A 20th-Century Parable
A while ago, in my corporation, a new, competent vice president announced that from now on all communications addressed to the chief executive officer would have to go through her. Just who gave her the authority to say this was not clear, but, since she was held in high esteem, this policy was followed by most people. However, it soon became clear that those who did not were often treated unfairly. After some time the C.E.O., who always seemed to know what was going on, let it be understood that there were many ways to communicate with him and that his door was open to everyone in the corporation at all times. Once this was appreciated no one felt it necessary to make an issue about it since everyone was equal in his eyes.
Nathan W. Levin
New York, New York
Ring the Doorbell and See a Crusader Church
Thanks to you and Richard Batey for the fine article on Sepphoris (“Sepphoris—An Urban Portrait of Jesus,” BAR 18:03). It encouraged me to revisit the site to see the progress being made on the new museum and exhibition area already well along towards completion.
Every exciting article in BAR is necessarily finite, and every visit to any of the sites described brings an extra measure of grace, fun and discovery. And so, visitors to Sepphoris: Ring the doorbell of the children’s school no more than 300 meters from the Turkish fort and the amphitheater of Sepphoris and borrow a key from the friendly Italian Sisters at St. Ann’s Institute, and enter the remains of an exceptionally large Crusader ruin of the 12th century, built on the place where Christian tradition venerates the site of the home of Anna and Joachim and the birthplace of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
From this place of reflection to the places of commemoration in Nazareth is but an hour’s walk.
Professor Maureena Fritz, Ph.D, NDS
Director Bat Kol Institute
Director English Language Sector, Christian Center of Jewish Studies
Are They Really?
Reading your recent article about the excavations in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem (Nitza Rosovsky, “A Thousand Years of History in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter,” BAR 18:03) prompts me to address this query to you and the readers of BAR—because there’s something definitely wrong with the treatment of the mikva’ot [ritual baths] in the Herodian Mansions.
The halakhah [Jewish religious law] seems straightforward enough: a mikva must include “living,” that is, undrawn, flowing water. In a place where there is no permanent spring you had to have a storage pool fed directly with flowing water (winter rain will do). It was this “living” water, when mixed with water drawn from a cistern, which (assuming the other matters—measurements, etc.—were all okay) made the bath into a proper mikva.
Now the fact is that only one mikva was ever found in the upper city of Jerusalem. All the rest, including the ones in the Herodian Mansions, had no storage pools. The obvious conclusion: they weren’t mikva’ot at all!
Professor Nahman Avigad, the distinguished excavator of the site, was reticent in his treatment of the issue, saying that it needed further study. Not so the explanatory signs at the site itself. After giving a long explanation about the legal requirements for a mikva, the sign goes on to say that maybe these requirements weren’t mandatory after all—which is just silly double talk.
I can’t help suspecting that the people who wrote the signs (under the supervision of Professor Avigad?) were so anxious to prove the piety of our Second Temple Jerusalem ancestors that they saw what they wanted to see, not what was (or wasn’t!) there. After all, the excavations are underneath a yeshiva …
BAR would make a valuable contribution to our understanding by inviting a “Scholars Debate” on the issue of ritual baths. Even BAR readers could participate.
Easy Mistakes and Difficult Ones
Thanks for another great issue of BAR! I thoroughly enjoyed the cover article in the July/August issue (Yonathan Mizrachi, “Mystery Circles,” BAR 18:04). One minor point of interest: If I’m not mistaken, the photograph of the circles on page 46 is an inverted, mirror-image of the diagram on page 49 (i.e., if you turn the picture upside down and view it in a mirror, it will then correspond to the diagram). That kind of error is relatively easy to do with a slide (I speak from experience!). Keep those great issues and articles coming.
Dr. William F. Duerfeldt
We usually make difficult mistakes, not easy ones. But Dr. Duerfeldt (and the many others who wrote us) is (are) right. We accidentally “flopped” the slide. The picture on the cover is correct.—Ed.
