Queries & Comments
The Fourth R: R-chaeology
As members of the World Civilization Honors Seminar at Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton, California, we wish to express our thanks for your superior magazine. We found it very helpful in several of the projects we have undertaken throughout this academic year.
In the fall we were assigned to write a group paper on “Solving the Dilemma of the Antiquities Trade.” This paper addressed many problems with the illegal sale, theft and smuggling of ancient artifacts as well as possible solutions. We utilized articles from many issues of BAR.
Our second task was to identify 35 ancient oil lamps collected by our adviser, Mrs. Donna Gilboa, over the years. This project was made much easier through your articles
We look forward to using your magazine for future projects.
World Civilization Honors Seminar
Sacred Heart Preparatory
A New Perspective on the Titus Statue
I was fascinated by the picture of the emperor Titus’s head in Steven Friesen’s article (“Ephesus—Key to a Vision in Revelation,” BAR 19:03). My background in art and art history (M.F.A., Miami Univ.; M.A., Univ. of Chicago) told me immediately that it was meant to be seen from below, and your indication that the statue was 25 feet tall verified this. Forced perspective is not an uncommon device in sculpture viewed from below, and Titus’s head may come closer to “the official Roman portrait style” than one might think.
To employ a trick used by much later artists, turn to the picture of Titus’s head , place the bottom of the magazine near your nose at about a 70-degree angle and close one eye (adjust proximity to focus). This collapses the perspective and gives you a better idea of how the portrait might have looked from below.
As you will see, the portrait becomes much less “idealized” and much more like the official Roman portrait style. If the statue was placed so that one stood at the correct viewing angle shortly after entering the temple, the effect would have been astonishing.
Ronald L. Sumner
Render Unto the Archaeologist …
Your publication is new fare at my table. It is delicious.
However! Please ask your archaeologist writers to restrict their commentaries to the area of their own expertise, archaeology. I was disappointed to see that Steven Friesen took a stroll in muddy boots into the realm of the interpretation of a spiritual revelation (“Ephesus—Key to a Vision in Revelation,” BAR 19:03).
Bible interpretation is a discipline of its own. To prepare oneself for understanding the arcane values in revelational works, one needs to devote at least as much time and attention to the task as Steven Friesen gave to preparing himself for his historical interpretations of archaeological finds.
Divine revelations, visions, revelatory dreams and the like are directed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has no interest in the details of political intrigue. As Jesus advised, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). Revelational epiphanies do not belong to Caesar.
Russell E. Smith
Revelation Is Prophecy, Not a Comment on Current Events
Having been to ancient Ephesus on a number of occasions, I greatly enjoyed the superb pictures and general archaeological discussion by Steven Friesen (“Ephesus—Key to a Vision in Revelation,” BAR 19:03). But his observations concerning the 012Biblical Book of Revelation I found far less than satisfactory. They reflect the critical analysis of the liberal classroom rather than the conclusions of a careful Biblical scholar.
Dr. Friesen denies that Jesus’ disciple John could have written the Book of Revelation because its “language and expression … is so different from the Gospel of John and the Johannine epistles.” This fails to recognize that a distinct change of subject material obviously calls for a change of style and vocabulary. If this is not so, then the books I have authored must imply that I am two or three distinct individuals.
He describes the “fantastic heavenly revelations received by a certain John” as “beastly, chaotic images’ that apply not to “things which shall be hereafter” (Revelation 1:19), but to “John’s political theology” concerning the then-current emperor worship of Rome. This relegates the greatest prophecy book of the New Testament to a veiled commentary upon current events. His emphasis centers upon the 13th chapter of Revelation, making Rome “the beast from the sea” and the local aristocracy “the beast from the land.” All of which implies that John was a craven coward, afraid to rebuke openly the wickedness and pagan polygamy of the Roman world.
