Queries & Comments
BAR Readers Wrestle with a Feminist Scholar
The Word of the Lord
In one of the questions in your interview with Phyllis Trible (“Wrestling with Scripture,” 32:02), she responded incorrectly. Professor Trible stated, “‘The word of the Lord’ is a prophetic genre, but that phrase does not appear at all in a book like Genesis.” The expression devar YHWH, “the word of the Lord” does appear in Genesis—twice (15:1 and 4)—when God speaks to Abram. In addition, the phrase ne’um YHWH, “utterance of the Lord” (one of many possible translations for this expression), which is attested several hundred times in the prophetic books, occurs in Genesis 22:16 in the story of the binding of Isaac.
Gary A. Rendsburg
Department of Jewish Studies
New Brunswick, New Jersey
I have just read “Wrestling with Scripture” in your March/April 2006 issue. Why did you print such a thing? It is so biased and un-Biblical that it should never be printed, and especially not in a supposedly Bible-oriented magazine. You have made a mockery of the “Bible”-oriented approach you’ve always tried to give.
As a Christian, I am insulted by the article’s “anti” God, “anti” scripture presentation. As a woman, I am certainly not in agreement with Phyllis Trible’s viewpoint. Women are not second class in God’s eyes—nor were they intended to be feminists.
I am concerned enough that if this type of article continues, I will cancel my subscription.
Cameron Park, California
Did Sarah Know? And What Did She Think?
I read your interview with Ms. Trible with great interest. I, too, wrestle with my faith, and one of the questions I have been wrestling with recently is how much Sarah knew about Abraham’s determination to sacrifice Isaac. Was Sarah as obedient as Abraham? Since Sarah and Abraham were “one flesh,” it doesn’t seem reasonable to me that God would raise Abraham’s hand to sacrifice Isaac without Sarah’s knowledge and assent.
The question rose in my mind when I asked myself if I could have sacrificed my own son at God’s command. I wondered if my faith would be strong enough to do that. No matter how I approached the problem, I just couldn’t imagine any circumstance in which I could cut my son’s throat and burn his body. I have a duty—and a very strong urge—to protect him. I just cannot see myself harming him.
My wife of 40 years has been even more protective. It is true that she has stuck pins of guilt in him from time to time. But if she had ever picked up a knife, she would have used it to protect the boy from me.
Therefore, I wonder what Ms. Trible thinks about Sarah’s role in Isaac’s near-death experience. Was she as obedient as Abraham? If so, would the successful battle with her protective maternal instincts have imputed righteousness to her? Would proving her faith in God, to God, have been an example to other women in the same fashion that Abraham’s proof is (supposed to be) to men?
Citrus Heights, California
Reactions to the “New” BAR
Too Far Off Topic
“Introducing the new BAR,” you say (“First Person,” 32:02)? When I received my copy, I had to look carefully to make sure it really was BAR, not because of the new cover design, but because of the CONTENT. What does “A Feminist Wrestles with Scripture” (32:02) have to do with Biblical archaeology? For that matter, what does “When a Woman Ruled Egypt” (32:02) have to do with BIBLICAL archaeology?
I had always thought that your “Worldwide” page was bad enough, but this is going 008too far. If you drift far enough away from your originally intended focus, then who needs BAR?
St. Louis, Missouri
Hang In There
When I first became a subscriber, I’ll admit I was offended by material in your magazine. Occasionally I receive an issue that gets under my skin. But I soon learned that there is good material and “nuggets” to be found. Yes, there are atheists, minimalists, etc. I soon learned the names of the rogues. I may, or may not, read their articles. I like the way you publish the complaints.
Studying such material helps to mature me as a person. In the March/April issue there are several instances that are definitely worthwhile as a Christian. I don’t have to read offensive material, but I also have seen where the offensive material was rebutted. As a result, I’m not quickly upset by such writers. My advice to neophytes is to hang in there. You will become a stronger and more mature person.
Little Rock, Arkansas
The Lazarus Hypothesis
No Longer Swimming Against the Current
A huge thank you for “The Last Man Standing” by Ben Witherington III (32:02). The Lazarus hypothesis (the idea that Lazarus is the Fourth Gospel’s unnamed Beloved Disciple) was long ago called a “cross bench” opinion (J.N. Sanders), and indeed it is. Traditionalists don’t like it, because they prefer John, son of Zebedee, as the Beloved Disciple. Scholars at the other end of the spectrum don’t like it because it makes of the Beloved Disciple a real person with a name, rather than a symbolic, ideal disciple-figure with no basis in historical fact. Anyone convinced by the Lazarus hypothesis has had to swim against these currents. Now to see a scholar of Ben Witherington III’s magnitude promote the Lazarus hypothesis in BAR is extremely encouraging to those of us who have believed it for years.
