Saturday, February 14, 2004

I'VE UPDATED THE MORE ON THE MAGI POST of Thursday to take into account reactions from other bloggers.
RICHARD ELLIOTT FRIEDMAN, Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at UCSD, is interviewed in Beliefnet about the Documentary Hypothesis (the theory of sources behind the Pentateuch):

"The Editorial Team Behind the Bible"

Friedman has recently published The Bible with Sources Revealed. Here's a blurb on it from Frontlist Books:

For centuries, biblical scholars have worked on discovering how the Bible came to be. The consensus that emerged from experts of various traditions was the Documentary Hypothesis: the idea that ancient writers produced documents of poetry, prose, and law over many hundreds of years, which editors then used as sources to fashion the books of the Bible that people have read for the last two thousand years.

In The Bible with Sources Revealed, Richard Elliott Friedman offers a new visual presentation of the Five Books of Moses, unlocking their complex tapestry of sources. Different colors and type styles allow readers to easily identify each of the distinct sources, showcasing Friedman's highly acclaimed and dynamic translation.

I haven't read this one but Friedman's earlier book, Who Wrote the Bible?, laid out clearly the compelling case for the Documentary Hypothesis. I think he tends to overinterpret the evidence in terms of how well we can reconstruct the ancient sources of the Pentateuch and their social context. But anyone doing serious work in the field agrees that there are sources behind the Pentateuch and that they date long after the time of Moses, and Friedman's work is a good introduction to the basic problems, whether or not one agrees with him on the specifics.

Friday, February 13, 2004


From the Iraqi Press Monitor (via the IraqCrisis list):
Saddam officials stole ancient artefacts
(Al-Nahdhah) � In an interview, Minister of Culture Mufeed al-Jazairi said officials of the former regime supervised digs at archaeological sites in order to steal statues, tablets, and many other relics and smuggle them abroad. A senior official in the department of heritage and relics said that Ali Hasan Majeed, nicknamed 'Chemical Ali', built a huge palace at the archaeological site of Al-Warid Hill, while Arshad Yaseen, Saddam's former bodyguard, smuggled a very precious handwritten copy of the Torah for a huge sum of money.
(Al-Nahdhah is issued thrice weekly by the Independent Democrats Movement.)

(My emphasis.) Smuggled it from where to where? Has it been recovered? More please!
A VOLUME OF ESSAYS from the Anthropology and Biblical Studies Conference, which was held here at St. Mary's College last July, is scheduled for release in the spring. The complete version of my paper "Ritual in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha" is included. (Thanks to Louise Lawrence for the heads up.)

Anthropology and Biblical Studies

Edited by: M Aguilar, L Lawrence

Presents the findings of an international research symposium, held at St Andrews University, Scotland, in July 2003. Contributors include both biblical scholars and anthropologists. The essays presented variously explore and review interdisciplinary links, innovations and developments between anthropology and biblical studies in reference to interpretation of both the OT and NT and pseudepigraphal works. Explored are methodological issues, the use of anthropological concepts in biblical studies (identity; purity boundaries; virtuoso religion; spiritual experience; sacred space) and more 'field orientated' work of bible translators in different cultures.
"DIVERSITY AND UNITY IN JUDAISM BEFORE JESUS" is a new essay, by Anthony J. Tomasino, on the Bible and Interpretation website. This is a very good introduction to the subject based on the literary evidence. Let me just add that, when you factor in ancient Jewish inscriptions (which I've been working on lately), the diversity becomes even more obvious and more wide ranging than suggested by the literary evidence alone. One important principle to keep in mind when studying ancient Judaism is that it was likely as varied then as it is today. There were fanatical Jews, devout Jews, reasonably religious Jews, nominally religious Jews, syncretistic Jews, Jews for Jesus, non-religious Jews, and former Jews back then as now. There were also gentiles (pagan and Christian) who had an interest in Judaism ranging from citing Jewish works in their histories to using Jewish ideas in their magic spells to visiting the synagogue regularly to converting and (for men) submitting to circumcision.

