Queries & Comments
Lust Among the Ruins? Part II
Bravo for Donna Canalizo
I appreciate your response to Father Bruce C. Perron in the May/June issue (“Lust Among the Ruins?” Queries & Comments, BAR 16:03). I think Father Perron unjustly interpreted the photograph of me (“1990 Excavation Opportunities,” BAR 16:01) as embodying a theme of lust.
Most volunteers on digs wear shorts and T-shirts. Why should the photograph of me be considered lustful simply because I am in normal dig attire? I thought “good Christians” were taught not to judge others, lest they be judged. Furthermore, I think Fr. Perron’s interpretation of the image was a result of projecting his own thoughts onto the image. Frankly, I am ashamed of Fr. Perron. The object in the image to be focused on is not my body, but rather the hypocaust tiles, one of the most spectacular finds in my grid last season.
But if it is my attire, or the pose I assume in the photograph, that Fr. Perron objects to, why didn’t he complain about the picture in which a male student volunteer appears excavating an iron knife? This gentleman is assuming the exact same pose as I do in the picture of me—kneeling in the process of excavating. What about the picture in the same issue, in which a male archaeological draftsman sits without a shirt, wearing only shorts, towel and hat?
What I am getting at is obvious. I am extremely offended by Fr. Perron’s sexism. In addition, I do not appreciate his defamation of my character by insinuating that the photograph of me implies “lust among the ruins.”
Donna L. Canalizo
University of Chicago
Argument for Married Priesthood
Father Bruce Perron’s letter in Queries & Comments, BAR 16:03, objecting to the picture of the young woman dressed in shorts and T-shirt in “1990 Excavation Opportunities,” BAR 16:01, is a very strong argument for the married priesthood.
John S. O’Connor
Exposing the Present
The acidulous comment of Father Bruce Perron concerning Ms. Canalizo’s quite modest costume is in sharp contrast to a wry comment by the incomparable Yigael Yadin. (Having been invited to an evening in his home remains a bright jewel on my rosary of memories.)
One of the photos in his book Masada [Random House, 1966] includes a bikini-clad volunteer sifting sherd-filled rubble under a blazing sun. Professor Yadin commented: “There was a feeling at times that some of the volunteers were concerned as much with exposing the present as with uncovering the past.”
But he was a great man.
Dr. William Grierson
Winter Haven, Florida
Praised Be God
Thank you, Father Bruce C. Perron for your comment on the picture in the January/February issue. It reminded me to look at the picture again. Praised be God who has made such a work of beauty.
Boycott of BAR Urged
Cancel my subscription immediately! It seems that the management and staff grasp at any semblance of Biblical connection (supposedly Adam and Chavah [Eve] in the full page nudity of the latest issue [“Polydactylism in the Ancient World,” BAR 16:03]) to perpetrate the B.A.R. brand of pornography. Your magazine will not be in our home nor in any church of which I am pastor. The management and staff of your magazine seem insensitive and aloof to the standards of decency which many U.S. citizens have.
Copies of this letter will be sent to every advertiser who appears in your magazine. Also, I will do everything I can to make my opinions known to the 36,000 pastors of the Southern Baptist Convention, of which I am a part. I will ask them to discourage any use or reference to your magazine and to encourage their acquaintances to cancel their subscriptions.
Today, when I mail this letter, I am filing a complaint with the Postmaster, asking that your magazine be put on a list of undesirable publications that will not be delivered to me because of their pornographic content.
Gerald E. Young, Pastor
Northside Baptist Church
The following letter was sent to our advertisers:
Enclosed you will find a copy of a letter that I wrote to the Executive Director of the magazine, Biblical Archaeology Review. For a number of years now, this magazine has had a running battle with people who are concerned with decency in our country. Many appeals have been made to the editors to try to show sensitivity to the American public and not use the pornographic pictures (in my opinion) chosen for publication. Subscriptions have been canceled or not renewed by many, but things stay the same.
The offensive picture in the May/June issue has caused me to pursue the following:
1. I have canceled the gift subscription which I received at Christmas, 1989. (I had canceled a subscription before.)
2. I have filed a complaint with the Postal Service requesting that the magazine not be delivered under the “obscene mail” provisions.
