Queries & Comments
Many of you wrote in to comment on the new design of BAR. Thank you for the feedback! As you may have noticed, we keep fine-tuning things to make BAR the most enjoyable and enriching experience possible for everyone. We can print but a handful of your letters, but we read them all. For more, go online, to biblicalarchaeology.org/letters.
I just received my new issue of BAR yesterday. I’ve already read everything, but I’m going to read it again. By the way, as an “old” guy, I usually am not fond of major changes. However, I think the changes in type and format are outstanding. It is easier to read, and the pictures really “pop.” Somehow it makes the people seem more real. As a practicing Christian, I have always enjoyed the content and believe God wants us to think. Keep up the good work.
Good job on the update. Specifically, I like that we no longer have to jump to the end of the magazine to finish an article, and the front cover is really nice. Kudos on the expanded table of contents and Q&C section, as well as the improved typeface. Thanks for listening and trying to give us the magazine we’re asking for. Hershel did a great job, but you’re working to make it even better—thanks!
I really liked what you said about trying to offer “tidbits of information that you can use in your Bible studies, sermons, and classrooms” (First Person: “Introducing the New BAR,” BAR, January/February 2020). That is exactly why I subscribe. I come to BAR to learn how archaeology enlightens the Bible and biblical world, and I want to add something to my teaching of the Bible in my sermons, church, and classroom. Please keep focusing on these types of things! That is super important.
Thanks for your efforts at improving the magazine!
LAKE VIEW TERRACE, CALIFORNIA
I’ve been a subscriber since 1983. Much has changed in those 37(!) years, including my eyesight. The recently arrived January/February 2020 issue seems harder to read. The new font seems just slightly smaller than before. My wife and I agreed that the font might be revised to a more readable one—maybe a bit larger, maybe a bit darker. The figure captions seem slightly smaller, but their bold and blockier nature helps a lot.
Admittedly, the problem I am experiencing is my problem, but I’ll bet a not inconsequential proportion of BAR readers and subscribers are in the same age and eyesight situation. That surely was a lengthy note on a rather simple matter, wasn’t it? Imagine if I had a point to make on archaeology or biblical interpretation! Keep up the good work.
PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY EMERITUS
The BAR redesign is quite good, but the font is too small for oldtimers like me. How about increasing it a point or two in future issues?
Mr. Cargill, yes oh yes! And thank you, thank you! For the new design and every new content. These 93-year-old eyes found the latest issue such a pleasure and so much easier to read.
TEANECK, NEW JERSEY
I just finished the January/February issue of BAR and wanted to let you know I think you folks did a great job. It felt like reading a whole new magazine. I have been a subscriber for many years and have enjoyed all the issues. But the significant (and much appreciated) evolution that was reflected in the July/August/September/October 2019 issue gave me a spark of new enthusiasm for the ever-changing world of biblical archaeology.
I am not a professional in the field, just an interested and curious 72-year-old who has had a long interest in that world. And this last issue really just blew me away. The reorganization and restructuring is wonderful. It feels and looks “cleaner” and more enticing. I especially like the Epistles section—wonderful articles on topics beyond pure archaeology that are enlightening and do a fine job of transporting me to a world I 010will probably never see in person. All this makes me dig (pun intended) into what that world “means.”
The article “How Magic and Miracles Spread Christianity” was especially intellectually stimulating. Again, just a big thumbs up. Keep up the great and evolving work.
The new design/layout is wonderful. Congratulations to Dr. Cargill and staff. Well done!
WOODSTOCK, NEW YORK
I have been a subscriber for many years and have enjoyed the magazine very much. I really like your new layout and format, especially being able to read articles without flipping to back pages. Thank you for making that change! Keep up the good work.
MOUNT HERMON BAPTIST CHURCH
Bob, just a note to say I like the new design in the most recent issue, and I think you’ve responded well to the numerous requests by our readers—though, of course, you can’t please everyone.