There! You just got a free summary of the section of Chapter One on which I'm currently working.
THERE IS A DEAD SEA SCROLLS EXHIBIT at the Visitors Center of the Mormon Church in Westwood, Los Angeles. There are some coins and lamps from Qumran; the rest of the artifacts and the scrolls on display are facsimiles.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

THERE IS A REVIEW by Matthew Kraus of Pieter W. van der Horst, Japheth in the Tents of Shem: Studies on Jewish Hellenism in Antiquity (Leuven: �Peeters, 2002. �Pp. 272. �ISBN 90-429-1137-9. �EUR 35.00) in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review.
MORE ON THE MAGI: A letter to the London Times corrects the error I noted a couple of days ago:

From the Reverend Anthony J. Carr

Sir, Theologians have to be careful when translating words in isolation. There is no evidence that there were three wise men or Magi. Matthew just says: �Behold, wise men from the East� (Matthew ii, 1). An assumption is made regarding three persons because there were three gifts given to Jesus of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The scholars interpret Magi in this text, yet they leave exactly the same word in Acts xiii, 6 and 8, interpreted as sorcerer. This word can mean wise men, teachers, priests, astrologers, seers, interpreter of dreams � the list is endless.

Perhaps by using the word Magi we are left to work out for ourselves the true meaning.

However, is it not the theologian�s job to interpret the text for the lay person?

Actually, I don't think the theologians are to blame for the number three. From what I could find, the Synod didn't say anything about "three" magi. I think it was the journalists (not just in the Times) who were careless and got that wrong. But the point about the usage in Acts is well taken. The word has a very wide range of meaning in Hellenistic Greek and has to be interpreted in context.

Also, I have to say that lay people usually do a pretty good job of interpreting the text for themselves. Common sense goes a long way in these matters.

Note also the following letter:
From Mrs Valery Rees
Sir, At the time of Mantegna�s painting, if not throughout church history, the Magi (report and picture, February 10) were understood to have been not only rulers but priests too, of the Chaldaean religion. They were noted for their wisdom and understanding, especially regarding the stars.

Whether the Chaldaeans had astronomer priestesses too is nowhere recorded, but it was held to be their wisdom, rather than their power, that drew the Magi to the scene of the Adoration.

The magi were Median and Persian priests, not Chaldeans. The Chaldeans were a people in Babylonia who had a dynasty in the Neo-Babylonian period and who later gained a reputation for great wisdom in the Hellenistic period. They appear as a kind of royal sage or counselor in the Book of Daniel.

Also, Stephen Goranson e-mails the following:
On the Magi in the Gospel of Matthew. Martin McNamara in "Were the Magi Essenes?" Irish Ecclesiastical Record 110 (1968) 305-328 suggested these Magi were Essenes. That these groups were at least compared in antiquity may be worth considering, for a few reasons, in addition to some he offerd. For one thing, Qumran apparently was destroyed circa the end of the reign of Herod the Great, then reinhabited soon after; one possibility: Herod the Great caused the destruction in his last years.

When Philo introduced Essenes in Every Good Man is Free 75, he set that up (74) by comparing them (in the F.H. Colson Loeb observation praised by A.D. Nock) as a group "in which deeds are held in higher esteem than words," like the Indian Gymnosophists and the Persian Magi. (In Hypothetica 8.11.1 Philo wrote "Myriads of his disciples has the lawgiver trained for the life of fellowship. These people are called Essenes....")

Also, Strabo (who I think was a source on Essenes for Josephus), in Geography 16.2.36ff mentioned Indian Gymnosophists and Persian Magi and others and said "Moses was such a person as these" but his people were later misled by the "superstitious" and "tyrannical," namely including the priest Alexander Jannaeus--sounds like the Qumran-view wicked priest.

Well, I haven't read the article, but I'm skeptical. I suspect that Matthew thought of the magi as mysterious wise men (maybe women too) from the East, and that's all that magi means in Matthew 2.

UPDATE (14 February): David Nishimura comments on the story over at Cronaca and Anders Bell comments at Phluzein.