Not so! These were men who “turned the world upside down” for Jesus Christ (Acts 17:6) and did not shun ridicule, torture or even cruel, imminent death as they proclaimed the gospel of their Lord. Dr. Friesen completely ignores that John is not writing about current events but clearly declares that he is writing a prophecy (Revelation 1:19).
Dr. Friesen is seriously wrong when he concludes: “The Book of Revelation is a stridently dissident depiction of a common institution in the Roman imperial world: the worship of emperors.” Rather, this book is a “revelation of Jesus Christ,” as well as a major revelation of things yet to come! It is a denial of Scripture and an affront to the people of God to reject it, allegorize it or otherwise dilute it into a cowardly rebuke of a first-century political situation.
Gerald B. Stanton, Th.D.
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Reclassifying the “Letters” in Revelation
Steven Friesen’s “Ephesus—Key to a Vision in Revelation,” BAR 19:03 argues that the “letters” to the seven churches of Revelation 2–3 should be reclassified. I agree. I am surprised at the persistence by modern commentators of classifying these addresses as letters. The argument adduced by Friesen on the basis of epistolary form is very good, but there are even more basic, exegetical reasons for a reclassification.
The first is found in Revelation 1:11, where we read the address of the risen Christ to John: “What which you see, write in a scroll [
It would seem that John’s directive to write to individual churches concerning their specific maladies (or strengths) was not to be confined to that particular church, but was intended by extension for all the churches.
Chip Hammond, Pastor
Bethel Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Did One Author Write John, Revelation and First John?
Steven Friesen’s article (“Ephesus—Key to a Vision in Revelation,” BAR 19:03) contains some interesting material but fails to deliver on the promise to “deepen our understanding” of the Revelation of John. However, it was the box addressing the question of who was the John that wrote Revelation that prompts my response.
I believe that enough similarities can be found in Revelation, the Gospel of John and the Johannine letters to suggest a common authorship. For example, “His name is called the Word of God” (Revelation 19:13) is reminiscent of the opening verse of the Gospel of John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
An even stronger argument is the structure or organization of these books. It has long been recognized that John’s Gospel does not follow the same order as the Synoptic Gospels. Rather the movement of John follows a spiral where everything that follows is a fuller and more profound development of the thematic statement found in the first 18 verses of the opening chapter. The same sort of structure can be seen in First John, where the letter spirals around three great themes with continued enrichment of thought at each turn.
Can the same spiral structure be detected in the Revelation of John? Admittedly, Revelation is a controversial book with a myriad of interpretations. If approached as a linear movement of events in chronological order, however, the earth and the present universe appear to end six different times (Revelation 6:1 1–17, 11:15–19, 14:14–16, 19–20, 16:15–21, 19:11–21, 20:11–15). Some scholars view Revelation as a series of seven visions, each of which (with the exception of the first) is a parallel presentation of the same basic theme. If so, the Apocalypse of John exhibits the same spiral pattern as John’s Gospel and First John.
Scott J. Klemm
What Revelation Is Not About
“Ephesus—Key to a Vision in Revelation,” (Steven Friesen, BAR 19:03) caught my eye immediately. Undoubtedly, a scholarly, historical approach to sorting out the intention and meaning of the Book of Revelation and relating it to cult practices and abuses in the ancient Roman empire will raise a few eyebrows, especially among those who persist in linking Revelation with modern eschatological megalomania. In the same issue there is an ad stating, “Read Today what the papers will print Tomorrow! Warning! Revelation is about to be fulfilled”—just the opposite approach to the one based on historical study and probable fact, and incorporated in Friesen’s article.
Thank you, BAR, for sensibly stating—and not overstating—the meaning of the ruins and the life and times of Roman Ephesus. It is time we moderns began to use the brains God gave us, put things in historical perspective and buried this messianic nonsense floating around in our supposedly civilized world.
Pequot Lakes, Minnesota
The Beauty Still Shines Through
A picture can be beautiful even if it is reversed, as was the two-page spread of the Arcadian Way in your “Ephesus—Key to a Vision in Revelation,” by Steven Friesen (BAR 19:03).