3. I am writing all advertisers asking them not to continue ads in the B.A.R. unless the editorial staff gives the advertiser a written statement that they will try to avoid material which is considered obscene by a sizable portion of the American public.
4. I am forming a committee to review the B.A.R. at the library. If the magazine continues their present course and if an advertiser continues to advertise in the magazine, a list will be compiled of companies who, in our opinion, support pornographic publications by advertising in them. An attempt will be made to boycott the companies.
Thank you for taking time to read this letter.
Gerald E. Young, Pastor
Northside Baptist Church
Adam and Eve with Bellybuttons?
Eve (life) was “made” from a rib of Adam (the man). The man (Adam) was “made” from the dust of the earth. Both were “made,” not “born.” Therefore they could not have a bellybutton as shown in the painting in your May/June 1990 issue (“Polydactylism in the Ancient World,” BAR 16:03).
Shame on the artist!
I seldom write letters to the editor—even when I appreciate the magazine as much as I do both BAR and Bible Review. But I must let you know that the May/June 1990 BAR is unusually good. “Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion,” BAR 16:03, by Bargil Pixner and “Archaeology and the Bible—Understanding Their Special Relationship,” BAR 16:03, by William G. Dever are extremely interesting and helpful. I am sure you will receive many negative comments [You’re right, see below.—Ed.], but don’t forget that some of your readers really appreciate this kind of material.
Virgil V. Hinds, Th.D.
Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies
Making God Subservient
With “Archaeology and the Bible—Understanding Their Special Relationship,” BAR 16:03, by William Dever, you ought to remove “Biblical” from your name, or at least affix an asterisk to it with a disclaimer about the validity of the Bible. After all, any Biblical data could be simply “pious fiction.” If Dever’s assumption that the Bible is a mere “curated artifact,” or even a “venerated artifact,” is accepted, it ought to be placed upon a museum shelf for casual observation.
Dever and his source critical colleagues have approached the Bible in the same manner that the evolutionists have approached the fossil record. Evolutionists remain convinced about a theory (which seems rationally plausible), despite any convincing evidence of the proverbial “missing link.” Likewise, Dever has swallowed all of those brilliantly deduced assumptions that reduce the Bible to piffle through a hodgepodge of purported sources. And assumptions they remain, because those sources are mere figments of the imagination, just like the missing link.
Much like the evolutionist who manipulates the fossil evidence to fit his theory, Dever chooses to make the Biblical data subservient to archaeological data. His assumptions make it extremely convenient to manipulate the Bible like putty as he chooses. It also avoids making oneself subservient to the God behind the Bible.
Battle Lake, Minnesota
Lack of Honest Scholarship
“Archaeology and the Bible,” BAR 16:03, by William Dever, seemed completely out of place. I am greatly puzzled as to why such a critical view of the Bible was included in your magazine, unless, of course, this is also your view. Such criticism does not increase the credibility of scholarship—in fact, just the opposite occurs. It reveals a lack of honesty on the part of “scholarship.”
It makes no difference to me whether proof of Biblical characters and events exists or not. The Messiah Jesus and His apostles believed and taught of them. That is enough credibility for me. No one who ever lived or will live in the future is more credible than Jesus.
I may not renew my subscription when it comes due because I do not want to waste my time wading through Biblical criticism in the guise of scholarship. It’s not necessary because there are scholars who do not make it their aim to discredit the Bible and who still maintain honest scholarship.
Barbara J. Splain
The article by William G. Dever (“Archaeology and the Bible—Understanding Their Special Relationship,” BAR 16:03) was very offensive—mainly his personal opinions and interpretations that really had little to do with what your articles normally treat, that is archaeological events. He made it seem that those who hold to a conservative view of Biblical events are out of touch with the facts. Actually some of his views seem to be out of touch with the facts.
Mr. Dever said there was little difference between the religion of the Israelites and Canaanite rites. This is really sad. The Canaanite religions were noted for child sacrifice, immoral practices, prostitution and idols of a pornographic nature. Yahweh abhorred these practices and commanded the Israelites not to have any of them in their worship. It is sad to see someone say that Canaan and Israel were similar.
There are just as viable views and evidence from a conservative view as from the liberal view. An argument from silence (the lack of finding a certain thing yet) is 018not weighty enough to base facts on to discredit the Bible. Mr. Dever’s theories have no place in a magazine devoted to finds, and not to schools of thought.
