Category Archives: Biblical Studies

The Plain of Bethsaida and the feeding of the five thousand

The Biblical text indicates that the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand took place in the vicinity of Bethsaida. Bethsaida is the town associated with the miracle in both the Gospel of Mark (6:30-46) and the Gospel of Luke (9:10-17). Both accounts make it clear that the miracle was not in the town, but in a “desolate place.”

Once we have an understanding of the region around Bethsaida we will be able to understand more clearly the events surrounding the miracle.

I am not discussing the specific identity of Bethsaida. Is it the site of Et Tell now being excavated under the direction of Prof. Rami Arav? Or is it the site of el-Araj as suggested by the late Mendel Nun? Or could it be, as numerous scholars have suggested through the years, that there is a Bethsaida of Galilee (perhaps associated with el-Araj on the shore of the Sea of Galilee) and another Bethsaida Julias (Et Tell) about 1½ miles north of the sea shore? See the concise comment by Rasmussen in Zondervan Atlas of the Bible (Rev. ed), p. 278).

R. Steven Notley discusses the location question in more detail in The Sacred Bridge (356-359). [Yes, I am aware of the writings of Arav, Freund, and Strickert, as well as the exchanges in Near Eastern Archaeology.]

Our first photo shows the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee. The flat, green area is the Plain of Bethsaida.

The plain of Bethsaida taken from the hills above Capernaum and east of Chorazin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A view of the Plain of Bethsaida taken from the hills above Capernaum and east of Chorazin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The aerial photo below shows most of the Sea of Galilee. The Jordan River runs from north to south near the center of the photo. The Plain of Bethsaida is seen to the left (east). Capernaum is situated on the shore of Galilee to the right (west). Our view of the Plain of Bethsaida may not be complete but it provides enough of the region to enlighten our understanding of the Biblical text.

Bethsaida Plain, Jordan Valley, and the Sea of Galilee. Aerial photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bethsaida Plain, Jordan Valley, and the Sea of Galilee. Aerial photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I understand that the Jordan River was the boundary between the rule of Herod Antipas from Tiberias and that of Herod Philip from Bethsaida Julius.

A great old resource now available

If you use Logos Bible Software you probably already know about Community Pricing. Logos takes on some older works and produces them in the Logos format only when there is sufficient interest to pay for production. Some may take a year or more; others may never make it to production.

A Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols)

This product is a download.

One great old resource that I have in print format is A Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols.). This work by 5 authors (primarily James Hastings) is +/- 100 years old, and for many entries you must use more current resources. But I have found it to be highly valuable over the years.

Logos describes this resource as follows:

The Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols.) is a landmark reference work edited by biblical scholar James Hastings. It is a thorough index of all key terms in Scriptures. With over a hundred scholars contributing, this five-volume set contains over 4,500 pages with over 1,500 definitions. The articles focus on people, places, archaeology, geology, theology, and obscure biblical terms. It was the goal of Hastings to compile a reference work that would enable the Church to teach in wisdom and knowledge. These in-depth definitions are easy to read, yet academic in nature.

Not to be confused with Hastings’ one-volume Dictionary of the same name, this separate resource is a fantastic reference addition to your library. An important documentation of historical biblical scholarship as well as solid interpretation and definitions of key terms and ideas, The Dictionary of the Bible (5 Vols.) is even easier to use with the Logos edition. Hastings’ massive resource is now instantly searchable by topic or Scripture, making study and research a breeze.

This resource is available until 12:00 pm (PST) on Friday, 3/6/2015 for a bid of $15.00. After that you will pay at least $99.95 for it.

Go to Logos.com and look under the Community Pricing resources, or just search for Hastings (or add A Dictionary of the Bible). Do not confuse it with the one volume work which already sells for $24.95.

Bock Responds to the Newsweek attack

Newsweek on The Bible

Newsweek on The Bible

It almost always happens around Christmas and Easter. The print and film media launches a critical attack on the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity. This time it is Newsweek, in an article called “The Bible So Misunderstood It’s a Sin” (here) by Kurt Eichenwald.

Dr. Darrell L. Bock, Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, is writing a response to Newsweek’s take on the Bible. Part I deals with the Base Biblical Text, answering the question “Do we really know what we have?”