Keep up the fine work, not just with the wonderful photography, but also with those probing articles. Thanks.
A Truer Understanding of Revelation
Since you didn’t print the other letters I wrote, I don’t envision you will print this one either. But the Lord presses me on.
If Mr. Steven Friesen (“Ephesus—Key to a Vision in Revelation,” BAR 19:03) was enlightened that the beast in Revelation 13 is the Roman empire, then I rejoice. But I 014urge him to widen his view. The woman, the dragon, the beast, the two-horned beast and the image of the beast are plans of God that are carried out by spiritual beings. The woman is the plan to bring Christ on earth through Abraham and his people. This plan was carried out by the Holy Spirit in and out of humans, the Word of God and the angels that held their position with God. But the rest of the plans were brought about by demonic angels in humans.
Herod’s Seaside Palace
Something Fishy About Herod’s Pool
I was particularly interested in your article “Uncovering Herod’s Seaside Palace,” by Barbara Burrell, Kathryn Gleason and Ehud Netzer (BAR 19:03). I first examined this site in 1964; my preliminary architectural survey of the site was published in the Israel Exploration Journal in 1976, volume 26. My view at that time was—and is—that the large tank is a Roman-period piscina (seawater fish tank). I went into this in greater detail in my book Secrets of the Bible Seas(Severn House, 1985).
John Peter Oleson and members of the Caesarea Ancient Harbour Excavation Project later carried out an immaculately detailed survey of the site and published their results in 1989 in “The Harbours of Caesarea Maritima,” British Archaeological Records, International Series 491. Oleson likewise concluded that the tank was a piscina for fish and added that he saw no reason to dispute the present excavators’ suggestion that this was part of the palace of Herod. I agree and would go further and suggest that the piscina itself more than any other feature supports the palace theory. Let me explain.
Luxuriously equipped fish tanks with carefully designed seawater circulation systems were very much part of the late Republican tradition of maritime villas in Italy. The piscina was something of a status symbol of the time. The owners of the villas vied with each other over rare fish they had in their installations. Cicero dubbed these people piscinari (fishponders). Varro and Columella also had much to say on the subject.
The most comprehensive study of piscinae of the coastal villas in Italy is in Schmiedt’s excellent volume Il Livello Antico Del Mar Tirreno (Olschki Bologna, 1972). The architectural and hydraulic systems illustrated closely resemble those found in the Caesarea piscina, particularly in relation to rock-cut channels and sluice gates, the mechanism for controlling the flow of seawater. These features are also repeated in the very large fish-tank complex on the northern coast of Cyprus (see Alexander Flinder and K. Nicolaou, “Ancient Fish Tanks at Lapithos, Cyprus,” International Journal of Nautical Archaeology ).
May I respectfully suggest that Netzer and his colleagues reconsider their swimming pool theory? I put it to them: The likelihood is that Herod used Roman architects. Herod must have known of the prevailing fashions of the time. Is it conceivable that he would have built his maritime palace without a superbly integrated piscina?And finally, is not the promontory surrounded almost wholly by the sea the most perfect of sites for a saltwater piscina?
Ehud Netzer replies:
Herod’s Promontory Palace at Caesarea is one of several palaces of Herod the Great and his predecessors, the Hasmoneans, with which I have been involved as an archaeologist over the last 30 years. The others, comparable to or exceeding the one at Caesarea in grandeur, are Herod’s palaces at Masada, the spectacular summer-palace and monument at Herodium, and the substantial complex of winter palaces at Jericho. The latter alone consists of a Hasmonean complex, built in seven stages, and a Herodian complex consisting of three palaces.