ASOR Acts with Dispatch
In the July/August issue, I was pleased 074to read my letter (Queries & Comments, BAR 18:04) concerning the “vast, untapped market” that ASOR and other learned societies have discounted in the past. I am doubly pleased to write you today to say that ASOR has taken up the gauntlet. At this year’s annual conference in San Francisco, a new section of lectures will be held on Saturday night that will address the very concerns of the heretofore excluded K-12 faculty. Ms. Carolyn Draper, who has been tireless in this effort and is a fellow high school teacher, will be the Presider. Since my earlier letter was somewhat negative, I feel it is only proper to inform your readers that positive steps are being taken by ASOR and that the organization, my organization, will only be the better for it.
Jon G. Laiche, M.A.
How to Join ASOR, SBL or AAR
It is always a pleasure to read BAR. It was especially interesting to read in the March/April issue (“Not So Up-to-Date in Kansas City,” BAR 18:02) about the joint Annual Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) and the American Academy of Religion (AAR). I do not remember ever seeing a means by which nonacademics could become associated with these organizations. While I know that BAR is essentially for nonacademics, there are people like myself who may be interested in joining these organizations.
ASOR, SBL and AAR do accept nonacademic memberships. For more information, write the appropriate organization s Member Subscriber Services (all handled by Scholars Press), P.O. Box 15399, Atlanta, GA 30333–0399, or call 404–636-4757.—Ed.
Remembering Harry Orlinsky and Dropsie College
The BAR 18:04 was greatly interesting, a comment I could make about every issue. But this issue was unique because I learned of the death of a person (Harry Orlinsky) and an institution (Dropsie College), both of which have meant a lot to me.
Professor Harry Orlinsky (1908–1992) taught a course on translation technique at Dropsie College in Philadelphia back in the mid ’80s. Roughly a dozen of us sat around the table several hours once a week waiting for this seemingly ageless, exuberant, witty, warm, encyclopedic man to come into the room. He seemed to sense, at the first session, that we wanted to stand when he entered the room, out of respect for him. He said, “Don’t stand; I’m not old enough!”
I had learned of Dropsie through articles Dr. Orlinsky wrote on the Septuagint. I read these as a student at Princeton Seminary. These articles awakened my interest in the Septuagint, the form of the Bible read by my earliest Christian ancestors.
It was my privilege to pick up Dr. Orlinsky from his hotel in Philadelphia, and return him there after teaching this course. I had then (and still do) notoriously bad navigational instincts. Thus, our route to his hotel was often circuitous; the circumnavigations were never, however, the same from week to week. His good-humored responses to my navigational confusion made great fun of these precarious trips.
Beyond this warm response to my frailties as a taxi-driver, I found him a marvelous tutor in trying to develop some sense of how to come up with the peshat, the plain meaning of the Biblical text. He was pitiless in deriding attempts to contort the meaning of the text for either theological or cultural reasons.
Dr. Orlinsky maintained a fatherly interest in me afterward. I believe I was the only one in the seminar to take the course for credit. I shall always treasure his handwritten letters to me.
Now that Dropsie College is no more, my Ph.D. is from an institution that no longer exists. But I want to say that I am very grateful for the privilege of studying at Dropsie College. A fire destroyed the administration building a year or two after I started, requiring a move to the education wing of a synagogue in a Philadelphia suburb. We students didn’t know what was going to become of Dropsie. As I tried to concentrate in the library reading room, I could hear children in the day school of the synagogue singing, “You can be a Maccabee, too” in the playground outside. Somehow, despite all the confusion and uncertainty, we were provided a spectacular array of scholars to teach us.
My list of professors reads like a who’s who of modern Judaic scholarship. I studied Septuagint, as I have noted, with the late Harry Orlinsky, of blessed memory; Talmud with the late Baruch Bokser, of blessed memory, who died so young; Bible with Stephen Geller; intertestamental literature with William Adler; and Josephus with Louis H. Feldman. I sat in on a few Septuagint sessions with Emanuel Tov before beginning my formal course-work. Professor Feldman became my doktorvater, guiding me so graciously, but exactingly, through the ordeal of writing my dissertation during the rather distracting circumstances of fulltime employment and my wife’s lingering illness. David Goldenberg, president of Dropsie College, brought these distinguished men to teach, while facing administrative difficulties that must have been daunting. Bonnie Blankenship, the registrar, was, I think, the glue, holding all of us, and all of it, together.