This response is available on bock’s blog here. Pass this along to your friends.

HT: Brooks Cochran

Prof. Yossi Garfinkel speaks in Tampa

Prof. Yossi Garfinkel speaks at Florida College

Prof. Yossi Garfinkel speaks at Florida College

Yosef Garfinkel is head of the Berman Center for Biblical Archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has been involved in numerous archaeological excavations in Israel. Last year he began the fourth archaeological excavation at Lachish. Prior to that he directed the dig at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a site overlooking the Elah Valley where David fought Goliath, from 2007 to 2013.

Garfinkel identifies Khirbet Qeiyafa as Biblical Shaaraim (Joshua 15:36; 1 Samuel 17:52; 1 Chronicles 4:31). He identifies two large buildings dating to the Iron Age at Khirbet Qeiyafa as a palace of David and a royal storeroom. We reported on this identification with photos here.

I think it is still impossible to say if Garfinkel’s identifications are correct, but I can say that his presentation will be interesting and enlightening. I have heard him speak at the Society of Biblical Literature annual meetings.

Florida College — Temple Terrace, FL
Puckett Auditorium
Tuesday, November 18 — 7:30 p.m.

This presentation is part of the Life Enrichment program at Florida College. These programs are intended primarily for students, faculty and staff of Florida College, but there should be some seats available for visitors who are interested in the subject.

Following the Blogs

Available today only in Kindle format: How We Got the Bible by Neil Lightfoot. This is not the only book you need on this subject, but it is a good beginning source.

Todd Bolen’s Bible Places Blog is the best source for keeping up with news and recent materials related to Bible Places. I am a fan of the Weekend Roundup, with links to a variety of helpful materials. Today’s post reports that that rooms of Emperor Augustus on the Palatine Hill in Rome are now open to the public. Read here.

House of Augustus on the Palatine Hill, Rome. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

House of Augustus on the Palatine Hill, Rome. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Charles Savelle provides a regular flow of links to helpful tools for serious Bible teachers and students at his BibleX (Bible Exposition). He recently pointed us to material on the Didache, The Dating of Deuteronomy and the Suzerain-Vassal Treaty Forms, and The Importance of Biblical Geography. I check this site regularly.

I enjoy following Bible Lands Explorer, the blog of Mark Ziese. Mark is a unique writer. His most recent post points us to a Brazilian newspaper for which he provided photos of the Jesus Trail. You may not be able to read the Portuguese newspaper, but there is a nice slide show of Mark’s photos.

Reading Acts. The blog by Phillip J. Long has some helpful articles for Bible students. Check some of these recent posts:

Ancient History Encyclopedia. This is a nice site including an encyclopedia that is primarily intended for high school level. Includes Index, Timeline, Maps, Photos, Videos, etc. Check the article on Roman Roads here.

ePlace. Research materials provided by Asbury Theological Seminary. Includes TREN collection of professional conference papers, dissertations, et al.

The Journal of Inductive Biblical Studies. This journal is built on the well-known work of Kuist, Traina, and others who wrote on Inductive Bible Study.

Daily Dose of Greek. Sign up for a 2-minute video Daily Dose of Greek by Rob Plumber, professor of Greek and New Testament at Southern Baptist Seminary.

Mark Hoffman, Biblical Studies and Technological Tools, recently posted two helpful lists of Greek lexical forms. Click here.

Resources to Help You Defend the Deity of Jesus. A list of resources by J. Warner Wallace, author of Cold Case Christianity.

HT: Brooks Cochran

Traveling in Europe

For the past week my wife and I have been traveling in Europe, revisiting some of the places we have enjoyed with groups over the years. Berlin is one of those places. We did some of the typical sightseeing, but the main visit was the museums with Ancient Near Eastern collections.

My first visit to the Pergamum Museum was about 1978. I returned several times when the Museum was behind the Berlin Wall, and have been there several times since the fall of the wall.