In Jericho’s Hasmonean complex I exposed eight swimming pools (!), a unique phenomenon in the Hellenistic world. Herod reused some of these pools: Two he combined into a larger one, 105 by 60 feet, close in size to the one discussed at Caesarea; another, 66 by 40 feet, was apparently surrounded by porticoes similar to those of the Promontory Palace at Caesarea. In addition, in Jericho’s Third Palace, Herod added a huge pool—300 by 130 feet—probably for boating as well as swimming. At Herodium, a pool of 230 by 140 feet provided facilities for swimming and other functions With its central pavilion, the pool was a landmark in the lower part of the huge palatial complex. Even on Masada a proper swimming pool of 60 by 43 feet was build by Herod, if not earlier by the Hasmoneans.
With this overview of the Hasmonean and Herodian tradition of building swimming pools, I would like to address the identification of Caesarea’s pool as a piscina, or fish pool. The studies I have carried out with Dr. Kathryn Gleason and Dr. Barbara Burrell indicate that the pool was initially built as a plastered, fresh-water tank, with no niches, holes in the walls or channels to connect it with the surrounding sea. Our examination of the sequence of architectural construction 016clearly reveals that any sea-water channels were added at a later stage.
To my mind, there is no doubt that the pool at Caesarea was a swimming pool, Herod’s considerable contact with Roman fashion notwithstanding. Such pools were clearly an integral aspect of life in his palaces and those of his predecessors. We do not argue against any suggestion of a secondary use of the pool as a fish tank at a later stage; however, the results of our excavations to date suggest that the channels seen today were built after the building on the promontory was no longer functioning as a palace or a praetorium.
What Was Qumran?
Villa Theory Does Not Stand Up to Scrutiny
Your article on “The Qumran Settlement—Monastery, Villa or Fortress?” (Hershel Shanks, BAR 19:03) lets those who have argued that the buildings formed a villa off too easily. In addition to the points made, the following three arguments are important.
(1) Villas serve the needs of the wealthy; they are typically in desirable—not in difficult—settings. Often they are built in connection with rural landholdings, and indeed slight remains of a few such structures have been discovered in Israel, mostly from a later period. The Qumran structure, in wilderness terrain, does not conform to the usual siting of a villa.
(2) The plan of the Qumran buildings is unlike the plan of any other villa known to me, whether in Italy or the provinces. The details of the plan do not correspond to the needs of a wealthy landowning family, where there is an emphasis on the amenities expected by the upper classes: separate bedrooms, bath facilities, a fine dining area, loggias and the like. It is impossible to see how the Qumran buildings could have been adapted to the purposes of a villa.
(3) Most important of all, in their villas the wealthy would be very unlikely to be content with the brackish cistern water collected occasionally during the winter rains from farther up the wadi. Typically, villa owners went to great pains (often through the building of an aqueduct) to ensure that fresh water would always be available. At Qumran, the water supply would certainly not be adequate for the upper-class owners the villa hypothesis supposes.
The one true villa that has been excavated in the Holy Land—Herod’s villa at Jericho—is in the same sort of terrain, though it is near his very important royal holdings in the area; its plan demonstrates clearly the properties of a villa and provides all the amenities the elite owners need; most importantly, it has a steady supply of water (see Suzanne Singer, “The Winter Palaces of Jericho,” BAR 03:02). Herod seems deliberately to have accepted the difficult challenge of building in a dry wilderness area, slightly away from the Jericho oasis, and then solved the problem with real flair and panache and architectural imagination.
The conclusion is, as the article argues, that the Qumran settlement could not have been a villa. It was likely built for a group of persons, not a family, that welcomed the hard conditions of wilderness life.
Professor of Religious Studies
University of Toronto
Why Couldn’t Qumran Have Been a Fortress?
In “The Qumran Settlement—Monastery, Villa or Fortress?” (BAR 19:03), Hershel Shanks argues against Norman Golb’s contention that Qumran served as a military fortress. I do not agree with Shanks’s rationale.
