Queries & Comments
My husband and I have subscribed to BAR for years and enjoy it.
However, we do not like this month’s cover (
A few months ago another pagan deity appeared on the cover (
Yes, I know there is trash in the world, but I don’t bring it into my home and put it on the living-room table.
Pleasing a Tough Audience
Your magazine is one of the best I’ve ever read. The articles are informative and easy to read. Best of all, they are accompanied by beautiful pictures that really make the magazine come alive. This is coming from a sophomore in high school, and believe me, we are hard to please. Keep up the good work!
I would like to ask you a very important question about the Copper Scroll [one of the Dead Sea Scrolls]. When one studies the text, you notice that there are no vowels at all. Why is that?
I would also like you to know that because of your magazine, I am seriously considering becoming a Biblical archaeologist. Thank you.
Thank you, Joshua. Ancient Hebrew (and most modern Hebrew, as well) was (and is) written without vowels. Once you get used to it, it’s not very hard.—Ed.
I have just received my issue of BAR 21:01, another example of your superb magazine, which I enjoy immensely! Having subscribed to BAR and Bible Review for almost ten years, I recommend both without qualification to friends and colleagues, and to students in my classes.
Keep up your critical, lively, controversial ways of presenting Biblical and archaeological material! Whether you are nuking Neusner or struggling with Strugnell, you stir the imagination and provoke thought, the real purpose of education. As an amateur photographer, I am excited by the photographs, the colors and the artistic designs that accompany the articles.
I have only one complaint—the inserts. There were twelve(!) of the pesky things in this issue. My first act is to excise those fumbling barriers to page turning and consign them to the flames of the eternal fires! Do you really have to stick those in your otherwise attractive pages? If you have to do that to pay the bills, I will understand, but if it doesn’t keep the magazine going, how about letting Redbook and Better Homes and Gardens take care of the inserts?
Let me also express appreciation for the various facsimile archaeological items, such as the oil lamps, that I have used many times in my classroom. Students appreciate this visual assist to Biblical study. Offer additional items in this category.
Robert E. Taylor
T. L. James Professor of Religion
Centenary College of Louisiana
Milik and the Dead Sea Scrolls
International Team: We Want to Work with Milik
“It is time to honor Jozef Milik.” These are the opening words of Hershel Shanks’s interview with J. T. Milik (“The Honor Due Dead Sea Scroll Scholar Jozef Milik,” BAR 21:01). We most heartily agree, but for ourselves and the other members of the international team of editors this has never been an issue, since we have always recognized Milik’s highly significant contributions to Qumran scholarship and our indebtedness to him. Without his early identifications and numerous text-editions, Qumran scholarship would not 012be anywhere near the level it is today.
Since the rearrangement of the international team in 1990, we have actively sought to bring Milik back to the publication process since we were, and still are, interested in publishing his insights on the many fragments he skillfully identified and reconstructed. At a time when we had little money, we offered Milik both to have his handwritten manuscripts typed for him and to provide him with secretarial help in Paris; both of which he declined. Twice Emanuel Tov went to Paris to see him hoping to work something out, especially with regard to the Tobit texts, since Milik was reported to have ready an edition of these texts. We encouraged Milik to publish texts either alone or in collaboration with others, since by then he had already agreed to collaborate with James VanderKam and Joseph Baumgarten on other texts. We also hoped to enlist Milik’s help in identifying some Qumran items that existed on the inventory lists but that we could not, and still cannot, find on the museum plates.
To put things straight, we would like to point out the following:
1. “Tov took everything from me,” Milik is quoted as saying. First of all, it was not Tov who acted in this regard, but the Advisory Committee of the Israel Antiquities Authority, which acted reluctantly after all the unanswered attempts to find a working procedure acceptable to Milik. Secondly, wishing to place the publication effort on a more realistic basis and realizing that a number of scholars had more texts assigned to them than are humanly possible to publish, we suggested to Milik that he prioritize and reserve certain texts for himself, collaborate on others with younger scholars and abandon still other texts of lower priority. We were determined to have Milik participate in the team and are sincerely sorry that the arrangements did not work out. For a few years we waited for Jozef Milik’s answers regarding our proposals. On two occasions Tov went to Paris especially to discuss the proposals with him, and he has good memories of frank and instructive conversations. There was a transitional stage during which Milik could still decide on which texts he would work, but in the end all his previous texts had to be reassigned to others. In the light of all this, we do not think it is correct to describe what has happened as the simple taking away of texts from Milik.