The Egyptian collection formerly was in the west, but now is housed in the Neues Museum in the building on the left of the photo below. Considerable construction is underway in the area. The former entry to the Pergamum Museum is closed. The red sign in the distance points to the temporary entry. Crowds are so large that people wait in line for four hours or more to buy at ticket and gain admission to the Museum. The only way to avoid this is to purchase a ticket online with a 30 minute time span for admission. I purchased a two day Museum pass after I arrived in Berlin and then made an appointment online for two different days. A single entry costs about 13 Euro (a little under $20 per entry).

berlin_pergamum-crowd-01fj_1

Crowds waiting in line to enter the Pergamum Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Pergamum Altar already has some scaffolding in place. At the end of September the exhibition will close for __________ years (you know about government projects).

The visit was somewhat disappointing because of the appointment requirement, but mostly because portions of the Museum are closed. Whole galleries pertaining to the the Greco-Roman world are not open. The great Ishtar Gate from Babylon is open, and the Miletus Marketgate, which was covered with netting the last time I was in Berlin, is now one of the nicest exhibits. The halls dealing with Babylon, Assyria, and the Hittites were open.

Later I hope to share some representative photos with you, but I confess that I am traveling with a Samsung Tab 4 and have had difficulty getting the single photo above loaded into the blog. I refused to pay the $20+ a day to be online at the hotel. I only ate at one place that offered time online, and they could not locate the card with the passport. :-(

We are in Paris now and I have Wi-Fi at the hotel. The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, so I went to the Tourism office and purchased tickets to the museum in order to avoid the long lines the next two days. The tickets here are under $20 per entry.

If any reader has experience in loading photos from an Android tablet into WordPress I would be glad to hear about it. Who knows, maybe I will be able to load a second photo.

 

Good reading for the weekend

Noah

There has been much discussion in the past few weeks about the Noah movie. In last Saturday’s roundup, Todd Bolen called attention to the blog of Dr. Brian Mattson. In a post entitled “Sympathy for the Devil” Mattson comments about the movie. He reminds us of the following important point: The Bible is not the text for this movie. Several writers, and speakers, have pointed out that about the only things in common between the Noah movie and the Noah/Flood story of the Bible are a man named Noah, an ark, and water.

Mattson claims and documents the philosophical background of the director of the movie in Gnosticism and Kabbalah. I am certain that many people will see the movie and have no awareness of that, just as many ready Paul’s epistle to the Colossians, and John’s epistles without understanding how they are responding to early Gnostic doctrines.

Here is the link to Mattson’s articles:

The Wife of Jesus, again.

It is almost Easter, so we can expect a rerun on various strange views about Jesus. I first called attention to this speculation about the wife of Jesus back in September, 2012, here. Todd Bolen recently commented on the same material that is now getting new attention. Here, he provides links to the article in the New York Times, and the Harvard Theological Review article by Dr. Karen King (available for download). The Times of Israel article is available here.

Papyrus fragment possibly claiming that Jesus has a wife. Photo: Harvard University, Dr. Karen L. King.

The GJW (Gospel of Jesus Wife) papyrus fragment possibly claiming that Jesus had a wife. Photo: Harvard University, Dr. Karen L. King.

Bolen summarizes the pertinent material, showing that the document tells us nothing about 1st century events:

An initial radiocarbon analysis dated the fragment to 404–209 BC; a second analysis gave a mean date of AD 741. King concludes with a date in the 7th or 8th centuries AD. As far as being a reliable witness to 1st century events, it is not. The author notes that the fragment should be studied in light of the Muslim view that prophets were usually married.

In King’s reading, “The main point of the GJW (Gospel of Jesus Wife) fragment is simply to affirm that women who are wives and mothers can be Jesus’s disciples.”

Larry Hurtado has written three posts about the papyrus document. Begin here and then scroll back for the other two.

Wild Boar at Caesarea Philippi

Carl Rasmussen’s recent Israel student group encountered a herd of about 15 wild boar at Caesarea Philippi. He provides some nice photos to back up his claim, and discusses the various Biblical references about swine. Access the HolyLandPhotos’ Blog here.

Using Google Books

Rob Bradshaw is making many books and journals available in PDF format. I check his BiblicalStudies.org.uk site regularly for materials that might be helpful in my study. Recently he called attention to a short video by Tim Bulkeley on how to access Bible commentaries without a library. The helpful, brief video is here.