It is true that the wall that surrounds Qumran is not a fortresslike wall, but it did not have to be. The steep slopes of the marl cliffs provided protection to the south and southeast of the settlement. A wall surrounds the settlement along the ledge of the steep hill rising from the Dead Sea (admittedly closer to the edge today, due to erosion). I do not see this wall serving any but a defensive purpose, unless perhaps to keep livestock from falling off. The walls on the edge of the cliff at Masada, in some places, are not much more substantial than those built by the occupants of Qumran. The cliffs rising above the west of the settlement are easy to defend against an attempt to attack down the steep rock. That leaves the north and northeast, through the open graveyard, as the only approach of attack. It is in this corner that they placed the tower. The northern walls and gate may have been made of mudbrick or wood and have long since deteriorated. Fire may have destroyed the outer walls, if made of wood, either as the result of an earthquake as Roland de Vaux, the site’s excavator, hypothesized, or as the result of a military attack. Furthermore, if the tower served only as a lookout point, they placed it in a poor position; much better viewpoints exist from the caves above the settlement and from the rock outcropping to the north. This tower must have served a defensive purpose.
Moreover, it is not clear that Qumran was an isolated settlement. If the Ras Feshka promontory isolated Qumran from the south, what role did the Ain Ras Feshka settlement and its pier structure that enters the Dead Sea serve? There may have been barge transport around the promontory. This would link the northern coast route to the south, making an important trade route pass through Qumran.
Qumran may not have been a military fortress initially, but only adapted to that function during the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66–70 A.D.). As for the Romans allowing a Jewish fortress to exist there, I do not believe they “allowed” the occupation of Masada either. If it did not serve a military purpose, why did the Romans attack and destroy Qumran?
The article did not accommodate all the arguments that scholars have put forward in this debate, and Shanks’s conclusions were too subjective. Renewed work at Qumran should help settle this and other controversies surrounding the settlement.
De Vaux’s View of Qumran
I am grateful for Hershel Shanks’s article on Qumran, “The Qumran Settlement—Monastery, Villa or Fortress?” BAR 19:03. It reminds me of my first visit to Qumran in 1977. At the time we were shown around by a former pupil of Father de Vaux (the excavator of Qumran). As we arrived at the eating hall or refectory, as de Vaux called it, the guide put on the voice and accent of Father de Vaux: “Gentlemen, this stone jutting out of the refectory reminds me of the rector’s pulpit at our own École Biblique. … ” In those days the École Biblique took only men, and meals were eaten in silence, while a brother or father read aloud from the pulpit.
A few years later, after the Second Vatican Council had swept through the Catholic world, the École Biblique was opened to men and women. Our guide once again imitated Father de Vaux. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “do you see this stone sticking out of the refectory? That was the place where people collected their trays for the cafeteria service.” By that time the École Biblique had acquired a cafeteria.
Father de Vaux was, in my view, trying to show that Qumran was the home of a religious community, and that his own religious community owed pre-Christian communities like Qumran a debt. To claim that de Vaux saw a [Christian] community at Qumran would be ridiculous, but he might well have believed that Qumran influenced later Christian monasticism. De Vaux, the teacher, always tried to bring out the commonalities of Qumran and his own (Dominican) community.
The Rev. Canon J. G. Kohner
Church of the Resurrection
Pointe Claire, Quebec, Canada
Qumran Coins Surface in California
Today I visited the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, near my home in California. I was surprised to see in the exhibit hall of gifts from foreign heads of state three coins from the king of Jordan taken from the Qumran caves! I remember reading recently that “about three-quarters of a particularly important hoard of more than 1,200 coins that Pere de Vaux entrusted to Father A. Spijkerman for publication cannot be found” (“Blood on the Floor at New York Dead Sea Scroll Conference,” BAR 19:02).
I could not help but wonder if the king of Jordan and other private collectors of the Qumran coins (and other artifacts) have not already given them away to friends and politicians? Have other readers noticed any of the Qumran material in private collections and museums?