Mark Goodacre comments at NT Gateway. I'm afraid I'm pretty close to being one of "the Lord of the Rings nerds who disapprove of every place where Peter Jackson departs from Tolkien." Not because I object to artistic interpretation in principle, but because most of the changes in the movies tend toward the cheesy and the melodramatic. But I do like the magi mythology.

I suspect that the change in the prayerbook comes not so much from residual fundamentalism as from a combination of P.C. concerns with a residue of the traditional Protestant sola scriptura approach to the Bible. Both (not to speak of the combination) have the potential to be irritating, but in this case I can't say I mind. "Magi" has a perfectly good liturgical ring to it, it represents the Greek accurately, and it doesn't try to interpret a word whose meaning isn't very clear. Does that mean girls will get to play magi too in children's nativity plays? Why not?

Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Heard, R. Christopher
Dynamics of Diselection: Ambiguity in Genesis 12-36 and Ethnic Boundaries in Post-Exilic Judah
Reviewed by Phillip Michael Sherman

Seow, C. L.
Reviewed by Carla Sulzbach

Das, A. Andrew
Paul, the Law, and the Covenant
Reviewed by James P. Sweeney

Cutter, William and David Jacobson, eds.
History and Literature: New Readings of Jewish Texts in Honor of Arnold J. Band
Reviewed by Zev Garber
MORE ON DELITZSCH: Reader Steven Avery reminds me that in 2002 the Journal of Biblical Literature published:

Bill T. Arnold
David B. Weisberg
pp. 441-67

Unfortunately, the whole issue has to be downloaded as a PDF file. But at least it's free.
THE JOURNAL OF NEAR EASTERN STUDIES has a new issue out (63:1, January 2004). One article of interest:

MARJORIE O'ROURKE BOYLE. "In the Heart of the Sea": Fathoming the Exodus (PDF file)

Book reviews of interest (the reviews section must be downloaded as a single PDF file) include:
Oscar White Muscarella, The Lie Became Great: The Forgery of Ancient Near Eastern Cultures���(P. R. S. Moorey) ���55
� �
Samuel R. Wolff, Studies in the Archaeology of Israel and Neighboring Lands in Memory of Douglas L. Esse���(P. R. S. Moorey) ���56

Lawrence E. Stager, Joseph A. Greene, and Michael D. Coogan, The Archaeology of Jordan and Beyond: Essays in Honor of James A. Sauer���(Ron E. Tappy) ���57
� �
Frederick E. Greenspahn, An Introduction to Aramaic���(Joseph L. Malone) ���64

Michael W. Duggan, The Covenant Renewal in Ezra-Nehemiah (Neh 7:72b10:40): An Exegetical, Literary, and Theological Study���(Blane W. Conklin) ���65

Gershon Galil and Moshe Weinfeld, Studies in Historical Geography and Biblical Historiography Presented to Zecharia Kallai���(Alexander H. Joffe) ���68

There also some reviews on earlier Hebrew Bible and Northwest Semitic matters.

Requires a paid personal or institutional subscription to access.
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF QUMRAN AND THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS, by Jodi Magness, is Reviewed by Sidnie White Crawford in The American Journal of Archaeology 108.1 (January 2004). It's free, but you have to download the whole issue as a PDF file. The review is on pp. 118-19.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Three Wise Men might have been women, church rules (The Independent)
By Andrew Clennell

10 February 2004

The three Wise Men might not have been men at all and there might not have been three of them, the Church of England has ruled.

In a new short prayer book, the Church of England has decided to refer to them as "magi", because it says the Bible is "silent" on whether they were men or women.

Last night a spokesman for the Church confirmed the decision of the General Synod in preparing the prayer book, Common Worship. He said the Synod knew there were the three gifts for Jesus of gold, frankincense and myrrh but original scripture did not say whether these were from three or fewer visitors, or from men or women.