I suspect a biography will be written of Harry Orlinsky, a great scholar, a great human being. Perhaps the life of Dropsie College will be written, too. I should think that BAR might devote a story to both.
Pastor Stuart D. Robertson, M.Div., Ph.D.
Faith Presbyterian Church
West Lafayette, Indiana
Father and Son Have Different Names
In “The Bible Scholar Who Became an Undercover Agent,” BAR 18:04, by Harry M. Orlinsky, the author refers to the Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin and his archaeologist father Professor Eleazar Lippe Sukenik. Father and son do not have the same surname. Please explain.
(P.S.: This article was TOPS!)
Billy C. Engledow
Yigael Yadin took the name Yadin (meaning “will judge”) when he joined the Haganah, the Jewish underground army in pre-state Palestine. All officers were required to use code names. After Israel’s War of Independence, Yadin kept this name. Many people take Hebrew names, however, when they “make aliyah” (immigrate to Israel).—Ed.
Mr. Walter Zanger (Books in Brief, BAR 18:04) ends his review of Jerusalemwalks by saying that he would love to walk through the city with me and that he would use the book and recommend it to others, but he would double-check my facts. I wish he had checked his own facts before listing the errors which the book supposedly contains. I also wish that he had not misquoted me.
• I never said that the foundations of the Jaffa Gate area are Hadrianic. I discuss the nearby Hasmonean and Herodian foundations at great length (pp. 214–215).
• I know that Godfrey de Bouillon scaled the city wall and say so (on p. 25): Tancred also broke into the city, from the 078northeastern corner of the wall, as stated.
• Edward Robinson did not discover or identify Hezekiah’s Tunnel. The existence of a channel had been recorded before his time, and although he explored and measured what he called “the passage” between the “fountain of Siloam” and “the fountain of the Virgin,” he did not associate it with the king (Biblical Researches in Palestine, vol. 1 [London, 1856], pp. 337–342). The tunnel was correctly attributed to King Hezekiah “later in the 19th century,” as noted in Jerusalemwalks.
• Mr. Zanger says that the City of David spur is shaped by two valleys; Professor Benjamin Mazar, the doyen of Israeli archaeology, says by three and I follow Mazar.
• Whether, in the city’s long history, the nine-year rule of Queen Melisende was “brief” or not is a matter of opinion, not a mistake.
• The Stations of the Cross are not on my walks. I merely mention in passing, on St. Francis Road, that the Seventh and Eighth Stations are “down the street.” The Eighth Station is on Khanka, the continuation of St. Francis; the Seventh is around the corner.
• Mr. Zanger states that one cannot enter the Temple Mount from the Lions Gate. Jerusalemwalks says that you will “probably” not be allowed in (although I had done so frequently, as late as July 1992).
• I do want to express my heartfelt thanks to Mr. Zanger for correcting one mistake: “Arculf” is a proper name. I quoted the “Bishop of Arculf” instead of Bishop Arculf.
I found most offensive Mr. Zanger’s story about the French priest who knowingly misleads tourists because “it does not matter.” (The implication being that, since I did not “get things right,” I was doing the same.)
A review which calls a book “excellent” but casts doubts about the author’s accuracy is most damaging and I am astonished that BAR printed it in its current state. Before the review was published, I pointed out the errors it contained to BAR. The reply I got was “Zanger stands by his criticisms and we must stand by our reviewer.” Is this a responsible policy, especially toward the writer whose work BAR has published?
Walter Zanger replies:
Reviewers are not generally expected to get involved in long public correspondence with irate authors. I think my review of Jerusalemwalks was fair and tending to the charitable, considering that the book was not as careful as it should have been. In any event, it really doesn’t matter. The people who use the book will enjoy it; the mistakes will do no harm to those who know better, and certainly none to those who don’t.
BAS Dead Sea Scrolls Book Hits Bestseller List
A prediction has come true. Since the first pre-publication announcement of Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of articles edited by BAR editor Hershel Shanks and published by Random House, the advertisement in BAR has stated, “Destined to be a Bestseller.”
In September that prediction proved true. According to the September 1992 Religious Bestsellers list in Publishers Weekly, Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls was number four on the list.
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