Alan Albert Snow, Director-Minister
Independent Humanist Ministries
Balboa Island, California
Dead Sea Scrolls
During my undergraduate studies in evolutionary biology, I watched leading paleoanthropologists argue over whose fossil primate was more significant. When I was a molecular biology student, journals chronicled leading researchers bickering over patent rights on DNA base sequences. While I studied medical immunology, scientists argued over who was the discoverer of the devastating Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
Since pursuing my love for the Bible is still somewhat new, perhaps I was naive to think that Bible scholarship would have been different. Professor Elisha Qimron, if someone has wronged you, would it not be divine to forgive? Robert Eisenman, James Robinson and Hershel Shanks, could you not have allowed for the possibility of error on your part? Gentlemen, there must have been a better way to handle this affair.
Donald E. Stoller
The Shame of Scroll Research
The Dead Sea Scrolls have had the unfortunate effect of bringing out the worst in almost everyone who has had anything to do with them, beginning with the desert dwellers who discovered them and continuing with most of those who have taken possession of them for the announced purpose of deciphering and interpreting them.
Never has supposedly scholarly activity been marked by more self-serving behavior and subjective, opinionated pronouncements. Other parts of the world of science have been spattered by scandal in recent years, much to the dismay of most scientists, but no other field has been as badly besmirched as the field of archaeology by this almost uniformly unconscionable arrogance, deplorable nastiness and inexcusable vindictiveness.
P. Roger Gillette
Half Moon Bay, California
The article by editor Hershel Shanks titled “Lawsuit Diary,” BAR 19:03, was an interesting update on the Dead Sea Scrolls publication controversy. I appreciate Shanks’s attempt to illuminate the proceedings with descriptive language. However, I was very distressed by his reference to Judge Dalia Dorner’s “lovely features” and his statement that “it is not hard to imagine her as a beautiful young girl.” Is this kind of comment really necessary in your publication? Does Hershel Shanks really need to share his sexual attractions with his readers in an article on a trial proceeding? Clearly not.
Before even describing the rest of the proceedings, Shanks has reduced the judge to a sexual object and altered any presentation of her judicial authority and skill. In a professional publication such as yours, it should be expected that women will be presented fairly and without sexist language, which reduces their humanity and personhood. They deserve nothing less.
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
How to Improve Qimron’s Stature
Hershel Shanks’s account of the Dead Sea Scrolls trial (“Lawsuit Diary,” BAR 19:03) was revealing and pulse-raising. Since the judge found that Qimron did not suffer any financial damage it would serve his professional standing to remember the dictum pro bono publico and achieve the stature that goes with such leadership.
Gene W. Wiikin
San Luis Obispo, California
More Alphabet Soup
Ellen St. Sure Lifschutz (Queries & Comments, BAR 19:03) admits to being puzzled about the various subgroups of Sea Peoples. Your editorial response was that in the future you would standardize the spelling of certain of these subgroups’ names. Perhaps I would be permitted to expand on your response a bit. While the following may seem unnecessarily detailed, it provides a capsule version of the state of knowledge about the Sea Peoples.
The term “Sea Peoples” comes from Egyptian records. A bit before 1200 B.C.E. the pharaoh Merneptah fought the Libyans (
3. rw-kw, or Luka
You can see right away that the Egyptians did not have standardized spelling. What might not be so clear is that they only wrote consonants, not vowels. Looking at the spelling variations in Egyptian, you see that weak consonants or semi-vowels (
There are a couple of exceptions to this. Ekwesh starts with a weak consonant, an indication that the word began with a vowel. And in the same word a glyph for two of these sounds (
Tossing out the conventional e’s and throwing in some a’s changes Sherden to Shardana, which some scholars use. But, however the name is spelled, this is a single nation or tribe that may or may not be akin to the people of similarly named Sardinia. Also notice that Egyptian (like modern Japanese) didn’t actually distinguish between l and r. Egyptologists generally use only the r. So why did Breasted transliterate one name as “Luka” and not “Ruka”? The answer comes from cuneiform writing—the l is due to the identification of this nation with what the Hittites called Lukka, perhaps the ancestor of the nation later known as Lycia. This identification is generally accepted so you 082won’t see many variations on this name.