This basically makes sense. The relevant passage is Matthew 2:1-16:
1: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying,
2: "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him."
3: When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;
4: and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
5: They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet:
6: `And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'"
7: Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared;
8: and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him."
9: When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was.
10: When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy;
11: and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
12: And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
13: Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."
14: And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt,
15: and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son."
16: Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. (RSV)

In Greek the word translated "wise men" is magoi, a transliterated Persian word with a masculine plural Greek ending, which ending is used either to refer to a group that is entirely male or that has at least one member who is male. The pronouns referring to them are also in the masculine plural. The verbs are in the plural, but they don't have special markers for gender.

In other words, Matthew thought that at least one of the magi was a man, but there's no reason why he couldn't have thought that some of them were women. (I make no assumption that the story is historical, but we can still ask what Matthew might have had in mind.) The reports about what the Synod said seem to miss this point: at least one must have been a man according to the Greek grammar of the passage.

My understanding is that the magi were a Median tribe that became a priestly class for both the Medes and the Persians and that Hellenistic authors like Matthew generally had a vague sense that they were the Persian priests (even though, evidently, there were other kinds of Persian priests as well). So two relevant questions would be, could women be magian priests and would Matthew have thought that women could be magian priests? Are there any Iranologists out there who can enlighten us?

Incidentally, this morning the London Times cluelessly blares on its front page: "There were three, but were they wise � or even men?" As the Independent article above notes, Matthew doesn't say how many magi there were; he just says there were three gifts, and tradition has inferred three magi. Helpful hint to journalists: if you want to write about a biblical passage, it is often useful to find a Bible and read the passage.

UPDATE (12 February): More here.
HOWLER ALERT: This Knight Ridder article on biblical and Nag Hammadi scholar Elaine Pagels contains the following paragraph:

Pagels was a graduate student in the classics and Greek language, history and literature at Stanford in the mid-1960s and early '70s. Now 59, she looks back at being in the right place and time to be afforded a rare opportunity: To study the newly available Nag Hammadi texts. Along with the Dead Sea Scrolls, they are the only existing writings about Jesus's life other than those in the New Testament.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are from around the time of Jesus but they are not "writings about Jesus's life" and they do not mention him. The article should also say that Pagels did her doctoral work on the Nag Hammadi texts at Harvard.
THE HIGH PRIEST OF THE SAMARITANS has passed away. My condolences to the Samaritan community.

Monday, February 09, 2004

STEPHEN C. CARLSON comments on Hershel Shanks's reply to Eric Meyers. He says, inter alia:

Given the huge differences between what Meyer related and what Shanks presented, it is not entirely clear to me that Meyer and Shanks are talking about the same incident. Although both agreed on the details of the International Christian Embassy and possibly the $2M price tag, the year is different and the visitor is different. Meyer did not identify the person who was contacted, so it may not even be the case that Meyer's source was describing a meeting with Hedding at all, which means that Shanks's source, Hedding, may not have been in a position to verify or refute the claim.

I think this is pretty unlikely. For it to be true we would have to assume that either Hedding or an employee forgot and kept no record of the meeting with a Golan representative about which Meyers's source knew, but Hedding remembered and did keep a record of a different but very similar meeting about which Meyers's source didn't know. Got all that? Anything is possible, but this reconstruction is too complicated to be a good working hypothesis.

But we agree that we need more information � as in, all of it � to evaluate what happened. I've commented further here.

UPDATE (10 February): Stephen Carlson replies.
NEW BIBLICAL BLOG ALERT: Mark Goodacre notes Rub�n G�mez's Bible Software Review weblog and also his Bible Software Review website. Looks very useful.
HERE'S A JEWSWEEK PROFILE OF DR. DANIEL MATT, who is currently translating the Zohar into English. Excerpt:

A native of upstate Troy who grew up in Metuchen, N.J., he was first drawn to Judaism's "mystical dimension" by his late father, Hershel, a Conservative rabbi. Matt studied Jewish mysticism at Brandies University, and later, privately with a Kabbalist in Jerusalem. He also was a teaching assistant to Gershom Scholem, the 20th century's most prominent academic expert on Kabbalah.

Pritzker's 1995 offer to underwrite a translation of the Zohar seemed daunting. "The project could take 12 to 15 years," he told her when they met in Chicago. "To which she responded, 'You're not scaring me.'"