I very much enjoyed William G. Dever’s article, “Archaeology and the Bible—Understanding Their Special Relationship,” BAR 16:03. I note that as a matter of principle, Professor Dever does not write for BAR, but is willing to have his material appear in BAR. Can you please tell me what this principle is and what the basis for it is?
Anne-Marie Deutsch, Ph.D.
Los Angeles, California
Professor William G. Dever replies:
I do not write for BAR on principle, partly because the magazine (1) sensationalizes and romanticizes archaeology; (2) indulges in gossip and scandal-mongering, which our field already has too much of; and (3) publishes one-sided articles like Bryant Wood’s recent piece on the Israelite “conquest” [“Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho? A New Look at the Archaeological Evidence,” BAR 16:02] which only mislead the public. My main objection, however, is that BAR publishes advertisements for antiquities dealers and thus tacitly endorses the illegal international black market in antiquities which no professional archaeologist should condone.
Hershel Shanks replies to Dever:
Readers may judge Professor Dever’s hauteur and condescension for themselves. No reply from us is needed on that score.
Two other points must be addressed, however:
We do not tacitly endorse the illegal international black market in antiquities. It is this kind of hyperbole that makes rational discussion of the problem difficult, if not impossible. Our decision to accept antiquities ads was a carefully considered judgment made after much anguish, which we shared with our readers. To, in effect, call us names, as Professor Dever does, reduces a complex matter to an illusion of black and white that is hardly helpful. For more on the subject, see “Should You Patronize Our Advertisers?” below.
Second, we are offended by Professor Dever’s slur on Bryant Wood. To disagree with Wood is one thing, but to characterize his article as misleading is quite another. Bryant Wood holds a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He wrote his dissertation under John S. Holladay, one of the world’s leading experts in Near Eastern ceramics, a fact that is particularly relevant because so much of Wood’s argument depends on ceramic dating. Indeed, Wood is himself a recognized ceramic expert (see his response to Piotr Blenkowski, “Dating Jericho’s Destruction: Bienkowski is Wrong on All Counts,” in this issue); Wood has delivered well-received papers at leading scholarly meetings; he has published articles in leading scholarly journals; he has served as a visiting professor at the University of Toronto. Dever would have had us decline to publish Wood’s article. We believe, at the very least, Wood is a responsible scholar who is entitled to have his arguments heard.
Shortly after Wood’s article appeared in BAR, we asked Dever to respond, but he declined. Most scholars we have talked to do not disagree with Wood’s dating of the evidence (although we are delighted to open our pages to an opposing view, too—see “Jericho Was Destroyed in the Middle Bronze Age, Not the Late Bronze Age,” in this issue).
With the best of methods and techniques, archaeological conclusions often remain uncertain: Dever should know this; he has still been unable to convince much of the archaeological world of the date he proposes for the outer wall at Gezer, which he has excavated and reexcavated.
In recent years Dever’s attacks on colleagues have become more shrill and acerbic. In one recent issue of the British scholarly journal Levant, Dever calls another scholar’s approach “unsophisticated,” “oversimplistic” and “naive.” In a recent issue of the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, he characterized another colleague as writing a “tortuous review,” “a piece of polemics,” an analysis “full of forced arguments based on little or no accessible evidence, hasty in generalization and methodologically naive” “What is most distressing,” Dever wrote of his colleague’s review is “its naivete—either that, or disingenuousness.” (That the distinguished editors of these eminent journals accepted for publication the articles Dever attacks, gives some comfort to the editor of BAR in accepting Bryant Wood’s article.)
We do not believe this is the level at which scholarly discussion should be conducted. A little more humility and tolerance would go a long way.—Ed.
William G. Dever (“Archaeology and the Bible—Understanding Their Special Relationship,” BAR 16:03) claims that Succot is “followed shortly by … the beginning of the new year (Rosh ha-Shanah).”
When did this reversal occur, Professor Dever? These holy days are both in the 068month of Tishri, but for over two millennia Rosh ha-Shanah has been on the first and Succot begins on the fifteenth.
Professor Devon Showley
Professor William G. Dever replies:
Professor Showley’s sharp-eyed observation is correct. I can only say that several reviewers of the manuscript failed to spot the reversal of the holidays, just as I did in proofreading. The original order of the holidays in the Canaanite agricultural year, however, may indeed have been different from that of later Jewish usage, which “theologized” and arranged these holidays in a somewhat arbitrary manner, one that we still follow today.