As Ms. Lifschutz points out, scholars are pretty well agreed that some of the Sea Peoples were (or later became) Philistines. These people appear in the records of the next major pharaoh, Ramesses III, who fought the Sea Peoples sometime after 1200 B.C.E. Ramesses gives a slightly different list of names (again following Breasted):
Ignoring weak consonants and remembering that the Egyptians did not distinguish l and r, you can see that Peleset could just as easily be Pereset. But you don’t see that because scholars are pretty well agreed on their identification with Philistines (and Palestine). The Sherden/Shardana are here again, as are the mysterious Teresh. And there is a new name, Weshesh, which is still the standard transliteration due to its obscurity.
But you don’t see Ekwesh or Shekelesh. Or do you? Using Achaean to mean Greeks dates back to Homer, who also called them Danaans. Some scholars think Breasted’s Denyen are the Greeks again, some would identify them with Homer’s Dardanians. While neither of these ideas is universally accepted, almost everyone agrees the Denyen are the same as the cuneiform Danuna, both of which appear in scholarly writing.
Comparing the lists of the two pharaohs, we come to the most difficult issue. The Shekelesh are identified by some scholars with a people later known to the Greeks as Sikils, who gave their name to Sicily. Some identify Merneptah’s Shekelesh with Ramesses’s Thekel, the latter name being more often transliterated Tjeker nowadays. Again, the distinction between l and r does not exist in Egyptian. Similarly, th/tj are transliterations of one symbol representing a sound that’s hard to pin down. In earlier times the symbol represented something like ch. What sound that symbol represented in the time of Ramesses is less clear. Are Thekel/Tjeker just a different spelling for Shekelesh? Probably not. Tjeker might be the same group as the Sikils. But some identify Shekelesh and Sikils and link Tjeker with Teucrians and/or Tyrsenoi/Tyrrhenians/Etruscans.
So long as scholars disagree on all these points, you’ll continue to see variation in spelling. But I hope I’ve helped reduce the confusion a little.
“Kosher Pig” for Sale
The heat from the Dead Sea Scrolls must have gone to your head! I am not sure what you and the advertisers of “The Jewish New Testament” are trying to do. It appears to be a sale of a “kosher pig”! If I had a subscription, I would surely cancel it.
Flushing, New York
I must admit to having been amused at times by some of your advertising and the kinds of controversy it has raised. So it is with some humor that I write to comment on the Bradford Exchange’s “blond Jesus” plate (BAR 19:03). My immediate response is, “Give me a break!” Obviously someone there has either never been to Israel or never seen an Israeli Jew. Blond Jesus, indeed.
We’re Helping Put People Back to Work
BAR inspired the business that my partner and I started last year—Bar Kathros Religious Art, Architecture and Design. On one of our trips to Israel, we sat at a frozen custard stand outside the Burnt House in Jerusalem and talked about how some day we would have this business.
Thank you for your fascinating publication. Do try to keep the blood off the Queries & Comments pages.
Bryan P. T. Lean
Rights of the Firstborn
I really enjoy your Queries & Comments section. Once we get past the offended subscription cancelers, many of the letters raise insightful issues. Sam Fisher’s letter in the BAR 19:03 issue (see Queries & Comments) is an excellent example. However he perpetuates a tiny error when he says that Judah obtained the rights of the firstborn after Reuben.
Firstborn rights consist of two legal elements that were divisible, the blessing and the birthright. The blessing included the patriarchal rights of leadership over the family or clan. In this regard, Fisher is correct in stating that Judah was 084“named head of the tribe upon Jacob’s demise.” However, his statement that “Reuben lost his inheritance” suggests, in the context of his letter, that Judah received the inheritance rights of birthright as well. This is not correct. It is well established that Joseph, through his sons Ephraim and Manasseh, received the double portion (Genesis 48:22).