2. Even today we invite Milik to submit his transcriptions and text editions, which will be included in the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (DJD) series (the official publication series of the Dead Sea Scrolls). He knows that we will happily edit, copy-edit and publish any manuscripts he submits for publication. We should like to add that Professor John Strugnell continues to work constructively, in conjunction with Professor Daniel Harrington, on a very important group of wisdom texts to be included in a separate volume.
3. Despite Milik’s doubts regarding Father Joseph Fitzmyer’s work on Tobit, we are happy to announce that Father Fitzmyer’s steady work on these texts was successfully completed some six months ago. The 80-page DJD edition of Tobit is ready to be released to the public, and waits to be included together with other texts in volume XIX, to be submitted to Oxford University Press in camera-ready form sometime this spring.
4. Jozef Milik’s name has always been mentioned and will always be mentioned in connection with texts in the preparation of which he has played a major part. The same pertains to texts previously analyzed by Père Dominique Barthélemy. Milik feels that insufficient credit was given to that scholar, whose work Professor Robert A. Kraft and Tov continued in DJD VIII. Neither Barthélemy himself nor Tov’s editor at the time, John Strugnell, thought so, and this was rightly pointed out in an extensive footnote to the BAR interview.
5. Finally, let us add for the sake of the readers of this journal that the publishing efforts continue successfully. The calendar year 1994 saw the publication of—in addition to numerous preliminary publications—not less than three volumes in the DJD series:
Elisha Qimron and John Strugnell, Qumran Cave 4. V: Miqsat Ma‘ase ha-Torah (DJD X; Oxford: Clarendon Press).
Eugene Ulrich, Frank Moore Cross et al., Qumran Cave 4. VII: Genesis to Numbers (DJD XII).
Harold Attridge et al., in consultation with James C. VanderKam, Qumran Cave 4. VIII: Parabiblical Texts, Part 1 (DJD XIII).
While in the past, many years have elapsed between the publication dates of the individual volumes (as much as nine in one case), the release of three volumes in a single year shows that the reorganization is indeed bearing fruit.
Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project
Chief Editor, Qumran Biblical Scrolls
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana
Fitzmyer Has Finished His Work on Tobit
Thank you very much for “The Honor Due Dead Sea Scroll Scholar Jozef Milik,” BAR 21:01. I have enormous admiration for what Milik has accomplished in the field of scroll studies and know that many others share this feeling. It is fitting that he be recognized in this very public way.
I did want to comment on one point raised by Milik in your interview with him. He says about the reassignment of the Tobit fragments from Qumran Cave 4 to Father Joseph Fitzmyer: “Fitzmyer, however, will never publish them. It takes 40 years adequately to publish a scroll like this, because it will not do simply to publish the text and a few notes; the text must be understood before it can be reconstructed.”
In fact, Fitzmyer has finished his editions of the five Tobit manuscripts. As consulting editor for volume XIX of Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, in which Fitzmyer’s and others’ work will appear, I have worked through all of Fitzmyer’s carefully prepared pages. The volume should be published this year.
In fairness to Milik, however, it should be added that his words suggest a different kind of edition of the Tobit material—the kind that may take 40 years to prepare. He seems to envisage the sort of book that he wrote about the Enoch fragments. Clearly Fitzmyer’s textually oriented edition does not fall into this category, but it does make the material available to all in a very helpful, precise way. I hope that Milik will still publish his own notes on Tobit. We would all profit from the unique insights of this magnificent scholar.
