Friday, September 10, 2004

THE HEAP OF RUBBLE at the Temple Mount has been in the news recently. The Dump on the Temple Mount page at (via Bible and Interpretation News) has more information and recent photos.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

I JUST GOT BACK from the funeral of Professor William McKane at Cameron Kirk, just outside St. Andrews. My retired colleague, Dr. Robin Salter, gave a moving address on Willy's life. Willy served as the Dean of the Faculty of Divinity and the Principal of St. Mary's College. He was a native of Dundee who started out in a business career but then decided to go into the ministry. Then the War intervened and he served in the RAF in 1941-45. He entered St. Andrews for an honors degree in (I think) philosophy and history in 1946 and was ordained in 1949 in the Succession Church (which later rejoined the Church of Scotland, in part because of Willy's efforts at a reconciliation). He studied Semitics at Glasgow University, getting a first-class honours degree there in 1952, followed by a Ph.D. in 1956. Then he taught at Glasgow as a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer before moving to take up the chair in St. Andrews. He was an international authority on the prophetic and wisdom literature of the Hebrew Bible and published commentaries on Proverbs, Jeremiah, and Micah. He had many honors (I got lost trying to copy the list), including the FBA and being president of the Society for Old Testament Study (SOTS). A Festschrft was published for his 65th birthday. He was also an avid sportsman who played cricket into his 60s. He had a reputation for tenaciousness. Robin told a number of stories about him, but I'll just repeat one here: Once on a train trip he had difficulty getting the train door open at his stop, but he kept at it until he actually tore the entire door off the train. The next morning as he was catching the train back, the station master told him not to use that door (which was taped or tied or something back on) because some silly fool had pulled it off.

The presiding minister was Rev. Alan McDonald, who told us that on last Friday Willy worked for the last time on his commentary on the Book of Job. The passage he was working on was Job 33:31-33, which is as fitting an epitaph (so to speak) as one could ask for:
31: Give heed, O Job, listen to me; be silent, and I will speak.
32: If you have anything to say, answer me; speak, for I desire to justify you.
33: If not, listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.
Threat of violence slows pace of biblical archaeology (Raleigh Biblical Recorder)
By Michele Chabin
Religion News Service

JERUSALEM - Since the start of the Palestinian uprising four years ago, local archaeologists, many of them working on sites alluded to in the Bible, have had to scale back or even cancel their digs.

That's because the threat of continued violence has kept foreign professors and students from providing assistance at large digs.


The intifada has definitely had an effect on Israeli archaeology, including our dig," said Shimon Gibson, the archaeologist who excavated the "John the Baptist cave."

Gibson announced in mid-August that he had found a cave that he believes was used by John the Baptist to anoint some of his followers. The news received international media attention.

Then came more bus bombings.

"Prior to the intifada we had many students from the (United) States," said Gibson in an interview. "When the intifada began, the U.S. State Department advised Americans not to travel here, and ever since then we've had to rely on smaller and smaller groups. It's been a bit of a nightmare, actually."

A major problem is that American institutions, especially federally funded ones, find it difficult to obtain insurance for anyone they send to the region, said Gideon Avni, director of the excavations service department at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

From the mid-1990s through the year 2000, Avni said, approximately 45 foreign academic institutions, two-thirds of them American, ran or co-ran digs in Israel. That number dwindled to five in 2003.


Some of the last foreign students to help Gibson hailed from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

"The intifada forced us to make some adjustments," said James Tabor, a UNC archaeologist who helped excavate the John the Baptist cave. "In 2001, even after the intifada began, we sent students to Israel, but only those over the age of 21. They made their own decision as adults and we required them to procure their own insurance and to sign a waiver of liability."


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Court Bars Rubble Removal from Jerusalem Shrine
Tue Sep 7, 2004 09:37 AM ET (Reuters)

By Megan Goldin

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's Supreme Court has temporarily barred the removal of thousands of tons of rubble from Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site in response to a petition by archaeologists, officials said Tuesday.

The Israeli petitioners demanded that the 3,000 tons of earth from renovations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, should be sifted by archaeologists before being disposed of.

The rubble was removed from subterranean caverns underneath the shrine during construction in ancient, underground galleries by the Islamic Waqf authorities which administer the site. The Waqf says the rubble was from renovations for a mosque and does not contain any archaeological relics.

BLOGGER WAS GLITCHED ALL DAY and refused to publish any posts. But it's now in a cooperative mood again, so I have updated the end of Sunday's BNTC photographs post with one more picture. I'm sure you will agree it's the best of the lot.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I AM VERY SORRY TO REPORT THE DEATH OF WILLIAM MCKANE, Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Oriental Languages at the University of St. Andrews. Professor McKane was a prolific and world-class Old Testament scholar, a Fellow of the British Academy, and he also served at one time as Principal of St. Mary's College. He passed away on Saturday. Two of his best known works are his commentaries on Proverbs (OTL) and Jeremiah (ICC). He retired long before I came to St. Andrews, but I did see him now and again and have met his wife, Agnes. My condolences to her, the rest of his family, and his many friends in St. Andrews and elsewhere. Requiescat in pace.

I've had a cold today and have been at home, mostly sleeping. But I expect to be back at it tomorrow.

UPDATE (9 September): More on Professor McKane here.

Monday, September 06, 2004

ANGELS GALORE: Tim Spaulding's Angels on the Web site collects more than 800 references to and images of angels. It includes an angels resources page for Judaism.

(Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Also, have a look at Tim's main Isidore of Seville page, which has links collections on various areas of history, religion, and other topics, including Cleopatra on the Web, Alexander the Great on the Web, Ancient Astrology and Divination on the Web, and The Complete Petra.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

BNTC CONTINUED: Here are a few photos of the event.

Thursday evening. L to R: Mark Goodacre and his two postgraduates, Catherine Smith and Helen Ingram. Catherine and Helen were relieved not to be running the program this year, but, alas, Catherine was suffering from a miserable cold this time around.

By the way, Catherine tells me that the Open Text Project is alive and well and tagged Greek texts are steadily being produced and will be placed on the Web in due course. Excellent news.

I'm sure Mark will have lots to say about the Seminar on Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. I was chairing the Second Temple Judaism & NT Seminar at the time, so I'm looking forward to his report.

Bart Ehrman gives his plenary address. John Barclay of Durham University chairs.

The other plenary addresses were by Bishop Tom Wright and Professor Judith Lieu. Wright spoke in defense of the "new perspective" on Paul (i.e., based on the work of E. P. Sanders's Paul and Palestinian Judaism) and, intriguingly, if I understood him correctly, called for a reconsideration of the genuiness of the letters to the Ephesians and Colossians. Lieu's paper is hard to summarize, but she spoke on the importance of both ancient literacy and ancient orality for understanding ancient literature such as the New Testament.

Professor Jimmy Dunn reminisces at the New College banquet on Friday evening. (Sorry this is so grainy: the room wasn't brightly lit.)

Dr. Helen K. Bond has been extremely productive this year: she has produced a book on Caiaphas and a daughter, Katriona Sophia, pictured with Helen here. I got to hold Katriona too!

Many thanks to Helen and to Professor Larry Hurtado, who together organized the conference, and to New College postgraduate Paul Middleton (and to a number of other NC pgs whose name I didn't catch), who kept things running smoothly. The BNTC is to be held in Liverpool next year on 1-3 September.