PROFESSOR OF NEW TESTAMENT
ASBURY THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
Size (and Scale) Matters
I have long subscribed to BAR and enjoyed the quality and wide range of topics covered.
One observation taken from the January/February 2020 issue using the article “The Tale of Tel Moẓa.” The issue here is size and scale. The map on p. 43 has a scale, but the map on p. 42 does not. The horse pictured on p. 41 has no scale, neither do the images on pp. 46, 47, and 48. Only the text gives an approximation of the cult stand size on p. 49. I’m just not sure how big any of these items are. If possible, it would be appreciated that some additional labeling might be done in the future.
This is one of the tricks of the What Is It? puzzle. Please don’t keep me guessing otherwise.
We publish pictures with measuring sticks when archaeologists provide them, but sometimes they don’t, and we try not to alter their images. As for the size indicators in the What Is It? contest, we decided to leave size indicators out because it makes the contest more challenging.—B.C.
What a Miss!
Firstly, I love the new format but was most dismayed to find out in Q&C that the last issue, “By the Hand of a Woman,” never made it to me. As I read the feedback in readers’ letters, I’ve learned what a miss this was! Would it be an imposition to mail me a back issue? I’ve learned a great deal from this publication.
Sure, we’ll send one right along.—B.C.
Ungodly, Thank God
In response to one letter writer, I say thank God and you that your magazine is “ungodly” and “unholy”! I hate religious discussions and you do not engage in them. Keep up the great work.
RED OAK, TEXAS
Magic and Ignorance
Robert Knapp’s article (“How Magic and Miracles Spread Christianity,” BAR, January/February 2020) may have some validity, but his final paragraph suggesting that Jesus could not have imagined the grand movement that happened shows the author’s ignorance of who Jesus really was.
CLARK FORK, IDAHO
The article by Robert Knapp struck me as unfocused. Only one piece of evidence for magic is referenced—a single amulet that contains both a magic spell and a Christian doxology and symbols. It is dated to the fourth century. But the article claims that magic was a large component of the spread of Christianity before Constantine.
There is no good reason to suppose that magic was particularly used as a vehicle to evangelize, especially in view of the author’s complaints about Christian “elites” being focused on intellectual debate with the polytheists. Isn’t nearly all the evidence related more to persuasion, and not at all displaying magic? And the Bible contains condemnations of magic, yet this fact went unmentioned in the article.
We see Christian people in modern times doing all sorts of syncretistic mashups of Christianity with magic (horoscopes, etc.). We do not see any evidence that contemporary spread of Christianity has anything to do with magic.
The assertion in your headline is not supported by the article.
Golden Eagle of Herod
I note that there was probably only one principal door of entrance to Herod’s Temple that led into the Court of the Women (see Ralf Krumeich and Achim Lichtenberger, “Searching for Portraits of King Herod,” BAR, November/December 2019).
Is it known whether the golden eagle (placed there by Herod, and torn down by students led by their two teachers) was above that door? Or was it perhaps on the inside portal of the passage from upper city of Jerusalem to the Temple Mount (via Robinson’s Arch) and thus 011placed at the extreme western end of the Royal Stoa?
Many thanks—I do enjoy BAR as soon as it appears in my mail, though but an amateur myself.
UNION CITY, NEW JERSEY
Achim Lichtenberger responds:
Unfortunately, there is not much to say, because Josephus gives no exact information. We can, therefore, only speculate without foundation (in archaeology or contemporary literature).
Belly Button Brain-Teaser
In my 30 years of self-guided scriptural studies, I have developed a “hang-up” with a detail which appears invariably in graphic representations of Adam and Eve. Looking at “The Creation of Adam” (Epistles: Clip Art, BAR, January/February 2020), my question is: Why does a navel appear on Adam’s stomach? It seems that whenever Adam or Eve are portrayed with a bare midriff, they are equipped with umbilical connection points. Neither is reported to be the offspring of human parents, so why does this misrepresentation appear over and over? I think this detail is a significant error in scriptural interpretation by numerous recognized artists.