Eating Humble Pie and Dever’s Vainglory
I would like to thank and congratulate Bargil Pixner for his excellent and extremely scholarly article, “Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion,” BAR 16:03. His entire article has given me a renewed appreciation for all the “holy sites” throughout Israel, plus the immense contribution that archaeologists have made to our understanding of God’s Word.
During one of my family’s early trips to Israel our tour guide announced that he would be taking us to the venerated Upper Room of Jesus’ Last Supper. Now every pilgrim to Israel must accept the fact that many Christian “holy sites” are, at best, “traditional.” For the most part, at least, these sites display some semblance of probability. However, the very idea that the Upper Room had somehow survived the Roman destruction of 70 A.D. seemed to me to be stretching probability just a bit too far. Then when our group arrived and began to gather reverently under the pillars and arches I “knew” we had been hoodwinked! Although no archaeologist, I could at least recognize Crusader architecture when I saw it. Additionally, the “remarkable” proximity of King David’s Tomb to Jesus’ Upper Room only added to my incredulity, and I immediately dismissed the entire site as a disappointing hoax. After finishing Pixner’s article I am now ready to eat “humble pie.”
Bargil Pixner has done an outstanding job in reversing my initial skepticism! Not only is his scholarly and detailed history of Zion III exceptionally well researched, but he has also carefully explained the complex architecture of the existing structures in the area—why Crusader arches, for example, can legitimately be found in a first-century room! It is quality work by writers like Pixner and the Ritmeyers (“Reconstructing Herod’s Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” BAR 15:06) that makes BAR the exceptional magazine that it is.
As an aside, I think you are too kind in your praise of the “highly principled” William G. Dever (
Dr. William F. Duerfeldt
In my recent article (“Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion,” BAR 16:03), I ascribed the origin of the legendary story about the pelican sacrificing his life to save the young ones to Pliny the Elder. I 070had read this years ago and thought it unnecessary to check it in the original. Upon reexamining the source of the pelican table, I found that it should rather be traced to a book called Physiologus written by an anonymous author in the fourth century, at the latest. Using many sources, among them Pliny, he composed a collection of 48 real or mythical plants, animals and minerals (e.g., eagle, pelican, unicorn, phoenix, lion) adding to each its specific Christian symbolism. This book had a vast influence on literature, art and heraldry. Already St. Augustine (referring to Psalm 101:7ff. [Douay Version]) used the pelican legend as a symbol for the suffering Christ. Many others followed.
In our case, notice the contrast on the capital of the cenacle (BAR cover)—the self-sacrificing mother or father pelican is made standing on a death mask, while the young ones are standing erect on freshly sprouting branches.
Father Bargil Pixner
The Abortion Insert
As a long-time subscriber to BAR, I am very disappointed to see the abortion insert in the BAR 16:03 issue. This does not have a place in your magazine. From the names listed in the insert, it most certainly involves only one side of the issue. I believe you owe an apology to your readers.
Leonard H. Budd
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
The abortion insert in your BAR 16:03 issue should never have been accepted. It is divisive because it is full of lies.
Yonkers, New York
The abortion insert in your BAR 16:03 issue doesn’t have a damn thing to do with Biblical archaeology. I am insulted, and mad, that you inserted this, or allowed it to be inserted. I won’t withdraw my subscription, but that had better be the last time you insert the likes of this.
This has nothing to do with my feeling pro or con regarding the subject.
Leo H. Robison
Objects to Timeline Ad
The respect I initially held for your magazine has been compromised by your continued advertisement for International Timelines’ so-called World History Chart. If you are so dependent on their advertising revenue, how can I be sure they do not influence magazine content, too?
While I’m not asking for a “Christian” bias, I do expect honest scholarship, and I am aware of absolutely no evidence to date that would support the historical claims made by the Book of Mormon. Do you know something I don’t?
Even your disclaimer, which I had hoped would clear up the misconception, is misleading: The phrase “as documented in the Book of Mormon, … ” suggests credibility. Wouldn’t “as alleged” have been more honest?
My subscription expired with the July/August issue. Do not renew it.