To prepare for his next few decades' work, he went to Spain to look at original Zohar manuscripts, and to Safed to walk in the Kabbalists' footsteps.

Now he lives in the Zohar seven-plus hours a day. "It's a constant challenge," he says in a telephone interview. "The Zohar is intentionally cryptic. The Zohar created its own language. There is no Zohar dictionary."

So it's slow, line-by-line work. "I've probably done a month or two of Vayishlach," the Torah portion where Jacob and the angel appear.
A BIT MORE ON THE TEMPLE MOUNT: The Jerusalem Post has a brief article recapping the latest on what appears to be unauthorized construction work and improper care for ancient architecture on the Temple Mount:
Mounting garbage

Ancient boulders strewn among heaps of garbage on the Temple Mount along with two tractors and piles of new slabs of stone are seen in a video taken secretly at the Jerusalem holy site.

The video, which was obtained on Monday by The Jerusalem Post, was filmed in parts of the Temple Mount which remain off-limits to Jewish and Christian visitors.


So how about putting the video online? Or at least some stills from it!

Sunday, February 08, 2004

PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGIST JOE ZIAS, who has been mentioned here frequently, has published a piece on the Bible and Interpretation website which very strongly criticizes two articles in a recent issue of Dead Sea Discoveries:

"Qumran Archaeology: More Grave Errors"

He takes up the archaeology of the cemetery, the analysis of the excavated skeletons and the mysterious zinc coffin (he takes it to be modern), and various reports in the press, and he's not happy with what he finds. Excerpt from his conclusion:
The excavators have presented here a deliberately biased and distorted picture, raising questions about funding, institutional support, media, and the scientific value of the whole excavating process. Perhaps the time has come for those in the profession to show their peers C-14 dates, scientific data, pottery analysis, and other relevant scientific data in order to remove any suspicion of manipulating the data for personal gain. By doing so, there would be less misconduct and those unwilling to produce such data would in and of themselves cause suspicion.

John the Baptist complete with a skull, James the Brother of Jesus, The Teacher of Righteousness, Bedouin women, Bedouin men -- all of which was bandied about and appeared in the media depending on which co-director was addressing the press begs the question: is this archaeology? Entertaining, headline-grabbing, perhaps so, but scientifically questionable, deliberately misleading, irresponsible, and lacking any creditability.[29] Reading the report and the numerous articles in the media raises serious questions of scientific impropriety and misconduct by many, though not all, of those involved in funding and the excavation process itself.

Those Essenes who lived, struggled, and died in Qumran some 2,000 years earlier as well as the world of Qumran studies certainly deserve something better than what has been presented in their excavation report.

THE DSD articles are from issue 9.2 (2002) and are available online but require a personal or institutional paid subscription. (I'm at home and my access authorization is tied to my office computer, so I can't see them myself at the moment.) Here are the links:

Hanan Eshel; Magen Broshi; Richard Freund; Brian Schultz

Susan Guise Sheridan

Well, no one can accuse the Bible and Interpretation website of avoiding controversy! Needless to say, these charges are very serious, and the whole thing makes me rather sad, because I know most of the people on both sides and consider them my friends. I'm not an archaeologist and I am not qualified to take sides on this one. But I'm sure Mark Elliott and his fellow editors will give the DSD article authors space to respond and that we have not heard the last of this.
PAUL FLESHER e-mails regarding my latest post on the "James Ossuary":
I was pleased to see that you saw Hershel Shanks' editorial item about the Christian Embassy. Unfortunately, while you saw the speck, you missed the log. Yes there is a difference with regard to the date (as well as the name of an individual). However, apart from those two details, Shanks corroborates the entire story!

Meyers simply put the story forward as a comment about an attempted sale of the ossuary. It was Shanks, not Meyers, who made the observation that if it was 2001 rather than 2002, then Golan's claim about not knowing the significance of the inscription would be false. (Of course, if the ossuary was sold in the 1990s, this is irrelevant.) Meyers and Shanks may differ on the details, but not on the SUBSTANCE of the story.