James C. VanderKam
Professor of Hebrew Scriptures
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana
A Quasi-Paragon of Virtue
Your recent interview with Jozef Tadeusz Milik includes a summary negative judgment concerning this great scholar that calls for comment. You write: “Until recently Milik has been the villain of the piece.” (The subject is the snail’s-pace publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls.) We are not told however whose view this is, and how it is justified. Milik’s only failing lies in not publishing all the Cave 4 fragments entrusted to him in the early 1950s. Only two members of the original editorial team fully acquitted themselves of their obligation, the late John Allegro (in a 014way that left much to be desired) in 1968 and Abbé Maurice Baillet in 1982. But as you yourself admit, Milik has a great deal to his credit. In particular, he showed brilliance in piecing together and identifying thousands of manuscript fragments in the 1950s, wrote countless learned papers and, especially, was responsible, alone or jointly with others, for issuing volumes I–III and VI of Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (1955, 1961, 1962, 1977). His separate monograph, The Aramaic Books of Enoch of Qumran Cave 4, appeared in 1976. Lately guilty of almost 20 years of procrastination, he nevertheless still stands out as a quasi-paragon of virtue compared to the other members of Roland de Vaux’s ill-fated international team. Monsignor Patrick Skehan and Abbé Jean Starcky died (in 1980 and 1988, respectively) without editing their texts, and Frank Moore Cross and John Strugnell, in charge of important documents since 1953/54, did not begin to publish in Discoveries in the Judaean Desert until 1994/95.
May I end by submitting for your readers’ consideration my recent appraisal of the performance of J. T. Milik, which I hope they will find fair and balanced:
“Before depicting the chaos characterizing the publishing process in the 1970s and 1980s, in fairness it should be stressed that, during the first decade or so, the industry of the group [the international team] could not seriously be faulted … It is clear that at an early date most of the texts had been identified and deciphered. The many criticisms of the subsequent years, focusing on these scholars’ refusal to put their valuable findings into the public domain, should not prevent one from acknowledging that this original achievement, in which J. T. Milik had the lion’s share, deserves unrestricted admiration. … In the 1970s only J. T. Milik remained productive … before he, too, entered a state of hibernation. By 1991, he was persuaded to relinquish all his unpublished documents, which were re-assigned to new editors” (The Dead Sea Scrolls in English [4th ed., Penguin, 1995], pp. xvii–xix).
Director of the Forum of Qumran Research
Logic Will Suffice Until Evidence Comes Along
Bravo on your article “Is This King David’s Tomb?” BAR 21:01.
It is heartening to see simple logic cautiously applied to arrive at conclusions, admittedly unproven archaeologically. Too often have I heard, “There is no archaeological basis for your argument,” rather than, “Your logic is sound and should be accepted until proven or disproven archaeologically.”
Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom—To Cover the Smell
“Is This King David’s Tomb?” BAR 21:01, by Hershel Shanks brought back fond memories of his popular book, The City of David. As a result of reading this book several years ago, I determined to visit the Tombs of the Kings on our next visit to Jerusalem. With book in hand, I meticulously followed Shanks’s detailed guide and thoroughly enjoyed an unforgettable day exploring the Hill of Ophel.
The highlight of the day was finding and exploring the tombs described in his recent article. The exhilaration of entering the largest tomb dwindled quickly as I took my first breath inside the vault. The stench of decaying garbage was overwhelming. Although I was determined to duplicate the picture on the cover of The City of David, there was no incentive to linger longer. I find it impossible to look at my photographs of what is possibly King David’s tomb without an acrimonious olfactory flashback.
Yes, Israel Antiquities Authority, please clean up this fascinating site for Jerusalem’s 3,000th anniversary! I look forward to smelling the crocuses from within the tomb.
Lt. Colonel William W. Francis
Suffern, New York
When Was Jerusalem Conquered?
The second paragraph of “Sprucing Up for Jerusalem’s 3,000th Anniversary,” BAR 21:01, states, “Up to that time the Israelites had been unable to wrest Jerusalem from the Canaanites.” I have heard other Bible scholars make similar statements.
However, Judges 1:8 reads, “Then the sons of Judah fought against Jerusalem and captured it and struck it with the edge of the sword and set the city on fire” (New American Standard Bible). Am I missing something? The period of the Judges preceded the reign of King David. Is Judges 1:8 not given credence, or is there some other explanation for this apparent discrepancy?