I’m with you! “Did Adam have a belly button?” is one of my favorite questions to ask my undergraduate students when talking about the Creation narrative—for the very reasons you articulate.—B.C.
Ah, the People—
The regular appearance of outraged letters in BAR reminds me of my over three decades of training students in astronomy. The college where I taught offered public shows on weekends in its planetarium. I enhanced the annual Christmas show with scenes I photographed of Nazareth, Jerusalem, Jericho, the Sea of Galilee, the Church of the Nativity, and even a carpenter shop in Bethlehem. But when I explained that local shepherds abide with their flocks in the field not in December but in the Spring, people got very upset.
As I warned students: No matter what you say, no matter the facts, some people will be offended, and others will misunderstand.
STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK
My commendation to Steven L. Tuck for an engaging study of the survivors from Pompeii and Herculaneum (Strata: Classical Corner, “Rescuing and Recovering Vesuvius’s Survivors,” BAR, January/February 2020). This is a subject rarely addressed, and it creates a more complete picture of the reaction by the Roman government, as well as the geographic inclinations of those who survived. Keep up the wonderful work!
SUNNY ISLES BEACH, FLORIDA
Enlightening the Talmud
I am writing out of delight at the coincidental intersection between my reading of BAR and the Talmud. Having just read the Archaeology Argot column on kernos (Strata, BAR, January/February 2020), I, an intrepid Daf Yomi beginner, was surprised to find the following in the Talmud (Berkhot 14b): “One who recites Shema without phylacteries, it is as if he has offered—a peace-offering without libations.” Sure enough, there they were, in 2 Chronicles 29:35, showing that at least in one instance the Bible does not condemn libations “as part of worship rituals to foreign gods.” What fun!
As I read your latest issue, I noticed in the Strata section a misspelling in the Hebrew reading of the Adoniyahu Bulla. It should be אדניהו, with an aleph, not ayin. The aleph is clear on the photo of the bulla.
Btw, a bulla is not a “seal impression,” it is a piece of clay sealing a document and sometimes it bears a seal impression.
PROFESSOR OF BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY & HEBREW EMERITUS
Great catch. Our mistake, and we’ve issued the correction below. Thank you!—B.C.
Adieu, and Be Well
I became a regular subscriber of BAR following my first dig in Israel, in 1984, near Arad, with Professors Cresson and Ben-Arieh. I returned in 1995 to dig at Ronnie Reich’s Western Wall excavation. Although archaeology was not my major (it was ethics), I taught a Bible survey course and used BAR articles extensively. Since retirement, in 2004, I have continued to thoroughly enjoy the magazine.
But now that I’m in my 80s, with all the limitations, I am having to let go of many good things, so that when my subscription expires this summer, I will bid adieu to BAR.
I am so appreciative of what BAR is doing and what it has done for me all these years. I wish you continued great success.
PROFESSOR OF RELIGION EMERITUS
Congratulations to the design team and BAS. You have successfully reached your goal of creating a marvelously modern look for the BAR: crisp, colorful, interesting, and very readable.
I join the many folks who applaud the new design format for BAR. Its articles are intriguing and the update on biblical archaeology is always welcome. Keep up the very good work!
A word was misspelled in the news piece on the Adoniyahu Bulla (BAR, January/February 2020, p. 14). The top register of the bulla should read לאדניהו, not לעדניהו.
Many of you wrote in to comment on the new design of BAR. Thank you for the feedback! As you may have noticed, we keep fine-tuning things to make BAR the most enjoyable and enriching experience possible for everyone. We can print but a handful of your letters, but we read them all. For more, go online, to biblicalarchaeology.org/letters. Redesign Reactions I just received my new issue of BAR yesterday. I’ve already read everything, but I’m going to read it again. By the way, as an “old” guy, I usually am not fond of major changes. However, I think […]