Noah’s Ark Ad
The ad for Discovered: Noah’s Ark in the May/June issue of BAR astonishes me! Is there any reputable—authentic—confirmation of the statements in this ad? Surely, if it were factual, this “material” would have appeared in BAR! May I hope that it will be dealt with—in a scholarly manner? If it has already been “treated,” please inform me in what issue, and the cost of a copy thereof.
Sulney G. Morton
See William H. Stiebing, Jr., “A Futile Quest: The Search for Noah’s Ark,” BAR 02:02. To order a copy send $4.00 to Biblical Archaeology Society, 3000 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (we still have a few copies left).—Ed.
BAR Needs a Little Self-Respect
I can appreciate your advertising policy. You need the money!
But must you reduce the level of BAR to that of the National Enquirer?
Are you so hungry for the almighty buck that you’ve lost all self-respect?
A classified ad requesting that money—“spare dollars”—be sent to a P.O. Box in Trenton, N.J. for a sick mother belongs in the National Enquirer, not BAR.
Please! Demonstrate just a little self-respect.
Roger C. Reckling, Pastor
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
St. Clair Shores, Michigan
A Humanist Responds
This is in response to the letter of Alice N. Coleman that appeared in Queries & Comments, BAR 16:03. In her letter she objects to your running an ad for the book Gospel Fictions because she fears such a book will increase the public immorality she attributes to Humanism.
Yet, in making this charge, she unwittingly suggests that the Christian basis for morality is so weak that it cannot withstand even a mild literary critique. As a Humanist, I do not have such fears about the foundation of my moral principles. I am happy to allow Humanism to compete in the free marketplace of ideas. This is because I know that Humanist values are firmly grounded in human nature as discovered through the use of science. They do not depend for their validity on the accuracy of ancient texts or subjective religious experience.
As a result, Humanism continues to exert a positive moral influence on the modern world. For example, Humanists like the late Andrei Sakharov (a signer of Humanist Manifesto II) were at the forefront of the changes that have dismantled Communism. And Humanists like Julian Huxley and 073Brock Chisholm were among the most prominent founders of the United Nations. Far from seeking only self-gratification as Ms. Coleman charges, Humanists have always been leaders in social reform.
Therefore Ms. Coleman’s concern about immorality and crime is misdirected if she thinks Humanism is the cause. Humanists continue to work with Christians and those of other faiths to solve the problems that concern us all.
American Humanist Association
Amherst, New York
Ritmeyer Is the Best in Over 100
Almost all BAR issues are interesting, absorbing and informative. I always look forward to receiving them. However, the November/December 1989 issue is certainly among the best, if not the best issue. The articles on the Temple Mount [“Reconstructing Herod’s Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” “Quarrying and Transporting Stones for Herod’s Temple Mount,” and “Reconstructing the Triple Gate,” BAR 15:06] are definitely the most exciting ones published. I have read over 100 articles on the subject but Ritmeyer’s articles are superior to anything I have seen.
Research Programs in Semitic Texts and Studies
University of Wisconsin
Date of Jericho’s Destruction—Archaeologically and Biblically
Bryant Wood is to be congratulated on a penetrating analysis of the archaeological evidence for the destruction of Jericho (“Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho? A New Look at the Archaeological Evidence,” BAR 16:02). He concludes that the city was destroyed in about 1400 B.C.E. according to a single carbon-14 sample 1410±40.
Some years ago I noted especially for private correspondents the following simple chronological table:
|Destruction of First Temple||586 B.C.E.|
|Span of First Templea||410 years|
|Construction of First Templeb||7 years|
|Period from Exodus to start of construction of First Templec||480 years|
Now deduct the 40 years of wandering in Sinai from 1483; 1443 B.C.E. is in good agreement with the date quoted above.
Asher S. Kaufman
The writer, a former professor at the Racah Institute of Physics, Hebrew University, is familiar to BAR readers as the author of “Fixing the Site of the Tabernacle at Shiloh,” BAR 14:06, and “Where the Ancient Temple of Jerusalem Stood,” BAR 09:02.
How to Get the Dead Sea Scrolls Published
It you want the Dead Sea Scrolls published, find out where the current editors are getting their grant money and then apply pressure where it will do the most good.
Brooks A. Butler, M.D.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Lust Among the Ruins? Part II