Frederick W. Baltz
Does Ben Have Tenure?
Ben Witherington seems to have spent too many days and nights on the moors of Scotland in order to come up with the theory of Saint Lazarus and his Fourth Gospel. I haven’t heard such poppycock since my divinity school days when we were told that Jesus was the illegitimate son of a German mercenary in the Roman legion stationed outside Nazareth.
We are all acquainted with the challenges of the Fourth Gospel and its issues and significant differences with the other three (Synoptic) Gospels. But do we have an urgent need to assign authorship on such an absurd basis?
Ben’s hypothesis might have been easier to consider if he had “confirmed” that he did believe in miracles “from time to time.” His whole scenario is just an excuse in theological frivolity. I hope Ben has tenure.
George A. Hill
Salisbury, North Carolina
Academia Slides Minimalist
William Dever’s column (“The Western Cultural Tradition Is at Risk,” 32:02) analyzes current trends in archaeology and culture very well. However, I do not think he comes to grips with how totally the latter is affecting the former. The evidence over the past 10 to 15 years, if anything, points in favor of more credibility for the Biblical texts, not less, especially in regards to the book of Samuel. The recent find by Eilat Mazar in particular cannot be objectively viewed as anything but very damaging to the theories of Israel Finkelstein and other liberals and minimalists. Nonetheless, opinion in the academic community continues to slide in a minimalist direction.
This is because evidence is not driving the movement to which Dever alludes. Passionately held ideologies tend to be impervious to reality, sometimes for centuries. Academics, despite their own sense of self-importance, are as prone, if not more prone, to such ideologies as the general public.
Buffalo Grove, Illinois
A Vile Charge
In BAR March/April 2006, Victor Sasson responds to my letter to BAR of November/December 2005. I leave it to the intelligence of BAR’s readers to judge between my and Dr. Sasson’s claims. But one comment in Sasson’s recent letter cannot go without most strenuous protest.
Sasson writes: “I now suspect Hurowitz is living in a police state and therefore felt coerced to brand the inscription a forgery to avoid arrest himself.” Dr. Sasson knows that I live in the State of Israel, and so by his innuendo he maligns that state. If Dr. Sasson chooses to malign the State of Israel by branding it a “police state,” may he do so on his own and for whatever reasons he may have, but not on the back of a proud citizen of that State who never “felt coerced” to do anything to “avoid arrest,” unless he thinks that obeying laws of a democratic state is by definition an act of coercion. I served on the IAA committee of my own free will [that found the Jehoash inscription to be a forgery], I reached my conclusions of my own free will, and I worked on the IAA committee with the same full academic freedom under which I have studied, taught, lectured and published for the last four decades; and any insinuation of motives such as Dr. Sasson insinuates is vile.
Prof. Victor Avigdor Hurowitz
Department of Bible, Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Beer-Sheva, Israel
The photo is a clarification of the structures at Hazor as originally shown on the plan from “Where Is the Hazor Archive Buried?” by Sharon Zuckerman (32:02, p. 30). This is a view of the Royal Precinct on the acropolis (from the south). Identified are the Ceremonial Palace/Royal Sanctuary, with courtyard and central podium, and the “Southern Temple.” The corner of the “Long/Northern Temple” can be seen under the six-chambered gate.—Ed.
As many readers noted, a footnote from “When A Woman Ruled Egypt” (32:02, p. 65) incorrectly identified Upper and Lower Egypt. Upper Egypt is the south of Egypt, Lower Egypt the north.—Ed.
Late-Breaking News on the Web
No evidence of forgery in ossuary case
IAA Contaminated Inscription
No evidence of forgery, says leading German scientist Wolfgang E. Krumbein, who has studied the ossuary inscription that reads “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”
Will the criminal case against Oded Golan for forging the inscription be blown out of the water?
Dr. Krumbein, a professor of geomicrobiology at Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany, accuses the Israel Antiquities Authority (or the police) of “deliberately manipulating” the evidence. He claims that the Israel Antiquities Authority has also “contaminated” the inscription by applying a red, silicon-like material to it, preventing scientists from reviewing earlier test results.
Tel Aviv University professor Yuval Goren and his colleague from the Israel Geological Survey, Avner Ayalon, are guilty of “bias” and a “series of errors” in the testing of the ossuary inscription, according to the new report.
For a summary and the full text of the Krumbein report, go to the “Finds or Fakes” section of our Web site at www.biblicalarchaeology.org.
BAR Readers Wrestle with a Feminist Scholar