So Shanks' details, if true, disprove the question he himself raises, but they have no impact on the point Meyers makes.

Thanks, Paul, for your comments. Some thoughts in response:

1. I take the point that part of the anonymous archaeologist's account, specifically, Meyers's "postscript" about the ossuary being offered for sale to the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, has been verified. I probably should have underlined this in my posting.

2. However, it appears that the account has also been shown to have a couple of errors: the date was wrong and the intermediary was not Golan's lawyers. The first error is significant for the question of Golan's veracity, although this issue wasn't raised by Meyers and does not seem to have occurred to him.

3. The substance of the postscript has been corroborated. But we have no new information either way, that I can see, about the main account, about the end of the inscription being missing in the mid-1990s.

4. I've mentioned before that there's a question that still bothers me: how does this testimony that the inscription was carved in two stages, at least one in the 1990s, cohere with the geologists' conclusions that the entire inscription was coated with the so-called "James Bond," a modern patina made of water and chalk and evidently daubed onto the whole inscription? I quote from the Archaeology Magazine article, "Gold Dust and James Bond":
The geologists Goren and Ayalon, in fact, identified three distinct coatings on the surface of the ossuary:

* A thin brown veneer of clay and other minerals cemented to the rock surface, presumably rock varnish created by living bacteria or alga over prolonged periods of time.

* A crusty natural coating of patina (this was the "cauliflower") that formed over the rock surface due to the absorption or loss of various elements and minerals.

* The "James Bond": a unique composite material that received this nickname from Goren since it was bonded onto the incised letters of the James Ossuary inscription, but wasn't found at any other place on the ossuary surface--or on any of the authentic ossuaries that the commission members had used as comparative examples.

�� The varnish covered large areas of the ossuary surface and the patina had burst through the varnish in many places. Both varnish and patina coated a rosette inscribed on the other side of the ossuary. But Goren and Ayalon's meticulous microscopic analysis showed that the letters of the entire Aramaic inscription "James, Son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus" were cut through the varnish, indicating that they were carved long--perhaps centuries after--the varnish-covered rosette.

�� Strangest of all was the "James Bond," the chalky material that coated the letters. It contained numerous microfossils called coccoliths, naturally occurring as foreign particles in chalk, but not dissolved by water. Hence it was clear that this was not a true patina formed by the surface crystallization of calcite, but rather powdered chalk--microfossils and all--that was dissolved in water and daubed over the entire inscription. Thus, the forger's technique was apparent: the James Ossuary was an authentic artifact on which a decorative rosette originally marked the "front" side. At some time long after the natural processes of varnish and patination in a damp cave environment had been completed, someone carved a series of letters through the natural varnish on the ossuary's "back" side. Then he or she covered the freshly cut letters with an imitation "patina" made from water and ground chalk.

Are we supposed now to conclude that the inscription was forged in two stages? Is that plausible? Or is the cutting through the original varnish and the application of the James Bond the result of modern cleaning of both the original, genuine, and later, faked, sections of the inscription? In that case, wouldn't the conclusion be that Golan is right and that the James Bond was accidentally put on when his mother cleaned the inscription? Am I missing something? Someone help me out here.

4. Back to the story of the altered inscription. Another important point: the errors in the postscript inevitably raise the question of how many errors there might be in the account about the ossuary and its inscription in the 1990s. Maybe none, maybe trivial ones, maybe significant ones. We have no way of knowing at present.

5. And that returns me to the same point I've been making: until the entire story is made public, in detail, with all names and places included, we can't evaluate it. Let me emphasize that I believe the parties involved in this debate are speaking in good faith and telling us what they know as best they know it, to the degree that circumstances permit them at present to tell it. But in some ways this is still a game of "telephone" and we've already seen (again, if Shanks's understanding checks out) that errors have entered the transmission in one way or another. This reinforces my contention that the account needs to be fully aired in public so that lots of people can check it out from different angles. Testimony in court would be an excellent venue, and that seems to be in the works. The story is important and it deserves that kind of open presentation and attention. Until we have it, I'm just going to watch with interest and keep an open mind.

"Trust, but verify."