Either the Biblical account is an exaggeration or the Israelites were unable to hold the city. Slightly later in the Biblical text (Judges 1:21), we read that “the Benjaminites [in whose territory Jerusalem lay (see Joshua 18:28)] did not dispossess the Jebusite inhabitants of Jerusalem.” This same series of events seems to have occurred in Joshua’s time as well: “Joshua conquered the whole country” (Joshua 10:40); but then we read: “The Judahites could not dispossess the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Joshua 15:63). The best evidence that the Israelites did not capture and hold the city until later is the account of David’s later conquest.—Ed.
The Line Forms to the Right
“The Israel Antiquities Authority plans to restore and consolidate some archaeological remains that are falling apart,” (“Sprucing Up for Jerusalem’s 3,000th Anniversary,” BAR 21:01).
This reader of BAR would jump at the opportunity to help remove garbage and debris from the most fabulous city in the world—and for free too!
Where do I volunteer?
Don L. Claassen
The IAA address is P.O. Box 586, Jerusalem 91004, Israel.—Ed.
You have, no doubt, been inundated with a snowstorm of letters from superficial nitpickers like me to correct Ephraim Stern’s perception (“Prize Find: Priestly Blessing of a Voyage,” BAR 21:01) that a scapula is a collarbone. Among us purists a scapula is a shoulder blade, while a collarbone is a clavicle. I am sure he is discussing a shoulder blade because a clavicle does not have good, flat surfaces to write on.
Incidentally, the Carthaginian mask shown in WorldWide, BAR 21:01, rather than a distorted image to ward off evil spirits, may well be a representation of a person suffering from a left-sided paralysis of the facial nerve or possibly even a person performing the Australian crawl stroke.
George R. Martin, M.D.
We take responsibility for the mistranslation.—Ed.
Anatomy is not one of my areas of expertise, other than living with my own body. But I would suggest you review your analysis of the “Dor Prize,” BAR 21:01. The male must have a unique body. His right arm must have two elbows and a relocated thumb for you to say that “his right hand is raised in a gesture of blessing.”
Joseph C. Tourdo
Explaining the Publication Problem
Your BAR 21:01 issue was inundated with letters to the editor concerning the lack of publication of archaeological results. Reading the letters reminded me of a witch hunt now sponsored and encouraged by BAR. It is somewhat reminiscent of McCarthyism, especially when the letters call for ostracizing the culprits who do not publish the results of their labor. One reader calls non-publishing archaeologists “vandals,” another one compares non-publishing archaeologists to kids playing in the sandbox and a third reader, true to the spirit of BAR, issues a call to name names and “embarrass some people” who are “Lazy Loafers.” The unfortunate thing is that your readers are not familiar with what it takes to produce a publication of an excavation, and you, editor, who should know better, do not help but try to make hay by issuing calls for “blood.”
What follows is not an apology, but a brief explanation for those who are willing to get off their high horse and listen to some facts and reason.
1. Most archaeologists are academicians who spend their summers not tanning on the beach, or cooling in air-conditioned libraries, but in the hot, dusty trenches. During the academic year, these same people teach courses, participate in the academic life of their institutions and render professional service to other organizations.
2. Most of these academicians do not get paid anything extra for working during the summer. In many cases, their expenses come out of their own pockets.
3. Most digs are not financed by public money. Very little public money is available for archaeology, and since competition is strong, few projects receive financial help from public sources, and the sums are very small. Furthermore, the bureaucracy involved with public money makes it, sometimes, very unattractive. In the past, excavations were supported by rich donors, but today these individuals are very few.
4. When it comes to field work and analysis of results, most academicians do not get financial help even from their own home institutions. Actually, they do not get time off to work on the material, so any work that is done is completed in their “spare time.”
5. Most projects are run as field schools and are financed by students who participate in them and receive academic credit for the work they perform in the field and for the instruction they get through lectures, workshops, seminars, visits to other sites, etc. The remainder of the budget is met with private contributions that the archaeologists solicit, again in their “spare time.”
6. Most projects, with the exception of most salvage operations, are planned as multi-annual, and a final report cannot be issued before the project is completed and all the material analyzed.