The Chronicler understood the laws in question and this point in particular when he wrote, “Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn; but forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph’s)” ( I Chronicles 5:1–2).
The firstborn rights were divided; the blessing went to Judah and the birthright or land and chattel inheritance went to Joseph. This point is further clarified in my book, Women’s Rights in Old Testament Times (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1993), pp. 50–56, 114–117.
James R. Baker, J.D.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Straying From the Subject
Kindly cancel my subscription. I find the format (horrible pictures), the constant bickering and the lawsuit now pending to be offensive in a journal that should not be airing personal grievances but should stick to archaeology.
Mary Ann Strauss
An Overlooked Bible Commentary
The “BAS Review of Study Bibles,” BAR 19:03, omitted an excellent publication by the World Zionist Organization Department for Torah Education and Culture in the Diaspora. Written by Nechama Liebowitz, the six volume set (two volumes for Exodus) deals with topics in every chapter of the Pentateuch, and the discussion allows the reader to reach his or her own conclusions. There are questions for further study and notes at the end of each topic. In my opinion it is far and above the best of this genre.
New York, New York
The Pun on Peter: The Complexity Grows
I would like to place one more dancing angel on the head of Matthew’s Petros-petra pun. If this passage is filled with puns on the names Peter and Cephas and Simon, as the letters to the editor suggest (Queries & Comments, BAR 19:03, we might expect the compound names “Simon Peter” and “Simon son of Jonah” also to participate in the punning. Puns can link separate texts into larger units of meaning, and I think the compound names “Simon Peter” and “Simon son of Jonah” function in precisely this way. The text is as follows:
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock … ’” (Matthew 16:15–18 [NRSV])
The Hebrew name Shimon (Simon) contains the Hebrew root shma “hearing, and the Hebrew name, yona (Jonah) means “dove.” It is “Hearing Peter” who answers that Jesus is the Son of God, and it is “the Hearing son of the dove” who is blessed because the father has revealed this to him. Why “son of the dove”? The idea complex “hearing/dove/not-by-flesh-and-blood revelation of the son” links this text with the earlier text of Jesus’ baptism:
“ … and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:16–17 [NRSV]).
It is the “Hearing son the spirit (dove)” who hears the voice of the father. The idea complex of “hearing/not-by-flesh-and-blood revelation of the son” also links these texts with the later text of Jesus’ transfiguration:
“ … and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved: with him I am well pleased: listen to him’” (Matthew 17:5 [NRSV]).
The Simon son of Jonah (hearing/dove) pun is a powerful literary device that helps pull the earlier and later texts into its own narrative present and makes Peter himself the intense focus of the voice of God saying, “This is my beloved son.” Of the disciples, it is only “Simon Peter,” “Hearing Peter” who correctly “hears” that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Behind Jesus’ indirect “my father in heaven has revealed,” the implied reader hears the direct voice of God as expressed in the earlier and later texts saying, “This is my son.”
While this bright and sparkling angel is dancing on the head of its pun, let’s place as counterpoint a slower, heavier, more ominous angel. Just as the Hebrew prophet Jonah was the reluctant prophet, so the “son of Jonah” will be the reluctant apostle. Just as the Hebrew prophet Jonah denied the word of God and fled from God, so the “son of Jonah” will deny and flee from the son of God. Through the use of a pun, the later narrative texts of the disciple’s flight and Peter’s denial also cast their shadow over the present text.
Robert Alan Walter
New York, New York
As a result of a typographical error in the BAR 19:04 issue,(see Queries & Comments) we misspelled the last name of Dr. Stefan C. Reif, the director of the Cairo Genizah research unit of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England. We apologize for the error.
A Note on Style
B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era), used by some of our authors, are the alternative designations for B.C. and A.D. often used in scholarly literature.
The Fourth R: R-chaeology