7. Final publication takes time to prepare because analyses of the materials are done by many experts, who also work most of the time on a voluntary basis or on a very tight budget. In the past, publication of results was simple and quick. Today, because of the sophistication of the field, it takes much longer.
8. Almost every project issues a preliminary report at the end of each season. A brief version of these reports is published in professional publications, and the complete report is submitted to the 018proper governmental offices, to participating institutions, etc.
9. In addition, many projects publish articles on particular topics or objects. Academicians are rewarded with merit salary increases and promotions for publications; thus there is strong incentive to publish and to do so in a respectable manner.
10. The final report, when it is published, is not the kind of thing that the lay public is rushing to purchase. Among those who purchase a copy of a final publication are libraries and other archaeologists, but since their number is very small and the price of the publication is very high, it is very hard to get a publisher for such a book or a series of books.
11. There are more important issues facing the world at this time, and it would be a sign of maturity and responsibility if you would stop fomenting this unnecessary debate. It is apparent from the letters to the editor that the readers of BAR do not have the background to enter the debate.
12. Finally, the archaeological community is well aware of its shortcomings and is trying to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, this goes back to the issue of money. As long as academic institutions cannot secure the funds for their faculty to take time off for preparing publication of archaeological results, and as long as money is not available from public sources, publication will not take place or will be very slow.
Prof. Oded Borowski
Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Languages and Literatures
Here Comes the Calvary
Tammi Schneider (“Did King Jehu Kill His Own Family?” BAR 21:01) alludes to “the 1200 calvarymen” contributed by Hadadezer of Damascus.
One infers that these men were unusually brainy (“calvary” derives from the Latin calvarium, or skull), or that they stemmed from near the site that later abetted the crucifixion of Christ and the two thieves.
William F. Sheeley
Neither. We apologize for the error.—Ed.
Does Isaiah Quote the Assyrians?
A caption in “Did King Jehu Kill His Own Family?” BAR 21:01, quotes an inscription from the palace of Assurnasirpal II in Kalhu. The inscription bears an uncanny 074resemblance to portions of Isaiah’s “Word Against Sennacherib” in Isaiah 37:24—there, Sennacherib had claimed to “ascend the mountains” and “cut down cedars.”
Could the writer of Isaiah 37 (paralleled in 2 Kings 19) have known of the inscription of Assurnasirpal II (who ruled Assyria over 150 years before Sennacherib) and borrowed phrases from it? Or were these phrases common boasts of aggressive monarchs of the period?
Jim Snapp II
Belize City, Belize
Tammi Schneider replies:
One does not need to assume borrowing regarding references to ascending the mountains and cutting down cedars. The practice of gaining access to wood from the West began at least as early as Sargon of Akkad (ca. 2350 B.C.), and as late as Ashurbanipal (668–631 B.C.) the Assyrians referred to building with cedar. Wood was scarce in Mesopotamia and the cedars of Lebanon were and still are some of the finest wood.
The Earth Is Billions of Years Old
Although I realize that your journal is not the appropriate venue for the subject of the age of the earth, as a professional hydrogeologist I am compelled to comment on Eddie Smith’s letter (Queries & Comments BAR 21:01). There are many good scientists who hold to Judeo-Christian beliefs and believe that the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. This conclusion is upheld by a myriad of observations, and is not discredited by the Bible (nor does it discredit the Bible). There is no good scientific evidence (despite claims by young-earth creationists) that the earth is 10,000 years old (or fewer).
Wayne R. Belcher
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Best Description of Precession
Thank you for publishing David Ulansey’s fine article on “Solving the Mithraic Mysteries,” BAR 20:05. My aunt, a long-time subscriber of yours, passed along the magazine because she knew I was interested in astrology. What a surprise, after all the rubbish I’ve read about astrology written by non-astrologers, to see such an accurate and graceful presentation of astrological facts. The discussion of the precession of the equinoxes is the clearest I’ve ever seen, and I will borrow it from now on to use as an explanation!
Bronx, New York
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.
My husband and I have subscribed to BAR for years and enjoy it.